Tag Archives: indian

Indian Spiced Smashed Pumpkin

7 Oct

I’ve found a new blog that I love, it’s called Veg Recipes Of India. There are so many things that I want to make I didn’t know where to start. The first recipe that captured my soul, and my stomach though, was this one. It’s real name is Kaddu Sabzi but I couldn’t resist The Smashing Pumpkins reference.

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Green Bean, Lentil and Potato Curry with Green Chilli and Mint

23 Sep

Watching these green beans growing in the fields where I walk the dog made me think about using them in a dish as the main ingredient. We eat quite a lot of green beans but always as a side vegetable. I wanted to give them the chance to be the star.

I found a Madhur Jaffrey recipe for Green Lentils with Green Beans & Fresh Coriander in another magazine clipping The Washer Up’s dad, Jim had sent to me. I used that as a base to work from and added a lot more spices and some of my homegrown green chillis.

I had some new potatoes in my fridge so I added those and I used mint instead of coriander because that was what I had. The mint works really well with the beans and the potatoes and gives the whole dish a lovely freshness as well as being a cool partner to the fiery chilli.

This is surprisingly delicious, by that I mean that humble everyday ingredients can be brought together with a bit of spice and chilli heat to create something really special. And you don’t need to serve anything with it, so less washing up!

Green Bean Lentil & Potato Curry with Green Chilli & Mint

Serves 3-4 vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey

  • 250 gr green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 200 gr dried lentils
  • 750 ml water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 425 gr new potatoes, quartered
  • 1 tsp Punchpooran (An Indian whole spice mix that includes: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds and onion seeds) Available from East End Foods.
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, then crushed in a mortar & pestle
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves, garlic
  • 2 green chillis, finely chopped (deseeded if you like it milder)
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 500 ml veg stock (maybe more)
  • 1 tin (400 gr) chopped tomatoes
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves, (about 15) finely chopped plus some sprigs for garnish

Put the lentils and water in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered for about 20 minutes until the lentils are nearly cooked and most of the water has been absorbed. Then season with salt & black pepper.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large pan that has a lid over a medium heat. Add the punchpooran, cumin, mustard and crushed coriander seeds and cook until they start to pop. Add the onion cook for about 5 minutes until softened then add the garlic, ginger, chillies and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add in the quartered potatoes, turmeric and garam masala and season well with salt & pepper. Stir to coat the potatoes in the spices then add the stock and tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Next add in the beans and cook for another 5 minutes with the lid on (If it is dry you may want to add some more stock). Then add in the cooked lentils and cook for a further 5 minutes. By this time the potatoes should be cooked, if not add a bit more stock and give them another 5 minutes.

Squeeze over the lemon and stir in the chopped mint. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Serve in warmed bowls garnished with the mint sprigs.

This is actually really good served cold/room temperature as a salad for lunch the next day too.

Have a great weekend…

Curried Aubergine with Tomato and Chickpeas

29 Jul

The first of the seasons aubergines are starting to peek out from inside their pretty lilac flowers in the fields where I walk the dog.

I have lots of aubergine recipes saved from Spain to China that will make even the most stubborn aubergine haters out there succumb to its deeply, dark and delicious charms.

I can say that because I used to be one of them – a hater I mean, not an aubergine obviously. If they are cooked incorrectly, which they generally are, they can be a spongy, chewy, watery, bland and disgusting disaster. Which is why there are so many haters out there.

The first recipe from my aubergine collection that I am going to share with you is a curry. I chose the curry because my chillis on the roof terrace are turning for green to red very quickly right now and every morning there is a fresh crop of jewel-like peppers twinkling at me from the bush. 

These chillis are just asking to be used, and there are lots of them.

So expect lot of chilli recipes in the next few weeks including: my homemade Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce and some spicy Chickpea Tikka Masala Burgers. It’s going to be a long, hot summer.

This curry is delicious, the aubergine is meltingly soft and the sauce well reduced to create an intensely rich and flavourful dish.

It’s from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey. You can’t go wrong with Rick, he knows good curry. I just added the chickpeas so it was a one pot dish and I didn’t have to make any rice to go with it. Some flatbreads would be nice to scoop it up though.

Rick Stein has a new series about Spain on the BBC at the moment. I saw it for the first time last night and he mentioned that next week he would be in Andalucia. I’m really interested to see where he goes and what he eats. It’s definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s called Rick Stein’s Spain.

Curried Aubergine with Tomato & Chickpeas

Serves 2-3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tin, 400 gr chopped tomatoes
  • 200 gr (1/2 a jar/tin) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus leaves for garnish
  • 10 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • lemon wedges to serve

Cut the aubergine in half across the middle then cut each half in half lengthways. Cut each piece, lengthways into 6 or 8 wedges, place them in a colander, sprinkle over 1/2 tsp salt and toss to coat. Place the colander in the sink to drain for 10 minutes. This draws out some of the water out of the aubergines.

Meanwhile prepare your onions, garlic, ginger and chillies. Heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat without any oil. Pour the olive oil into a shallow dish and brush the aubergine wedges on all sides with the oil. Put them in the frying pan a few at a time and cook for 2 or 3 minutes on each side until well browned. This helps to stop the aubergines absorbing too much oil. Set aside in a heatproof bowl and continue cooking the rest.

Put the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli into a processor or blender with 2 or 3 tbsp water and process to a smooth paste. Heat 2 tbsp of the remaining olive oil in the frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds wait until they start to pop then add the onion paste and fry for about 2 minutes. Add the ground coriander and turmeric and fry for a further minute then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and 3 tbsp water.

 Lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer for about 8 minutes until sauce has reduced and thickened. Add the aubergine wedges back into the pan along with the chickpeas and stir well to coat in the sauce. Simmer for a further 5 minutes until the aubergines are meltingly tender then stir in the fresh coriander & mint. Taste to check seasoning.

Serve garnished with coriander leaves and a wedge of lemon.

Please try this even if you hate aubergine and let me know if you’ve been converted. I was!

Things That made me Smile Today…..

Beautiful squash flowers…

And green baby pumpkins nestled in their shady bed….

A sure sign that autumn is not too far away and along with it relief from this crazy heat!

Chana Saag – Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach

25 Jun

Our chilli plant on the roof terrace has loads of green chillis on it all of a sudden. I’m sure it grows about 5 centimetres overnight. It’s been so hot here  so we have been watering it really well every evening when the sun goes down. It seems to be very happy there.

This is my cue now for putting chilli in everything. Not that I need another excuse. The Washer Up loves anything with chilli in it especially Indian food. Apparently eating chilli cools you down in hot weather too. Like having a cup of tea is supposed to. I don’t know about that but I’m willing to give it a try, this heat is unbearable.

Chana Masala (chickpeas in a spicy sauce) is one my favourite dishes. I always order it, along with Tarka Dal (spiced lentils), and Saag Aloo (potatoes with spinach) when we go out for Indian food. I borrowed this recipe from Dani at Moderate Oven which combines two of my favourite dishes. Chana Saag is spiced chickpeas with spinach. I’d never tried it before and couldn’t wait to debut our homegrown green chillis.

Chana Saag-  Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach Recipe

serves 2-3, adapted from Moderate Oven

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tin (400 gr) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 300 gr frozen spinach (not defrosted)
  • 1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus some leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and cardamom pods and cook for a minute until they start to pop, don’t let them burn. Add the onion and cook for around 4 minutes. When the onion begins to soften & brown then add the ginger, garlic & green chillis and cook for another minute.

Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric & cayenne pepper until coating the onions then add the tinned tomatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring for 3 or 4 minutes. Add in the frozen spinach, stirring the tomatoes around and over it and simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to break up the spinach until completely thawed.

Remove from the heat and use a stick blender or processor to (carefully) puree the spinach until smooth. Put the pan back on the heat with the spinach and add the rinsed chickpeas to it. Season with salt, pepper & garam masala and simmer, partially covered, for 8 -10 more minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Add boiling water if necessary.

Stir in the chopped coriander, squeeze over some lemon juice and check the seasoning. Add more salt or lemon juice to taste. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lemon on the side.

That reminds me I must go and water the chilli plants, it has been another ridiculously hot day, they must be thirsty!

Things that made me smile today…..

I think it must be baby snail (caracolillos) season. They live on the wild fennel at the side of the road. You see people with buckets picking them off.

It looks like they like artichokes too. If I wasn’t  vegetarian I would make a Snail, Fennel & Artichoke Risotto. But I am, so I won’t. Don’t let me stop you though….

Buen Fin de Semana!

Sri Lankan Green Bean, Potato and Cashew Nut Curry

16 May

I saw Rick Stein making this curry on his Far Eastern Odyssey series. I watched every episode because he visited all the places I’d love to go; India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam. Him eating his way around Asia just reinforced my desire. Even though he doesn’t cook much vegetarian food it still transports you there.

You know when you are watching a food programme and someone makes a dish that you just have to cook straight away. That’s what happened when I saw this dish. It’s like the planets align and you simultaneously have all the ingredients in the house and the perfect recipe. I love it when that happens……

The original recipe doesn’t have potatoes in it but calls for 300 gr cashew nuts. I didn’t have 300 gr of cashew nuts (who does?) so I padded it out with some baby new potatoes. The potatoes are great  because it means that you don’t have to make rice to go with it. It’s a one pot dish, which is always a bonus, less washing up.

It may seem like a lot of fuss to make you own Sri Lankan curry powder but it makes such a difference. You just toast the whole spices and then grind them in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar & pestle. I did mine in a battery operated pepper mill, it took a while and it wasn’t really a powder but hey, afterwards you have a little jar of your own  Sri Lankan curry powder that you can bust out whenever you need a quick and delicious dinner.

Cinnamon has been cultivated in Sri Lanka for a very long time. About 90% of the world’s cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka making it a very important part of the history of the island.  It is made from fine curls of the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. Not surprisingly cinnamon plays an important part in the cuisine of Sri Lanka and, along with coconut, is found in nearly every dish.

Sri Lankan Green Bean, Potato & Cashew Nut Curry

Serves 2, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey

For the curry powder

I halved the original recipe feel free to double it again.

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  •  1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp rice

Toast all the spices in a dry pan for a few minutes until they release their aromas and start to pop. Cool them slightly and then grind in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar & pestle. Tip into an airtight jar and store in a cool dry place.

For the Curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 stick lemongrass, bruised & finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Sri Lankan curry powder (see above)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tin 400 ml coconut milk (I used low-fat)
  • about 400 ml veg stock
  • a handful of curry leaves (if you can find them)
  • 2oo gr green beans, trimmed & cut into thirds
  • 350 gr baby new potatoes, quartered
  • 150 gr cashew nuts, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 lime, 1/2 juiced 1/2 cut into wedges
  • salt
  • 1 tsp cornflour, to thicken if necessary

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over a medium heat. Add in the cinnamon, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass, turmeric and the Sri Lankan curry powder. Fry until the aromas develop but don’t let it burn. Add the coconut milk then fill up the coconut milk tin with veg stock and add that too, mix well.

Stir in the potatoes, green beans, curry leaves and cashew nuts (save some for garnish).  Bring to the boil, season well with salt then add the sugar & lime juice. Lower the heat and simmer for 25 – 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

If it seems a bit too liquidy. Stir a teaspoon of cornflour into a few tablespoons of water until dissolved, add this to the pan and stir. Cook for a few more minutes until thickened.

Serve in warm bowls topped with more toasted cashew nuts and the lime wedges.

Enjoy!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Dandelions……..

Daisies…….

Rufus in a daisy chain….

Make a daisy chain if you see some. It’s like being a kid again…..

Carrot and Courgette Pakoras with Coriander Lime Chutney

9 May

Okay so I might have overcooked them slightly. They are a little bit dark but that means that they are really crispy on the outside, which is a good thing. I think I had my oil too hot for these. The ones I did for dinner the night before were perfect. This is what I do before blogging a recipe. I make dinner, making sure I write down the recipe while I’m cooking it so I don’t forget anything and I make enough so that I have some left over for lunch and to photograph the next day in the light. It’s all about the natural light you see. Taking photos of food at night with artificial light just isn’t the same.

So that is what happened, I only had enough mixture for two pakoras left, and then I burnt them a little bit. You get the idea though, they taste great and the chutney is the perfect mix of light and zesty and good and fiery. And if you do overcook them you can pretend that they are supposed to be like that. You can use words like caramelized or chargrilled (even though they are fried).

Carrot & Courgette Pakoras Recipe

makes about 8 small balls, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium courgette (zucchini)
  • 1/2 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • about 25 gr gram flour/chickpea flour/besan
  • salt & black pepper
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying

Wash and trim the courgette and peel and trim the carrot. Grate both on the long side, put in a bowl, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Then squeeze as much liquid out of the mix as possible (this is a lot of liquid). Put the squeezed vegetables back into the dry bowl and mix in the chilli, onion, ginger, spices and coriander. Sieve the chickpea flour over the mixture, season with salt & black pepper, mix together well and then form into about 8 small balls. Sprinkle over some more chickpea flour if they are not sticking together, but not a lot.

In a deep frying pan or wok heat about 4cm oil over a medium (not high) heat. When the oil is hot drop in about 4 or 5 balls at a time (off a slotted spoon). Fry for about 1 1/2 minutes, turning them occasionally until they are a dark (but not too dark) golden brown colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper in a warm place while you cook the rest.

And try not to overcook them…..!

Coriander Lime Chutney Recipe

vegan, gluten-free

  • a big bunch of coriander, including stalks, chopped
  • 1 (or more) green chillis, chopped
  • I lime, zest and juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Put everything in a food processor or bowl and blend until smooth. Taste and add more lime, chilli, salt or sugar to taste.

Serve the fritters hot with the coriander lime chutney and another wedge of lime to squeeze over if you like.

Enjoy!!

Bhelpuri – A Spice Roasted Chickpea Salad

27 Apr

 

  I know I said it always rains at Easter but this year was ridiculous. On Thursday afternoon (the day before Good Friday) the sky turned an ominous shade of black and we were treated to one of the scariest thunder storms I have ever experienced. The loudest clap of thunder and lightning strike simultaneously conspired to blow up my modem and the electrics in the house. No internet, no TV, no shops open to buy a new modem and no processions to follow and photograph. Just rain, buckets full of it. The kind of rain that comes in the back door while you are mopping the flood at the front door. So I apologise for my recent absence and lack of Semana Santa documentation but I’ve just come back online today and I wasn’t going to go out in that rain and nor, I believe, did Jesus…

So, thankfully, now it has stopped raining and the sun is shining. The electric is back on and the new modem is working. I have lots of recipes to catch up with so I will get on with it. I bought some wholemeal puffed rice from the health food shop and was reminded of a salad we served as a special at the restaurant called Bhelpuri. Bhelpuri is a type of  Mumbai street food. There are many different versions some including potatoes rather than chickpeas but the common ingredients are puffed rice, tamarind chutney, onion, chilli, tomatoes & coriander. It is a dish with many different textures and flavours. The crispyness comes from the puffed rice and also crumbled puris ( a type of fried flatbread) as well as sev (a fried crispy noodle snack) also found in Bombay mix. I couldn’t find any Bombay mix here so I just used the puffed rice.

Let’s start with the spice roasted chickpeas. These are extremely addictive. You will be lucky if they make it into the Bhelpuri. I had to physically restrain myself from eating the whole lot straight off of the baking tray. They are a really tasty, healthy snack on their own and would be great as a nibble with drinks. I got this easy, delicious recipe from Alexa Marsden. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you….

Spice Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

vegan, gluten-free, adapted from Alexa Marsden

  • 1 jar/tin cooked chickpeas 400 gr, rinsed & drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Sharwood’s medium curry powder (do not use that horrible generic yellow curry powder) or see the original recipe for a spice breakdown
  • salt & black pepper

After you have rinsed and drained the chickpeas leave them to air dry.  Pre heat oven to 180 C. Mix the curry powder, olive oil, salt & pepper in a large bowl then add the chickpeas and toss to coat evenly. Arrange them in one layer on a lined baking sheet and put it on the lowest rack in the oven. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes shaking the pan half way through. Leave them to cool if you are physically able then tip into a bowl to serve with drinks or see Bhelpuri recipe below.

This is my recipe for Bhelpuri. I researched it and found that every recipe is different. I have given you a list of suggested ingredients You don’t have to use them all. There are no amounts you just add what you think, mix it all together, taste and adjust to your liking.

My Bhelpuri Recipe

serves 3-4 vegan, gluten-free

  • 4oo gr spice roasted chickpeas (above)
  •  puffed rice
  • sev (or Bombay mix)
  • roasted peanuts or cashew nuts
  • crushed puris or poppadoms
  • 1/4 onion or a few spring onions, finely chopped
  • diced cooked potatoes
  • 1 green or red chilli, finely chopped
  • tamarind chutney/ syrup
  • mango chutney
  • lemon juice (essential)
  •   handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tomato, deseeded & diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded & diced
  • little gem lettuce leaves to serve

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt & pepper. Add vegetables, chutney, lemon juice and coriander, mix to coat everything then taste and adjust to your liking. Serve in a big bowl or on a small lettuce leaf and top with more puffed rice, sev (Bombay mix) and coriander leaves.

Enjoy!!

Lentil and Spinach Dhal with Cashews and Coriander

9 Apr

This is my kind of comfort food.  All the flavour of a take away curry with none of the fat. It is easy, quick to cook (after the chopping) and really delicious. You could serve it with some whole grain rice if you like or poppadoms but on its own is just fine and filling enough. The soft spicy lentils with the irony richness of the spinach are topped off with toasted crunchy cashews, fragrant coriander and all the flavours are brightened by the zingy lime juice.

Lentil & Spinach Dhal with Cashews & Coriander

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  •  1/2 tsp panch pooran (an Indian whole spice mix) use fennel seeds if you can’t get any
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • about 250 ml veg stock
  • a 400 gr jar/ tin cooked lentils, rinsed
  • a tin of chopped tomatoes 400 gr
  • about 150 gr fresh spinach leaves (about half a bag)
  • 125 gr cashew nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (about 1/2 a lime) and some wedges to serve
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped and leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and panch pooran/fennel seeds until they start to pop. Then stir in the onions, celery, carrot, a big pinch of salt & grinding of black pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes until softened but not browned then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another minute being careful not to burn the garlic. Add in the ground spices and a splash of stock if it seems dry and cook for another minute.

Tip in the lentils, tomatoes, veg stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes then add the spinach, put the lid on and cook for another few minutes until the spinach has just wilted.  Season with salt, stir through the chopped coriander and lime juice and taste for seasoning.

Serve in warmed bowls sprinkled with a handful of toasted cashew nuts and coriander leaves with some extra lime wedges on the side.

 From the lentils you get an excellent balance of protein and complex carbohydrate as well as iron, B vitamins and soluble fibre that provides sustained energy and balance blood sugar levels. The carrots & spinach are super rich in beta carotene, which helps to protect the body from cancer and benefits the skin. The spinach also provides lots of vitamin C, folate and iron. Tinned tomatoes contain lycopene, another powerful anticancer nutrient and the cashew nuts supply protein, zinc & fibre.

I really didn’t know it was this easy to eat more healthily. I thought it would be a lot more difficult to give up cheese but I really don’t miss it and, as I said yesterday, I am not hungry, which is amazing if you know me. I am always hungry!! If you are not interested in the health benefits just ignore the paragraph above and enjoy the food. I just think it’s surprising/interesting how many good nutrients you can get from food and how good it tastes. And I haven’t even started on the health benefits of turmeric yet…..

Buen fin de semana!!

Halloumi Tikka Kebab with Turmeric and Cardamon Risotto and Tamarind Syrup

3 Apr

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
  • water

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).

Tamarind Syrup/Glaze

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.

 Enjoy!!

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!!!

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