Spice Kumara Salad

Sweltering heat, hungry tummy, had enough of lettuce, this just hit the spot beautifully

This is what I used:

2 Kumuara’s peel and dice
1/2 Butternut pumpkin peel and dice
Olive oil
3 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 small dry bell chili deseeded and chopped finely
1 thumb of grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic*

salt and pepper to taste

Put all in a roasting dish add sufficient olive oil, toss and bake at 190 until veggies are soft

2 medium sized capsicums sliced and diced any colour
1 Large red Onion sliced and diced                                                                                                                                                Add to veggies in oven with a little more olive oil if needed for 10 minutes

2 handful of cashew nuts
Roast separately

2 handful of baby spinach washed and torn
When veggies have cooled add cashew nuts and spinach

2 handful of fresh coriander washed and roughly chopped

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

* mash the roasted garlic into the yogurt

Combine garlic yogurt and coriander serve with room temperature Kumara salad

Response from Taste taster as he went back for seconds” Not bad”


Recipe adapted from Reka Cafe & Catering Curried roast vegetable & cashew salad published in the Dominion post From the Menu

Published in: on January 7, 2015 at 4:51 am  Leave a Comment  


uA lovely simple dish using Semolina

Source: The Food of India – Murdock books

adapted by yours truly



2 Tablespoons of whole masoor dal

60 g unsalted butter

1 cup cashew nuts

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/2 onion finely chopped

15 curry leaves

1 1/2 cups of coarse semolina

2 cups of boiling water

Lime Juice

cinnamon salt


I soaked the dal over night the source recipe says for three hours.

Drain, put  in a sauce pan with 2 cups of water

bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes, drain ( I left mine in the sieve until I needed them)

slow toast the cashew nuts with 20g of the butter until they are golden, put aside until later.

heat the remaining butter in a heavy based frying pan,

add the mustard seeds, and dal

when the seeds start to pop add the curry leaves and onions

cook until the onions are soft ( add a bit more butter if its starting to look a little dry)

Add the semolina toss everything until the semolina is hot

using the back of a large spoon to pour the hot water 1/2 a cup at time stirring after each addition until all the water is absorbed.

sea to taste with the salt and lime juice.

Published in: on June 1, 2014 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment  

vanilla bean kitchen


come visit for non spice food

c u there


Published in: on December 3, 2011 at 6:43 am  Leave a Comment  


I nailed it I really did I was so happy I went back for seconds, the difference being I used home made Gram masla paste and double the amount (if you would like the recipe just ask one day I will put it on this blog), I couldn’t get over how rich and creamy this dish was with the lovely kick that comes from tomato paste. I need to remember to double this recipe so that I can freeze some for a later date

Here is the recipe that I found on the internet:


Paneer ingredients:

  • 2 litres whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups natural unsweetened yoghurt Niki speaks: or use 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice

Method: In a heavy-based three to four-litre pot, slowly bring the milk to boiling point, stirring to ensure it does not stick to the base of the pot.

When boiling point has been reached, gradually add the yoghurt, about half a cup at a time.

Continue stirring while adding the yoghurt. As the milk begins to separate into curds and whey, add more yoghurt. The curds will continue to appear.

Strain into muslin cloth resting in a colander that is resting in a bowl and allow to drain for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Save the collected whey for baking at a later date. It is great for scones or muffins.

Shake the colander every 30 minutes or so to assist the draining.

For today’s dish, allow the curds to set by placing them in the refrigerator for at least an hour, then cut it into cubes ready to add to the korma sauce.

Korma sauce ingredients:

  • 50g clarified butter Niki speaks: use 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and minced or chopped finely
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced or finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped Niki speaks: two if you like it hot
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup mava (to make, see note)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala Niki speaks 1-2 tablespoons Gram Masla paste
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Method: Saute in the clarified butter the onion, ginger and chilli.

Add the tomato paste and, when the mixture seems to separate, add the cream and mava. Bring the mixture to simmering point and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Add the turmeric, garam masala, coriander and cumin and continue to cook until the mixture reaches a gravy consistency.

Add the cubes of paneer and serve

Note: To make the mava, pour one tin of evaporated milk into a bowl, add two cups of milk powder and mix until it becomes a dough. Freeze the dough and, when required, simply coarsely grate the required amount.

Published in: on October 10, 2011 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  


Paneer is an Indian cheese and relatively easy to make, great if you have vegetarians in your house.

I usually make with lemon juice & milk this time around I used unsweetened greek yoghurt.

  • Slowly heat 2 litres of full fat milk ( you can use standard milk) till it is at boiling point  really pays to stir the milk so it doesn’t burn
  • Once at boiling point add 2 an a half cups of yoghurt, keep stirring ! and the curd will separate.
  • Drain in a colander which is lined with muslin cloth  if you are any thing like me and enjoy making soup and baking keep the whey. 
  • Once the whey has fully drained, wrap your curds in the cloth and press between to flat weights  I use pizza stones leave for two hours.

You can either freeze or refrigerate the paneer till you need it.

You can add paneer to any dish including salads, it’s also very nice deep fried and added to your curry dishes 😀

I’m not going to include this recipe for Paneer Korma as I wasn’t too happy with it, when I’ve tweaked it I will add it 😉


now go try and have fun!

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Published in: on August 4, 2011 at 3:54 am  Comments (1)  

Parsnip soup

Why’s Parsnip soup sitting here in a love affair with spices and not Vanilla bean Kitchen blog, well this little beauty has garam masla in it.

I’m not a huge fan of parsnip however yesterday this one just really appealed.

Hat’s of to Jamie Oliver ( Yes I’ve tampered with the recipe )

• olive oil
• knob of butter
• 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
• a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
• 2 tablespoon garam masla ( home made no store bought muck)
• 6 parsnips, peeled and chopped into chunks
• 500ml milk
• 500mls vegetable stock I use gluten free cubes they are simply the best (add more if you think its not enough for the amount of people you are serving)
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)
•  a handful of fresh coriander leaves – very much needs this
• crusty bread, to serve

Heat olive oil and  butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and garam masala. Gently fry for around 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and sweet.

Add chopped parsnip and stir together so that everything gets coated in the oil and flavours. Pour in the milk and stock, season well and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes with a lid on.  Don’t panic the  milk with the masla looks like its gone off.

After half an hour, check that the parsnips are cooked by sticking a knife in. If you’re happy, remove them from the heat and carefully whiz up using a hand blender or liquidizer. Taste the soup to see if it needs a little more salt or pepper.

Serve with a sprinkling of sliced red chilli, a few coriander leaves if you like, and a good chunk of crusty bread.

enjoy 😉

Published in: on July 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm  Comments (1)  

vegetable oil

I used some Vegetable oil to make a garam masla paste and it was horrible!

The vegetable oil had hardened to a solid block sitting in the fridge  so all the spices where locked together, I had to melt it down to mix it into the keema I was making, ick ick ick. Not at all tempted to try using it again. It tasted bitter, in fact all the spices tasted off 😦

Has any one else used vegetable oil? did I have a bad batch?

Published in: on July 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mixed Vegetable Curry

A twist on a very tasty curry


  • 1 potato cubed – par boil
  • 1 medium carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 250g Cauliflower  florets
  • 2 gloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh grated ginger


  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of ghee or oil in a heavy bottom pan

add oinions, carrot and potatoes and brown

its a good idea to keep stiring this dish, it likes to brown the bottom of your pan, add more oil if needed.
  • add cauliflower
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • 2-3 teaspoons of gama masla
  • 1teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1teaspoon ground cumin
cook for another 2 minutes
  • add 1/2 cup of  greek yoghurt
  • one cup of water
  • salt to taste
cook for a further 10  -15 minutes  (if you like a heat dish there is no reason why you couldn’t add chillies to this dish during the last 10 minutes of cooking) or until your vegetables are cooked
serve with  chopped coriander, basmati rice and aromatic salt.

The twist
 using puff pastry prepare trainagles and fill with the mixed vegetable curry, seal the edges with a fork, brush with egg mix and bake per the pastry requirements
serve with  spiced Apricot chutney
and watch the plate disappear at a very fast rate!
Published in: on July 12, 2011 at 4:22 am  Leave a Comment  

I’m back

What a journey it has been since my last post!

7226 Aftershocks since September fourth.

During the aftershock period of February my curry’s took on a very fiery heat, I think it was reflection of my mood – fiery! I was going out to a friends place to cook, giving the family some breathers from the rock and roll city, sadly my chilly hand was faulty and only a small handful of the diners had the cast iron stomach to eat ( and return for seconds) of the fiery dishes.

Farewell dinner at the inlaws- I’d started to tone it down and YAY the father inlaw like it 🙂

By the time we had made it to Inners I was almost back on the  aroma streak rather than the fiery streak.

I think after that I lost my way I’m back now and slowly pulling myself together.

We’ve moved and I have three deep draws in the kitchen full of the most amazing smells of spices, so I figured I best get on to using them before they hit there best by date.


A Huge thank you to my old high school Friend Linda for sending me a wonderful scented package from Australia, filled with some very very yummie Indian sauces/spices. I sat on the side of the ravaged street after picking up the parcel from the postal depo and shed some overwhelming tears of joy- what a very touching thing to do my friend, thank you.

Any ho YAY its good to be back 🙂


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Published in: on July 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pineapple Paneer & Corriander








My first attempt at more than a one dish dinner 🙂

Pineapple with coconut curry leaves and chilies                                        By Mridula Baljekar

Ingredient: Pineapple ground turmeric salt granulated sugar desiccated coconut red chilies bananas rice oil ( had no sunflower oil) black mustard green chili curry leaves

A very easy dish to make that packs a refreshing punch, sweet sweet pineapple peppered with hot chili

Keema matar by Jacki Passmore and Me 🙂

Ingredient: Onion tomato ghee lamb mild curry powder salt pepper pea’s fresh coriander sour cream

Interesting recipe did wonder how Indian it was as it does make you waste the seeds from the Tomatoes. I had par cooked some lamb with some Garma Masala paste the night before, then put it into a slow cooker and followed the rest of the recipe by Jacki Passmore, using lamb mince. Once done I put every thing into the slow cooker with the lamb and just left till serving. I used the Sri lanka curry powder I made last week, could of put more in, maybe when I get a bit more confident. Defiantly needed the aromic salt, I’ve been using the cinnamon version from the Balti cook book. I still need to work on thickening my sauces, other than that it was a very tasty dish which will no doubt taste even better tomorrow.

Paneer in spiced Tomato Sauce By Mridula Baljekar

Ingredient: Ghee, paneer cheese onion, garlic cloves fresh ginger garam masala ground cumin fennel seeds ground turmeric ground hot chili tomatoes salt pepper fresh mint and coriander

Wicked never cooked Paneer (I did buy pre made stuff as I’ve still not found anywhere that sells plan muslin for straining!) if it was yellow it would remind me of sponge bob it just balloon up when it was hot, looks very squeaky too which of course it isn’t. This recipe is a bit heavy on the tomatoes I also doubled the Garma Masala think I might use fresh tomatoes next time not canned as the recipe required.

Mini Chick Pea Flour Crispbread By Mridula Baljekar

Ingredient: Chickpea flour water chili powder dried fenugree leaves slat mustard oil

WOW sticky sticky dough, haven’t been that frustrated in such a long time, I think I used over a cup in flour for the rolling pin ( my trusty oil spray can and the can is still coated in dry dough might have to soak it) I actually got side tracked when making these and found that they behaved better when they had firmed naturally, I managed to get them to roll a lot thinner with out sticking to everything. Not something I could eat a lot of, however DM loved them with the Aromic salt


Iced Melon, a dish I’d picked up in a Persian book I was flicking through. It was pureed melon (we had rock) water with dissolved sugar, rose water then frozen. Blended just before serving, was almost like a slushy, oh! and spray with rose water before serving. An extremely refreshing dessert, one of our guests just about ate half of the dish to himself – a good indication I think of how yummy it was would be a good Dessert after a very hot dish and or a Sri Lanka dish.

I didn’t have time to make the sweet puffed bread I did however have the Rose- scented mango cream By Mridula Baljekar which actually went quiet well with the Melon ice                                                                                        Ingredient: Granulated sugar, cardamom sees, evaporated milk, arrowroot, ground almonds, mango puree, crème fraiche rose water

Yum Yum Yum, you are just going to have to try that one yourself 🙂

Having all the pastes and mixed already prepared I actually had time to enjoy cooking, I’m slowly getting more confident at adding more spices to a dish, and I think making the day before is a much better idea

1. you will not be so tired

2. you will taste and smell the spices better

3. they will taste better as they had longer to do there magic.

Was a very lovely evening spent with friends enjoying yummie food good company and interesting conversation – Indian food brings out the best in people I find

Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 8:34 am  Leave a Comment