Simple Vegetable Curry.

This is a simple vegetable curry that is full of flavour, filled with lots of healthy vegetables and comes together quite easily.

You can use any vegetables you have on hand. So feel free to mix and match as per your favourites.

I like this curry powder and this is the mixd spice blend I used this time round.

Our ingredients are:-

  • 2-3 tbsp of coconut oil. You can use ghee too if you wish.
  • 1 large chopped onion.
  • 1 tsp cumin and mustard seeds, and 1 bay leaf.
  • 2 tsps garlic ginger paste.
  • 1 tsp grated whole turmeric.
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 juicy tomatoes, peeled and chopped.
  • 1tsp mixed spice blend.
  • 2 heaped tsps Kenyan curry powder.
  • 1 tsp garam masala.
  • 1 cup already boiled chana dal.
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped.
  • 1 eggplant and I courgette, chopped and soaked in salty water.
  • 1 cup chopped green /French beans.
  • 1 small bunch coriander, separate the stems and leaves.
  • 1 cup, bell pepper, You can use any colour or all colours.
  • 1 can of coconut milk.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Tips:

*Boil your chana dal in a pinch of turmeric, 1 bayleaf, 3-4 cloves, and a cinnamon stick. It adds flavour and extra colour to the lentils.

Remember to skim off the foam as the lentils boil. Do not forget to discard the whole spices once boiled, drained and cooled.

Tip 2. *Soaking the eggplant and courgette (zucchini) in salted water lets them retain their shape and flavour once you cook them. Remember to drain and rinse before adding to the pan so the meal is not too salty.

Method.

Heat oil in your saucepan and add the cumin and mustard seeds.

Add onion, let cook till soft then follow with the turmeric and ginger garlic paste.

Add in the mixed spice and curry powder and let cook down a bit but make sure it doesn’t burn…

…then add the tomatoes, tomato paste and a pinch of salt. Cover and let cook down till tomatoes are mushy and oil starts leaving the sides of the pan.

Drain the soaked vegetables and add to the pan. Mix well and let cook a bit covered on low heat.The veggies will all release their liquid and absorb the spices’ flavour.

Once the vegetables are cooked a bit, add the coconut milk and garam masala as well as a small pinch of sugar. A teeny weeny pinch.

Cover and continue cooking on low for about 20 minutes.

Once done, give a final stir and check seasoning and if the veggies are cooked to your liking.

Garnish with the chopped dhania leaves then serve.

This dish goes well with some steamed rice or chapati.

We had ours with some butter naan and ndengu rice.

The curry is colourful, flavourful, filling and healthy. Definitely worth a try.

A great family meal to add to one’s repertoire.

Love,

Wanjoro.

Plantain Stuffed Chapati.

If you have been following me for a while, you know I am all about fun, colourful, delicious food, and the more vegetables I can put in, the better.

I like my chapati in all colours and flavours, so long as it is healthy (natural) and delightful to my taste buds.

These chapatis are like aloo paratha, but instead of a mashed potato filling, I made one with spicy steamed ripe plantain.

Can you peep the yellow plantain peeking through?

These delicious and filling chapati are a perfect lunchbox or tea time snack, or even with a delicious stew.

Let’s get started:

You will need 1-2 yellow ripe plantain. Boil or steam the plantain with one teaspoon of mixed spices and some salt and pepper.

I used one large yellow plantain.
This is the mixed spice blend I used this time round. I like it in chapati and vegetable dishes and bakes.
Once the plantain is soft and cooked, drain and set aside to cool down completely.

Move on to the chapati dough…

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup each of besan (chickpea flour), all purpose flour and atta (wholemeal) flour.

I like adding besan flour to my chapati, it makes them softer, adds a yellow tinge and some flavour too.

For the chapati dough, I used 2 tbsp of this coconut oil. Paracahute brand works well too.
To the flour, add one teaspoon each of salt and sugar, and 1 cup of warm water. Knead it all well till it becomes a soft and smooth dough.
Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30-40 minutes.
Once the plantain is cooled down, mash till soft and add a tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves.

Now to make the chapati…

Divide your chapati dough into half, take one half and roll out into a large circle.

Apply a bit of oil, and sprinkle some flour.
Add half of the plantain stuffing, sprinkle a little more flour and roll into a tight jelly roll.
Cut in a similar manner to cinnamon rolls…
Pinch the top of the rolled chapati balls to close them then set aside on a floured surface, Proceed to do the same for the other half of the dough.
These amounts made 14 medium chapatis.

Once done, heat up your chapati pan on medium heat, not too hot.

Roll out each chapati as you make them. You do have to be more careful as they filling will seep out and they may stick to the surface you are rolling out on.
Place chapati on the now heated pan and let it cook on one side till bubbles form or rise, then flip to the other side.

You can either let them cook through and brush with oil after you remove from heat, or add the oil to the pan, like normal chapati.

Can you see the plantain patches on the chapati?
They look, smell and taste so good!
The chapati is soft but flaky, and there are little bits of plantain sweetness in each bite.

You can have them with a stew or curry, or for tea. Or just plain on it’s own. The kids loved them plain, I guess cause of the sweetness of the plantain which blends well with the savory spice and fried bread flavour of the chapati.

They are definitely worth a try!

What flavours do you like adding to your chapati?

Kids’ Lunchbox and Snack Ideas.

The kids have been home for the better part of this school year due to Covid protocols where we live. Hopefully, face to face classes will resume in January and I for one cannot wait.

It has been great having the kids learn from home, but it is not easy. From longer screen time, not being able to physically interact with their teachers and schoolmates, a larger school work load…online learning is taking a toll on everyone involved.

The kids have always carried snacks and lunch from home. This has worked well for us so far- in terms of cost, being able to know what they are consuming and it doesn’t take as much time as one might expect.

Planning ahead is the greatest tip I have for this. As a Mum, my prime concern is for them to have healthy and tasty food, but I also need to take into consideration what is easier for them to consume in school; what is not time or labour intensive for me, we and will go well with the main family meal plan.

When my eldest child started carrying food from home, I worried she might not like what I have packed, so I decided to include her in the planning process. This has been working well for us so far.

Here are some tips in no order of importance:-

  • Focus on healthy, colourful, tasty food, that is easy to pack and keep. We do many cold meals, though the kids can warm from school, but cold lunches are great in this Kampala weather, they are quick to eat and clean up. No soup spills and the like.
  • Have a variety of meal options. I usually have 10-15 main meal ideas the kids like and approve, so I plan their meal choices around those options.
  • Include the children in planning for their meals. What would they like to carry? You can make a plan with them (keeping in mind the main family meal plan), so you are sure of less food wastage, they will eat what they chose and like, and you have less labour in shopping and prepping.
  • Make what you can ahead, if you can peel and chop or boil earlier it becomes easier to assemble in the morning.
  • Involve the children in packing the snacks and lunches too. My kids have become so good at this, I am really proud of them. Since they know what is on their menu, it is easy for them to pack what they are carrying for the day. For example, Fridays is a day for fries and a kachumbari salad for lunch. The kids are quite firm on this, but flexible enough on me to make plantain, green banana or even sweet potato fries, instead of the normal Irish potato ones.
  • Partitioned lunch boxes are a great option. One is able to separate the fruits and veggies, or main meal and salad. And I am also able to portion according to how much I know each kid is able to eat.
Portioned lunch boxes make work easier.
These lunch bags that come as part of the school backpacks are handy.

In terms of cost and nutrition. Fruits are a necessary snack. For this, I always put what they like and a fruit that is in season at the moment. For example, there are plenty of mangoes available at the moment, so their price is lower than other fruits not easily available at the moment.

Uganda’s great weather ensures we have plenty of sweet fruits available year round, so homemade juices are a great option too with the passion fruits and oranges that are easily available.

Basics for me in their bags are a bottle of drinking water, a small bottle of juice or flavoured milk, fruits and a healthy meal and snack. For example, a snack box for break will include a small sweet banana, popcorn, a muffin and some nuts. Popcorn is easy to make from home and doesn’t take too much time. Lunch can be rice balls, a simple salad and the fruit option can be grapes (sliced vertically), pineapple slices, or apple slices with some peanut butter on them.

Do not forget to pack some serviettes (paper towels) and cutlery for them. IKEA and many supermarkets have hardy plastic or melamine ones so you can keep your silverware safe. LOL.

This is a basic setup for the kids. Lunch boxes are at the bottom, then snack boxes and extra fruits. A water bottle and juice bottle are a must for them too.

Family main meal leftovers are also great for their lunchboxes. Leftover pasta makes a great pasta salad with some added veggies, tuna and mayo or yoghurt dressing.

Leftover steamed rice is great for rice balls, or fried rice which can be had warm or cold. Having canned tuna, chickpeas, sweetcorn and quinoa in the pantry is great to add to salads and sandwiches.

Simple sample meal : rice balls and an avocado salad.

Pancakes can be spread with jam, Nutella or peanut butter to make them more interesting and sweeter for the kids. Leftover veggies are great for savoury muffins, sweetcorn, zucchini and cheese make great options for this.

Other food options we like are :-

  • Salads- potato salad, pasta or quinoa salads are great with added cold meats such as tuna or leftover chicken. Veggies to bulk them can include chickpeas, sweetcorn, carrots, cucumber, red cabbage, beetroot, or even roasted zucchini and eggplant.
  • Fries or potato wedges. These could be sweet potato fries, green banana cutlets, plantain or yam fries.
  • Beef kebabs with a yoghurt sauce.
  • Orzo pasta is a fave here and can be used to bulk up a lentil salad.
  • Amaranth cereal bars
  • Sausage rolls.
  • Pancakes both sweet and savoury. Sweet ones can be spread with their favourite spread and sweetened with fruit. Savoury crepes work well with a veggie and cheese filling.
  • Leftover pizza.
  • Leftover chapati can make wraps of quesadillas, even frittatas.
  • Rice can be a salad, or fried rice. the kids also love beetroot pilau and celery rice which they can warm at school if they want to.
  • Carrots, cucumbers, celery stalks are great as a side salad with a small yoghurt sauce.
  • Quickbreads and muffins; banana bread, chocolate muffins, cheese and herb rolls are great options too.

Using what you have on hand and that which is easily available makes your work so much easier as a Mom.

Other tips to help the school mornings and school runs easier are:-

  • Having a good sleep routine. It is important for both you and the children to have a good night’s rest. Especially the kids who are still growing and need to let their minds and bodies rest and replenish lost energy. Having set times for bed and waking up is great for this.
  • Be prepared. Be stocked up on essentials to make mornings move faster. If you have to stop at the store on your way to drop them, chances are your kids will be late for school.
  • Have a morning routine for the family. Not a strict military style one, but a basic one that you and your family members have discussed and agreed upon. Simple ones like making beds immediately they get up, breakfast then shower and brush their teeth, oil themselves and dressed up work. This is how we teach our children independence, decision making and basic life skills.
  • Pack ahead for co- curricular activities. Sports and swimming gear can be packed the night ahead. Imagine looking for a swimming costume in the morning when they need to be out the door? it leaves everyone frazzled and not a good way to start the day.
  • An evening routine is great too. Once they get home from school, what is the first thing they do? When I pick them I always ask them to check if they have all their stuff with them. Once home, it is shower, a bit of play and tea time, homework then they can play some more before dinner is ready. Do not let them get way with dumping their shoes and bags at the door. I am firm on this. As messes such as these will end up with someone tripping on them and getting hurt, and also not teaching them how to be responsible for their things.
  • Check their schoolwork and let them also pack the books and stationery supplies before they go to bed once they are done with their homework; less chance of forgetting their homework at home or diaries.
  • Always keep the kids involved. Listen to them, talk to them, discuss with them what is going on in their school life. It makes them feel heard and seen and improves their self esteem.

As a parent, I am the adult and should lead by example. The kids being late is not their fault, it is mine if I did not take the time to ensure they are well prepared for the day ahead.

Let me also add that there is no perfect parent. We are all trying to do the best we can.

I will not lie and say I have all this down pat. No! I am still learning and I do drop the ball from time to time. However I cannot emphasize enough how much being organised has saved me time, money, energy.

Sure it’s easy for me to say do this and you will all be a calm, happy family. But as any parent will tell you, there are no guarantees. We can make the effort nevertheless. Nobody likes yelling or being yelled at in the morning to “hurry up!” And being more organized will reduce those frazzled mornings, don’t you think?

What do you pack in your child’s lunchbox?

Leo’s Banana Bread.

My son loves bananas. If there is one fruit that this household can never get enough of, it is this.

He likes helping me out a lot in the kitchen too and has a keen interest in how food comes together. I was therefore not too surprised when he asked to be taught how to bake banana bread.

He can fry up a mean egg. Helps in shopping (safely), stirring and cleaning up; he is my little sous chef and I am always happy to have the extra help.

So here is his banana bread Version. We used self raising flour, grated chocolate, coconut oil and love. Lots of love to make this heavenly coconut scented banana and chocolate loaf.

It is moist, fluffy, aromatic and so delish!

To make it you will need:-

  • 11/2 cups self raising flour.
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil.
  • 1-1/2 cups of really ripe mashed banana.
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar.
  • 2 eggs.
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured yoghurt.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon.
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate.

Method.

1.Mix the bananas, oil, egg, sugar and yoghurt together. Add in the vanilla and ground cinammon, then the flour. Fold in the chocolate last.

2. Pour into a greased or parchment lined loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes.

3. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove onto a rack to cool, and let rest 30 minutes before slicing.

The cake is moist, aromatic and so delicious, but not too sweet.

Perfect on its own, with some tea or hot chocolate, with some custard or vanilla ice cream.

It keeps well in a covered dish for a couple of days on the countertop, that is if you still have some leftover, which I doubt will happen.

Mmmh! looking at this image makes me crave it!

Pumpkin, Cauliflower and Broccoli soup.

This is such an easy and straightforward recipe but oh so flavourful.

I got this colourful pumpkin and decided I just had to make some soup from it. Look at how pretty it is!

Since we buy our pumpkin whole here, I usually clean, peel and chop up then freeze in a ziplock bag in desired portions. It lasts ages that way.

The soup ingredients are:-

  • 1 tbsp each salted butter and olive oil.
  • I chopped onion.
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds.
  • 4- 5 cloves of garlic.
  • I small head of cauliflower, chopped.
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cleaned and chopped.
  • 1 stalk of celery.
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger and whole turmeric.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.
  • Mixed spice blend.

Method.

  • In a sauce pan, add the coriander seeds, toast them a bit then crush roughly.
  • Add the butter to the pan as well as the onion, garlic, grated turmeric and ginger.
  • Cook them well and add the celery as well as the broccoli stalks.
  • Next go in the rest of the vegetables and one cup of water or stock, as well as the balsamic vinegar.
  • Let simmer till soft and cooked, then blend to your preferred consistency.
  • Be careful with the salt due to the salted butter and if you are using flavoured stock.

Once ready, ladle into bowls and garnish.

I garnished mine with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some cayenne and the mixed spice.

The soup is beautiful, creamy, aromatic, filling and so yummy!

We had the soup with these totally delicious herb and cheese rolls.

Look at those rolls! I will share the recipe soon.