Coconut & cumin mung bean thoran

Posted in: DF, LF, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

Mung beans can have a bad rep, often associated with flower-powering, free-loving, sixties stoners. This is a little unfair, I feel. When cooked, mung beans are as versatile as a toddlers bowl of penne pasta, with enough bite to woo the most discerning Italian. They’re also insanely good for our digestion. In fact, this thoran (a traditional recipe wouldn’t have garlic) was developed specifically for my lethargic Indian stomach by Keralan (medicinal) chef, Raheem – Delhi belly’s just one Indian holiday affliction apparently. Packed with cleansing and anti-bloat ingredients, this is my go-to skinny stomach smoother. It’s also a supper club and yoga holiday favourite; I’m yet to feed it to anyone who doesn’t go back for seconds, hence blogging it here.


Feeds 4 – 6


200g mung beans
2 tbsp coconut oil
4 tsp mustard seeds
4 tsp cumin seeds
2 red onions, chopped
4 – 6 cloves garlic, chopped, depending on your taste
100g spinach, chopped
6 tbsp desiccated coconut
½ tsp turmeric
Salt to taste, I like Himalayan pink or sea salt


Soak mung beans overnight. When ready to cook, set to boil until tender yet still with a bite. Add salt when water comes to boil, not before. Set aside.

In heated coconut oil, fry mustard seeds over a medium heat until begin to pop. Follow with cumin, garlic and onion, turn up the heat and sauté until onions turn translucent and start to brown.

Tip in desiccated coconut, followed by mung beans and turmeric. Fold through spinach, cook for a couple of mins and serve. I like this as a light supper or lunch, just as it is, or alongside other salads or my Prawn, coconut & tamarind curry.

Tip: It’s said that turmeric loses it’s medicinal powers (anti-bacterial) when burnt or overcooked, always add at the end of a recipe.


Coconut & mushroom scrambled eggs

Posted in: DF, S, SF, V, WF

Crunchy yet creamy; seductive yet wholesome; filling yet bloat free; these are scrambled eggs as, I’d hazard a guess, you’ve never had them. I’m addicted. Knowing my appreciation for his native nut, and Wholesome Seduction, #ChefRaheem of Old Harbour Hotel in Kerala worked his magic on countless coconut incarnations for ‘Madam’. Every one created with health and healing in mind. Raheem’s an artist and doctor all in one. And my unfailing inspiration.


Feeds 1


1 dsp coconut oil
2 eggs
Dash coconut (or cow’s) milk
Salt and black pepper – I like sea or Himalaya pink salt
½ carrot, grated
1 tbsp mushroom, or spinach. Or both.
1 tbsp desiccated coconut

Optional extras:

1 tbsp spinach, finely sliced
1 dsp cabbage, finely sliced – I like this for added crunch
¼ onion


On a medium flame, set coconut oil to heat in a frying pan. Meanwhile whisk eggs with milk and salt. Set aside.

Sauté carrot and mushroom (+ any other optional extras) in the hot coconut oil for 1-2 mins – you want the veg to remain crunchy.

Add whisked eggs, stirring until cooked and fluffy. Add in most of the desiccated coconut, remove from the heat immediately and serve.

Top with the remaining coconut and a side of roasted tomato or toasted rye bread. I like Village Bakery for taste and because there’s no added yeast (yeast = bloat and lethargy for me).


Click here for why I fell in love with coconut oil and here for the best ones to buy

Coconut iced coffee

Posted in: DF, Featured, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

Apparently The Garcia’s can’t have a conversation without the subject of coffee making an appearance. Bad coffee being the cause of untold dismay, it seems. Iced coffee, however, can redeem many an ‘operator error’, tasting as robust and sweetly creamy as any passionately barista’d flat white. I’ve given measures for one glass but tend to make a batch for the fridge, topping up with coconut milk and ice for my morning wake up addiction. On a recent Indian holiday, I ‘encouraged’ friends at Old Harbour Hotel and Kashi Art Cafe to do the same; Kerala means Land of Coconuts after all. And a new menu fixture was born.


Feeds 1


1-2 shots espresso, depending how strong you like your coffee
1 tsp raw honey – optional
1 cup coconut milk – you can also sub 1/3 for coconut water. Drop the honey if doing this.


Make espresso and stir through honey until dissolved – otherwise it will sink to the bottom of your glass.

Drop in a few cubes of ice and shake or stir until coffee is cooled. Transfer to a glass, top with coconut milk and a couple more cubes of ice.


Rebel Kitchen have recently launched a take-away version that tastes almost identical, if a little sweeter. Perfect for a dairy and refined sugar-free caffeine kick on the go. I’ve done the chocolate mylk taste test with several friends and none can believe how good it tastes.

After a lifetime of a market saturated with nasty, additive and sugar laden Food-To-Go, it makes me very happy to see entrepreneurial guys like these popping up. Thank you Rebel Kitchen.


From the streets: Coconut oil

Posted in: DF, Featured, Reviews, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

Wholesome Seduction has featured a few recipes containing coconut oil recently so I think it’s time to explain my (and the UK’s) latest love. Apart from transforming sweet potato wedges into sticky and crispy comfort food, the health benefits of this miracle fruit (botanically a drupe) are so extensive, fitness gurus are eating the oil by the dessert spoon. Literally.


For the full lowdown find out why I fell in love here. Think metabolism boosting, energy sustaining, bacterial and viral infection fighting and apparently, weight loss!

There are countless raw or virgin varieties available in wholefood shops. Unfortunately, at £10 a pop they don’t come cheap. There’s now a ‘cuisine’ (non raw / refined) option for a fiver which makes sense if you’re cooking.

What’s the difference? In all honesty, I attribute most of the (crazy £10!) cost to marketing and fashion. South India’s awash with palm trees and the smell of dosa (a kind of breakfast pancake staple) being fried in coconut oil. A year’s supply wouldn’t even set Amma back a tenner. Having said that, there is something in the raw / virgin tag line.

Refined vs. raw coconut oil


All coconut oils are refined as the oils need to be extracted from the whole fruit; raw has just been less so. As goes with the raw argument, such foods are said to retain higher levels of their nutrients and antioxidants. The (more) refined version doesn’t alter the medium chain fatty acids so still ticks all the virtues that make this a Storehouse Seducer.

I stock up on £2.50 tubs of KTC, an Indian brand, when I can get them. Note: KTC (above) is more easily found by the bottle but given the oil sets outside of tropical climates, not ideal as it can’t be poured. #globalsalesstrategy #fail

Since I sub other oils for coconut wherever taste is either improved or uncompromised, I go through quite a bit so use two types: Raw for energy balls, shakes and spreading on toast, and KTC for scrambled eggs (yep), roasting and frying kale and fritters. The good news: many dishes taste infinitely better. When cooked, coconut oil has a creamy flavour and adds a crispiness that would turn the local chippy green with envy.

KTC: £2.50 from Asian shops and Tesco World Food aisle. Biona and Lucy Bee: £9.95 from Wholefoods or Planet Organic. Biona Cuisine: £4.95 from Wholefoods. Amazon also has slightly cheaper bulk buying options and rumour has it Lidl plan to get in on the cut price action.


Some more coconuts:

For the purpose of this post, I’ve focussed on the oil, but actually, so extensive are this drupe’s merits, it comes in every imaginable incarnation: dairy free ice cream (amazing), yoghurt (ditto) and of course, the water celebrities practically bathe in.



All of them at prices requiring a conversation with the bank manager. Who’d have thought this stuff grows on trees?


Storehouse Seducer: Coconut oil

Posted in: DF, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF


This one’s a keeper like no other. Said to boost energy levels and metabolism (cue: calorie burn) and promote thyroid health and weight loss (tall order…). It can fight bacterial, viral and fungal infections including candida; there’s even evidence to suggest the effect of Alzheimer’s may be reduced and type 1 and 2 diabetes improved.


Athletes and fitness freaks dollop it in their shakes for sustained energy levels. And beauty experts smother it on their skin and hair to combat skin conditions and maintain glossy locks. Coconut oil is indispensible inside and out it seems.


By no means a new kid on the block, coconut oil won South East Asian hearts centuries ago. Catching on to the countless virtues, it now seems there’s not a health or fitness savvy man or woman in the UK who can live without their daily fix.

Aubergine, chilli & coriander salsa

Posted in: DF, LF, S, V, WF

I dreamt up this salsa after 4 months of craving raw, crunchy salads in India. There’s nothing I like more than fish and spice but there comes a point when even the most dedicated curry fans need to macerate. So, said recipe materialised on a Middle East stopover at my bother’s, where aubergines are as integral to the local diet as tatties are to the Irish. Once charred or roasted, few ingredients compare to the flavour and ‘meatiness’ of this super berry . For me, this salad’s at it’s best with steak or at a BBQ. You can also pair with chicken, fish or even toasted sourdough for a light lunch or supper.


Feeds 6



3 aubergines
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 red onion
150g tomatoes
1 bch / tbsp coriander, chopped
1 lime, juice of


Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Slice aubergine into 1 inch rounds, mix with oil, salt & pepper. Lay flat on baking tray and place in oven for 45 mins, or until browned. Turn each slice every 15 mins – you want a mix of soft, charred and crispy slices for flavour and texture.

Dice tomatoes and red onion and mix with chopped coriander and lime juice.

Chop cooled aubergine into approx. 2cm pieces, mix with salsa and serve.

To salt or not to salt? Originally done to remove bitterness, today’s auberignes rarely suffer from the affliction of their ancestors. Salting can help to reduce the amount of oil absorbed during cooking, however. Once cut, sprinkle with sea salt and place in a colander for ½ hr.

Mango, cardamom & lime lassi

Posted in: LF, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

Lassis are essentially Indian yoghurt smoothies. This recipe’s a guaranteed brunch addition winner, plus a healthy breakfast or dessert to have on the go. Sweeter and richer in flavour, Alphonso mangoes are King. In season from March to June in South Indian – see what I did there? Seamless link to recent travel pick posts: Holy Cow: Kerala. You can pick up a box from most veg stalls and Asian communities, along with some supermarkets. Sub with any other mangoes if you can’t get The King.

Makes: 1 ltr. Feeds: 4



3 Alphonso mangoes
750g natural yoghurt
20 pods cardamom, ground, husks removed
1 lime, juice of
50 – 100ml water, depending on preference


Peel and chop mangoes, discarding skins and stones, though it would be a waste not to suck the latter before binning…!

Blend mango flesh in a mixer or with stick blender. Add yoghurt, cardamom and lime and mix.

Depending on the thickness of your yoghurt, I like to add iced water until I get a pourable, smoothie consistency. You may prefer to keep thick, however.

Decant into a jug and serve alongside brunch (Corn fritters?) in mini glasses.

For more of seductive mango’s health benefits, click on the Seducers page or type mango into the Search box.

PP: Kj/cal: 1084/259, Pr: 13.1g, Fat: 6.9g, Sat Fat: 3.3g, Carb: 39.2g, OwS: 30.23, Salt: 0.4g


Travel pick: Fort Cochin, Kerala

Posted in: Featured, Travel

Typically a two day stopover on the way to the Backwaters, Munnar’s tea estates or Kerala’s beaches, most people I chat to in Old Harbour Hotel’s (granite) pool site Fort Cochin (and the hotel) as the best part of their holiday, wishing they’d factored in longer. Like me, many return to do just that.

Fort Cochin is what I term chic, cultural India. Easy and safe enough even, for the most All-inclusive inclined, delicate tummed or toddler minding among us. Kochi’s people take great pride in their town’s 600 years trading history. Home to ancient Chinese fishing nets, a 16th century synagogue, mosques and a crumbling mix of Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial architecture. Fort Cochin is a cultural melting pot of art cafés, prawn curries, boutique hotels, antiques, pashminas and Zen kindness. And that’s just the town.

Thanks to India’s famous railways and super cheap taxis, zipping to other parts of tropical Kerala are just a few rupees away. Because pictures speak a thousand words, I’ll take you on a visual tour with bullet points.


Old Harbour Hotel


Understated luxury, Dutch colonial architecture adorned with Indian art and antiques, impeccable service and a pool that breaks hearts to leave.

It’s worth noting service in India can at times be challenging. The propensity to employ an army to fix a light bulb, along with an apparent inability to say no, tends not always to be entirely conducive to speed. Not to mention personal space or uninterrupted dinner party chat.

Old Harbour Hotel owner, Edgar Pinto has made it his mission not to be tarred with the same brush. Well, maybe not the giant workforce bit. Vineetha and Jude are on hand to manage said army, anticipating and attending to their guests every whim.

It has been intimated that the aforementioned may be the reason ‘Madam’ (read: yours truly) considers Old Harbour Hotel her Indian home and appears incapable of breaking away.

Our soda and lime mixers came hand delivered to the hotel’s bijou house (a great option for families and only a few minutes walk away), complete with a week’s supply of cut lime and bottle opener. Making the two minute trek to the local bar (where a very large G&T is approx. £1.20) was just too strenuous.

Leaving no stone unturned, even the restaurant is one of the best in Fort Cochin. Serving Keralan specialities alongside the odd western dish sampled on Edgar’s travels and returned to his chefs. Thanks to a Madrid city break, you can follow tandoor kingfish (from the Chinese fishing nets in front of the hotel) with poolside Chilli spiced chocolate & churros.

All this and there’s free WIFI and morning roof-top yoga, plus a mini spa for Ayurvedic massage. With art cafes and shopping on your doorstep. Given many a supermodel and Bollywood diva (so demanding they make Naomi Campbell look like Gandhi) keep coming back for more, it’s not just Little Miss Fussy who’s hooked.


A member of Small Luxury Hotels, there are countless sites to check reviews, pictures and to book securely. See also TripAdvisor and Old Harbour Hotel.

I’ll blog my tips for around the town next week. On the off chance you find the strength to drag yourself away from the pool. Did I mention it’s granite?

For all Holy Cow posts, click on Popular Tags on the right or on the Reviews page.


Travel pick: Fort Cochin, part 2

Posted in: Travel

Part 2 of post, Travel Pick: Fort Cochin, Kerala, here are some ways to pass your time in and around one of my favourite holiday picks in the world, when not lolling by the pool.


Fish markets & Chinese fishing nets

Highlight: Fort Cochin’s fish market where ancient Chinese fishing nets are still in use. Go around 7.30am to witness fishy bartering in full swing.

How: The town is built around the nets and market so you’d be hard pushed to get lost. Head for the sea.

Jew Town:

Highlight: Antiques, pashminas, once tried, forever essential oils; jewellery, spice markets and a toe dip into real life India.

How: A 15 minute rickshaw fairground ride from the town centre or Chinese fishing nets.


The Teapot

Highlight: A banana pancake and masala chai must do for every Fort Kochi visitor.

How: A two minute walk Fort Cochin’s tiny tourist town centre.


Highlight: Demolished food. Because Gujarati’s are the master sweet-makers. And samosa chefs, it would seem.

How: Tell the rickshaw driver to drop you at Shantilal opposite the Guajarati school. My friend Vineetha takes me and I’m yet to spot another westerner or tourist. It’s completely safe, don’t worry!

Kashi Art Café

Highlight: Another uber stylish hot spot serving dishes with a western twist by the Old Harbour Hotel team. Breakfast is a must. My favourites: Try the seafood roti wrap and coconut iced coffee. Kerala means Land of Coconuts, after all.

How: A two minute walk from the town centre or fishing nets. Just about everything is a two minute walk. Ideal for an unwind holiday in my opinion.

The Seagull

Highlight 1 : A down to earth café on the water. Read: respite from often stifling humidity.

Highlight 2: THE BEST Fish Moile and paratha (pancake like bread).

Highlight 3: Gin & Tonic. Raj sized measures (big).

Highlight 4: The Seagull is where just about every well-heeled local eats and gets the thumbs up from my fussy Indian family so not to be missed.

How: Less than a five minute rickshaw ride from Fort Cochin’s town centre.

Old Harbour Hotel

Highlight: Breakfast and lunch chef, Rahim’s cooking. Thanks to him I’ve consumed almost every Indian breakfast ever concocted and now know how to make my favourite dish, Green mango curry.

How: Stroll in, kaftan clad from your room. Or dine by the pool in your bikini. That would be my advice. Take it or leave it.


The Backwaters

Highlight: It would be a sin to visit Kerala without spending time on The Backwaters. One or two nights on a houseboat with skipper, cook + an/other on hand to guide and feed you through sleepy waterside villages could well be the most relaxing and fascinating experience of your life.

The houseboat tick box has become a bit of a factory procession tourist trail. Somehow it still manages to be worth the effort. I guess it’s not hard to see why when you look at the pictures.

How: The boats leave from Alleppey, about 1 ½ hrs away from Fort Cochin by taxi (£15 fare approx.). Book your trip in Fort Cochin with the countless travel agents, or through your hotel. Expect to pay a premium if doing the latter.


Highlight: Tea plantations, cool air, home cooked meals, 1950’s flower gardens and butlers.

How: You can do a day tour, leaving very early from Fort Cochin or spend a night. Unless you’re going hiking, you probably won’t need much more than a day. The town isn’t up to much and once you’ve seen one tea factory, you’ve probably seen them all.

Cherai & Madurai

Highlight: Both have beaches and some very stylish boutique hotels popping up, so my sources tell me. I’m incapable of leaving Old Harbour Hotel, remember?

How: Two – four nights should be good unwind time, depending on the length of your stay. The hotel would be the decider for me.


Parts of Goa are described by The Lonely Planet as India’s answer to Blackpool. I went under duress. Ten minutes inland by scooter, however, and you’ll find an entirely different (non-beer drinking for breakfast) crowd. Exceptional restaurants and yoga; Portuguese colonial architecture; and a multi-cultural night market to inspire London’s finest street traders.

It’s worth noting that Goa was a Portuguese protectorate until 1961 and as such, its cuisine and customs are quite different to the rest of India. Think tangy tamarind and Indian shoulders on display.

How: Domestic flights are excellent and frequent between Cochin and Goa. Book planes and trains through Cleartrip a wonderfully efficient service. You can even cancel and get a refund. Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) bless India.


Highlight: Stay in Colaba for Raj style hotel luxury with Victoriana. You’ll be spoilt for choice with galleries, street life and Bombay cafes on your doorstep. Try the Mumbai branch of Trishna, London’s Indian fish restaurant with style. You’ll find the original somewhat different in terms of design – old style London tube upholstery features – but the food is outstanding. The Colaba night market is well worth a visit; a drive thru diner for rich Mumbaikers.

How: Most flights stop over in Bollywood capital Bombay or the Middle East. If taking the former, it’s worth spending one or two nights on the way there or back.

This post is part 2 of Travel Pick: Fort Cochin, Kerala Click on the link for more India tips.

Travel pick: Holy cow

Posted in: Travel, Uncategorized

This month is a significant one for me; five years ago I popped my India cherry. And my holidays have never been the same since. Each year I try to break away from my spiritual addiction and fail. Since April 2008 I’ve back-packed (kind of), boutique hotel’d and eaten my way from sand and dust suffocated Rajasthan to tropical India’s most southern, sticky, coconut fringed tip.

Mumbai, India

I’ve stepped bare foot and cashmere wrapped onto the world’s most demonstrative declaration of love, the Taj Mahal; and breakfasted on Masala dosa with my benevolent, cattle class neighbour on India’s celebrated railway.

Indian train timetable

I’ve been served tea by our fawning butler, immersed in Munnar’s tea plantations and 1950’s rose gardens; and eaten Coorgi pork with Arabica coffee estate owners (and my hands).

Munnar tea plantations

Munnar's tea pickers

Coorg. Coffee drying.

Rehydrated on road side tender coconut surrounded by monkeys and wild elephants and contracted dysentery in Old Delhi. Served me right; even Hippy Mum was more discerning.

street food: Old Delhi & Coorg

Old Delhi

Cleaned (the dorm!) toilets, eaten off the floor, chanted and yoga’d away the controlled with military precision hours in an Ashram.


I’ve ridden on elephants and fed them turmeric rice (gut goodness). I’m slightly partial to elephants. Apparently the females are the calm ones which I’m sure we’ll all agree is unusual.

Indian elephants

Gawped in wonder at Udaipur’s breath taking lake palaces, street murals and washing Ghats.

Udaipur Lake palace & washing ghats

Hobbled, dysentery fevered, around the blue city of Jodhpur, its Red Fort, Ganesha’s and innumerable scabby and bony Holy cows.

Jodhpur & Ganesha

And `shed a tear for the wives who threw themselves onto their Maharaja husband’s funeral pyre.

Funeral pyre wives

I’ve recuperated in the sand city of Jaisalmer and nearly thrown up again at the site of the refuse collecting pigs capacity to inhale ANYTHING.

I’ve papped the entire local population of 15th century Hampi (again with the cows), escaping the sweaty, lack of AC on the night train for Bangalore’s slick hotels, roof top bars and Victorian parks. Once more photographing the entire, camera spellbound population; laughing and being touched by the unaffected warmth of almost every one of them. Minus the cows.

Holy cow

Hampi children

I’ve bought yoga gear in Mysore, stretched it in Goa and scootered my way from Bollywood star hangout, to Goan sausage stall, to samosa beach hut.

Goa beach

Goa samosa breakfast

Yet no-where has drawn me back quite like Kerala and Fort Cochin, which somehow manages to tick every chic, cultural holiday box. So strong is the bond, in fact that I may have returned upwards of 14 times. Annihilating my never go back in favour of seeing the world decree. Find out why soon. To be continued…