Tag Archives: vegetarian

Meatless Monday – Okra Belachan


I decided to blog about this particular recipe in the mistaken belief that this was a childhood dish. Turned out that Okra is not an ingredient I grew up with in Indonesia, and this was further confirmed when Mum gave me a puzzled look when I asked how often we ate okra when I was growing up.

Turned out that this particular plant is more common in Singapore, Malaysia and India dishes. Sambal Belachan, the base sauce of this recipe and its variations can be found in South East Asia. The regional difference depends on how sweet or sour you make this sambal. So to my Malaysian and Singaporean friend this is probably something that you  grow up with.

That false sense of nostalgia did not stop me from trying to grow the plant last year. First rule of growing okra, make sure you grow it when it’s warm, otherwise it does not thrive. Miraculously the plant hibernated through winter and to my utter shock started growing fruit this summer. I harvested my first batch a couple of days ago and the second rule of growing okra is to pick them when they are still tender and about 2 inches in length. The longer they grow the more likely you are to chew on bristle rather than pod.

#365daysproject #365days #okra #harvest 5 good sized ones #urbangardener #growing #gardening #gardendiary

This recipe was taken and adopted from SBS’s Food Safari website. It is a very mild, tomatoey sambal and is great eaten as a relish or as a base for stiry fry for seafood or other vegetables. I’ve adapted this recipe to make it vegetarian friendly with my notes in italics below.


  • 500g Okra sliced to 1 cm in lenght
  • 80 ml(¼ cup) peanut oil (20ml for the okra)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed ginger
  • 3–4 red bird’s eye chillies (or to taste), finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp belacan (substitute with vegetarian shrimp paste)
  • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee’s vegetarian stir fry sauce is the veg substitute for this)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (you can find vegetarian fish sauce in most Thai grocery store)
  • 2limes, juiced
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp pounded palm sugar



  • Heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan until hot.
  • Pound the garlic, ginger and chilli with the belachan. 
  • Add the onion and cook for 5–6 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
  • Add the belacan mixture and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in the tomato, until well combined.
  • Add the sauces and lime juice and stir until well combined, then add the tamarind paste and palm sugar. Stir to combine, then remove heat and allow to cool.
  • In a separate pan, stir fry the okra. Add the belachan paste slowly to the okra and continue frying until the okra softens.
  • You may want to add extra salt as the vegetarian belachan is not as pungent as the non veg version, the tamarind can also be quite overpowering without the added salt. 

• Belacan sambal will keep refrigerated in an airtight jar for two weeks.

Okra Belachan

Meatless Monday: Dahi ke Baigan (eggplant in mild yoghurt sauce)

Dahi ke Baigan

Part of the fun of Meatless Monday is the quest to find a new recipe that is interesting enough to cook and photographic enough to share. This recipe was taken from Pushpesh-Pant’s India Cookbook, a large tome of over 1,000 Indian recipes. My criteria was pretty simple, an eggplant recipe that matched the ingredients I have on hand (eggplant, yoghurt, spices, a curry plant) and away I go.  Read More…

Meatless Monday: Leon’s Superfood Salad


Post Australia Day weekend  I was nostalgic over Leon‘s salad and not the quintessential Australian meatpie. Leon is a chain of great food in London, and one of the places that the London Stitch and Bitch used to frequent. I used to order their Superfood Salad multiple times and their recipe book is one that I tend to frequent now and again. If interested to see their other recipes, the Guardian showcased a number of their recipes from their cookbook “Leon Ingredients and Recipes” here. I am also excited that the great folks at Leon will be releasing a vegetarian cookbook this March, and I will definitely be ordering it.

This recipe is the vegetarian version of their Superfood Salad, replacing the suggested grilled chicken with fetta as its main source of protein. One thing I do have to say is you just have to make their aioli. It is so much lighter and fluffier than your typical variety thanks to the whipped egg white and yoghurt. One tip if you want to bulk up this salad you can always have it with some brown rice. Read More…

Meatless Monday – Pear & Raspberry Bread and I wish you hadn’t asked

Art & About 2012

It is wet. I am standing inside a room dripping with water from its roof. Inside this little cottage, the smell of wet woollen rug and the metallic sound of water hitting metallic surface was overwhelmed by the sense of quiet that blanketed the room. I am in a dream, someone else’s or mine or ours meeting in this other worldly space it’s difficult to tell.

They say that a picture tells a thousand words, but I dare say experiencing an art work is a hundred thousand more. The Art & About installation work “I wish you hadn’t asked” is one which will likely haunt me in odd moments and several future dreams (rain coats optional).

I wish you hadn't asked

There is a moment in a relationship when something is said, or done, that can’t be taken back; then the rot sets in. Step inside this ordinary house where rain pours inside its walls, slowly destroying the private world within. Raincoats provided.

A word of advice for those who turned up expecting fireworks on the first day of Art and About, don’t. There are things around, but the programme on the first day felt a little bare compared to the lists of exhibitions and events listed in the catalogue handed out by helpful volunteers. Some of the exhibitions are so subtle you are likely to miss, like the smiley road signs posted close to Hyde Park. What you should do is come back multiple times and see all the facets of the Festival.

Art & About 2012

And now back to our usual Meatless Monday program. Today’s recipe being Pear & Raspberry Bread. The original recipe comes from Coles, and can also be accessed here.



  • 825 g can pear halves, drained, juice reserved (1 large Coles can)
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries


  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C or 160 °C fan. Grease a 15cm x 25cm loaf pan and line with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Puree half of the pears and chop remaining. Measure pear puree in a jug or measuring cup and add enough reserved juice to make up to 1 cup.
  3. Place dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add egg, oil, raspberries, pear puree mixture and chopped pears. Gently fold together until just combined. Fill prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-65 mins until cooked when tested. Cool bread in pan. Store in an airtight container.

A few notes about this recipe. This bread is incredibly moist, so much that I wonder whether adding another 1/2 cup of flour will not go amiss. Next time, I would try not pureeing the pears, I don’t think it’s actually necessary as the canned pears are quite soft. I will definitely recommend pureeing fresh pears though.

Meatless Monday – Lemon and Honey ANZAC Tart


To those who voted in the council elections over the weekend, the results are slowly being tallied here. The advantage of living in Lilyfield is wandering down to the fantastic Orange Grove Market to pick up some ingredients before sauntering in to drop my vote. Today’s Meatless Monday is a dessert…K wanted something lemony, so off I went to the bookshelves only to realise with a sinking heart that all my lemon tart recipes will take another day of dough prepping.

Googling away I found the following Lemon and Honey ANZAC Tart recipe at taste.com.au.

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 300g Anzac biscuits (1 packet of biscuit)
  • 60g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbs honey, plus extra to serve
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 150ml strained lemon juice
  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) pure (thin) cream
  • 4 eggs
  • Thickened cream, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Place biscuits in a food processor and whiz until fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse to combine. Press crumb mixture into the base and sides of a 4cm x 22cm round loose-bottomed tart pan. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
  3. Place honey, lemon zest and juice, condensed milk, cream and eggs in a bowl and whisk gently until combined. Pour into the tart case and bake for 35 minutes or until just set but the centre still has a gentle wobble. Cool in the pan to room temperature, then place in the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours or until cold and set.
  4. To serve, slice the tart and drizzle with thickened cream and extra honey.

Spring is here and all the flowers are saying "pollinate me!"

This tart is really easy to make, and you get a lovely lemon-honey fragrance wafting from the oven when you’re baking. The consistency of the lemon mixture is very similar to a cheese cake, minus the cheese. I love the combination of coconut base combined with the zesty lemon taste. Serve with cream or vanilla ice ream while sipping tea in a garden while surrounded by the scent of spring,

Lemon and Honey Tart

Meatless Monday and Happy 2012 : Okra curry

2012 explosion

With the blink of an eye and explosion around Sydney, 2012 is here. We greeted New Year sitting on a balcony overlooking the city, eating cheese and playing board games. I can only hope that 2012 will be just as chilled.

2011 in hindsight was a year of mostly ups with a few trips down the chasm. It’s probably the most active year I ever had, training for Warrior Dash, doing more running in general and doing the Inca Trip which is a highlight in itself. I wish I have more time to blog, to reflect, but in an action packed year time is not something I have buckets of. This year I would like to plan my time better, keep in touch with friends on a more regular basis and make sure my photos will see the light of day… There are many people I am grateful for being in my life, you know who you are and let’s continue rocking on in 2012.

As I said, I’m still sorting out photos from 2011 and trying to climb the blogging mountain, for a start here is the first Meatless Monday post for the year.

Meatless Monday

Taken from Good Food Magazine, this recipe for Spicy Okra Curry is incredibly easy and will be my staple whenever I have okra in my fridge.

5 tbsp olive oil
400g onions , sliced
500g okra , trimmed, washed, dried and sliced into 2cm pieces
2 tomatoes , diced
1 red chilli , finely chopped (or ½ tsp powdered)
2 tsp ground coriander
handful fresh coriander , roughly chopped, to serve
I added hard tofu to bulk up the  portion since I only have half the okra on hand, but this is completely unnecessary.


Heat a large wok or frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil, then the onions, cooking until soft. Stir in the okra. Add the tomatoes and chilli, then season. Mix well and keep stirring gently, taking care not to break up the okra. Okra releases a sticky substance when cooked, but keep cooking, stirring gently – this will disappear and the tomatoes will become pulpy, about 10 mins.
Lower heat, add ground coriander and cook for another 5-10 mins. Add 2 tbsp water, cover and let simmer for another 4-5 mins. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with basmati rice or chapati bread.

209 kcalories, protein 5g, carbohydrate 13g, fat 16 g, saturated fat 2g, fibre 6g, sugar 10g, salt 0.04 g

Meatless Monday – Shitake mushroom, water chestnut and ginger dumpling

Shitake mushroom, water chestnut and ginger dumpling

A friend held a dumpling night a while back, everyone brings a filling and we make the dumplings on a long table  ready for steaming. I never made dumpling before, but it was the perfect time to figure out how to this dumpling thing. I googled this dumpling  recipe, and made a bit of modification to the recipe.

Shitake mushroom, water chestnut and ginger dumpling


  • SERVES 4 (or more)
  • 1 package frozen round dumpling wrappers (or substitute regular wonton wrappers)
  • 3 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup cubed medium-firm tofu (about 2/3 package)
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves and stems, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 225g of water chestnut
  • 1 tsp. chili sauce (or more if you want them spicy)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock

Shitake mushroom, water chestnut and ginger dumpling


  1. Remove dumpling wraps from freezer.  The dumpling wraps will need at least 2 hours before using.
  2. Prepare a steamer by lining it with 1 or two layers of baking power (to keep dumplings from sticking). I used a traditional bamboo steamer set over a pot of boiling water, but you could also use a colander with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Place all Filling Ingredients together in a food processor or large chopper and blitz to create the mushroom-tofu filling.
  4. Lay 6 dumpling wrappers out at once over a clean working surface. Also have ready a small bowl of water for sealing the dumplings.
  5. Spoon a little of the filling in the middle of each wrapper (about 1 tsp.). Then dip your fingers (or a pastry brush) in the water and moisten all around the outside of the wrapper.
  6. Bring the sides of the wrapper up over the filling and press together to seal. If it doesn’t seal, moisten the edges with a little more water.
  7. Pinch along the seal to create a decorative edge (see picture).
  8. Set the finished dumplings on a plate dusted with corn starch or flour. Steam the dumplings right away, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 hours.
  9. To steam, place the dumplings in the lined steamer (they can be touching) and steam over high heat for 15 to 20 minutes (mushrooms need to be well cooked).
  10. Serve with soy sauce and chili sauce with a squeeze of lime or sweet kecap manis with a squeeze of lime and chopped red chilli

You can freeze the dumplings, to do this line a baking tray with baking paper and space the dumplings so they don’t touch. Slide the baking tray in the freezer for 2 hours, take the tray out and store in a plastic container making sure you line the layer with baking tray.


Meatless Monday – Mini vegetable fritatta

I was pleasantly surprised to find more than 500 views for my last post, thanks to Kimbra’s Facebook page. Thank you! You basically made up for my entire blog’s traffic within a single day! It inspired me a little to get back on the blogging bandwagon, so here’s today’s Meatless Monday post.

DSC_0868I’m a huge fan of frittata because they’re just so easy to make. It’s basically an excuse to throw left overs in the fridge and turn it into a meal. With this recipe I was looking for something small enough to pack for a hike, but still be quite filling.

Ingredients (makes 12 mini frittatas)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pure cream or lite
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 potato peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 onion
  • handful of parsley
  • half a leek
  • handful of pitted olives
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tbs of olive oil or butter
  • Heat oven to 150 degree
  • Fry onion, garlic and potato until brown in the oil, add leek
  • In a jug mix cream, cheese and eggs, mix in the parsley, salt and pepper, then throw in the fried mixture
  • Grease a tray of muffins with butter
  • Pour mixture into tray
  • Adjust oven heat to 110 degrees celcius. Place tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Can be served both hot or at room temperature.


Meatless Monday: Spinach, red onion and feta tart

Spinach, red onion and fetta pie

A crazy few weeks and being stranded in odd cities for work and leisure thanks to the ash cloud meant that I am a bit behind on posting (again1!). Nevertheless, here’s let’s hope we stay back on track with this simple, but delicious Spinach, red onion and feta tart.

I found the recipe from one of those recipe cards I picked up at Coles and was pleasantly surprised to realise that the Sydney Market has a pretty big list of recipes based on different season’s produce! Not so good is realising that their PDFs are locked and in order to reproduce the recipe I will have to type it up from scratch!


  • 3 sheets frozen short crust pastry
  • 2 bunches english spinach, leaves trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten (I made do with 3)
  • 3/4 cup thickened cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 60g kalamata olive pitted
  • 100g feta cheese crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degree celcius. Take pastry from freezer to defrost. Once defrosted use pastry to line up a 30cm loose based tart pan. Prick the base of pastry with a fork. Bake blind for 5 minutes, remove weights and bake again for another 6-8 minutes until pastry is crispy. Take out of the oven and cool slightly. Reduce temperature down to 180
  2. Wash and wilt spinach in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. Remove exceed liquid and chop roughly
  3. Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly, line base of pan with onion and garlic mix. Sprinkle spinach on top.
  4. Whisk egg, cream, salt and pepper together. Pour over spinach. Sprinkle with olive and fetta, bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Cool slightly and remove from pan to serve.
Using the red onion for the base adds a lovely sweetness to the dish, balanced by the tartness of the olive and fetta. I added an extra sheet of pastry as the pastry became  a little too crispy with just 2 layers, other than that this is a very solid recipe!

Meatless Monday – Okonomiyaki


I’ve been meaning to post on Mondays about Meatless Monday for a while, but so far a number of Mondays managed to slip by without a post.

The Meatless Monday campaign was and still is a non for profit  initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. The goal was to help meat consumption by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of the planet.

Why Monday, aside from the fact it’s the only day that starts with the letter M?

For most Americans the week begins on Monday. On Monday we move from the freedom of the weekend back to the structure of work or school. We set our intentions for the next six days. We plan ahead and evaluate progress.

From an early age we internalize this rhythm. And studies suggest we are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on Monday throughout the week. That makes Monday the perfect day to make a change for your health and the health of our planet.

Monday is the call to action built in to every calendar each week. And if this Monday passes you by, next week is another chance to go meatless!

So much for Monday blues! Who would have thought starting anything on Monday is a great idea? Certainly not me! On a personal note, I have been cutting my meat intake due to the presence of a non meat eater in my life. That being said, I do believe that we all can afford to eat less meat. In general, our eating habit demands meat to be presence in any meal in order for it to be deemed satisfying. Whether this be McDonalds or sausage roll, it did bother me to realise how much meat I consume on a daily basis. I’m not sure I can turn completely vegetarian, but that’s another blog post for another time.

In the meantime, there’s this rather delicious recipe for Okonomiyaki from the amazing 101 Cookbooks that I need to share.



2 cups cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup leeks, well washed and chopped 
2/3 cup plain flour
a couple pinches of fine grain sea salt
2 eggs, beaten
1+ tablespoon olive oil

Garnish: toasted slivered almonds, chives/ herbs

Combine the cabbage, leeks, flour, and salt in a bowl. Toss until everything is coated with a dusting of flour. Stir in the eggs and mix until everything is evenly coated.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a generous splash of olive oil. Scoop the cabbage mixture into the pan, and using a metal spatula press it into a round pancake shape, flat as you can get it. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden. To flip the okonomiyaki, slide it out of the skillet onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip both (together) over. If you need a bit more oil in your skillet, add it now, before sliding the okonomiyaki back into the skillet. Again press down a bit with a spatula and cook until golden on this side – another 3 -5 minutes.

When you are finished cooking, sprinkle with toasted almonds and chives, and slide it onto a cutting board to cut into wedges. 

I like the overall taste, but find it a little dry. For added sauce taste add some Japanese mayo and Tonkatsu sauce as well as shredded seaweed. Itadakimasu…