How To Preserve Dry Staple Foods In Your Kitchen Cupboard

How To Preserve Dry Staple Foods In Your Kitchen Cupboard








Since the past couple of years, I have been trying to get better about preventing food wastage. This means cooking just enough quantity (mostly succeed although there are still times it is really difficult!), using what is my kitchen cupboard before buying new ingredients and storing grains, pulses, seeds and flours carefully so that they are not destroyed by bugs, insects and other such pests.

Red Chilli to Preserve Dry Staple FoodsBay Leaf to Preserve Dry Staple FoodsThere are plenty of natural preservatives for storing dry staples. Bay leaves and sun dried red chillies are good examples; add a few of these to your container of grains and they should keep the nasties at bay.

Parad TabletsOne of my uncles told me about Ayurvedic tablets called Parad which are commonly used in India to store grains and flours. For each kilo of your dry staple, add about 10 to 12 tablets and they take care of the rest.

I have been using Parad tablets since the last two years and they have really helped keep any bugs and insects away from my dry staple foods.

I use them in grains, pulses, seeds, dry fruits, flours, pastas, rice and even scatter them around the kitchen cupboards storing these foods. The best part is that the tablets are reusable and so go a long way.

Hope you found this useful. If you have any effective preservation methods for dry staple foods, you are invited to share them in the comment box below.


Panchkutiyu Shaak II/Seven Vegetables Cooked in Coriander, Coconut & Green Garlic

Panchkutiyu Shaak II/Seven Vegetables Cooked in Coriander, Coconut & Green Garlic









Statistics tell me that Panchkutiyu Shaak is one of the most viewed posts on Kooky Cookyng. While this is good to know, am not sure what the reason could be.

So here I am sharing with you another version of this famous Gujarati vegetable dish which is a bit different from the previous one I have posted.

a very healthy and delicious recipe which can become a dinner party scene stealer

For starters, panchkutiyu means five [vegetables] whereas this particular recipe uses seven different vegetables. Also unlike the other recipe, in this one green garlic is optional and I have added muthiya (although you can do away with them if you like).

can qualify as an easier, non-seasonal, version of undhiyu

This particular recipe can be cooked any time of the year using seasonal flat beans (papdi).

The following should be good enough for 4 people. Goes very well with rotis. Any leftover tastes even better.


250 Grams flat beans (papdi) of your choice

500 Grams purple yam

125 Grams potato

125 Grams sweet potato

125 Grams aubergine (any variety will do)

1 Bottlegourd

2 Cups shelled green peas

2 Cups freshly grated coconut

2 Cups fresh coriander

250 Grams green garlic (optional)

6 Muthiyas of your choice, steamed and sliced (optional)

2 Tablespoons oil

1 Tablespoon carom seeds (ajwain)

1 Tablespoon asafoetida

2 Tablespoons cumin powder

2 Tablespoons coriander powder

1 Tablespoon turmeric powder

2 Tablespoons minced chillies

2 Tablespoons minced ginger

1 Teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Salt to taste


  1. First prepare the masala mixture. Chop and wash the coriander.
  2. Clean, chop and wash the green garlic (if using).
  3. Take a large mixing bowl in which you need to add the grated coconut, coriander leaves, garlic, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, minced chillies, minced ginger and salt to taste.
  4. Mix this with a spoon or hands, whichever is easier. Set aside.
  5. Next, work on the vegetables. Top and tail the flat beans and split them open. If very long, you can snap them in two else leave them whole.
  6. Peel, cut and wash purple yam.
  7. Cut and wash potato.
  8. Cut and wash sweet potato.
  9. Peel, wash and cut bottle gourd.
  10. Wash and cut the aubergine.
  11. Mix the bicarbonate of soda and half of the coriander-coconut mix to the flat beans and set aside.
  12. Combine the remaining vegetables (purple yam, potato, sweet potato, green peas, bottle gourd and aubergine) and add the remaining coriander-coconut mix. Toss the vegetables around so that they are evenly coated with the masala.
  13. Take a large cooking pot which has a tight fitting lid.
  14. Place it on high heat and pour oil.
  15. Once the oil is hot, add the carom seeds. As soon as they start spluttering, add the asafoetida.
  16. Add the papdi and stir well.
  17. Next, add the remaining six vegetables and mix them with the papdi.
  18. Place the sliced muthiya on top of the vegetables.
  19. Pour two cups of water and cover the mouth of the pot with a foil so that steam doesn’t escape easily.
  20. Now cover with the tight fitting lid, lower heat and let the vegetables cook on very low heat for 2 hours. Do not open in between. The vegetables shouldn’t stick to the bottom as we have sealed the mouth of the pot plus added 2 cups of water plus the vegetables like bottle gourd and aubergine will release their own moisture.
  21. Once the vegetables start cooking, you will get the aroma.
  22. After 2 hours, take the cooking pot off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  23. Remove the lid and open the foil. Mix the muthiya with the vegetables and check for doneness.
  24. Serve hot.


  1. Cut the vegetables into large chunks so that they do not break or dissolve while cooking.
  2. If the vegetables are not fully cooked after two hours, put the foil and the lid back and cook for additional 15 to 20 minutes. If you feel the need to add more water at this stage, make sure that you add boiling water (not room temperature).


Couscous with Aubergine Stew

Couscous with Aubergine Stew









Don’t you just find it frustrating when you start your day early (like 5.00 in my case this morning) and you are through with your morning ritual and at your desk by 6.00 am thinking smugly to yourself, “oh look at me, I am so good, I am going to start my work day early today” only to find that there is some problem with the internet connection. I know, I know – I should learn to live without the internet, the internet is not the be all and end all, that I should go get a life. But internet is critical for my work and so whenever it goes down, specially first thing in the morning when I get to my desk as happened today, I find it freakin’ frustrating!

Fortunately, there is nothing frustrating about cooking couscous. Each time I cook this easygoing grain, I wonder why I don’t do so more frequetly. It is hassle free in that you can prep it in a matter of minutes even after the sauce or the stew accompanying it is made.

if couscous was a musician and not a grain, it would probably warble I’m easy

Ass Kicking Chillies for Couscous with Aubergine stewFor today’s couscous recipe, I made an aubergine stew with peppers and onions enveloped in my totally kooky sauce. Having never cooked with tahini before (only used it for dressing or in hummus), I wanted to experiment with it during the actual cooking process. Match that with my recently discovered love for tomato ketchup and some hot chillies and you get one creamy yet fiery sauce which totally works with the meek and mild couscous. Toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds provide the lovely – and much desired – nutty and crunchy texture to finish off the dish.

There are plenty of different varieties of aubergine out there. I used the long and slim purple ones. As for the chillies, my greengrocer has got some red chillies which he sold to me a couple of days back. They look harmless (I am told that the big, fat ones are usually mild compared to the skinny ones which are supposed to be wild) but these beauties know how to kick ass!

If you don’t have couscous, you can try the stew with plain rice.


1 Cup dry couscous

150 Grams aubergine

1 Green Pepper

2-3 Hot chillies (adjust quantity according to personal preference)

1 Tomato

2 Onions

1 Tablespoon tahini

1 Tablespoon tomato ketchup

A generous pinch of smoked paprika (optional)

1 Teaspoon sumac* (optional)

8-10 pitted black olives

1 Tablespoon mixture of sunflower and pumpkin seeds

1 Tablespoon dukka* (optional)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste


  1. Peel, wash and finely chop the onion.
  2. Wash and slice the chillies.
  3. Wash and finely dice the tomato.
  4. Wash and finely chop the green pepper.
  5. Split the olives into two. If you have the unpitted variety, remove the stone.
  6. In a bowl, combine the tahini, tomato ketchup, black olives, paprika (if using) and sumac (if using). Add about half a cup of water and mix well. Set aside this sauce mix.
  7. Heat a frying pan and once it becomes hot, toast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds for a couple of minutes till they turn a light shade of brown. Be careful not to burn them.
  8. Once the seeds are nicely toasted, remove them to a plate.
  9. Return the frying pan to heat and pour the oil.
  10. Once the oil beomes hot, add the chopped onions, tomato, green pepper, chillies and salt to taste. Mix well, cover, lower the heat and let the vegetables cook for 10 minutes.
  11. While the onion mixture is cooking, wash and chop the aubergine.
  12. After 10 minutes, uncover and add the aubergine along with the sauce mix. Stir everything together, add some more water if you think it is needed, cover and let the stew cook for 10 minutes after which time take the pan off the heat.
  13. While the stew is resting, cook couscous according to instructions on the packet.
  14. Plate the cooked couscous with stew over it.
  15. Sprinkle with toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds and dukka (if using).


  1. Dukka is a versatile Jordanian spice mixture made with roasted sesame, wheat and coriander. It can be used as a seasoning, as a marinade or even in dips.
  2. Instead of sumac, you can use a teaspoon of cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. I wouldn’t recomment lemon or lime juice for this recipe as it would become too sour. You want just a wee hint of tartness.

Virtually Fat-free Bhel of Popped Amaranth Seeds & Khakhra

Virtually Fat-free Bhel of Popped Amaranth Seeds & Khakhra









Okay my dear kooky readers. If your reaction to this recipe is like “what the f-“, I can totally understand. Even for me, this is probably the kookiest recipe I have ever invented!

if there was a kookiness scale running from 1 to 10 where 10 is the kookiest, this recipe would definitely fall off the scale

Well, here’s the back story to this recipe. I have some diet khakhra lying around and they are not the best I have had. I really didn’t want to throw them and was thinking of how best to use them which is when I thought of making khakhra bhel.

Some of my most creative ideas seem to come to me when I am doing up-down-up-down laps at the pool. And so during one of my swim sessions it suddenly hit me – I can pop amaranth seeds and combine them with the khakhra to make an unconventional bhel. Probably, the Mumbai Boss article on amaranth seeds was still sitting subconsciously in my mind.

I happened to have all the ingredients, just had to buy some sweet corn and green mango so thought I would give it a go.

The traditional bhelpuri is a combination of puffed rice, sev, crispy puri, onions, tomatoes and various chutneys.

In my recipe, I have swapped puffed rice for popped amaranth seeds and crispy puris for diet khakhra. If you don’t add the sev and use diet khakhra, this recipe becomes totally fat-free.

As for the taste, I can assure you that you will not notice any difference. It is just as good as the traditional bhel but healthier. Would definitely recommend it. Kooky or not (having tried it, my verdict is ‘not’), this recipe is for keeps. And now, I am actually so glad that I have those khakhras as I will be making this bhel again.

If you can’t get hold of diet khakhra, you can try it with any plain, crisp flatbread. Also will taste good without the chutneys (like dry bhel).

Bhel combination is a matter of personal taste so please use the following as a guideline and adjust the quantity of chutneys and vegetables according to your preference.

You will find instructions on popping amaranth seeds on my blog here.


2 Cups popped amaranth seeds

3-4 Diet khakhra

1/2 Cup sev (optional)

1/2 Cup coriander leaves

2 Onions

2 Tomatoes

100 Grams sweetcorn kernels

1 Small raw green mango

2-3 Chillies

2 Tablespoons sunflower and pumpkin seeds

1 Tablespoon green chutney

1 Tablespoon red chutney

1 Tablespoon tamarind chutney*

Salt to taste


  1. First, work on the vegetables. Peel, wash and finely chop the onion.
  2. Wash and finely dice the tomato.
  3. Peel, wash and finely chop the mango.
  4. Wash and finely slice the chillies.
  5. Wash and chop the coriander leaves.
  6. Wash the sweetcorn kernels and steam the for 10 minutes till tender
  7. Dry roast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a frying pan for a couple of minutes till they are nicely toasted.
  8. Break the khakhra into very small pieces using your hands. Place them in a bowl.
  9. Add the popped amaranth seeds, sev (if using) and toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds to the broken khakhra.
  10. Toss it around a bit till the mixture is combined.
  11. In another bowl, mix the onion, tomatoes, mango, sweetcorn kernel, chilli and coriander with a pinch of salt. Combine everything well.
  12. Now, take a large mixing bow. Tip in the vegetable mixture and the three chutneys. Mix really well and check for salt and also see whether you would like to add more chutney. Once you are satisfied with the taste, add the popped amaranth seeds and khakhra, mix well and transfer to a serving bowl.
  13. Garnish with some chopped coriander and sev (if using).


  1. You can prepare the vegetables and chutneys ahead of time. But bring it all together when eating else it will go soggy.
  2. I have a jar of Dr. Oetker’s imli chutney sauce which is what I used. You can make your own tamarind chutney, go here for recipe.

Here are the dry ingredients. Top Row: Left – Coriander. Right – Sev. Bottom Row: Left – Popped Amaranth Seed & Khakhra Mixture. Right – Vegetables.

Dry Ingredients for Bhel of Popped Amaranth Seeds & Khakhra









Here are the three chutneys I added.

Chutneys for Bhel of Popped Amaranth Seeds & Khakhra









My Experience Popping Amaranth Seed, Pearl Millet, Quinoa & Unhulled Barley

Popping Amaranth Seeds, Pearl Millet, Quinoa & Unhulled Barley








I have spent this Sunday morning playing around with grains in my kitchen cupboard.

Wanted to pop some amaranth seeds as I will be using them for a totally kooky experimental dinner tonight. While I was at it, I thought I would try out pearl millet, quinoa and unhulled barley as well.

The method I used was dry heat one taken from here.

The photo above shows all four grains after they have been popped. Top row: Left – amaranth seeds; Right – quinoa. Bottom row: Left – pearl millet; Right – unhulled barley.

Popped Amaranth SeedAmaranth seeds (right) popped really nicely and very quickly (compared to popcorn).






Popped Pearl MilletPearl millet (left) was not very successful, only a few grains popped. But even those which didn’t pop were nice to munch on.






Popped QuinoaQuinoa (right) made a lot of popping sound and the taste is of a popped grain although it doesn’t look popped; it looks like dry roasted quinoa.





Popped Unhulled BarleyUnhulled barley (left) was the most surprising one of the lot. It split open to reveal the white popped bits inside each grain although it did not fully pop. When you eat it, it tastes just like popcorn.





If you decide to pop these (or any other) grains, I would suggest that you try one spoonful at a time to see whether or not they pop. Also please make sure you cover the pan with the lid while the popping is happening else the grains may fly all over your kitchen (am suggesting based on personal experience!).


  1. Heat a wide based frying pan with a tight fitting lid on.
  2. Once the pan is very hot, keep the heat on its highest level, remove the lid and add one spoonful of the grain of your choice.
  3. Cover with the lid and keep shaking the pan, holding the lid with one hand.
  4. You will know they are popping when they start making the popping sound.
  5. Take the grains off the heat when the popping sound stops or reduces.
  6. Tip them onto a dry plate and let them cool down before using or storing.


  1. Even the grains which remain “unpopped” after the popping procedure are quite nice and crunchy so don’t discard them.




Spicy Tomato Ketchup, The Kooky Way

Spicy Tomato Ketchup, The Kooky Way







Tomato ketchup is my new food love. Till now, I have not been its fan, never kept a bottle in the kitchen and would never consider using it as a condiment.

All this changed when, recently, I found myself with a huge bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup.

decided to try it with my Amaranth Seed, Kidney Bean & Green Pea Cakes and have become hooked on it

Was curious about this popular sauce’s history so did a bit of research on the internet. Was pleasantly surprised to discover that its roots lie in the East.

According to Wikipedia, “In the 17th century (?) the Chinese mixed a concoction of pickled fish and spices and called it (in the Amoy dialect) kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (鮭汁, Mandarin Chinese guī zhī, Cantonese gwai1 zap1) meaning the brine of pickled fish (鮭, salmon; 汁, juice) or shellfish.”

“By the early 18th century, the table sauce had made it to the Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore), where it was discovered by English explorers. The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce was kĕchap. That word evolved into the English word “ketchup”. English settlers took ketchup with them to the American colonies.”

“Many variations of ketchup were created, but the tomato-based version did not appear until about a century after other types. By 1801, a recipe for tomato ketchup was created by Sandy Addison and was later printed in an American cookbook, the Sugar House Book.”

Have become a total tomato ketchup convert. The fact that it is good for health is a bonus.

Tomato KetchupHot SauceIn my refrigerator was homemade hot sauce which I decided to mix with some tomato ketchup. The end result is a tomato ketchup with spicy, sweet and tangy taste. It is absolutely delicious.

This is more of a method than a recipe. Just mix a tablespoon of the hot sauce with a tablespoon of tomato ketchup and voilà!

Try it and let me know what you think.

Amaranth Seed, Kidney Bean & Green Pea Cakes

Amaranth Seed, Kidney Bean & Green Pea Cakes









Firstly, apologies for no proper, plated photo. These cakes had been waiting patiently to be served and by the time their turn came, it was all too hurried so there was no real opportunity. I am new to food blogging and am still trying to get to grips with cooking, serving and photographing, all simultaneously!

Yesterday morning, I had boiled amaranth seeds to make these cakes and then came upon this article in Mumbai Boss which extols their virtues; talk about serendipity!

Amaranth Seeds, Kidney Beans & Green PeasMy original plan was to make fish cakes using these seeds (substituting the traditional mashed potatoes). But I decided to use kidney beans instead.

The end result – most delicious cakes which are very similar to fish cakes in texture, requiring surprisingly very little oil and totally moreish.

amaranth seeds may be tiny but they can hold their own against other ingredients

This recipe does require a bit of patience and advance planning if you are going to soak and boil kidney beans.

Amaranth seeds, kidney beans, green peas and spring onions bound together by semolina are very delicate to handle and as you are shallow frying these cakes, you may start wondering if they will ever form a nice crust. But as I discovered, patience pays and if you let them cook for a long time, they will become nice and crunchy on the outside while remaining moist on the inside.

This is the second time I have used amaranth seeds in this way. And am feeling much more confident about how to use them in the future.

The following makes about 15 to 18 cakes depending on their size.


1 Cup amaranth seeds

1 Cup kidney beans

1 Cup green peas

1 Large bunch spring onions (about 10 bulbs)

2-3 Red chillies (adjust quantity according to taste)

1 Tablespoon sumac* (adjust quantity according to taste)

1 Vegetable stock cube

3 Cups water

Salt to taste

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Semolina to dust the cakes (approximately 1/2 cup but you may need more so keep it handy)


  1. First, prep the kidney beans (if using canned, ignore this step). Soak them for 10 to 12 hours and then boil them in some salted water till they are very soft.
  2. Next, cook the amaranth seeds. I used this website as a guide as to how much water I should use. The ratio of 1:3 (1 part amaranth seeds, 3 parts water) works perfectly. So, put the amaranth seeds in a saucepan along with the stock cube and 3 cups of water. Cover, bring to boil, lower heat and let the seeds cook for 30 minutes. You don’t need to stir. Once the seeds are cooked, take them off the heat.
  3. Wash and steam the green peas till tender.
  4. Wash and finely dice the spring onions. For this recipe, you only take the white bulb, not the green stalk.
  5. Finely chop the red chillies.
  6. Pour the semolina in a flat plate.
  7. In a big mixing bowl, tip in the boiled kidney beans, amaranth seeds, green peas, chopped spring onion, chillies, sumac and salt to taste. Bring everything together using your hands (it is easier than a spoon).
  8. Grease you palms with a few drops of oil and make small cakes of the mixture. Place these cakes in the plate which has semolina. Turn each cake so that it is completely covered in semolina.
  9. Once you have shaped all the cakes, put them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
  10. When you are ready to cook the cakes, remove them from the refrigerator. Dust them with more semolina if you feel the need. I did this and they formed a nice crust.
  11. Take a frying pan and grease it with a little bit of oil. You will need to use your judgement as to how much oil you require. I used half a tablespoon and it was more than enough.
  12. Heat the oiled frying pan. Once it is hot, very gently place the cakes making sure that they do not touch each other. You will need the space in between them to flip them over.
  13. Let the cakes cook on low heat for about 10 minutes before turning them over with a palette knife or a spatula.
  14. Cook the other side for 10 minutes. Once again flip them over.
  15. Continue cooking each side for 10 minutes till you can see and feel the crust form. Any bits of semolina in the pan will also turn dark brown (as you can see from my photo above).
  16. Once the cakes are cooked and the outside is firm and crunchy, transfer them to a serving plate.
  17. Serve with tomato ketchup or hot sauce.


  1. If you don’t have sumac, you can use the juice of one lime or lemon instead.
  2. The uncooked cakes are very soft so be very gentle as to how you handle them when placing them on the frying pan and during cooking (when turning them over).
  3. Don’t worry if they break a bit. Once they form the crust, they will become firm.
  4. I found the second dusting of semolina (after taking them out of the refrigerator and putting them in a frying pan) helped.


Palak Aur Ande Ki Bhurji/Spicy Scrambled Eggs with Spinach

Spicy Scrambled Eggs with Spinach









There used to be a restaurant called New Kabana in north London run by a Pakistani couple. This restaurant served some of the best Punjabi food ever.

Both, the husband and wife, used to cook in the kitchen as well as work the tables.

The restaurant itself was very basic; you could bring your own booze and more of a cafe like atmosphere but as they rightly say, don’t judge a book by its cover. Each dish that they served stood out on its own, no two curries tasted the same, each item was freshly prepared once the order was placed. It was one of those places you went for real, honest food and not the atmosphere.

The restaurant used to be a short drive from where we live in Golders Green so it was very conveniently located for us but the food was so exemplary, we would have even driven long distance if it was elsewhere.

Sadly, the restaurant shut down and we haven’t been able to find a worthy successor yet (although my parents tell me that they have recently discovered a new restaurant which is just as good, which I have still to try).

I have been on a nostalgia trip since last night when I cooked this scrambled eggs with spinach

Spinach for Spicy Scrambled EggsI don’t eat enough eggs so decided to make bhurji. I like sneaking in a vegetable or two wherever I can as long as it matches the rest of the ingredients. So, I decided to use spinach in my bhurji recipe.

New Kabana’s recipe for palak paneer used to be different from the ones we are normally used to. The spinach was chopped (not pureed) and the paneer used to be crumbled instead of cubed.

So this recipe is like their palak paneer except that paneer has been substituted with scrambled eggs.

DuckduckGo doesn’t throw up any other recipe for palak aur ande ki bhurji; have I created a new version of the popular Indian scrambled eggs ;-)?!

You can enjoy this for breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on your appetite or food mood. Serve it on toast or eat it with sliced bread, tortilla, crusty roll, roti or naan.


2 Cups Spinach

2 to 3 Eggs (depending on their size)

1 Onion

1 Tablespoon ginger-garlic paste

2 Tomatoes

2 Chillies

1 Teaspoon cumin seeds

1 Teaspoon garam masala powder

1 Teaspoon turmeric powder

1 Tablespoon oil

Salt to taste


  1. Chop and wash the spinach.
  2. Peel, wash and chop the onion.
  3. Wash and chop the tomatoes.
  4. Break the eggs into a bowl and set aside. Do NOT break them or whisk them.
  5. Take a wide bottom frying pan and place it on high heat.
  6. Pour the oil into it.
  7. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and lower the heat.
  8. Stir the cumin seeds for about 15 to 20 seconds.
  9. Next, add the onions with salt to taste. Cover and let them cook for about 5 minutes.
  10. Uncover and add the ginger-garlic paste. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.
  11. Add the tomatoes, chopped chillies, turmeric and garam masala. Once again, mix well, cover and let this cook for about 5 minutes till the tomatoes become soft and squishy.
  12. Uncover and add the spinach. Keep stirring till the spinach starts wilting.
  13. Once the spinach is almost cooked, tip in the eggs.
  14. Now keep stirring the eggs till they simultaneously cook and amalgamate with the vegetable base.
  15. Once the eggs are cooked, cover the pan and leave it on low heat for a couple of minutes.
  16. Take the pan off the burner and let it sit covered for 5 minutes before serving.


  1. If using frozen spinach, cook according to instructions on the packet.
  2. You can adjust the quantity of chilli according to your taste.
  3. This is one dish best eaten hot so don’t make it ahead of time.


Marmite Spaghetti, The Kooky Way

Marmite Spaghetti, The Kooky Way









“First, I would like to thank my new blogger friend Teagan of Teagan’s Books for inspiring me to get into the kitchen for Nigella’s Spaghetti with Marmite. On her blog, Teagan has started Three Ingredients Serial which she describes as “a sort of culinary mystery”. Each new episode features three ingredients sent in by her readers. The latest episode features my favourite marmite by way of Nigella’s spaghetti recipe. As soon as I read it, I was like “I have got to make that”.”

“Which brings me to my second thank you of the night, my sister who had first told me about Nigella’s Spaghetti with Marmite. At that time as well, I was like “oh, I must make that” and had even bookmarked the page from Nigella’s website but never got around to it till I read Teagan’s latest episode.”

“Teagan and my sister, without you both, this post may not have come so thank you.”

MarmiteYes, yes, I am prepping you for the forthcoming Oscars and speeches galore :-). So now I stop my speech and I get off my faux Oscar stage to tell you about one of THE most easiest, THE most delicious and THE most memorable spaghetti dinners I have ever cooked (seriously, thanks to Teagan and my sister).

I am really and truly kicking myself as to why I did not make this any sooner

I know that marmite is one of those foods which those who have eaten either love of hate. I belong to the love camp as you can see by the industrial size marmite jar I have in my kitchen!

but I am pretty sure that even those who are not marmite-converts would like this spaghetti

As you can see by the photo, I have improvised Nigella’s recipe which is simply spaghetti, butter and marmite.

Yesterday, I had a pretty long and hectic day with no time for lunch and, therefore, I wanted to add some vegetables to the spaghetti to make the dinner more balanced and nutritious. I decided to pair the original recipe with mushrooms and green peas as I felt that they would work well with marmite. Also, I was out of spaghetti so used linguine (same thing to my mind although some purists may disagree). And the experiment totally worked.

So here’s my kooky version of Nigella’s Spaghetti with Marmite.


70-85 Grams dry spaghetti or linguine

200 Grams mushrooms

1/2 Cup green peas

1 Onion

2 Fresh red chillies

1 Tablespoon marmite

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan (1 tablespoon to cook and some extra to serve)


  1. Boil the spaghetti/linguine according to instructions on the packet. Drain and set aside.
  2. Also set aside about half cup of water from the drained spaghetti, you will need it later.
  3. Wash/wipe and slice the mushroom.
  4. Peel, wash and slice the onion.
  5. Wash the green peas.
  6. Wash and finely slice the red chilli.
  7. Dilute marmite in the half cup reserved water.
  8. Add the olive oil, sliced onion, chill and a pinch of salt in a wide based pan.
  9. Put the pan on low heat, cover and let the onions cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
  10. Uncover, throw in the peas, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  11. Uncover, add the mushroom and marmite mixed with water. Stir, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  12. Uncover, add the boiled spaghetti/linguine and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Mix well, check for salt, add more if needed, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  13. Transfer to a pasta bowl and eat hot with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan.

heavenly with a glass of full bodied red wine

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food should be enjoyed with abandon and pleasure

each morsel should be savoured

each bite treasured

and aroma remembered

So why talk about dieting and weight loss?!

According to LiveStrong, “”Dieting is a national pastime. While the number of Americans who diet varies, depending on the source, the Boston Medical Center indicates that approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight-loss products in their pursuit of a trimmer, fitter body.”

Although these statistics are specific to the USA, the scenario is the same the world over. From the very real to the totally superficial, we all have our own reasons for wanting to go on a diet and lose weight.

There is so much information out there – a lot of it conflicting – that it can create more confusion instead of providing the much needed inspiration.

Having lost 32 kgs (70 lbs) in the past two years, I thought I would share my weight loss experience with you. I have no profound, new, yet-to-be-discovered, magical formula for weight loss. But if anybody out there is looking to shift some additional pounds, I hope that this post will be of some help.

The first rule of weight loss is that there are no rules. The beauty of human body being such, each one of us is unique. What works for one person may not work for somebody else. So we need to figure out what works for us and for our body instead of blindly follow some diet plan.

Diet and dieting are two words I avoid using because I think they have very negative and restrictive connotations. The way I eat food and my approach to food is a diet which I follow. But it does not mean that I am on a diet. I am not starving myself nor am I denying myself any foods. I eat what I like as part of a lifestyle I choose to lead.

The tenets of losing weight and maintaining a healthy body are very simple and if you examine closely, most “diets” boil down to the same few principles.

  1. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  2. Cut down on white sugar.
  3. Have lean meat and protein.
  4. Eat whole grains and cereals.
  5. Consume healthy fats.
  6. Moderate your intake of carbohydrates.
  7. Exercise.
  8. Enjoy alcohol within limit.

Losing weight is not rocket science. Consume less calories than you expend, exercise and make sure you eat “healthy” calories. If you follow this mantra, unless there is some underlying medical condition, you will lose weight.

The following is a list of what works for me and some of my experiences. I am not saying that you do the same. In fact, if you seriously decide to embark on a weight loss journey, you will automatically find your own rhythm and methods.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, I do what works for me.

I don’t have breakfast simply because my body doesn’t need fuel first thing in the morning. I start my day with honey and lemon in hot water, followed by a huge mug of tea with milk and damerara sugar. That is the only time I have tea or sugar during the course of the day.

Mid-morning, I snack on some nuts.

My lunch is usually some raw salad and prunes.

Dinner is my main meal. I cook daily from scratch and try to prepare healthy, balanced meals.

I love my red wine and have it several times in a week so make sure that calories from alcohol are offset elsewhere.

Portion control is something that has happened automatically as my body began shrinking. I reduced the amount on my plate because I realised that my body didn’t need the extra stuff. The advantage is that I can afford to eat a variety of foods without feeling guilty simply because my consumption or portion size is significantly less.

I am like a camel, I can go for a long period of time without water. I only have water when my body tells me.

My daily menu doesn’t have much room for white rice or wheat flour. Instead, it revolves around brown rice, grains, pulses, lentils and other flours. In other words, I try to eat healthy carbs.

I make up for any indulgence or binge session by reducing calorie intake for the subsequent couple of days.

I weight myself religiously twice in a day as I find that it helps me not only monitor my weight but keep it in control. However, this is not something that I would advocate. A more sensible approach would be to weigh yourself once a week.

It is important to choose a form of exercise that you enjoy and which you can look forward to without boredom or fatigue setting in. Exercise has become an extremely important part of my daily routine; that time is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. I swim 5 to 6 days in a week with three long sessions and two to three shorter ones. If for some reason I cannot go swimming, I reduce my calorie intake for that day.

Combination of weight loss and portion control has resulted in a noticeably reduced appetite. I can no longer overeat; my body feels very uncomfortable with any excess food. So I eat till my brain tells me to stop and as soon as it does, I switch off food.

It is better to lose weight slowly and gradually over a period of time; it will help you maintain your new level.

If at all you are overweight does not mean that you are unhealthy. There is no scientific evidence which says that slim people are healthier than overweight ones. What is more important is how you feel, how your body behaves and your key parameters such a blood pressure, sugar level, thyroid and heart rate.

Each calorie matters and a human body doesn’t really need a lot of food to survive. So substitute the bad guys with the good ones.

Don’t feel guilty about the occasional indulgence.

Your weight loss journey will only start when something in you suddenly goes CLICK. I don’t know how to define that moment but unless and until that inner voice inside you tells you it is time to start shifting those pounds, it will not happen. In my case, this happened without me even realising.

Most importantly, lose weight for yourself and not anybody else.

love yourself not matter what your weight and life will seem so much more worthwhile

Caveat: I am not a doctor or from the medical profession. The above should not be construed as medical advice.