Tag Archives: Vegan recipes

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.

 

Deep and Smokey Mexican-Asian noodle soup

9 Feb

Keep the song

Deep and Smokey Mexican-Asian noodle soup

 

My parents fretted that I was a bit of a hermit as kid.  It was somewhat the opposite as a teen but as a child I would hear my dad express his qualms about whether he was dipping me into social activities enough. Often when he asked if I wanted to join him on one of his frequent but small shops, I would say no.  My brother would always go.  The reason I stayed behind was so that I could sing freely, loudly, expressively and privately. I would day dream lots. I laid out piles of books around the room and became utterly lost in them, gleaning and storing snippets of them in a pensive haze. I remember how captivated I was by them both; books and music. So much so that when anyone hollered for me I wouldn’t hear them.

I took singing lessons as a teen. I sang on the way to lessons at college and even to exams. In fact I even had, ‘exam songs’. I sang in the park with my friends, whilst cooking and always in the bath. People tell us all the time that we should learn from our elders. I have to tell you quite honestly and humbly that I am right now in my life, learning from my younger self.

For I had a focus that I am only proud of now and wish that I still had. I knew that with every song and with my own decidedness I got myself in the zone. I knew that singing made my heart flutter and gave me a rush of energy. So why then had I let the song out of my life in recent years?

The radio in the car played the same nursery rhymes. The kitchen was quiet. The TV played as background noise and social media was the go-to.

I went on a girl’s night on Friday. I met the girls on my NCT group and the three of us have seen each other through big, emotionally-overhauling life changes.  We have spoken to each about stuff we wouldn’t normally say, candidly, angrily, ecstatically and most of all we have been exhausted together. We talked about our most recent changes in life. One of us is having a new baby; another is going through a separation. Then there is me.

I drove home at nearly midnight, eyes sore from fatigue. As I turned into the driveway I heard a song that threw me back to my teenage years. I closed my eyes and I was with my books and the windows were open, net curtains billowing…I was crouched on the floor, face cupped in hand, and hair everywhere. The romantic potential unlocked and singing, smiling, lost and with swelling with a beat.

knew that the moment I walked in through the door I would become a mother, so when the song had stopped playing I found it on youtube and played it again, thrice.

To fit the deep and smoky mood, I made this Mexican-Asian noodle soup.  I was sent some wonderful Mexican ingredients by CoolChille Company and I knew that I had to do it. The black beans are deep and earthy and brought to a further earthiness with soy bean paste. Guajillo chillies are wonderfully rich in colour and smoky. I toasted, soaked and then blitzed them to a paste and this has really released immense richness. Avocado brings silky and creamy quality and it works superbly with the soup. I have up epazote which is a citrus-medicinal type Mexican herb and works fabulously with black beans.  This one works as a bowl of surprise and sumptuous taste.

Deep and Smokey Mexican-Asian noodle soup

 

Ingredients to serve 2-3

200g cooked black beans

6 baby onions, quartered

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

700ml water

2 tsp.

1 tsp. soy bean paste

2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

Half an avocado, sliced

6-7 baby corn, thinly sliced

1 tsp. cumin seeds

2 large guajillo chillies

2 tsp. epazote

2 tbsp. cooking oil

A few sprigs of coriander to garnish

A couple of slices of lime to garnish

Method

  1. Start by toasting the Guajillo chillies on a non-stick pan to release the flavour. You will notice that the chilli will soften and will release a wonderful heat. Toast for about a minute on each side and then let them cool to room temperaturechillies 1
  2. Soak the Guajillo chillies in hot water for about 15 minutes, before grinding them to a paste.
  3. In a deep pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. When the seeds sizzle add the baby onions and fry them until they brown lightly. Then add the garlic and baby corn and sauté for another minute
  4. Pour in the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and the epazote and cook for another minute.
  5. Pour in the water and add the soy bean paste. Bring the soup to a simmer.
  6. Introduce the black beans and the guajillo chillies then add the noodles.
  7. Allow the soup to simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the noodles are cooked.
  8. Serve the soup and top with the slices of avocado, coriander and lime. The lime infuses beautifully with the soup.

Indian spiced crispy bean curd skin, ung choi and carrot pancake wraps

5 Feb

 

 Indian spiced crispy bean curd skin, ung choi and carrot pancake wraps

Why don’t you just eat duck?

 

My first ‘proper’ job was at the Bank of England when I was 21, in research. It was my first proper job because it was the first structured and full time role I had taken. I was so proud. I’ve long since forgotten that particular feeling of executive pride and I am sighing and smiling wisely as I write this.

I loved that black suited and focused people walked carefully on their heels, echoing their esteemed selves to somewhere clearly, very important to aid decision-making for the economy of our great country.  Tiny mice made intermittent visits around the history of the building and one of my ‘down time’ favourite activities was mooching around economic papers in the vast and superior library within the Bank in the vault, near where old money was you know…it was hot there.

 

We had rule books on how to structure charts for publications.  On one occasion whilst discussing it during drinks with some colleagues he asked me whom I would support if India and England were playing a cricket match. I said that I didn’t follow cricket, I’m not into sport. ‘But if you were, lets say’. You see  I didn’t understand all this, I was a feisty, ambitious and focused young lady but in hindsight, naive. I wasn’t used to being made aware of race. I’ve never actually really thought about it.  My now-husband accompanied me to work on the tube for the first couple of days when I started work, because I was a tube virgin. He took pictures of me outside the Bank.

 

Then the questions followed at work, ‘do you wear a headscarf at home?’ No, I’m Hindu. ‘Do you make samosas?’ I’m 21; I go out with my friends. ‘Are you having an arranged marriage?’ I’ve got a boyfriend.

 

One of the questions I often get asked is whether I am vegetarian for religious reasons. No. No.

Indian spiced crispy bean curd skin, ung choi and carrot pancake wraps

One of the things I learned over the years is that the people around you, your own mind-set and your own actions make something special happen. Not a place, hierarchy, status, or a title or any other outwardly definition, for those just doesn’t last. Really and truly, they don’t.  I used to read words like this and dismiss them. As much as we would will it to be progressively checking the milestones we plan, Life isn’t a freaking chart, is it.

 

In that must lay some strength. As I pick up the fragments I’m not piecing them together, I’m visualising new things. My heart isn’t as heavy as I thought it would be. In fact I’m even more able to give good wishes and love. As a youngster I didn’t experience failure but they always said it’s important to fail. I never understood why. Nobody ever said.

Failing is a process that allows a person to develop coping skills, growing skills, maturity, humility, grit, resilience. These shouldn’t just be words you bang out in the opening statement of the CV.  If we don’t fail at the smaller hurdles in life, when the bigger stuff hits (and it will, it does) then we don’t know what to do with ourselves. And the older we grow, often there are fewer hands to walk us to shore.

 

I tell my boy that he should be kind, clever, and brave and always love his mumma.

 

I don’t eat duck. I eat things that taste good without having quacked. Bean curd skins are a good source of protein and have bite. The wraps contain ung choi, which is a bit like spinach and it wilts quickly, but it’s a bit more peppery. I picked my latest batch up from Tesco.  This wrap is peppery, silky, slightly sweet, has bite and they’re easy to eat. Easy is good, isn’t it.

 

Ingredients to make 15 pancake wraps

 

250g of Ung choi, washed and sliced

One large carrot, grated

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. fennel seeds

¾ tsp. cumin seeds

1 ½ tbsp. soy sauce

¼ tsp. turmeric

1 tbsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. coriander powder

½ tsp. garam masala

75g of bean curd skins (the sticks, they are available at oriental supermarkets)

Oil for deep frying the skins

 

For the pancakes

300g bread flour

100ml boiling water

75ml cold water

2 tsp. sesame oil

 

Method

1.     Soak the bean curd skins (use the sticks) in plenty of warm water for about two hours. They will swell. Drain the water, and then slice them into 3-4 cm rounds. Leave them to dry.

2.     Heat oil in a deep pan and then deep fry the bean curd skins until the fluff up and catch a golden colour

3.     Make the dough by first pouring the boiling water into the flour and mix it well. Then pour in the cold water and form dough, kneed it well and then rest the dough for 15 minutes, before dividing it into 15 equal portions. Roll out the pancakes into thin chapatti before toasting them on a non-stick panpancake 1jpeg

4.     In another pan, heat the oil and add the cumin and fennel seeds and when the sizzle, stir in the garlic. Sauté for a minute, then add the ung choi and carrot and stir it well. Sprinkle in the turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala and stir well. Sauté for a minute before drizzling in the soy sauce and introducing pieces of fried bean curd skins. Cook the vegetables for another 3 minutes before turning off the heat.

5.     Finally, assemble the wraps by putting a little filling in the centre of the pancake, wrap it, and eat it.

 

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.

 

 

 

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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Asian influenced savoury breakfast porridge-broth with tofu, sundried tomatoes, edamame beans

22 Jan

Asian influenced savoury breakfast porridge-broth with tofu, sundried tomatoes, edamame beans and cucumber

Never say never

A few weeks ago I was remarking on salt-inclusive   breakfast porridge of a fellow foodie. It was a very pretty looking stewed pinky fruit number with salt. Artistic and tempting, class and containing salt. Salt, in breakfast porridge, no way!

That said, my cauldron seems some wickedly unusual combinations at any time of the day, not least at breakfast. It was during one of these experimental moments that Zoe, the spice scribe suggested that Danny, the Food Urchin and I perhaps try a savoury porridge.

‘Eh’, ‘what’s the point of that’ , ‘ew’ , ‘why’ , ‘but that’s not a breakfast is it’.

Is that what you are thinking? That’s certainly what I was thinking, but not one to ever dismiss a suggestion by the very lovely and food-smart Zoe and not one to dismiss an opportunity to experiment in an otherwise little explored area, I thought…why not. Besides, the charming and talented Mr.Food Urchin was game, this is going to be fun folks.

So I thought about what I like to eat what’s good for breakfast. Protein, oats, a bit of immune boosting (and frankly tasty) chilli. Let me tell you, I surprised myself. It’s good. It’s nutritious. It’s a bit weird at first, but it’s filling and tastes like a thick soup. Go on, you have to try it….

Ingredients to serve 4

500ml vegetable stock
50g Amoy flour vermicelli
Half a block of firm tofu, cut into bite sized pieces
75g edamame beans, defrosted
50g sundried tomatoes, chopped into thin strips
2 spring onions, chopped
300ml water
3/4 cup porridge oats
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 1/2 tsp soy bean paste
100g thin strips of cucumber
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
15g basil, finely chopped

Method

1. Heat the sesame oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, then allow them to sizzle, before introducing the tofu. Sauté the tofu lightly until it starts to catch some colour then add the spring onion. Sauté until the tofu is lightly golden.
2. Add the vegetable stock with the edamame beans, cucumber and sundried tomatoes, rice wine vinegar and chilli flakes before bringing the pot to a simmer.
3. Add the porridge oats and vermicelli, basil and stir well. Add the water simmer for 4-5 minutes

Indo-Thai Cassava, mango and broccoli curry

20 Jan

Indo-Thai cassava, mango and broccoli curry
Finding strength

I don’t have many memories with my maternal grandmother because she lives in a different country, but the memories that I do have, affected me profoundly. The stories that my grandmother shared with me showed me how a woman can. A woman can grow from a cushioned girl to a lady who can walk gracefully among thorns so quickly, that tears don’t have time. These women are my very own mother and grandmother.

My grandmother told me about the comfort she lived in during her life in Uganda. She wore jewellery, was pretty and had long tresses which she put fresh flowers in. She had the support of hired help who worked with them and shared the busy tasks of looking after three little ladies; my mother and her three sisters.
As a child I found it strange for her to draw on memories of having a large dining table, big fridges containing bounties of sugary drinks and not having to go to work. She talked about the lovely fresh fruits, cassava curry and crickets singing them to sleep.

They were expelled from their homeland and my apparently stern and stubborn great-grandmother chose to go to India, because it would be too cold in England. My grandmother told me stories of flushing money down the toilet in case the army would find them and covering her daughters under blankets in a jeep, just in case the army would steal them. I wonder if they knew that they were actually going to a life much more humble and restricted by a small income, far smaller than what they had known.

I only ever saw my grandmother’s Indian home, the one bedroom, basic residence. She cooked on the floor and I saw mice run around the courtyard once or twice. She made the best khichdi ever and I loved scooping it up with spring onions. Her room was grey, two small beds and you could see the kitchen from the beds. The front door no longer lead out to leafy green fruit trees, but a dusty side street filled with children playing and the occasional vegetable seller.

My grandfather died soon after arriving in India, when my mum was a teen. They say that depression due to the transition massively affected him. My grandmother raised her three daughters and married them all off to suitors in the UK, so that they could have better lives, like the life she had before being expelled from Uganda.
My mother was the first one, married at 19. She counts her blessings that she met a person that loves her and her every smile, every day.

So, when I dwell upon my own transitions in life, from an academic, focused ambitious and day dreaming achiever, to a corporate career-focused and travelling young achiever, to lost and smiling mum. How can I not find strength from thinking about the women in my life who so gracefully took responsibility of the changes in their life and simply made it better.

I can never eat cassava without thinking of my mothers childhood, my grandmother’s struggles. My recipe is thick, steaming and nutty like there’s would have been, full of comfort and colour. The difference is that my recipe includes some of my heritage, well some that I learned from my beloved london, a Thai influence. I’ve used galangal, palm sugar, soy sauce, tamarind, mango, and coconut. On the other hand, I’ve used cloves, cardamon, broccoli and tomatoes. It works so well, I felt flutters of excitement when I tasted it. Join in.

Ingredients

600g frozen cassava chops
Half tin of chopped tomatoes
4 green cardamon pods
3 cloves
A stick of cinnamon
3 green chillies, finely chopped
100g coarsely ground toasted peanuts.
150g mango chunks, (from a firm mango)
150g broccoli florets
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp minced galangal
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp mace
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tamarind juice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1200 millilitres of water
3/4 cup of desiccated coconut

Method
1. Boil the cassava chips in plenty of hot water until they are tender, but not mushy. When they are cooked, drain the water and cut the cassava into one inch pieces.
2. In a deep pan heat the vegetable oil and then add the cumin, coriander, Turmeric, chilies, cloves, cardamon, cinnamon. Allow the seeds to sizzle before adding the onion, mace and nutmeg with the salt. Sauté the onion for a couple of minutes before adding in the garlic and galangal. Sauté for another minute or two.
3. Add the tomatoes and stir well before adding the palm sugar, soy sauce, tamarind juice and ground peanuts. You’ll find it’s a thick and nutty mixture now that smells absolutely wonderful.
4. Introduce the cassava, desiccated coconut, mango chunks and water and then simmer the curry for ten minutes.
5. Stir in the broccoli and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Serve hot, I ate it just as it is.

Pomegranate roasted baby onions with butter bean salad and tahini-chilli yogurt

16 Jan

Pomegranate roasted baby onions with butter bean salad and tahini-chilli yogurt
Onions from an onion

I went to a school which was populated with provably about 80 per centGujarati children (I come from a Gujarati background) at a guess. When my boy and I go to playgroup he is an, ‘ethnic minority’ by being in a broader group called ‘Asian’.

So when I was at school I was not (by other kids) differentiated by the colour of my skin, but my caste. My classroom was made up of surnames such as Patel, Mistry, Thakrar or Shah. All Gujarati of course. We all knew we belonged to different castes and we knew that we spoke in different accents, our mothers cooked different tasting foods or simply varieties and some of us would be vegetarian and others not. Mild teasing was not uncommon, ‘your surname is Tailor you can make my clothes when I grow up’. I think I could pick up on caste sometimes by physical appearance.

The caste system used to separate people vocationally, but no longer does. Well, not the people I know anyway. It created networks of people and they married within their caste, but that doesn’t happen any more either. Idiosyncrasies of castes are now diluted with western accents, mixed marriages and just general evolution of culture. My 23 month will probably never know much about the caste system and I’m sure his friends will be much more international than mine were at his tender age. London offers that diversity doesn’t it.

I am from the Lohana caste. Commercial people. Ironically I read economics at university, but really that nothing to do with caste. Coincidence. Lohana folk are said to fond of onions, and that’s why I often got called one whilst growing up. But I was proud, I love a good onion.

Sweet and juicy with a sour tang. That’s my salad. I’ve smothered pomegranate molasses over the onions and roasted them slowly so that they are sweet and sour and moist and slippery. I adore that smell. They work well with deep butter beans and my nutty and slightly spiced dressing. Go on, be an onion.

Ingredients to serve 4

20 baby onions, peeled and halved
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Salt
1 tsp sugar
A few handfuls of rocket leaves
2 tins of butter beans
2 tsp sumac powder
15g flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
15g garlic chives, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

3/4 cup plain yoghurt
4 tbsp tahini paste
1 tsp red chilli flakes

Method

1. Coat the onions with the pomegranate molasses, sugar and a generous sprinkle of salt.
2. Lay the onions on some baking paper, drizzle them with oil and place them in the oven and roast them at 150 degrees for approximately 30minutes.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter beans, sumac, lemon juice, parsley, salt to taste and garlic chives.
4. To make the dressing, simply whip the yoghurt, tahini and chilli together.
5. Serve the salad on some rocket leaves with some lovely warm bread.

Cauliflower keema curry with capers and potatoes

13 Jan

cauliflower kheema curry with capers and potatoesThe comfort zone

Have I just said a dirty word. I’m familiar with that semi-laugh and the quiet roll of the eyes, ‘she’s in the comfort zone’. I heard it when I said I didn’t want a more senior role at work a few years ago and when I didn’t want to move out of london. It’s a dirty phrase.

Apparently people don’t grow when they don’t push themselves out of their comfort zone. If you do what you have always done, you will be and keep getting what you always have. People don’t have jobs for life anymore and  honestly, I think people who stand still for too long somehow attract  less admiration than those who keep moving. Change is the only constant, it appears.

We must live in different places and make new friends, it broadens the mind and ensures we don’t get too bogged down it seems. We should change our hairstyles and our clothing style. Holiday in new places, rather than the same ones and we should definitely learn a new language.

Must we? Should we? Need we? Why.

Growing and developing has been important to me for many years in my life. Having said that, I wonder what is so wrong if people are happy in the comfort zone, especially if the zone is a pretty pleasant one. Why not feel grateful in the blessings of the calm and reassured and general peace that comes with a happy constant? What’s wrong with standing still and soaking in the goodness that you enjoy and the rays of easiness that today brings?

Today is a day that I am finding my comfort. A few crisps, chatting with loved ones, playing with my boy, TV junk and a blanket. Tastiest of all, a cauliflower keema with an unusual introduction of capers.

My cauliflower is grated, but I put it in the food processor so was readywithin a few blinks. Cauliflower is lovely this way, it mingles so well with the curry gravy. Often people add peas but today I wanted a zing and a kick of sourness. I needed it, it had been one of those days.

Ingredients to serve four

One large cauliflower, grated (or in a food processor)
2 tomatoes, chopped
3-4 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
One large green chilli, chopped
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp minced ginger
One onion, diced finely
Salt to taste
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
A pinch of asafoetida
4-5 new potatoes
4 tbsp capers
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp garam masala

Method
1. Boil the potatoes for 5-6minutes and then drain them in cool water.
2.Heat the oil in a pan and add the asafoetida. Let It sizzle then add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric and allow the seeds to sizzle and pop.
3. Stir in the onion and salt and sauté for a couple of minutes. Then add the ginger and sauté until the onion has softened. Add the coriander powder and then the tomatoes. Soften the tomatoes and add the garam masala as they soften.
4. Add the grated cauliflower, capers and potatoes and cook for approximately ten minutes.

Serve hot with lashings of Raitha and chappati. Sleep well.

Blueberry and basil, papaya, spinach salad with a chilli and agave pistachio nut topping

8 Jan

Blueberry and basil, papaya, spinach salad with a chilli and agave pistachio nut topping

I feel too young for aches and pains and body complaints. My knee is creaky and my back is full of rocks; it is muscular tension. Sniffles and coughs, fatigue and sleep deprivation. It’s all self induced.

My uncle was, and still is, one of the patriarchs of our family. A strong and disciplined man, he is giving and loving and he was always firm and fair. Growing up, when he would visited us and was offered tea by my folks, he would always reply that he would drink it only if I made it. He was one of those that limited his food intake and I actually never saw him indulge.

He’s now deteriorated in his golden years and knowing this has provoked much thought on how I should be grateful and look after this one and only body I have. It is true that some things we simply can not control or avoid and chips taste very good. It is true that making time for exercise is tough and that eating well is sometimes expensive. But, life is short.

My blueberry basil, papaya and spinach salad with chilli and agave pistachio is good for the body, the eyes, the taste buds and is very easy to put together. Blueberries are often talked of a superfood and I eat them like sweeties. Spinach is fabulous and best raw I reckon and let’s talk about papaya. I ate loads of the stuff after giving birth to my boy, it’s said that it has healing properties. This fresh and easy salad will liven up any table at this time of heat and will encourage picking on fruit, not crisps.

Blueberry and basil, papaya, spinach salad with a chilli and agave pistachio nut topping

For the full recipe, head on over to great British chefs

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