Quickie Meal-Avocado Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

You’ve had a long weekend and Monday is here! You want an easy dinner that will fill your family’s tummies fast.

Pasta will always come to the rescue, my friends. Always a hit with the kids. And the best thing is pasta goes with pretty much anything. Even avocado! And these are in plenty here. Beautiful, big, creamy and delicious!

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line the baking tray, gather your veggies. I used courgette, green pepper, onion, butternut and garlic. Chop them in more or less equal pieces. Toss the butternut in olive oil, mixed herbs and salt then bake for about 20 minutes. Toss the other vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper and dried mixed herbs, you can add some balsamic vinegar to the oil mix if you want. Then add to the butternut and bake for another twenty minutes.

I added some balsamic vinegar and paprika to the oil mixture when tossing the vegetables.

As the veggies bake, you can get started on your pasta. I used spaghetti. Remember the golden rules of making spaghetti. Do not cut! Salt the water! Water should be at a rolling boil before adding the pasta! and whatever other instructions that could be on the pack 🙂

As the spaghetti cooks, you can get started on your ‘pasta sauce’. Blend one ripe avocado, a few almonds, herbs, lemon juice, salt and black pepper, and a tbsp of olive oil. Blend till creamy.

Remember, use what is on hand. This is a very quick meal.
Your vegetables are now ready, I like the colour and flavour the balsamic vinegar adds to them.
Once spaghetti is ready and drained, toss in the creamy avocado ‘sauce’. It gives a lovely tinge to the pasta and get the kids guessing as to what’s in it.
Final plate: Creamy avo spaghetti and roasted vegetables. Yum!

Weekend Cuisine: Naan bread and Creamy Lentils.

It’s the weekend, the weather is not all that and your favorite Indian restaurant is still closed. Fret not! Here is another comfort food recipe you can try out that will please your taste buds!

I used brown lentils, I like their earthy taste and they go well with many dishes. rice, chapati, naan even potatoes and coconut too. We call them ‘ndengu kamande’ back home. They are loved by many as they are versatile, cheap, easily available and you do not have to spend hours sorting or soaking them as they also cook quite fast.

First, boil your lentils until ready. About 25 minutes on the stove top. I overdid mine a little bit. Do not get distracted people!

Heat 3 tbsp of ghee in a pan, add some cumin seeds, bay leaf and a cinnamon stick, do not let them burn please.
Next add your two grated onions. Once soft, add 1 tbsp of ginger garlic paste, some ground coriander seeds about a tsp, and mix well till the raw smell goes away.

You can now add your ground spices here. Other that usual salt and pepper, I added a teaspoon of dhana jeera powder, 1/4 tsp of ground turmeric, and a tsp of garam masala. Reduce heat and mix well so they do not burn. Add your chopped tomatoes and mix well and cover. Let them cook till a mushy paste. Then add your lentils, some butter, some water to cover and let simmer for an hour on low heat.

Let them cook low and slow. It takes time; that is why it is perfect for weekend cooking.

As the lentils cook, you can get started on your naan bread. I used this recipe from Food Wishes on YouTube.

The kids were quite happy to help in rolling and brushing the butter on the naan.

Because I love potatoes too much, I decided to make some fenugreek potatoes on the side.

Ingredients for the potato side dish.
Peel, chop and boil your potatoes with some salt, and a touch of turmeric and garlic powder.
Heat some oil in a pan, add some cumin seeds, once they sputter, add your finely chopped onion and mix well. Add your now cooled potatoes and mix well. Remember to check on your seasoning.
Add a tbsp of kasuri methi (dry crushed fenugreek leaves) and now ready to serve. I like mine a bit browned. Garnish with the chopped coriander.

Back to our curry, do not neglect it, keep checking to make sure it doesn’t not burn at the bottom. Check on seasoning then add some full cream, or natural yoghurt, about 3 tbsp, fold well and switch off the heat. Garnish with coriander.

Doesn’t it look luscious?

This is one decadent meal that will have you licking your fingers!

Final plate: Creamy lentil curry, garlic naan and fenugreek potatoes.

Eggplant Thursday!

Eggplant, Brinjal, Aubergine; that’s what I’m talking about 🙂

Eggplants are low in calories but contain fibre and are also rich in antioxidants and vitamins, which makes them a beneficial addition to your list of healthy ingredients. Clean well and keep the peel on to retain all the nutrients and fibre.

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

The purple eggplant is common here but not as common as the garden egg locally known as ‘entula’ though I’m yet to try cooking it.

Entula aka garden egg. Image source: New Vision Uganda website.

My favorite way of making eggplant is in a curry, eaten with chapati or rice. In ratatouille or simply roasted with olive oil, mixed herbs and served over spicy couscous as I did here.

I also add it in my stews, both vegetable and beef stews. Roast egg plant in the oven then add it to your thick beef stew at the end. The flavor and texture blend quite well.

But if you like your eggplant spicy, here is an amazing recipe that is worth a try.

Chop your eggplants, about five of them and set them aside. Sprinkle some salt on them to reduce the bitterness.

Peel and chop your potatoes also about 5 of them, about the same size as the eggplant.

Peel and chop three tomatoes and one medium sized onion. Then crush some garlic and ginger together. Set aside.

Heat some oil in a pan, add 1/4 tsp of turmeric and fry your eggplant for about seven minutes, season well then set aside. Do the same to the potatoes, fry them with in he same oil, season well and set aside.

In the same pan, add some oil if it seems dry, then a tsp of cumin seeds. Add the onion and mix well. Sauté till soft, add your garlic ginger paste and mix well till the raw smell goes away. Now lower heat and add your spices as follows, 1/ 2 tsp of ground coriander powder, Dhana jeera powder, red chilli powder and 1 tsp of garam masala. Mix well and let the spices cook well. You can add a splash of water so they don’t burn.

Next add your tomatoes and cover the pan. Let the tomatoes cook down into a mush; about ten-15 minutes on low heat. You can now add your potatoes and egg plants in the masala. Mix well and carefully to coat them with the sauce, cover and cook about ten minutes on low for potatoes to cook completely.

You can sprinkle some dry fenugreek leaves at the end of cooking or squeeze juice of half a lemon. Garnish with coriander and let sit for about five minutes before serving.

I had mine with an oat roti. Deliciousness!

How do you like your eggplant?

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

One of the things I love about Kampala is sweet potatoes are easily available. And they are quite tasty too. Not mushy, full of natural sweetness and quite big.

Look at the size of these babies!

I like having them for breakfast; steamed or in a hash. But they are also great for dinner mashed with beans- I shared the recipe here. And also mashed with green peas, or in a coconut curry, or oven roasted with cinnamon and honey, or baked sweet potato bread, so many possibilities, YUM!

With all the abundance of these tubers here I am yet to come across sweet potato flour, which is easily available back home. I mix the flour when making chapati or pancakes or baking; it gives the chapati a lovely yellow colour.

Here is a recipe to spice up your breakfast game using sweet potatoes.

Wash and peel one large sweet potato and grate it into a bowl.
Rinse well till the water runs clear then let it drain in a colander with a teaspoon of salt.
After ten -20 minutes, squeeze out excess water with a clean kitchen towel.
As you wait for it to drain, you can prepare your accompaniment. I sautéed some sausage meat with onions, garlic, tomato and green peppers. Season well.
To the now dry sweet potato, add some salt and pepper, a teaspoon of Spanish paprika and 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon, mix well.
Heat some oil in a pan, about a tablespoon or so, then add the sweet potato mixture. Use your spatula to flatten, reduce heat and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes.
Gently flip by using two plates; remove from pan onto a flat plat then cover with another plate, flip and return to the pan carefully to cook on the other side for the same amount of time.
Check your heat and don’t rush as they will burn, like mine almost did! Remove from pan and serve as you wish.
Crispy and Delicious!

O Potato!

If you do not love potatoes we cannot be friends. There, I said it!

Seriously though, how can one not love this versatile vegetable? Boil it, roast it, fry it, mash it; the possibilities are endless with this starchy fella.

Potatoes are a staple here in our meals as they can be served any time, anyway. One of my favorite snacks to make with them is Maru bhajia (I use this lovely recipe from Fauzia’s kitchen), and packed potatoes also known as “viazi Karai” in Kenya. They are not the healthiest but a great way to indulge your fried food craving when it strikes.

Fun fact: Potatoes are called ‘Irish’ by many in Uganda- it took time for me to get used to it.

Peel and chop your potatoes about a kg of them. Boil for ten minutes in salted water till cooked but still firm, set aside to cool. You can add some garlic powder to the water for flavour.
In a bowl, mix one clove crushed garlic, 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, salt and black pepper to taste. I added a little grated onion.
Add a cup of gram flour to the bowl, some water and two tablespoons of chopped coriander. Mix well into a thickish consistency, not too thick though, more like a low fat yoghurt 🙂
Add your now cooled potatoes to the mixture and mix gently. Heat oil in a deep pan or your deep fryer and fry until a nice golden colour, but not too dark.
Don’t they look lovely?
Let them drain on a paper towel. Then serve with chutney of choice, or ketchup, salsa, whatever you fancy. I like squeezing lemon on mine. Nothing more.
They make a lovely tea time snack too; going down well with some spicy tea.

Try them and enjoy as you listen to this lovely ode to the wonderful potato. Yes, it’s The potato song. And don’t worry, we can still be friends even if you do not like potatoes 🙂