Food

Yellow Split Pea & Spinach Dal

When I started this blog in June last year, the very first recipe I posted was of dal, a South Asian lentil stew that can be enjoyed with bread or rice. I used yellow and red lentils for the recipe–that’s how my mother cooked the staple dal during my childhood. Recently, however, I have been experimenting with different kinds of lentils to create a recipe which is more forgiving in terms of oil. You will know what I mean if you have seen your mother temper the dal with copious amounts of ghee (clarified butter) or oil because “that is where the taste lies.” One cannot argue with a Punjabi mother about ghee, but one can create her own recipe.

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And I think I have finally nailed down the balance between clean, tasty and the oil requirement. The lentils I used in this recipe are the yellow split pea lentils, which are packed with protein (20 grams/1cup) and a ton of flavor. I also snuck in some spinach into the dal, and that only enhanced the taste. This dal recipe only uses 1tbsp of oil yet the result is creamy and hearty. 🙂 It is also low on salt and relies on lemon juice for the flavor. You may add table salt if you like, of course.

To make the yellow split pea dal, or chana dal as Pakistanis would know, I pre-cooked my lentils and refrigerated them. This saves me time on week nights and helps make the recipe in about 20 minutes. If you prefer, you could also use canned lentils, but if you do, make sure to buy great quality ones without the synthetic taste and chemical treatments. If you boil the lentils, just boil with a sprinkle of salt until tender–about thirty minutes–and drain the excess water. I prefer soaking the lentils for an hour or so before cooking them–that reduces the cooking time and also removes anti-nutrients that may cause gas and other digestive issues.

Below is the recipe with a full nutrition profile. If you have questions, feel free to share in the comments or direct message. I hope you will give this simple, flavor and nutritious recipe a try. 🙂

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Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil (1tbsp)
  • Onion (1 chopped)
  • Garlic (2 cloves–minced)
  • Ginger (1tsp–grated)
  • Tomatoes (2 chopped or 1/4 cup canned)
  • Green chillies (2 chopped)
  • Red chili powder (1tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Himalayan pink salt (generous sprinkle)
  • Baby spinach (1 cup packed)
  • Yellow split peas (1 cup boiled/canned)
  • Water (3 cups)
  • Lemon (1–juiced)
  • Coriander sprigs (6-10–chopped)

Method:

  • Sauté the onion in oil until golden brown.
  • Add ginger & garlic and sauté until fragrant. If the mixture sticks, use a splash of water to deglaze the pan instead of more oil.
  • Now add tomatoes and green chillies, as well as all the spices. Cook for a couple of minutes. Again, add water to deglaze the pan if needed.
  • When the oil separates from this mixture (about 2 minutes), add the cooked/canned lentils and the baby spinach.
  • Stir for about 2-3 minutes, add the water, and let it cook covered for 5-8 minutes until everything is well combined.
  • Garnish with lemon juice and coriander and serve alongside bread, rice, or quinoa. I had mine with brown rice and a mixed greens and cucumber salad. 🙂

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Style

Fit & Flare

I am all about a great form-fitted dress, but something has to be said about the comfort fit and flare dresses offer. I have had one from Banana Republic in a beautiful navy color for over a year. I have reached for that dress more often than I thought I would. It is one of the easiest pieces to style–no fuss about wearing selective underpants or tucking in tummy after lunch as is with form-fitted dresses.

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So, when I first spotted this beautiful fit and flare dress in a thick knit (and under €100!) at a Monsoon store in London last December, I was at least sold on its wearability. My reluctance was regarding the brand and fabric quality because I had not known about Monsoon until the second I spontaneously walked into the store to pass time while my friend picked up a gift for some baby shower she had to attend.

When I entered the fitting room, I wanted to love this dress so badly. And that is exactly what happened. The material of the dress is unbelievably soft, yet thick enough to keep you warm in London/Amsterdam winters. I especially loved the blue jacquard detailing–it adds character to the dress without making it over the top for office environments. If you happen to work in a business formal setting, you could pair the dress with a black blazer. If not, you could get away with a flattering pair of tights and heels of your choice like I did!

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That is all for today! Hope everyone reading is having a great weekend so far. 🙂


D E T A I L S

Monsoon Joanna Jacquard Fit & Flare Dress

Dune London Courtnee Cross Strap Kitten Heels (also available here)

Michael Kors Black Clutch (no longer sold, but I tracked down a Poshmark listing here)

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Food

Egg & Veggie Muffins

Muffin purists will likely roll their eyes over this recipe since it is a savoury take on the traditionally sweet muffins. But I promise these are worth a try, if not for their convenience and deliciousness then for their nutritional value (hello there, protein). If by the end of the post, I still have not convinced you that these Egg Muffins are worth trying, you could check out these one-bowl Carrot Cake and Oatmeal-Blueberry muffins I previously posted on the blog.

I do not remember when I first became acquainted with the idea of egg muffins, but it sure has been life changing. When I started working fulltime, I could no longer find the time to make a nice omelette or egg scramble in the morning. As much as I would like my mornings to be calm and peaceful like those morning routine videos on YouTube, reality is they are not. Consequently, I try to simplify as many of my morning tasks as possible, breakfast included.

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If I anticipate my mornings to be rushed due to early meetings or travel then instead of prepping my usual smoothie bags, which would still need blending with milk, I prepare these egg muffins that I can grab and go without any fuss. These especially came in handy last week after my Nutribullet of two years decided to bid farewell. Sigh.

Besides their convenience and nutritional value, I also love these muffins for their versatility. You can choose whichever vegetable and cheese options your heart desires and the end result will still be delicious. You could also create a variety to choose from in the mornings–as a cheesy friend of mine used to say “variety is the spice of life.” I divided half of my batch into broccoli and cheddar and the other half into onion, bell pepper, and spinach. Yum, right?

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Below is the recipe I follow to make 8 egg muffins. You can be as creative as you like with seasonings and stir-ins.

Ingredients:

  • Organic eggs (6)
  • Fat-free milk, or any milk of your choice (1/4 cup/60ml)
  • Salt, black pepper, garlic powder (to taste)
  • Red bell pepper (1/2cup chopped)
  • Broccoli florets (1/2 cup)
  • Shallot (1 chopped)
  • Spinach (3/4 cup packed)
  • Cheddar (1/4 cup shredded)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1tsp)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F/200C.
  • Beat the eggs together with milk until well-combined.
  • Season with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. You could leave out the garlic powder, but I love a garlicky undertone in my eggs.
  • Grease 8 muffin moulds with oil.
  • Cover 2/3rd of the moulds with the veggie & cheese combo of your choice. I used broccoli and cheddar as one combination and the rest of veggies as another.
  • Pour the egg mixture in all 8 moulds. Try to keep it at the 2/3rd mark because the eggs will rise and fluff up.
  • Bake for 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven.

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Food

Black-Eyed Beans & Chicken Stuffing

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Black-eyed bean and minced meat curry was a staple in my mom’s Pakistani kitchen. She batch-cooked the beans and froze them in little packets. These packets would be her saviour on busy days when she could not fathom what to cook. Served with hot chapatis, my mom’s black-eyed bean and minced meat curry was a favourite of mine.

A few days ago, I was casually strolling through the shelves in the supermarket when I noticed neatly stored cans of black-eyed beans. That instigated a much need flashback of my mom’s delicious recipe. Inevitably, I stocked my cart with multiple cans of the beans.

I knew I wanted to replicate the taste of my mom’s curry, but I also knew that I had to make it more like stuffing than curry. My busy lifestyle has little room for curries, especially on weekdays because I can’t afford to have curry spill in my bags or put me in a food coma after lunch. Stuffing on the other side is perfect to make a wrap with. It can also be tossed with some quinoa or brown rice with a chutney or sauce on the side. No fuss, right?

In addition to making my mum’s recipe corporate-career-proof, I also made it slightly healthier by keeping oil to a minimum and replacing ground beef with ground chicken breasts that I minced in my food processor at home. You can also buy minced chicken from the store. I couldn’t find organic variety in my supermarket.

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I made the black-eyed bean and minced chicken stuffing over the weekend and stored in the fridge. During the week, it was rather easy to stuff a wrap with the stuffing and take it with me to work. I even added a little water to it one night and turned it into a more curry consistency to have with hot whole-wheat tortillas that are the closest it gets to mom’s hot chapatis in Amsterdam.

Without further nostalgic blabbering, I will list down the recipe.

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil (1tbsp)
  • Onion (1 large—chopped)
  • Garlic cloves (4—minced)
  • Tomatoes (2—chopped or ½ cup canned)
  • Green chillies (3—chopped)
  • Chilli powder (1tsp)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/2tsp)
  • Garam masala (2/3 tsp)
  • Ground chicken, organic (250 grams or two organic chicken breasts minced in a food processor)
  • Black-eyed beans, organic (400grams/16oz can)
  • Lemon, juiced (1)
  • Coriander springs (16-20)

Method:

  • Sauté the onion in oil until golden brown.
  • Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. If onion and garlic stick, use a splash of water to deglaze the pan instead of more oil.
  • Now add tomatoes and green chillies, as well as all the spices. Cook for a couple of minutes. Again, add water to deglaze the pan if needed.
  • When the oil separates from the mixture, add ground chicken and cook until the chicken changes colour, about five minutes. You can add more at this point if you’d like the consistency to be more curry-like.
  • Add the can of beans (washed & rinsed). Stir until everything is combined and turn off heat.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and lemon juice.

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Slight Peplum & Blush Heels

Grey has to be my favorite neutral, so when my husband gifted me this top for Christmas, I instantly fell in love. I have been wearing it non-stop with skirts and pants alike.

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I love that it has the most subtle peplum detail. While usually, I am not a fan of peplums or really any “extra” trends, I love how the slight peplum adds oomph and character to an otherwise basic neutral blouse. For reference, I fit an extra small for this blouse.

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I have been wearing the top with my new favourite heels that I got myself for Christmas. Initially, I fell in love with the blush tone. Once worn, I was also smitten by the buttery soft calf leather and the amazing level of comfort. I can walk around in these shoes all day long without complaining. Just a heads up, the heels run slightly large. I had to re-order in a 37.5 after ordering my usual 38 shoe size.

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D E T A I L S

Boss Top (also available in black here)

Boss Heels

Tommy Hilfiger Trousers 

Michael Kors Tote Bag

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Food

Chickpea Masala

Chickpea masala served over basmati rice has been one of my comfort meals since I was a child. As I have grown up, I have found chickpea masala doesn’t always have to be served over rice; it is so versatile in the ways that it can be enjoyed. For instance, if you dry the gravy slightly, you can stuff a wrap with mixed greens and chickpea masala; in a snap you’ve a perfect lunch wrap. Similarly, chickpea masala makes a delicious salad with mixed greens, quinoa, and a boiled egg. Yum!

My recipe for the chickpea masala is fuss free. It comes together in under 20 minutes. I use canned chickpeas in my recipe. If you too will be using canned chickpeas, I strongly recommend using high quality ones, preferably organic. The brand I am hooked to for canned grains and legumes is La Bio Idea. The chickpeas out of their cans smell so much like freshly boiled chickpeas and they are perfectly tender. Just a little disclaimer, this post is not sponsored by La Bio Idea.

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Without further ado, let’s get down to the recipe.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • Onion (1–chopped)
  • Oil (1tbsp)
  • Garlic cloves (3–minced)
  • Green chillies (2–chopped)
  • Tomatoes (2/3 cup–chopped) I used the organic peeled La Bio Idea tomatoes.
  • Chili flakes (1tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Garam masala (1/2 tsp)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Salt (1/4 tsp)
  • Chickpeas (400grams/15 ounce can)
  • Water (1/2 to 1 cup)
  • Lemon (1/2–juiced)
  • Coriander (10 sprig–chopped)

Method:

  • Sauté the onion in oil until golden brown.
  • Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. If onion and garlic stick, use a splash of water to deglaze the pan instead of more oil.
  • Now add tomatoes and green chillies, as well as all the spices. Cook for a couple of minutes. Again, add water to deglaze the pan if needed.
  • When the oil separates from the mixture, add chickpeas and 1/2 cup water.
  • Cook covered for 5-7 minutes and garnish with chopped coriander and lemon juice.

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Quinoa Crusted Chicken Fingers

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I recently mentioned on my Instagram that I am on a mission to healthify (I know it’s not a real word, but let’s get on with it) some of my favorite foods. Chicken fingers are definitely something that I not only love for their taste, but also love for their versatility and convenience. As in, they can be eaten on their own, stuffed in a lunch wrap, or chopped for a hearty salad. In whichever form I choose to eat them, they remain fuss free—for instance no leaking out of the lunchbox into my pampered work bags.

And so, like every new mission, this mission of healthifying chicken fingers started with research (read: typing “healthy chicken fingers” into Google). I was baffled to learn that breading chicken fingers with quinoa was a thing in the healthy eating world.

The novelty of using quinoa instead of breadcrumbs was enough to inspire me to create a recipe of my own instead of using someone else’s recipe. I like my chicken fingers to have a subtle spice kick (you’d know what I mean if you’ve eaten fried chicken at Pakistan’s KFCs), so this recipe has that + it is oil-free. Basically what I am giving you with this recipe is an opportunity to glorify the most boring of proteins, chicken breast, without adding unnecessary fats (oil) or carbs (breadcrumbs). I call that a miracle and it is being passed on to you.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • Organic Chicken breast (1)
  • Chickpea flour (1 tbsp)
  • Chili powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Chili flakes (1/4 tsp)
  • Egg (1/2)
  • Cooked quinoa (1/4 cup)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 375F/200C.
  • Slice the chicken breast into thin strips.
  • Mix the flour and spices.
  • Coat chicken strips in the flour.
  • Beat an egg (you will use only half of it).
  • Coat strips into the egg.
  • Press cooked quinoa into strips coated with flour and egg.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the chicken strips on the tray, and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  • Enjoy on its own or in salads and wraps! 🙂 And to view the full nutritional profile of this recipe, see the end of the post.

Tips:

  • Chicken breasts can vary in weight. Organic chicken breasts tend to be smaller. The one I used was around 100 grams.
  • You may use any flour. I had chickpea flour on hand that’s why I used that one.
  • If you do not have individual spices as listed in the ingredients, you could also just use a spice mix like cajun/jamaican.
  • If you line the baking sheet with foil instead of parchment paper, I would grease the foil to avoid having quinoa stick to the foil.
  • To ensure chicken fingers crisp on both sides, flip them over halfway through the baking time.

 

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This is the first time that I have calculated the full nutrition profile of my recipe. I am adding it to this post. Please let me know if that is something that you find helpful. And have a wonderful weekend!!

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