Archive | February, 2011

Individual Cauliflower Cheese Pies

27 Feb

I used vegetable suet and wholemeal flour to make this pastry. I’ve had this packet of vegetable suet in the cupboard for a while and not really known what to do with it. Proper suet is a made from the fat deposits around the kidneys of an animal. I know, disgusting. Vegetable suet (I used Atora Light) has 3o % less fat and is made with vegetable oil. Much more appetising, don’t you think?

Suet can be used to make dumplings, pastries, pies and puddings.  The classic Steak & Kidney Pudding is made with suet pastry and so are most of the traditional Pork Pies. But don’t let that put you off!

The vegetable suet was really easy to work with, so much easier than using butter. You just stir the suet granules and flour together and add water. That’s it, no messy rubbing butter into flour business. You don’t even have to chill it before you use it (although I put it in the fridge while my filling cooled down). It’s definitely a much quicker option if you’re pressed for time or just very impatient, like me.

Don’t be scared about the pastry being that soggy, doughy pudding pastry either, unless you like that sort of thing! Even using wholemeal flour it turned out to be light, flaky and delicious. I followed the pastry recipe on the box (which was for a quiche) but you can send off for an Atora recipe book if you want to make that strange, soft pudding pastry. 

I knew I was going to make a cauliflower cheese because I had a cauliflower getting bored at the back of my fridge. I toyed with the idea of making dumplings with the suet and doing a Cauliflower Cheese Cobbler (which I will definitely try next time) or even a Cauliflower Cheese Quiche. But I am a sucker for individual pies (don’t like sharing, only child!) and The Washer Up wanted to see if I could make his favourite pork pie-like pastry with the suet, so pies it was.

Instead of making a white sauce with butter & flour for the Cauliflower Cheese, I cooked the leeks in the butter and put the cauliflower florets in a freezer bag with the flour and seasonings and shook the bag to coat the cauliflower. This way when you tip the floured cauliflower to the butter & leeks you get the white sauce base to add your cream or milk to and only use one pan, result!! This is a Nigella trick she uses to make her chicken & mushroom pot pies. Anything that saves time and washing up is a definite bonus….

Individual Cauliflower Cheese Pies

makes 4 small individual pies, vegetarian

  • 150 gr self-raising flour (I used wholemeal self-raising)
  • 75 gr vegetable suet (Atora Light)
  • 3 or 4 tbsp iced water
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch or less size florets
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 30 gr butter, plus extra for buttering pie dishes
  • 30 gr plain flour, plus extra for flouring
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a few sprigs thyme leaves chopped, about 1/2 tsp
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 pot creme fraiche about 200 ml
  • about 100 – 150ml veg stock 
  • 50 gr mature cheddar, grated
  • 50 gr Greek feta, or Lancashire crumbly, crumbled
  • 50 gr manchego or parmesan grated
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing

Butter & flour your pie dish/dishes and put them in the fridge. If you like you can make your pastry first and leave it in the fridge while you make and cool the filling. Mix together the flour, suet, salt & pepper in a bowl and stir in enough iced water to make a firm but not sticky dough. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge.

Heat the butter over a medium heat, in a large frying pan with a lid.  Fry the leeks in the melted butter with a pinch of salt for a few minutes until softened. Meanwhile put the cauliflower florets, flour, nutmeg, thyme, chilli flakes, salt & pepper in a freezer bag, seal it and shake it so that the cauliflower is coated with the seasoned flour. Tip the contents of the freezer bag (including the excess flour) into the pan with the leeks, stir and cook out for about 2 minutes.

Add the creme fraiche, stir to coat the cauliflower, then add in 100 ml veg stock, stir, cover and leave to cook for about 5-7 minutes until the cauliflower is tender crisp.You can add some more veg stock if it is too dry. Then add in the cheeses, turn off the heat and stir to melt the cheeses.  It should be a thick cheesy sauce clinging to the cauliflower with not too much liquid or the pastry might get soggy. Check seasoning and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200 C and take the pastry out of the fridge. Cut the pastry into four and roll out one piece at a time to a thickness of about 3 mm. Cut about a third off of the pastry and set aside for the lid. Push the pastry into your dish, you may have to cut bits off if it overlaps too much and stick bits in the gaps, this is fine. Just make sure it’s about the same thickness all the way round so it cooks evenly. Fill it right to the top with the cooled filling and push it down well.

Roll out the reserved third to about 3 mm thick and use another pie dish to cut a circle the same size as the top. Keep any pastry offcuts in cas you need them. Roll the circle out a little to make it slightly bigger, but not much.  Brush the edges of the pastry that will be touching the lid with the beaten egg then lay the lid on top. Push it down with your fingers, then crimp around the edges with a fork to seal it. Trim of the excess pastry round the edges, make 2 holes in the top with a sharp knife and brush the top with beaten egg.

Repeat with the other 3 pies and cook in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until puffed & golden brown.

Serve hot straight out of the oven with a simple green salad or some green beans, it’s delicious. Equally good served at room temperature for lunch with some beetroot chutney if you want to go down that ploughman’s/ pub lunch route.

Ahhhh.. Pub Lunch. There are not many things I miss about the UK but lunch (or even just a packet of cheese & onion crisps) in a pub garden on a sunny day is one of them. That, and Grandad’s pickled onions. Which would be great with this, by the way. Maybe Michelle could bring some over in May (hint). Now, you really wouldn’t want that to break in your luggage……………..!

Brilliant Green Broccoli Soup

23 Feb Brocolli Soup & Walnut

This one’s for my Mum. She loves broccoli and she loves soup so this should be her idea of heaven. Broccoli soups can be disappointing, sludgy, smelly and look a bit like dishwater if you’re not careful. This broccoli soup , however, is bright green, elegant, nutritious and delicious. The Washer Up claimed it was the best soup he had ever had, high praise indeed!!

The reason it stays bright green is because of the spinach added at the last-minute to boost the colour. What I like about this soup is that the predominant flavour is still broccoli with a background of cheese to give it richness and the touch of spice which brings it all together. You can make this soup as basic as you like just topped with a swirl of creme fraiche, or sprinkle over some toasted breadcrumbs, grated cheese and walnuts.  I found this soup recipe at All day I dream about food it’s from Cooks Illustrated magazine. I also found another recipe at The Dabble  which had great topping ideas my favourite being potato croutons.

To make the croutons I used some leftover cooked potatoes that I chopped into about 1cm dice. Put them on some baking parchment drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper & a pinch of cayenne toss to coat and roast in a 210 C oven for about 15 – 20 minutes until browned at the edges. Scatter the still hot croutons over the soup and serve.

As I still had some more potatoes left I thought I would try to glam it up a bit more by making a potato gallette to go on top as well. A potato gallette is a flat thin ring of overlapping potato slices usually made with raw very thinly sliced potatoes. My rather rustic attempt using cooked new potatoes, sliced turned out pretty well except the slices didn’t stick together as well as if you used raw potatoes.

To make a gallete, slice a medium new potato (mine was already cooked) as thinly as you can. Lay the discs on a piece of parchment to form an overlapping circle. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and bake at 210C for 15 – 20 minutes until browned. Keep an eye on them especially if they are really thin, they burn easily. Use a metal spatula to lift the gallete on to the hot soup.

Brilliant Green Broccoli Soup Recipe

serves 2 -3, vegetarian

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large head broccoli
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • about 1 litre veg stock
  • water if necessary
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 10 squares frozen spinach (or about 15o gr fresh)
  • about 1oo gr grated cheese (I used manchego) parmesan or cheddar would be nice
  • your choice of toppings (see suggestions above)

Cut the broccoli into 1 inch pieces, peel the stem and chop that up into smaller pieces too. In a large pot heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add in the onions, broccoli, garlic, mustard, cayenne, salt & pepper. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, stirring until the onion is translucent or starting to brown. Add in about 200 ml veg stock and the baking soda, bring to a simmer, lower the heat slightly, cover and cook for 15 -20 minutes until the broccoli is very soft.

Add in the rest of the veg stock, bring to a boil and add in the spinach. If using fresh, stir to wilt then add in the cheese. If using frozen spinach cook for 2 or 3 minutes more until the spinach is soft, then stir in the cheese. Remove from the heat and blend (carefully) using a stick blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more water if your soup is too thick for your liking. To serve bring back up to the boil and ladle into warmed bowls. Garnish with grated cheese or see suggestions above.

Enjoy!!

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk and Hazelnut Cookies at The Lakes

21 Feb

Wholemeal cookies taste really good and they are healthier. Don’t kid yourself though there’s still butter and sugar in there but chocolate is an antioxidant so that makes up for it – sort of!!  These were part of a picnic we took the lakes at El Chorro yesterday.

 Half an hour away at  Malaga Airport, millions of tourists arrive every year and get on a coach to Marbella or Fuengirola to spend a week or two on the Costa del Sol and fly home again completely unaware that this exists. Whether this is a great oversight by the Andalucian Tourist Board or whether they are purposefully keeping it a secret I don’t know. I wouldn’t blame them. At this time of year it is all but deserted except at the weekends when a few Malaguenos bring a picnic or some meat to barbeque.

It does get busier in the summer when we all escape the heat of the city or towns to swim in these freshwater lakes. There are campsites, picnic areas, public barbeques, canoeing, pedalos, and fantastic walks. It is great for kids and adults alike there’s something for everyone. Whether you like to do a lot or very little,  you can find your perfect spot here……

The colours are amazing. The bright turquoise of the lakes contrasting with the dusky pink terracotta soil and green patchwork landscape take your breath away every time you come. You never quite believe it’s real. 

The geology is stunning too. The Washer Up tells me this is sandstone (he studied Geology at university). Is it just me or does this (above) remind you of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona? You know the curved balconies?

The thing is they are not actually lakes. They are man-made reservoirs. Franco flooded the whole area, including some villages, to create the water reservoirs for Malaga. How something so beautiful can be man-made doesn’t make sense to me. Especially made by that man. It must have been the best thing he ever did…..

Anyway we found our picnic table with a view (above) and sat down to make our egg salad sandwiches…

If you want to know how to make a perfectly soft-boiled egg see my instructions here…..

Then we shared a cookie before going for walk around the lake and finding a sheltered sunny spot to read the paper. Does a Sunday get any better than that? I don’t think so, the cookies are pretty near perfect too….

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

makes 18 – 24, vegetarian.  Adapted from a Culinate recipe

  • 380 gr wholemeal flour (I used self-raising because that was all I had and 1 tsp baking powder)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 225 gr cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 140 gr brown sugar
  • 200 gr caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 gr plain chocolate (70%) roughly chopped into 1 cm chunks
  • 100 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 175 C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sieve the flour, baking powders and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl or food processor on low whisk/mix together the butter & sugars until blended, about 2 minutes. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl to get it all combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each one is combined. Mix in the vanilla, then slowly add the flour mixture until just combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides again.

Add 3/4 of the chopped chocolate & hazelnuts to the mix saving the rest for the tops. Mix until evenly distributed.  Take a heaped tablespoon of the batter and put it onto the lined baking sheet, pressing it down slightly. Leave about a 3 inch gap between each cookie, they spread like mad. You should only have about 6 cookies per sheet or they will all blend into each other. Sprinkle a little of the leftover chocolate & hazelnuts on top of each cookie and press in lightly. Put one sheet in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third. Bake for 10 minutes then swap the baking sheets around (top to bottom etc) and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cookies are a deep golden brown colour. Remove from the oven & leave to cool on a rack on the baking paper. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

These cookies are deliciously special enough to serve as a dessert, warm and chewy, straight out of the oven with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream melting on top. Or leave to cool, store in an airtight container and they will firm up to a more crunchy everyday cookie.

Share them with friends or do like the Andalucian Tourist Board and make them your best kept secret……

Buen Provecho!

Ruby Beetroot and Pear Chutney with Squash and Chickpea Curry and Flatbreads

18 Feb

It’s all about the Beetroot Chutney for me. I don’t even like beetroot. Well I don’t like the beetroot you get in jars, all pickled and vinegary. Leaching it’s dark pink juice everywhere and contaminating whatever else is on the plate. 

I am always willing to be proven wrong and to make a complete about-face and this is one of those occasions. I love this beetroot chutney. I love the colour, it’s ruby-red shining jewels flecked with intriguing dark spices is a beautiful thing. I love the flavour, it’s a sweet, spicy, dark and mysterious blend that enhances any curry (or cheese sandwich for that matter)!

The other thing I love about it is that it is really easy to make. I just bought some cooked beetroot (it comes vacuum packed). You can roast or boil it and peel it yourself  if you like.

Ruby Beetroot & Pear Chutney Recipe

makes about 1 jar, vegan

  • 2 cooked beetroot, diced
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored & diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp punch pooran*
  • 4 tbsp white or white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp white sugar

* Punch Pooran is a whole spice mix available from Indian supermarkets that gives a balanced flavour to any Indian dishes. Mine is from East End Foods.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat and add in the whole spices. When they start to splutter add in the onion and ginger and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until it has thickened and looks like chutney. Pour into a hot sterilised jar (just put it through the dishwasher), seal immediately, leave to cool then refrigerate.

Serve with mini poppadoms as an informal starter  to an Indian meal alongside a coriander & lemon yoghurt raita. Or pile it on a sharp cheese like a Lancashire Crumbly( thanks Joan & Terry) in a sandwich, as part of a cheese board or as a new jacket potato filling: Lancashire Crumbly & Beetroot & Pear Chutney. It’s the way forward. You could also serve it with your favourite curry dish which is what I did on Tuesday night when we had friends for dinner.

Now Rhian, who doesn’t cook, has promised to make this, because she enjoyed it so much and has been inspired. Okay Rhian, here’s the recipe, no excuses now………..

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Curry Recipe

serves 6 – 8, vegan

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into 1 inch chunks
  •  1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  •  1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp onion seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 or 2 tsp punch pooran*
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes 400 gr
  • 3 or 4 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • 1 400 gr jar/tin cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 500 ml – 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • a big handful of fresh coriander, chopped. Plus leaves for garnish
  • * Punch Pooran is a whole spice mix available from Indian supermarkets that gives a balanced flavour to any Indian dishes. Mine is from East End Foods.

    In a big deep pot, heat some oil over a medium heat. Throw in the whole spices, when they start popping, add in the onion with a big pinch of salt and cook for about 4 minutes until softened. Add in the garlic, ginger, chilli and the  rest of the powdered spices and cook for another minute. Tumble in the squash chunks and stir well to coat with the spices. 

    Pour in the tinned tomatoes, rinsed chickpeas and the tomato puree. Stir again so everything is well-distributed. Season well with salt & black pepper then add in 5ooml veg stock. Stir and bring to the boil. When boiling reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 20 – 30 minutes depending on your squash.
    When the squash is cooked/tender take the lid off and cook for another 5 minutes to reduce/thicken the sauce if necessary. If it is dry add some more veg stock until you get the consistency you are looking for. If it is too liquidy you can take out a ladleful of the curry, blend it to a puree and add it back into the pot.
    Just before serving squeeze over the lemon juice and stir in the chopped coriander. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice to taste.

I served this with my Leek & Fennel Seed Flatbreads, some mixed wild rice and the beetroot & pear chutney. I used strong bread flour to make the flatbreads this time and had a much better result…..

Good luck & enjoy!!!

Greek Style Tomato and Bean Soup with lemon, mint and parsley

16 Feb

 Lemons are one of my kitchen staples. I couldn’t cook without them. Their juice adds a zing to any curry that lifts all the other flavours. A squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of good olive oil is all you need for the best salad dressing. The zest gives a brightness to cakes and cookies that could otherwise be too sweet. And no paella (vegetarian or not) would be complete without those sunny little wedges to spritz over as you serve.

If you taste a dish just before serving and think that there’s something missing, that it’s not quite right. Squeeze over some fresh lemon juice, add a pinch more salt and taste it again. The dish will come alive.

I always make sure I have a bowl of lemons in my kitchen, it makes me feel safe and the aroma of freshly squeezed or zested lemons makes the kitchen smell fresh and clean.  Lemons are best friends with another of my kitchen staples, fresh herbs. If you have lemons and fresh parsley, coriander, mint or basil you are seconds away from making an okay dish into an outstanding one. An uninspiring bowl of pasta with tomato sauce can be transformed with the last-minute addition of lemon juice and fresh basil. Any curry, South East Asian, Caribbean or Indian, would be dreadfully incomplete without the final squeezing over of fresh lemon juice (or it’s more exotic cousin, the lime) and a large handful of fresh coriander.

Lemon, mint and parsley are the stars of this Greek style soup. Mint and parsley are widely used in Greek and Middle Eastern cooking. The freshness of mint with the saltiness of a Greek Feta or Cypriot Halloumi cheese is a match made in heaven, squeeze over some fresh lemon juice and you have arrived…..

Greek Style Tomato & Bean Soup with Lemon, Mint & Parsley

serves 4 – 6, vegetarian/ vegan without the Feta

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed and sliced (you can use a small onion)
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/4 or 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 jar/tin cooked butter beans about 400 gr
  • 1/2 jar/tin kidney beans 200 gr
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes 400 gr
  • 1 lemon
  • a splash of white wine (optional)
  • 3 or 4 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • about a litre of veg stock 
  • 10 squares of frozen spinach or 1 bag of fresh (about 300 gr)
  • 100 gr quinoa (or orzo, rice, small pasta)
  • 75 gr Greek Feta cheese
  • 10 or 12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • a handful of black olives (if you like them, I don’t)

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large deep saucepan. Add the onions/leeks, celery, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, chilli flakes and dried oregano. Season with salt & black pepper and cook until softened about 4 or 5 minutes. Then add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add a splash of wine and stir in the shredded cabbage, butter beans, kidney beans and tinned tomatoes. Zest the lemon, add it to pot with half of the juice and the tomato puree. Add the veg stock, season well with salt & black pepper and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down & simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Add in the quinoa or pasta, olives and the frozen spinach (if using fresh stir it through a couple of minutes before serving just to wilt). Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes until the quinoa/pasta/rice is cooked.

Just before serving squeeze  the rest of the lemon juice into the pot or serve some wedges on the side. Serve the soup in warmed bowls topped with some crumbled Feta, sprinkle over the chopped mint & parsley and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil…….

You can make this soup with whatever beans you have in your cupboard. White beans and chickpeas would be good. I had some cooked quinoa in the fridge so I added it in. It may not be authentic but the texture worked and it’s high in protein which is great for vegetarian dishes. Just make sure you use the dried oregano (a key Greek seasoning) as well as the fresh mint, parsley, lemon juice and Greek Feta and it will be delicious………….

Orange Curd and Little Tarts

13 Feb

Living here at the moment is like living in an orange world. People keep giving me bags full. The trees seem to produce so much fruit with so little work. Everyone has orange trees and nobody knows what to do with them all, so they give them away.

Not that I mind it gives me a chance to get creative, there is only so much orange juice you can drink…..

I’ve made lemon curd before and it was really easy and had been thinking about making curd with the oranges that were threatening to go off  in carrier bags in my kitchen.I wasn’t sure it would work or about the sugar ratio. The deciding moment came when I saw a recipe for orange passionfruit curd tarts on 6 Bittersweets. They looked so beautiful, I didn’t need any more encouragement……….

I used the same recipe I used to make lemon curd but I just used a bit less sugar. It worked!  It really is lovely on toast and the smell of  the orange zest while you are making it is intoxicating……

It is really easy to make into a tart as well. You just pour/ dollop it into a baked sweet tart case and leave it in the fridge to set.

Orange Curd Recipe

makes 3 jars, vegetarian

  • grated zest & juice of 4 oranges
  • 4 eggs
  • 300 gr caster sugar
  • 230 gr room temperature unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp cornflour

Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients and put on a medium high heat. Whisk continuously until thickened (about 5-8 minutes). Lower the to minimum and simmer, still whisking for another minute. Remove from the heat and pour into hot sterilized jars (Just put them through the dishwasher). Seal immediately, leave to cool then store in the fridge.

Orange Curd Tart Recipe

  • orange curd (see recipe above)
  • baked sweet tart shell/cases see my recipe here or buy one/some
  • icing sugar
  • orange zest curls

Bake the tart shell/cases until golden, leave to cool slightly then pour/dollop in the orange curd. Spread it about evenly and chill in the fridge. Best eaten on the same day as filling the case. When ready to serve, dust with a little icing sugar and top with some orange zest curls.

It would be lovely topped with soft meringue and baked too. I will have to try that next time. I have a feeling there will be a next time, my friend Rhian has just invited our dog, Rufus, around to play. She said to bring a bag as she has loads of oranges………..

Yellow Gram Chickpea Curry with (Unpuffy) Spinach Puri

12 Feb

I have loads of unopened packets of dried legumes in my cupboard. I normally buy them from the Indian supermarket because they look so interesting and I love daal and chickpea curries. The thing is I never get round to cooking with them because of the whole soaking, rinsing in clean water and then cooking them for hours thing. I’ve got nothing against that type of cooking it’s just I’m not that organised. I decide what I want to eat about an hour before I eat, so I always end up opening a jar of cooked chickpeas or beans. It’s so much easier….

I have to admit though you can definitely tell the difference in a dish where the chickpeas/beans are whole. The texture is different, they are firmer and less floury. So today, before taking the dog for a walk, I put some Yellow Gram in a bowl of water to soak. Yellow gram are like cute little mini chickpeas….

I took Rufus for a walk along a mountain path today. He enjoyed running with the wind in his ears…..

And surveying the landscape…

When we got back I rinsed the gram in a few changes of water and cooked them in clean water in the pressure cooker. I don’t know why I didn’t think of cooking them like this before. The instructions on the packet say to cook them for 1 1/2 – 2 hours in a saucepan. This way they took about 25 minutes, result! The pressure cooker idea came from Ko Rasoi- Mastering the Art of Indo- Vegetarian Cuisine which has loads of gorgeous daal recipes and she cooks them in the pressure cooker. This is also where I got the recipe for the Spinach & Green Chilli Puri, hers are beautiful puffy little breads that I just had to have with my gram curry. I have cooked puris before but never with spinach & green chilli, they sounded amazing…… 

As you can see from the photos my puris did not puff. This is quite common apparently, could happen to anyone, it’s not just me….. Apart from being a little disappointed with my embarrassing lack of puff the flavour and texture was lovely and a great vehicle for the curry.

Yellow Gram Chickpea Curry Recipe

serves 2, vegan

  • 200 gr uncooked yellow gram or  400 gr tin cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 or 4 tbsp tomato passasta (tomate frito)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves (use curry leaves if you have them)
  • 1 onion seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  •  1 tsp garam masala
  •  1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • about 500 ml veg stock
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus leaves for garnish
  • greek yoghurt (optional)

Prepare and cook the gram according to the instructions on the packet (or in a pressure cooker). Or drain & rinse a tin/jar of cooked chickpeas. In a large frying pan heat some oil over a medium heat. Add in the cumin seeds & onion seeds. When they start to pop add in the onions and soften for about 3 or 4 minutes then add in the garlic, ginger, chilli, chopped tomato, ground coriander, garam masala, bay leaves & turmeric. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes and add in the tomato passata (frito). Meanwhile heat the veg stock in a small saucepan. Drain the cooked gram/chickpeas, stir them into the curry and pour in the hot veg stock. Season well with salt & pepper and mix thoroughly. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. If your sauce isn’t as thick as you would like take out a ladleful of the curry put in it a bowl or food processor and blitz to a puree. Add this back into the curry to thicken it.

Check for seasoning, squeeze over the lemon juice and stir in the chopped fresh coriander

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, a teaspoon of greek yoghurt if you like and some extra wedges of lemon on the side. You could serve this with some basmati rice or these delicious puris…..

Spinach & Green Chilli Puris Recipe

makes 6 or 7 small puris, enough for 2 people,vegan

  • 150 gr plain or wholemeal flour
  • 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 little cubes of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed out (or a small handful of fresh)
  • 55 ml boiling water
  • 1 or 2 tbsp sunflower/olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of turmeric
  • oil for deep-frying

Blitz or mash the spinach, green chilli and boiling water to a smooth puree. Put the flour, turmeric & salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Mix in the oil and enough of the spinach mixture to make a firm non sticky dough.

Heat the oil in a wok, large frying pan or deep fat fryer to hot and open a window (it gets smoky & smelly)!  Pull off a small piece of dough and roll into a 1 inch ball. Roll it out to a 3 inch diameter circle, turning, clockwise as you roll to get a round ish shape. Don’t flour the board use a bit of oil if it is sticking. Carefully drop the circle into the hot oil and fry until golden and (hopefully) puffy. Keep warm under a clean tea towel while you fry the rest. To see how these puris should look check out Sanjanas beautiful photos. But if, like me, yours turn out to be decidedly unpuffy, don’t worry they still taste amazing and are the perfect scoop for the gram curry…

Good Luck!!!

 

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