<i>Nadia Lim's Fresh Start Cookbook<, by Nadia Lim. Random House NZ, $50.
Nadia Lim's Fresh Start Cookbook, by Nadia Lim. Random House NZ, $50. Photo: Tamara West

Chicken and spinach tikka masala with buttered lemon cauliflower rice

Serves 4

1 tbsp ​oil 
1 large, chopped onion
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground chilli 
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
zest of ½ lemon 
1 tsp salt
600g boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-3cm pieces
1 x 400g can crushed/chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce 
juice of ½ lemon
½ cup cream
3 large handfuls baby spinach, chopped
3-4 tbsp natural unsweetened yoghurt, to serve
¼-½ cup chopped coriander, to serve

One-pan Turkish eggs and chickpeas in smoky tomato sauce.
One-pan Turkish eggs and chickpeas in smoky tomato sauce. Photo: Tamara West

Buttered cauliflower rice:

1 head cauliflower, (about 750–800g including the stem), cut into florets
1 tbsp butter
zest of ½ lemon
¼-½ cup chopped coriander or flat-leaf parsley

Heat oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion for six to eight minutes until soft and starting to turn golden brown. Add spices, garlic, ginger, lemon zest and salt and continue cooking for a further one to two minutes. If at any time the onion or spices are catching on the bottom of the pan and burning, just add a tablespoon or two of water, stir, and it should lift from the bottom of the pan.

Date and cashew caramel chocolate slice.
Date and cashew caramel chocolate slice. Photo: Tamara West

Add chicken, tomatoes, sweet chilli sauce, lemon juice and cream, cover and simmer for five to 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and sauce has slightly thickened. Stir through spinach until wilted, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently swirl through yoghurt.

To make the cauliflower rice, briefly blitz cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles the texture of rice or couscous. You may have to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the food processor. Transfer to a glass or microwavable bowl and microwave on high, uncovered, for a few minutes (this steams the cauliflower and evaporates extra moisture to make it fluffy). Toss hot cauliflower rice with butter and coriander or parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon some cauliflower rice and chicken tikka masala onto each plate. Garnish with a little yoghurt and coriander.

Chicken and spinach tikka masala with buttered lemon cauliflower rice.
Chicken and spinach tikka masala with buttered lemon cauliflower rice. Photo: Tamara West

TIP: If you don't have a food processor, you can coarsely grate the cauliflower to resemble rice, or even very finely chop it using a large, sharp knife.

Date and cashew caramel chocolate slice

Makes: 25 pieces

Base: 

¾ cup fine rolled oats
¾ cup desiccated coconut
1 tbsp good-quality dark cocoa or raw cacao powder
6 medjool dates, pitted
½ cup raw natural almonds
pinch of salt
6 tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted

Filling:

1 x 400g packet dried pitted dates 
¾ cup boiling water
2 cups raw natural cashew nuts, soaked (see tip below)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract or essence

Chocolate topping:

100-120g good-quality dark eating chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) 
1 tbsp coconut oil 

Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm square baking tin. Place oats, coconut, cocoa, dates, almonds and salt in a food processor and blitz to a fine, crumbly texture. Drizzle in melted coconut oil or butter and pulse until well combined and the mixture holds together when pressed between your fingers. Press mixture firmly into the prepared tin using the back of a wet spoon or spatula.

Place dried dates and water in a medium-sized saucepan and boil, stirring frequently, until the dates are very soft and mushed up, and all the water has evaporated. Place dates in the food processor along with soaked cashew nuts, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla. Blitz for a few minutes until smooth.

Spread caramel evenly over the base in the tin. Place in the freezer for at least 4 hours or until quite firm.

Once the caramel has set, melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a glass bowl set above a small saucepan of simmering water. Mix in oil – this softens the chocolate a little, so it doesn't set too hard. Pour melted chocolate over the filling and spread out evenly. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes until the chocolate is firm.

Cut into 25 pieces using a sharp knife dipped in hot water in between each cut. It can be easier to cut it upside down. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks, or longer in the freezer.

TIP: Soak cashew nuts in cold water for at least eight hours, or boil in water for 15 minutes, then drain. This softens the cashews, giving them a creamy texture when blended.

If you don't have a food processor, you can make this in a blender by roughly chopping the dates and blending with the almonds, then mixing with remaining base ingredients. To make the topping in a blender, blend cashew nuts, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla until smooth, then mix well with dates.

One-pan Turkish eggs and chickpeas in smoky tomato sauce

Serves  4

1 tbsp ​olive oil 
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp tomato paste
½-1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
1 x 400g can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup water
1 x 390g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 free-range eggs
30g feta, crumbled
¼ cup coriander or flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until soft, three to four minutes. Add cumin and smoked paprika and cook for one minute. Stir in tomato paste, chilli flakes, if using, crushed tomatoes, water and chickpeas. Simmer for four to five minutes until sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Use a wooden spoon to create four "pockets" in the sauce and carefully crack one egg into each pocket. Cover frying pan with a lid and steam over low heat for seven to 10 minutes until whites are just set but yolks are still runny (or cook a little longer if you prefer a firmer yolk).

To serve, spoon some smoky tomato sauce, chickpeas and an egg onto each plate. Crumble over feta and garnish with coriander or parsley.

TIP: The chickpea sauce freezes well, so you can simply heat it up and add the eggs to it for a quick meal.

Nadia Lim's Fresh Start Cookbook, by Nadia Lim. Random House NZ, $50. See: nadialim.com