roast carrot dip on celery

Roasted Carrot Dip

roast carrot dip on celery

Do you ever get bored of houmous?  Then you have taramasalata or tsatziki for a change but somehow or other you end up back with houmous again.   Maybe it’s just me. Maybe other people are more adventurous with their dips.

Well, I normally love houmous.  I love to make it myself and vary the spices or herbs added to it.   But as much as I love it, I was becoming a little bored.  I was also becoming lazy and just buying it in the supermarket.   That was when I came across a recipe for a carrot dip on Foodbod.   Now, I already love carrot and tahini soup so why not a carrot dip? I knew I had to make it.

I blitzed the roasted vegetables first and it was tasty from the spices but quite sweet.   With just the right amount of lemon juice, tahini, salt and pepper, it lost that over-sweetness and became perfect for scooping up with crunchy sticks of celery.

A rival for houmous?   Well, an alternative certainly and possibly the stepping stone I need to go on to experiment with more vegetable dips.  So what should be next? Beetroot? Parsnip?  Sweet potato?


350g carrots, cut into large chunks

1 onion, peeled and quartered

4 cloves garlic with  the skins on

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1-2 tbsp tahini

Juice of 1 lemon


Black pepper

How to Make Roasted Carrot Dip

1. Put the carrots, onion and garlic cloves on a baking tray.   Add the spices and some oil and toss together.   Put in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180c.  Check the carrots are not still hard.  If so, return to the oven for a bit longer.  When the vegetables are ready, leave to cool before making the dip.

2. Put the vegetables in a food processor, squeezing the garlic cloves out of their skins, and blend until smooth.   Add the lemon juice, the tahini, the salt and pepper, a little at a time.  Keep blending and tasting until you get it how you like it.

3. Serve with vegetables as a dip.

I am linking this to Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Tinned Tomatoes, and to The Spice Trail, hosted by Bangers and Mash. The spice this month is cumin.  I am also linking it to Made with Love Mondays at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/luv.

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Mexican Chicken Stew

For a long time I have been tempted by the idea of making a stew with cocoa or chocolate in it.  You might think my experiments with cocoa pasta might have put me off but not at all.  When Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog announced that this month We Should Cocoa would have the theme, sugar free, I knew it was my chance to finally push myself to make a proper savoury cocoa dish.   After all, the pasta contained hidden sugar, but if I made a stew I would know exactly what was in it and there would be no chance of being surprised by an unwanted sweet chocolate taste.

This time, my savoury cocoa dish really was savoury and I enjoyed it so much.  The cocoa gave the tomato base for the stew a richer flavour with just a hint of bitterness.  There wasn’t an obvious chocolate flavour.  If you didn’t know it had cocoa in, you might not even guess, and I suspect that that is what most people want from a savoury cocoa dish.  An added layer of flavour but not an overpowering hit.

As well as We Should Cocoa, which is hosted on alternate months by Chele at Chocolate Teapot, I am also linking this to My Kitchen My World (the theme is anywhere) and Bloggers Around the World at Cooking Around the World.  The theme this month is Mexico.

Mexican Chicken Stew (500x397)

Ingredients – serves 2-3

250g chicken, diced

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 red pepper, sliced

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 red chilli pepper, sliced

Handful of Coriander (cilantro), chopped

2 spring onions, sliced

3 cloves

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp cocoa powder

How to Make Mexican Chicken Stew

1. Heat a little oil in a sauce pan.   Add the onion and chilli pepper and cook until soft.  Add the red pepper and crushed garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.

2. Add the chicken.   Cook until it is sealed on all sides, then stir in the cocoa, cumin, cloves and tomatoes.  Add a dash of water and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

3. A few minutes before the end of the cooking time, stir in the spring onion and just before serving, stir in the chopped coriander.

4. Serve with rice or flatbreads.


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Who doesn’t like to have a  cooked breakfast every now and then?  And however nice bacon and eggs are, it’s nice to have a change occasionally, which is partly how I came to make Shakshuka.  Shakshuka, or chakchouka, is a dish of poached eggs, cooked in a tomatoey sauce with onions, herbs and spices, sometimes with peppers, aubergine and chickpeas as well.   Variations of it are eaten throughout the Middle East and North Africa, but it is thought to come from Tunisia originally, which is the second reason why I decided to make it: I needed a Tunisian dish for My Kitchen My World.   If you haven’t heard of My Kitchen My World, it’s a fantastic event where a different country is chosen each month and participants make a dish from that country.   As I love discovering new dishes, it’s a perfect event for me.

I loved the finished dish.   Adding chillies to anything always makes me happy, cumin is one of my favourite spices and I love fresh coriander, so I would definitely make this again.   It reminded me very much of huevos rancheros which is the closest thing to this I’d eaten before.  I’m sure from now on I’ll be making the two dishes so many slight variations I won’t actually be able to say which dish I’m making.  Not that that matters of course.

Ingredients – Serves 2

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1/2 red pepper, sliced

1/2 green pepper, sliced

1/2 onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, finely diced or crushed

1 chilli pepper, finely sliced

2 eggs

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander


Black pepper

How to make Shakshuka

1. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan.   Add the chopped pepper.  Fry for a few minutes then add the onion, garlic and chilli.

2. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes along with the dried herbs, spices, salt and pepper.

3. After a few minutes make two hollows in the tomato mixture.    Add the eggs and continue to cook until they have set.

4. Before serving, sprinkle over the fresh coriander.   Then serve with warm pita bread.

Stuffed Aubergines

If you regularly read this blog you may have noticed that I have made very few posts in the last couple of months and you may also have noticed that I haven’t been reading blogs either during that time.  It’s not that I’ve got bored of it or don’t want to blog any more.   No, the truth is, I’m pregnant, and the last thing I’ve felt like doing is cooking, eating, reading or blogging about food.   Luckily I’m now beginning to feel a little better and hope to try and catch up with everything I’ve missed in the last few months.   This recipe is actually something I made back in July.   I absolutely loved it and will definitely count it among my favourite vegetarian dishes, especially once my taste buds have got back to normal.

Ingredients – Serves 2

1 aubergine

2 tomatoes, chopped into small pieces

1/2 tsp sugar

1 small onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp paprika


Black pepper

50g feta cheese, cubed

1 tbsp parmesan, grated

1 tbsp breadcrumbs

Olive oil

How to make Stuffed Aubergines

1. Cut the aubergines in half and score on the inside.  Rub liberally with olive oil and put in a baking dish, scored side facing upward,  in the oven at about 180c for 40 minutes.

2. Fry the onion in a small sauce pan.   As it begins to soften add the sugar. When it is beginning to caramelise, add the tomatoes, garlic, cumin, nutmeg and paprika.   Continue to cook until the mixture is very soft.

3. Remove the aubergines from the oven.   Hold one end with a fork and scrape the flesh out with a spoon.   Leave about 1/2 cm of flesh inside the skin.   Add the aubergine flesh and cheese to the pan with the tomatoes and onions.  Stir together.

4. Add this stuffing mixture back into the aubergine skins.

5. Mix the bread crumbs and parmesan together.   Sprinkle on top of the aubergines and return to the oven for 15 minutes.

Avocado, Yogurt and Coriander Dip

At the beginning of this month I hoped I would manage to find time to take part in the Secret Recipe Club.   As the end of the month neared,  I began to wish I’d opted out for a month.  Anyway,  it was too late, and I didn’t want to be the one to cause another poor blogger to be orphaned, so I set to to make this lovely dip which I found over at Darn Near Domestic, the blog I was assigned to.  Darn Near Domestic is written by Kirsty who really has some lovely recipes but I’m not doing a lot of cooking at the moment, so although I could have made something much more complicated, I really wanted to make something quick and easy.   But quick and easy does not of course mean not tasty.   I love avocado and normally just mash it up with lime juice so it was good to try this and make something a little different.   I loved the fresh coriander in it and the cumin also gave it a nice flavour but I didn’t follow the recipe exactly as I missed out the raw onion and the chopped tomato.


1 avocado

1 1/2 tbsp yoghurt

1 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro)

1/4 tsp cumin


How to make Avocado, Yoghurt and Coriander Dip

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend till smooth.

2. Taste and add extra coriander, cumin or salt if necessary.

Stuffed Chillies in Yoghurt

This month for Dom’s random recipe challenge over at Belleau Kitchen we had to go to our favourite cookbook and pick a recipe randomly.   Now, deciding which is my favourite cookbook was not an easy task but I knew it would have to be one of Anjum Anand’s books.   As I have two, I picked the one that was nearest to me, Indian Food Made Easy.   I also knew that as I like her recipes so much I would be able to be completely honest and stick exactly to the rules when picking the recipe.  No opening the book at random and thinking, no, not that, and trying again.   This time I knew there was no chance of any cheating, not that there was last time of course either.   Anyway, I had already cooked practically all the recipes in this book, although I had only posted about two or three, so when the book opened at this page, I was more than happy to make them again.

Unfortunately, one thing I never learn when deseeding chillies, is to use rubber gloves.   The first few chillies were ok but then my fingers started to prickle, and then to sting, and then I wiped my face leaving half of my forehead and one of my cheeks turning red too.   Two days later my hands were still stinging. And it’s not as if I’m unused to chillies – I cook with them practically every day.    But despite the pain, these chillies were definitely worth making.   They are fiery and hot but the yoghurt cools them and stops them from being too overpowering.    If you love strong flavours, spices and lots of chilli heat you will love these.

Yoghurt Sauce Ingredients

2 1/2 tbsp desiccated coconut

5 tbsp yoghurt

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp curry leaves


Stuffing Ingredients

1 medium-sized potato

1/3 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 onion, finely diced


Additional Ingredients

8 large green chillies

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/3 tsp fennel seeds

How to make Stuffed Chillies in Yoghurt

1. Peel and quarter the potato.   Boil for 15 minutes.   Drain and mash.

2.While the potato is boiling, fry the onion in a little oil until it is soft.

3.Add the turmeric, ground cumin and onion to the potato and mix well.

4. Deseed the chillies by making a slit down one side.  Scrape the seeds and membrane out.  Don’t worry if one or two seeds stay in.   If possible use rubber gloves.

5. Using a teaspoon, stuff the chillies with the potato filling.

6. Heat a little more oil in  large frying pan.   Add the mustard, cumin and fennel seeds.   After about 20 second they will start to pop.   At this point add the chillies too.  I had a little filling left over so I made it into a small patty and fried it as well.   Turn the chillies after about 4 minutes.   Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.

7. Make the sauce by stirring the coconut into the yoghurt.   Add about 2 tbsp cold water so it’s not too thick.  Season

8. Heat a little more oil in a small saucepan.   Add the cumin and  mustard seeds and curry leaves.   Fry for about 20 seconds until the mustard seeds start to pop and then pour over the yoghurt.

9. Serve the yoghurt sauce over the chillies.   It can be a starter, side dish or even a main meal with some rice or bread.

Fragrant Chicken

I’m still going through my coriander phase and in this recipe, the coriander really makes the dish.   Lots and lots of coriander.   I know it’s a herb but I find I’m using it almost like spinach these days!

With the word, ‘fragrant’ in the title, it sounds like this dish must be full of complex subtleties.   But no, sometimes the simplest of dishes are the best.   If I’m organised I marinate the chicken first but often, especially if I’ve just got back from work, I just throw things in the wok, pour hot chicken stock over some couscous, and it’s ready to eat in much less than half an hour.   Honestly.   This is not Jamie Oliver talking, this is me at normal pace.   I would describe it as a stir fry with North African flavours and it’s incredibly quick, tasty and easy to make.


2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips

1 small red onion, sliced

Handful of pine nuts

Handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), including leaf and stalks, roughly chopped

1 red pepper, sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed or finely diced

1 chilli, finely sliced

Small knob of root ginger, finely diced

1tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

How to make Fragrant Chicken

1. If you have time in advance, combine the dry spices, ginger, chilli and garlic with a little olive oil and marinate the chicken for an hour.   If you don’t have time for this then just go straight to step 2.

2. Heat a little oil in a wok and then add the chicken and spices from step 1.

3. While the chicken is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until they are slightly browned.

4. When the chicken is cooked on all sides, add the red pepper and onion to the wok. Continue to cook for about 4 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Add the pine nuts and coriander leaf and stir through.

6. Serve with couscous.

Bangladeshi Beef Stew

This stew started out as a curry but turned into a stew.   I love curry but have never made it in the slow cooker before.  I generally think that making the paste and cooking it all properly and slowly makes a great curry and I don’t want to mess with it.    However, I think beef done in the slow cooker comes out really well, tender and just falling apart.   I therefore decided I would experiment, not with one of my usual chicken curries, but with a beef one.   I thought if I followed a recipe I had done before but ‘properly’ I might be disappointed.  The recipe was adapted from this site.   When I took it out of the slow cooker it was a little watery so I had to put it on the hob to thicken using cornflour.   If you find there isn’t too much water then you could omit this step.    But, the important question, was it good and would I make it again this way?   Well, I enjoyed it, but not as a curry,  I have therefore decided to call it a stew, although it has the flavours of a curry.  Next time I make it I will say I’m making a Bangladeshi beef stew and then I will be getting what I expect and will not be even the slightest bit disappointed.
Ingredients – serves 2

1 onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 potato, cut into 12 pieces
1 green pepper, sliced (I’d run out so used a yellow pepper)
3 green chilli pepper, finely sliced
knob of fresh ginger, finely diced
3 cardamom pods, crushed a little
3 cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
200ml water
400g stewing steak
1bsp cornflour
How to make Bangladeshi Beef Stew

1. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cover with water.  Stir so everything is well combined.  Cook for 8 hours.
2. When ready, there may be a little too much liquid.   Remove the dish from the slow cooker and place on the hob.    Mix the cornflour with a little of the liquid then put the mixture back into the dish.   Cook for another 5 minutes on the hob until the sauce thickens.
3. Serve with rice.

Chicken Curry with Pickling Spices

Thanks to Anjum Anand again.   This is a recipe adapted from her book,  Anjum’s New Indian.   It contains lots of spices and is really delicious.    When I first got the book I made a different curry recipe every week for about 3 months.   I could happily eat this type of food every day and keep experimenting with different spices.


2 chicken breasts, cut into large cubes

4 cloves of garlic

Knob of ginger

1 onion

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1/2 tsp nigella seeds

1tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

3 green chillis

1 tsp garam masala

1 tomato

2 tbsp yoghurt

1 tsp dried coriander leaf

How to make Chicken Curry with Pickling Spices

1. Make a paste in the blender with the onion, garlic and ginger.

2. Heat some oil in a saucepan.  Add the whole spices and cook for about 30 seconds until the seeds begin to pop.   Add the paste and cook for about 10 minutes.

3. Add the chillis, cumin, turmeric and coriander.   Stir into the paste and cook for about 3 minutes.   Add the chicken.  Keep turning so it browns on all sides.

4. Blitz the tomatoes in the blender.  Add to the saucepan with the yoghurt and dried coriander.  Stir well.    Add a little water to cover the chicken.   Cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes.

5. Take the lid off and let the sauce reduce as it cooks for another 5 minutes.

6. Serve with rice

Recipe for Falafels

I like to eat vegetarian food at least for one or two days a week and this is one of my standbys.   I just love chickpeas and these falafels are quick and easy to create.  They are not exactly the same as the ones I have had in restaurants, so I am not sure how authentic they are or even if I should be calling them falafels.  I often find that falafels can be a bit dry and even a bit tasteless.  However, I have to admit that I have never eaten them in a really good restaurant, maybe that would change my opinion.   Well, what I am saying in a really roundabout way is that I think these are different from but better than  other falafels I’ve had.   And so, after saying all that, I would like to send these as my first ever entry for My Legume Love Affair, an event run by Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.


400g can chickpeas

1 garlic clove, crushed

Handful of parsley, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder or 1 red chilli, finely sliced

2 tbsp plain flour + extra for coating the falafels in

1 small red onion , finely chopped

1 lemon, to serve with them

How to make falafels

1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until it forms a thick paste.  Add a little water if necessary to help bind the ingredients.

2. Form into 6 patties, coat in flour and leave to rest for half an hour.

3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan.  When it is piping hot, add the falafels.   Cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

4. Serve in pitta breads with salad.  Squeeze lots of fresh lemon juice over the falafels.

This time I also made a tzatziki style dressing with yoghurt, cucumber, crushed garlic, parsley, salt and black pepper.