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Posts tagged ‘Indian food’

Four Ways to Thicken Your Curry Sauce

I remember when I first started cooking, my curry sauce was always surrounded by little puddles of water, and no amount of simmering combined with vigorous stirring would thicken the sauce. It felt like it was taking a lifetime to reduce and in the meantime my vegetables would overcook, or my chicken would dry out. So there was no other alternative… I would have to pour out some of the water into the sink before I served it up for dinner and hope no one would notice. Oops!

I do however love cooking and I refused to be beaten by ‘the watery curry sauce’.  So after numerous lessons from my mum, ‘the experienced one’, and through experimentation of my own; I learnt that adding one key ingredient can be the difference between serving up a rich, luscious curry sauce or having a river running through your curry.

So here are four different methods you can use to help answer the question I am most frequently asked… ‘How can I thicken my curry sauce?’

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Sloppy Joe Kebab | Using up leftovers

How many of you have heard of a ‘Sloppy Joe’ in England? It’s not a common meal, but this messy beef burger is an American classic and one the kids will love.

I first decided to make a ‘Sloppy Joe Kebab’ because it was a great way to inject some life into my left over Aloo Keema (mince and potato curry), by disguising the meal from the night before so there wouldn’t be any food wastage. And sure enough this meal went down a treat! I simply swapped the traditional burger bun for a nice chunky naan from the supermarket and served it up to the family as a kebab. Now I always aim to team the two meals together.

Sloppy Joe Kebab with Ketchup_label

Below is my base mince curry recipe. Add potatoes and peas to make a yummy curry or use it to make your Sloppy Joe Kebab.

SuperFoods included – olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes
SuperSpices included – cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper

Total cooking time: 40-45mins (If using the next day like me, 10mins to prepare)
Serves a family of four

50ml (2fl oz/ ¼ cup) olive oil
1 onion – peeled, finely chopped
2 small cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods – whole
2 black peppercorns
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp minced garlic
500g (1lb 2oz) lean minced/ ground beef or lamb
½ tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground paprika
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
Salt to taste (optional)
Ground Cayenne pepper to taste (optional


Heat the oil in a pot and add the onion, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and black peppercorns and stir-fry the onions on med-high heat until golden and a little crispy looking.

Add the ginger, garlic and stir-fry for 30secs, followed by the minced beef or lamb. Cook until sealed and use the spoon to break up the meat to avoid any clumps.

Add cumin, turmeric, coriander and paprika. Cook the spices for a minute and add the tomatoes and tomato puree.

Stir and simmer (covered) for 30-40mins or until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Check halfway and add little water if the curry looks a little dry, then replace the lid and continue to simmer.

Once cooked, remove a serving for the kids and set aside. Then add salt and cayenne pepper to the main pot and stir. Serve to the family on top of soft fluffy naan topped with freshly cut salad and:

  • Kids 2 years – no tomato ketchup
  • Kids 3 years plus – a little tomato ketchup
  • Adults – chilli sauce and garlic mayonnaise

So there you have it… my Sloppy Joe Kebab. I was really keen to share this recipe with you all in the hope that you’d find it as useful as I have.

I’ve already started thinking about other meals I can transform my simple mince curry left overs into. Next on my list is Cottage Pie…. top the beef mince with freshly cooked mashed potato (grill for a golden crust on top), served with gravy and fresh vegetables.

Feel free to share any ideas you may have too. I’d love to hear them.

Indian Meatballs in a 5 Minute Marinara Sauce

I LOVE MEATBALLS! But I also love simple, quick and delicious meals. This meal is ready in just over half an hour so is a perfect no-hassle family meal. As you can see from the photo, my little one also loves spaghetti and meatballs – can you tell by her sauce-smeared mouth?

This meal is a really well rounded, wholesome meal for the family. It’s protein-rich, abundant in lycopene – a powerful antioxidant containing anti-cancer properties, and is carb-rich too so great for providing energy. This yummy family meal recipe is suitable for children from the age of two (or one if your little one is an accomplished chewer).

SuperFoods included – onion, garlic, tomatoes
SuperSpices included – black pepper, garam masala, coriander, oregano

indian meatball with marinara sauce


Total cooking and preparation time: 35-40mins
Serves a family of four
Suitable for freezing

1 onion – peeled, roughly chopped
2 white slices of bread – broken into pieces
450g (1lb) chicken or lamb mince
Salt (optional)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander

5 Minute Marinara sauce:
50ml (2fl oz/ ¼ cup) olive oil
1 onion – peeled, finely sliced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp dried oregano (or fresh If you have some)
2 x 400g cans of chopped tinned tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
Handful of fresh basil – washed, roughly torn (optional)



Place the onion and bread into a food processor and blitz well. These two ingredients will help bind the meatballs together so they don’t break when cooked.

Then place the onion and bread in a bowl along with the mince, salt, black pepper, garam masala and coriander. Combine everything really well for 2-3mins with your hands. Alternatively if you don’t want to add salt to your little ones meatballs, simply remove a portion of minced meat before the salt is added. Roll and cook separately.

With wet hands take some mince and roll into golf-sized balls. Apply a little pressure when rolling the meatballs to smooth out the cracks and to ensure they stick together. If freezing, do it at this stage.

Place on a plate, brush with a little olive oil, and add a little more olive oil to a frying pan to lightly fry the meatballs (medium heat) for 8-10 mins until golden and thoroughly cooked – when juices run clear.

Alternatively you can bake them in the oven for 10 -15 mins (400F/ 200C/ gas mark 6) until browned instead of frying. This is actually a really great method of cooking the meatballs – they stay super-moist and tender. Simply place the meatballs on a greaseproof-lined baking tray and pop them in the oven (middle shelf).


Marinara Sauce

Heat the oil in a pot on high heat and add the onions stir-frying continuously for 2 mins. Then turn to low heat and add the garlic and oregano. Continue to stir-fry for a few seconds then add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Simmer on low heat until the sauce thickens. Just before you turn off the heat add the fresh basil if using, and stir into the sauce.

Finally add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer together for 2-3 mins. Then remove a serving for your little one and add salt and chillies to the main pot and stir. Serve with freshly cooked spaghetti and top with a cheese of your choice.



Back to Reality | Crumbly Beef Goulash

This week was back to reality with a GIANT THUD being my first week back at work after the Christmas and New Year’s break. The holidays feel like a dream now and I find that I’m dragging myself around the office with a serious case of the holiday blues. That said, I like to look at the holiday blues as a positive, so here is my personal diagnosis of what the holiday blues is really about.

holiday blues quote

There you go… do my words of wisdom help you feel a little better about getting back into the old routine??

Anyway, old routine resumed (grudgingly) and the quick family meal recipes are once again back in demand. So I cooked this beef goulash recipe last night after work. It’s a Hungarian classic with a dash of Indian spices to make this a delish family meal.

crumbly beef goulash

I call this goulash a ‘crumbly’ goulash because I’ve chosen to use minced beef in this recipe over the usual chunks of beef so it’s much quicker from stove to table. And this satisfying, hassle-free meal and is even quicker because you simply serve it up with a freshly baked baguette from the supermarket. Or other alternatives are:

  1. Part-baked baguettes which you can buy from the supermarket. I LURVE these – ready in 10mins, warm, soft and fluffy straight from the oven. They keep in the cupboard for a few weeks too so a great purchase for your food cupboard.
  2. Garlic bread. Definitely not the traditional way to serve this meal but it tastes good so I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Another one that keeps for a while… just whack it in your freezer.

Finally just before I get to the recipe, here’s my usual summary of the superfoods and superspices included in this meal:

SuperFoods included – olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes, green bell pepper, yogurt
SuperSpices included – paprika, cardamom, black pepper, cayenne pepper (if used)

Total cooking and preparation time: 35-40mins
Serves a family of 4

Drizzle of olive oil
500g (1lb 2oz.) lean mined beef – washed, drained
1 onion – peeled, chopped
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. ground paprika
2 cardamom pods – green, crushed
1 x 400g (14 oz.) can of chopped tomatoes
120g (4 oz.) macaroni pasta
250ml (8 fl oz. / 1 cup) of water
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 green bell pepper – washed, de-seeded, diced
Salt to taste (optional)
Ground cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Greek style yogurt – to serve

Heat the oil in a pan, add the mince and stir-fry until browned (approx. 10mins).

Add the onions, garlic, paprika and cardamom and cook for 2mins. Then add the tomatoes, macaroni, water, black pepper. Stir, cover and simmer for 7mins.

Add the bell pepper, stir, cover and continue to simmer for a further 7-8mins until the peppers, macaroni and beef are all cooked.

Serve with a dollop of greek style yogurt and a baguette of your choice.

Tip: If you want to add salt and chillies to your serving but don’t want to include any in your kids meals, simply remove a serving or two from the main pot and set aside for the kids. Then feel free to add salt and chillies to the main pot and stir.

Indian Cauliflower Cheese (V)


This creamy British dish is always a favourite in my household but I like to spice it up a little by adding some yummy garlic and cumin just it give it a little extra pizazz!

cauliflower and cheese

This meal is totally dedicated to white superfoods – cauliflower and garlic. Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, is great for healthy skin, brain function and combined with cumin is great for a strong immune system. This is perfect for the time of year now that the cold is beginning to settle in because not only will this meal boost your little ones immune system, garlic has anti-viral properties which will help to keep pesky cold and flu viruses away.

SuperFoods included – cauliflower, garlic
Superspices included – cumin, black pepper

Cooking and preparation time: 15mins
Makes 4-6 servings

300g (11 oz) cauliflower florets – fresh or frozen
20g (¾ oz) unsalted butter
¼ tsp minced garlic
Pinch of ground cumin
1 ½ tbsp plain flour
130ml (4.5 fl oz) whole milk
Pinch of ground black pepper
25g (1 oz) cheddar cheese – mild or medium

Steam the cauliflower florets in a steamer or in the microwave by placing them in a microwavable dish, adding 1 tablespoon of water and covering with a lid (leaving a small vent) or cling film (piercing a few holes) and steaming for 7-8mins until tender.

Melt the butter in a pot on low heat, add the garlic and cumin and stir for 30secs. Then sprinkle in the flour and keep stirring until a loose paste has formed.

Pour in the milk in a little at a time stirring continuously until all has been poured in and let the sauce cook for a few minutes until it has thickened.

Remove from the heat, add the black pepper and sprinkle in the cheese a little at a time and stir until melted. Continue to do this until all of the cheese has been added and the sauce is smooth.

Stir in the cauliflower and mash or puree for babies as required. Alternatively leave the florets whole for older toddlers and offer it to them as a finger food. Great for helping babies practice their motor skills.

Tip: The sauce should be cooked on low heat throughout the recipe and use the smallest hob on the stove, this way you’ll avoid burning the butter and spices when you begin.


Ahmed, ZJ. 2012. Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook. London: Autharium

Black eyed bean pilaf with lime (V)



black eyed bean pilaf

Black eyed beans (or peas as they are referred to in some countries) are excellent for growing children and for vegetarian/ vegan diets. Classed as a legume they are rich in protein excellent for growing children, fibre, iron and potassium.

This recipe is brilliant for kids and my daughter still loves it today. Whenever she smells the spices when I’m preparing it, she suddenly becomes very interested in what I am doing and insists on being sat on the work surface next to me watching as I cook. Perhaps I have a budding chef on my hands…

Anyway, amongst the amazing aroma this pilaf releases, it’s also:

  • low-cost – you can pick up a tin of black eyed beans for just 48p from Asda
  • a one-pot recipe which is quick to cook and hassle free
  • convenient – stack the tins up in the cupboard and stockpile for a rainy day for the whole family
  • ‘1 of 5 a day’ – one 400g tin of black eyed beans counts towards ‘1 of our 5 a day’ for adults and older children.

Important: you must use tinned black eyed beans for this meal as they will cook within 10-15mins. If you choose to use dry black eyed beans, you will need to soak them overnight and allow at least 1-2 hours for the beans to cook until tender.

SuperFoods included – olive oil, onion, tomatoes, lime
SuperSpices included – cardamom, clove, cumin, coriander, black pepper

Total preparation and cooking time: 25mins

Makes 5-6 servings

Suitable for freezing

1½ tbsp. olive oil

1 onion – peeled, chopped

1 whole cardamom pod – black

1 whole clove

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground black pepper

200g (7oz) tinned chopped tomatoes

150g (5oz) tinned black-eyed beans (in water) – drained, rinsed

100g (3½oz/ ½ cup) white basmati rice — washed, drained

Squeeze of ½ a lime – ensuring no seeds fall in

280ml (9fl oz/ 1 ¼ cup) of water

Heat the oil in a pot and add the onion, cardamom, clove and stir-fry on medium-low heat for 5mins until the onion is golden.

Turn to low heat and add the cumin, coriander, black pepper and stir-fry for a few seconds. Then add the tomatoes and simmer for 2mins.

Add the black eyed beans, rice, lime juice and water. Stir and bring to the boil. Simmer (covered) on low heat for 10-15mins checking halfway. If the rice looks a little dry, add extra water and continue to cook until the rice and beans are tender and all of the water has been absorbed.

The rice should look a little moist when it’s done. Stir and set aside (covered) for 5mins.

IMPORTANT: Remove the cardamom pod and clove before serving to baby.

Serve to baby warm with a dollop of unsweetened yogurt. The rice grains should be soft enough to mash between little gums. If not, mash the rice and serve.


Tip: Change things up by adding vegetables to this pilaf – peas, sweet corn, cauliflower… All have unique tastes and nutrients to ensure your little one receives his/ her vegetable allowance for the day.


Dry black –eyed peas – USDA