20-minute Vegan Chickpea and Eggplant Lentil Curry

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Sometimes, you’ve just got to come to terms with the fact that some dishes won’t look good no matter how much you try to play with the dish. But I just had two bowls, and I am here to tell you that looks are irrelevant, any day of the week.

I recently had this AH-MAZING vegan dhal that my good friend @Verging_on_Vegan made and I haven’t been able to get the taste out of my head. I’m yet to try her dhal recipe at home, but I’ve come up with my own little rendition using everything in my pantry and fridge (grocery day is coming up and it’s time to clean out the fridge).

This dish is a one-pot dish (yay no dishes), it’s vegan, it’s jam-packed with flavor and it takes 20 minutes to have ready and in and around your mouth.

The coconut milk and eggplant make it nice and creamy. The lentils add depth and the chickpeas add that ‘meaty’ flavor that just makes the entire dish.

Lazy Thursday dinners – here I come.


Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant (or 2 medium sized), chopped into large chunks
  • 1 can of organic coconut milk (I like to use Organic Planet – it costs 7.50dhs at the Farmer’s Market)
  • 2 handfuls of dry red lentils
  • 1 can of organic chickpeas
  • 1 can of tinned tomatoes
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 thumb of grated ginger
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder
  • Sea salt
  • Coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1/3 teaspoon of cumin powder

 

How to make it:

  • First, put your pot to heat (I’ve used a cast-iron pot I got from IKEA for 130dhs (best purchase ever)).
  • Add the eggplant and enough coconut oil to coat the pot and let them get some nice color on them. While the eggplant is cooking, chop your onions and garlic, and grate the ginger then add to the half-cooked eggplant chunks. Cook together for about 3 minutes.
  • Add all the spices except for the sea salt and cook the spices with the veggies for another minute.
  • Drain the can of chickpeas and add them to the mixture. Mix well.
  • Then, add the can of tomatoes and the dry lentils and cover the pot letting them simmer together for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat.*
  • Lastly, add the coconut milk (you be the judge of how much is needed depending on how dry the lentils and eggplants have made the dish).
  • Add the juice of the lemon, mix well and see if salt is needed. If you’d like an extra kick, add some chilis, chili flakes, or chili sauce.

*Keep an eye on your pot, making sure nothing burns to the bottom of the pot. I find that eggplants and lentils dry up the water in the dish and could potentially get burnt if not watched properly. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

That is it. As simple as can be and unbelievably delicious, hearty and versatile. You could add any veg you think would go well with it…spinach, roasted peppers…etc. This 20-minute vegan eggplant and lentil coconut chickpea curry is perfect for a lazy Thursday in, or even after a long-ass day at work.

Give it a try and tell me what you think. Also, arrrrrreeeee you following StraightupBananas on Instagram yet? Me thinks you should be.

 

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15-minute Greek Eggplant and Feta Pasta for Lunch

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Throughout all this craziness of falling in and out of love with Straight-upBananas for the past 4 months, one thing has remained constant. I still love to cook, and I still looooove to eat — it’s just somewhere in the middle, the whole sharing bit that has me feeling a bit confused.

Yesterday’s easy, quick lunch was one of my favorite go-tos when I don’t know what to have, or my fridge is starting to run on low…pasta!

This pasta dish is garlicky, creamy and oh-so slurping good!

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or a full-on omnivore, this recipe could be tweaked for any kind of quick lunch, dinner or even breakfast (who are you kidding, we all know at some point we’ve had something not very breakfast-y for breakfast — don’t lie).

Ingredients

  • Any type of whole-wheat pasta (I like OrganicLarder)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, sliced
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • A splash of apple cider vinegar (or a squeeze of lemon)
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Chopped dill, basil, or thyme (whichever you like best, or have in your fridge)
  • A sprinkle of good-quality crumbled feta cheese (if not vegan)

 

Here’s how to make it

  • First, make sure you put about 2 liters of water  with a nice amount of sea salt to boil for every two portions of pasta (the equation for the correct ratio per person still eludes me. That photo up there was enough for about 3 people, but I ate all of it…alone.)
  • Second, in a large pan, dry fry* (no oil) your eggplant till it gets nice and nearly charred.
  • Then, add your olive oil to the eggplant, and fry up the garlic till nice and golden. Then, add the tomatoes and vinegar or lemon and let the tomatoes stew up nicely and medium-high heat.
  • To the boiling water, add the pasta and cook as the instructions direct (usually about 7-9 minutes).
  • Add some of the starchy pasta water to the sauce in your saucepan and cook for a few more minutes with the sauce till it get’s nice and creamy and reduces. Add the dill to the sauce.
  • Drain the cooked pasta, and add it to the sauce and mix well.
  • Then, serve the pasta with its sauce, and taste it. Add salt and pepper (keeping in mind that your feta cheese will add a dimension of salt to the dish. So do not overdo the salt).
  • Serve in a plate and crumble some feta on top. If you’re feeling extra frisky and have the time, you could even add some chopped up Greek Kalamata olives to the sauce (again, watch the salt).

*The reason  I like to ‘dry’ fry my eggplants is that eggplants tend to act like a sponge when it comes to absorbing oil or water. When you sort of toast them in the pan, they cook through without absorbing the olive oil–making the sauce a lot lighter and less greasy.

I love this recipe. The flavor is so mousakka-ish, but minus the fried eggplants, and the time-consuming assembly. Plus there’s slurpy pasta there, so that’s a win if I ever did see one — no?

Give this recipe a shot, and give me a little shout out. Did you like it? Did you friggin hate it? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.

And since you’re here…why not follow me on Instagram, too?

 

Healthy plant-based spiced chocolate tart with figs

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Something really strange has been going on with my Instagram lately — it seems the algorithms have changed (again) and smaller pages such as mine are lagging behind (again) unless they pay to have their posts boosted — sucks for me and my numbers, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop posting my recipes and photos; even if it’s only little ol’ me looking at them.

Ladies and gents, I give to you this beautiful plant-based chocolate tart with fresh figs on top. With no added processed sugar, this decadent beauty is the perfect chocolate fix and the best thing is…you could even have it breakfast if you felt like it.

It takes about 30 minutes to put together and about 2 hours to set in the fridge/freezer.

Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

For crust:

  • 1 cup of date paste (alternatively, you could soak about 20 dates in warm water, pit them and make into a paste in your food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon of organic coconut oil
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of salted pecans (you use any kind of nut you like)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla pods
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter

For filling:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/3 cup of tahini paste
  • 1/4 cup of date syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste
  • 1/3 cup of organic cacao powder
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

For topping:

  • Any fresh fruit you’d like.
  • Cashew cream (optional)**

The method to my madness:

  • First things, first. In your food processor, process the oats, cinnamon, ginger, and pecans into a fine flour.
  • Then, add the dates, honey, almond butter and vanilla and process all together until it forms a dough-like ball.
  • Take out the crust dough and with your hands knead it until it becomes nice and sticks together.
  • In a serving plate lined with wax paper, form the ball into a circular crust (or whatever shape you’d like) using your fingers and pressing down firmly. I created a little pool-like dough so the chocolate doesn’t pour out.
  • Place the dough in the freezer to firm up as you make the filling.
  • In a food processor (sorry, you’re going to have to clean it:)), throw together all the filling ingredients and blitz until it’s nice and creamy — taste it and see if you need to add anything (more honey, more cinnamon…)
  • Pour the filling mixture into the dough and put back in freezer to set (for two hours), or overnight in the fridge.
  • To top, you could make a simple cashew cream by placing 1 cup of raw cashews into a bowl with boiling hot water on top and let sit for two hours. Then blitz all together with a hand blender. I like to add two tablespoons of honey, vanilla paste and a little squirt of lime.

 

That’s it. Super simple. Super healthy. Super beautiful. No nasty processed additives that’ll have you feeling terrible after, this plant-based chocolate tart is just what I needed this hectic Sunday!

Since you’re here, why not follow Straight-upBananas on Instagram, too!

15-minute vegan chili and garlic pasta

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Yes. You read that right, a 15-minute lunch recipe that’ll have you slurping delicious pasta in as long as it takes you to disgustingly crack all the knuckles of your body (cracking my fingers as we speak, and that’s the only analogy I could come up with).

So this sauce is so simple, that by the time the water for the pasta comes to a boil, and cooks your pasta the sauce is done! Now pay attention, or you just might miss how to make this supersonic sauce.

Ingredients:

  • Wholewheat spaghetti
  • 2 mid-sized tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 dried chili (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 1/3 cup of good quality olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Boiling hot water
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

 

How to make it:

  • First, put about 1 liter of water to boil with a pinch of sea salt
  • Then, in a separate frying pan, and on medium-low heat, put the pine nuts to toast until golden brown, and remove from pan.
  • In the same pan and olive oil, toast your sliced garlic until nice and golden brown as well.
  • Add the dried chili (again, depending on the heat you like) and fry all together.
  • After, add the capers and let them crisp up a bit.
  • By this time, your pasta water should be boiling, add the pasta and cook until done.
  • In the frying pan, add the tomatoes and cook on medium-high heat until the tomatoes start to cook off (galayit bandora style)
  • Then add the pine nuts, add 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water to the sauce and let cook until it becomes a sauce.
  • Once the pasta is cooked through, transfer it to the sauce and mix well together.
  • Turn off the heat, and add the spinach, sea salt and black pepper. The spinach doesn’t need to be cooked, it’ll wilt from the heat of the pasta and the sauce.

 

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There you go, easy peasy. The beauty of this recipe is that you could add or omit whatever you want. I mean white beans or butter beans go spectacularly well with this dish. I’m sure grilled chicken would go well with it. Once you’ve got a recipe down, the variations you could come up with are endless, seriously!

So that’s that. A 15-minute pasta dish, that only requires 4 dishes (if done right). Since you’re here, why not follow me on the Gram of Insta? Instagram

 

Roasted coriander and pepper baby potatoes

Roasted baby potato side dish straightupbananas

So Spinney’s was gracious enough to invite me to their Virtual BBQ a few weeks ago, they sent me a hamper with all the essentials for a great BBQ at home. We set a time and a few hashtags, invited a few friends over and put together a beautiful feast full of fun and delicious food.

One of the jewels of this gathering was the roasted baby potatoes spiced with garlic, coriander, red chili peppers, lemon and chipotle tabasco sauce. I usually opt in for a side dish of roasted potatoes anytime I have a gathering — they’re always one of the first things to go!

Super simple, deliciously crispy and no deep frying involved — this perfect side dish to anything could be ready in less than twenty minutes as you go about cooking the rest of your meal!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 lb of baby potatoes (the whole sack)
  2. 8 cloves of garlic (leave the skin on)
  3. Coriander (to taste)
  4. Chipotle Tobasco sauce
  5. 1 lime
  6. sea salt
  7. olive oil
  8. 1 liter of boiling water

 

How to make it:

1- In a large pot, bring the water to boil and drop in the potatoes and the cloves of garlic (skin on). Cover and boil for about 10 minutes or until you can pierce it with a fork.

2- In a pestle and mortar, bash together the coriander leaves and chili peppers, then add some olive oil, lime juice, sea salt and chipotle sauce.

3- Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them really well and leave in a colander till they’re completely dry.

4- Bring a large pan to hight heat, add some oil and add the completely dry baby potatoes.

5- Allow the potatoes to get nice and crispy.

6- Squeeze out the soft garlic from the skin and add to the potatoes to fry (holy smokes will this spell AMAZING)

7- Once the potatoes have gotten beautifully golden and crispy, add the coriander, chili and chipotle mixture and let the sauce coat the potatoes and fry for another minute.

 

These potatoes are fluffy and floury on the inside, and crispy and spicy on the outside — everything you’d ever want from a potato, man.

 

Give it a try and follow me on Instagram since you’re here!

Fresh Citrus Salad

Citrus Salad StraightupBananas

Here it is, ladies and gents — summer in a single salad.

Fresh, insanely easy to put together and nice and light — you can’t go wrong with serving this nice citrusy salad with any meal.

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 grapefruit
  2. 1 navel orange
  3. pumpkin seeds
  4. fennel
  5. chili flakes
  6. watercress (arugula, baby spinach or chard works fine)
  7. olive oil
  8. sea salt
  9. mint leaves

 

How to make it:

  • First, slice the grapefruit and orange as thin as you can without chopping off your fingers.
  • Then, place on the plate you’re going to serve it in.
  • Slice the white part of the fennel onto the citrus
  • sprinkle on the watercress leaves, chili flakes, mint leaves and sea salt
  • drizzle on some olive oil and you’re good to go!

 

That’s it, you’re done! It’s gorgeous, amazingly fresh and the kick of the chili adds just the right flavor to bring this fresh salad all together!

 

Give it a try and follow me on instagram, folks: @straightupbananas

Roasted Chickpea and Turmeric Couscous Buddha Bowl

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So if you’ve got any leftover roasted veggies or grains, then a Buddha bowl is the best way to make use of them.

Super simple, super good for you and really delicious. This bowl of goodness makes the perfect lunch any day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of fine couscous (could be substituted with quinoa or bulgar wheat)
  • 2 cups of hot water
  • 1 Carrot sliced into ribbons
  • 2 radishes, finely sliced
  • 1 cup of baby spinach
  • Turmeric
  • Chili flakes
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • ½ an avocado
  • Nigella seeds (cumin seeds for topping) (optional)

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons of tahini sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • Sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1 clove of garlic

 

Method:

First, make the turmeric couscous. Mix the couscous, 2 teaspoons of turmeric, sea salt, olive oil and hot water in a bowl. Cover the bowl and let the couscous set.

Then, fluff the couscous with a fork once all the water has disappeared.

Then, it’s time to roast the chickpeas. Drain the can of chickpeas really well and let the chickpeas dry on a paper towel.

Then, in a hot pan add the chickpeas and some olive oil and let roast until it gets nice and golden brown.

When the chickpeas begin to color, add the chopped garlic, chili flakes and sea salt.

With a handheld blender, mix all the dressing ingredients together.

Assemble the ingredients together and top with dressing.