Thursday, September 22, 2016

Chickpeas with Bacon

Have ever heard about traditional Latvian dish - grey peas with bacon? Presumably, if you ever tried it, you will remember it for the rest of your life... Well, here is an adapted version of it made with chickpeas. 

Blog's Category: Healthy, International, My Own Fast and Easy, Vegetarian, Effortless


One of my Facebook friends made a post about that traditional Latvian peas cooked with bacon. There was a raving review of this dish, impressive enough to get me on board and make me research into the matter.. The problem was - grey peas used for this dish is actually a locally grown peas, which is impossible to obtain anywhere else. I figured, the closest legume would be black chickpeas, called Kala Chana at my local Indian store, a place where a lot of my ingredients come from in general.

Kala Chana, a black chickpeas, are not the same as your regular chickpeas. They have tougher skin, a more earthy flavor. You have to cook them longer too.

Traditionally, in Latvia, grey peas with bacon are served with a cup of buttermilk. I have to tell you, now from my own and my close folks experience, buttermilk comes with this dish as french fries with a ketchup, or milk with a cookie, and so on...

What is it?

It is a very simple fare - pre-cooked chickpeas are pan-fried together with some onion and bacon. 

Taste Description

Do I even have to mention how heavenly that flavor is coming from fried bacon? But, I'm sure, I have to let you know how perfect pairing of bacon-ised peas and cold, whole-milk buttermilk is. Especially if you were generous on a black pepper, when you were cooking peas. If this combination seems odd to you, try to think of it as sour cream, which goes hand -to-hand with most of Mexican dishes ;) 

How to Serve

- Serve hot, or warm, with a glass of cold, whole-milk buttermilk.
- To make a complete meal, serve on top of steamed rice.


- For myself, I cooked vegetarian version with olive oil and a lot of smoked paprika, added at the end. Yes, it has to be tried with a glass of nice buttermilk too!

- I'm sure, you can replace black chickpeas with a regular ones. It still will be fantastic. 

Latvian-like Chickpeas with Bacon

  • 3 cups cooked black chickpeas (1.5 uncooked)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb thinly or thickly slices bacon, cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • buttermilk (to serve with)
- I cook chickpeas in a pressure cooker without pre-soaking, in a lot of water and pinch of soda, for 1.5 hour.  For conventional way, soak chickpeas, with a pinch of soda, overnight. Then cook next day for about 2 hours until very soft inside (skin still will be a bit tough). 

- In a frying pan, cook onion and bacon until some fat will be rendered in a bottom.

- Rinse chickpeas and add it to a pan with onion and bacon. Cook on a medium heat to your liking - longer if you like it crunchier, less if you like it softer. Add salt and pepper at the end of cooking.

- It's done - enjoy!

In Pictures

This is bag from my black chickpeas I bought at Indian grocery store.

This is dry black chick peas.

In a pressure cooker, before cooking...

This is hickory smoked thin sliced bacon. Although I would recommend apple wood smoked bacon - it's the best.

No crime here to get onion and bacon in a pan at the same time...

Don't forget to rinse your chickpeas before adding to bacon and onion.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Tofu in Tomato and Peanut Butter Sauce

Vegetarians and adventurers! It's tofu again! Offering for you, easy to make,  delicious soul food you can prepare in a 15 minutes. 

Blog's Category: Healthy, International, My Own Fast and Easy, Vegetarian, Effortless


If you are lazy like me and like straightforward cooking... If you are often deterred from tofu recipes just because it starts with " remove extra-liquid.." , then this recipe is for you.  The best part of recipe - it will be ready in 15 minutes at most.

What is it?

Tofu cooked in a tomato paste, peanut butter based sauce.

Taste Description

Tender tofu pieces bathe in a bold and bright tomato-based sauce with a soft peanut butter flavor. Flavors of garlic and spices mingle together creating  intricate Indian-Thai fusion.

How to Serve

- It's really good served hot over bowl of pasta.
- My second choice would be serving it around blob of plain rice.
- In a real life, I devoured it with a piece of fresh baguette, enjoying plenty of sauce to dip my bread into.


I added kaffir lime leaves to add some Thai flavor I'm fan of. I usually buy them at oriental store nearby. If you don't have kaffir lime leaves, don't worry - there will be enough flavors to enjoy in this dish anyway.

Tofu in Tomato and Peanut Butter Sauce

  • 1 pack of tofu, sliced into 1" cubes
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tbs ground coriander
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1 tbs ground turmeric
  • 1 tbs smoked paprika
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
- In a frying pan, cook onion with olive oil until translucent and soft.

- Add garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, tomato sauce and paprika and cook, stirring, on a medium-low heat for 2 minutes.

- Add remaining ingredients, except tofu, bring to a boil and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes.

- Add tofu pieces, bring to a boil, then simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes.

- It's done - enjoy!

In Pictures

Did you tried it already? Still don't like tofu??

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Slow Roasted Eggplant Sticks

This really simple eggplant recipe will become your favorite way to cook eggplant.  It is my favorite so far. 

Blog's Category: Healthy, Hors D'oeuvre, My Own Fast and Easy, Vegetarian, Finger Food


*** The idea was to cook an eggplant, in a very simple way, to have nice and neat pieces of eggplant as a finger food. For this purpose, to dehydrate otherwise mushy eggplant, I decided to slow roast it. The result is awesome recipe that, for sure, is a keeper.

Yes, do not bother yourself by soaking eggplant in salted water, or anything like that. This recipe is very straightforward and does not require any extra manipulations and that's what I love about it - simplicity with a great result.

What is it?

Eggplant pieces, salted and peppered, roasted at low temperature for 1.5-2 hours, served with an optional, but very delicious, sauce.

Taste Description

Beneath near-dry surface of these slow roasted eggplant wedges, uncover tender buttery flesh of eggplant, with its subtle unique flavor, reinforced with a few sprinkles of smoked paprika and a killer medium-hot sauce you may want to smudge on everything you eat from now on.


- Omit smoked paprika, or replace it with your favorite table seasoning.
- As a dipping sauce, you may use any of your favorite sauces. Although I would recommend this one, below :)

How to Serve

- Serve warm, or at room temperature, or cold as an appetizer or side dish for meat. It will keep in a fridge for several days and can be great addition, or even main ingredient, for sandwiches.

Slow Roasted Eggplant Wedges

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • smoked paprika (optional)
Dipping Sause
  • 1 cup good mayonnaise
  • 2+ tsp sriratcha sauce (depending how spicy you like it)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated or finely minced
  • spicy Indian pickled vegetables, finely chopped (very optional :))
- Turn oven to 250F.

-  Cut off stem from your eggplants. Then slice each eggplant in half across (see pictures below). Slice each piece in half and then into wedges. 

- In a large bowl, shake eggplant with salt, pepper and olive oil.

- Turn over eggplant pieces into baking sheet. Turn pieces over, if needed, to have each wedge sitting skin down.

- Bake in preheated to 250F oven for about 1.5-2 hours until cooked through, surface is dry and edges are golden brown. Test with fork or toothpick, it should be very soft.

- Remove eggplant from an oven and let it cool down.

- Make sauce, mixing ingredients together.

- Sprinkle eggplant wedges with smoked paprika and serve with dipping sauce.

- Enjoy!



No need for additional handling of eggplant, such as getting rid of bitterness by salting and such. Trust me - just slice, season and pop in an oven :)

Rather than meticulously transferring pieces by piece from a bowl, just dump eggplant into baking sheet and fix all those unruly  to upright position:)

My favorite pieces - those with a lot of seeds (in a middle). They have that bonus seedy texture I adore.