National Vegetarian Week

Growing up with vegetarian parents meant that the majority of my meals were vegetarian. I was very lucky however, as even though my mum gave up eating meat long before I was born, she continued to cook it for us (me and my brothers/rest of the family). I was always amazed that she could make a meat dish from start to finish without trying it, and it would taste amazing! She did the same thing while we stayed with her recently, cooked us a doggy bag full of chicken curry and freshly made chappatis to take home and eat for dinner after the long drive. It tasted delicious!

Recently, I’ve wanted to try and eat more vegetables, and with it being National Vegetarian Week this week, I thought I’d share one of my favourite recipes from when I was a child.

Indian food lends itself really well to being vegetarian. With a big majority of India’s population following a vegetarian diet (some excluding eggs too), it’s no surprise that they have become creative when it comes to making the humble vegetable taste amazing. How could they not given the magic spices that are added. Check out my mum’s spice box, she’s had this for the last 40 years and it’s always got the essentials in it. Turmeric, chilli powder, ground cumin/coriander (we buy this mixed together), salt, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida, for those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a pungent spice extracted from a plant of the giant fennel family. Often used to ensure that there are plenty of good gut bacteria in your dish to aid digestion. Also often used to create an oniony flavour, without adding onions. Use it sparingly though, it’s a really strong flavour!img_9571

Vegetables should make up half your plate of food on a regular basis, so I have to make sure that they are super tasty at the same time right?

With lots of exotic vegetables available now, one of my favourites growing up was the humble cauliflower. It was made once every couple of weeks on rotation while I was growing up, I think it’s still on my parents regular dinner rotation now! It takes minutes to cook, packs a load of flavour and is really packed full of nutrition. You might remember the famous line about “Aloo Gobi” from Bend it like Beckham, this is a Punjabi vegetarian specialty. Gujarati Indians on the other hand, have always done cauliflower and peas, this is my personal favourite.

Usually, if my mum made this for dinner, it would be one of two dishes, along side a dhal or a potato curry (Gujarati vegetarians-aka my parents especially, love a good carb on carb combo). Sometimes my mum would add chopped potatoes to the curry and then make a lentil dish as well as another vegetable dish too, you knew on those days when you walked in you were in for a feast for dinner!

I usually make this in my Instant Pot as it means the cooking time is super speedy and I can get on with other things while it cooks. But it can be done without a pressure cooker and doesn’t take too much longer. I hope you enjoy this curry as much as I do!

Serves: 2 as a main course

Time: 10-20 minutes depending on the cooking method

Ingredients

  1. 300g cauliflower, cut into roughly 1 inch florets
  2. 150g frozen peas
  3. 1/2 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  4. 1 tbsp sunflower oil (or flavourless oil of choice)
  5. 1 tsp mustard speeds
  6. 1 pinch asafoetida
  7. 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  8. 1/2 tsp turmeric
  9. 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  10. 1 tsp ground cumin
  11. 1 tsp ground coriander
  12. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  13. 1 tablespoon passata
  14. Salt to taste
  15. 50ml-100ml water
  16. Freshly chopped coriander (to garnish, optional)

Directions

  • Push the saute button on your Instant Pot and add your oil and mustard seeds. Wait for the seeds to start sizzle and splatter a little and then add your pinch of asofetida.
  • Give the whole lot a stir and then add your cauliflower and peas and stir through the mustard seeds for around 2 minutes
  • Add your dry spices,garlic, chilli, salt and lemon juice and then add your water to the pot to deglaze any mustard seeds which may have stuck to the bottom.
  • Stir in your passata, and then pop the lid onto your Instant Pot. Program the pot to manual, high pressure for 2 minutes. It should come to pressure relatively quickly as all the ingredients are already warm. Give it a quick release once it beeps.
  • Give the whole thing a good stir, garnish with fresh coriander leaves if using and serve.

No Instant Pot? No problem, just follow the method in a pan with a lid and cover up and steam for 10 minutes rather than pressure cooking.

I’m sharing this recipe with #cookblogshare this week
Hijacked By Twins

 

Advertisements

Lunch prep

If you’ve been following my instagram stories, you’ll see I’ve been having the same thing for lunches for about 3 weeks straight now.

When I came back from my holidays I found it really difficult to get back on track like I did the previous holiday and even after Christmas. I was torn between wanting to eat everything but also wanting to make progress. My coach Daniel created me a great little progress chart from the measurements he’s been taking over the last couple of years, seeing those lines go down like that was such an eye opener. I had to see these lines go down more, it’s super motivating!

We had a chat and he gave me some great advise: “take a look in MyFitnessPal from when you were really making big progress, then you’ll be able to see what you were eating and how much, it should help get you back on track”. So off I went to do a little investigating. Turns out, I was eating protein and vegetables through these months, a lot of protein and vegetables.

The first week I was hell bent on having chicken breast and vegetables, and that I did, but I absolutely hated it! I want my food to taste amazing, and I want to want to eat. I don’t see food as fuel to get me through and so I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry on like that.

Previously, I was having spiced turkey mince with a side salad of some sort, it was tasty but there was quite a lot of prep to do considering it was two dishes. Salad goes off relatively quickly too so I’d have to prep that every other day. Plus it meant I had to take two separate Tupperware’s to work and heat one up and not the other, the thought of doing that now made me rethink my lunches.

I wanted to incorporate lots of vegetables into my turkey mince but without them compromising the flavour of the dish. Then I saw an advert for the new Birds Eye chickpea and spinach mix with cauliflower and lentils. It’s frozen and easily cooked off in the microwave for 5 mins. This isn’t an ad at all by the way but Birds Eye, if you’re reading, I wouldn’t mind doing a bit of recipe development for you with your new ranges if you fancy it! 🙂 Back to the mix, looking at the nutritional content, I thought I’d give it a go with my turkey. It’s safe to say 3 weeks later I haven’t looked back. While we were visiting my parents over the long weekend, I even got my mum to cook this recipe for me while we were out so I had my prepped lunches ready!

img_2532

This recipe would work great with all kinds of vegetables, if you didn’t fancy the ones I used you could always cook of the turkey mince and add a whole load of roasted vegetables if you fancy, or a batch of cooked lentils/chickpeas on their own. I quite like the variety of all the different textures with this mix so I’m going to stick to it for now.

If you wanted to get fancy, and you didn’t have any calorie or dietary restrictions, you could also add a crumble of feta and some crispy croutons/crunchy almonds once you’ve heated it up to serve, I think this recipe would taste delicious as a warm salad.

It’s a super simple recipe and it all comes together in around 20 minutes, so there’s no excuse not to have a decent lunch everyday of the week if I prep well right? I split this recipe out into 5 portions, this works for my personal goals but might not work for you, when EmJay saw my portions he gave me a huge facepalm, but that’s fine as I’m doing what works for me remember. You need to do what works for you!

img_2715

I hope you give this recipe a try and love it as much as I do! I use turkey breast mince as it’s low in fat and high in protein, you could also use any other mince you fancy depending on your tastes, it would also work well with vegetarian alternatives like quorn, crumbled tofu or even grated paneer!

Serves: 4 portions
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  1. 1 tbsp oil of your choice
  2. 500g turkey breast mince
  3. 100g onion, chopped finely
  4. 100g mixed peppers, chopped finely
  5. 4 garlic cloves, crushed/grated
  6. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  7. 1 tsp ground cumin
  8. 1 tsp ground coriander
  9. ½ tsp turmeric
  10. ½ tsp garam masala
  11. Vegetable/chicken stock cube
  12. 450-500g vegetables of your choice (I use the birdseye frozen pack)
  13. Lemon juice

Directions

  • Heat up a pan on a medium heat and add your oil and turkey mince, break up the mince and brown off for 2-3 minutes before crumbling in your stock cube.
  • If using the frozen veg pack, pop the contents into a bowl at this stage and microwave on a high heat for 5 minutes.
  • Once the mince is all broken up, add the garlic, onions, peppers, turmeric, ground cumin and coriander and give the whole lot a good mix so that the spices are distributed evenly. Cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, add your vegetables, garam masala and chilli powder and give it a good mix. Check the seasoning at this point and add more salt or pepper if required.
  • Cover and allow to cook for another 5 minutes and then garnish with fresh coriander and lemon juice if desired.
  • Serve on its own or with some crumbled feta and chopped almonds.

I’m sharing this recipe with weekly link up #cookblogshare

Hijacked By Twins

Meal prepping – part 5

So, since the last meal prepping post, before we went away, I actually got to a number on the scales which I’ve been waiting on for AGES. While I was away, it did go back up, which was understandable. BUT, before we went, I’m pleased to say that I was 2cm down around my waist and these 2cm stayed off! These kind of non-scale victories are always a win for me. I even got to wear a bikini while I was away, I haven’t been able to do this for years and years without feeling like a bloated killer whale.

I’ve been trying super hard to get my 150g of protein into my 1400 calories since I got back and it’s been really tough, but I’m trying my best. I am still hungry, all the time, but that’s a natural feeling. If I want to lose weight, I have to be in a calorie deficit, that means, I’m going to be hungry.

The good news is, it’s meant I’ve been working hard to come up with meals with a really high protein content. One of the recipes I adapted, was a chicken pie from Marcus Wareing’s book, New Classics. Instead of using 2 sheets of pastry which the recipe states, I made the full filling and stuffed it into 1 sheet which I’d rolled out super thin. In turn, it meant each piece of this pie had a whopping 35g of protein which is a win to me. I even got to freeze some leftovers, so I know I have 2 pieces of pie, each with 35g of protein stashed away in the freezer for one of those days where I don’t want to cook.

Another thing I’ve been experimenting with is burgers. I love a good burger. There is something really comforting about a big portion of yummy seasoned meat sandwiched between soft bread with ketchup and mayonnaise… mmmm… Sorry, got a little distracted there in my burger day dream. I’ve got a great recipe for a turkey mince and halloumi burger in development at the moment, as soon as it’s ready I’ll share it with you all! So anyhoo, what goes best with burgers? A huge big heap of fries for me!

Who doesn’t love fries though?! If I could, I would eat them with every meal, chunky, skinny or matchstick, I’d have them all. With my love of fries and just the humble potato in general, I had to come up with a way to enjoy my fries in a healthier way. If there was a support group for potato lovers, I’d be there!

So, back to the chips, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to be able to enjoy my favourite snack without deep frying them to start. I also wanted to make sure they are packed with flavour, doing this, I’ve found even having just a few means my craving is banished and in turn I eat less, win win I say don’t you?

So I’ve come up with these fries, that are cooked with onions and peppers and coated with spray oil and concentrated liquid stock amongst a few other ingredients which add bags of flavour!

We usually enjoy these with everything from burgers to grilled chicken or fish, or if I’m alone, I’ll often have them alongside some cottage cheese to add protein and a huge side salad.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Serves: 2 hungry people as a side
Time: 30 minutes prep, plus cooking time

Ingredients

  1. 4 medium-sized maris piper potatoes(chopped into roughly 1cm chips)
  2. 1 large onion of your choice
  3. 1 bell pepper/½ each of 2 different coloured bell peppers
  4. 1 tbsp Concentrated liquid stock of choice/ 1 stock cube crumbled and mixed into the oil
  5. 1 tsp Granulated garlic
  6. A good grind of black pepper
  7. 2 tbsp sunflower oil/a few sprays of your favourite oil

Directions

  • Once the potatoes are chopped and peeled to your preference, soak them in cold water for 10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly to get rid of as much starch as possible, drain and dry them off in a clean tea towel or tissue
  • Place in a single layer on a microwave proof plate, cover and cook on high for 5 minutes, uncover the chips and cook again for 5 minutes to ensure the moisture from steaming evaporates, allow the potatoes to cool
  • Meanwhile, chop your onions and peppers into 1cm dice and keep aside until you are ready to cook
  • Once everything is ready, heat up your oven 200°c (Fan).
  • Put the potatoes, onions, peppers into a tray and add all your seasonings and sunflower oil
  • Place your tray into your preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so to get everything nice and crispy.
  • Serve on their own or with your choice of protein and vegetables.

I’ve linked up this post and recipe to #cookonceeatwice and #cookblogshare

CookBlogShare

Cook Once Eat Twice badge

A South African Adventure…

So, apologies for the recent silence here on JoshiCooks! We’ve been away, on a South African adventure and then I started a new full time job (yay!), in other words, life has been really busy in the last few weeks. BUT, do not despair, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking as you can see from my Instagram feed, I’ve been working on LOADs of different recipes and writing up a few that I’ve wanted to write up for ages so all you lovely readers can start having a go at some more stuff with me.

So getting back to what we’ve been upto. Cape Town, we had this trip planned for a long while, my cousin was getting and we were lucky enough to be invited and attend the wedding in Stellenbosch, a city just outside Cape Town.

It’s not a destination we ever had on our list of ‘Let’s go on holiday here’ but wow are we glad we went. It’s a stunning country, and one which we wish we had more time in. The vineyards are beautiful and the food is fantastic!

EmJay treated us to a luxurious Business Class trip so that started our adventure in style. The service and food on the Emirates flight were fantastic. It was amazing standing at the bar whilst on a flight, the first leg from London through to Dubai was possibly one of the best flights we’ve ever taken!

Once we arrived we went straight to our hotel Banhoek Lodge in Stellenbosch. The wedding festivities started the next day, but before all those began, we had booked to go to La Petite Colombe, a restaurant in the neighbouring town Franschhoek. It’s part of a chain of 3 restaurants, all based in Cape Town. South Africa. I’ll be writing a post about our experience so watch out for that! For now, all I say is if you are planning a trip to Cape Town, Franschhoek is about an hour away from the city, and we’d definitely recommend you go there to experience the beautiful food on offer.

The next day we also visited a vineyard called Hidden Valley, where we did a wine tasting along side a charcuterie and cheese platter. The scenery was like a dream and it really was located in a hidden valley as the name suggests.

Our trip to South Africa was something we won’t forget. We already want to go back to do a safari and potentially drive around the winelands to take in the amazing views and mountain air.

That’s probably not going to happen any time soon though, for now, we’re back to work and back to routine, that also means back to cooking and meal prepping, and now that it’s spring, it also means more sunshine and salads hopefully!

I’ve got some of my meal prep recipes lined up for you in the coming weeks so I do hope you’ll stay along for the ride! In the meantime, let me know if you’ve been to South Africa, which areas did you go to? Is there anywhere in particular you’d recommend for a safari when we do start to plan our next trip?

A Trip on a Bombay Railway…

I was born on the 2nd of January, so every year, it’s the day people are going back to work after the Christmas break and tired and depressed after over eating for two weeks and then having to change out of pyjamas and head to the gym.

Because of all the busy times, we always end up celebrating later on in the month. This year, we went to a new Indian restaurant in London, Bombay Bustle with friends.

In their own words:

Bombay Bustle in Mayfair captures the essence of Mumbai, our love of home comforts alongside our rapid pace of life, both existing side by side. The restaurant is a place just as well suited to a leisurely dinner with friends as a quick lunch for one, always inspired by Mumbai’s diverse flavours, and home style cooking

We were amoungst the first to arrive as we had a really early booking, the first thing that surprised us was that our booking for 4 people was only for 1 hour 30 minutes. We haven’t been anywhere with such a short table time previously so we weren’t sure whether we’d feel rushed or not.

The restaurant decor feels just like a Bombay railway, there was some light music in the background and we were seated in a booth which felt just like a sleeper carriage in India, along with the little luggage racks up above us.

We were swiftly approached by our waiter and he gave us the drinks and food menus. As we were celebrating my birthday, we ordered cocktails and some papadoms to get our dinner juices flowing. They all arrived in good time and the popadoms were served in a really quirky little tiffin box which added an element of fun to the presentation.

To start we ordered a few bits and pieces, I had my eye on the duck Chettinand dosa and the goat keema pau since we’d booked the table a week or so beforehand so we ordered those two plus lamb chops, chicken wings and a samosa papdi chaat. I also really wanted to try the fish and chip starter, but when I asked if the chef was able to remove the skin for me I was told they weren’t able to.

All the food came out in good time. My favourite dish was the duck Chettinand dosa, the crunchy dosas were filled with tender spicy duck and masala, served with chutneys, they were the perfect way to start our meal. The goat keema came a close second with it’s rich flavours and creamy texture.

Main course, we went for a couple of dishes to share, Dum Nalli Biriyani and a Bohri Chicken Curry. We also got some naan bread, EmJay requested a truffle naan, which is available on the starter menu with a scrambled egg, as delicious as it was, we were disappointed that we had to pay for the entire dish (Masala Akuri) instead of just a subsidary to a regular naan. The biriyani, was tasty, but certainly didn’t tantalize our taste buds like other dum biriyanis we’ve had. The curry was delicately spiced and had a lovely creamy texture with tender chicken, it was spiced in a way I hadn’t had chicken before, and it was definitely something I’d like to recreate.

img_0069

Once our main courses were finished, our waiter advised that for desserts, they would relocate us to their dessert bar downstairs; we guessed this was because the table was on a 1 hour 30 minute limit, so they needed to move us relatively quickly once this time was over.

We followed the waiter downstairs to a great area around the dessert station. This has the potential to be absolutely brilliant. The only problem is, once seated, we can’t actually see what the chefs are doing as the glass is frosted.

For dessert, our friends had kindly gone to the Hummingbird Bakery and bought us a cupcake each which was served to us by the chefs. Following this we took a look at the dessert menu and EmJay and myself ordered the Chocolate Samosa dessert to share. I was really looking forward to this, samosas are one of my absolute favourite snacks, so to have one filled with ooey gooey chocolate would be the dream. Sadly, it was pretty underwhelming. The chocolate wasn’t ooey gooey, infact it was a little grainy, so much so we both took a bite and stopped eating.  While we were eating it, the chef was plating up the jalebi dessert, this looked more like the kind of thing we wanted to eat so we requested a taste. The chef kindly gave us a little sample, this was really interesting, cheesecake with hints of cardamom and spices, with pieces of crunchy jalebi and a saffron caviar. We also tried the masala chai, it was lovely and spiced heavily with ginger which is just how I like it.

Overall, our experience was a positive one. The staff was friendly and attentive, the cocktails were great and the food was really tasty.  We did however begin to feel a little rushed while we were eating our desserts which was a little disappointing. I’m sure it’s the kind of place we would want to visit again if the menu was to change, we felt like we tried all the things we wanted to, so we probably won’t be going back in a hurry as it’s on the more expensive side of a ‘Let’s just go to dinner’ evening.

Snack-cidents, all day everyday!

So if you’ve been following the meal prepping series, you’ll already know I feel like I’m eating a lot of chicken and turkey recently. Given that these are lean meats which are high in protein, it means I’m winning on all bases.

I did however get bored of eating egg cups relatively quickly, and I’m now beginning to bore of the chicken and cottage cheese combo. It’s tough, I’m trying my best to stay on track!

Last week I really really wanted something sweet after I’d eaten my dinner, and I had around 200 calories from my daily allowance remaining after I’d eaten. It’s probably worth noting, this rarely ever happens, so I was excited at the thought of eating something sweet.

So, what to have?

I had some Greek yogurt in the fridge which I thought would be great mixed with a little vanilla flavoured sweetener but I wanted something with a little bite too. Seeing as I was along at home, I decided to make some granola. A little trial turned out super yum so I wanted to share it with you all as it would make a great addition to your usual cereal breakfasts! It was really quick and is also super adaptable to personal tastes too! Having looked at a few recipes online, I came up with the combination of butter, maple syrup, oats and nuts along with a handful or two of cornflakes. You can of course add dried fruit and any number of other seeds and grains to your liking. I prefer it simple and I’ve been serving it with slightly sweetened Greek yogurt or snacking on it by itself for a little sweet crunch with my cup of tea while I’m working!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! The recipe can be found here, it’s also super easy to scale up as required!

img_0276

Hijacked By Twins

 

New Year, Same Me?

Hi everyone! I can’t believe it’s taken me almost 3 weeks to get my first post of the year to you! I apologise! BUT, this does mean I’ve been pretty busy in the kitchen in the last few weeks too.

After hosting a Christmas Eve (and Birthday) party, we then also hosted Christmas day too! Luckily, a few weeks before Christmas, I had caught site of Helen’s post on The Crazy Kitchen. I knew with so many people coming over and such a small kitchen I’d have to be prepared, and prepared I was. A couple of weeks before, I part cooked my roasties, pre-cooked my carrots and parsnips with spices and half roasted my sprouts. I also had all my starters ready and dessert was super simple and took 15 minutes on the big day to whip up (I used a recipe from Marcus Wareing’s book New Classics).  I even got my vegetarian main courses ready too and popped them in the freezer, on the day all we had to do was pop everything in the oven while the turkey was resting.

We also got to use our dining table for the first time since we bought it more than a year ago! Check out how our living room transformed for Christmas Dinner?

Anyhoo, back to reality happened pretty swiftly for us as EmJay returned to work on Boxing Day, and I was working in between Christmas and New Year. Once we were back to work, all we wanted was to eat wholesome food and vegetables again, as much as we love cheese and charcuterie, it’s taken us till now to fully recover(!!!).

While we were off, we talked a lot about our goals and plans for the year, the trips we’re going on and of course the list of many many restaurants we’d like to tick off our ever growing list!

Our first trip is Cape Town, South Africa! We’re super excited to have been invited to my cousin’s destination wedding and can’t wait to celebrate with family and friends. Apart from the celebrations, we’ve read lots about South Africa being a food lovers dream, we’re already planning a wine tour and a visit to a local chocolate factory. Do you have any restaurant recommendations? If so we’d love to check them out too! We’re lucky enough to have time to also incorporate a trip to Mauritius along with this too! EEEKS! The excitement is too much to handle! I’m hoping to taste some delicious food there too, since seeing Shelina Permalloo win UK Masterchef a few years ago, I’ve wanted to try this cuisine even more!

If you follow me on Instagram (@JoshiCooks), you’ll know that I’m currently eating ALOT of protein (my trainer has recommended a target of ATLEAST 150g a day). I’m trying my hardest to get this via food instead of supplements. The first few days were really hard, I couldn’t believe it, but I was SO hungry! ALL THE TIME!  As we’d just been through the festive period, it meant my body was used to a few extra calories for a couple weeks too. Since then, it’s been around a week since Daniel advised on these new goals and I’m glad to say with a little bit of a experimenting, I’ve managed to get around 99g of protein into my work day! So I thought I’d give you a run down of what I eat through a regular day. Getting 99g of protein through the day gives me a little bit of a buffer to have a lovely dinner with added carbs when I’m home from work.

Meal 1: 7am – Vanilla Protein Shake (23.2g protein, 125kcal)

Meal 2: 10.30am – 2 Spicy Egg Bites (14.3g protein, 100kcal)

Meal 3: 1pm – Turkey Chilli (45.3g protein, 258kcal)

Meal 4: 3.30pm – 50g cottage cheese, 50g spicy chicken breast (15.9g protein, 107kcal)

That’s a total of 590kcal for my working day and a whopping 99g of protein, pretty good right? And I still have 846kcal to have 51g of protein plus, 90g carbohydrates and 27g fat!

I’m working on lots of different high protein recipes, the first one being my high protein, turkey mince chilli, using my own spice blend! It’s taken me a good few weeks but I think I’ve nailed it now. A chilli which isn’t too spicy, but is packed full of flavour. You can of course add more spices and jalapenos if you like it super spicy! I usually make this is as a batch which then lasts me around about 8 lunches (around 250g of chilli to get my 45g of protein). It contains no added fat either with a cheeky little hack on how to saute off your mince without oil.

Go check out the recipe if you want to try it for yourself here.

Hijacked By Twins