L Cook With Jovi: March 2017

Monday, 27 March 2017

Indian Style Eggplant Mash

Reminiscent of the Turkish baba ganoush, this homey, hunger-satisfying dish consists of smoky eggplant, simmered in a blend of caramelized onions and tomatoes. There is something so addictively moorish about this dish that it is the perfect accompaniment to almost anything. Try it with naan, couscous, a bowl of quinoa or use it as a filling for a tortilla wrap.

Preparation Time: 65 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 mins
Serves: 2
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 5-6 pods of garlic, pounded
  • 1/2" ginger roughly chopped and pounded
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1 dry red chilli, split into two pieces
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ +1/2 tsp curry powder (garam masala)
  • Maldon salt flakes (any other salt will also work)

  1. Place the 2 eggplants on a baking tray and bake for 60 minutes at 200 degrees C. Turn them over after 30 minutes to ensure all sides are well done.
  2. Remove from oven and keep aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a non-stick pan and add the dry red chilli and cumin seeds. Allow them to splutter for a minute and add the onions, ginger and garlic.
  4. Sauté for 10 minutes till the onions start turning golden. Do not wait for them to brown completely.
  5. While the onions are browning, we can focus on the baked eggplant. Once they have cooled, peel the skin with your hands. This should come off quite easily. Discard the skin.
  6. Roughly chop the peeled eggplant.
  7. Once your onions turn golden, add the chopped eggplant and tomato. Keep stirring.
  8. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, ½ teaspoon curry powder and a teaspoon of salt.
  9. Mix well and cover for 15 minutes on low to medium heat.
  10. After 10 minutes, open the cover and stir to ensure even cooking. Scrape the bottom of the pan well.
  11. Once you have kept the eggplant covered for 15 minutes, it’s time to cook it without the lid on.
  12. Yes, this dish does require patience, but trust me the results are outstanding.
  13. Now turn the heat to medium high and stir uncovered for the next 12-15 minutes.
  14. After 10 minutes, add the remaining ½ teaspoon curry powder and check for seasoning.
  15. You do not have to stir continuously but every 3-4 minutes should be ok. The eggplant will be well mashed by now and will also start getting browned.
  16. Continue this for another 5 minutes and then turn off your heat and leave covered.
  17. Serve hot whenever hungry and garnish generously with chopped coriander. You can enjoy this with naan or create a delicious tortilla wrap using the eggplant as a stuffing. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Amp up your breakfast with these courgette bites

These super simple courgette bites make for a great breakfast idea or evening snack. You have to make these yummy little bites and see them getting devoured in minutes.

Preparation Time: 2 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 2
  • Olive oil
  • 1 courgette
  • Goat cheese
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Salt

  1. Cut the courgette into rings. Do not make them very thin.
  2. Just dab the courgette rings with olive oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Place in a foiled baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 225 degrees C.
  4. Flip the rings over after 10 minutes.
  5. That’s it! Take them out of the oven after 20 minutes and place a dollop of goat cheese on the top.
  6. Serve hot! 


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Finger licking good chicken spinach curry

There are times we want to impress our guests with that super delicious dish, packed with flavour. This boneless chicken spinach curry is exactly that. It takes a while to cook it but once you taste it you will know that your effort has paid off. It really is finger licking good!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 mins
Serves: 2-3

  • 1 tbsp olive oil + 1.5 tbsp ghee/butter
  • 250-300 gms chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
  • 200 gms spinach
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 2 medium sized onions, quartered
  • 4-5 pods of garlic
  • 1" ginger roughly chopped
  • 2 green chillies (optional)

Dry Whole Spices
  • 4 cloves
  • ½" cinnamon stick
  • 2 pods of green cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 strands of mace
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dry red chilli

Powdered Spices
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder or more if you like it hotter
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsps chicken curry masala
  • ½ tsp curry powder (garam masala)
  • Salt to taste

  1. Wash the spinach leaves well. Blanch them in hot water for 3-4 minutes and then blend into a thick paste. Keep aside about 1.5 cups of the water in which you blanched the spinach.
  2. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies into a blender. You will need to add a few tablespoons of water, to blend into a paste. Remove and keep aside.
  3. Next add your tomatoes into the blender and blitz into a paste as well.
  4. Heat the oil and butter together in a large pan. Add the cumin seeds and the dried red chilli. Allow to splutter for a minute and then add your onion garlic ginger paste.
  5. You now need to brown this. Be patient. This takes a while. Initially start on high heat to allow the water to evaporate. Then reduce to medium heat and keep stirring to prevent burning. This will take atleast 15 minutes.
  6. After 15 minutes, add all your dry whole spices and continue stirring for another 5 minutes. Your onion paste should be browned by now.
  7. It’s time to add your tomato paste. Fry for a few minutes and then add the powdered spices except for the curry powder and chicken masala powder. I added 1 teaspoon salt at this stage.
  8. Stir well and add the chicken pieces. Now cook on low to medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Do not cover the pan.
  9. After 10 minutes, add the chicken curry masala and combine well. In about 2 minutes you will smell the aroma of the masala.
  10. Now add the spinach paste and increase the heat. Pour 1 cup of the spinach water you had kept aside. Stir thoroughly and lower the heat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. 
  11. Open the lid and enjoy the wonderful aroma. Add the curry powder and check for salt. I did put in another teaspoon.
  12. Mix well one last time and switch off the heat. Leave the pan covered and allow it to cool naturally. Doing this ensures that the juices get completely soaked.
  13. Reheat and garnish with sliced red chillies when serving. This dish is packed with flavour and can be enjoyed with naan, rice or even couscous.

Jovi’s Notes
Chicken curry masala or chicken masala is available easily at any Indian store. Popular brands include MDH, Everest, Shan.

This dish tastes even better the next day. If cooking for guests, I would suggest you make this a day in advance. 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The 5 Whole Spices for Indian Cooking Beginners


My kitchen cabinets are full of bottles of spices. I like to store these things as you never know what might come in handy for a recipe. Yes, having a well-stocked spice cabinet, is a rather good feeling, especially when you can pull out something at the crucial moment when you need it the most.

If you have ever walked down a store aisle with neatly stacked rows of Indian spices of all sizes, shapes and colours and wondered what they are used for, I don’t blame you. Anyone knew to Indian cooking is bound to be overwhelmed at the number of spices we use in our India kitchens.
Layering many contrasting flavours and spices is at the heart of Indian cooking. Spices not only add beautiful flavour to Indian dishes, they also make each dish distinct and wonderfully aromatic. The use of spices varies by region in India and sometimes you can just smell a dish and know where it’s from. Each spice by itself imparts a striking flavour, but when used together with other spices, the different combinations and permutations magically change the individual characteristics.
The use of herbs and spices has been incredibly important throughout history. Many were celebrated for their medicinal properties, well before culinary use. In this respect, the health benefits of Indian spices have been well documented in several medical journals and publications.

If you’re a beginner Indian cook or just want to try out a few Indian recipes at home to add variation to your dinner table, I suggest that you start by buying a few essential Indian whole spices. To help you with this task, I have provided below the 5 whole spices I think you should start with. These are the basic ones and readily available at most grocery stores like TESCO, ASDA, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, or Costcutter. Holland and Barrett also stocks these spices under the label of ‘The Vital Ingredient.’

There are several other spices too but are used more sparingly. I have used this blog post to discuss the whole spices only. There will be another post about the powdered form of spices that you should keep handy.


Cumin is the seed of a small plant. The seeds themselves are crescent shaped and lend a warm pungent flavour to dishes. While cumin seeds are a staple in a lot of Indian food, they are also used in Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Mexican cooking. The seeds pair well with lentils, vegetables and meat. 

Cumin is a great source of iron and calcium and considered good for digestion and related disorders. 


Mustard seeds come from the yellow flowers of the mustard plant. The seeds are small and round and come in a variety of colours, black, brown, yellow. The black mustard seeds are quite commonly used in Indian cooking and have a lovely nutty flavour.

These seeds are an excellent source of essential B-complex vitamins such as folates, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine (vitaminB-6), pantothenic acid. They are also a rich source of health benefiting minerals. Calcium, manganese, copper, iron, selenium, and zinc are some of the minerals especially concentrated in these seeds.


Cinnamon is one of the most flavourful spices and is also my favourite. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. The inner bark is then extracted and the woody parts removed from it. When it dries, it forms strips that curl into rolls, called cinnamon sticks. The sticks are also ground to form cinnamon powder. The distinctive smell and flavour of cinnamon is due to the essential oils contained in the bark.

Cinnamon is loaded with large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants. Antioxidants can help protect the body from diseases. The antioxidants in cinnamon have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Cinnamon is used in cooking and baking across the globe, from flavouring your tea, cakes and buns to making aromatic rice dishes, mulled wine, and delicious curries.


Cloves are the flower buds of the clove tree. They resemble small nails and have a rather warm and sweet flavour. Besides India, cloves are also used in Mexican, European, and Ethiopian cooking.

Cloves are a key ingredient in many spice mixtures made for use in the kitchen. The popular Chinese Five Spice powder has cloves as one of its ingredients. The famous Indian garam masala also has cloves in it.

Cloves improve digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. They are also good for reducing flatulence, gastric irritability, and nausea. Cloves can be roasted, powdered, and taken with honey for relief in digestive disorders. They are particularly useful for toothaches due to their pain-killing properties.


Cardamom is called the queen of spices and is one of the most valued spices in the world.  (Incase you were left wondering who the king of spices is…it is the ubiquitous black pepper). There are three types of cardamom; green cardamom, black cardamom, and Madagascar cardamom. Cardamom pods have a pleasant aroma with a characteristic, slightly pungent, slightly sweet taste and leave a warm feeling in the mouth. It is the seeds, taken out from the fruit, which produce the warm sensation. They are dried fruits of the ginger family.

The smell of this spice makes it an integral part of Indian cuisine. From biryanis to desserts, green cardamom is popular. My favourite use of this spice is flavouring the Indian masala chai.

In India, cardamom has seen a lot of mention in Ayurveda (the ancient Indian science of medicine and lifestyle). It was believed to be a remedy for teeth and gum infections, throat problems, congestion of the lungs, gastrointestinal disorders, and was also used as an antidote for poisons and venoms.

Simply chew on a pod of cardamom after every meal or whenever you need to freshen up your breath! It works!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Delicious okra stir fried with aromatic Indian spices

This easy okra fry recipe is minimal effort and maximum flavour, great for a weekday dinner. Okra is so delicious that however much you make, it always seems to be falling short.

Preparation Time: 7 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Serves: 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 350 gms okra
  • ½ onion, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder or more if you like it hotter
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ + ¼ tsp curry powder (garam masala)
  • Salt to taste
  1. Wash and dry the okra. It is important to make sure the okra is dry before you start chopping it. You can dab it with tissue paper to ensure there is no moisture on the vegetable.
  2. Once dry, chop into rings. (see pic)
  3. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow them to splutter for a minute and the add the sliced onions. Saute for 2 minutes and add the okra.
  4. Add all the dry spices, except for the salt and combine well. Now cover the pan for 5-6 minutes on medium heat. Stir once in between to prevent the okra from burning.
  5. Open the lid after about 6 minutes and add ½ tsp salt. Stir and cover again for about 2 minutes.
  6. By this time your okra should have softened.
  7. Uncover and continue sautéing on medium heat for 10-12 minutes to make the okra crisp.
  8. Add the remaining ¼ tsp curry powder at the end. Check for seasoning. Add a little bit more salt if required. I did sprinkle a little more. 
  9. Serve hot garnished with coriander.
  10. Enjoy with naan or any other flatbread.

Jovi’s Notes
Sometimes okra has a sticky slime that oozes out when you start cooking it. The last step of sauting the okra on medium heat in an uncovered pan will ensure that you get rid of that slime.
Do not add salt at the beginning as that encourages the okra to stick together.

I am guilty of using frozen okra at times. I haven’t used it for this recipe. If you’re short of time you could use chopped frozen okra, but the fresh ones are definitely better any day. 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Cook Your 15 Minute Spinach and Potato Dish Tonight

Sometimes we all just want something amazingly quick and easy for dinner, yet want it to be wholesome and filling. This spinach and potato dish is exactly that. It is ready to eat in less than 20 minutes. The spinach is flavoured with Indian spices and when combined with potato makes it even more delicious. This is soon going to become your go-to recipe when you’re starved for time and tasty food!

Preparation Time: 2 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Serves: 2
  • 1.5 tbsp garlic infused olive oil/regular olive oil
  • 1 large potato, chopped into bite sizes
  • Chopped frozen spinach (see pic)
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder or more if you like it hotter
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp curry powder (garam masala)
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow them to splutter for a minute and throw in the garlic. Saute for a minute.
  2. Now add the potatoes and cook on medium heat to high heat for 5 minutes. Do not cover the pan. You will notice that the potatoes are beginning to crisp on the edges. 
  3. After 5 minutes, add the ginger paste and stir.
  4. Next, put in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and combine well with the potatoes.
  5. It’s time to add the spinach now. I have added chopped frozen spinach which comes in small chunks. I added 6 chunks. You could add more if you're a Popeye fan!
  6. Now cover your pan and leave it on medium heat for 6 minutes. This will allow your frozen spinach to defrost. Note that I did not defrost the spinach earlier. Just took it out of my freezer and added it straight in.
  7. After 6 minutes uncover and mix well. Your spinach should now combine easily with your potatoes.
  8. Let’s spice the dish up and add in our spices. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Cook for about 2 more minutes.
  9. Serve hot garnished with some chopped red chillies. You can enjoy this with naan or any other flatbread.

Jovi’s Notes

As this is a super quick recipe I have used mostly frozen and pre-chopped ingredients, purchased from my local Tesco and Sainsbury’s.  But feel free to try this with fresh ingredients. 

Monday, 6 March 2017


This barley flakes veggie pot has been my go-to healthy meal for the last year. I eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner whenever I can! It’s just that good. The idea of barley flakes mixed with vegetables and tempered with mustard seeds may seem unconventional, but it’s really one of the best combinations of flavours and textures that I’ve found in a while. The pungent flavour of black mustard seeds balances itself so beautifully with the juicy magic of vegetables when cooked in a pressure cooker. Once everything is mixed together with the barley flakes, the result is just a treat to your taste buds. 

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves: 2

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil/butter
  • 1 cup barley flakes
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Lots of different raw vegetables, chopped (about 1 cup or a little more)
  • 1 medium sized tomato, chopped
  • Salt

  1. Heat oil or butter in a pressure cooker. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter for a minute.
  2. Now add the barley flakes and roast them for about 2 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add all the vegetables and the chopped tomatoes. I put just about everything that I could find in my fridge. I had about 2 handfuls of kale, ¼ cup frozen peas, about 7-8 pieces of broccoli, ¼ cup chopped carrots, 3-4 baby corns, 3 sugar snap peas and one of those red chillies that are not very hot. You can add whatever vegetables you have handy or ones that you like.
  4. Continue sauteing the vegetables for another 2 minutes. Add the chilli flakes, turmeric and ½ tsp salt while stirring.
  5. Next pour 2.5 cups of water into the pressure cooker. Stir and add salt. I added another 1 teaspoon salt and made sure I gave it a good stir.
  6. Close the pressure cooker and bring to full pressure on high heat.
  7. Reduce heat and cook for 6 minutes.
  8. Remove cooker from heat and allow to cool naturally, till there is no pressure inside.
  9. Serve hot for breakfast or whenever you crave a super healthy or super tasty meal.

Jovi’s Notes

Incase you’re wondering, where to find barley flakes, I bought mine from Holland and Barret. Some countries sell barley oats instead of barley flakes. Those would work as well for this recipe. 

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