Vegan curry Laksa soup

I cannot express why the colder it gets the spicier I want my food . Laksa is a spicy coconut based with noodles . It is found in Malaysia and Indonesia , so it has Indian traits too . It is surprisingly light despite the addition of coconut milk . Generally this soup is made with seafood and chicken , but I have modified it to be vegan for all to enjoy .

Serves 2 to 4

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

Spice paste

1 medium yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

zest of 1 lime

2 to 3 stalks lemongrass ( white part only )

1 inch piece fresh ginger grated ( use galangal , if you have it )

8 macadamia nuts ( Candlenuts , if you have them)

1 tsp each turmeric powder and coriander powder

a few coriander roots

1/4 tsp or to taste red chili powder

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth adding some canola or vegetable oil to help with blending ( up to 2 tbs ).


1 quart home made vegetable stock ( or store bought , I use Swanson organic )

1 can coconut milk ,shaken

2 green chilis , cut down the center

4 kaffir lime leaves

juice of 1 or 2 limes

1 pack of egg free noodles , cooked

a few coriander leaves and a few mint leaves

1 tsp palm sugar

1 can mock duck rinced and cut into bite sized pieces

5 to 6 mushrooms , cleaned and very thinly sliced

Soy sauce , to taste

Optional , fried bean curd , bean sprouts , bok choy , crisp shallots , baby corn .

Heat 2 tbs canola oil in a sauce pan and fry paste , just until fragrant . Add coconut milk and simmer 5 to 10 minutes . Add vegetable stock , sliced chilis , lime leaves and sugar , simmer 5 more minutes .

Add vegetables of choice and simmer another 3 minutes. Check seasoning . Add soy sauce and lime juice .

Place heated noodles into serving bowls . Pour soup over noodles . Garnish with herbs and green onions . Serve.


Eggless coconut macaroons

There a few cookies I miss since giving up desserts with eggs , but macaroons are just the perfect cookie , chewy on the inside and crunchy on the outside . The added beauty of these cookies is that they are perfectly sweet , but not too sweet . If you prefer a sweeter cookie I would add a 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar just prior to forming the macaroons .

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

Makes 16

1  1/2 cups dessicated coconut

1/2 cup condensed milk

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar ( optional )

Preheat oven to 350*F

In a bowl combine the condensed milk  and vailla , stir .

Add in the coconut , salt , baking powder and baking soda. Stir to combine . This is a stiff dough .

Divide the batter into 16  pieces . Roll each portion into a ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet 1 inch apart .

Bake at 350* for 12 minutes or until golden brown . Leave to cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes , then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Chicken Manchurian

Chicken Manchurian is a fusion Indian Chinese dish . There is a large population of Chinese in the city of calcutta that made Chinese cusine popular in india . however , to adapt to the cusine and ingredients available Indian Chinese cooking was born . The sauce is adaptable to both poultry and seafood .

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 lb boneless , skinless chicken , cut into small dice

1 egg beaten

1/4  cup cornstarch for marinade

2 tbs cornstarch mixed with 1 cup water for sauce

salt and white pepper , to taste

1 large onion , sliced

2 tbs grated garlic

1 tbs grated ginger

1 red bell pepper , seeded and sliced

3 fresh red or green chilis ( Serrano or Jalapeno are good )

3 scallions , finely chopped

2 cups chicken stock

2 tbs vinegar

2 tbs vegetable oil

Oil for deep frying chicken

Combine egg , cornstarch , 1 tbs soy sauce and salt and pepper with the chicken . Allow to marinate for  at least 30 minutes .

Heat oil in deep fryer and deep fry chicken , spooning in 1 tbs chicken in the deepfryer . Fry till golden and all the chicken is cooked.Remove and allow to drain on absorbant paper towel .

Heat fresh oil in a wok or pan , add chopped ginger and garlic , stir fry briefly.

Add onion and green chilis and fry 1 more minute . stir in the soy sauce, stock and salt. Bring to a boil.

Stir in the cornstarch slurry , stirring all the time , until sauce starts to thicken.

Add the fried pieces of chicken and the bell pepper . Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until heated through .

Stir in the vinegar and garnish with scallions . Serve

Marconi Tomato sauce

I found this 100 year old recipe from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown cookbook and gave it a try . It was coupled with the meatballs , which I did not try as I have my own mum’s family recipe I always use . This sauce was as good a sauce as I have ever tried . It was naturally sweet from the tomatoes with a really good balance of garlic and fresh basil . Plus it is so easy to make , you will want it all the time .

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1/3 cup olive oil ( I use Monini)

12 cloves garlic , finely sliced

1 large Spanish onion , finely diced

2 ( 28 oz ) cans imported crushed tomatoes

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground white or black pepper

1 large handful fresh basil leaves , thinly sliced

Heat oilve oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it begins to shimmer . Add garlic and onion and cook until soft and slightly browned , about 5 minutes . Add the tomatoes , salt and pepper and stir . Allow the sauce to come to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes . Remove from heat and add the basil .


Mum’s Buffalo meatballs

Meatballs are a staple in a variety of cusines , but the Italian version always springs to mind first , draped in a zesty tomato basil sauce and topped with freshly gated parmesan cheese . Cook up some pasta , and you are ready to eat . This is a homestyle , ” sunday ‘ type dinner in our home , simple , rustic and so satisfying .  These are baked and not fried as we like to keep fat to a minimum . Please remember buffalo meat is naturally very low in fat so do not overbake them or they will be dry.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 lb ground Bison ( Buffalo meat )

2 large eggs , beaten

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 small bunch fresh flat leaf parsley , finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 small spanish onion , finely chopped

5 garlic cloves , minced

1 tbs heavy cream

1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

salt and black pepper , to taste

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ( optional )

Preheat oven to 350*F . Spray a foil lined baking tray with olive oil or Pam cooking spray .

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl . Do not squeeze , keep the mixture well mixed but not tight . Form teaspoonfuls of meat mixture into meatballs and place them on the prepared baking tray.

Bake till just cooked through , about 20 minutes .


Pasta e Fagioli

I know there are several similar versions of this timeless classic out there , but , of all , this is my favorite . When its cold outside , soup’s on on the inside . I simply cannot imagine anything more comforting than a hot bowl of soup , drizzled with a flavored olive oil ( I use Monini truffle oil , but a good garlic or herb olive oil is great too ) . I top the soup off with grated parmigiano reggiano cheese or sometimes with pecorino romano . This recipe can be vegan if the butter is substitued for olive oil and a vegan cheese is grated over the top to finish .

Photograph by Ashish Mahtani

A few sprigs fresh thyme , 1 sprig rosemary and 1 bay leaf , tied together with twine .

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs butter

1 small yellow onion , chopped

4 cloves garlic , minced

1 small carrot , peeled and chopped

1 stick celery , chopped

6 cups vegetable broth ( home made or I like Swanson organic vegetable broth )

1 can red kidney beans , drained and rinsed

1 can cannelini beans , drained and rinsed

1 can whole San Marzano tomatoes

pinch red pepper flakes , optional

Freshly ground black pepper and salt , to taste

1/4 lb small pasta

Freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano cheese for topping

Flavored oil of your choice , for topping

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat . Add onion , carrot , celery and garlic , saute till tender , 3 to 4 minutes . Add stock , beans, tomatoes, and herb bundle . Cover and bring to a boil . Reduce heat and allow to simmer about 15 minutes . Off heat .

Remove herbs . Place half the soup and beans in a blender and return the rest of the soup to the boil . Add pasta and cook in the soup until just done .

Puree soup in blender and add to soup in pot with cooked pasta . Season with salt and pepper .

Drizzle with olive oil and top with parmigiano reggiano cheese to serve.