“Comfort food….food that reassures. Is different things to different people.”
David Tanis

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & HummusOat & Wheat Cheese Crackers, and a quick Hummus…for one of those days when you are tired, feeling under the weather and craving comforting food. For days like this only quick, simple and flavourful seriously works. For days like these, a food processor is your best friend. Nothing to beat a workhorse that does everything, takes the work out of the cooking or baking, pampers you unknowingly, and delivers like nothing else!

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus I had a bunch of chickpeas left over as I boiled extra the other day while stirring up a quick chickpea curry. I always boil extra chickpeas as having some on hand offers plenty of quick rustle up food ideas. Salads for one. I made this layered savoury chickpea parfait often. Doubles up as a healthy, filling and quite delicious tiffin too!

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus But I was in a mood for crackers. Just one of those strange days where I craved baking something savoury, and had an idea in my head. Working as a fit foodie makes me constantly strive for fun wholegrain alternatives to things. They got to be yum too. I used butter in these crackers, but I think you could easily use olive oil. I might throw in some ground nut meal too the next time to substitute some of the flour. Just a thought…and more ideas to work on!Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus The hummus happened as I was inspired by a quick hummus recipe that popped into my inbox not so long ago. I recall it having sesame paste as optional and it stayed in my head. There is nothing much to a hummus or chickpea dip. Just throw a bunch of ingredients into the faithful food processor, give them a whir. Balance flavours as you so desire.

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus More garlic if you are like us, more lime juice too. Plenty of extra virgin olive oil, maybe fresh herbs. Skip the smoked  paprika if you don’t have some on hand, degi mirch {kashmiri mirch} or red chili flakes. I have to say though that smoked paprika adds some fine earthy, moorish flavours to the dip…

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara There are other dips you could try. A Quark, Garlic and Chives Dip, Baba Ghanoush or Muhamarra would be wonderful here too. Else if nothing else, some nice cheese, fruit and wine will complete your cheese board.

[print_this]Recipe: Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers
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Summary: Whole grain healthy crackers, bursting with flavours. Crisp, healthy and delicious, they’re a great cheese board option.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 150g wholewheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 30g unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
  • 30g cheddar, grated
  • 15g finely chopped garlic greens {about 1/4 cup}
  • 1tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk
  • Wholewheat flour for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment, or lightly grease them.
  2. Place the oats, wholewheat flour, salt and baking soda in bowl of food processor and mix on low for 30 seconds.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except buttermilk and pulse to mix until you get a breadcrumb like mix.
  4. With the processor running on low speed, gradually add the buttermilk 1 tbsp at a time until the dough seems to come together. You will need about a 1/4 cup maybe less.
  5. Turn dough in a bowl and knead together very briefly till it comes together, 20-30 seconds. Divide into 2, then roll out and cut as desired.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes in a low oven until light golden brown and crisp.
  7. Cool completely and check if crisp. If not leave in a low oven or another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Cool and store in an airtight box.

Recipe: Chickpea Hummus

Summary: A simple chickpea dip, Hummus is ideal to serve with crackers. Hummus is great as a sandwich filling too.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 30g white sesame seeds , toasted
  • 200g {1cup} chickpeas, boiled
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 4-5 stalks chives, chopped
  • 30ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1tsp roasted ground cumin
  • Water as required {2-3tbsp}
  • Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over, paprika and chives for garnish


  1. Place the sesame seeds in bowl of food processor and grind.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except water and process until ground into a smooth paste. Gradually add a little water at a time, and continue to process until you get desired consistency
  3. Taste and adjust salt, lime juice etc.
  4. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle over with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle over smoked paprika and chopped chives.
  5. Serve with the crackers, crudites etc.


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“Eating is really one of your indoor sports. You play three times a day, and it’s well worth while to make the game as pleasant as possible.”
Dorothy Draper
Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits
Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits … could there be a better way to welcome spring and summer in our part of the world? I think not! The day I saw these on Betacyanin via Foodgawker I was smitten. Sofias blog is a new discovery and matches very closely to what I like doing with food. I HAD to do the parfaits ASAP!

Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits Did I tell you I was absolutely smitten? I certainly was. I love the idea of a parfait going savoury. Make ahead, healthy, balanced, infinite options and a load of fun!

Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits
I soaked the chickpeas that very night and had them cooked the next morning. Warm freshly cooked chickpeas tossed in EVOO, some minced garlic, a squeeze of lime, some fresh herbs is like diving into a bowl of heaven! I have a love love relationship with chickpeas! What about you?Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits
 I also have a love love relationship with savoury food, bring on the garlic and life gets even better. It might surprise you as PAB is rather full of sweet stuff. That is what I like to make, but savoury is what I like to eat. I don’t have a sweet tooth at all! My family does!!
Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits
Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits The parfaits were fun. Layering and individual servings are something I adore doing. You can pretty much paint your own palette here. I made a few changes. Olives in brine for one because I like the saltiness they add. homegrown tomatoesCherry tomatoes because my few plants are now hanging with fruit which is slowly ripening. Those above were the very first three! Spring ♥!!Spring herbs veggies fruits
It’s a constant battle though as little Coco has taken a shine to tomatoes. Animal instinct kicks in here. She sniffs out the nice, ripe, juicy ones and devours them with great aplomb. Much to my horror, the first time she ‘discovered‘ them, the garden was strewn with half eaten green tomatoes; the ones she had obviously rejected!
This was not why I grew tomatoes. I waited impatiently for them to ripen. So had the lad. For the two of us, it’s an early morning ritual to ‘check them out‘!How would she know any better, the little thief. She isn’t as innocent as she looks; but she is so darned charming!

Playing with light 2The battle of tomatoes has begun! I quickly harvest the ripe fruit and she looks on, hoping old butterfingers will drop one!! I have a few yellow cherry tomatoes that I salvaged 3 days ago, and some deep red beefy ones. Tomato ♥!

Home grown tomatoes
I have plenty of photographs of these beauties but I like this one quite  abit. I love the play of light and all thanks goes to NeelLearn Food Photography for organising a 30 day challenge on his fabulous blog. Have you been to LFP yet? Playing with light You must stop by if you are struggling to improve your food photographs, or want to explore the technicalities at a comfortable level. We’re into week 3 of our challenge and it’s a great community of folk from across the globe. So far we’ve covered angles, DOF, light, playing with light, white balance, diffusers, bouncers, backgrounds and are currently on props.

Learning food photography... lightThese Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits were made the day I was experimenting with light.  It’s amazing how much you can learn if you join a challenge. Such fun! All the herbs, flowers and leaves I had gathered became an inspiration for my parfaits.

Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits The little jars are actually like an announcement of spring. Full of fresh herbs, fresh produce, light flavours and beautiful pairing. My herbs are flourishing too so I couldn’t have made this discovery at a better time.

Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits 6
Infinite possibilities are dancing merrily in my head. I am thinking fruit parfaits, watermelon feta and mint parfaits, mango pistachio parfaits! I think you can layer any salad you like in little mason jars, recycled jam/sauce jars, or serving glasses.
Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits
I now do these as a make ahead salad for Mr PABs lunchbox to take to work. The dieting diva enjoyed it as well. It’s nice coz the raisins at the bottom take all the released juices and plump up nicely. You could always use dried cranberries instead! And of course you could always toss everything together in one big bowl,  but it might not be that much fun!

Strawberry, Kiwi, Basil Parfaits

My post is a little delayed because all this parfait talk inspired me to make some fruit parfaits for the kids after school snack!  I made Strawberry, Kiwi, Basil Parfaits! Parfaits are always fun. They are a nice make ahead snack, salad or even a simple dessert. Refreshing, colourful, delicious & FUN!
 Strawberry, Kiwi, Basil Parfaits
Tell me dear reader what you would include in a parfait? What would your ultimate savoury parfait have? And a sweet version?  Try and cover as many food groups as you can … nuts, fruits, veggies, herbs, spices, beans, chickpeas, quark, ricotta, mascarpone, granola. Play with colours and seasonal produce. Just make sure you enjoy what you do because that is what matters most!

Recipe: Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits 
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Summary: I love the idea of a parfait going savoury. Make ahead, healthy, balanced, infinite options and a load of fun!  This one covers all the food groups, and deliciously so – fruits, nuts, dairy, pulses, herbs … you get ’em all in a jar!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

  • 1- 1.5 cup cooked chickpeas tossed in evoo, garlic, fresh coriander
  • 2-3 small cucumbers, grated, squeezed
  • 2 cup homemade yogurt, hung for about 3-4 hours
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ranch buttermilk dressing {or a dash of lime juice, garlic and finely chopped green chili}
  • handful chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • olives, cherry tomatoes, pistachios
  • lightly toasted walnuts and more mint, for garnish


  1. Whisk the hung curd with buttermilk seasoning until smooth. Alternatively, add minced garlic, a dash of lime juice, green chilies and salt and mix until smooth.
  2. Begin layering…
  3. Starting with the raisins, followed by chickpeas, grated cucumbers, and yogurt, layer each of the ingredients, divided between jars. Top with olives and cherry tomatoes, chopped walnuts, slivered pistachios and a few mint leaves. Chill well until ready to serve.
  4. Alternatively, if you’re not into the layering thing, you can just mix it all together and store accordingly.
  5. Sofias note: It’s really important to draw most of the juice out of the cucumbers, otherwise the end result will be swimming in cucumber juice. Once the cukes are grated, use your hands to squeeze out as much juice as you can. Drink it, it’s really refreshing! Set aside in a strainer to let any remaining liquid drain.

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“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”
John Ruskin

Butter Chicken {Pan fried version}It’s a delicious book on Indian cooking. An almost impish face smiles back at you from the cover, the earnest cook, with a twinkle in his eyes. It’s Aditya Bal the Indian model turned chef stirring up some magic. ‘The Chakhle India‘ Cookbook is based on the most popular food show Indian TV. From the book I offer a quintessential Indian curry – Butter Chicken {Pan fried version}, and a chickpea dish – Punjabi Chole.The Chakle India CookbookI looked at the book with initial skepticism as I don’t follow too many TV cookery shows. Took it along when I went to pick up the older teen from detention! {Yes that happens too as she didn’t submit a project in time. She had completed it but forgot to submit it!}! I love the lessons school can teach that we can’t! Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookGot there 30 minutes early armed with the book; it was the most fruitful 30 minutes I’ve spent of late. It was an instant connect! He seemed warm, real, ‘talked’ to with you, a peoples person, had a wonderful rapport and was entertaining. Explains why he runs the most popular food show!Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookFood is good when it is real, when stories are woven around it, when you know where they are coming from and what influences the style … a face behind the name makes it even better! Not so long ago we met Shamita, Ms India Universe, at the Four Seasons Wine Tasting event and marveled at how grounded she was. More recently we got ‘up close and personal‘ with one of India’s top chefs Saby at the Olive Bar & Kitchenanother fabulous person!Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India Cookbook Haven’t met Aditya but already feel like I know him a li’l bit. He talks fondly of growing up in Kashmir {I love Kashmir and it is on my list of places to revisit but with the hub}. I have beautiful memories of Srinagar which we visited as kids; Aditya stirred those up beautifully.Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookThe author lived an idyllic life in Srinagar, the culinary side reflected by Wazwan, potlucks, Sunday roasts reminiscent of his maternal grandmothers cooking; then had an unfortunate displacement from the state he loved due to civil unrest. He modeled for a few years and eventually found his calling in food. The book is packed with recipes from different corners of India, reflected in the title Chakle India {literally translates into Taste India}…Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookI love the simple explanations, the ‘deglazing’ of the pan now and then, asking you to check the balance of flavours, taking in the magic of Indian spices. Other “foodies” like Chantal Royer do a great job at analyzing some of the traditional Indian spices from her travels.  For all you meat lovers there, there is plenty of ‘meaty goodness’ that he tempts you to try. I made butter chicken from his book when I got home.
Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookWhy Butter Chicken? Because it is one of India’s most popular dishes, the kids love it, I haven’t made a ‘butter’ laden butter chicken in ages, it was the weekend, there was no electricity and the recipe was a pan fried version, it uses fresh tomatoes which are in abundance … more simply, because I wanted to!Butter Chicken {Pan fried version} from The Chakle India CookbookIt’s a good, homey, comforting recipe … a nice balance of flavours, not like the original butter chicken as that uses oven baked tandoori chicken, but finger licking good nevertheless. The son asked for it 2 days in a row! I make a low fat version often, yet to be blogged, but for now this version is for you!Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookThere are plenty of vegetarian recipes too. I reached for the book a second time as I had chickpeas soaking for a salad for the dieting diva. Made the Punjabi Cholas and they were fabulous! Loved the astoefitida {hing} in them, and also loved that it didn’t use commercial chana masala. I served them with boiled rice but they would taste great with flatbread too, or just as a snack.Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookNice to see a book with seemingly more emphasis on the meaty dishes, yet one that offers a liberal dose of vegetarian main course and snacks. The dessert section is SWEET! I have my eye on a mango kheer which I find rather intriguing and haven’t heard of before! Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookPick up the book and you’ll find it easy to cook from it. The ingredients are simple pantry staples and the methods aren’t cumbersome. Some recipes do appear long with many ingredients and instructions … a little complicated but really aren’t. The only downside, if ever so slightly there is one, is the pictures. I like my food photographs to show the dish from a short distance to get a better idea of the dish. Most frames are shot really close up, though there are plenty of them. Chola Masala from The Chakle India CookbookThe book is a delicious take on homey, comforting and make-able Indian cuisine, food from the heart, flavours that speak for themselves and the energy to make you want to cook! It’s a good addition to my ever growing collection of cookbooks.

Thank you for Anushree for sending me a copy to review. I really enjoyed the book!

[print_this]Recipe: Butter Chicken {pan fried version} your picture

Summary: A flavoursome home style butter chicken bursting with the goodness of fresh tomatoes. A recipe in which the marinated chicken pan fried as against traditionally grilled. Recipe from The Chakle India Cookbook by Aditya Bal


  • 500gm boneless chicken {cut into tikka sized pieces}
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Few drops refined oil
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • The Marinade
  • 3 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 onion, pureed
  • 4tbsp whisked curd
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp hot red chili powder
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Rich Tomato Gravy
  • 7-8 ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, puréed
  • Few drops of refined oil
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2″ piece ginger chopped fine
  • 2 green chilies, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1sp coriander powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes
  • 4-5 tsp full cream {I used low fat 2 tsp}
  • Garnish
  • 2-3tsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • Knob of butter


  1. The Marinade
  2. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Put the chicken into a large glass or plastic bowl. Add the marinade and mix it well into the chicken with your hands. Cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours
  3. While the chicken is marinating, prepare the rich tomato gravy.
  4. Rich Tomato Gravy
  5. Heat a medium size sauté pan and add the oil and butter. Keep the pan on medium heat till the butter is foaming. The oil prevents the butter from burning as it as a much higher smoking point.
  6. Once the foam subsides somewhat, add the chopped ginger and green chilies and sauté for a couple of minutes on medium heat.
  7. Add the spice powders and sauté, till they are aromatic and richly coloured.
  8. Now add the fresh tomato purée and stir to mix with the spices.
  9. Simmer on low heat, till the tomato gravy is thick and has a rich and deep red colour and the oil rises to the top.
  10. Season well with salt and add the sugar. Stir through and simmer for a few minutes longer. Turn of the heat and set the gravy aside to mature.
  11. To cook the chicken
  12. Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. season with salt and mix well.
  13. Heat a heavy non stick frying pan and add a few drops of refined oil and the butter
  14. Once the butter is hot, add a few chicken pieces at a time and sear them on high heat, till the develop a rich caramelized crust and are slightly charred around the edges. remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining pieces.
  15. Now, return all the seared pieces to pan and fry them all together. ass the sugar, lime juice and any remaining marinate. continue to fry the chicken, till it is almost fully cooked and turns a lovely, charred, golden brown.
  16. Add the thick spicy tomato gravy to the chicken and de-glaze the pan to lift up those intense pan deposits.
  17. Cook on medium heat, stirring well to make sure the chicken is fully submerged and coated in the delicious gravy
  18. Simmer uncovered to reduce the gravy
  19. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the thick cream. stir through to combine and cook for about five minutes to blend well
  20. Check for a balance of flavours: the gravy should be rich and buttery, bursting with the spices and concentrated tomatoes; the chicken, perfectly tender and packed with the rich flavours of the creamy tomato gravy.
  21.  Add a knob of butter and enjoy this home-style butter chicken with naan or tandoori roti.

Recipe: Chola Masala {Spicy Chickpeas}
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Summary: A real Punjabi classic which is eaten all over North India and is cooked with endless variation. This is a snack which can double up as a meal too. {I used just chickpeas but the recipe has gram too} Recipe from The Chakle India Cookbook by Aditya Bal


  • 1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup whole Bengal gram or kala chana, soaked overnight {I didn’t use these so I increased the chickpeas}
  • Curry Base
  • 2 tsp refined oil {I used Leonardo olive oil from here}
  • 1″ cassia stick
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 2 brown cardamoms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 onions chopped fine
  • 1/2″ ginger, chopped fine
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • A pinch of asafoetida powder / hing {I used a big pinch}
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp butter {I used olive oil again}
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2-4 tsp chopped fresh coriander leaves


  1. Drain the soaked chickpeas and gram for any toxins, wash well and parboil in a pressure cooker with 3 cups water for 25-30 minutes {I use a pinch of baking soda too}. The chickpeas should hold shape but be soft enough to be mashed with a fork or between fingers.
  2. Transfer them to a bowl and mash them lightly with a fork, keeping half of them whole. {I tend to do this when I add the chickpeas to the curry. I also reserve any remaining liquid and use it to this the curry later}
  3. The Curry
  4. Heat the oil in a wok/kadhai and add the whole spices and bay leaf. Saute on medium heat till they crackle and release their aroma.
  5. When the whole spices are nutty and richly coloured, add the onions and  sauté for a few minutes, till they turn light golden brown.
  6. Stir in the ginger and garlic and  sauté till they are softened and lightly coloured.
  7. Sprinkle in the spice powders, salt and  sauté for a couple of minutes till they are aromatic and toasted. Add a few drops of water to deglaze the pan and lift up the spices stuck to the pan. Bhuno {roast} the masala 3-4 times with water, till the base is homogeneous and oil rises to the surface.
  8. Mix in the cooked chickpeas {and gram if using} and fry them in the masala base till they are well coated.
  9. Add the tomatoes and continue to fry on high heat till they begin to disintegrate. Sprinkle in the sugar and mix well to combine.
  10. Pour in enough water {I used the reserved liquid here} to come 1″ above the contents of the pan. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer gently for about an hour or more. {I have to confess I just popped everything back into the cooker and gave it a whistle within!}
  11. Cook until the starch glutenizes with the liquid, so they are soft and creamy in texture and the gravy thickens. Taste and adjust salt if required.
  12. Now add the butter and lime juice to lift the flavours, then sprinkle the coriander leaves and stir well.
  13. Check for balance of flavours: The cholas should be extremely soft and creamy but with a little bite to them ad should have the robust taste of whole spices. The dish should be thick and concentrated in flavour.
  14. Serve with hot roi, puri or bhatura and a salad.


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