Looking to entertain this festive season?
The holiday season is well and truly here and that can mean only one thing — a busy social calendar! No doubt you’ll be playing host at some point, or need to bring a statement dish to an end-of-year gathering. One Wholesome Meal has put together a complete menu: salad, main and dessert, so you’ll be one step closer to hassle-free entertaining.
The world is our village and we are fortunate to be able to try the staples from different cuisines and bring them to our table. Buckwheat is an alternate grain which, if cooked well, is not only delicious but also packed with nutrition. This salad combines the goodness of buckwheat with my other favourite, tofu. Adding some crunch are toasted pine nuts (or any nuts of your choice) and a hint of something sweet and tart from the pears and cranberries. It makes for a deliciously flavourful and healthy meal .
¾ cup toasted buckwheat
1 tbsp butter (optional)
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
200g hard tofu, cubed
2 cups baby spinach/arugula or spring lettuce mix
1 small red onion, sliced
1½ cups pear – coarsely chopped
3 tbsp cranberries – coarsely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red chilli flakes (optional)
- Lightly toast buckwheat over a medium flame and cook according to the package instructions. Adding a dollop of butter while cooking adds flavour and helps avoid clumping. Add salt and set aside.
- Toast the pine nuts and set aside.
- Press the tofu between two kitchen towels for an hour to drain excess water.
- In a thick-bottomed skillet, add some olive oil and cook the onion until translucent. Add the cubed tofu and shallow fry with salt until lightly browned on both sides. Set aside.
- Stir in the tofu, greens, pear, pine nuts and cranberries into the cooked buckwheat.
- In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar and chilli flakes; drizzle over the above mixture and give it one final stir.
- Top with some more toasted pine nuts and cranberries and serve right away.
Sassy Mama tip: To toast pine nuts – spread nuts in a shallow baking pan and bake for 5 to 10 minutes (or until light brown) at 180°C, shaking pan occasionally to toast evenly.
I am really happy with how this recipe turned out (if I do say so myself!). Try it for yourself and I promise it will become a keeper. Be sure to cook the rice right. This is the key to getting a perfect pulaao.
Ingredients – Tandoori Cauliflower Marinade:
1 medium-sized cauliflower
2½ cups hung curd (or make yourself using yoghurt)
½ tbsp ginger-garlic paste
½ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp tandoori chicken masala or Garam masala
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp amchoor powder (dried mango powder)
½ tsp ajwain or carom seeds
1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
2 tbsp besan (gram flour)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vegetable oil (plus a little extra)
1½ tsp salt (or to taste)
Ingredients – Nuts Pulaao:
1 cup basmati rice (washed and pre-soaked in water for half an hour)
4 cups water
1½ tbsp fresh mint leaves – julienned
1 small red onion – sliced
2 green chillies – halved lengthways
2½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp tandoori chicken masala
¼ tbsp red chilli flakes
1½ tbsp almonds – coarsely chopped
1 tbsp pistachios – coarsely chopped
1 tbsp cranberries – coarsely chopped
1 tbsp raisins coarsely chopped
1½ tbsp cashews – halved vertically
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
2 green cardamom
4 to 6 strands saffron
1 tbsp milk
1½ tbsp pomegranate arils
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp ghee or butter
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Method – Tandoori Cauliflower:
- Prepare hung curd by placing regular yoghurt in a muslin cloth and placing it on a sieve over a bowl. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours so 70% of the whey drains.
- In the meantime, separate the cauliflower into medium-sized florets (keeping them as uniformly sized as possible for even baking). Soak in boiling salted water (turning off the heat once the water comes to boil) for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Drain water and run cold water over the florets. Pat dry on a kitchen towel and keep aside
- In a separate bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade (including the hung curd); the marinade should not be too runny or coating the cauliflowers evenly will get tricky!
- Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.
- Marinate for approximately 2 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Prepare a baking tray by lining it with foil and brushing with some oil.
- Neatly line the marinated florets on the tray and brush with some more oil.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the florets are cooked through; turning halfway through for even cooking.
- Set aside while you prepare the rice.
Method – Nuts Pulaao:
- Toast the chopped nuts, raisins and cranberries in ghee and set aside.
- Heat milk, add saffron strands and set aside.
- Prepare a wide baking tray, lined with foil and set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together lime juice, ½ tsp salt, tandoori chicken masala and chilli flakes and set aside.
- Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a deep wok, reduce the flame to medium and add bay leaf, star anise, green cardamoms and 1½ tsp salt.
- Add the pre-soaked rice and 2 tbsp vegetable oil, stirring gently.
- Let the rice cook in this flavoured water on a low flame till it is 90% done (it shouldn’t be completely soft and must not squish easily between two fingers).
- Remove from heat, drain the rice using a strainer and evenly spread on the prepared baking tray to separate grains and avoid clumping. Set aside.
- In a thick bottomed wok, heat 1 tbsp ghee or butter. Add onions, mint leaves and green chillies, cooking on a medium flame until the onions are nice and brown.
- Add the cooked flavoured rice along with saffron milk and baked cauliflower florets and give everything a very gentle mix using a wooden spatula.
- Add the tandoori-lime vinaigrette followed by toasted nuts, dried fruit and mix well slowly and gently; check for salt and adjust to taste.
- Garnish with mint leaves and pomegranate arils and enjoy as is or with a side of beetroot raita.
A party spread isn’t complete without a good cake! Even the most mundane gatherings get festive once there is cake on the table.
This coffee-honey cake is an heirloom recipe which my mother-in-law has been baking for years. I finally managed to get the precise recipe after a bit of trial and error, and now I want to share it with you. It is one of those cakes that is best enjoyed without any frosting and just a gentle drizzle of sugar. However, I have included an espresso-mascarpone cheese frosting if you want to make it a tad more indulgent.
Ingredients – Cake:
225g all-purpose flour
6g baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
170g unsalted butter
70g light brown sugar
3 eggs (at room temperature)
4g pure vanilla extract
80ml full-fat milk at room temperature
1½ tbsp coffee or espresso powder dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water and then cooled to room temperature
2 tbsp raisins or sultanas – chopped
½ cup walnuts – chopped and toasted (plus a little extra for garnish)
Ingredients – Frosting:
115g mascarpone cheese
60g icing sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tsp hot water and then cooled to room temperature
2 tbsp orange zest
180ml heavy whipping cream
Method – Cake:
- Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a loaf pan or bundt pan with parchment and coat it with butter (just butter in case of bundt pan) and set aside.
- In a deep mixing bowl, whisk together sifted all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
- In another deep bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well combined, followed by eggs, one at a time, mixing intermittently and then stir in the honey and pure vanilla extract.
- Next, gradually add the dry ingredient mix alternating it with milk and coffee keeping the blender speed low; scrape down the sides intermittently making sure there are no lumps in the final mixture.
- Pour into the prepared pan making sure it is no more than ¾ full (you need to leave space for the batter to rise!).
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Method – Frosting:
- In a deep mixing bowl whisk the mascarpone until smooth, then add sugar, coffee, orange zest and vanilla extract. Blend well.
- Pour in cold whipping cream and whisk until soft peaks form, making sure it is of spreading consistency.
- Once the cake is cooled, spread all over. Top with toasted walnuts and enjoy!