Tag Archives: lentils

Christmas spring rolls made with paneer, butternut squash, puy lentils and beetroot

22 Nov

During Christmas my family and I eat throughout the day, you know to keep the energy up! There are no rules around the 5/7 a day or consideration of portion controls during the festive season and indulgence is high up on the agenda. The table is laid with abundance and variety and as we chat, chase children and chuckle we consume copious canapés like these pretty, seasonal and utterly Moorish spring rolls. They are filled with soft pillows of homemade paneer, sweet beetroot and butternut squash, nutty lentils and spice. The surprise ingredient is a hint of orange, because it’s Christmas.

Christmas spring rolls made with paneer, butternut squash, puy lentils and beetroot by Deena Kakaya

I made these spring rolls for demonstration at the Taste of London festival, at the tobacco docks.  I was on the busy and bustling a2Milk stand as part of the Great British Chefs team and wow, what an experience!  a2 Milk™, was used to make the paneer for this recipe. Regular cows’ milk contains A1 and A2 proteins and for some, the A1 protein causes side effects such as nausea, bloating and mucus build up. A2 carefully select dairy cows that naturally produce the A2 protein and not the A1 protein. If you have had trouble digesting regular milk, a2 Milk could be for you.

Makes approximately 24 spring rolls

Ingredients

For the paneer cheese (makes approximately 150g)

1 litre of full fat A2 milk

2-2 ½ tbsp. lemon juice

For the spring rolls

35og butternut squash (peeled) and cut into 2 cm cubes

70g puy lentils, cooked per packet instructions

130g cooked beetroot, cut into 2cm cubes

The zest of one medium orange

The juice of one orange

2 ½ tbsp. desiccated coconut

Finely chopped green chillies to your taste (I used 4)

5-6 curry leaves

2 tbsp. vegetable oil for the tempering

Vegetable oil for deep frying the spring rolls

½ tsp. ground turmeric

1 tsp. cumin seeds

Salt to taste

12 spring roll sheets

 

You will also need

Tightly woven fabric such as muslin or handkerchief material for making the paneer

Keep a finger bowl of water ready, this will be used when binding the spring rolls

Method

  1. Start by making the paneer. I would suggest making the paneer the night before you make the spring rolls, to allow the paneer enough time to set. It is important to use full fat milk, as any other milk will not contain enough fat. In a non-stick pan, heat the A2 milk until it starts to boil. Turn the milk down to a simmer and then add the lemon juice. You will see that the milk starts to curdle and large clumps that look like cottage cheese appear. Turn the heat off and allow the acidic reaction to fully separate the curds and whey; give it about ten minutes. In the meantime, line a colander with muslin in an empty sink. Pour the paneer cheese into the muslin and then tie the muslin and remove any excess liquid. You keep the whey and use it to thicken curry bases. Put some weight (like a saucepan) on the paneer and allow it to set. Once set, cut the paneer into 2-3cm cubes.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper and then coat the butternut squash with a light layer of oil. Roast the butternut squash at 190 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the squash is lightly crisp and soft enough to pierce.
  3. In a large bowl combine the (cooked) puy lentils, beetroot, orange zest, butternut squash, paneer (cut into 2cm cubes), orange juice, desiccated coconut, salt and toss all of the ingredients together.
  4. For the tempering, heat a non-stick pan and add the oil before introducing the cumin seeds, curry leaves, chillies and turmeric. Allow the seeds to sizzle and then add the tempering to the spring roll mixture and then toss to ensure even coverage.
  5. Cut the spring rolls in half to create two rectangles. Leaving approximately 3cm centimetres space at the bottom and sides, place a dessert spoonful of the filling towards the bottom. Fold the sides inwards, close the bottom panel and fold the spring tightly in a cigar shape. Seal the end panel with a little water.
  6. Allow the spring rolls time to settle and the let the sealed panel dry before frying the spring rolls in hot oil. Fry them until they are lightly brown and golden and then use a slotted spoon to remove them from the frying pan, placing them onto kitchen paper

 

Deena Kakaya at Taste of London Deena Making paneer

Deena’s No-Rice, Comforting Vegetable Khichdi

7 Nov

As the nights draw in and the brisk chill hits, as many of us emerge from work, it feels like it’s been evening just all day long. I love the scene of the streets in the evening; smoky and poetically aglow with fog misted street-light. With Christmas decorations and jingly background signatures already making an appearance, it’s starting to feel like a Dickensian Yuletide already. As I walk hurriedly, hugging myself under layers of wool and faux fur, I’m careful not to slip on the glistening paths that will lead me home to the sweet welcome of comfort food.

Comfort foods are gentle, nurturing and soothing. For me they are also foods that throw me back with duvet-soft smiles to good times; to times of being cajoled by my parents to protein-and-carb-up when I was an unwell girl, or times when I had been making beautiful memories whilst on dream-like holidays, cherishing birthday celebrations with family and friends, or those cosy nights in together – just my husband and I. It is times like these, that I want to be cuddled by the warmth of my home and soak up the gentle kisses of one of my all-time favourite comfort foods; Khichdi.

Khichdi is a buttery light blend of soft and smooth lentils and rice. I see Khichdi as one of the kings of traditional home-cooked food and unsurprisingly, it was popular with the great mughals. The magic of Khichdi is widely appreciated across Pakistan, northern India, eastern India and Bangladesh. The dish can also be found simmering away inside the kitchens of many Indian states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Bengal (where it is called Bengali: খিচুড়ী khichuri). In Bengali tradition it is customary to cook Kichuri on rainy days.

Hugging a bowl of vegetable khichdi in the comfort of your home and listening to the patters, splashes and roars as the heavens unleash is incredibly soothing as we know, but as someone on a low GI diet I was dismayed to hear that Khichdi is not the way forward. The reason for traditional khichdi being a low GI diet faux-pas is much the same as why mashed potato would be so wrong, and that is that the rice in khichdi is cooked down to a mushy consistency which increases the GI level. When you love a food enough, there is usually a way to enjoy it in a healthier way so I have found a delicious solution using bulgur wheat that will definitely press all the right sensory buttons, perhaps leave you feeling a little virtuous and won’t make you feel sluggish!

My recipe includes vegetables, so you get a nutritious meal in a bowl. Now, for those of you already familiar with khichdi please don’t let your memories of eating stodgy and bland versions put you off this recipe. My dear friend did that very thing this weekend when I suggested making this dish, which I proclaimed I could eat all day long. ‘No…’ she stressed. ‘I won’t like it; it just doesn’t taste of anything’. I made it regardless as I do love a good challenge, but also I was certain that this recipe, spiked with warming ginger, garlic, whole spices and full of vegetables, could evoke an enchanted sigh from her.

Deena’s No-Rice, Comforting Vegetable Khichdi

Ingredients

300g of split green moong dhal

180g of Bulgur wheat

½ head of a small/medium cauliflower, cut into bite size florets

One small/medium potato, peeled and cubed

A large onion, diced

1/3 cup of green beans

1/3 cup of sweet corn kernels

A handful of green beans, chopped into bite size pieces

2 large and fat cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp of minced ginger

3 tbsp of rapeseed oil

2-3 green chillies, finely chopped

The spices A pinch of asafoetida, ½ tsp turmeric, 3 cloves, 4-5 curry leaves, salt to taste, 1 tsp cumin seeds, ½ mustard seeds, ½ tsp coriander seeds ¼ tsp black pepper

Method

1. Set the mung dhal to boil for 20-25 minutes. It should turn to a mushy consistency, but not be completely smooth.

2. Soak the bulgur wheat in boiling water, filling the level to just a couple of centimetres above the bulgur wheat

3. In a large and deep bottomed pan, heat the oil and then add the asafoetida, turmeric, curry leaves, cloves, coriander seeds and mustard seeds. Allow the mustard seeds to pop, and then add the chillies and sauté for a minute on a low flame. Stir in the diced onion and sauté until they start to soften. Then add in the minced ginger and garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are transparent.

4. Mix in the cauliflower, potatoes and green beans and then add the salt and black pepper. Allow them to cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the potato is soft enough to pierce through.

5. Gently stir in the mung dhal and the bulgur wheat, with two cups of warm water and simmer on a medium to low flame for a further 7-8 minutes. The khichdi should not become solid, but remain a smooth consistency.  If it starts to turn solid, add more water, until it is smooth in texture.

Go on, Hug a bowl of this delcious stuff.

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