Moroccan lentil and butternut pie

I’ve had a craving for Moroccan-spiced food recently. It probably has something to do with this wintry weather in Cape Town. Moroccan spices are deliciously warming and fragrant – perfect for autumnal suppers. I made up this pie recipe on the hop, and (if I do say so myself) it’s rather good. I served it with crispy sweet potato wedges sprinkled with chilli flakes.

moroccan lentil and butternut pie

Serves 8

500g peeled butternut, cut into small cubes
400g courgettes, grated
100g spinach
2 tins of brown lentils, rinsed and drained
2 free-range eggs
200g feta, crumbled
2 T toasted pine nuts
2 T slivered almonds
2 T each of chopped flat-leaf parsley and coriander
20 raisins
1 onion, finely chopped
2 dried apricots, finely chopped
2 heaped tsp harissa paste
1 tsp crushed garlic
Whole cumin seeds, paprika and whole coriander seeds
1 tsp honey
250g filo pastry
Melted butter

Heat the oven to 180 C. Put the butternut in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin seeds and paprika. Roast until the butternut is cooked, about 40 minutes.

In the meantime, put the grated courgette into a colander and sprinkle with some salt. Leave over the sink for about 20 minutes and then squeeze to drain the excess water.

Fry the onion in some olive oil until it starts to soften and then add the harissa paste, garlic and a pinch each of cumin and coriander seeds. If you like heat, add a good pinch of dried chilli flakes. Fry for a minute or two and then add the courgette. Fry until the courgette is softened, and then add the lentils. Turn up the heat at this point to burn off all the water. Cook the lentils for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until it’s wilted.

Combine the eggs, honey, apricots, raisins, feta, almonds, pine nuts and herbs and mix together with the lentils.

Brush a bit of melted butter on the bottom of a large casserole dish and lay down a sheet of filo pastry. Brush a bit of melted butter on top of the sheet and put another one on top. Repeat until you have four sheets on top of each other. Pour in the butternut cubes and spread across the base of the pie. On top of this pour in the lentil mixture and spread evenly. Now comes the fun part – scrunch up sheets of filo and cover up the top of the pie to make the ‘crust’. Brush the sheets with melted butter. Place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Mexican bean chilli with corn rice

What’s a vegetarian cooking blog without a bean recipe? I don’t actually eat a lot of beans but when I do I always make  Mexican-inspired dish. This bean chilli is ridiculously simple and it’s really cheap to make too. I like the addition of corn rice, but I often have it with plain brown rice or tacos. It’s all about the condiments with this dish – make sure you have plenty of avo, fresh coriander, sour cream or smooth cream cheese, and fresh limes or lemons.

mexican bean chilli

Serves 5

400 g courgettes, chopped
600 g fresh tomatoes, chopped finely (you can use canned if you prefer – just use two tins)
6 spring onions, chopped
1 tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
1 tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed well
1 onion, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp chilli flakes (less if you don’t like heat)
1 lemon or 2 limes
A handful of fresh coriander
1 cup brown rice
4 corncobs
1 tsp oregano
olive oil
Avo, smooth cottage cheese or sour cream, and more fresh coriander, to serve

Start off by making the rice. In a large pot heat a slug of olive oil for a few seconds and then add the rice. Add 3 cups of water and bring to the boil. Add the oregano, turn down the heat and let the rice simmer with the lid on for about 35 minutes, without stirring. Slice the corn off the cobs and add to the rice after 30 minutes. Cook for 5 minutes with the lid on and then turn the heat off but leave the pan on the stove for a further 5 minutes, also covered.

For the bean chilli, fry the onion until soft in some olive oil. Add the courgettes, spices and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes until the courgettes start to get soft. Add the tomatoes and turn the heat up. Let it cook away until the tomatoes have turned mushy and you can crush them easily. Turn the heat down a bit, add the beans and cook for a further ten minutes before putting in the chopped yellow pepper. Cook for about five minutes more.

Serve the bean chilli on the rice with chopped spring onions and fresh coriander on top.

Baked falafel

I had the best falafel in town today at the Kirstenbosch Craft Market. On the last Sunday every month we make a mission to this small market which has mostly useless crafty junk, but also a fabulous falafel stand. The falafels have that perfect nutty texture, with a slightly crunchy outside. They’re served in warm homemade pitta breads, with loads of chilli relish, hummus, yoghurt, shredded cabbage, sprouts and deliciously acidic pickled vegetables. I have yet to find falafels that beat these ones in Cape Town.

I go the healthy route when I’m making my own falafels by baking instead of frying them. They’re really easy to make, and are great for a midweek supper if you don’t really feel like doing any cooking. I eat them in toasted pitas with hummus, tomato and onion, fresh coriander, tzatzki, shredded cabbage and carrot, avocado and chilli sauce.


(Adapted from a recipe in Fairlady Magazine)

Makes about 20 falafel balls

  • 2 tins chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
  • Juice of a lemon

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and then leave the mixture in the fridge for an hour or two to firm up. (This is not essential if you don’t have time, but it means the balls will be less crumbly).

Preheat the oven to 200C. Shape the mixture into small falafel balls and lay them on a baking sheet on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Tomato and carrot dhal

I’m cooking all the wrong foods for this heatwave we are experiencing in Cape Town at the moment. I should be making salads and cold, refreshing things that don’t need cooking. Instead I had a craving for warm, mushy, comforting dhal, and sweated away over a stove to indulge it. This is one of the best dhals I’ve ever had though, so it was well worth it. There’s nothing like dhal for a healthy Indian food fix. It’s so easy too – anyone could make this.

I adapted this recipe from a fab new veggie cookbook my mum gave me for Christmas – 500 Greatest-ever vegetarian recipes.

tomato and carrot dhal

Serves 4

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 2 carrots, diced finely (this is easiest to do in a food processor)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes or chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 cup red split lentils
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 ½ cups (400 ml) coconut milk
  • 7 tomatoes, chopped finely
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 5 tablespoons of fresh coriander

Heat a slug of vegetable or peanut oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, carrot, cumin, mustard seeds and ginger. Stir constantly for 5 minutes until the seeds begin to pop.

Stir in the tumeric, chilli and garam masala and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

Add the lentils, water, coconut milk and tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking.

Stir in the lime juice and add the chopped coriander. Cook for 10-15 minutes more, until the lentils are tender.

I didn’t have any naan, but I felt like eating the dhal with something to scoop it up, so I grilled thick slices of eggplant, which were really tasty.

Potato and chickpea curry

I made this the other day when some friends came over for dinner. Curries are the best dishes to make when you have to feed a lot of people – just double or triple recipe quantities. It’s also a good idea to make a curry the night before if you’re having people over for dinner, as curries are always better when they’ve had a day or two to stew. This curry is delicious for leftovers – just re-heat and serve with fresh coriander.

I got this recipe from a new favourite cookbook – Quick and easy Asian vegetarian recipes.

potato and chickpea curry

Serves 6 heartily

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained
  • 6 potatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes (or less, depending on taste)
  • 1 heaped tsp ground tumeric
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Juice of one lime or lemon
  • 2 tsp crushed ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes until cooked. Drain and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil or ghee in a wok over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and bay leaves and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the onion and stir-fry on a low heat for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, ground coriander, cumin, chilli, tumeric, salt, and garam masala and stir fry over a low heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, potatoes and the water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes thicker.

Remove from the heat and stir in the lime or lemon juice, and the ginger. Serve with fresh coriander and chutney.