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Artichoke, butterbean and Halloumi pie in a green pepper, cauliflower and coriander chutney

6 Mar

Artichoke, butterbean and Halloumi pie in a green pepper, cauliflower and coriander chutney

 

Artichoke, butterbean and Halloumi pie in a green pepper, cauliflower and coriander chutney

I’ve indulged quite a lot lately.  There has been a lot of wintery comfort in the way of creamy pasta, warm chocolate and waffles…not forgetting the deep fried mock chicken in Malaysian spices or the sticky rice. Oof.

So when the subject of Pie week came up, I felt a little queasy at the thought of puff pastry giving way to dense fillings in creamy sauces. I found myself silent in the kitchen, looking over at spring shoots in the garden, my annually visiting hyacinths, daffodils and snowdrops desperately wanting to burst through. I love this time of year. I feel a sense of freshness, newness, readiness and the urge to just go out and do things. I want to do fun things, be outdoors and be kinder to my body.

The fabulous thing about a crisp and light filo pie is that it can take on any character you like, cant it? I have created fresh, zesty, juicy, chutney to dress the salty and spongy Halloumi, deep butterbeans and silky artichoke and all in all it’s a bit like a spring salad in a crisp golden wrapping.

I’ve indulged quite a lot lately.  There has been a lot of wintery comfort in the way of creamy pasta, warm chocolate and waffles…not forgetting the deep fried mock chicken in Malaysian spices or the sticky rice. Oof. So when the subject of Pie week came up, I felt a little queasy at the thought of puff pastry giving way to dense fillings in creamy sauces. I found myself silent in the kitchen, looking over at spring shoots in the garden, my annually visiting hyacinths, daffodils and snowdrops desperately wanting to burst through. I love this time of year. I feel a sense of freshness, newness, readiness and the urge to just go out and do things. I want to do fun things, be outdoors and be kinder to my body.  The fabulous thing about a crisp and light filo pie is that it can take on any character you like, cant it? I have created fresh, zesty, juicy, chutney to dress the salty and spongy Halloumi, deep butterbeans and silky artichoke and all in all it’s a bit like a spring salad in a crisp golden wrapping.

The really exciting thing about this salad is the chutney and how well it works with the simple and clean ingredients. It’s bracing, it’s invigorating and it smells great.

The really exciting thing about this salad is the chutney and how well it works with the simple and clean ingredients. It’s bracing, it’s invigorating and it smells great. For the full recipe, head over to great british chefts

 

Cinnamon-chill onion, asparagus, cashew and cheddar filo rolls

4 Mar

 

Cinnamon-chill onion, cashew Asparagus and cheddar filo rolls

 

Sticks and cheese

Spring, 1994

I enjoyed my business studies class at school. In anticipation of starting the class I got some books out on the subject during the summer holidays and learned about the concept of barter trade and achieving break-even point and what constitutes profit.  I started the class with sense of fluency and that made me feel good. One day my not-so-tall, dry pink cheeked, booming-voiced male teacher sat at his desk across from us and I knew from his frown and the way that his two, ear-side grey tufts of hair flounced that he was not in a good mood.

He asked some of us what we wanted to become. He, himself a father of three boys and a qualified accountant had for some reason turned into a secondary school teacher. He pointed at one of the clever lads at the back of the room. Thin, dark, thick-spectacled and he had unfortunately shaped teeth but was a lovely boy. ‘I want to be a pilot’ he beamed.

‘You will never be a pilot, look at the thickness of your glasses, you will probably get a mostly A’s and a few B’s and become an accountant.’

Next he turned to one of the understated beauties of the class. Not one of those permed-haired divas but one of those faces that you know will turn into a success drawing, friend winning, and a champion of happiness. She told him that she wanted to be a dancer and a business woman. He told her that she would get mostly B grade and C grade GCSE’s and may have a clerical job.

Cinnamon-chill onion, asparagus, cashew and cheddar filo rolls

Once he quietened down and the student’s eyes were down into their books I went to him and told him that I had been pondering about what he was saying to everyone. He laughed at me having used the word, ‘pondering’. I asked him why he felt that he could tell people what their destiny will be and why he felt that his influential words should be thrown around; wasn’t he fearful that he would miss-shape, or erode the confidence of a young mind? Weren’t his predictions limiting, shouldn’t he just let the individual dream and at least try? My dad told me that I could do, or be anything I wanted to.

As he gurgled with fury at my perhaps loaded question I turned around and to walk away and I felt my pulse in my mouth as my pony tail was pulled back into his fist. He growled something about my insolence but I don’t remember any of that, I was just stunned and felt clear horror.

When my hair was released, I unobtrusively walked through the buildings; along echoing corridors and I looked out at playing fields through murky windows. My feet patted gently along the balcony and I listened to the sounds of a PE class beneath me and then I shuffled past silent art classes. I sat down, on the large grey, lightly-rough chair at reception and told them that I wanted to speak to the headmaster immediately and that I needed to call my dad.

I was full of conviction, self-assurance and compassion. I was just 14. No words from my teacher damaged me or swayed me, even when my teacher crouched down before me in reception and apologised…something about going through a stressful time. I let him talk. I had plump cheeks and eyes that were always moist and I listened. I asked him if he had a daughter, knowing full well that he hadn’t.

Cinnamon-chill onion, asparagus, cashew and cheddar filo rolls

Winter 2010

I had gone from a ‘rising star’ to being unwanted. I replayed the words over and over and over and I believed them. I let the opinion of one person become my reality. Sticks and stones.

Winter 2014

I am learning from myself. You know, we often draw on examples from those we admire; those who have done things that we would like to do, or be the way that we would like to be. I have found that within myself I hold all the will, the strength, the courage and the conviction. I have done it before, I can do it again. I choose my words, both the ones I speak and the ones I listen to.

My sticks today are full of aroma. Cinnamon, chilli and onion work superbly together in a sweet, spicy, aromatic and fragrant glory. Silky onions work superbly with cashew nuts and there’s a light layer of mature cheese holding it all together with a spear of asparagus as the star of the show in a crisp filo shell. The tasters today told me that they are amazing. I have to agree.

Ingredients to make 5-7 rolls

7 sheets of filo pastry

3 medium onions, sliced

1 tsp. dried chilli flakes

¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

100g cashew nuts

125g mature cheddar cheese, grated

7 asparagus spears

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. cooking oil or a generous nob of butter

¾ tsp. caraway seeds

1 tsp. cumin seeds

Method

  1. Trim the base off the asparagus spears and boil them gently in water for 4-5 minutes before draining them in cool water and leaving them to dry.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, caraway seeds and then let them sizzle, before stirring in the onions and the salt. Soften the onions on a medium flame until they start to grow golden in colour.
  3. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and chilli flakes and sauté for another minute on a more gentle flame before turning the heat down and adding the cashew nuts. Turn off the heat and move onto assembling the rolls.
  4. Take a sheet of filo and fold it in half. Sprinkle a thin layer of cheese and then a couple of tbsp. of the onions and cashew nut mix.
  5. Place a spear of asparagus near the top, lengthways and leave the tip hanging outside. Fold it into a cigar and place each one onto a baking sheet. Drizzle a little oil on the filo and bake in the oven at 180 degrees until they are lightly browned.

Soy-Masala tofu, Quinoa, avocado and mozzarella salad

26 Feb

I remember that as children, my cousins and I knew broadly the menu we would be served at any family wedding, before even the wedding invitation arrived and each summer we would receive a collection of them.
Steamed, fluffy, lightly sour and spiced gram flour dhokla, potatoes in thick and rich curry gravy, black chickpeas perhaps or a curry of Val (field beans) and lots of fried puri breads. We knew there would probably be flaky samosa and multi-coloured mini poppadum’s that we would use to scoop up Kadhi-doused biryani. We would grab a compartmentalised plastic plate from the buffet and perch ourselves on a chair where we could find one and sometimes eat standing and giggling away.

Soy-Masala tofu, Quinoa, avocado and mozzarella salad

Weddings would always be in the hottest part of summer back then and we would look forward to seeing our lists of cousins and enjoying the banter between loud music and many guests. We would turn our chairs towards each other and admire one another’s colourful and detailed clothes, an arm full of bangles, glistening bindi and very often back then, weddings were held in school halls, where the walls evidenced children’s activities and the guests spilled over onto the green fields. Everyone attended you see. As young children we would run around the hall giggling and playing as the many parts of the ceremony carried on whilst our parents mingled.

Things have changed so much. Nowadays weddings are in hotels or stately homes and so there aren’t scores of guests spilling over, maybe because the venue is so hard to find. Cousins aren’t in lists, but in treasured few numbers. You won’t see kids running around; maybe they aren’t allowed at the ‘event’. Sometimes silence is observed during the abbreviated ceremony, sometimes it’s just quiet. Maybe that’s because not everyone goes, people are busy these days, aren’t they. Sometimes they aren’t invited, invitations nowadays are at the couple’s discretion and friends are the new family.

Soy-Masala tofu, Quinoa, avocado and mozzarella salad
People don’t always wear bindi or bangles, but certainly not an armful. Sometimes it’s just not fashionable to look overly celebratory, subtly or nonchalant, I am not sure. There are seating arrangements and food comes to the table and is kept warm. Gone are the days of Val bean curry or multi-coloured poppadum’s and established are the days of carrot halwa with ice cream and whatever else the couple fancies; from indo-Chinese and robustly spiced paneer to sweet corn curry in a mellow cashew nut gravy.

So I got thinking about some of the modern stuff served at celebrations these days and the cult recipe of chilli paneer came to mind. Doused with soy, ginger, garlic, chillies and ketchup this recipe seems to be an obvious option on most local Indian restaurant menus. Without doubt, and someone secretly, I admit..it tastes good.
BUT, that doesn’t mean I would make a meal of it or cook it up at home. It’s become to…well, ‘been there done that’. Taking healthy inspiration from of it, I have created this recipe for soy-masala tofu (healthier and protein fuelled) salad with Quinoa, avocado and mozzarella. I don’t know if you use mozzarella as a sponge in your dishes but it soaks up juices beautifully. Use fluffy clouds please, not the tough stuff.

Ingredients
250g cooked Quinoa
1 400g pack of firm tofu
One ripe avocado
200g mozzarella, torn into bite sized chunks
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. ketchup
1-2 tbsp. chilli sauce
1 tbsp. tomato puree
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. ginger, minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1-2 green chillies chopped (optional)
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. coriander powder
¼ tsp. turmeric

Method
1. Wrap the tofu in kitchen paper to soak up any excess water. When it is dry, cube it.
2. Heat the sesame oil in a non-stick pan and add the chillies, cumin seeds and tofu. Stir fry until the tofu is golden before adding the onion, garlic, ginger, spring onions and turmeric. Cook for 3-4 minutes before pouring in the soy sauce, ketchup, coriander powder, chilli sauce, and tomato puree and rice wine vinegar.
3. Cook the tofu for a further 3-4 minutes before turning off the heat.chilli tofu
4. In a large bowl mix the cooked Quinoa, avocado, mozzarella and then stir in the tofu whilst warm and serve immediately with lovely flatbread.

Roasted potato, mung bean, tomato and feta salad in Indian spice and za’atar

24 Feb

Roasted potato, mung bean, tomato and feta salad in Indian spice and za’atar

Where is your chip?

I like to tell myself that I have learned and earned more cultured stripes over the years and that through a progression of a London education, being reasonably well-travelled and having worked in a multi-cultural environment with stimulating and bright folk, I am now more ‘worldly’.  I eat biscotti and macaroons, not just digestives and there is artichoke on my salad today with panko breadcrumbs.  My bread had apple and pecan on it and my muffin has a spiced and poached pear in it; there are certainly no sprinkles on top.  Maybe though, just perhaps, the omelette and chips are just etched into my makeup and frankly, I like that.

I have spent much of the last couple of month’s solo parenting, as you may know if you read my posts regularly.  Needs must, so this is the way it is and part of it comes with privileges which I am grateful for and a measure of it comes with sacrifices, which I accept.  It is no holiday though.

When I’m on my own I do find myself in a state of heightened sensitivity and maybe that’s the exhaustion, with some element of loneliness paired with the desire to feel reassured.  I am more grateful, in a philosophical way, for those who visit to keep me company in the quiet of the evenings or call to ask how I am doing.  I am touched into silence for the flowers of encouragement and the cakes of companionship that come to me when the stillness does.  I smile when people let me rant knowing that I sound ludicrous at times because, being maddened by a case of dying ladybirds on my landing isn’t really that terminal.  And then I recognised, quite proudly, that the iron chip that weighed on my shoulder when people didn’t ask, show support, or care was well removed. I had successfully removed that draining energy and walked on.  I had grown and I didn’t even know it.

Roasted potato, mung bean, tomato and feta salad in Indian spice and za’atar

Though there is one thing, when I need a bit of comfort there is nothing like a spud with a crispy exterior and sweet fluffy interior. I told you that the egg and chips hadn’t left me and I am very glad for it too because they cajole me into my natural rhythm and there are times in life when I need that.  Nowadays though, there are no baked beans but instead I have created a filling, spicy, sense rousing salad using mung beans, salty feta and sweet tomatoes.  I had used za’atar spices and a mild Indian tempering to give zingy, spiced and herby flavour to this salad. It works so well as a salad on its own or in a wrap or with some bread.

Ingredients to serve 4

120g mung beans

700g of roasting potatoes like King Edwards, peeled and cut into two inch cubes

225g baby plum tomatoes, halved or quartered

2 tbsp. Za’atar spice

½ tsp. turmeric

2 green chillies, cut and slit

175g feta cheese, cubed

One small red onion, finely diced

30g coriander, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. cumin seeds

4-5 curry leaves

2 tbsp. sesame oil

Half a lemon

Salt to taste

 

Method

  1. Boil the potatoes for 7-10 minutes before draining them and then allow them to cool. Coat them lightly in olive oil and then roast them in the oven at 200degrees until they are golden brown.
  2. In the meantime wash and boil the mung beans for approximately 20-25 minutes until they are tender and toss them once they are drained to remove as many of the loose skins as possible.
  3. In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese and mung beans before making the tempering.
  4. In a non-stick pan, heat the sesame oil and add the cumin seeds, garlic, chillies, turmeric and curry leaves. Allow the seeds to sizzle and then after a minute turn the heat off.
  5. Pour the tempering into the salad and then mix it well. Squeeze in the lemon juice, sprinkle in the coriander and toss the salad well.
  6. When the potatoes are roasted, combine them with the other salad ingredients too and then sprinkle in the za’atar spice mix and toss the salad well again before serving warm.

 

Stuffed and pickled baby aubergines

17 Feb

Stuffed and pickled baby aubergines

There is no race

Do you count when you run? I do. Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to run, or maybe there is a secret sense of achievement in ascending numbers. 34, 35, 36, 37…my mind bounds as fast my body, to the beat of my feet…38, 39, 40.  I feel all of my thoughts in pictures.   I see myself in PE at secondary school; one of my teachers had a rule that if we wanted to participate in with his scheduled activity we could, if not we run on the course that whole lesson. The default option was always to run. I saw myself at college, pre-hockey game. My dad would make me two eggs, two slices of toast and a large milkshake and I would run thinking of my breakfast and my aims, I needed those three ‘A’ grades for my a-levels, though I wasn’t sure why. 41, 42, 43, 44.

Stuffed and pickled baby aubergines

 

I feel the drizzle on my face and my throat is dry, my mind is running down the hill at junior school when the other girls didn’t want to play with me that day. The hill was littered with daisies and when you don’t know what to do, when standing still and all alone is confusing and unsettling, you stay busy and run.  45, 46, 47, 48…The new part of the school was being painted red and I could smell it amongst the daisy chains. 48, 49, 50…I wore trainers for the journey to work. I ran up the steps and down the spiral staircases and along the platforms, weaving myself between people traffic, frowning, as you do and thinking about the first meeting. If I got a seat I would whip out my phone and prepare to bash out that presentation.

51, 52, 53, 54…she said I should consider something that made me feel weak, he said that I need to do more. I said I have no time and that I am tired. You know when I am this busy, in this race, I nibble and not eat so much. I’m tired.

55, 56, 57, 58… I’m in the park with my best friend and we are young and laughing. It is what we did. There was nothing else, no competition, no pressure, no agenda. We walked a lot, we laughed a lot and we made up silly songs. We got wet, we ate a lot and we accepted. 59…I am in my quiet and secret spot on that bench amongst flowers. It is serene and cold and nobody knows I am there. There is no race.

If you have no time and you pick a lot, like me, make it one that will last. These sumptuous and silky bites give way to zing and heat and crisp little red peppers. These baby aubergines are stuffed with red pepper, parsley and garlic and this is a fine combination at any time of day. The idea of picking for me is to satisfy any mild hunger but more so, any urge for taste that will linger for a while. If I could keep a jar of these in my car with me I would, for an intermittent sigh of relief.

 

Ingredients

300g baby aubergines, stems removed

1 medium sized red pepper, finely diced

15-20g parsley, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 green chillies

½ tsp. cumin seeds

Salt to taste

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. lemon juice

400ml white wine vinegar

4tbsp. sugar

200ml water

 

Method

  1. Clean and sterilise the jars you will put the aubergines into and then dry them thoroughly.
  2. Boil the baby aubergines for 10-12 minutes before draining them and leaving them to cool and dry.
  3. When the baby aubergines are cool and dry, make a slit into them, lengthways.
  4. Combine the red pepper, parsley, garlic, salt and chilli and then drizzle in the lemon juice and oil. Stuff 1 tsp. or more if possible into the aubergines before letting them rest for ten minutes of so.
  5. In the meantime, bring the white wine vinegar, teaspoon of salt and sugar to a simmer before gently placing the aubergines into the brine. Simmer for three minutes before removing them with a slotted spoon.
  6. Pour over the brine, so that the aubergines are completely submerged.

The aubergines will taste best the day after and should keep for a week in the fridge.

 

Scrambled masala tofu, beet and bulgur salad pockets

12 Feb

A lot of people tell me that if they could negotiate more hours in the day, they would. If they could move to somewhere sunnier, more peaceful or beautiful, they would and if they could make their work-life balance more life and less work hefty, they would.

Scrambled masala tofu, beet and bulgur salad pockets

Many others tell me that they would choose a different, more personally (not financially) rewarding career given the choice and that if they could just come out of the race and live somewhere exciting, they would.

Unfortunately cloning ourselves, time travel and morphing aren’t options but maybe our own minds and actions are, options.  Insofar as negotiating time is concerned I have a recipe which may just help with that.

Warm spices infiltrate tofu so well; there is no chance that it will be bland and what’s an added bonus, is that it is a good source of protein and oh…it cooks so quickly that you may reconsider wishing more time in your day. I’ve paired it with beetroot; it keeps the tofu lovely and moist and adds fantastic light sweetness and colour. Bulgur wheat is nutty and filling, healthy too.

For the full recipe, please head over to great british chefs

Scrambled masala tofu, beet and bulgur salad pockets

Jaggery, pistachio, sesame, cardamom and chilli crusted popcorn

30 Jan

Jaggery, pistachio, sesame, cardamom and chilli crusted popcorn

 

My baby boy turns two today.

We went to buy his cake today and he, completely unprompted thanked the staff. In the supermarket he now walks with me, for quick shops only (rather than sitting in the trolley or pram) and natters the whole way; busses, music, birds, cars.  He scoots straight past all the dolls and pink crafts and goes straight to monster trucks, robots and aeroplanes.  He knows to hold my hand at all times.  When we got home he refused to let me cook dinner and swung from my leg until I carried him whilst cooking so that he could stir. After dinner he told me that wanted cuddles with mumma and whimpered until I sat down with him and he hurriedly made conversation, becoming breathless in fact…just in case I would get up and move away from talking about favourite vehicles, animals, planets or dinosaurs.

He still feels a part of me, an extension.  Not everyone will see this. I have learned an incredible amount about life through my boy in the last two years.

I eat more popcorn now than I have for many years, because he likes it.  I used to be a definite salted girl, but somewhere along the lines, things changed. Apart from when it comes to masala popcorn, of course!

Jaggery, pistachio, sesame, cardamom and chilli crusted popcorn

For this recipe I have used jaggery.  Jaggery is a molasses like block, deep and smooth and is a product of date, cane juice or palm sap without the separation of molasses and crystals and can vary from light to dark brown in colour.  Jaggery is typically combined with other ingredients such as nuts, coconut or condensed milk to make sweet delicacies. I am using jaggery because it has got to be better than using caramel and also, because I love the deep tones of jaggery. I know that jaggery has been used for Ayurveda as it contains minerals that aren’t found in sugar.  I had added sesame seeds and peanuts, which make the popcorn taste quite festive when combined with jaggery. There is an aromatic hint of cardamom and a kick of heat.  Give it a go.

Please be careful, melted jaggery is very hot and can burn you. Please don’t lick it for a taste test when hot.

 

Ingredients

175g jaggery

3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

75g toasted and coarsely chopped pistachio

1/3rd cup of popcorn kernels

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

¼ tsp. cardamom

¼ tsp. chilli powder

Method

  1. Start by making the popcorn. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and allow the popcorn kernels to pop and then cool the popcorn
  2. Heat the jaggery on a medium to low flame in a non-stick pan. Be patient and let the jaggery melt. Cut it into smaller pieces to speed it up.
  3. Once the jaggery is smooth, turn the heat to a very low flicker and quickly stir in the spices, blending them through evenly. Turn off the heat and let the jaggery cool until it is warm, but not piping hot.
  4. Add the sesame seeds and pistachio and then the popcorn and stir quickly before it sets into clumps. Try and get an even coverage.
  5. Tip the popcorn out onto a large plate, letting it cool.
  6. When the popcorn is cool separate any clumps.

 

 

 

Fragrant Indian spiced mung dhal, potato, feta, toasted coconut and beetroot salad wraps-leftover Lunches

28 Jan

wrap 1

It is one of those months where I need to grow ten extra arms, have superior and life enhancing technology, must have more restorative sleep, want to eat more energy-giving nutritious food, definitely spend less money, get hold of a magic wand, time machine…you get the picture.  Maybe not just this month but generally, we know that planning smartly helps in all aspects of life, not least food.

Vouchercodes.co.uk got in touch with me about a theme they are running which really resonates with what I am trying to do; making full, scrumptious and fabulous dinners that can then be incorporated for lunches for the next day…you know, the sort of food we enjoy and look forward to at lunch and not just a dull, lack lustre, floppy sandwich.

So here’s some colourful, deep and nutritious ingredients combine to deliver the sort of ‘salad’ that is modest with its simple ingredients but utterly enchanting to eat because all of these ingredients and spices so work in delightful harmony.

The bonus? Once you have a bag of mung dhal and desiccated coconut, you could make this salad again and you’ll just have to top-up on the fresh ingredients, which are pretty inexpensive.  Mung dhal cooks very quickly, so this is an added benefit!

Fragrant Indian spiced mung dhal, potato, feta, toasted coconut and beetroot salad wraps-leftover Lunches

Ingredients to serve 4-6

2 medium potatoes, peeled diced

200g cooked beetroot, diced

100g mung dhal

4-5 curry leaves

200g feta cheese, cubed

2½ tbsp. vegetable oil

2 long green chillies, halved and then slit open

1/3 tsp. turmeric

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp. brown mustard seeds

30g coriander, finely chopped

1 cup desiccated coconut

8-10 plain flour tortillas

Method

  1. Wash the mung dhal and boil it in roughly 600ml water, for approximately 15 minutes. Remove any froth as it appears but do wash the dhal in cold water once it is cooked. It should be cooked but have a bite.
  2. In a separate pan boil the cubes of potato for roughly ten minutes, or until they are cooked. Drain the potatoes and let them cool to room temperature.
  3. When the potato and mung dhal are cooked and cooled turn them into a large and shallow bowl
  4. Make a tempering by heating the vegetable oil and adding the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle and pop. Add the curry leaves, chillies, and turmeric then infuse them into the oil. Turn the heat off and allow the tempering to cool to room temperature before adding it to the potatoes and mung dhal.
  5. Toss the mixture with the finely chopped coriander, lemon juice and salt and make sure there is even coverage. Stir in the feta and beetroot.Ingredients to serve 4-6 2 medium potatoes, peeled diced 200g cooked beetroot, diced 100g mung dhal 4-5 curry leaves 200g feta cheese, cubed 2½ tbsp. vegetable oil 2 long green chillies, halved and then slit open 1/3 tsp. turmeric Salt to taste 2 tbsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. cumin seeds ¼ tsp. brown mustard seeds 30g coriander, finely chopped 1 cup desiccated coconut 8-10 plain flour tortillas  Method  1.	Wash the mung dhal and boil it in roughly 600ml water, for approximately 15 minutes. Remove any froth as it appears but do wash the dhal in cold water once it is cooked. It should be cooked but have a bite.  2.	In a separate pan boil the cubes of potato for roughly ten minutes, or until they are cooked. Drain the potatoes and let them cool to room temperature.  3.	When the potato and mung dhal are cooked and cooled turn them into a large and shallow bowl 4.	Make a tempering by heating the vegetable oil and adding the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle and pop. Add the curry leaves, chillies, and turmeric then infuse them into the oil. Turn the heat off and allow the tempering to cool to room temperature before adding it to the potatoes and mung dhal.  5.	Toss the mixture with the finely chopped coriander, lemon juice and salt and make sure there is even coverage. Stir in the feta and beetroot.
  6. Toast the desiccated coconut lightly and quickly on a non-stick frying pan and introduce it to the salad too.coconut 1
  7. Prepare the plain flour tortilla per packet instructions and then fill them generously.

Spicy Courgette, carrot and ground rice steamed dumplings

25 Jan

Spicy courgette, carrot, ground rice steamed dumplings by Deena Kakaya
Somewhere along the journey, the lines between work and play, rest and recreation changed.

For most of the years that my husband and I have been together, we shared energy and squinted-eyed enthusiasm for filling our pockets of free time with making memories, having fun, exploring, travelling and being spontaneous in a sensible sort of way. Our summers were long and full of weekends away and eating outdoors and with friends in the weekday evenings.

Each summer we would make our trip to our favourite spots in Cornwall. Pothcurno being one of them. Pothcurno houses an open air theatre on the edge of a cliff, overlooking seas with a blue swirl that could easily be confused for a Mediterranean destination. We hang around until the evening until we grab steaming hot cheese and baked bean jacket potatoes, a blanket and sit under the stars watching opera whilst sat on the cool stone.
Culture and history soaking in Bath, picnics in Windsor, outdoor pubs and chips in Brighton, scenic walks and clotted cream ice-cream in the cotswolds or nearer to home and ambling the streets of london popping our head into Dim Sum or kathi roll joints. I have a lot of happy memories.

In the cooler months we would visit farmers markets, recuperate in Spa’s, go to Edinburgh for windy stops and chill out in cottages in wales, and most excitingly, take our annual holiday to more exotic destinations. Each of my January birthdays after graduating was spent away, somewhere sunny, making memories. One of my birthdays was spent on a house boat in Kerela, another abseiling over shallow waters in Mauritius, one looking down at the pitons whilst having dinner in st.Lucia. They made me a fresh coco and coconut cake made with locally sourced ingredients. I had one birthday on safari, eating guava cheesecake in South Africa, whilst watching wilderbeast and one on the most scenic train journey near Zurich. We were both working full on, heavy roles and this trip was the carrot in our otherwise hectic lives.

Along the way, a lot changed. We had our boy, who has showered immense joy and love into our lives. We are a salary down. Husband has 23 international trips abroad planned this year, for work. We are tired.

This week I was clearing through the guest room and stumbled upon some old photographs. I sat down, puffed out at the realisation of how things have changed. My little one came and sat on my lap, ‘what you looking at mumma’. I told my nearly-two-year old that mumma was looking at lovely memories. One of the common threads between each of the pictures is that the long journeys were occupied with munching on Dhokla (steamed and spiced rice and lentil flour cakes, which are sour and fluffy clouds of scrummy glory) or muthia Dhokla, which a Gujarati savoury bite made from grated veg and cooked rice with some spice and also steamed and then tempered in curry leaves and mustard, cumin and chilli. It got me thinking. Things have got to change again. Having fun is the way to stay alive inside.

It also got me thinking about rice flour steamed dumplings, one of the Gujarati items my mum makes so well…put them all together and roll them around, I created these little steamed dumplings with the added sweetness of carrot and courgette. They make wonderful snacks to accompany a cuppa. Spicy, dense, filling, hot, smooth…oh, go on.

Ingredients to make 24 dumplings

3 cups of hot water
2 long green chillies
125g grated carrot
125g grated courgette
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ajwain, or carom seeds
1 3/4 cup of ground rice
Salt to taste
Oil to grease palms when forming the dumplings

Method

1. In a large vessel, heat the water and add the cumin seeds and coriander seeds with the minced chilli.
2. When the water is boiling add the courgettes and carrots, stir and simmer for a minute. When the vegetables have softened, start to trickle in the ground rice whilst stirring the water with a wooden spoon, to avoid lumps forming.
3. Continue to stir more swiftly, until a grainy dough has been formed.
4. Turn off the heat and tip the dough into a very large plate.
5. Prepare your steamer and oil your palms. Take golf ball sized amounts of dough, form a ball and then flatten it in your palms. Try not to let the ball crack.
6. Steam the dumplings for 8-10 minutes and serve with chilli oil, whilst still hot and moist.

I am linking this to Marks Made with Love Mondays because it is all kme made Jave

I’m also liking with Helen and Michelle, for hidden veg

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Spicy paneer wontons in a gentle spinach soup

23 Jan

spicy paneer wontons in a gentle spinach soup

I am pretty sure that I wasn’t well acquainted with paneer when I was a child, as my earliest memories of it must be from my pre- teens. I recall that one of my dad’s friends had landed a business deal delivering this marvellous new product that was increasingly popular, so popular in fact that it was flying off the shelves. It may have had something to do with the popularised chilli paneer dish? Packaged paneer ready in the fridge. I was new and it was exciting.

So he handed my dad some freebies and naturally I ensured that they landed in my lap and thus started an era of paneer experimentation. It had fast become the favourite food of every other Asian person in my network. Paneer is an unsalted, full fat Indian cheese that may be crumbly when fresh and spongy or even chewy when pressed and ready-made for sale. I think that a lot of tired taste buds weere wakened when paneer came into fashion with is almighty, loud and punchy flavours. Plenty spice, liberal use of garlic and ginger, copious soy sauce and ketchup made for lively and lasting tastes.

I love that paneer is a wonderful sponge for juices and flavours; it is clean and will mop up full flavours generously.  I experimented many times over the years, scrambled paneer in a bhurji is one of my favourites and this has become the stuffing for my wontons today.  I love thick and creamy shahi paneer dishes, kofta (balls with veg and simmered in thick gravy), I love paneer in cashew nut gravy and who can deny the simple, clean and guilty pleasure of ras malai?

A few people wrote to me this week asking about palak paneer (curry of paneer cubes simmered in smooth spinach) and it got me thinking…so I made this and I am very excited about. It’s pretty special. The spinach soup is light and easy, but incredibly addictive and soothing. Not a bad thing to find spinach addictive! The paneer is punch and full, has bite and parcelled into slippery smooth wontons. Can it get any better?

As a tip, make sure the paneer is pretty warm all the way through, cold paneer is chewy but when warm, this recipe really comes to life and it’ll be juicy and tender. Perfect.

Ingredients to serve 4 (makes 16 wontons)

For the wontons;

150g paneer, grated

¼ tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. mixed cumin and coriander powder

¼ tsp. turmeric

¾ tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. tomato puree

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or minced

1-2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 tbsp. sesame oil

½ tbsp. soy sauce

16 wonton wrappers

Salt to taste

½ tsp. chilli powder

For the soup

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

200g finely chopped (or in the food processor) spinach

800ml vegetable stock

One medium onion, thinly sliced

4-5 curry leaves

One chilli, finely chopped

1 tbsp. corn flour mixed with water

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. minced ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

Method

  1. To make the soup, heat the oil in a deep pan and then add the chilli, onion, curry leaves, garlic and ginger sauté until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the spinach and mix thoroughly, before adding the vegetable stock and the rice wine vinegar.
  3. Bring the soup to a simmer before adding the corn flour and water paste to thicken the soup. Simmer the soup for 5-7 minutes.
  4. To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes introducing the grated paneer.
  5. Stir in the turmeric, chilli, and coriander and cumin powder and mix thoroughly.
  6. Stir in the tomato puree and soy sauce and then cook the curry for 4-5 minutes.
  7. To make the wontons, place a teaspoon of paneer mixture in the middle of a wonton and then create little drawstring purses and seal them with a little water.
  8. Steam the wontons for 8-10 minutes before removing them from the steamer.
  9. Ladle the soup into bowls and then place 4 wontons into the bowl and serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m linking this to Anneli and Louisa for four seasons because its comforting an

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