Category Archives: Mains

I’m Back! Wild Mushroom Risotto

I’m back! I know, I am guilty of neglecting my blog for two months now. It’s not that I didn’t make anything delicious and photograph worthy in those two months….trust me..I did! I found it difficult to balance my new work life and fasting ( which is now over!) during the optimum daylight hours for taking photographs of all the beautiful food that I have made and eaten.

I went to the Neighbourgoods Market today in Braamfontein – a block away from my office. I found the most exotic, fresh, (expensive) mushrooms. I couldn’t resist and decided that the close of winter calls for a creamy mushroom risotto!

to serve 6:


1 cup of chopped celery

6-7 baby fennel bulbs

3tsp crushed green chilli

4 tbsp butter

150g mixed mushrooms ( I used Shitake, Porcini a must,  Pink Oyster, Shimeji, White, and an abnormally large mushroom that I can’t remember the name of)

3 cups Arborio rice

1 cup Monis white grape juice



1/3 cup Parmesan

1/3 cup fresh cream

Most people will find it odd, maybe offensive, that I haven’t included vegetable stock in the recipe as most risotto dishes would.

The problem is:

1) They all have onion and garlic in them

2) It tastes like crap.

3) Its an excuse for not flavouring something in an original way and relying on the yucky flavour of stock to make up for it.

Please keep in mind that it is best to use a shallow dish when preparing any risotto in order to maintain even cooking, a generous distribution of flavours, and less mushing!

Keep Calm and Cook:

Soak the Porcini mushrooms in 1.5 cups of warm water for 20minutes.

Remove and strain once the mushrooms are hydrated. Do NOT throw the liquid away!

Gently heat 1tbsp of butter. Fry the chilli, and a tsp of cracked black pepper.Saute the celery and baby fennel until slightly translucent.

Add the remaining liquid of the Porcini mushrooms to a saucepan of 1.5 cups of warm water, and keep aside on low heat.

My favourite part:

Julia Child had a very good reason. “Never crowd the mushrooms”, unless you want mushy mushroom stew.

Add the mushrooms one handful at a time. I tend to saute the tougher/more dense mushrooms first as they usually need slightly more cooking time. Carefully saute all the mushrooms. Add another tbsp of butter to assist in bringing out all of the nutty, earthy flavours of the different mushrooms.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the Arborio rice and saute until a translucent coat is formed around each grain.

Add the grape juice and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add a ladle of the Porcini liquid to the risotto, and gentle stir. As the liquid gets absorbed by the  Arborio rice, gradually add the remaining water over 15minutes, whilst gently stirring in between.

Once the risotto is cooked – (I prefer mine slightly more cooked than al dente), stir in the cream and Parmesan.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Allow to sit for 10 mintues.

Serve with an extra dash of cream or Parmesan!

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Pasta Perfect!


So, a very talented photographer – Pratik Panchal edited this image for me, and also took the liberty of naming this post “Pasta Perfect”!

This dish can be easily tossed together in 15-20 minutes!

Put together some:  serves 4

1 bag of pasta that you enjoy – this goes well with almost any type

1 cup (or more) of basil pesto – see

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 cups whole rosa tomatoes

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

250g Bocchini mozzarella



olive oil


Boil the pasta – al dente.

While the pasta is on the stove, dress the tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe a bit of green chilli, if you enjoy a bit of heat! Roast in the oven for about ten minutes.


When the pasta is done, mix the pesto while its hot!

Tear up those perfect white balls of cheese and toss into the pasta, along with the sizzling tomatos!

Add the Parmesan, salt  and pepper to taste, along with a quick drizzle of olive oil  and toss.

Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the dish, and serve warm or cold as a salad.


I just love using a pasta with a shell like interior - it gives surprises of cheese and pine nuts when you dig in unexpectedly!

Oh…there’s nothing like fresh italian bread to soak up the remaining pesto afterwards;)

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Stuffing little vegetables is something that Gujaratis take much pleasure in.

This is my take on my mothers recipe.

This would pair well with some regular rotlis, or maybe some toasted, buttery ciabatta!

The ingredients are easy to find:

4 baby aubergines

8 baby potatoes

4 medium sized jalapenos

For the stuffing:

3/4 cup ground peanuts

3 tbsp chickpea flour

1 tbspn ground cumin

1 tbspn ground coriander

1 handful of fresh coriander

(if you’re gujju – you know I mean dhana jeeru!)

1-2 tsp red chilli

3 tsp fresh grated ginger

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp salt

2tsp sugar

For the Sauce ( which can be used as the paste above)

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

around 3 cups of fresh tomato puree ( this depends on whether you want the end product to be more saucy or dry) I prefer mine dry.

6 curry leaves

1 tsp tumeric

2 tsp sugar ( to taste)

2 tsp salt ( to taste)

1 tbsp green chilli (optional…but I say GO FOR IT!)

A handful of Coriander leaves


Plan yoghurt or dahi on the side

Another handful of Coriander leaves ( cant get enough…)

Throw all the ingredients for the stuffing (except the oil) into your blender until the mix if roughly ground.

After you’ve diligently washed and cleaned your veggies, slit them neatly to prepare them for stuffing. ( crosswise for brinjals, and single slits for potatoes and jalapenos should be fine)

Stuff each vegetable lovingly, dont be shy! You should have about a tablespoon of stuffing left.

Line the veggies up in an ovenproof dish. Make sure you vary the order. It wouldn’t be any fun if all the potatoes were group into one corner! Cover with cling film, and poke a 2cm hole in the middle.

I  hate using the microwave when I’m cooking, but in this case, it saves a whole lot of oil and calories! Microwave for 7-10 minutes ..I guess it depends on your microwave.

While thats going on, heat the oil in a non stick pan. Add the spices and curry leaves. Make sure you hear the sizzle and get a good whiff of the aroma, before you add the tomato puree.

Simmer for a few minutes, then add the leftover peanut stuffing and mix. Cover, and leave on the stove for another 10 minutes. If you want a somewhat dry curry, do not cover.

Pour the tomato sauce over the vegetables, and bake at 180 for 20 minutes.

While thats happening, set the table, whip out the plain yoghurt or raita, toast some papad, and roll out the rotis.

Remove from the oven and garnish with a drizzle of plain yoghurt and a sprinkling of coriander leaves!



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