Tag Archives: Tamarind

Green beans and soya beans in red sambal

9 Jan

I had a lovely Christmas break. If you are reading this and you didn’t then I can relate to you. Things are not always the same.

green beans and soya beans in red sambal by Deena Kakaya
This year, it was lovely. We saw Santa four times; at the activity farm where we ice skated, made a bear, rode a tractor and saw a real reindeer. We also saw Santa at the children’s theatre, where the performance charmed my child into sitting quietly, eyes widened for the whole lot. We went to the cinema and guess what? I went to the cinema on a separate occasion to watch a grown up, Bollywood movie with a friend. We went to the zoo; it was blustery but we had thepla, smiles and each other. We spent time with treasured family and cherished old friends and revelled in the good times. We ate out most days, even if we were slurping noodles in Camden market or Churro’s in the park and yes we even had muddy fun in the park.
My baby took part in his first nursery school concert and he looked edible, if not too grown up. He assuredly and dramatically rehearsed every day and was totally in his element up until the big day. But I am not disappointed or upset because the reason and experience totally moved me; as he walked onto the lit-up stage, he waved into the darkness of the audience, aimlessly as he didn’t know where I was. As the elves, Santa’s snowmen and donkey’s sang away, he repeatedly whispered to his neighbours and teachers, ‘where’s my mum’…his eyes wandered and so did his mind. As it was his turn to go onto stage, he looked behind; he looked around and still couldn’t see me. It wasn’t until the last five minutes that he finally spotted me and there was a sudden and latent burst of energy. I will take this with me.
I want to share what I learned from this Christmas holiday. That element of fun, that positive energy and gratitude, that high-frequency of love, the time spent with chosen and energising people, that free-spirit and relaxed mind…why should that be confined to Christmas. Why shouldn’t I inject spurts of it into my regular routine…the very simple things and the very simple pleasures? So that’s what I am going to do. And with that, I share a very simple pleasure of a Malaysian inspired recipe, my green beans and soya beans in red sambal.

A little nutty, very luscious and delicately sweet; it makes for a lovely side dish, or is great just with some rice. I have even put into a wrap with a drizzle of yoghurt. The aromas are so lifting in the red sambal, which for me makes the dish. The sambal is a blend of spices, onions and garlic and become gentler as it’s cooked. Add more chillies if you like!

Ingredients
175g green beans
175g soya beans
4 lime leaves, crushed
1 cup of warm water
1 tbsp. tamarind concentrate
2 tbsp. peanut oil
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. chilli oil
2 tbsp. toasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely ground
For the red sambal paste
2 tsp. soft brown sugar
One large onion, chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic
5 long, dried red chillies soaked
2 tsp. lemongrass paste
1 tsp. minced ginger or galangal
1 tbsp. peanut oil
Method
1. Blitz together the ingredients for the spice paste and then leave it to the side
2. Heat 1 tbsp. peanut oil and add the paste on a very low flame and cook it, stirring to avoid sticking for approximately 5-7 minutes.
3. Now add the tamarind concentrate, chilli oil, lime leaves, salt and peanuts and then fry for another three minutes.
4. Now add the water and simmer for ten minutes.
5. In the meantime cook the edamame beans for three minutes and the green beans for 4-7 minutes or until barely tender. Drain and refresh them.
6. Combine the red sambal and the green and soya beans together and serve hot.

A royal Diwali- paneer and sweetcorn curry in a cashew and tamarind gravy

26 Oct

A royal Diwali- paneer and sweetcorn curry in a cashew and tamarind gravy
I asked a question over my Facebook group the other day about what sort of foods people liked to eat as children. The funny thing is that tastes haven’t changed for many people. Gourmet and Michelin food have their place but when we are hungry, what hits the spot? A pizza with pineapple? Chips with loads of vinegar? Samosa? Baked bean curry? Macaroni cheese? A big bowl of spaghetti. Yes…now we are talking! Food nostalgia is a beautiful thing.

I won’t lie. I have been called a food snob on more than one occasion. I can’t make a meal of beans on toast (I make my own ‘baked beans’ ) and I like roasted garlic and artichoke on my pizza. I don’t like to use generic curry powder and I do not, ever, cook chilli paneer. I can almost hear the shrieks of surprise. I eat it if I am a party, but I won’t actually order it or make it. Chilli paneer is a cliched and over rated dish that was popularised in the 90’s. It is essentially paneer that is stir-fried in peppers and onions, lots of garlic and then doused in soy sauce and ketchup.

I was at my boys playgroup the other day when one of the mums mentioned that she tried out one of my recipe. I love it when I hear that! Then she mentioned that she’s been looking for a good paneer recipe and asked if I would post one. I kept my fingers crossed that she wouldn’t mention the word chilli to prefix paneer. Anyway, so then as she and another mum talked about paneer and take-always their eyes lit up in excitement…so here we are.

There are some tastes and textures that will always make us smile. They anchor us to happy memories and smooth us, sweetly. Some foods are like a taste lullaby, they sing us into a natural rhythm and give us flavoursome satiety. Sweetcorn and paneer are two of these ingredients.
With Diwali coming up I have been reminiscing about the Diwali’s of my past. Festivities are so exciting in childhood and I really hope that I can instil the same memories and sense of fun with tradition for my baby. Fireworks, family, food, fantasy and fantastic clothes. Dark cold nights, watching mum dress up and sitting on dads shoulders to see the pretty lights and fireworks. Eating hot pakora in the street, jacket potatoes or of course, chips. Throwing bangers on the floor, aunties chattering. It’s Diwali.

My recipe is one that will definitely add the sunny colour and creamy flavour to enrich your Diwali. It is based on some of the shahi (royal) dishes I ate in Delhi during my last trip. I have used a creamy cashew nut paste and tangy tamarind; rich and special, just like Diwali. This is a full on show-off curry, so if you are entertaining definitely whip this one out. The colour a depth are impressive.

Ingredients

250g paneer, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup of sweetcorn kernels
1 cup of chopped tomatoes (I used tinned tomatoes)
One red onion, diced
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
3/4 tsp garam masala
2 green chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
2 large cloves of garlic , minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp coriander powder
3/4 cup cashew nuts
1 cup milk
2 tbsp tamarind paste
3 tbsp ground nut oil
2 cups of warm water

Method

1. Soak the cashew nuts in the milk for 15minutes or until you are ready to use them. Grind them to a smooth paste just before you add them to the curry.
2. Take a non-stick pan and add 1tbsp of oil and stir fry the paneer until it is golden brown. Remove it and place onto kitchen paper, allowing it to cool.
3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, chilies cinnamon, cloves and turmeric.
4. Allow the seeds to sizzle before you add the onion and the salt. Soften the onion for a couple of minutes before adding the ginger and garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes, tamarind, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala and simmer for 4-5 minutes on a medium flame before adding the cashew nut paste and the water. Bring the gravy to a simmer before adding the paneer and sweetcorn.
6. Cook for 8-10minutes before serving hot with buttery chappati.

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