Tag Archives: spices

Lamb Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Yogurt

17 Oct

I’ve never been a huge fan of lamb. The problem is, I often see photos of and recipes for lamb that look really tantalizing. (I feel the same way, only stronger, about goat cheese. I know, I know…)

While casually cruising around Kensington recently, I popped into Sanagan’s Meat Locker, an amazing hipster butcher (pardon the term), that we recently discovered. This is the kind of busy place that requires you to grab a number and await your turn. Once you have that little paper tab, things tend to move quickly. You are under pressure.

During this hasty moment, with endless options before me,  I spontaneously bought some ground lamb.

Middle Eastern food and flavours are amongst my favourite, and many recipes call for lamb. So what the hell?

“I’ll make kofta!” I thought.

But alas, I didn’t have any wooden skewers, and couldn’t find any in a pinch. So instead of cooking these on a stick (!!) I made them into meatballs. They were equally delicious if not quite as fun.


I served them with spiced yogurt and paprika, a couscous salad and fried eggplant.


Lamb Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Yogurt 

(Makes about 15)

  • 1 lb ground organic lamb
  • 1 shallot or 1/4 onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (toasted) or 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons semolina (couscous) uncooked
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tablespoons dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Spiced Yogurt 

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Cup roughly chopped parsley and mint (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp chives (fresh or dried)


  1. Mix all the ingredients of yogurt sauce first, and let sit in the fridge
  2. In small pan, lightly toast cumin seeds with slivered almonds (can also use pine nuts, which are more traditional)
  3. Combine lamb with all of the spices, onion, herbs, egg and semolina. Mix well with hands.
  4. Roll into small meatballs, being careful not to pack them too tightly. If you have the time,let them rest for 30 minutes or more refrigerated to let the flavours blend.
  5. You can either pan fry them or bake them. I fried them lightly over medium high heat (about two minutes) and then baked them on a tray at 300 for 10 ish minutes.
  6. You can also form them onto soaked skewers (fun!) and bake them that way.

This meal totally hit the spot. I fried up some eggplant (my new fave) dipped in egg whites, and layered it with raw cucumbers (a nice contrast of soft and crunchy), with a lemony couscous/tabouli hybrid salad. I drizzled the whole thing with fresh lemon juice and touch of olive oil.

The yogurt sauce was spicy and tangy and complimented the lamb very well.

These were a hit well worth repeating! They would also make great appetizers.

I may be a lamb convert yet. Stay tuned! 

xo M




West African Peanut Stew

14 Feb

Old Man Winter, you bastard.

Cold ears. Dry skin. Static-y hair. Runny noses. Short days. Long sleeves. Slush.

I’m having a mild bout of winter blahs. I’ve been busy watching the Olympics and not motivated to do much extra, such as cooking interesting things and writing about it. I’m afraid the ole’ blog has suffered!

I’m sorry.  I’ll be better.

I hope this post makes up for it, because it is the perfect antidote for a cold winter night.

Don’t get me wrong, I love chili, I really really do. Everyone should have a killer recipe (like this one!) in their repertoire (arsenal? I can’t decide). But let’s face it, sometimes its boring. Like stir fry. I could make it blindfolded.

May I suggest something to shake things up? How about this spicy and hearty peanut stew? Try it out! It was seriously satisfying.




West African a Peanut Stew
(Serves 4-5. Time: 1 hour. Adapted from Saveur) 

  • 6-8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh red chilis
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts (unsalted)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cilantro, to garnish
  • Fresh lemon

1) Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large pot and brown chicken drumsticks over medium high heat until browned on all sides (approx 10 minutes). Set aside.
2) Meanwhile, prep onions, garlic, ginger and 1 chilli and add to hot pot once chicken is removed. Sautée with a more oil until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes).
3) Add spices (turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, coriander, cumin, cloves) and fry for about one minute.
4) Add tomato paste and cook until slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add peanut butter. Stir until melted and incorporated.
5) Return chicken to pot along with stock (or water) and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
6) Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 25 minutes.
7) Add sweet potato and cook until tender, about another 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
8) Season with salt and add roasted peanuts and second chopped fresh chilli. Finish with squeeze of fresh lemon juice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Yum. This stew is really filling, and made great leftovers. The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender, but I’m sure it would still be great vegan-ized with tofu. I liked the crunch of the peanuts.

I served it over couscous (aka the lazy-man’s rice) with salad. The next day we had it with sautéed balsamic mushrooms, salad and flatbreads.

Note: my peppers were not extremely spicy, so I did not de-seed them. Proceed with caution if you think yours may be hotter. Also, if you think the stew is too thick, add one more cup of liquid.


What are your favourite winter recipes? How do you stay sane at this time of year? Let me know below!

Thanks for reading.


Shakshuka: aka Middle Eastern Inspired Deliciousness in a Pan

7 Jan

Peppers, tomatoes, herbs, spices and baked eggs, with still-runny yolks set in the middle. I saw this recipe on martetatin and it looked so beautiful I had to try recreating it for myself! Two breakfast posts in a row? Don’t mind if I do…

It may look just like your basic stir fry, but the spices and herbs set this dish apart. Food 473

Food 459Food 462Shakshuka

(Serves 2)

  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 small yellow onions, finely sliced
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 3 small bay leaves
  • 8 (or so) sprigs of fresh thyme, plucked (?)
  • 4 small ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, or more, depending on your penchant for spice)
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 10-12 small cooked baby potatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh basil to garnish   ( I was missing cilantro, which would have been my first choice, but I certainly don’t turn my nose up at fresh basil in any situation!)
  • Note: I  threw in some roasted carrots and the baby potatoes from the night before. This dish is a good way to use up leftovers, however, the potato added a lovey hearty-ness that I would hesitate to skip in the future!
  1. In a large pan dry roast the cumin over medium high heat until fragrant (about 2 minutes) add the oil and onions and sauté for 5 minutes or so.
  2. Add the honey, herbs, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes and continue to cook over a high heat for another 10 minutes, until reduced somewhat.
  3. Over lower heat, add saffron, paprika  cayenne, salt and pepper and tomato paste. Continue cooking another 15 minutes, slowly adding water as needed to give the mixture a saucy consistency, like a pasta sauce.
  4. Heat two smaller frying pans to medium and divide the pepper mix between them, removing the bay leaves.
  5. Make a space in the middle and carefully crack 2 eggs into the pan, not breaking the yolks.
  6. Sprinkle eggs with more salt and pepper and cover the pans. Cook at a low heat for 10-12 minutes, until the eggs are just set. Garnish with fresh basil or cilantro and serve piping hot.

Almost nothing repulses me more than a sweet and sugary breakfast. So I’m excited to have discovered Shakshuka which is so savory and satisfying! Make this on your next lazy Monday Sunday and tell me how it turns out!

Food 475

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Chicken, Deux par Deux (Tandoori and Adobo)

15 Mar


I have not posted anything in quite some time, and the reason eludes me.  Have I been so busy with school that I could not possibly have a spare minute to post? Nope…usually cooking something elaborate and then posting about it is my preferred method of procrastination (in fact I’m doing that right now!) Have I been working insane hours? Nope…just the usual. Have I made a series of humiliatingly disasterous dishes that I am too embarrassed to share? Hmm…just one! (I will not tell)

I’m unfortunately going to chalk up my absence to pure, unadulterated laziness- and the fact when life is good, time passes in the blink of an eye.

In the last few weeks I have documented exactly two meals- both chicken dishes. To avoid becoming repetitive, the only logical thing to do is combine the post. One is my take on Tandoori chicken and the other is my take on a classic Filipino chicken adobo.  Both were distinct, healthy and extremely flavourful. First up:  The Tandoori Chicken. It’s  very easy, it just takes a little planning. Marinating overnight is a must. The spices  distinctly infuse into the chicken!

Tandoori Chicken

  • 1 and 1/2 cups  plain yogurt
  • juice from 1/2  fresh lemon
  • 1 generous tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 5 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 4 organic chicken thighs
  1. Combine all ingredients minus the chicken in a large bowl. Reserve one cup of marinade. Transfer remaining marinade to large seal-able bag and add chicken. Marinate for 24 hours in the fridge placing the bag in a bowl, turning once to ensure that the chicken is evenly coated.
  2. This chicken would be excellent barbecued, but since I do not have a BBQ set up, I cooked the chicken on a rack over a baking pan lined with foil at 350 for about 40 minutes. I broiled the chicken for about 4 minutes at the end to brown it up. 
  3. At about the 35 minute mark, spoon more of the yogurt marinade over the chicken, as some of it will have dripped off during cooking.  
makeshift BBQ
Makeshift BBQ. Served with baked sweet potatoes and a mango salad with sesame vinaigrette.
Chicken Dish #2: Chicken Adobo with Black Rice and Edameme 
This recipe is tangy, spicy and rich.
For this recipe you will need:
  • 4 large organic chicken legs
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 gloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbl spoon whole peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbl spoon honey
  • fresh black pepper
  1. (Optional- combine all ingredients and marinate chicken for 1-3 hours. I did not do this but it is always a good idea if time permits!)
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large pan (I use a large wok), covering the chicken.
  3. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer covered for 30-40 minutes, turning the chicken to make sure it is evenly cooked around the half way mark. Uncover and cook another 10 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken from pot and saute (sorry no accent!) using coconut oil in a separate pan to brown the outside of the simmered chicken. Leave marinade in the wok and cook at high heat for about 10 minutes until significantly reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency.
  5. Remove bay leaves from sauce and season with more fresh black pepper.
  6. Generously coat chicken in the sauce and serve.
The sauce is killer.
Fear not, this will be the end of my chicken posts for a long while, as these ones will be hard to top! Hmm…what next?

Foreshadowing Summer: Black Bean and Lentil Burgers

30 Jan

It recently occurred to me that for people tuning in to this very new blog, I must come across as a total carnivore. Those that are close to me know that I love vegetarian and even vegan cooking as much as I love meat. I find that vegetarian cooking unlocks a whole new level of creativity while recreating and perfecting the flavours and textures of everyday favourites- and as an added bonus, often yeild much healthier results.

Apparently, January was a time to indulge in the meaty comfort foods- hence the recent basics- pizzas, ribs and chili. This month is also the beginning of the new year, and along with that come new fitness related goals- including eating more protein. Interesting!  To observe evolving trends in ones eating habits and changing preferences over time!

So, as not to alienate any vegetarian readers, and also just ’cause I love ’em, tonight’s mission was to create the perfect veggie burger.


"Massaging" the lemon into the kale makes it tender, as the acids break it down faster. I like kale with lemon, olive oil and sea salt

The beauty of veggie burgers is that they can take on countless incarnations. Homemade are always superior to store-bought, which are often filled with highly processed soy byproducts and artificial flavours- disgusting not healthy. Why  go there when making your own is so satisfying? I served these with a kale salad and topped them with sharp organic cheddar and avocado!


  • 1 can lentils
  • 1 can black beans
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (can sub quinoa, have done it-works well too!)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion salt
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs (or however much is needed to solidify)
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • cornmeal
  1. Rinse lentils and beans and in large bowl mash with fork or potato masher
  2. In food processor, combine garlic, onions, and celery ( used for crunch, could also use bell pepper or carrots) and combine with beans and lentils. Add fresh cilantro.
  3. In small bowl, combine eggs with spices, and then add to bean mixture
  4. Add bread crumbs and flour to mixture until it is firm enough to make patties (don’t forget, they will firm up when cooking!)
  5. In medium hot pan melt coconut oil ( about 2 tablespoons) and add burgers. Make sure the pan is nice and hot! Sprinkle the tops of the burgers with cornmeal, and fry until golden brown, repeat on other side.
  6. Grease baking pan and transfer burgers to oven- cook at 350 for about 10 minutes.

This makes about 8 burgers. The frying crisps up the outside and the cornmeal adds a bit of extra crunch. The baking then properly cooks the onion and garlic, and results in a nice soft center! These could easily be made vegan by substituting the egg with ground flax seed and water as a binder.

Equally as satisfying as meat, and lighter too

Immy May

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