I know I’ve got a slight Halloumi obsession but this recipe is awesome and I don’t use that word lightly. In fact I never use that word but never has it been a more fitting description. Okay, you get it – it’s really good.
It is yet another recipe adapted from Terre a Terre The Vegetarian Cookbook and so far, by far, the best. What they have done is taken the best-selling Indian restaurant dish “Chicken Tikka” and veggied it up the way they do and taken it to another level. The Halloumi cubes are marinated for 24 hours in the yoghurt and spices which gives the cheese a much softer texture and an amazing flavour.
The “risotto” is a new experience for me as well. I have made loads of risottos before but never with Indian spices and I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about it. I don’t generally like it when classics are mucked about with in the name of “Fusion”. Usually because it is done with such a heavy hand and lack of knowledge. Namely a risotto with four cheese and soy sauce. Can you imagine anything more hideous? I didn’t order it, by the way, and I never went back to that restaurant again. I have my principles and the marriage of soy sauce and creamy cheese is not a marriage made in heaven, not in my mind anyway.
Having said all that, this risotto is stunning. Another superlative, I know, but it is worthy of the praise. The stock used to cook the risotto is flavoured with cardamom, turmeric (originally saffron but I don’t have any), coriander seeds, star anise, cloves and peppercorns. The risotto itself is made with onions, ginger, mustard seeds and chilli oil. The risotto is finished off with fresh coriander & mint , toasted flaked almonds and freshly grated parmesan. I know, parmesan after everything that I said, but it really works, trust me, these people know what they’re doing….
The whole thing is finished off with a drizzle of a sweet & sour tamarind glaze/syrup that brings the dish together beautifully. You could substitute a spoonful of your favourite chutney if you not up for making the glaze as well. The original dish has two more components, podi spiced tomatoes (I just skewered some cherry tomatoes in between my halloumi cubes) and a smoked almond custard (I toasted some flaked almonds to sprinkle over the top). Three elements in one dish is enough for me..!
Remember the Halloumi is marinated for 24 hours so start this the night before.
Halloumi Tikka Kebabs, Turmeric & Cardamom Risotto and Tamarind Syrup
serves 3, vegetarian, adapted from Terre a Terre The Vegetarian Cookbook
For the Halloumi marinade
- 1 pack Halloumi cheese 250 gr
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/3 tsp ground ginger
- 1/3 tsp chilli powder
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp chopped mint
- 60 ml plain/greek yoghurt
- 25 ml water
- 9 small cherry tomatoes
Rinse and dry the Halloumi and cut it in half through where it’s folded so you get two “rectangles” about the same size. Cut each of these into 6 cubes/chunks so you should have 12 cubes. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, add all the ground spices and warm them through, stirring so as not to burn them. Put the toasted spices in a bowl with the yoghurt, garlic, mint and water and stir to combine well. Add the Halloumi cubes to the spicy yoghurt and stir to make sure every piece is coated well. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to marinate for about 24 hours.
When ready to serve, thread 4 Halloumi cubes on to each skewer alternating with a cherry tomato. Sear the kebabs on all 4 sides until coloured in a hot dry pan. This should only take about 2 minutes.
For the Turmeric & Cardamom Stock
The original recipe makes the whole stock from scratch but I already had some of my homemade veg stock and added the spices to it.
- 1 litre veg stock ( see above)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- a handful of coriander stalks
- 3 cardamom pods, bashed/bruised to open slightly
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, cracked
- 1 star anise
- 1 clove
- 3 black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp turmeric/saffron strands
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- 2 curry leaves or bay leaves
Make this the day before if possible. Put the stock and the rest of the ingredients, except the water, in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t reduce too much, add some water if necessary. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse. When ready to use it, strain through a fine sieve, put in a sauce pan, increase to 1 litre with water and heat gently.
For the Risotto
- 1 litre Turmeric & Cardamom stock (see above)
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp panch pooran (an Indian spice mix available from EastEnd Foods)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp chilli oil or 1/4 tsp chilli powder added to the olive oil
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 100 gr, chopped onions (about 1/2)
- 2oo gr brown shortgrain rice (you can use arborio which cooks quicker and will need less stock)
- a knob of butter
- 5o gr parmesan cheese, finely grated
- salt & black pepper
- 1 tbsp lime juice plus wedges for garnish
- a handful of chopped coriander
- a small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
- 50 gr flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan
Bring the stock to the boil in a small saucepan then lower the heat to a simmer. In a large pan, over a medium heat, fry the mustard seeds and panch pooran in the oils until they start to pop then add in the onions, ginger and a big pinch of salt & black pepper. Cook gently until the onions have softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Turn up the heat slightly and add the rice , stirring to coat in the oil.
When rice starts to look translucent after a minute or so, turn down the heat to medium and add a ladleful of the hot stock, stirring or swirling the rice. When all the liquid has been absorbed add another ladle of stock, stir or swirl until that has been absorbed too. Keep adding ladles of stock and letting them be absorbed until the rice is tender, about 20 + minutes for the brown rice or 15 – 18 for the arborio. If you run out of stock use hot water.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter & parmesan. Taste for seasoning then cover with a lid and leave for 2 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, coriander & mint and serve immediately with the halloumi skewers, lime wedges and sprinkled with toasted flaked almonds. Serve with some chutney on the side or drizzle over some delicious tamarind syrup (below).
makes about 150- 200 ml, vegan, vegetarian
- 150 gr caster sugar
- 70 ml sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- 150 gr tamarind paste
Put the sugar and vinegar in a stainless steel pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer then add the tamarind paste and cook about 4 minutes until the mixture thickens. Pour into a sterilised jar, seal and cool. When cool store in the fridge. Drizzle over Halloumi kebabs or use as a dipping sauce. If it becomes to sticky to pour just heat it up slightly.