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Tag Archives: cumin

Serves 4-6

The aubergine is native to South and East Asia and is thought to have been introduced to the Mediterranean area by the Arabs or Africans in the middle ages. The first written record of it in England was in the 16th century when an English botany book of 1597 wrote “This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere… bringing forth fruit of the bigness of a great cucumber….”.  I love that quote – cheeky!

Lebanese aubergine dip. Delicious with pitta bread, cous cous, felafel, salads, etc...

Lebanese aubergine dip. Delicious with pitta bread, cous cous, felafel, salads, etc…

There are a number of variants of aubergine; small, large, round, elongated ovoid, dark purple, pink, white, yellow, green, variegated colouring.  The ones normally found in the UK and US are large, cucumber-sized elongated ovoid shaped, dark purple in colour although you can certainly find the small and round versions in South Asian supermarkets.

The flesh of an aubergine can be quite bitter so lends itself well to slow roasting and frying allowing the bitter starches to break down into sugars. The flesh can absorb a lot of oil during cooking – salting it can reduce the amount absorbed and draw out some of the moisture.

The aubergine is not especially high in any vitamins or minerals but is low in fat (when uncooked) and contains a decent amount of fibre and carbohydrate.  It makes for a great meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan meals as its flesh has a good firm texture and it is fantastic in curries or stuffed for example with rice, nuts, vegetables, meat and herbs and spices.

In baba ganoush it is combined with tahini, a paste made of sesame seeds (which are a really good source of a variety of minerals: copper, manganese, calcium, phosphorous and fibre), which puts it in league with middle-eastern dips such as hummus as an amazing accompaniment to pitta bread or vegetable sticks as a healthy low in saturated fats snack. It goes great on the side of a middle-eastern or Greek style mezze with cous cous, tabbouleh or rice, salads, falafel, hummus, olives, etc.  Perfect as part of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet.


Available in all good wholefood stores and  world food sections in many supermarkets.  Sesame seeds are high in copper, manganese, calcium, phosphorous and fibre)

Available in all good wholefood stores and world food sections in many supermarkets. Sesame seeds are high in copper, manganese, calcium, phosphorous and fibre)

4-6 aubergines (approximately 900g)

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. salt

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 heaped tbsp. light tahini

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. ground cumin

Ground black pepper

1 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

Smoked paprika (optional garnish)

1 red onion, finely chopped

40 black olives, chopped


  • The variety normally found in the UK and US. Smaller, round versions would work in baba ganoush just as well.

    The variety normally found in the UK and US. Smaller, round versions would work in baba ganoush just as well.

    Heat oven to 150C / 300F / Gas Mark 2.
  • Cut the top off the aubergines and slice them lengthways. Pour a little oil into your hands (from the 1-2 tbsp.) and massage it onto the skin side of each half aubergine.  Do the same with the salt.
  • Lay the aubergine halves skin side up onto a lightly greased baking tray and place in the oven.  Bake for 40 mins – 1 hour, until the flesh is soft.
  • Scoop the soft flesh of all aubergines out into a bowl.  Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, 2 tbsp. olive oil, ground cumin and black pepper to taste.  Blend all ingredients together.  I use a billy-whizz handheld blender for this – just make sure you have a deep enough bowl so it doesn’t splatter all over your kitchen and shirt-frontage!
  • Serve in a bowl topped with the chopped parsley. Have the chopped red onions and black olives as an optional extra topping for people to add as they wish.  Serve with toasted pitta bread. 


per whole recipe (dip with parsley)

Serve topped with chopped parsley, red onions and black olives

Serve topped with chopped parsley, red onions and black olives

Energy                             1105 kcal / 4623 kJ

Carbohydrate                31.8g

Fat                                     89.3g

Protein                            32.9g

Total sugar                    18.8g

Saturates                       13.9g

Fibre                                20.6g

Salt                                   9.9g


per serving (dip with parsley) – if serving 6

Energy                            184 kcal / 770 kJ

Carbohydrate              5.3g

Fat                                    14.9g

Protein                          5.5g

Total sugar                   3.1g

Saturates                      2.3g

Fibre                              3.4g

Salt                                  1.7g

 Black olives will add:  14 kcal / 59 kJ, Carbs – Trace, Fat – 1.5g, Protein – 0.1g, Fibre – 0.4g, Salt – 0.8g

 Onions will add:            9 kcal / 38 kJ, Carbs – 2.0g, Fat – 0.1g, Protein – 0.3g, Fibre – 0.4g


Serves 6

I was once a resident, for a fabulous 18 months, of Framingham, Massachusetts.  If you don’t know Framingham, well, it’s ok as towns go – they conducted the Framingham Heart Studies there, people were super friendly, there are some lovely places to visit around there like the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Dorchester, Conchord and Walden Pond and I seem to remember a story about the first arrest of a man for wearing a beard taking place in Framingham!  The Chicken Bone bar was fantastically welcoming and fun too but on the whole there wasn’t much of note to shout about, although I should mention that it was 11 years ago that I was forced back to the UK so I can’t speak for current day Framingham!

However, Framingham has excellent rail links to the wonderful Bean Town, or Boston to non-residents and residents alike! I hung out there…A LOT…and I miss it terribly.  Having recently been catching up on my U.S. TV series, namely ’30 Rock’ and ‘American Horror + Asylum’, I have been having a terrible lusting for ol’ Bean Town (there are some convincing and not so convincing Boston accents going on in both programmes!) and having found some black beans in the back of the cupboard – one of my favourite beans in the world – I had to make something in homage.

Bean Town is honoured in this north african inspired black bean, chicken and spinach stew- GO BRUINS!

Bean Town is honoured in this north african inspired black bean, chicken and spinach stew- GO BRUINS!

Serve with a delicious crusty roll or have as a main with rice or tortillas

Serve with a delicious crusty roll or have as a main with rice or tortillas

This is a non-vegetarian soup as I realise that I have posted an awful lot of veggie soups on the blog so far and, although I am a pescatarian (that’s not my religion – it means I eat fish but not meat!) I know that not everybody is and so….tada…concession!  To make it vegetarian just use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and quorn chucks instead of chicken.  If you don’t like or have never heard of quorn – not sure how global its reach is – just leave it out. There’s plenty of protein in the beans and this soup is low fat and full of fibre too.


350g soaked, cooked and drained black beans

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

1-2 x cloves garlic, peeled, finely diced (7g)

½ – 1 x green or red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (6g)

 250g chicken breast, fat trimmed, cut into mouth-sized chunks


250g quorn chunks, defrosted

1 x white onion, peeled and diced (155g)

1 x red pepper, de-seeded, chopped into small pieces (125g)

2 small carrots, topped and tailed, peeled, cut into 1cm cubes (120g)

½ tsp. powdered cumin

½ tsp. smoked or regular powdered paprika

½ ground black pepper

800 ml chicken or vegetable stock (1 x 10g cube)

400g canned tomatoes, chopped

300g frozen spinach (about 10 balls)

1 tsp. powdered cumin

½ tsp. smoked or regular powdered paprika

Black pepper to taste

4 cloves (optional)


  • Soak the black beans in cold water overnight – unless you are lucky enough to live somewhere where you can buy ready-cooked black beans in cans – I’m well jell of you do! Cook in boiling water for approximately 1 – 1.5 hours until soft. Drain and set aside for later.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chilli and ginger and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour.
  •  If using chicken, add to the pan with ½ tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. paprika and ½ tsp. ground black pepper. Stir regularly until browned on outside.
  •  Add the onion, red pepper and carrots and the quorn chunks, if you are using this instead of chicken.  Fry for approximately 6-8 minutes, until softened.
  •  Add the stock, tomatoes, spinach, cooked black beans and the rest of the cumin and paprika. Add more black pepper if desired.
  •  Add the cloves to the soup. I got creative and put them into one of those loose leaf tea strainer things so that I didn’t have to fish around for them or risk chomping down on one halfway through eating my stew!  If you don’t have one then you may just need to take this risk!
  •  Bring to the boil then reduce heat, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
You haven't had beans til you've bean to Boston!

You haven’t had beans til you’ve bean to Boston!

Nutritional Information

Per Batch

Energy                 2000  kcal (8368 kJ)

Carbohydrate    138.8g

Total sugars        44.7g

Fat                          25.9g

Saturates             3.4g

Protein                 107.0g

Fibre                      47.0g

Salt                         6.1g

Per Serving (Serves 6)

Energy                   334 kcal (1398 kJ)

Carbohydrate     23.1g

Total sugars        7.5g

Fat                          4.3g

Saturates             0.6g

Protein                 17.8g

Fibre                      7.8g

Salt                         1.0g

Suggested Additions

1 x tbsp. of reduced fat fromage frais = 30 kcal/ 125 kJ

1 x tbsp. of soured cream = 62kcal/ 260 kJ

1 x white crusty bread roll (50g) = 130kcal / 545 kJ

150g of boiled white/brown rice = 210kcal / 880 kJ

30g nacho/tortilla chips = 140 kcal / 586 kJ

200g sweet potato chips or wedges (cooked in 1/2 tbsp. oil) =220 kcal / 921 kJ

–          Use butternut squash instead and it will be only 72kcal / 302 kJ

Suggested Ear Candy

So, with the promise of a delicious bean-laden dinner of stew on the horizon and thoughts of Boston, MA on my mind, I had to pay yet another visit down Memory Lane. 

Cake were a band I discovered whilst I was living in the U.S. thanks to the fandom of my particularly lovely friend, dancing buddy and housemate, Dan from Canada. Nostalgia is a passion of mine and part of the reason I started this blog was so I could make myself opportunities and excuses to listen to the old, forgotten CDs of my lesser years. 

Fashion Nugget by Cake is one that I get out on a fairly regular basis.  It’s fun, quirky, incredibly danceable and singalongable and has 2 of the best cover songs on it that I have ever heard – especially ‘Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps’, originally a Doris Day number I believe.


 Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps by Cake, with a hilarious video and English/Italian subtitles in case you want to do any wooing!

Cake – official band website


Here’s a wee something from Boston locals, The Dropkick Murphys too – some great views of the Charles River with the Pru’ and John Hancock towers in the background – *sigh*


The Dropkick Murphys – official band website

Serves 6

Got yourself some bruisey apples that you really don’t want to eat but can’t bear to throw away?!

Well, there’s always apple crumble, of course, but I always make this soup when I’ve got some slightly less than perfect apples.  It’s delicious, sweet, spicy and creamy and I love it!

It works best with sharp-tasting apples like Granny Smiths or Braeburn but you can use any really.

 ** WARNING** Wear an apron if you are wearing anything you value! Turmeric stains like a demon and any splashes may result in you requiring new clothes!

Curried Parsnip and Apple Soup - freshly served with a crusty seeded roll


3 medium-sized parsnips, peeled and chopped (400g)

600ml water

½ tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

½ – 1 x green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (4g)

1” piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped (7g)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped (4g)

1 tsp. mustard seedsCurried Parsnip and Apple Soup - freshly served with a crusty seeded roll

1 white onion, peeled and chopped (140g)

2 tsp. honey

1100ml water

3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (280g)

2 tsp. garam masala

150g low-fat fromage frais

½ tsp. salt

Black pepper to taste



  • Put the parsnips, turmeric, cumin and coriander in a medium-sized saucepan with 600ml of water.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
  •  In a large saucepan heat the oil over a medium heat. Fry the chilli, garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. Add the mustard seeds and fry for a few seconds, until they start popping.
  •  Add the onions and honey and fry for 5-10 minutes, until they are softened and browned.
  •  Add the parsnips in their cooking liquid to the onions. Add the rest of the water (a further 1.1 litres) and the apples also.
  •  Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes.
  •  Add the garam masala, fromage frais, salt and pepper.
  •  Use a hand-blender to blend the soup until smooth.

Nutritional Information

Per Batch

Energy                  760 kcal (3180 kJ)

Carbohydrate    122.1g

Total sugars        78.6g

Fat                          19.1g

Saturates             2.5g

Protein                 26.4g

Fibre                      25.6g

Salt                         2.8g

Per Serving (Serves 6)

Energy                  130 kcal (545 kJ)

Carbohydrate    20.4g

Total sugars        13.1g

Fat                          3.2g

Saturates             0.4g

Protein                 4.4g

Fibre                      4.3g

Salt                         0.5g


Suggested Additions

1 x white or brown crusty bread roll (50g) = 130kcal / 545 kJ

As above but with seeds on top (60g) = 190kcal / 800 kJ

¼ pre-packed garlic bread (french baguette style) = 150 kcal / 630 kJ

40g (2” piece) french stick, sliced and toasted with 20g cheddar or parmesan = 200 kcal / 840 kJ


Suggested Ear Candy

How could I not have whacked something by The Apples in Stereo on the hi-fi whilst making soup with apples in?! 

Travellers in Space and Time is one of the most lively, fun and brilliant albums my ears have had the pleasure of listening to in a long time and I urge everyone to try it out. It’s got excellent soundbytes, electronica, amazing tunes, comedy and is absolutely the greatest for jumping around the soup kitchen to!


 Suggested Alternatives

I love a bit of the Andrew Sisters for their twee-ness and a gentle reminder of how sweet and innocent music used to be! Some 1940s/50s era ditties seem like a good pairing when making soup out of ‘salvaged’ fruit too!  Just what grandma wudda done!