Category Archives: Dips & Pâtés

Feta Cheese Spread

Feta Cheese Spread

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 10mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Feta Cheese Spread








This effortless feta spread is an accidental recipe. It is so dead simple that it is not even a recipe. The only reason I am posting it here is because it is utterly divine and delicious and so I feel compelled to share!

I wanted to make a spread to go with some crusty bread rolls. The challenge I had set myself was to make it using whatever I could lay my hands on in the kitchen, strictly no buying of new ingredients.

mashed up feta, olive oil, oregano, hot red chillies and lemon juice gives you an utterly divine cheesy experience

If you can’t get hold of feta cheese, you can make this using fresh paneer. I wouldn’t recommend the ready block of paneer off supermarket shelf which has no taste or character.

Also, you can use this as a template and build on it with some capers, minced garlic, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and/or char-grilled peppers (in which case you will have to adjust the quantity of cheese you use).

Delicious with any kind of crusty bread.


1 Tablespoon crumbled feta

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Teaspoon dried or fresh oregano

2 Hot red chilli

Juice of one lime or lemon


  1. If you are using fresh oregano, wash and dry it.
  2. Wash, wipe and slice the chilli.
  3. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Enjoy immediately or chill for a couple of hours before having.


  1. Feta is naturally salty so this spread doesn’t need any additional salt. But if you are making this with paneer, add salt according to taste.

Hand Mashed Sprouted Chickpea & Smoked Aubergine Hummus

Hand Mashed Hummus of Sprouted Chickpea & Smoked Aubergine

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 40mins plus sprouting time
  • Difficulty: easy
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Sprouted Chickpea & Smoked Aubergine Hummus








Following on from my previous happy experience with hand mashed hummus, I decided to make another variation using the same gadget free method.

In this totally experimental recipe, I have combined sprouted chickpeas with some smoked aubergine. Addition of some toasted seeds and walnuts takes this one to another level.

heavenly, tempting, mealy hummus you won’t be able to resist

Like my previous hummus recipes this, too, is simple.  The only time consuming aspect is the soaking-and-sprouting-the-chickpea stage. Chickpeas can take anything from 48 hours upwards to sprout.

If you want to try this recipe but don’t have the patience to go through the sprouting process, you can make it with regular boiled chickpeas.


1 cup dry chickpea

1 Medium size aubergine

2 Heads of garlic

Juice of 2 lime/lemon

5-6 Red bird’s eye chilli

2 Tablespoons seeds of your choice (I used pumpkin and sunflower)

50 Grams walnut

1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 Tablespoons tahini

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste


  1. Soak the chickpea for 5 to 6 hours and then drain and leave for sprouting. This process can take anything from 2 to 3 days.
  2. If you don’t intend to sprout, simply soak the chickpeas for 5 to 6 hours.
  3. When you are ready to prepare the hummus, boil the soaked or sprouted chickpeas along with one cup of water and a pinch of salt till meltingly soft.
  4. Drain and set aside to cool, reserving the liquor.
  5. Mash the hummus either with your hand or the back of a spoon or a potato masher. Best to do this while the chickpeas are still a bit warm, don’t wait for them to get completely cold.
  6. Wash the aubergine and rub a bit of oil all over it.
  7. Grill the aubergine till soft. Alternatively, you can put the aubergine directly on gas flame for char-grilled version.
  8. Once the aubergine has cooled down, peel and mash or coarsely chop it.
  9. Toast the seeds and walnut till they turn a couple of shades darker.
  10. Set aside to cool. Once cool, break down the walnut into pieces with your hands or a knife.
  11. Peel and grate the garlic.
  12. Peel and finely slice the chilli.
  13. In a large bowl, add the mashed hummus, chopped aubergine, grated garlic, sliced chilli, smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon olive oil, tahini, juice of lime or lemon and salt to taste. Mix well.
  14. If you feel that the mixture is too stiff, gradually add some of the cooking liquor till you get the consistency desired.
  15. Next, add the toasted seeds and walnut pieces and again mix everything thoroughly.
  16. Transfer to a serving bowl or a shallow dish, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
  17. Bring the hummus down to room temperature and drizzle the remaining olive oil and sprinkle some smoked paprika before serving.


  1. Garlic is a matter of personal preference. I like garlicky hummus so used 2 heads. Use one head or a few cloves if you are not a big garlic fan.
  2. If you can’t get hold of tahini, here’s my recipe for homemade version.

Hand Mashed Hummus

Hand Mashed Hummus

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Time: 10mins plus soaking, boiling
  • Difficulty: easy
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Hand Mashed Hummus








This is such a delightful and fun recipe, I am surprised that I didn’t discover it sooner.

It is getting very hot where I am so I prefer simple, light dinners. For instance, some hummus and crackers (with some red wine, of course!) and I am done.

For this recipe to work, the chickpeas have to be meltingly soft. In other words, while this way of preparing hummus is quick and easy, I think it will only work if you soak and boil the chickpeas. Canned chickpeas tend to be a bit firmer so I don’t think they will be malleable enough to be hand mashed. I could be wrong and if you have made hand mashed hummus using canned chickpeas please do share your experience in the comments section below.

I have read some food bloggers discuss the merits of peeling chickpeas when making hummus. Personally, the skin doesn’t bother me so I didn’t peel them. Also, I feel that if you remove the skin, you are losing some valuable nutrition along the way. But if you prefer, feel free to remove the skin. If the chickpeas are cooked till very soft, the skin will come off easily.

fresh, chunky, homemade hummus for the summer soul

You can enjoy this with some pita bread or crackers or on toast or with crudités. Will stay good in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.


1/2 Cup uncooked chickpeas

2-3 Tablespoons tahini

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Head of garlic

Juice of 1 lime or lemon

Salt to taste

Paprika (optional)


  1. Soak the chickpeas for 4 to 8 hours.
  2. Boil them in plenty of salted water. You can also boil them in a pressure cooker if you like, five pressures on high and you are done. The end result should be wax-like soft chickpeas.
  3. Drain the chickpeas reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquor.
  4. Peel and crush the garlic.
  5. Juice the lime or lemon.
  6. Once the chickpeas are cool enough to handle, mash them with your hand OR the back of a large spoon OR potato masher.
  7. Throw in the grated garlic, juice of lime or lemon, olive oil, tahini and a bit of salt to taste (not much since the chickpeas have been boiled in salted water).
  8. Add about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquor.
  9. Mix well and check for consistency. Add some more cooking liquor if needed.
  10. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle some paprika if you like and chill for a couple of hours before serving or you can even enjoy it while it is still a bit warm.

Spicy, Low Fat, Hummus

Spicy, Low Fat, Hummus

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 15mins if using canned chickpeas
  • Difficulty: easy
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Spicy, Low Fat, Hummus








The other day, I needed a last minute favour from one of our neighbours and she very kindly came to my rescue.

In return, I made this hummus by way of thank you. Her verdict? “Par excellence” (her words, not mine!).

This is a super easy, super yummy hummus which can be made in under 15 minutes if you plan to use canned chickpeas (although I went down the soaking-some-dried-chickpeas-for-8-hours-before-boiling-them route).

It is another one of my made-up recipe with what I had in my kitchen.

The reason I describe this as low fat is because there is no olive oil in the hummus itself, only some drizzled on top. I think creamy tahini provides the necessary fat content the dish requires.

velvety, lush hummus with a hint of chilli

Enjoy with some bread sticks or crudités, spread on toast, use as a sandwich filler or in a wrap.


1 Cup boiled chickpeas

2 Tablespoons tahini

1/2 Red capsicum

Head of garlic

Juice of one large lime or lemon

2 Fresh bird’s eye chilli

1 Tablespoon pumpkin/sunflower/any variety of seeds

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste


  1. Dry roast the pumpkin/sunflower or whichever seeds you are using till they are a couple of shades darker. Set aside to cool.
  2. Peel and grate the garlic.
  3. Wash and slice the chilli.
  4. Remove seeds and core from the capsicum.
  5.  Wash, coarsely chop and set aside.
  6. In a blender or a food processor, add the boiled chickpeas, 1/4 cup of water, tahini, red pepper, chilli, grated garlic, lemon juice and salt to taste.
  7. Blend thoroughly.
  8. Check for taste. Add more salt or lemon juice if you feel the need.
  9. Transfer to a serving bowl or dish.
  10. Scatter the toasted seeds on top.
  11. Drizzle olive oil.
  12. Chill for a couple of hours before serving.


  1. You can add garlic cloves instead of grated garlic. Personally, I prefer adding grated garlic because I find that this lends a more garlicky taste.
  2. Don’t go overboard with the chilli. You just want a hint of spiciness.

Butter Bean & Avocado Spread

Butter Bean & Avocado Spread

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 15mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Butter Bean & Avocado Spread








The genesis of today’s recipe: the heat is on; I favour one-pot meals; I am trying to incorporate more beans and legumes into my diet.

The result: a creamy, good-for-you, cooling, versatile spread.

Also known as lima beans, butter beans are packed with the goodness of dietary fiber, molybdenum, copper, manganese and folate. They are also high in vitamins B1, B6 and iron.

combine them with nourishing avocado and you get one amazingly simple and delicious spread with endless possibilities

You can enjoy this with some crusty rolls, use as a sandwich filler, spread on a tortilla, mix with some warm pasta or serve with crudités.

I used dried butter beans which were soaked for 8 hours and boiled in a pressure cooker. You can use canned beans if you prefer, they are just as good.


1 Cup cooked butter beans

1 Ripe avocado

1 Head of garlic

1 Large onion

2 Tomato

1-2 Fresh bird’s eye chilli (optional)*

1-2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Juice of one large lime or lemon

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste


  1. If you are using chilli, wash and finely slice it.
  2. Peel and crush the garlic.
  3. Peel, wash and finely dice the onion.
  4. Wash and finely chop the tomato.
  5. Peel and chop the avocado.
  6. In a food processor, blend the butter bean and avocado till you get a paste (a bit lumpy is also fine).
  7. Combine the chilli (if using), crushed garlic, diced onion, chopped tomato and butter bean-avocado mixture in a bowl.
  8. Add salt to taste, Worcestershire sauce, lime/lemon juice and olive oil.
  9. Mix thoroughly, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.


  1. Chilli is optional but gives the spread a nice kick. If you prefer something milder, you can add a couple of drops of Tobasco.

Avocado & Chickpea Spread

Avocado & Chickpea Spread

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 15mins if using canned chickpea
  • Difficulty: easy
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Avocado & Chickpea Spread








a union of of guacamole and hummus

This is a really easy, quick and delicious recipe which can be used as a sandwich filler, in a wrap, on crackers or toast.

Bread is an occasional indulgence for me. For last night’s dinner, I had spread this on some crusty roll which I also filled with shredded iceberg and sliced onion doused in Tabasco Chipotle. Heavenly!

The chickpea were soaked and boiled but use canned if available for an instant, wholesome spread.


1 Medium, ripe, avocado

1/2 Cup boiled chickpea

1 Head of garlic

Juice of half a lime or lemon

1 Tablespoon tahini

Salt to taste


  1. Coarsely mash the chickpea with the back of a large spoon. Don’t worry if all of them don’t break down, you can leave a few whole for texture.
  2. Peel and grate the garlic.
  3. In a bowl, add the mashed chickpea, grated garlic, juice of lime or lemon and tahini. Mix well.
  4. Now wash and peel the avocado.
  5. Finely cut the avocado and add it to the chickpea mixture.
  6. Break the chopped avocado with the back of the spoon while combining it with chickpea and other ingredients. Once again, if a few pieces remain whole, not a big deal.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Have immediately or if you plan to eat it later, keep refrigerated.


  1. I have posted a recipe for homemade tahini here.

Low Fat Creamy Egg Salad

Egg Salad in Low Fat Creamy Dressing

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 45mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Egg Salad in Low-fat Creamy Dressing








As it is beginning to get a wee bit warmer, my mind is turning to different types of salads from raw to cooked to a mix of both.

Today’s egg salad recipe falls in the latter category.

it has something cooked, something raw and something in between

Although I like to eat healthy, I avoid low calorie alternatives like artificial sweetener, margarine or diet cheese.

The only exception is mayonnaise. I tend to keep a low fat jar of it in my kitchen. Not sure why I do so; it is not as if I eat loads of the stuff. But as Bernard DeVoto wrote, “The mind has its own logic but does not often let others in on it”!

To go with today’s egg salad, I created a calorie conscious creamy dressing by combining low fat yoghurt with a dollop of “lite” mayonnaise. I like to think of it as a guilt free dressing since it offers a mayonnaise-y taste without the associated calories.

the dressing can also be used as a dip for crackers, bread sticks or crudités

The salad is quite substantial and can be had on its own for a meal full of goodness and comfort.


2 Eggs

1 Small beetroot

100 Grams french beans

100 Grams sweetcorn kernel

1 Onion

1 Small head of iceberg lettuce

1 Small cucumber

3 Tablespoons low fat yoghurt

1 Tablespoon lite/diet/low fat mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon prepared mustard

1-2 Teaspoons olive oil

1 Teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt to taste


  1. First make the salad dressing. In a bowl, combine the yoghurt, mayonnaise, oil, cider vinegar, mustard and paprika.
  2. Mix well, check for salt and if you feel it needs a bit, add according to taste.
  3. Set aside or make ahead and refrigerate.
  4. Hard boil the eggs. Once cool, peel and quarter them.
  5. Wash and steam the beetroot till tender but firm. It should have a bite to it, not overcooked.
  6. Once the beetroot has cooled down, remove the skin, halve it and slice each half (you will end up with half moon shape). Set aside.
  7. Top and tail the french beans.
  8. Wash the sweetcorn kernel.
  9. Steam the french beans and sweetcorn for about 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t over-steam the beans, they should be slightly crunchy.
  10. Wash and dry the lettuce. Shred it.
  11. Wash the cucumber, halve it and slice along its width in half moon shape.
  12. Peel, wash and finely slice the onion separating the rings.
  13. In a big bowl, add the lettuce, cucumber, onion, french beans, sweetcorn kernels and eggs.
  14. Toss well and add the salad dressing. Mix thoroughly so that the salad is coated with the creamy dressing.
  15. Transfer to a plate or a bowl and place the sliced beetroot on the outskirts.
  16. Enjoy as is or chill and have.

Warm Salad of Barley, Beans & Vegetables in Garlicky Dressing

Warm Salad of Barley, Beans and Vegetables in Garlicky Dressing









today’s salad is very comforting and flexible

Barley, beans and vegetables enveloped in a garlicky tahini and yoghurt dressing provides a very comforting one pot meal.

Ingredients for Warm Salad of Barley, Beans and Vegetables in Garlicky DressingFlexibility is offered by way of additions, deductions and substitutions.

My recipe involves unhulled barley, kidney beans, broccoli, yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes and onions.

You can use chickpea, broad bean, cannellini or any other variety of beans you have handy. I used raw kidney beans which were soaked and cooked before being added. You can use canned beans if it is easier.

Similarly, you can use hulled, pot or pearl barley. Even quinoa or other grains would work well.

As for vegetables, the possibilities are endless. Use whatever is seasonal, fresh and cheap. Most vegetables would make a suitable match for the dressing.

Ingredients for the Garlicky Dressing

100 Grams plain yoghurt

1 Tablespoon tahini

1 Pod garlic

Salt to taste


  1. Peel and crush the garlic.
  2. Whisk the yoghurt and tahini till they are blended.
  3. Add the crushed garlic and salt to the yoghurt and tahini mixture.
  4. Mix well and refrigerate.

Ingredients for the Salad

250 Grams brocolli

10 Cherry tomatoes

1 Yellow pepper

3 small onions

3 – 4 tablespoons cooked beans

2 – 3 tablespoons cooked barley

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Juice of 2 limes or lemons

Salt to taste


  1. Wash and chop the broccoli into medium size pieces.
  2. Wash, de-seed, de-core and chop the pepper into medium size pieces.
  3. Wash the cherry tomatoes.
  4. Peel, wash and halve the onions.
  5. Put all the vegetables, beans and barley in a container which has tight fitting lid.
  6. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pour this marinade over the vegetable-bean mixture.
  7. Mix well, cover and let this sit for 4 to 5 hours.
  8. When you are ready to cook, heat a wide based non-stick frying pan.
  9. When it is hot, add the vegetable-bean mixture along with marinade juices.
  10. Cook on high heat for 7 to 10 minutes till the vegetables are cooked through.
  11. Take off the heat and after about 5 minutes, add the garlicky dressing.
  12. Mix well ensuring that the dressing coats all the vegetables, beans and barley.
  13. Serve while it is still warm.

I had soaked and boiled the unhulled barley in a pressure cooker. Drank the barley water!

Cooked Unhulled Barley  Barley Water









The garlicky dressing is very simple to make and would make a yummy dip.

Garlicky Dressing









Easy Homemade Hummus

Homey Hummus









Wishing my kooky readers a very Healthy and Happy 2014.

The theme of our New Year’s day menu was Persian. For starters, I served a healthy plate of crudités with hummus I made at home. Now I am not sure whether Iranians eat hummus but I thought it went with the given theme!

Here’s my low-fat version of the popular chickpea dip made with homemade tahini (of course, you can substitute with shop bought one instead).


1 Cup uncooked chickpeas

2 – 3 Tablespoons tahini

1 Head garlic

Juice of 2 limes or lemons

1 Tablespoon olive oil (for when pureeing chickpeas)

1 Tablespoon olive oil (to drizzle on hummus when serving)

Salt to taste


  1. Soak the chickpeas for 8 to 10 hours. If you are short of time, you can use this method to speed up the process.
  2. Boil the chickpeas in salted water till very soft.
  3. Drain them and retain about a cupful of the water.
  4. Peel and chop the garlic.
  5. In a food processor or a blender, make a puree of the boiled chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  6. If you find the mixture too firm, add some of the reserved water till you get a smooth paste like consistency.
  7. Transfer to a plate and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

I had served hummus with some raw cauliflower, carrots and mooli.

Crudités with Homey Hummus