Natasha MacAller shares a recipe from her new cookbook Spice Health Heroes

Natasha MacAller Recipe Peanut Cakes
Natasha MacAller, ballerina-turned-chef, has always had a vested interest in health and a passionate interest in spices. In her new cookbook, Spice Health Heroes, she explores the culinary, nutritional and medicinal uses of more than 30 spices found in one’s kitchen cupboard, from the everyday to the more exotic. Together with Natasha’s recipes there are recipes contributed from some 22 internationally acclaimed chefs, including Jose Andres, Peter Gordon and Cyrus Todiwala.
Here Natasha shares one of her recipes for Kuli Kuli Peanut Cakes –
Natasha MacAllerKuli Kuli Peanut Cakes with Quick Chilli-Pickled Onions & Toasted Black Cumin Seeds
Inspired by the age-old Nigerian snack, kuli kuli is packed full of protein and this version has an added chilli kick, layered with the subtle sweetness of cinnamon. It is good for the circulation and makes a great gluten and dairy-free vegan two-bite hors d’oeuvre.


MAKES 24 (4cm/1 ½ in.) CAKES


200g (7oz./2 cups) blanched lightly oven-toasted peanuts (groundnuts)

4 tsp freshly grated ginger

12 drops hot chili sauce (Tabasco), or to taste

2 tsp soft brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon, ground

¼ tsp flaked salt, or to taste peanut (groundnut) oil, for frying

½ cinnamon stick (optional)

chervil or parsley leaves, to garnish


For the chilli-pickled onions:

1 small red onion (about 100g/3½oz.), halved and thinly sliced

½ fresh hot red chilli, e.g. jalapeño, Anaheim or Serrano, sliced into thin rings

zest of 1 lime and juice of ½

60ml (¼ cup) rice wine vinegar

1 tsp minced parsley

1 tbsp black cumin seeds (nigella or onion seeds), plus extra for garnishing



1. First make the chili-pickled onions. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl, cover and chill until ready to use.

2. Using a food processor, or by hand with a mortar and pestle, grind the peanuts (groundnuts) and ginger together until sesame-seed size. Add a little peanut oil if the nuts are too dry but don’t allow it to turn into peanut butter.

3. Blitz in the hot chili sauce, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Tightly squeeze a bit in your hand to make sure the kuli kuli isn’t too oily or it won’t be crispy when you cook it.

4. Use up to 4 teaspoons of water to help the mixture hold together. Shape into 4cm ( sized cakes (about 15g/.oz.) and place on a tray.

5. Pour peanut (groundnut) oil into a frying pan (skillet) to a depth of 4cm (, add the half cinnamon stick (if using) and heat to 165C (325F).

6. Fry the cakes in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side.

7. Drain on kitchen paper. If your kuli kuli turn out soft rather than crispy, pop them into a low oven (110C/225F) to dry out and harden without burning.

8. To serve, mound a large pinch of chilli-pickled onions on top of the kuli kuli and garnish with a chervil or parsley leaf and a sprinkle of black

Natasha MacAller Recipe Peanut CakesSpice Health Heroes by Natasha MacAller

Photos courtesy of Manja Wachsmuth

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