My kitchen is generally well-stocked, but when the time for my weekly or bi-monthly ‘big’ shopping spree is due, I find myself with a weird mixture of ingredients. I pride myself in having a particular talent of making a meal out of almost anything. Over the years I’ve learned to buy some extra staples for these desperate times. Even though I’ve often read lists of pantry staples to always have on hand, I think that many people will prefer to develop their own. Not everyone needs to have an extra jar of peanut butter, for example.

This recipe came about at such a time. Luckily, aside from chickpeas and lentils (which I always tend to have on hand) I also had a packet of pearl couscous. By the time the pearl barley was ready to serve, I had the whole meal ready. That’s how quick it was. However, I did trick my man into thinking I had been cooking for a whole hour…

For around 4 portions, you will need:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 medium white onion, roughly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 150-200g yellow lentils
  • 500ml water or stock (if using 2 tablespoons of curry, water is enough)
  • 1-2 tablespoons yellow or red curry, according to taste
  • coconut oil or oil of choice, to cook
  • optional spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped

Method:

Boil some slightly salted water to cook the barley / rice / couscous according to the instructions. You may also choose to serve this dish with a side salad or naan bread.
Cook the onions, garlic and curry paste until the onion is translucent, taking care not to burn the garlic.

Add the lentils and water/stock. Cook for around 12-15 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Stir occasionally and if the mixture starts to dry up, add some more water, a little at a time. Add the chickpeas and coconut milk in the last few minutes, lowering the heat and cooking until the whole mixture is hot. If you’re using spinach, add it now also. Try not to let the coconut milk boil.

Serve hot. The dahl reheats well and can keep for a few days in the fridge.


There’s something about the end of September that brings about a certain nostalgia. Perhaps it’s that feeling that lingers from our younger days, where going back to school would signify excitement for some, and dread for others. And even if those days are long gone, the start of a new season, anticipating the cold, certainly brings a need for added comfort.

tealeafpen

Enter tea. The British notoriously use tea for most situations, and I’m starting to appreciate their point. Tea makes you pause for a moment, and let’s face it – most of us do with a little pause several times a day. Take a minute, sip, decide on your next move without rushing. Yes, I’m starting to catch on to that frame of mind.

The name is striking – Celestial Seasonings – and the packaging artistic and attractive. In fact, with a history behind each iconic painting used for the packaging, you just feel that you’re on the right track trusting these tea producers. The boxes are printed on 100% recycled paperboard with 35% post-consumer content. The botanicals are purchased ethically, supporting the people and places in the world that produce their ingredients. These issues are increasingly important nowadays.

The good news doesn’t stop there – there are so many different teas to choose from. Today I’ll focus on two that have made me happy. I’m looking forward to discovering more and adding to my collection!

celestial-tea

Dirty Chai Tea

For those times when you could do with a refresher and a gentle boost, whilst still enjoying a comforting taste… meet the tea with added coffee. Yes, that’s right – this special blend contains 40% black tea, a mixture of spices and 10% espresso. That means that you can get 46mg of caffeine in each brew, with a delicious flavour that you can enjoy while it perks you up. Incidentally, this tea bag will give you two cups of tea (or a pot) and infuses very quickly. Now what did they mean when they said that you can’t have your cake and eat it?

Sleepytime Vanilla and Sleepytime Blackberry Pomegranate

My beef with teas that are meant to promote sleep has always been the taste. If I cannot drink it, then it’s not going to get to work. The clever people at Celestial Seasonings in Boulder Colorado have managed to infuse this tea with a vanilla (and blackberry pomegranate) flavour that lulls you into a gentle sleep without any hangover sleepy feeling. I would recommend this if you have trouble sleeping, or even if you feel that you need help winding down after being on the go all day. A restful sleep will set you up to be able to better face the day ahead.


chickpeaslime

You will need:

  • 200g cooked chickpeas (or canned, drained)
  • 1 cup spinach, cooked or if using frozen, defrosted
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • zest of 1 lime
  • reserve a couple of lime wedges before squeezing (to serve)
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Fry the onion gently in olive oil for 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and turmeric and stir. Keep the heat on low so as not to burn the garlic. Add the chickpeas and continue stirring to coat the chickpeas in turmeric. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the spinach and lime zest. Mix the spinach in and cook for a further 2 minutes until heated.

Remove from the heat before adding the lime juice and some salt to taste. Stir and serve hot with a couple of small lime wedges.