The weather is definitely changing now in London. The autumn leaves are starting to pop out and there is rain…..lots of it.

You may have seen in a previous post of mine about the concept of healthyish, that is, trying to be healthy most of the time, but you can indulge sometimes (as frankly life is too short to be super good 100% of the time).  I’m hoping this recipe combines a bit of healthy and not so healthy – as I’ve tried to make the dhal a healthy soup and I have added barley for some wholegrain goodness (but it’s not so healthy if you eat it with Malaysian roti canai bread).

Living a busy corporate life in London also makes it hard for theveggie and I to cook something up quickly during the weeknights that is vegetarian friendly and filling. This soup freezes beautifully, so suggest you double the portion and freeze and also keep some bread rolls in the freezer. That way, you will not have an excuse to spend yet another £20 on deliveroo for two out of sheer exhaustion.

Serves 4
Time to cook: About 45 minutes


2 medium sized carrots diced
1/2 a celery diced
3/4 cup red lentils
1/2 cup barley
1/2 tsp cumin power
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 an onion diced
5-6 curry leaves (I’ve used dried curry leaves from the supermarket, fresh leaves are of course better)
1 large tomato chopped into quarters or 6-8 cherry tomatoes
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
800ml – 1 litre of water
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt to taste (depending how salty your stock cube is)
Coriander to garnish
Bread to serve – healthier option is a wholemeal bread roll, frozen roti canai the more ‘Malaysian style’

Snapshot of the ingredients needed


  1. Add 1/2 cup of your washed barley to 3 cups of water and let it boil on a medium heat for 30 minutes, then rinse in cold water and leave aside. (This can be done earlier in the day or the day before).
  2. Whilst the barley is cooking, dice the onion, carrot and celery. Set aside.
  3. Add your stock cube to 500ml of boiled water and leave aside.
  4. Add the oil to your soup pot, then add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Cook for a minute until the mustard seeds start to ‘pop’.
  5. Add onions and brown until semi soft.
  6. Add the carrot and celery and stir for about 3-4 minutes. If the consistency seems a bit dry and your pot is getting too brown, add a bit of the stock to braise the vegetables.
  7. Add your tomatoes and stir for another 1-2 minutes.
  8. Add the dhal with the 500ml of stock and simmer for 15 minutes on a medium heat.
  9. After 15 minutes is up, add the barley that you have cooked earlier as well as an additional 300ml of water. If you prefer a more watery soup, you can add 500ml at this point.
  10. Simmer for another 20-25 minutes on a low to medium heat.
  11. Serve up, garnish with coriander and enjoy with your bread of choice.

I discovered quinoa a couple of years ago at an Ottolenghi restaurant in London. I was instantly baffled by this ingredient –  it was so tasty, so filling and I felt ever so virtuous that it was considered a superfood. In my quest to find the perfect way to prepare a quinoa salad, I’ve come up with this recipe which has been a hit with both my Asian family and British/Australian family and friends. I was pretty chuffed when mum told me she liked the salad, she’s an incredibly tough food critic and when I heard she started making this for her friends I knew I was onto something. What I also like about this recipe is that it can be made veggie, gluten and dairy free and it is delicious.

This salad is fabulous at a BBQ in summer or for a home meal this goes really well with baked salmon or grilled halloumi. What I like about this is it kills two birds with one stone, you don’t need additional potatoes or some form of carbohydrate with your salad as the quinoa is this magical ingredient that is both protein and carbohydrate.

Salad ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa (white)
I cube of chicken stock (vegetarian stock cube for the vegetarian option)
I bag mixed salad leaves
1 packed cup of parsley and coriander
3 tablespoons of Asian fried onions to sprinkle on top (optional)
2 tablespoons cashew nuts to sprinkle on top
1 punnet vine ripened cherry/plum tomatoes – chopped into halves
1/2 a large cucumber cut into slices and then quartered

Sauce ingredients

2 tablespoons thai chilli sweet sauce
1 tablespoon soya sauce, or tamari if you are gluten free
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon mirin


  1. Soak the quinoa for 15 minutes and then rinse thoroughly through a sift well. This is an important step. The skin of the quinoa has a kind of chemical that is bitter and also it can cause a reaction and cause allergies if not cleaned properly for those that are ultra sensitive.
  2. You can cook quinoa the traditional way over the stove but I’ve discovered a secret way of cooking it very effectively – cook it like rice in a rice cooker with the appropriate amount of water on your rice cooker measurer and add the chicken/veg stock cube at the same time to cook.
  3. Whilst the quinoa is cooking, prepare the salad – add the salad leaves, chopped tomatoes, cucumber and herbs.
  4. To prepare the sauce, mix all the ingredients together. If you prefer the recipe to have more saucy flavour, you can double the recipe.
  5. Once the quinoa is cooked, cool it down to room temperature.
  6. Now add the quinoa to the salad mixture and toss in the sauce. Once done add the nuts and   fried onions to the top.
  7. You can now serve this dish with salmon, grilled halloumi or on its own

The good news about this salad is that it keeps well in the fridge and can be made the day before. Just add the cashew nuts and onions just before serving. Leftovers are also great for a packed lunch.

Salmon quinoa

Salmon and quinoa salad

Halloumi and quinoa

Halloumi with quinoa salad


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