Sri Lankan-style chickpeas for Lisa

I’ve created this dish especially for a blogging event run by a one of my favourite bloggers, Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen. The event is No Croutons Required, and the this month’s topic is chickpeas. I really wanted to take part, partly because I haven’t in ages, and partly because I really love chickpeas myself. After a bit of thought, I decided to adapt one of my favourite veggie Sri Lankan recipe, varar, adding caramelised shallots, coriander and lemon juice. The result is a gorgeous warm salad of chickpeas flavoured with caramelised shallots, curry leaves, coconut and lemon juice that goes great with many Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, and it’s also delicious on its own as a snack. I love it. I hope Lisa will like it, too.

A note on chickpeas. I really notice a difference in flavour between tinned and dried chickpeas, and for me, this is one instance when it’s worth taking the time to soak and cook the chickpeas. They’re so much nicer like that! I can even eat them as popcorns after they’ve just been cooked – they really are delicious. But if you really really can’t be bothered, then next time you’re in your favourite Asian supermarket, pick up a tin of East End brand of chickpeas. They’re the tastiest ones I’ve found. Still, for hummus and falafel, I’d soak and cook my own chickpeas.


Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas



Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas salad



SOURCE:  Inspired by Jasmine’s varar

PREPARATION TIME: 2 min, if the chickpeas are ready

COOKING TIME: 5 – 10 min, again, if you’re not soaking your own chickpeas

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 1 as a salad, 2 as a small side dish




a little vegetable oil

2 medium shallots, halved and then sliced thinly

1 green finger chilli 

a small handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

a little salt

1 tsp tempering spices (a mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

a pinch of turmeric

1 cup of chickpeas (cooked, or tinned)

a handful of desiccated  coconut

fresh lime juice to taste

1 heaped tsp chopped coriander leaves



  • Heat the oil in a wok (or frying pan) and add the shallots and the chili. When the shallots start going brown, throw in the curry leaves and a little salt. Stir and cook until the shallots are completely caramelised. Then, remove half of the mixture and set aside. (This will be sprinkled on top when the dish is done).
  • Return the pan to the heat, and add the tempering spices and turmeric. Stir.
  • Add the chickpeas to the pan, and a couple of tbs of water (or chickpeas soaking water), and warm the chickpeas through. Then in goes the coconut and a pinch of salt. Stir it and cook for 30 s, again until it’s warmed through.
  • Just before serving, add lemon or lime juice, chopped coriander and some more salt if needed. Sprinkle with the remaining shallots and serve. Enjoy!




More Sri Lankan food at Maninas:


The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Curry (Meen Kulambu)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets



And more chickpeas recipes:

My version of Catalan chick peas with tomatoes and almonds (V) – This is a must-try, with its delicious flavours of saffron, garlic, tomatoes, almonds and coriander!

My Moroccan-inspired chickpeas  (V)

Chana Masala (V) for RCI Punjab

Chana masala from scratch (V) – No shop bought spice mixes!





I’m also submitting this post to to MLLA-21 hosted by Mirch Masala, and started by Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.

Eating with the Season: deadline extends until 21st Jan

I’m exteding the deadline for Eating with the Season January. You can post me your entries until the 21st January.


Eating with the Seasons: DECEMBER Round-up!

This has been a very busy six weeks. I’m looking forward to slowing down a little, taking long restorative walks and spending some quiet time with friends and family. I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for blogging, but I’ll be reading your blogs.

Here is the round-up for Eating with the Seasons: DECEMBER! We have some very interesting entries here, with a Christmassy twist to match the season. Enjoy!


Northern Hemisphere







Corsican Caramelised Apple Tart ~ Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen (London, Ontario, Canada)

I adore the combination of apples and caramel. Look at this lusciousness! And check this description: “Custard-like, coated in caramel and gooey with apples and their juice.” Leaves me speechless, and with a huge craving for some of this gorgeous tart!



French Apple Tart ~ Priya from Priya’s Easy N Tasty Recipes (Paris, France)

After the Corsican, here comes a French apple tart! Check out Priya’s simple and delicious version!




Spiced Cranberry Raisin Bundt Cake ~ Soma at eCurry (Texas, USA)

I’m very impressed by this moist and spiced cranberry and raisin bundt cake. What a great addition to the festive table!



Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti ~ JZ at Tasty Treats (USA)

Here comes another cranberry treat from the USA!  Who can resist fresh home-baked goods on a cold wintry day, asks JZ. These biscotti are best enjoyed with a warm cup of tea or coffee, and make a wonderful Christmas treat for the ones you love.


Pear (and chestnuts!)


Pear and chestnut crumb cakes ~ Suganya at Tasty Palettes (USA)

Suganya is a big fan of chestnuts, and cooks them regularly. ‘The cakes were very moist and mildly sweet, thanks to the pear and chestnuts’, she says. ‘They also freeze well, making them a perfect snack, any time of the day.’



Pear and Fig Whole Wheat Pancakes ~ Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen (London, Ontario, Canada)

I love Lisa’s savoury dishes, but she is starting to wow me with her sweets, too.  These pancakes with dried figs and fresh pears are elegant and impressive, and yet really simple to make. The filling is enhanced with a little cinnamon, cloves and orange zest, which I think is a great touch. 





Brussels Sprouts


American Brussels Sprouts with Cream and Nutmeg ~ Catherine at Wheatless Bay (UK)

   Brussels sprouts is one of those vegetables that really does get a lot of bad press, especially around Christmas. But does it really deserve it? Doused in cream, with a sprinkling of nutmeg, they do sound tempting even to a declared Brussels sprouts avoider like myself. So, if you’re planning to inflict the obligatory sprouts on your not-unsuspecting family members this Christmas, why not try Catherine’s recipe for Brussels sprouts with cream and nutmeg?  must admit I do like the sound of this dish, not because of the cream, but because I think this flavour combination really does work.    




Carrot and leek soup ~ Priya at Priya’s Easy N Tasty Recipes (Paris, France)

This simple and healthy soup will warm you up on any cold day.  It looks lovely and creamy, and it’s gently spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin.



Creamy carrot soup with rose harissa ~ Maninas at Maninas: Food Matters (UK)

I’ve made us a carrot soup this month, too, featuring my farmers’ market finds (carrots only from the above picture). The basic carrot soup recipes comes from the 1977 edition of ‘Mousewood Cookbook’ via Slashfood. I increased the amount of spices, and added the rose harissa and the cheese. Also, I used a mixture of butter and olive oil to cook the onions, because I really like the flavour of this combination. But it’s the harissa that’s the star of the show. It really does transfer the soup to another dimension and gives it soul! Gutsy, interesting, inviting soul. It makes it hot, garlicky, moreish. Rather funky for a carrot soup! I loved it!



Kabocha Squash


Kabocha no nimono ~ Greg at Sippity Sup (California, USA)

Nimono is a cooking style that refers to “the quiet, gentle simmering of food in a flavorful broth.” Kabocha squash lends itself to it beautifully. This is comfort food the Japanese way. Many thanks to Greg for introducing me to it!


Southern Hemisphere






Apple and Blackberry Jam ~ Cathy X at aficionado (Sydney, Australia)

We learn something very interesting from Cathy. Did you know that blackberries are not berries at all?  ‘They are, in fact, an aggregate fruit – a bunch of tiny fruits fused together at the base, unlike real berries including surprisingly, citrus, cucumber and papaya,’ says Cathy. Also, she tells us that using frozen blackberries will cause less streak and make baked goods taste fresher and lighter!




Eating with the Seasons: JANUARY

What will you be cooking in January? Share your seasonal recipes with us!

Let’s eat seasonally!

Join me!




  • Go and find out what’s in season where you live in JANUARY.
  • You can choose: fruit, vegetables, fish, meat.
  • Write a post/text if you are a non-blogger containing a recipe and/or information about your chosen seasonal item. You may post more than one recipe.
  • Post it and email it to me before 15 JANUARY, and I’ll post a round-up in a few days. The plan is to go from 15th to 15th in the month (eventually), so we have some time to enjoy the recipes for dishes that are in season.


To take part:


Please send an e-mail to maninas [DOT] wordpress [AT] yahoo [DOT[ co [DOT] uk including the following information:

  • your name and country (and town if you wish)
  • your seasonal item
  • name & link to your blog
  • name of your post & link to your post
  • one photograph
  • with ‘Eating with the season’ in the subject line of your e-mail
  • & please link to this post.

The best carrot soup ever!


 Farmers’ market finds


Creamy. Gently spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon. Cooled with a hint of mint. Fired up with some spicy, garlicky rose harissa. – In short, the best carrot soup ever! 

The basic carrot soup recipes comes from the 1977 edition of ‘Mousewood Cookbook’ via Slashfood. I increased the amount of spices, and added the rose harissa and the cheese. Also, I used a mixture of butter and olive oil to cook the onions, because I really like the flavour of this combination. But it’s the harissa that’s the star of the show. It really does transfer the soup to another dimension and gives it soul! Gutsy, interesting, inviting soul. It makes it hot, garlicky, moreish. Rather funky for a carrot soup! I loved it!

Here is something you could do if you don’t have the harissa (I used the Belazu brand.). It’s basically a simple tarka or bhagar with garlic and chilies. Heat some oil and add dried red chilies. Fry for a 10 – 15 second, but be careful not to burn the chilies. Then add the chopped garlic. Remove from the heat and let sizzle. Stir into the soup. – Although it doesn’t reach the complexity of the flavour of a good quality rose harissa, the chili and garlic really do take the soup to an entirely different level.

I found this great website about British carrots. Check it out for some fantastic carrot recipes and fascinating facts.

This is my entry for Eating with the Seasons: DECEMBER. Join me and send me your seasonal recipes by 15 December!

These days, I have very little time to cook, or to take photographs. Or live for that matter! I miss my blog and reading other blogs… A couple of more weeks and I should be back to normal… Fingers crossed.

UPDATE 15/12/2008: I made it with pumkin tonight (and milk instead of yoghurt). It was lovely and creamy. It worked great, too!

And now the famous soup:  



Creamy carrot soup with rose



SOURCE: the basic carrot soup recipe is from ‘Mousewood Cookbook’ (1977), via



COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min


SERVES: 2 (generously)



0.5 kg carrots, peeled and chopped


chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp butter

1/2 large yellow onion

3 small cloves of garlic

a small handful of almonds and cashews

1/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp dried mint

75 ml single cream (or less, according to taste)*

2 tsp rose harissa

salt and pepper

a handful of grated cheese (I used Double Gloucester)



I. Cover the carrots with water and  stock and boil until tender.

II. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a pan, then add the onion and a pinch of  salt. (The salt will draw out the moisture from the onion and make it cook more quickly). Add chopped garlic and nuts and saute until the onion is soft. When the onion is soft, add nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir and cook for 5 – 10 seconds to give time to the spices to release their flavours. Stir in the mint.

III. Put the onion mixture and carrots into the food processor and blend until smooth. (It’s easier to blend if you retain some cooking water and add it to the soup later on as necessary.)

IV. Return the vegetable puree to the pan, add cream and check for salt. Add water to achieve desired consistency. Stir in the rose harissa and the black pepper and heat through.

V. Fold in some cheese into the soup, and sprinkle the rest on top. Add another pinch of freshly ground black pepper and serve. Enjoy! 

Serves two generously for a hearty lunch or dinner.




This is the best soup I’ve ever made, and one of the best ones I’ve ever had. How’s that for a verdict? 🙂



*You can also use milk instead of cream. The soup is already rather rich because of the addition of nuts and cheese.

The soup lends itself to lots of variations. For example, you can use different types of nuts to add richness. Different dairy products instead of cream. You can also play with different spice combinations.

Also, I really like the idea of adding a tarka to perk up the flavours of soups! 



Other soups at Maninas:

Dalmatian fish soup

Fragrant and aromatic salmon soup with noodles



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