Tag Archives: Vegetarian indian recipes

Potato, edamame bean and pine nut curry in a spiced yoghurt gravy

2 Feb

I’ve been playing with nuts recently; pistachio with popcorn, cashew in curry and pine nuts mainly in salads. Oh and not forgetting walnuts in jaggery.

 

Potato, edamame bean and pine nut curry in a spiced yoghurt gravy

I know it may sound odd but I thought this recipe up whilst eating a jacket potato with cheese and beans at a soft play centre. ‘Finley the fire engine’ was playing in the background and I was urging my boy to eat the over-cooked cheese and tomato pasta that was the only vegetarian option in the café. I ate between, ‘it’s yummy yummy pasta’ and, ‘if you eat your pasta you will have more energy, do you want to go ice-skating next…yaay, let’s eat the pasta’. Normally I take his food with me, you know something nutritious, tasty and given that my boy seems the reincarnation of a Gujarati villager, something curried or spicy. But it was with birthday.

I started thinking about how when I am solo-parenting my boy (when my husband travels for work) I snack a lot. I tend to eat less in any one sitting but snack more.  I can’t claim that they are always healthy snacks because I am sitting in front of the telly as I write this; sleep deprived, eating biscuits and thinking about churro’ and  sleep.

Anyway, back to snacking. Nuts.  Given that this week I am despairingly tired there is one thing that cajoles me into my natural rhythm. No matter how good other food tastes and no matter how many flutters in my tummy butterflies borough market or wing yip oriental supermarket gives me…there are times when only a curry will do it for me.

But you know I do funny things to curries.  I hope that you will agree that these are funny things that do work. I have simmered this curry in yoghurt, as we are fighting colds in our house at the moment and this makes me feel better.  There are loads of whole spices and pine nuts.

Pine nuts?! What the…but really, it works. Try it.

Ingredients to serve 4

3 medium sized potatoes cut into inch sized cubes

One large onion, sliced

2-3 cloves

2-3 green cardamom pods

1small stick of cinnamon

½ cup of chopped tomatoes (tinned is fine)

400 ml water

150g edamame beans

100g pine nuts

1 tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp. mustard seeds

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 tsp. garlic, minced

2 tbsp. peanut oil

¼ tsp. garam masala

¼ tsp. turmeric

3-4 curry leaves

200ml plain natural yoghurt

2 tsp. gram flour

1 tsp. coriander powder

Method

  1. Toast the pine nuts on a non-stick pan lightly until the pine nuts catch a golden colour. Leave them to a side until they are needed.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin, curry leaves, cloves, cinnamon, mustard, turmeric and chillies and allow the seeds the sizzle before adding the onions and the salt.
  3. Sauté the onions for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic and then sauté for a minute before introducing the potatoes
  4. Sprinkle in the coriander powder and coat the potatoes well. Pour in the tomatoes and half the water and simmer the potatoes for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Blend the yoghurt and gram flour to smooth consistency before pouring it into the curry and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Add the edamame beans and pine nuts and garam masala, and then simmer for a further 4-5minutes.

Serve with warm chapatti or rice.

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 paneer wontons in a gentle spinach soup

23 Jan

spicy paneer wontons in a gentle spinach soup

I am pretty sure that I wasn’t well acquainted with paneer when I was a child, as my earliest memories of it must be from my pre- teens. I recall that one of my dad’s friends had landed a business deal delivering this marvellous new product that was increasingly popular, so popular in fact that it was flying off the shelves. It may have had something to do with the popularised chilli paneer dish? Packaged paneer ready in the fridge. I was new and it was exciting.

So he handed my dad some freebies and naturally I ensured that they landed in my lap and thus started an era of paneer experimentation. It had fast become the favourite food of every other Asian person in my network. Paneer is an unsalted, full fat Indian cheese that may be crumbly when fresh and spongy or even chewy when pressed and ready-made for sale. I think that a lot of tired taste buds weere wakened when paneer came into fashion with is almighty, loud and punchy flavours. Plenty spice, liberal use of garlic and ginger, copious soy sauce and ketchup made for lively and lasting tastes.

I love that paneer is a wonderful sponge for juices and flavours; it is clean and will mop up full flavours generously.  I experimented many times over the years, scrambled paneer in a bhurji is one of my favourites and this has become the stuffing for my wontons today.  I love thick and creamy shahi paneer dishes, kofta (balls with veg and simmered in thick gravy), I love paneer in cashew nut gravy and who can deny the simple, clean and guilty pleasure of ras malai?

A few people wrote to me this week asking about palak paneer (curry of paneer cubes simmered in smooth spinach) and it got me thinking…so I made this and I am very excited about. It’s pretty special. The spinach soup is light and easy, but incredibly addictive and soothing. Not a bad thing to find spinach addictive! The paneer is punch and full, has bite and parcelled into slippery smooth wontons. Can it get any better?

As a tip, make sure the paneer is pretty warm all the way through, cold paneer is chewy but when warm, this recipe really comes to life and it’ll be juicy and tender. Perfect.

Ingredients to serve 4 (makes 16 wontons)

For the wontons;

150g paneer, grated

¼ tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. mixed cumin and coriander powder

¼ tsp. turmeric

¾ tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. tomato puree

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or minced

1-2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 tbsp. sesame oil

½ tbsp. soy sauce

16 wonton wrappers

Salt to taste

½ tsp. chilli powder

For the soup

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

200g finely chopped (or in the food processor) spinach

800ml vegetable stock

One medium onion, thinly sliced

4-5 curry leaves

One chilli, finely chopped

1 tbsp. corn flour mixed with water

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. minced ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

Method

  1. To make the soup, heat the oil in a deep pan and then add the chilli, onion, curry leaves, garlic and ginger sauté until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the spinach and mix thoroughly, before adding the vegetable stock and the rice wine vinegar.
  3. Bring the soup to a simmer before adding the corn flour and water paste to thicken the soup. Simmer the soup for 5-7 minutes.
  4. To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes introducing the grated paneer.
  5. Stir in the turmeric, chilli, and coriander and cumin powder and mix thoroughly.
  6. Stir in the tomato puree and soy sauce and then cook the curry for 4-5 minutes.
  7. To make the wontons, place a teaspoon of paneer mixture in the middle of a wonton and then create little drawstring purses and seal them with a little water.
  8. Steam the wontons for 8-10 minutes before removing them from the steamer.
  9. Ladle the soup into bowls and then place 4 wontons into the bowl and serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m linking this to Anneli and Louisa for four seasons because its comforting an

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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.

Baked spring rolls filled with paneer, courgette and sweetcorn for children

8 Dec

Baked spring rolls with paneer, courgette and sweetcorn

IMG_4755

We live in a culture where bigger is better and somehow, that has become a popular way of thinking when it comes to babies too. As I sat in a circle with other mums at a baby group with my little one on my lap I listened, ‘mine is only 6 months old but wears 9-12 month clothing’. Her friend quipped, ‘mine is 9 months old and where’s clothes for 18 month olds as she eats loads and she even ate some our pizza and garlic bread last night.’

I felt like I was doing my boy an injustice and I worried for his health. No matter which concoction of vegetables or fruits I offered him, he just would not open his mouth. I sang to him, sat him in the garden and even did messy play with food for him to befriend it. I cut his milk back to trigger off more hunger, but nothing. When he was about 8-9 months old I sought medical advice and you know what they told me? They told me he would probably never be an eater, he would always be smaller than average and that he would just not be interested.

I took a deep breath and hushed the expletives roaring around in my head. How can they doom him to a life of food indifference with such conviction? I calmly and firmly told them that I was a very fussy eater as a child and now I am healthy, food loving food writer.

I have learned a lot along the way to getting my boy interested in food. He now loves yoghurty dhal, dosa and spicy vegetable pasta dishes and of course spinach pizza. Here’s some of the things that helped me;

1. I had an ‘aha’ moment when one of my friends pointed out that my boy was getting lots of lovely flavours of Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Italian food through his milk from what I was eating. So then why would he want a boiled carrot. Introducing flavour and spice in food helps to keep it exciting. kids like flavour too.

2. Eating together as a family means that meal times are a fun and a sociable activity and my boy loves to join in.

3. Variety. In the earl days of weaning I would just give my boy his one bowl of food and if he stopped eating, I thought he was no longer hungry. What I found however is that smaller portions of a variety of items keeps the taste buds and mind stimulated and the tummy ends up fuller. It need not be laborious; I make home-made spiced and unsalted butter and spread it on seeded bread, for example.

4. Eating with other children is fun. I sometimes invite his friends over for pasta and veg with garlic bread. My boy loves to join in with his friends and especially with crunchy, spice and veg filled spring rolls.

5. Taking a picnic or a packed lunch for a day out makes for fun eating. Unravelling goodies whilst sharing special moments as a family is a delight that little ones will share too.

6. Sometimes, he is just not hungry and that’s fine. We don’t always eat three full meals. It’s ok to take the pressure off and leave it until the next meal.

My recipe works really well with my boy and his friends because these spring rolls are crunchy, packed with flavour and they are great hand-held treats for independent eating or eating on the go. Parents love them because they are baked and can be frozen, which is really handy for busy weekdays when you can just whip a few out and put them in the oven

For the full recipes head over to Great British Chef

Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

18 Nov
Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

The weather does affect my mood. The grey skies aren’t good for the clouds in my mind. Mondays are harder than Sundays. It’s cold so getting out is harder. But my mornings start like this.

I wake, I worry, then my boy comes into bed. ‘Mumma cuddle’…so I draw him closer to me. ‘Mumma kiss’ and I happily shower him. Then he starts to talk about animals and planets or cars. Life is as complicated as we make it, isn’t it.

I think sometimes we just chase, chase, run and run. But forget to think about whether it is making us or our loved ones happy. I say, if you don’t want to fly…then don’t. Run. If you don’t want to run, then don’t…walk. If you don’t want to walk then sit down. If you want to move forward, do. If you want to stop, stop. Just be happy.

So the way I deal grey skies, is to get out and get active. Cool, fresh air helps to dust off the cobwebs. This morning my boy and I went to the Indian supermarket. This may seem like a boring task for many, but for me it was full of nostalgia. The smell of ground masala and stacks of rice and flour throws me back to my childhood. I grew down the road from an indian mill, so these are the smells of my childhood. We didn’t do mass indian food shops, my mum and dad would send me running down the road with a couple of coins to pick up gram flour or millet flour.

To fight of Monday feelings I wanted colour on my plate. I wanted cool, warm and spicy sensations. I wanted crisp against smooth and nutty against fruity. I wanted it all and I wanted to be tickled. There is only sense-tickling dish that does this and that is chaat.

There are quite a few ingredients to this dish but don’t skip any, they are all there for a reason. By all means use shortcuts, life is short!

Ingredients to serve 4-6

100g crisp bundi (crisp gram flour balls to give crunch)
100g sev (crisp gram flour short straws)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
One can of black chick peas
One pomegranate with the seeds removed
100g small indian onions, or a large red onion finely diced
10-12 plain natural yoghurt
2 tsp chaat masala
8-10 tbsp tamarind chutney

For the coriander and chilli chutney

40g chopped coriander
1/2 cup water
2 green chilies
Salt to taste

For the curried soya nuggets

200g soya nuggets
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
One small onion, peeled and sliced
1300ml water.

Cooks tips for shopping: the soy nuggets are readily available in Asian supermarkets and so is the tamarind chutney, although I bought it from asda. You can quite easily make tamarind chutney, but I used a shop bought one today

Method
1. Start by making the soy nuggets. Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle. Add the garlic, salt, turmeric and onion and sauté until the onions have softened. Stir in the the cumin and coriander powder then add the soya nuggets. Coat them in the spices before adding the chopped tomatoes and warm water.
2. Bring the curry to a simmer and then sprinkle in the garam masala. Cook for 20mi mutes or until the juices have been soaked up by the nuggets and the nuggets are tender. Turn off the heat.
3. Boil the cubed potatoes until they are soft enough to pierce and then drain them. Sprinkle in one tsp of chaat masala.
4. Drain and rinse the black chickpeas and sprinkle in one tsp of chaat masala.
5. Make the green coriander and chilli chutney, use a grinder to mix the coriander, chilli, water and salt to a paste.
6. Make up individual portions of chaat in a bowl for ease by mixing 2 tbsp of bundi, 2 tbsp of pomegranate seeds, 2 tbsp potato, 2 tbsp chickpeas, 2 tbsp of sev and 2 tsp onion. Toss in 3 tsp of soya nuggets. Place the mix on the plate and drizzle on yogurt, green chutney me tamarind chutney.

Remember that these measurements for putting together the chaat are approximate, alter it to your taste.

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

13 Nov

 

 

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

My lovely neighbour gave me a bag full of plantain today; fresh and green. I racked my brain for ways to use it. I thought of the spiced plantain mash I had at ‘mama’s roadside kitchen’ in st.Lucia or the indian curry my mum would make when we were kids, using her experience of living in Uganda as a child. I asked my friends on twitter and they suggested cake. I didn’t fancy any of these lovely recipes today, for some reason.

In the morning, by boy and I went shopping for women’s undergarments. My normally chatty and excitable child completely freaked out and sobbed loudly in the fitting cubicle and insisted, ‘put a jumper and jacket on mumma, put the clothes on mumma’. He’s not yet two but here we go. So I took him for a walk and stopped at the dried fruits and nuts section which looked festive but blue. Why blue? Anyway, that’s when it struck me.

But I did have a brief period of confusion; which is a more festive nut…the cashew or almond? Cashews are more expensive. Does that make it more special? I do recall my mum sending food parcels of special stuff for my grandmother in India when friends or relatives visited. Mum sent cashews, always. She also sent saffron and chocolate. Now I think back, it’s such a lovely thing to do.

But then, almonds are pretty special also. When we were in st.Lucia we stayed between the majestic pitons, hidden away. We were staying at a resort where the beach sat in a calm little cove and one of the paths along the beach was layer in almond shells. I loves cracking them open to find smooth almonds. It’s lovely that nature can create such a perfect little nut.

I’m actually rather excited about this simple yet addictive recipe. It’s really good. This tropical looking mix is crunchy, sweet, aromatic and there’s a lovely hint of chilli right at the end. It’s delightful. I’ve used agave nectar to sweeten the mix so, healthier than loads of sugar. You have to try it.

Ingredients for two gift containers

One large green plantain
4 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3-4 tbsp desiccated coconut
A generous handful of dried cranberries
200g cashew nuts
Oil for frying plantain chips

1 . Heat the oil in a deep pan and in the meantime, take the green skin off the plantain and cut the plantain into 1 cm thick circles with a knife of mandolin.
2. Fry the chips until they are crisp and deepened in colour. You will feel that they are tougher and crisp when you move them with a slotted spoon.
3. Remove the chips onto a kitchen paper and leave them to cool.
4. In a non stick pan, toast the cashew nuts until they are lightly golden before adding the cinnamon and the plantain chips. Mix well.
5. Stir in the chilli flakes, mix again. Then add the agave nectar and the desiccated coconut. Thoroughly mix it all together to make sure the spices and coconut are evenly distributed.
6. Toss in the dried cranberries and mix again.

Allow the mixture to cool completely before packaging it.

This has also been entered into Feel Good Food Challenge hosted by Jibberjabberuk and Victoria at A Kick At The Pantry Door

 

This week I would like to link this to Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays,

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

9 Nov
Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

On our houseboat in Kerala we had chef with us, as part of the deal. It was during one of my birthdays and what a way to spend it; lying on a mahogany hammock on the boat looking out at the lush green backwaters and watching birds swoop. I don’t often feel utterly relaxed, but that was a time where I did. I find that when I feel too absorbed in the microscopic elements of life, seeing life from a different angle makes me feel more alive, more grateful and more free.

Kerela house boat
Hammock
Scenary

I could see fluorescent green rice paddies in the distance. I watched small children take a boat, run past a tiny white-painted church so they could get to school. I watched fishermen and people looked happy. I thought about my own social circles, how different people are.

In the morning chef made stacks of hot, fluffy idli (sour steamed little cakes made of fermented rice and lentils) and puri. As a snack he would make banana fritters and steaming hot cardamom tea and just thinking of the dinner makes me feel satiated. I’d ask him to make just a small amount of vegetable rice and maybe one curry…but no. You know what he made? Okra curry, a red lentil dhal, a mixed vegetable Avial, salad, potato fritters and a mango milkshake. I’m not kidding. For two of us. He served us so eagerly and affectionately that the result was, totally truthfully, that my husband and I had to sit up for several hours in bed because we were too full to lie down.

Chef made a spectacular tomato chutney which had some almost-raw bottle gourd in it (dud hi). I scooped excessive amounts of it on my idli in the morning and he smiled at me as I did so. He very kindly taught me how to make it I. The kitchen of the house boat and I gained new admiration for him. The kitchen was small as you’d expect, but it moved! This guy is genius.

I’ve adapted his recipe to Include pineapple for sweetness, and cucumber and not bottle gourd to give a crunchy texture and I’ve kept the tomatoes t give a sweetness and tangy. All in all, this is another sensory play that works fantastically with cheese and bread so you can whip it out for Christmas or dish them out as gusts, as I am doing.

Ingredients to make 4 jars of 150ml size

600g tomatoes skinned
400g pineapple chunks
280ml rice wine vinegar
2 tsp black onion seeds
2 tsp chilli flakes
5-6 curry leaves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
100g caster sugar
One large red onion
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp minced ginger
Salt to taste
Half a large cucumber, cut into bite sized chunks

Cooks tip; to skin the tomatoes pour boiling water into a pan with the tomatoes in. When the skin starts to split, drain the water and wash them in cold water before slipping the skin off.

Tomatoes

 

Method
1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion seeds and curry leaves and when the onion seeds crackle add the onions and salt. Sauté the onion for a minute before adding the ginger. Cook until the onion has softened.
2. Pour in the vinegar and sugar and stir it and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.

Simmering

3. Pour the tomatoes, cinnamon and pineapple in and lower the heat and simmer until the juices have dried and the mixture is tacky. It should take about 30minutes.
4. Add the cucumber and cook for a further 4minutes before turning of the heat.

Make sure the jars have been sterilised before you our the cooled chutney in.

Post Diwali Paneer, black bean, chilli French toasties with fig raitha

5 Nov

IMG_4135Post Diwali Paneer, black bean, chilli French toasties with fig raitha
Diwali is over; the fairy lights are off and diya’s have been packed up. We don’t really receive cards anymore otherwise they’d be down too I suppose. The Diwali snacks tubs are still out, but the excitement for them has waned given the over indulgence on them over the last few days. The phones are now quiet and the pretty and bright indian clothes are back in their zip covers and packed up. The skies now sleep in the dark, instead of popping and banging. The hardest bit will be that I will miss my family, the liveliness and the cheerful Diwali banter. The husband goes back to work too. We are back to normal.

So this is where I stop being sad that the festive period is over and take gratitude in the reality, which is a blessing. I was listening to friends and family talk over the past few days and as I grow, the more I realise that it’s so important to keep things in life simple.

We are always chasing. We are always doing. We are always thinking, dreaming, planning and aspiring. All good things, I suppose. If they make you truly happy. Now and in the future. I just often wonder what the point is. The simple things make most people I know happy. Spending time with loved ones, walking, laughing, watching a good movie, eating out, reading a great book, having a soak in the bath. Whatever it is that makes you happy now, do that. Our brains have been conditioned to believe that anger, jealousy, competition are all natural parts of life. But they aren’t. They become parts of our thinking right.

So when I came back from the Diwali celebrations, tired and happy, I flicked on the heaters, stood in front of the fridge and announced that I need a light and tasty meal. It’s part of my gentle recovery from all the feasting over Diwali. I still need something that’s packed with punch, dense but light. If that makes sense. Going straight for the salads feels like a step too far right now. So this is what I concocted. A flavour and texture delight of paneer, black beans, chilli French toasties with a fruity and sweet fig Raitha.

My wonderful sister-in-law is such a light in our lives. She’s an advocate of keeping things simple and the best ideas come to those who keep the clutter away. My sister-in-law is a genius ball of ideas. Honestly, sometimes she will just burst out, ‘ wouldn’t it be good if they invented…’

So amidst my child’s eating refusal, she suggested eggy bread. It’s crunchy and easy eat and taste great. It’s nutritious for a little one too. Of course me being me, I can’t just stop at eggy bread…and my little one loves spice. So I gave him this sarnie without the chillies!

Ingredients for four sandwiches

100g grated paneer
100g black beans
2 green chillies, finely chopped
One red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter
A little oil to loosen the butter
8 slices of bread

For the Raitha

75ml plain natural yoghurt
3 fresh figs, peeled.
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp coriander powder

Method
1. Combine the grated paneer, black beans, red onion, chaat masala, cumin seeds, coriander powder and green chilies in a bowl and mix well.
2. Combine the eggs and milk in a separate bowl, whisk and keep to aside.
3. Heat half a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick pan and add a little oil to loosen and make sure the butter doesn’t burn. Make a sandwich by placing some of the mixture inside and then cut it half. Hold it to close and dip into the batter. Place it on the pan and let it catch a golden colour before turning it over.
4. To make the raitha, simply combine the yoghurt with the flesh of three figs. Fork it down to a pulpy texture and them add a little coriander powder and a pinch of salt.

Serve immediately and wait for sighs.

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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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