What COVID-19 taught us

It’s really hard to believe that it’s nearly October and autumn is here.

This obviously means big woolly jumpers, warm snuggly socks, pumpkin lattes and the crisp autumn air. Literally ALL of our (more so mine) favourite things.

This year has been crazy to say the least. We went from January, February straight to quarantine and somehow ended up in September.

It’s been a long hard road and from the looks of it, it isn’t over.

I don’t know about you but we learnt many lessons from this year and I thought it would be worthwhile to share a few things I have focused on during lockdown that have helped me change the way I deal with many things.

Gratitude.

Always be grateful. There are so many people who are in worse situations then you. We learnt the importance of gratitude more than ever as frontline doctors. Being on the frontline taught us that life is not guaranteed and that being healthy, having a meal, travelling or being able to help is a gift in itself. I brought a gratitude diary and started writing about the 3 things I was grateful for every day. It’s a great way to remind yourself of all your blessings if you are having a bad day.

I have linked the Gratitude Journal I mentioned below.

Gratitude Journal

Appreciation.

The feeling of thankfulness. Appreciate your partner, your mother, your father, your siblings, your friends, your colleagues. Life’s short so make the most of having all your loved ones around you. Appreciate where you at this very moment in time. It may be hard and it may feel like it’s never going to get better but trust me, appreciate the trials as they will shape you and make you thankful for everything you have in your life.

Kindness.

It goes a long way and can change someone’s day. It can be a smile, a hello or even a quick phone call to a friend to ask if they’re okay, or if they need anything. Baking for your neighbour or flowers for your mum. It’s sometimes difficult to be kind with your words. Your tone and facial expressions rely heavily on how you come across so mean what you say and don’t be kind for the sake of reward. Finally don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself, allow yourself the time to relax and recuperate. Give yourself the same kindness you have for others.

Balance.

Oh I used to be so bad at this one a couple of months ago. I felt like I had to do everything in a certain amount of time so I used to rush. I would want EVERYTHING to be perfect – the house, my work, my cooking, my baking and the list goes on. I was sleeping less, was always tired, eating junk, not exercising enough and then there was the lockdown. In my head having a balance meant the scales had to be ‘perfectly’ even but that’s not the case. I now understand that having a balance means I will spread my housework over the week, I will bake on my days off only, I will meal prep, I will exercise and sleep on time as they are both important to me. Balance means making time for the things that make you happy without compromising. Be organised, slow down, enjoy and make time for the things you love.

Self-care.

This is so important. Take yourself out for the day, eat well, treat yourself to a massage or stay at home and watch films all day. You care for everyone else so why not care for yourself. The better version you are of yourself, the more able you are to help others. Self-care also means looking after your mental health. Everyone feels low in mood from time to time and that is absolutely normal. Things can get too much and if that happens then you are allowed to take time off work. Only because it cannot be seen, does not mean it isn’t a valid health problem. Don’t forget that your GP is always available to talk to you about how you feel and if needed you can also contact Healthy Minds to have a chat to someone (all confidential).

Belief.

Even though I have mentioned this last, this is perhaps one of the most important things I have held onto from a very young age. Trust, faith and confidence that something bigger or better will happen. My belief stems from my religion of Islam and prayer has shaped me to always believe that whatever is happening is happening for the best. In Arabic we call this ‘Tawakkul’. We all navigate and make sense of this complex world in many different ways but whatever way we do this, there is always a belief that everything will get better. And it will get better. COVID -19 will disappear, our lives will be back to normal but we will always remember what we went through and the experiences will shape us to become better version of ourselves.

We really hope our little post helps you.

Stay safe and save lives. ❤️

Creamy Butter Chicken

We were thinking about blogging the perfect BBQ but considering the weathers a bit miserable at the moment we thought we’d go all traditional and write about the tasty punjabi delicacy that is Creamy Butter Chicken.

Spicy, warm and oozing with butter, this rainy day delight goes perfect with homemade chapatti or naan bread. It is slightly calorific but we assure you that you will have no regrets once you taste this dish!

Give it a try and let us know how it goes.

You won’t be disappointed!

You will need to follow our tandoori chicken recipe for this dish. Press on the link below.

The Perfect Tandoori Chicken

Creamy Tomato Gravy

Ingredients:

1 tbsp oil

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp cardamom, crushed

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp ginger and garlic paste

1/2 tsp garam masala powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp chilli powder (optional)

1 tsp salt (to taste)

2 tbsp tomato puree

284ml single cream

1 tbsp milk

3/4 tbsp sugar

Coriander to garnish

Recipe:

1. Follow The perfect Tandoori Chicken recipe. See the link above. This can be done a few hours in advance. Once the chicken is cooked, set aside and proceed to make the spicy tomato sauce below

2. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, add the oil, butter, cardamom and cinnamon stick and fry for 20 seconds then add the onions, ginger/garlic paste and salt. Sauté for 5-7 mins on a medium heat until they take on a light brown colour.

3. Add the chilli powder (optional), garam masala powder and coriander powder along with the tomato puree. Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes.

4. Gradually add the single cream stirring continuously to mix all the spices with the cream. Add the milk and sugar then allow to simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes.

5. Add the roasted chicken and stir to coat each piece.

6. Garnish with coriander and serve with fresh naan bread or chapati.

The Perfect Tandoori Chicken

THIS is a dinner party and BBQ essential. It’s super easy to make and can be made in advance. Healthy, spicy and amazingly good, this is perfect with a salad, naan bread or great when added to a spicy tomato gravy.

Ingredients:

500 grams skinless chicken breast or thigh- any size

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp greek yoghurt

2 tbsp chickpea flour/gram flour

2 tsp ginger and garlic paste

2 cloves of garlic chopped or 1 tsp dry garlic granules

1 green chilli chopped

1 tsp mild paprika

1 tsp salt (to taste)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp cumin powder

½ tsp chilli powder optional (to taste)

1 tsp garam masala powder

1 tsp coriander powder

2 tbsp chaat masala

Pinch cinnamon powder

Pinch of saffron crushed

Fresh coriander

Butter mixed with olive oil, lemon and pinch of paprika for basting

Recipe:

1. Add all of the above ingredients to form a thick paste like consistency.

2. Slice the pieces of chicken with small shallow cuts. This will allow the marinade to reach every part of the chicken. Stir well and tip in the chicken pieces and mix well making sure to coat them in the thick marinade.

Thick paste like marinade

3. Leave to marinate for a few hours or even overnight if you prefer.

4. When ready to roast, preheat the oven to 180C/fan/160C/gas 4 and lightly oil a baking tray. Place the marinated chicken on the tray and roast for 40 minutes. At 15 minutes baste with the melted butter mix and continue to roast in the oven for another 15 minutes. Baste again and then return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

5. If you are preparing the chicken for a BBQ then thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers (or depending on the size of your chicken pieces you can skip the skewers) and place them on a wire rack. Grill on the BBQ for 15-20 minutes. Turn the skewers/chicken pieces every 5 minutes & baste with melted butter.

6. Mix until the juices run clear and they are cooked through and charred around the edges.

Tip: Rub a piece of raw potato over the wire rack to avoid the chicken sticking to the grill.

7. Serve with fresh salad, mint sauce or naan.

The Mighty Meaty Lasagne

Get ready to be amazed by this meaty, spicy, fresh lasagne.

Layered with cheesy white sauce, a hot meat filled tomato gravy AND yes, made with fresh homemade pasta!

Of course you can always swap the fresh pasta with the prepacked supermarket sheets but considering we all now have some spare time on our hands. it seems a waste not to be learning a new skill.

I mean, who doesn’t want to learn how to make super, smooth, homemade pasta. Right?

So give this a try and let me know how it goes!

Ingredients:

Fresh pasta sheets:

Makes lasagne for 6-8 portions

275g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

3 large eggs

1 pinch salt

Method:

1. Place the flour on a work surface. Make a well in the centre and add in the eggs and salt.

2. Gently beat the eggs and mix in the surrounding flour. This will create a runny batter.

3. Take the remaining flour and bring towards the centre, incorporating it into the runny mixture. You may use a spoon or fork to prevent your hands from getting sticky. If the dough is too stiff, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.

4. Form a ball and start kneading with your hands. Flatten the ball, stretch and then fold from the top towards the centre; turn 45 degrees and repeat. You should. knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it becomes smooth and soft.

5. Shape into a ball, place in a bowl and cover with cling film.

6. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

7. Roll out the dough with a pasta machine or with a rolling pin.

I used a good old rolling pin to make my pasta. I’m sure a pasta machine makes the process a lot more easier so if you have one then go ahead and use it. As I don’t have experience with one, I will only be focusing on the rolling pin technique! Trust me, a bit of elbow grease goes a long way.

8. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions.

9. Flatten one of the dough portions and roll 5 to 6 times. Turn the dough 45 degrees and roll again, 5 to 6 times.

10. Keep rolling and turning, until the dough reaches a consistent 1mm thickness.

11. Cut out rectangular sheets according to the shape and size of your baking dish.

12. Transfer to a floured cloth and air dry for about 30 minutes.

Tomato Sauce:

Head over to our ‘The super Cheesy Shepherds Pie’ recipe to learn how to make the perfect meaty, tomato gravy.

You can swap the meat for Quorn or even make a vegetable lasagne by swapping the meat for your fave veg. See the link below!

Meaty Tomato Sauce Recipe

White sauce:

Ingredients:

50g plain flour

50g butter

500ml whole milk

50g cheese of your choice

Salt and pepper optional

Method:

1. In a saucepan melt 50g butter and add 50g plain flour. Stir continuously until a paste forms. This is what we call a roux.

2. Add 500ml milk to the roux, gradually stirring as you go.

3. Add 50g cheese and stir until you get a smooth sauce. Cook for 5-10 mins, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste.

Putting it all together:

100g-200g of your favourite cheese

Dried or fresh basil to garnish

1. Heat oven to 180C/fan/160C/gas 4 and lightly oil an ovenproof dish (about 30 x 20cm).

2. Spoon one third of the meat sauce into the dish, then cover with some fresh lasagne sheets

3. Sprinkle over some of the cheese

4. Spoon one third of the white sauce.

5. Repeat until you have 3 layers of pasta

6. Pour over any left over white sauce and scatter the rest of the cheese on top.

7. Bake for 40-45 mins until the top is bubbling and golden brown. Tip: Half way through cooking, take the lasagne out and make some holes in the lasagne with a fork. This ensures even cooking throughout and allows the white sauce and meat juices to flow.

8. Garnish with fresh or dried basil

Chocolate Rice Crispy Cakes

Ramadan Mubarak everyone. We hope you and your families are keeping well.

Ramadan is very different for us all this year. It’s usually a time for family gatherings, sharing food and praying together but COVID-19 has got us all hibernating at home. Oh no!

Needless to say, there’s one thing that never changes and that is the variety of dishes, cakes, breads on the table every evening to break or start our fast with.

I will be sharing quick and easy recipes here and there for you all to try. I know there are PLENTY of recipes going round at the moment. You’re all at home and baking away but I hope some of you will try some of my simple and tasty recipes .

So, stay at home, stay safe and save lives.

Let’s get started!

These crispy cakes are gooey, crunchy, marshmallow, chocolate pieces of heaven. They’re simple, easy and quick to make. These bite size nibbles are the delicious sweet treat you need right after breaking your fast.

Ingredients:

150g rice crispies

100g unsalted butter

100g marshmallows ( I use the vegetarian/halal ones)

100g milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces

250g of your favourite chocolate that can be melted

Method:

1. Grease and line a 21cm square tin with nonstick baking paper. (A larger tin can be used, they will just be smaller in size)

2. In a large pan, melt the butter, marshmallows and 100g of milk chocolate over a low heat, until the mixture is fully melted and combined. Stir in the rice crispies and mix until they are all coated

3. Turn out into the the lined tin and using the back of a spoon, smooth the top to make it flat. Melt the remainder chocolate (I used Cadbury’s Whole Nut) in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring, until completely melted and smooth

4. Pour the melted chocolate over the rice crispies and spread evenly. I sprinkled some chopped walnuts and whole pieces of chocolate on top to give it some extra crunch but that is completely optional. Leave to set. Once set, cut into even squares and serve.

The Super Cheesy Shepherd’s Pie

Let me tell you. This is the cheesiest of all cheeses shepherd’s pie.

Buttery, spicy (or mild – up to you), warm and full of velvety, soft mashed potatoes, this comfort food is one of the most easiest and simplest meals you can make.

So give this a try and let me know how it turns out! Trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed. 

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil 

1 large onion, chopped

3-5 cloves garlic, chopped 

1 tsp salt 

1tsp black pepper

1 tsp paprika 

1 tsp Chilli powder (optional)

1 tsp dried basil  

1 tsp mustard 

½ tsp oregano 

3 Oxo cubes (I use the vegetable ones but you may use any)

500g of lamb mince 

¾ tin of chopped tomatoes 

1kg potato, cut into chunks orbuy 3 packets of readymade mash potato

90g butter only required if making your own mash potato)

4tbsp milk only required if making your own mash potato)

150g-200g of your favourite cheese

Method:

  1. Heat 3tbp of olive oil in a medium saucepan and then soften 1 chopped onion and 3-5 cloves chopped of garlic until golden.
  2. Add 1 tsp of salt, black pepper, paprika, chilli powder (optional), dried basil and mix
  3. Add 500g of lamb meat and brown, tipping off any excess fat
  4. Add 1 tsp of mustard, ½ tsp of oregano and crumble in 3 Oxo cubes and mix
  5. Add 3/5 tin of chopped tomatoes and bring to simmer, then cover and cook for 30 minutes, uncovering halfway
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/ fan 160/C gas 4, then make the mash. Boil the 1kg of potato, cut into chunks, in salted water for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain, then mash with 90kg of butter and 4 tbsp milk.(If you wish to skip this step then buy 3 packets of the readymade mash potato available in supermarkets)
  7. Taste the mince and season accordingly.
  8. Put the mince into an oven proof dish and add a layer of your favourite cheese on top. Top this with mash and ruffle with a fork. Add a final layer of cheese. This pie can now be chilled and frozen for up to a month.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden and the mince is bubbling through at the edges. (To bake from frozen, cook at 160C/fan or 140C/gas for 1hr -1hr 20 mins until piping hot in the centre)
  10. Leave to stand for 5 mins before serving

How to save a life

The world is now like a film, the kind of film where everyone is being affected in one way or another.

We the world are the main characters, and the villain is our newest nemesis the Coronavirus or COVID-19.

Unlike other enemies this one can’t be seen nor heard. It makes its presence felt by making one feel paranoid, anxious and unwell.

The truth is most of us having never experienced anything like this; don’t really know how to deal with it.

How do we fight?

The thing is we aren’t really fighting against this virus. We are fighting with ourselves. In our minds we are fighting between whether we should buy that last packet of toilet roll on the shelf when we already have 9 at home, or shall we risk taking a meal over for the elderly gentlemen down the road who lives alone.

Will you risk it?

I can talk about risk because I think about that everyday.

Every morning my husband and I wake up, get ready and go to work. He spends 12 hours a day seeing patients with or concerned about COVID-19 in a GP surgery.

I drive to the hospital and see patients on the wards who are also afraid and unwell.

We both then come home asking the other about their day and secretly assessing the other to see if they are coughing, looking tired or feeling unwell.

We like everyone else have a family who we care about, and them us. Yet we continue to risk our own health to help others. Why?

Well, have you ever saved a life? If you have been lucky enough to experience that, you will know that it isn’t a feeling that goes away quickly.

YOU can experience that feeling too.

Remember I said that this is like a film? We all know that the ending depends on what happens in the middle.

This depends on the main characters of the movie and guess what? It’s US who will write that ending as we are ALL the main characters.

We all have a role.

You see, you don’t have to be a Doctor or a Nurse to save a life. You just need to be human and care.

Care for yourself.

Care for your family.

Care for your neighbours.

Care for everyone. Simple

This is a disease that is affecting all age groups. However, it is the elderly and those with comorbidities such as diabetes, heart diseases and lung disease etc, who will suffer the most with moderate to severe symptoms.

Care for them and others by:

1. Using the best hygiene practices such as 20 second hand washing, using hand sanitisers and taking showers when you come back home.

2. Avoid visiting the elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions.

3. Postpone travel plans and try to stay at home. Only leave home if it is crucial.

4. DO NOT panic buy. Think about the elderly, children and the vulnerable in society. Don’t be selfish. There is plenty of food to go around, there is no shortage of morsels!

5. Take care of your mental health and limit social media. Organise home activities to occupy your time. It may be a great time to learn a new language!

6. Please think about others and text/call or drop off food, gifts, supplies to those who are unable to get out themselves. (As long as you are well!)

7. Do not believe everything you hear and see on social media and un-referenced sources. Stick to the Centres for diseases control (CDC), NHS guideline and .gov resources

8. Call 111 if you are feeling unwell and want to know what to do. Refrain from calling your GP. Believe me they have enough to deal with already and cannot help you regarding COVID-19.

9. We need to flatten the curve and slow down the spread of this contagious disease. We all need to now play a part in managing this situation. Only go to A&E/call 999 if you are seriously unwell and require urgent medical attention.

10. PLAN not panic

Now do you understand why we do what we do?

When people come together, great things happen. Lives are saved and memories made, the satisfaction you get from helping and doing good will stay with you forever.

How will you save a life?

About

Hello everyone and welcome to my little corner of the internet where I will be entertaining you with small snippets from my life!

I LOVE baking and thought why not finally use this to start blogging about all the delightful treats I bake or cook from a healthcare professionals take. 

I am a doctor by profession and come from a very scientific background so watch this space for all the weird and wonderful insights that comes with being part of the NHS and being a scientist. This doesn’t mean I am going to skip the butter and chocolate goodness in my receipes! Oh no! We’re having all of that. 

Of course no blog would be complete without the added travel posts. I am lucky to have an amazing partner in crime who likes to travel the world with me. He may make an appearance on my posts from time to time, just to throw in that perspective from a male point of view. Plus, it’s sometimes nice to know what the other ones thinking. We all need that advice. Don’t we.

Lifestyle, travel, baking, cooking and of course medicine. Inspiration, from me to you, to you to me. Welcome to my life.