Chickpea Pilau

An easy pilau recipe that is syn free if you are following Slimming World.

Serves: 4

Syns: FREE

Time Taken: 30-45 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 black cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 green chilli, whole
  • 1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained

Method

Spray a pan with plenty of spray oil. Add onions, salt and cumin seeds. Cook until onions are browned (this may take a while, be patient), add hot water as needed to the pan to stop onions from sticking to the pan. Add the ginger/garlic paste.

Add the chilli, cardamoms and cloves, followed by the garam masala and black pepper. Cook the spices for a few minutes before adding the stock.

Remove the whole spices (cardamoms and cloves) and add the chickpeas. Let most of the water evaporate before closing the lid and cook on a low heat for around 15 minutes.

Afrikana (Birmingham) Review

My Rating: 4.2/5

Family Friendly: Yes (but tight for pushchairs/wheelchairs)

Address: 355 Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham. B12 8LA (Next door to Sweet, opposite Chaiwalla)

Parking: None- limited on street parking. Ladypool road is busy, plan to park and walk.

Payment: Cash and Cards accepted

I went to Afrikana’s opening night having won their Instagram competition to win a complimentary meal for two. I must stress although I didn’t pay for the meal this is an unbiased review and in no way influenced by Afrikana or anyone who works there.

Afrikana is a restaurant offering a Afro-Caribbean cuisine with an emphasis on chicken, peri peri chicken to be exact. Already established franchises can be found in Walsall and Shrewsbury. It’s located on what is now (finally!) the one way section of Ladypool Road, for many of you familiar with the area it’s near Truburger, Toros and Fargos. Head that way, park considerately on a side street and enjoy the stroll to the restaurant.

interior

Interior

As we approached on the restaurant we could hear the live band playing outside the restaurant, a nice touch for opening night. We were greeted by a couple of members of staff and we were taken to a table for 2 deep inside the restaurant. Our seating was cramped and for me it was way too close to the couple to my left, my husband’s seat was squashed in as there was someone right behind him. The worst was the table, what is worse in a newly opened restaurant than a wobbly table?

I mentioned this to Muhammad, our waiter who had introduced himself, and he spoke to a manager and we were grateful to be moved straight to a booth. Much more comfortable, much more spacious. Fantastic.

Menus in hand we started to make our choices from the provided selection, settling on the lamb chops and tiger prawns to start with. To me the starter section seemed fairly generic, although they had an Afrikana twist in terms of sauces and flavours, but I was expecting more specific unique starters than those presented. In fact I was surprised not to find Mogo chips on the extras menu, you’ve got multiple types of fries but no Mogo chips! Yikes.

Starters

The tiger prawns were served with salad and a mayonnaise based sauce, they were really succulently juicy and smothered in a sauce containing sliced peppers. I was happy the prawns weren’t dried out as they often are, these were fantastic.

Tiger Prawn starter

The lamb chops were great and cooked as medium, a single starter consisted of 4 chops served on a (rather large) bed of salad leaves. Combined with the provided Afrikana sauce this was a good starter.

Lamb Chops starter

Mains

There was quite a selection to choose from for mains – from chicken, burgers & wraps, speciality range, sharing meals and even a good variety of vegetarian meals to choose from. We couldn’t decide what to chose and eventually ended choosing what we normally wouldn’t have. Although we loved what we had chosen, I wish I had chosen chicken instead! I could see into the kitchen as all meals were coming out to be served and the chicken platters looked absolutely amazing! I’ll have to visit again soon to try one.

I had the chilli with rice as my main – as you can see in the picture it was served in a rounded pot on a large plate together with some yoghurt and some flat bread. I did ask if you should eat from the pot or empty it out onto your plate and I was told either way is perfectly fine. If you do keep it in the pot it will definitely stay warmer for longer.

I liked the chilli a lot as it’s not something I find on menus very often and it was a joy to eat, the taste was consistent and the spices were balanced very well.

chillichilli

We Goat your back

A deliciously slow cooked, fall off the bone goat curry with Afrikana rice served with a side salad, olives and flat bread. Although it doesn’t seem like a lot of rice and meat is provided it works like a black hole, the deeper you go the more there seems to be. The meat was flavoured with Afrikana sauce and it was in chunky pieces, piping hot below the surface and was easy to bite into without much effort. The rice was again Afrikana style and was quite peppery in taste but went well with the meat.

We goat your back

Desserts

None on offer. Plenty of dessert options at Sweet next door, you’ve also got Icestone Gelato and Heavenly Desserts literally 1 minute away.

Drinks

Surprisingly just bottomless soft drinks available, nothing else on offer. This might be because we were there at opening night so the drinks situation may change over time. Tap water served.

Other

There is disabled access from the street but seemingly no separate disabled toilet. It is cramped inside with booths and tables/chairs in close proximity so a wheelchair user may have issues manoeuvring in.

There are a large number of booths which can probably sit a maximum of 5 comfortably and an area towards the back right side with tables and chairs. The chairs are very comfortable, the kind you can sit in for many hours.

There’s a single toilet for males and a single one for females. That’s it. No other facilities.

The venue plays themed music over a sound system and it is quite loud, it was sometimes difficult to heat each other.

My Rating

My 4.2 rating for Afriakana is based mainly on 3 criteria, but I factor in additional observances such as cleanliness, location etc.

Food: 4.3/5

Service: 4.4/5

Atmosphere: 4.0/5

 

Kheema Biryani

I love a good biriyani and this recipe is so easy to make and perfect for us slimmers. All the taste without any of the syns!

Serves: 4

Syns: FREE

Time Taken: 45-60 minutes

Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

  • 1 kg chicken mince
  • 2-3 onions, chopped
  • green chillies, to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garlic/ginger paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • Food colouring deep orange or yellow, just a few drops
  • 4 cups of white rice
  • Low calorie cooking spray

Method

Put mince and all the spices in pan, add enough water to cover mince meat and cook for around 30 minutes.

Boil the rice separately. In a pan of boiling salted water, add your rice and cook for about 8 minutes. You do not want to cook the rice fully at this stage. Once cooked, drain the water off the rice and place the rice in a colander.

In the pan you cooked the rice, spray the bottom and sides of it with a low calorie cooking spray. Put in a layer of the rice at the bottom of pan then layer some keema on top and layer again with rice and sprinkle with both food colours then keep repeating the method until rice/keema finishes ending with rice.

Cook for about 20 minutes on low heat.

Firecracker Chicken

Last night I decided to try another one of Spicentice kits – Firecracker Chicken! I adapted the ingredients slightly to adjust to what I had at home and it was delicious.

I thought Firecracker Chicken sounded spicy and was worried that the hubby would find it too spicy but it had just the right amount for him and the kids. I added chilli flakes to mine as I love hot food! I eat super spicy food so for me this was a mild spice kit but I know many will probably find this just right for them. Below is the list of ingredients you will need to make this recipe with the spice kit, it is quite a straightforward recipe.

I used Crucials Chilli Ketchup for an added spicy kick but you can use just regular ketchup. Remember to double check syn values for yourself as different brands of sauces vary in syn values.

We all loved this meal and would have it again.

Enjoy x

Spicentice Firecracker Chicken

Spicentice Firecracker Chicken

Serves: 4

Syns: 2 syns per serving

Time Taken: 45 minutes (plus marinade time)

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 lime
  • Spring onions
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • Spicentice Firecracker Sachet
  • Jasmine rice to serve

 

Firecracker Chicken with Jasmine Rice

Firecracker Chicken with Jasmine Rice

Method

Chop the pepper and onion into quarters, and chicken into bite sized chuncks.

In a large bowl add the tomato ketchup, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, the juice of 1 lime, 100ml water and Spicentice Firecracker Sachet. Then add 1/2 tbsp. ginger/garlic paste and the chicken. Mix all ingredients together and leave to marinade for at least 15 minutes.

Heat low cal spray oil in a wok over a medium heat. Add the remaining ginger/garlic paste and stir fry for a few seconds. Scoop out the chicken from the marinade and stir fry until the chicken is almost cooked through.

Add plain flour to the leftover marinade sauce and whisk thoroughly. Add to wok with extra water if needed (100ml). Allow to simmer, then add the onions, peppers and peas. Stir fry for 5-10 minutes and then garnish with spring onions.

Serve Spicentice Firecracker Chicken with Jasmine Rice.

Black Eye Bean & Coconut Curry

This is one of my favourite curries I loved eating when I was younger. The version I used to have would be a lot higher in syns so this is a SW friendly version I’ve adapted. The way my mum used to make this was a lot more complicated and she used some more spices but I find this way works well too.

I had a few people messaging me saying this is an odd combo but I don’t see how it is odd. Maybe because of my background I’m used to having a variety of different foods from different parts of the world that this is just another meal for me. I don’t know where it originates from but I am sure this type of curry is eaten a lot!

It is easy and very economical to make too. We have this served with boiled rice and masala fish.

Black Eye Bean Curry with Coconut

Black Eye Bean Curry with Coconut

 

Serves: 4

Syns: 2.5 syns per serving

Time Taken: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • Pinch of cumin seeds and chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. ginger/garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder (or more if you prefer spicy)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 2 tins of black eye beans, drained
  • 200ml reduced fat coconut milk
  • 5g desiccated coconut
  • fresh coriander, to garnish

Method

Fry the onions with the cumin seeds and chilli flakes (if using) and the ginger/garlic till the onions have softened and are lightly golden.

Add the curry powder and salt to taste and fry for a further 5 minutes stirring constantly. If the spices start to stick to the pan, add a little hot water and keep stirring.

Add the tomato puree and the beans with the coconut milk and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Once the curry is done, you can garnish it with fresh, chopped coriander and serve it with boiled rice.

Easy Risotto

Serves: 1

Syns: 1 syn plus healthy extra A choice

Time Taken: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 100g risotto rice
  • 350-400ml hot stock
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Very Lazy chopped chilli
  • Handful of frozen peas
  • 2 Najma Foods Turkey rashers
  • 30g Primula cheese with Jalapenos

 

Risotto Ingredients

Risotto Ingredients

Method

Fry the chopped onion in a pan with low calorie cooking spray oil till it softens. Add the chilli and mix.

Add the risotto rice and the stock, a few tablespoons at a time, whilst stirring the whole time. If the rice is not cooked after you’ve used all the stock, add a little more stock till it is cooked. It should take around 30 minutes to cook the rice.

Add a handful of frozen peas towards the last few minutes of cooking the rice and mix in the cheese.

Fry the turkey rasher separately and add to the risotto once it is ready. Each turkey rasher is 0.5 syn, you can use more if you wish just remember to count the syns accordingly.

Easy Risotto

Easy Risotto

 

Khichdi – Rice with Lentils

Serves: 4

Syns: FREE

Time Taken: 30 minutes plus soaking time

Difficulty: Easy

Khichdi with Kheema

Khichdi with Kheema

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup yellow lentils
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. ginger/garlic paste
  • cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • a pinch of turmeric

Method

Soak the rice and lentils in cold water for 30 minutes.

Fry the onion for around 5 minutes to soften them before adding the ginger/garlic paste, cumin seeds, green chilli, cloves, cinnamon stick and turmeric. Stir fry them for a couple of minutes before adding the rice & lentils (drain the water first) to the pan.

Mix everything well together and cover with 3 cups of boiling water. Season to taste. Cover the lid and cook the rice and lentils on a low heat for around 20-25 minutes, or until all the water has evaporated.

I like to serve this rice with kheema but it is lovely on its own too.

Peri Peri Chicken & Rice

Serves: 4

Syns: 1.5 syns per serving

Time Taken: 60-75 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Peri Peri Chicken & Rice

Peri Peri Chicken & Rice

 

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 4 pieces of skinless chicken legs
  • Encona Peri Peri sauce (to taste, 1tbsp is 1.5 syns)
  • 2 Maggie seasoning cubes, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp Peri Peri seasoning

For the rice

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp Peri Peri seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • Handful of frozen peas & sweet corn

Method

Mix all the marinade ingredients for the chicken together and rub it all over the chicken pieces.

Let it marinade for a few hours if time permits.

Pre heat the oven and cook the chicken for around 45 minutes till it is mostly cooked.

Remove from the oven and grill the chicken till it is fully cooked, around 30 minutes, turning the chicken often and brushing it with the Encona Peri Peri sauce.

For the rice, spray a pan with plenty of low cal cooking spray and gently fry the onion with the carrot for a few minutes.

Add the tomato puree, Peri Peri seasoning and chilli flakes and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the rice alongside the stock, stir and let it cook for around 15 minutes on a low heat with the lid on the pan.

Add the frozen peas & sweet corn towards the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Caribbean Rice Salad

Serves: 4

Syns: FREE

Time Taken: less than 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Caribbean Rice Salad

Caribbean Rice Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked basmati rice
  • 1 fresh mango, diced
  • 1 fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • Seasoning to taste

Method

Cook the rice, drain and rinse under cold running water.

Mix the rice and all the ingredients together in a large bowl and season to taste.

Chicken Pilau

Serves: 4

Syns: FREE

Time Taken: 60 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Chicken Pilau

Chicken Pilau

 

Ingredients

  • 3 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1 packet Laziza Yakhni Pilau spice mix
  • 100g 0% Greek yogurt
  • 2 cubes Maggie seasoning (optional)
  • 3 chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 cups rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes

Method

Spray a large pan with plenty of low calorie cooking spray. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes.

Add cumin seeds and chilli flakes and continue to cook the onions till golden brown (around 15 minutes). Use hot water if the onions start to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add the chicken, ginger/garlic paste, Maggie cubes (if using, or use salt to taste) and one packet of the Laziza spice mix. Fry until the chicken has browned all over before adding the yogurt. Cook for 10 minutes then add 4 cups of boiling water to the chicken. Check for seasoning and add the drained water.

Cook the rice on high heat till most of the water has evaporated then place the lid on the pan and cook on a low heat for 25 minutes or until all the water has evaporated and the rice and chicken is cooked.