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.

mung-bean-thoran

Feeds 4 – 6

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

Coconut-scrambled-eggs

Feeds 1

INGREDIENTS

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

METHOD

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).

ChefRaheen-and-Vineetha

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.

Coconut-iced-coffee

Feeds 1

INGREDIENTS

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.
Ice

METHOD

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

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.

 

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.

WHERE TO STAY

Old Harbour Hotel

Highlights:

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.

HOW

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.

WHAT TO DO

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.

WHERE TO EAT

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.

Shantilal

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.

KERALA & AROUND

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.

Munnar

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.

Goa

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.

Mumbai

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.

Fort Cochin: Chic, tropical India & chai

Posted in: Travel

Unable to withstand yet another day of bone chilling, sludgy (Spring!) London snow, I’ve fled to my Indian home: Fort Cochin in Kerala. Via a quick eating fest in Bombay. Here’s a snapshot to tide you over until full disclosure when I’m back on UK soil.

Fort Cochin, Kerala, India. Wholesome Seduction.

 

Bombay: Taj Palace & Tower hotel; Cafe Mondigar; Paan.

Bombay. Taj Palace & Cafe Mondigar.

Paan. Bombay, India.

 

Fort Cochin, Kerala: Art cafes, Indian Biennale, boutique hotels, street food and my Indian family.

Kashi Art Cafe. Fort Cochin, India.

Vineetha & Kashi.

Street Art: India's first Biennale

Chai & Gujarati sweets

Relaxation. Fort Cochin, India.

Old Harbour Hotel, Cochin. India. Wholesome Seduction.

Masala Dosa & Gujarati sweets

My Indian Family: Vineetha & Emily.

Vineetha and Emily: My Cochin family. And my Keralan cooking gurus. I promise to share…