Tag Archives: Light meals

Juicy chaat masala mushrooms with goats cheese on toast

14 Sep

image imageJuicy chaat masala mushrooms with goats cheese on toast

The husband and I like to have special breakfasts at the weekends.  Something tremendous and indulgent.  Something voluptuous and pampering.   There is something quite dirty about a big, fat, yes-yes breakfast and I like it.
The tradition, as it now is, stems partly from the pre-baby practices of a lie-in on the weekends after loud and cheerful Friday nights.  We’d wake absolutely ravenous to TV in bed and before attacking a pre-jaunt ‘to do’ list, we’d eat liberally.  I think the tradition also stems from a love of hearty breakfast foods.  I adore a good fry up, as long as the the vegetarian sausages are home made.  I make home made ‘baked’ beans too.  You know what one of things I most looked forward to doing after I got married was?  I was popping with excitement about having a huge English breakfast in the hotel, after our wedding night. Even though we were, shortly afterwards, flying out to Thailand.  But listen, I didn’t get that slim/thin for the wedding on fried eggs and hash browns!
Oh, and pancakes soaked in lemon and sugar…heavenly. And what about my beloved Gujarati thepla (spicy chapatti with fenugreek)?  I always keep some Pathak’s hot and spicy pickle in the house so that I can eat it and the thepla and lashings of yoghurt.  My husband is quite fanciful of light and fluffy South Indian idli (steamed pillows of ground and fermented rice and lentils) with a fresh dhal. He also likes plentiful wraps and layered sarnies with proper beans such as black eyed beans in a fresh sauce, spinach and of course some crunchy potatoes. And cheese. Good cheese. Cheese good.
So, I bet you know where I’m going with this.  We are getting older and fatter.  Somehow, a hash brown doesn’t have the same appeal.  We aren’t as ravenous in the mornings and we don’t really want to burping beany-eggy-fried stuff the whole day.  But the tradition of wanting a large and loving, taste-powing and generally stupendous breakfast continues. My husband hasn’t traditionally been a lover of mushrooms but I have converted him and I owe the conversion to this mighty and fine recipe.
Have you ever eaten a chaat? The point is to tantalise the senses and the taste buds with a variety of textures; hot sour, crunchy and soft, cold and hot.  The spice that brings it all together is chaat masala. It’s a peppery and pungent mix with black salt in it.  Somehow it is just magical with exotic mushrooms.  The juices that release from the mushrooms and the masala, oh my goodness…I could drink it as a soup! Please don’t chuck it away when you cook this dish, let it soak through the bread.  This is a beautifully balanced and kind dish. You could have it as a light meal too. Go for it and let me know what you think.
Ingredients for two people
150g of exotic mushrooms.  I used yellow oysters, grey oysters and anis mushrooms
2 tsp of chaat masala
A few blobs of goats cheese on each slice of bread
2 spring onions washed and chopped into bite sized chunks
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp finely chopped, fresh thyme
2 fat cloves of garlic very finely chopped
2 tbsp of cooking oil (use butter if you wish)
Two splashes of lemon juice
I used jalapeño and corn bread from ‘your bakery’ at tesco. It’s soft and spicy.
Cooks tip; it’s probably most economical to get a pack of mixed exotic mushrooms. I bought the chaat masala from the ethnic aisle at a tesco megastore. Don’t add any extra salt to this dish as the chaat masala is salty, please be careful.
Easy-peasy Method
1. If your grey oysters are large, then chop them in half. Wash all of the mushrooms and leave them to a side.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and then add the cumin seeds.  Once they start to sizzle stir in the onions and garlic and sauté for a minute.
3. Place the bread in the toaster and Introduce the mushrooms to the onions and garlic and mix it all together.  Sprinkle in the chaat masala, stir and add the lemon juice and the thyme.  Simmer on a medium flame for about 3-4 minutes until the juices release and the mushrooms have relaxed.  Don’t let them shrink.  Exotic mushrooms aren’t tough so don’t need much cooking.
4. Plate the toast, then top with mushrooms and add a few blobs of goats cheese. Drizzle the stock onto the toast and serve immediately.

Gram flour pasta in a spicy tomato and veg base

5 Sep

Gram Flour pasta in a Indian spiced tomato and vegetable base

pasta final

A few weeks before I fell pregnant with my baby boy, we did a tour around India.  I wasn’t overly enthusiastic at the prospect of being guided around historical monuments I’d already seen a couple of times, that too in the sweltering orange and dusty heat.  My husband had never done it though and he was really keen.  So, I looked up some contacts and I cooked with chefs throughout our journey; aloo wadiya and kulcha in Amritsar, kofta in Udaipur, mughlai dishes in Delhi, juicy paneer in Agra, chaat in Mumbai…It was so much fun.  The passion and skill in the chefs was moving.  The chefs and I nattered for hours, perched on the edge of our comfy chairs, about their ancestry, their feelings about food, how their family regard their chosen path.  It was so exhilarating  to be around people who love what they do.  We’d slump back in our chairs in smiling consideration.
To close our bustling and rousing trip we headed over to Gujarat to see family and get it touch with our religious roots.
So we arrived at one of Porabander’s best hotels really late into the night.  The bed had blue neon lights around it.  I don’t think I need to say any more.  As l stood there whispering WTF, familiar fishy smells of this seemingly standstill coastal town overwhelmed me. It didn’t feel any different to how it did 20 years ago.  Now I’m the sort of person that enjoys foods from around the world, it thrills me.  The experience of new senses in my mouth makes me giddily happy.  I love Italian, Indian, Lebanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Moroccan, Thai, Spanish…but.  After all of that, the cuisine that cajoles me into my natural rhythm is Gujarati food.  After being separated from my native food for over two weeks, I was restless with hankerings.  I was looking forward to Dhokla, Thepla, okra curry, gram flour straws in spicy tomato.
So I asked my husband to ring reception to see what sort of Gujarati food we could get so late and how we could get a thali the next day.  You know what they told us? No Gujarati food in the hotel. That’s right.  Noodles or a sandwich were offered to me. I was aghast.
My recipe today is inspired by Gujarati Dhokli, which is effectively gram flour pasta.  Traditionally it is simmered in dhal, but my recipe is quicker and just different, as it is in a spicy tomato and vegetable base.  It’s a filling and comforting dish that is pretty simple to make. You’ll sleep we’ll on this one.
Gram flour pasta in a spicy tomato and vegetable base
Ingredients

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

Tomato and veg base

200g green beans trimmed and cut into bit size 2cm chunks

150g baby corn, trimmed and cut into 2cm bites

2 medium new potatoes cut into small cubes

4 shallots, finely chopped

3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 green chilies chopped

1400ml warm water

1 ½ tin of tomatoes

The spices; 1 tsp. cumin seeds, 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds, ½ tsp. mustard seeds, 6-7 curry leaves, salt to taste, 3 cloves, a pinch of asafoetida, ½ tsp. black pepper, ½ tsp. garam masala

The Gram Flour Pasta

¾ cup gram flour

1 cup finely milled whole wheat flour

1.5 tbsp Vegetable oil

The spices; 3/4 tsp. ajwain, 1 tsp. red chilli powder, ½ tsp. turmeric powder and salt to taste

150ml warm water

Method

  1. Start by making the pasta dough by mix all of the dry ingredients and spices.  Make a well in the middle and pour into the middle.   With your fingers massage the oil into the flour, creating a lightly crumbly texture and then with your fingers mix together the water, little by little, together with the flour and spices to form a ball. Coat the ball with vegetable oil and wrap in Clingfilm and rest it whilst you continue to prepare vegetables.pasta 1.1
  2. Roll out the dough to one centimeter thickness and cut into rectangles of between 4cm by 3cm. Once they are all rolled and cut out place them onto a dish and dust the pieces lightly.  If your kitchen is very warm, put the pasta in the fridge, so that the pieces do not stick togetherpasta 1
  3. To make the tomato and veg  base, heat 2 tbsp. oil and add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, turmeric powder, mustard seeds, chilies and cloves before allowing the seeds to pop.
  4. Stir in the onions and salt, then sauté for a couple of minutes before stirring in the garlic.   Soften both before adding in the potatoes, green beans and the baby corn and mixing through thoroughly. Add the black pepper
  5. Stir in the tomatoes, water and bring to a simmer before cooking for 4-5 minutes
  6. Drop in the pasta simmer for 10-12 minutes before sprinkling in the garam masala and serving lashings of it.

Tandoori Halloumi with Salad Stuff

21 Aug

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Tandoori halloumi with salad stuff

Are you one of those foodies of Asian descent that curries everything? Or do you know someone that does it? It is funny isn’t it…Brussels sprouts get curried, as does pasta, asparagus, baked beans,  bean sprouts, tofu and even pak choi.
I do laugh now at childhood memories of ambling in the open fruit and veg market with my dad, being jostled about by inconsiderate giants whilst my dad enthusiastically examined non-indian vegetables from above the rim of his glasses. Whilst he poked, stroked and rubbed edibles I took in the thrill of hearing native English stall holders bellow their banter in some Gujarati! Imagine that!
 If he liked the look of it, I knew what the natural question would be…’I wonder what this would taste like as a curry’.
Remember, I came from a generation where the words ‘we are having English food tonight’ meant either egg and chips or a plate of boiled veg with cheese, pepper and salad cream on top.  I am laughing as I’m writing this, but even the omelette was curried.  Mixed veg with an assortment of Indian spices and cheese in top.  oh but we loved it.  I have lovely, fond recollections of the cousins and I all sat down around large and loud curtain fabric in the living room, tucking into indian omelette and chips.  I guess currying everything was a simple way of befriending new foods.  Coincidentally, and unknown to any of us at the time, it has been one of the impetus for my very own style of cooking.
Years later, when I’d take into work leftovers of samosa stuffing mixed with pasta, or Brussels packed with toasted gram flour and nutty spiced, if get those looks and raised eyebrows that said, ‘that’s just wrong’. Until they tasted it of course.
It’s really important to get good quality halloumi cheese; avoid the ones that are rubbery on the inside.  Salty and chewy halloumi is beautiful in this sour marinade with a smooth and peppery kick.   It’s super easy to make and I love using it to liven up a salad.  In My picture I’ve teamed up the tandoori halloumi with a tomato, parsley and caper salad, some garlic and coriander hummus and potato wedges.  Summer isn’t over yet, but remember..tandoori halloumi isn’t just for summer, it is to be loved all year round.
Tandoori halloumi
Ingredients
3 desert spoonfuls of natural yoghurt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp tomato ketchup
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Half thumb sized piece if ginger, minced
Salt to taste
Use 250g halloumi cheese, cut into 16 cubes
Method
1. Mix together all of the wet ingredients into a box, stir well.
2. Add in the spices, one by one and mix thoroughly
3. Introduce the chunks of halloumi and ensure that they are well coated
4. Chill the chunks for a couple of hours in the fridge
5. Set the halloumi on some baking paper and place them in the oven on gas mark 200 degrees until the halloumi is crispy and browned.
6. Serve immediately with a fresh salad, some pitta and take in the aromas.

A soup is not just for winter – Deena’s emerald summer soup with Thai basil

14 Jul

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Who said that soups are for winter?Who even suggested that soups are synonymous with hibernation, runny noses or sore throats, debates about kids names on daytime TV, blankets on the sofa, cozy socks and growing heating bills? Are soups all about stoking the internal heating with heavy potatoes and creamy tomatoes?
Summer…sitting in the park, day dreaming or simply thinking.  Running your fingers through the quenched green grass with the heat on your back.  Children giggling, birds singing, ice cream melting, the breeze flirting with skirts.  All sounding a bit poetic and cliched now, but you see what I mean.
In the summer months…no wait, that’s perhaps a bit optimistic.  In the summer moments, I keep being told ‘I just want to eat something light and tasty’.  I have to say, I feel the same.  Picking is far more fun in the sun, partly because it leaves room for lollies and ice cream.  I’m sharing with you a recipe that is full of the seasonal emerald edibles and tastes light and healthy…bloated tummies are no fun in any season.
I’ve been working on spring time recipes for some of the magazines and I’ve picked one of the recipes and given it a summery make over.  It’s another easy recipe that requires just one pot, so more time to spend outdoors having fun! This recipe comes with a warning…I love lashings and lashings of this soup and I’m sure you will too.  Just watch that white t-shirt, don’t go out with the evidence of this soup splattered over you will you.
Ingredients
1.5litres of vegetable stock
One large red chilli
2 cloves of garlic
100g broccoli cut into small florets
One courgette diced into bite sized pieces
100g leek, cut into bite sized pieces
50-75g spring onions
75g petit pois
125g Capelli d’angelo (angel hair pasta)
2-3tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp Thai basil paste
1. Mince together the chilli and garlic
2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and then add the garlic and chilli paste and fry them for a minute before adding add the vegetables.  Mix well before adding vegetable stock.  Bring the soup to a simmer and then cook for 3-4 minutes
3. Add the Thai basil paste and the pasta and cook for a further 4minutes.
4.  Add any seasoning if you wish, but only after tasting.  I didn’t add anything as the stock contains salt.
Cooks note: I bought the Thai basil paste for Sainsburys, it’s their own product.
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