Mira Manek

mira manekIndian food is often seen as being a very heavy and oily cuisine, yet in its essence, it is enriching, nutritious and light. And this is the perception I want to change. As a teenager, when my body started to change and I had digestion and skin problems, I thought the answer was to ditch 'oily Indian food'. It took me some time to realise that feeding my body with processed foods that are low in fat and in fact high in sugar was not the answer.

This is what inspired me to transform my attitude, and yoga played a key role in taking me back to my own home cooked food, the food that my mother, my grandmother and aunts have always made. So, starting with my family's trousseau of recipes, I began to tweak ingredients here and there and in doing so, realised the endless possibilities using the wealth of spices and ingredients in my home kitchen.

It was here that my debut cookbook Green Daal Stories (due out later this year) and the concept of my products, Spice Bites, Coco Fudge and Chai Chia was born. My three products came about by wanting to create something for myself that I could carry around in my bag and have with my tea or coffee whilst on the go to satisfy that sweet craving. There's no refined sugar, dairy or gluten in any of these and they've quickly become popular at some of London's healthiest eateries from Raw Press Co. Dover Street and Jivamukti Yoga to Holborn Dining Rooms at Rosewood Hotel and Department of Coffee.

With my expanding range of products, menu collaborations with restaurants and cafes (Holborn Dining Rooms, Rosewood Hotel & Raw Press, Mayfair), my wellness events and supperclubs, I want to continue to experiment with grains, lentils and the incredible spices, and bring about a new concept of Indian food, healthy, not heavy, and retaining all the richness of flavour and spice.

For more recipes and information check out Mira's website at www.miramanek.com

Mira's recipes

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Date kheer with wild rice and dark chocolate

Bombay sweet potatoes

No-bake superfood flapjack

Seared cauliflower with turmeric, tahini and miso

Date kheer with wild rice and dark chocolate
Gluten free, wheat free, soya free, dairy free, egg free
Serves 2

date kheer with wild rice I had set out to make this a cardamom kheer sweetened with dates, but the nibs of chopped dark chocolate sprinkled on top, albeit a small amount, overpowered the other flavours – a pleasant and welcome surprise. The touch of cardamom remained just that, a touch. And I quite like the light combination of cardamom and dark chocolate.

Traditionally, kheer, or rice pudding, is made of white rice soaked in milk, with a bit of saffron and cardamom, and of course sugar. Wild rice takes much longer to cook than white rice, but it is higher in protein, containing all of the essential amino acids, low in fat and a little more chewy, which I love. I've never used coconut cream, but saw it in the fridge and added a small amount. It added a delicious richness, especially if serving as a hot dessert, and the dark chocolate finished it off with a hint of indulgence.

This is great for a filling weekend breakfast or to serve as a hot dessert. Drop a few raspberries before serving, add chopped dark chocolate, and as an afterthought, some toasted coconut flakes.

70g wild rice
1 litre water

500ml almond milk
50g dates, finely chopped
½ teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons coconut cream
20g dark chocolate
8-10 raspberries

  1. Cook the wild rice in water on low heat. This should take around 45-60 minutes.
  2. Once cooked, pour in the almond milk, cardamom, coconut cream and dates.
  3. Continue to cook and stir for around 15 minutes.
  4. Serve with chopped dark chocolate and few raspberries.


Bombay sweet potatoes
Gluten free, wheat free, soya free, egg free

This tangy masala mix of sweet potatoes with a slight crunch of onion and peanuts is as indulgent as it is healthy. It works as an impressive entrée, a tasty side dish or a light meal, and it's incredibly quick and easy to make. What really gives this dish its rich flavour is the tandoori paste, a vibrant mix of spices, tamarind, ginger and garlic, which can be found in most supermarkets. The onions are cooked separately so that they retain that crunch when serving.bombay sweet potatoes

250g sweet potato
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1 small onion, roughly chopped
3 teaspoons tandoori paste
2 tablespoons yoghurt
½ green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
handful roasted peanuts
coriander for garnishing
½ lime

  1. Chop the sweet potatoes into small cubes, then heat the oil in a pan on low heat and add the cumin seeds.
  2. When they are brown, add the grated or chopped garlic and let this cook until slightly brown (less than a minute) before adding the sweet potato and salt.
  3. Stir and let this cook leaving the lid on the pan on low heat for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked, checking and stirring the potatoes every few minutes.
  4. While the sweet potato cooking, mix the tandoori paste with yoghurt in a small bowl. Now cook the onions in a separate pan with a teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt.
  5. When they are slightly brown, pour in the tandoori paste and yoghurt mixture. Stir together and cook for a couple of minutes.
  6. The potatoes should now be cooked – you can check if they are soft using a fork or knife.
  7. Pour the onion, tandoori paste and yoghurt mixture into the sweet potato, add the chopped green chillies and stir together for just a minute.
  8. Add chopped or halved peanuts, coriander and a slice of lime when serving.


No-bake superfood flapjack
Gluten free, wheat free, nut free, soya free, dairy free, egg free

superffod flapjackI love to bake muffins or cookies on weekends when my nephews stay over. I was about to google healthy date cookies, when I had an idea. I tried something entirely new – an experiment with chickpea flour that turned out even better than I'd imagined.

Both of them had three or four each and my sister has now asked me to make these weekly as a healthy snack on the go. Nothing could make me happier!

This is exactly what I'm trying to do – make Indian food super healthy and nutritious while maintaining, even enhancing the flavours with the natural sweetness of dates, using coconut oil instead of butter, and still keeping the base… in this case, of protein-rich and gluten-free chickpea flour.

80g coconut oil
100g chickpea flour
100g dates
30g oats
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger powder

  1. Start by melting the coconut oil in a large pan, then pour in the chickpea flour and start stirring on low heat.
  2. While stirring, warm the dates in a separate pan on low heat so they melt easily when added to the chickpea flour and coconut oil mixture. Leave aside.
  3. You will need to continuously stir the chickpea flour mixture for around 15 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken and you notice the colour change very slightly from yellow to orange/light brown.
  4. You can now add the warmed dates and stir them until they melt. The mixture need not be entirely smooth.
  5. Now add the oats, the pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and ginger powder, and stir everything together.
  6. Lay the mixture in a flat pan or baking tray and let it cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into pieces and eating.


Seared cauliflower with turmeric, tahini and miso
Gluten free, wheat free, egg free, nut free

Turmeric stirred through cauliflower always makes it taste and look like a curry, but here, while using turmeric in cooking the cauliflower, I've then added a tahini and miso sauce over the top, which alters the flavour entirely. And lastly the furikake mix, which is one of my favourite seasonings these days – the salt and pepper of Japan, a mixture of sesame seeds, nori seaweeed and red shiso leaves which can be added to absolutely anything. I quite love this as a starter or a side dish… a delectable fusion of sorts.

seared cauliflower with tuemeric, tahini and misoIngredients
1 cauliflower
¼ teaspoon coconut oil
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon salt

For the sauce
1 teaspoon miso paste
1 teaspoon tahini
2 tablespoons yoghurt
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon soy sauce

For garnishing
Mix of sesame seeds or Furikake mix

  1. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces, heat the oil in a pan on low
    heat and add the cauliflower pieces.
  2. Now add the turmeric and salt and stir thoroughly.
  3. Leave this to cook on low heat for around 15-20 minutes, stirring and checking every few minutes.
  4. While this is cooking, you can make the sauce by mixing together all the ingredients
    for the sauce.
  5. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower pieces and garnish with the furikake mix before serving.

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