Welcome back – how did the kitchen purge and restocking go?

Now that we have the kitchen basics down, it’s time to put your fabulous, newly restocked pantry to work. Here are some of my go-to recipes for easy snacking and quick, “I need to have dinner ready in 30 minutes or else I’m going to miss an episode of Revenge” meals. It’s time to get cooking!


Garam Masala

With recipes passed on from generation to generation, you’re guaranteed to find a blend of garam masala in every Indian household. Here’s my mom’s mix that I have my spice cupboard.

8 oz (250 g) cumin seeds
8 oz (250 g) coriander seeds
8 oz (250 g) black cloves
1 large stick of cinnamon
4 whole black cardamom seeds (not to be mixed up with green cardamom seeds)
20 whole black peppercorns
5 curry leaves

Combine all ingredients together in a mortar or coffee grinder. Blend until the mixture becomes a powder. Run through a sieve to remove any large bits. Store in a dry, airtight container and away from direct heat and light. The spices can also be pre-toasted in a dry saucepan before blending for a smokier flavour.


Chickpea Hummus Spread

This is a basic recipe for the classic hummus, but my twist is to add garam masala – the smokiness from the toasted, ground spices marries perfectly with chickpeas. This is a great spread on its own with raw vegetables, with whole wheat tortilla, or on sandwiches.

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
¼ white onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chopped parsley (or 1 tbsp prepared pureed parsley)
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp garam masala
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed

In a frying pan on medium-high heat, add the sesame oil and gently saute the chickpeas until they start to soften. Then add the garlic, onion and garam masala and continue to saute until the chickpeas break (but not mushy). Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Once the chickpeas mixture has cooled, place it with the rest of the ingredients and blend in a food processor. As it blends, gradually add a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil through the food processor opening – this will help emulsify the mixture. Blend until you reach the desired consistency (a thick, chunky paste). Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.If the mix is too thick, you can add a bit of olive oil as needed to thin out the spread.

Add a small layer of extra virgin olive oil on the surface of the hummus, and add a layer of cling-wrap directly on top of the hummus, to keep it from drying up in the fridge. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 cups.

Recipe Adapted from Women’s Health Magazine


3-Bean Quinoa Salad

This is a versatile recipe and you can play with the ingredients – add more or less beans, vegetables or spices. You can serve this at room temperature, chilled or slightly heated.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and dried
½ cup of canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup of canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup of canned green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced (use the pepper of your choice – red, yellow, orange and/or green)
1 small carrot, washed, peeled and then shredded
½ cup of frozen corn
¼ tsp garam masala
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp coriander powder
Olive oil, for cooking
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling on the salad
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Bring two cups of water to a boil. Then add the quinoa and a large pinch of salt. Mix, cover and lower the heat to medium-high, so that the water is simmering. Cook until the water is absorbed or until the quinoa is cooked (quinoa is soft and slightly mushy to the touch).

In a frying pan, gently cook the beans, garlic, onion and corn in the olive oil until the beans soften. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Combine all the ingredients and mix together. Drizzle with olive oil to gently coat all the ingredients.

Makes about 4 servings


Spinach-Arugula-Cilantro Pesto with Orzo

2 cups baby spinach, packed
½ cup arugula, packed
½ cup cilantro, packed
1 tbsp roasted garlic or finely minced fresh garlic (feel free to add more garlic, based on your preference)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup grated white chedder cheese
Handful of walnuts (you can also use pine nuts, which are traditional to this type of recipe)
3 tsp lemon juice
2 cups of orzo
½ to 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta as per packaging. Once pasta is cooked, drain (reserve a cup of pasta water) and coat/toss the pasta a teaspoon of olive oil to prevent noodles from sticking to each other and drying out. Set aside

In a food processor, pulse the nuts – a few pulses – to roughly chop the nuts. Then, add the remaining ingredients (except pasta and oil) and pulse at medium-high.

As it blends, pour oil through the food processor opening – the oil will help emulsify the mixture. Use your judgement and gradually add the oil as it blends until you reach the consistency of a thick yet creamy sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If the sauce is too thick, use some of the reserved pasta water (add only a little at a time) to thin out the sauce.

Toss the pasta together with pesto to evenly coat the pasta, adding the pesto in small amounts at a time. Add more pesto as needed. Serve immediately. For extra indulgence, feel free to add more grated cheese for garnish.

Extra pesto can be kept in the fridge for up to a week. Add a small layer of extra virgin olive oil on the surface of the pesto, and add a layer of cling-wrap directly on top of the pesto, to prevent it from blackening. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 4 servings


the Menu is Jugni Style’s newest lifestyle column written by Naveen Atwal, bringing you details on where to eat, what to eat and how to make it. Plus tips on entertaining like a pro – or at least pretending you are!