From Dairy free

Pumpkin and eggplant curry

[ M A K I N G   A   F U S S   O F   F E N N E L ]

We’ve had a blast with wild fennel this summer. I think I’ll start claiming fennel [and blackberries] as residents of our vegetable garden. They grow better than anything I ever grow, and they need zero love! At the moment, those vibrant yellow ‘licorice’ flowers have all but disappeared and we are being treated to the tastiest fennel seeds. Hence this ‘curry’ [or some kind of an interpretation of a curry. I can’t attest to its authenticity, but I can attest to its tastiness]. And pumpkin seemed an obvious choice, given its abundance at the moment!



P U M P K I N   A N D   E G G P L A N T   C U R R Y  :

[serves 4 hungry adults]

P A S T E :

This paste can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. I make this amount, use half to make this curry and keep the rest for a soup paste or a meat rub a few days down the track.

  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 4 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp tumeric
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 heaped Tbsp tomato paste
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp fresh chilli/chilli flakes [optional, or add more to taste. Whatever it takes to keep your crowd happy]

Stir together, it should make a thick but mixable paste. [If using later, store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge. This will keep for a least a week].

T H E   R E S T :

  • 1 pumpkin, cut into 2cm chunks [or thereabouts]
  • 1 eggplant, cut into similar sized chunks
  • 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes [I used cherry tomatoes]
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 400 – 500ml coconut cream or milk [I love the AYAM brand, so i would use most of 2 x 270ml cans]
  • 1-2 Tbsp fish sauce [or to taste]
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar [or to taste]
  • Toasted cashews, coconut and shredded coriander [optional, we have none so I used parsley]
  • oil for cooking

M E T H O D :

Preheat oven to 100-150 ° C / 200-300 ° F / gas mark 1-2.

Scatter pumpkin on a roasting dish, drizzle with oil and toss pumpkin to coat each piece. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven, turning occasionally until pumpkin soft. They can sit in there for an hour or two, just check on them from time to time. [Cover with foil/baking paper if they are starting to get to crisp on the edges].

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add paste, stirring until aromatic. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Add eggplant and leave to do its thing- simmer until eggplant is soft and absolutely saturated in sauce. This can take some time, I like to walk away and let mine simmer away for at least an hour or so- but if you’re strapped for time, crank up the heat and have it ready sooner that that- just keep a watchful eye it doesn’t burn. Remove eggplant briefly, add coconut cream/milk, fish sauce and brown sugar. Best to do these last two in baby steps, you can always add more but hard to redeem a major over salting/sugaring! Once happy with how it tastes, return eggplant to pan and heat through again. You can stir pumpkin through briefly, if you wish.

Serve with rice. I like to cook mine with a small handful of shredded coconut. Sprinkle with nuts etc as desired.

[Because if all else fails, the kids will eat the rice. Ha. It’s true].


Crunchy noodle, beef and lettuce cups

This number was rustled up with the little people [around here] in mind. It also happened to win the big people over too. I mean, iceberg and crunchy noodles- what’s not to love?

Lettuce cups

C R U N C H Y   N O O D L E ,   B E E F   A N D   L E T T U C E   C U P S :

[serves 4]


  • 2-3 medium fillets rump/porterhouse steak
  • 3/4 cup / 6 fl oz. soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 heaped tablespoon brown sugar [or to taste]
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  • About 400g of dried fine thread noodles [or vermicilli makes a great GF alternative]. I don’t think it is possible to do too many, crunchy noodles always go down a treat.


  • handful of thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 capsicum, finely sliced
  • any other vegetables that take your fancy: I added peas


  • 1 iceberg lettuce [to make your cups]
  • generous handful of roasted peanuts [to sprinkle on top].


Trim excess fat off steak. Mix soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar and vinegar together in a shallow dish. Place steak into marinade, so each piece is soaking up the flavour. This step can be done the night before, the longer it is marinading the better- but a quick dip in the marinade prior to cooking will still be delish.

Carefully peel lettuce leaves from iceberg, doing your best to keep them in their ‘bowl’ like shape. Wash, dry and place out on bench for easy assembling.

Cook noodles in boiling water until soft. Transfer to oven tray and lightly oil. Place in 200° C / 400° F/ gas mark 6 until golden and crunchy on top. Remove from oven and set aside. [Vermicilli can be softened in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drained and placed aside].

Heat frypan/bbq over medium/high heat. Add a dash of oil. Add steak, cooking for about 2-3 minutes each side [or until cooked to your liking]. Remove from pan, cover and rest. Fry vegetables until lightly coloured and remove from heat. Finely slice steak up and toss throughout vegetables.

Add remaining marinade to fry pan, and heat through. You’ll dribble some over each lettuce cup once you’ve filled ’em up.

And… assemble! Or let the hungry peeps do it themselves, the kids have a bit of blast putting them together.

Ca-runch xx

Lettucecups2Lettuce cups1