Tag Archives: Vegan

A Diwali breakfast of courgette and butternut squash savoury gram flour pancakes with a honey and mustard yoghurt dressing – recipes vegetarian

2 Nov

Start the day as you mean to go on.

A Diwali breakfast of courgette and butternut squash gram flour pancakes with a honey and mustard yoghurt dressing

So, I start my day as I mean to go on and a savoury Diwali breakfast is more important that the day before. The whole of the festive period is spent eating. Mithai (indian sweets) , fried samosa, sweet dumplings in a crispy flour case, or pakora or crunchy rice and lentil wheels. So then, it doesn’t make sense to have cereal or toast for breakfast, does it. Have something special and utterly full of flavour  and filling for breakfast on Diwali, of course it should be spicy.I started to think about things that I was grateful for. My good health, my loving family, I’m reasonably smart, I have talents. There were lots of good things that I had seen, experienced and achieved in my life and for that I was grateful. Now, when I wake up and I’m confused about my thoughts…I bring myself to the here and now and think of good things.

Now I’m not a huge fan of butternut squash. I’m not keen on very sweet vegetables. But in this dish it adds moisture and a little sweetness without it being overwhelming. Don’t worry if the pancakes feel very moist inside when to first bite them; that’s all part of the charm. They’re spicy, they’re fluffy, they are moist, deep and lasting. Go on…

If Diwali makes you happy, if talking, smiling, eating, being around loved ones makes you happy…the keep doing it.

Ingredients

For the pancakes

100g grated butternut squash
75g grated courgette
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt to taste
2 tsp baking powder
One green chilli, chopped finely
One small red onion, finely diced
100g gram flour
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
200ml water
3-4 tbsp oil for frying

For the dressing

1 tbsp sesame oil
5 curry leaves
One tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
250g whipped Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp honey
1 green chilli

Method.

1. To make the dressing, heat the oil in a non-stick pan and cook the curry leaves and mustard seeds for 1 min. Stir in the chilli, turmeric and ginger, then cook on a low heat for 2-3 mins. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. Stir the cooled spice mix into the whipped yogurt along with the honey, then chill until you are ready to serve the meal. Can be made a day ahead.
2. To make the pancakes, combine the courgette, butternut squash, ginger, garlic, chilli, salt and spices together with onion and mix well. Add the gram flour and mix thoroughly before adding the water and combine until the gram flour lumps are removed.
3. On a non stick pan, heat 1-2 tsp oil and add 1/3 cup per pancake and fry until golden brown and then flip it over and repeat.

Serve hot and fresh.

I am joining in with Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month at Dinner With Crayons  thanks to Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All

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Garlic and cumin roasted cauliflower in parsley and chilli pesto pasta (plus giveaway)

29 Oct
Garlic and Cumin roasted cauliflower in parsley and chilli pesto pasta

Garlic and Cumin roasted cauliflower in parsley and chilli pesto pasta

It’s funny how tastes change as grow up.

Back in the day, a weekend in Skegness with chips, rides, candy floss, sand castles and good company was the making of exhilarating times. The smell of fried onions, the smacking of the sea, the sun in our hair and on our backs. Wearing shorts, but skies, seagulls. When my husband and I were a relatively new couple we escaped the pressures of the festive season by going to Scotland. We we young. We stopped by Blackpool of all places and it was so windy, I couldn’t walk in a straight line. I remember mr.bean on a tiny TV with a long aerial in our modest lodging for the night. The simple things.

Then for my 30th we were in an island just off Mauritius that we could walk around within 20mins. The waters were so shallow and still, you could just walk from one end to another. Quiet and scorching, still and stunning. They weren’t wrong when they said, ‘welcome to paradise’. I wasn’t one to stop and stare, I like to keep busy. But on an island as movingly beautiful, it was just instinctive to stop and admire…for a long time. I had flutters in my tummy, it was thrilling. I was making the memories I had imagined for so long.

I remember watching one of my uncles grilling full cloves of garlic on top of toast on one of those old school cookers where the flames would dance on the grill. I remember being utterly repulsed; how DID he eat THAT. I listened to him telling my dad how he ate it every day and how raw garlic was good for the heart, blah blah. They drank karela juice and ate raw mung bean sprouts. What was wrong with my family…surely everyone else’s family ate pizza and certainly not raw garlic?

And now? I’ve tweeted excitedly about roasted garlic with salt and sighing with smiles at the same time. It’s incredibly smooth, sweet and creamy. I love roasting whole bulbs and then squeezing the individual cloves out of their skins. It’s art. It’s so pretty. Surely simple food like this had to be sensual, or is that just taking it too far?

As you may have noticed from my posts, I’m rather fond of pasta. Who doesn’t love it? One of my favourite things about pasta is the versatility; there are just so, so many varieties. This recipe is fresh, garlicky, smooth and easy. I want to know what you think of this recipe and I want to hear about your favourite variety f pasta.

Leave me a comment with your thoughts on this recipe and your fave recipe and be in with a chance of receiving one of these JML twist n choppers which has made my life in the kitchen tidier. closing date 17th November.

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Ingredients

One large head f cauliflower cut into 1 inch florets
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
1 tsp cumin
Salt to taste
1/4 cup of oil
1tbsp chilli oil or sesame oil and one chilli
75g parsley
2tsp lemon juice
400g pasta

1. Mix the oil, cauliflower, salt and cumin seeds in a large bowl and ensure the cauliflower is well coated
2. Roast the cauliflower in the oven at 180degrees for about 20mins or until it is has browned lightly.
3. In the meantime, cook the packet instructions and make the pesto by grinding together the parsley, chilli oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add 1tbp water if you struggle to get a smooth pesto.
4. When the cauliflower and pasta are cooked, drain the pasta and mix wth the pasta. Toss the cauliflower into the bowl and ensure they are evenly distributed. Don’t stir it in, just toss it gently,

Serve hot and crisp.

Chilli and tahini noodle soup with broccoli and tempeh

28 Oct

 

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

This sort of time two years ago I sat in the cafe adjacent to wing yip oriental supermarket with my mum, dad and my large baby bump. Our noses were puffy from the cold outside and my mum and I giggled like girls as we quietly splished spicy noodle soup around our lips. The heat of schiuan peppercorn and chilies thawed our noses as our chopsticks slipped around pak choi and jabbed into tofu. We eyed up the swan shaped pastry over the counter and the little creamy and fruity tarts. Light and airy bite-me- now sized cakes and buns.

As we were dissecting the swans and sighing lazily and contentedly, tears raced down my mums cheeks. Normally full of youthful laughter and red-cheeked over-excitement, my mum smiled through her gentle tears. I shot a baffled and questioning look towards my dad. He had been busy chomping through his egg fried rice and meaty-vegetable feast. When food is good value for money and Chinese, my dad is unusually focused. He did his cliched wise-laugh thing and said something that has stuck since then with me and will always remain with me.

‘Your mum is spending the time with you now that she never has done’.

We all have different choices and circumstances in life. My mum was just 22 when she had me. Almost a decade younger than I was when I became a mother. I grew into being a mother in my own mind, through maturity and transitioning through the various phases of my life. My mum just became a mum. I grew my career as did my husband. My mum had just learned to speak fluent English, let alone have a chance to work. My husband and I bought a house and did it up before we had my boy. I was born into a council flat. But look at this…my mum and dad worked tirelessly as a team, had multiple jobs, paid their mortgage and even my university fees and expenses.

The price my brave mum paid unfortunately, is the time with me. Funny thing is I had never heard her complain in all these years. I never sensed any resentment in her circumstances. She embraced it. We ate dinner together every day, she tucked me in, told me stories about her childhood in Africa and made me turmeric milk when I was sick. Some foods will always evoke emotional responses, whether it is turmeric milk, egg and chips or samosa in the rain. I’ve added noodle soup to that list of foods.

This one is unusual, because I use tahini (sesame paste) in the soup. The result is a nutty flavour with a smooth texture. I’ve used the chilli oil from my previous recipe as well as the sweet lychee and hot chilli sauce I made recently. If you don’t like tempeh or can’t get hold of this block of fermented soy beans, use tofu. This soup is warming, spicy, nutty, has bite and is soothing. My husband says it is in his top 3 noodle soups now.

Ingredients to serve 2-3

1 large red onion, sliced
2 tbsp chilli oil with 3 tsp of the chilli flakes or 2tbsp sesame oil and 2minced red chillies 
200g broccoli cut into bite sized florets
200g tempeh cut into bite sized chunks
1 litre vegetable stock
500ml water
3 cloves of galic
1 tsp schiuan peppercorns
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp tahini
3-4 tsp sweet chilli sauce 
100g udon noodles

Method

1. Mince together the garlic and schiuan peppercorns
2. Stir fry thr tempeh in 1 tbsp vegetable oil until it catches a golden brown colour
3. Heat the oil and chilies and then stir fry the onions until they soften before adding the garlic and peppercorns. Cook for anther two minutes before adding the broccoli, soy sauce, tahini and tempeh. Mix it well and then add the vegetable stock, water and sweet chilli sauce.
4. Bring the broth to a simmer before adding the noodles. Cook for 5 minutes before serving hot.

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

25 Oct

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Always follow your gut instinct.

This week has been a revealing and pretty testing one. When I was made redundant just before I fell pregnant, it was pretty messily and insensitively handled and frankly, the writing had been on the wall for a while, just that I didn’t read the signals. It shook my confidence so then determinedly, I secured a role that on paper was more exciting, more strategic, more pay and well, just more. For some reason however, it just didn’t feel right. I held off from accepting the offer for two whole weeks and as I drove to work on my first day as a newly pregnant and formally dressed person, I wasn’t excited. I didn’t even feel neutral. I knew the difference between nervous apprehension and plain dread.

It turned out that my gut instinct was right. It was a mistake, but I was brave enough to put a stop to that interlude. However it was another factor that I let augment my self perception.

This week I spoke to so many people with emotive challenges I’m life. For some reason my shoulder is pretty attractive to secretly woeful people who carry themselves with a smile. I listened to a friend who has anxiety attacks at work, I’ve wiped the tears from friends who miss their children because they are busy being hamsters at work. I’ve held the hands of friends contemplating fertility treatments and encouraged my neighbour back into education as she has now raised her children. I also said no to a corporate role that would have sucked the life out of my life. I listened to my gut instinct. Nobody should actively or passively do things in life that they know will make them sad.

A the same time my husband has been away for work this week. I’ve had friends and family over this week back-to-back and I feel loved and blessed. How to thank them? There’s less money in my household now so I’m not taking each of them for dinner, but what I can do is put some quality and love into a thoughtful gift.

Christmas and Diwali are around the corner, why don’t you try these either for yourself or as gifts for loved ones. It’s so lovely to receive a gorgeous catch of something tasty that doesn’t perish in a day or two. My lychee and chilli dipping sauce is versatile and smells amazing. So far I’ve used it with chips and spring rolls and can’t with each mouthful I’ve thought, ‘I can’t believe I made this’ .

This dipping sauce carries an exotic aroma, has a zesty and hot kick and is cheekily sticky. Go on, if you like it hot and sweet…

Ingredients

Two tins of lychees
5 tbsp of caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
8-10 red finger chillies

Method

1. Mince the chillies to a paste and keep them to a side.
2. Put the lychees int a food processor and blend them together to as smooth a consistency as possible, although it may be quite chunky don’t worry,
3. Pour the lychees into a non-stick pan together with the chilies and the sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat to a medium flame and simmer for 15-20minutes until the juices have thickened.
4. Return the sauce to a food processor and blitz it until the lychee chunks have smoothed into the sauce.
5. Place the sauce back onto the hob and simmer for a further 5minutes until the sauce is thick and sticky.

Allow the sauce to cool before serving. If you aren’t serving it straight away then store it in an air tight, sterilised jar.

I am entering this made from scratch Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.
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Aromatic curry of fenugreek, spinach and tofu

14 Oct

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For a long time fenugreek was synonymous with breast milk production for me. I had it in spicy chapatis, in millet flour fritters, and in a curry with aubergines. My house was constantly circulating the fresh aroma of curries, because that is what fenugreek (methi) smells like. Curry. It certainly isn’t subtle, like spinach and when it’s cooked it becomes even more delightfully powerful.

The old indian aunties prescribe a certain way of eating after the delivery of a baby. It helps the mother to heal and produce milk. The diet has many exclusions, such as cabbage and cauliflower (too windy) onions and chilli (acidic and hot) tomatoes and citrus fruit for being acidic and frankly too many other things to remember. My generation of women tend not to follow any of it and just carry on as normal, be it with baked beans or omelette. Their generation gossip about the unruly ways of our generation and how we will regret not listening when our babies puke or our stitches don’t heal. My generation gossips about the pushiness of their generation. I followed it. For way too long. I probably wouldn’t again, but I would take the good out of it.

My view is, that our diets, much like life, should be in balance. I did look into the merits of fenugreek for new mums though, and after frenzied calls to my lactation consultant (yes I did use one) at a ridiculous hour, she sent me to a site for foods that increase milk production. Guess what was there?

Punchy and powerful fenugreek also reminds me of eating in villages and road side cafes in India. I have beautiful and fond memories of the simple, buttery and nourishing food in humble and welcoming eateries. The food is always fresh, constructed in a simple and unfussy way, moderately spiced and not laced with flavourings, cream or colours. Just good, hearty, indian food. My grandmother told me that fenugreek was food that farmers ate with millet flour chapatis and that they were energy foods that were rich and satisfying.

My recipe isn’t traditional, its my concoction of strong and mild flavours with tofu to soak up those I incredible flavours and released the juicy flavours back again. This is a very good curry, it’s as simple as that. P.s. no chilli powder in this curry.

Ingredients to serve 4

100g of fenugreek leaves, washed
300g spinach leaves
1 cup of tinned chopped tomatoes
One red onion, diced
One pack of firm tofu
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp ground nut
1/2 cup water

The spices; salt to taste, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper

Method

1. Start by draining the tofu between sheets of kitchen paper. Draining the water leaves it able to mingle with the spices well.
2. Put the spinach and the fenugreek leaves in a food processor and whizz together until they are finely chopped. You could of course do it by hand.
3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, turmeric, and sizzle. Then stir in the onion and salt and sauté until the onion has softened. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a minute before adding in the tofu. Stir the tofu well and then add the cumin powder, coriander powder, pepper and coat well. Cook on a medium to low heat for 4-5 minutes.
4. Add the spinach and fenugreek with the garam masala, tomatoes and water, mix gently not to break the tofu and then cover and simmer for ten minutes.

Serve with lashings of yoghurt.

Vegetarian Herby soba noodles with pineapple, a sweet, zingy and spicy dressing and shiitake

4 Oct Herby soba noodles with pineapple, a sweet, zingy and spicy dressing and shiitake


Herby soba noodles with pineapple, a sweet, zingy and spicy dressing and shiitake

A few moons ago, when my then fiancé and I moved into our very first property together we had no furniture or household items to make a comfortable or functioning home. We had a one bedroom rented flat in a very lovely area but it was totally bare. It had character though, it was a large Tudor house that had been split into three levels.

Nonetheless we moved in and slept on blankets spread upon the old and cold floorboards of our freshly (magnolia) painted living room. We used the not-so-local launderette, as we had no washing machine and we watched TV on a  15 inch screen that had a dodgy aerial. We were in our early twenties and full of romantic notions about our future, and why not. We dreamed a lot whilst we wrapped ourselves in a cover-less new duvet and gazed over at the cheesy plaque at the doorway which held both of our names in printed unison with their respective meanings. The simple things.

Perhaps the hardest thing for me was not having a cooker or pots and pans during the first weeks. For the first few days we ate a medley of take-away curries, chow mein, chips and pizza…but this grew expensive. Then we made a radical switch to toasted sandwiches, salads and the most sophisticated instant noodles within boxes I could find. Then the microwave arrived and simultaneously I got better at devising recipes that did not need a cooker.

I made various dishes with glass noodles and edamame with spices, I concocted Spiced hummus dishes with toasted and herb pita chips. I made cheesy pesto and used them on microwaved potatoes. I learned to adapt, but creatively. Perhaps one of my favourite recipes that arose from those days is the one I share with you today. It’s a proper sensory popping experience and I love that. Of course now I can eat it warm of cold and I’ve added cooked mushrooms to give the dish depth. You can serve this as a light meal, a starter, a side…what else? Shall I attempt a master chef type description of it?

A first you get the zing from the rice wine vinegar and the sharpness from the lime. Then comes in the sweetness from the palm sugar and the gentle heat from the chilli and it’s wonderful. You’ve got juicy and sweet pineapples that can add a touch of sourness, you’ve got silky soba noodles and you’ve got smooth and juicy shiitake. Lots of herbs bring it together with some light yet punchy aroma.

How did i do? Oh let’s just eat.

Serves 4-6

100ml rice wine vinegar
5tbsp palm sugar
1 tsp salt
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 lime zest and juice
250g soba noodles
150g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
400g ripe pineapple cut into bite sized pieces
30g basil, finely chopped
40g coriander, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Method

1. Start by making the dressing. Heat the rice wine vinegar and palm sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Remove it from the heat and then add salt, the chilli, garlic and lime juice and zest. Leave it to a side
2. In a tablespoon of oil, shallow fry the mushroom until it catches a lightly golden colour. On a medium heat this should take about 6-7 minutes.
3. Boil the soba noodles for about 5 minutes and then wash them in plenty of cold water.
4. In a large mixing bowl, add the noodles and the herbs and mix thoroughly. Add the pineapple chunks and mushrooms with the dressing and mix again until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

You can serve this either cold or hot.

pasta please

I am sending this to Pasta Please, the monthly vegetarian pasta even run by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes

Za’atar aubergines and toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

2 Oct Za'atar aubergines and toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

Za’atar aubergines with toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

Za'atar aubergines and toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

Za’atar aubergines and toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

Great things can happen, both in life and food, completely by accident…or rather in an unplanned or coincidental fashion. For example, today whilst putting my boy to sleep I thought of my regular Chinese restaurant, then of Navratri (hindu festival which involves nine nights of dancing) following which I realised I hadn’t made one of the Gujarati classics that I’m pretty darn good at doing, in a while. All of these thoughts inspired the creation a weird but outrageously good new soup recipe which I will soon share.

Back to this recipe, which is also unpremeditated. My parents came to stay last week when my husband was in Moscow for work. They, besides enjoying time with my boy and I, were so helpful in the kitchen. My dad was my kitchen assistant.
They have a habit of overcooking and under eating. They have also started to use a tongue-swelling level of chilli in their cooking, which I can no longer endure. During my late pregnancy I developed intolerable reflux so I cut the chilli and since then I never really reintroduced it. Anyway, they’re a bit obsessed with aubergines, my folks. They cooked thick slithers of fresh and slippery Aubergine in oil, without water and lots of indian spices but no tomatoes. Such a simple and garlicky dish.

I don’t know why I was reluctant to try it, but when I did I actually really enjoyed it. But then the chilli kicked in and in the absence of cooling yoghurt I grabbed the hummus. And thats how this recipe happened.

Za’atar spice is a tangy and herbaceous spice blend with a thyme like flavour. The tanginess comes from sumac, which is made from dried fruits. The za’atar spice blend also contains nutty sesame seeds and aromatic cumin. It’s fairly delicate so I like to let it sing for itself rather than mix it in with other powerful flavours. Simple is best with spice blends like za’atar.

This is no word of an exaggeration, this hummus is probably the best I have made. Nothing sexy; it’s a simple, smooth and silky hummus. It’s really good though. This is why I’ve allowed for a batch for your fridge, it’ll keep for about 3 days.

Ingredients to serve four

One large Aubergine, cut into 2 inch slithers
4-5 shallots,sliced
1 1/2 tbsp za’atar spice
3 tsp lemon juice
A handful of pine nuts, dry toasted on a non-stick pan
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

For the hummus

2 cans of cooked chickpeas
4 tbsp lemon juice
7 tbsp of ice cold water
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup tahini
1 1/2 tsp salt

Method.

1. Heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil in a non stick pan and add the onions and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes
2. Add the aubergines and mix well. Stir in the za’atar spice blend and the lemon juice. Turn the heat to a very low flame and cook for about 20minutes or until the Aubergine is soft enough to pierce through, but not until they lose shape or become squashed.
3. To make the hummus put the chickpeas into a food processor and blitz until they are a coarse paste.image
4. Add the tahini, garlic, salt and lemon juice and then blitz again.
5. Whilst the food processor is doing its thing, slowly pour in the water and it should loosen up to a lovely consistency.

To serve, top the hummus with the cooked Aubergine whilst they are still warm and when the pine nuts. Serve with flatbread or pitta bread. Don’t forget to tell me how you enjoyed this recipe!

How to make vegetarian hot noodle soup in 20minutes

1 Oct Vegetarian Noodles
Vegetarian Noodles

20 minute vegetarian hot noodle soup

Super speedy (20 minute) hot vegetarian noodle soup

I seldom have time off. I am constantly tired and submerged. But I am not complaining because the rewards are infinite and I am my happiest when I am with my boy. I do get the occasional moments of liberation into the friday night world when I see the girls and I only got my wings four or five months ago, so the excitement is a bit like the thrills I felt as a fresh and novice teenager venturing out into the bright lights.

So our last, enjoyable and tasty dinner out was at wagamama and behold, it was my first time. I was a wagamama virgin. When I’ve mentioned this to my friends they’ve all raised their eyebrows and given me an understated and polite chuckle. I cant say I haven’t considered going in recent years but I make a lot of noodle soup at home; it’s so easy and fresh as well as thoroughly tantalising.

It regularly surprises me when people tell me that they don’t make noodle soup, even when they like it. It isn’t much of a leap from a simple stir fry, all you need is a good stock. My recipe may stir a little bit of argument for the following reasons;

1. Curry powder- insult or enhancement?

I know a lot of foodies detest curry powder. I quite enjoyed watching faces aghast at the mention of it when I watched Rick Stein in India. It’s isn’t balanced creatively, it has one taste and isn’t fresh. I agree. I would never, ever use it in curries as they deserve proper layering of goods spices and each curry should be cooked in consideration of the vegetables in that curry. This noodle soup is a quick recipe and curry powder works. Simple.

2. I’ve called it a super quick 20 minute recipe, naturally this will be contested.

3. It’s hot.

4. Tomato purée – in a noodle soup? Yes. It is true. It adds colour and sweetness which I feel is important given that some of the other flavours are pungent.

Today I got my cosy socks on, thought about hot water bottles and made noodle soup. It’s my comfort food that doesn’t make me fat.

Here are my pointers for making noodle soups work

1. Be careful with chilli bean sauce and soya pastes. They add wonderful background depth and aroma, but if you over do it, you will taste bitterness and that’s not nice.

2. Don’t go crazy with noodles, they tend to swell in the soup.

3. Use exotic mushrooms rather than woods ones, they are soft and absorb juices well and the noodle soup is cooked for just a few minutes so work well with the delicate nature of exotic mushrooms like oysters.

4. Use salt sparingly, vegetable stock is salty. I didn’t add any to this recipe.

5. Use sesame oil or groundnut oil. Nutty oils are delicious in noodle soup. They are the vehicle for enhancing the other flavours.

I’m not an overly tidy Eater, I had splutters of the hot and spicy stock on my phone today. Luckily it has a cover on it, but this soup is drinkably, suckably, flaming good.

Ingredients

100g baby corn chopped into bite sized pieces
100g green beans cut into bite sized pieces
2l vegetable stock
2 pak choi, roughly chopped
One bay leaf
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp tomato purée
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1tbsp chilli bean paste
4 spring onion chopped into bite sized chunks
75g exotic mushrooms (I’ve used largely grey oysters) torn
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp pounded schiuan peppercorns
75g Amoy vermicelli
2tbsp sesame oil for cooking

Method

1. Heat the oil for a few seconds before adding the garlic, ginger and spring onion. Sauté for a minute before adding the curry powder. Stir through until the colour deepens (it should take a minute or so).
2. Add the vegetables and coat well.
3. Stir in the vegetable stock, bay leaf, peppercorns, rice wine vinegar, chilli bean paste and tomato purée.
4. Bring the soup to a simmer and then add the noodles.
5. Cook for 3-4 minutes before serving.

 

Coriander, ginger and basil pesto pasta with toasted cashews and peanuts

22 Sep

Coriander, ginger and basil pesto pasta with toasted cashews and peanuts coriander, ginger and basil pesto pasta with toasted cashews and peanuts

My new husband grabbed my hand and gently led me out of the Bangkok shopping centre food court whilst I whimpered. I felt like a four-year old. But my hands were printed with Henna and every salesperson, tour guide or hotel staff would stop me to ask, sweetly , ‘honey moon?’

utterly frustrated and despairingly famished, I was just too worn out to talk. Or rather, complain. We were on honeymoon and spent the day sight-seeing, talking excitedly and traveling fair distances and had eventually landed up in a shopping centre where the shoes were the stuff of my dreams; very affordable, stylish and I gasped when I saw how small they were! I’m of course petite and wear size 3 shoes. I was delighted. Could it get any better? The morning had passed hearing traders haggle whilst I bobbed up and down a teeny boat on the floating market. I was inside that Jacobs advert. I’d inhaled the sweet smells from mounds of saffron and stopped on the water to buy an oversized straw hat. And now, look…small shoes!
So time elapsed and once the thrills had lulled, our tummies shouted in plight. The problem was that we couldn’t find any vegetarian food. The so-called-veggie dishes had oyster sauce in them or a fishy stock. I’d been served some in a noodle bar and the taste sent me out of the shopping centre.

So we were on the restless main road; sky train rumbling above us, cars honking past us and traders yelling at us. It was hot, dusty and it was all just too much. What we in awe of just hours ago, was now simply draining. Husband rang the hotel and they directed us to a restaurant they advised would actually serve proper veggie food.

It looked alright when we got there, but frankly I didn’t care anymore. My plate arrived and it was green. The noodles I mean, not the plate itself. I didn’t expect that; I was expecting coconut cream. It smelt like coriander and I almost wept. I told my husband about the time when my dad made mashed potatoes for my cousin, my brother and I when we were kids and he put coriander in it and we all gagged. My cousin held his breath and downed it because my dad bribed him with a giant bar of bounty. I looked down and my noodles and just wanted a bowl of tomato pasta. ‘Just eat it sweetheart, it is vegetarian and you haven’t eaten anything’.

I’d never tasted anything like it, it was like an Asian chutney on noodles. Garlicky heat and coriander with Thai sweet basil totally lifted me and the aroma of sesame oil, it was phenomenal. So simple, so fresh, moist and quite powerful. I asked for another portion as a take-away and I resolved to come home and make my own version.

I love this recipe because all of the fresh flavours that come through really decisively. They don’t over power each other and you can taste them all. I’ve used fresh basil and ginger along with coriander and the juices are those you get carried away by. This is perfect as a mid-week meal because it is easy to do. Please do use sesame oil, this dish wouldn’t taste the same without the perfume of nutty sesame seeds. I’ve also added toasted cashews and peanuts on top which for me, compete the Asian feel on this pasta. Don’t ruin it by adding cheese, you really don’t need it.

Ingredients to serve four

4 tbsp finely chopped coriander
4 cloves of garlic , minced
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp minced ginger
Salt to taste (I added 1tsp)
2 tsp fresh lime juice
4 tbsp finely chopped basil
500g fresh pasta

3 handfuls of cashew nuts and one handful of peanuts (shelled)

Method

1. Sauté the garlic and ginger in a splash of oil in a pan for 2-3 minutes and stir intermittently to avoid sticking.
2. In a grinder, combine the coriander, basil, sesame oil, garlic and ginger, salt and lime juice and blitz it until it’s a smooth pesto.
3. Put the pasta on the boil and cook it per the packet instructions. Meanwhile, in a hot, non stick pan toast the nuts until they are golden brown
4. Once the pasta is drained, stir the pesto through it and top it with the nuts. We’ve warm. It’s best that way.

Cooking with Herbs
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