Montag, 14. Juni 2010

curried potatoes and vegetables; "middle-eastern" tofu and cabbage

Amazing, how well Thai curry paste and potatoes go together! The veg are variable, peppers and mushrooms really go well.

app. 750g potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch spring/salad onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green and 1 red pepper, chopped
1 courgette
3 large portobello mushrooms or 8 normal mushrooms
1 heaped tbsp (green) Thai curry paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
chopped parsley and coriander to taste

Heat the oil. Briefly fry onions and garlic. Add the vegetables and fry until they are as crisp or done as you prefer. Stir in the potatoes and add the seasoning. Garnish with the chopped greens.

For the tofu-cabbage dish:
2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
200g tofu, cubed
1/8 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp allspice, ground
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 cups chopped raw cabbage (like spring cabbage at the moment)
1 can chopped tomatoes
salt, brown sugar and pepper to taste

Heat the oil. Fry the onion till it starts to soften. Add the tofu and spices. Slightly brown the tofu pieces, then add the cabbage. When it starts to soften, add tomatoes and some water (about a cup). Season and allow to simmer till done. Serve with couscous. May be garnished with fresh mint or coriander leaves.

Dienstag, 8. Juni 2010

Courgette Dhal with Dill

Yesterday I made this easy dhal which turned out lovely. For once, I didn't rely on a recipe book for inspiration but remembered a dhal I had eaten at a friend's house in Bangalore some years ago. I think his cook was from Andhra, and I'm still very partial to Andhra cuisine. I didn't ask her how she made it at the time, but my result comes close to the taste I remember. The amounts make a nice big pot for lots (around 6) of people or 2 days worth of eating!

1 1/2 cups chana dhal
1,5 l water
2 tbsp ghee or oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp chopped ginger
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp asafetida
2-4 dried red chilies
4 medium courgettes, sliced thickly
1 tbsp jaggery or brown sugar
juice of half a lemon
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
half of a large bunch of dill, chopped

Heat the ghee or oil and fry the cumin till it starts to brown, then add onion, ginger and chilies. When the onion starts to soften, add the asafetida and fry briefly. Add the courgettes and dhal and the water. Cover and (pressure) cook till the dhal softens (10 min under pressure are enough with most types of dhal and cookers I reckon). Add salt, lemon juice, jaggery and tomatoes. Continue to simmer as long as you like, really. Turn off the heat and stir in the dill. Serve with plain white rice and Gongura pickle.

Dienstag, 1. Juni 2010

more inspired: millet pulao, oriental aubergines and stuffed peppers

Towards the end of national vegetarian week and over this BH weekend, our cooking has been much more inspired. I've liked this millet pulao ever since I first made it, and dh did a great job at cooking it the other night. Do try it, it is as easy as it is tasty and goes well with a salad.

Millet pulao

300g millet
2 tbsp ghee
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, cut in pieces
3 potatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 walnut-sized piece ginger, minced
1 piece cinnamon stick or bark (5 cm)
salt and pepper
50g raisins
50g flaked almonds

Dry roast the millet in a large pan over moderate heat until fragrant and some grains start to jump. Transfer to another container (otherwise it may burn quickly!).
Heat the ghee and fry the onion in it. Add vegetables, ginger, garlic and cinnamon. Roast for a bit. Add millet and 750ml of (boiling) water, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to the boil and simmer covered until all the water is absorbed and the millet soft.
Mix in raisins and almonds before serving. It is also nice to dry roast the almonds before adding them.

The oriental aubergines here are adapted from Bettina Matthei's "Würzen". They are so lovely and succulent and rich that you really wouldn't miss meat. This time, I substituted some of the aubergines with mushrooms, with great success. I've also added paneer cubes (fried briefly before adding the aubergines) for extra protein, texture and taste balance. Otherwise, I'd recommend serving with Couscous, Bulghur, rice or wholegrain pasta and some greek yoghurt or creme fraiche.

500g aubergines (and/or mushrooms)
a large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp oil
4 tbsp water or stock
2 tbsp unsweetened pomegranate concentrate (or balsamic vinegar)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
a dash of chilli powder
50g raisins (optional)
50g roughly chopped pistachios (other nuts would also work, but do give pistachios a try!)

Heat the oil. Fry the onion till soft, add garlic, aubergines and ground spices. Fry, stirring well, until aubergines are nicely browned and quite soft. Add water/stock, pomegranate concentrate and brown sugar and chilli powder if using. Cover and simmer. Add salt to taste and stir in raisins and pistachios just before serving.

Last night, I made these stuffed peppers. They were nice and kept warm until all the children had decided to go off to sleep... I'd recommend serving with roasted tomatoes or a tomato sauce, and possibly a green salad.

4 peppers (colours to taste)
110g pudding rice (or other)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
1 medium tomato, chopped
some mild to medium cheese, grated (a large handful)
a little bit of grated parmesan (optional)
4 tbsp ricotta (or soured cream/creme fraiche)
generous amounts of chopped basil and parsley or other herbs to taste

Halve the peppers lengthwise and put on a baking sheet covered with baking parchment - or in a large oven-proof dish so that you can arrange tomatoes around it to bake!
Preheat oven to 180° C.
Boil the rice in water for 12 min. Drain.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry till golden. Add the garlic and fry briefly.
Mix all the ingredients well, season with salt and generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper.
Stuff into the peppers and bake for about 30 mins until peppers are soft.

Samstag, 29. Mai 2010

Rhubarb and cinnamon cake

I had also made this cake with my dd helping with the mixing. It basically follows by a recipe that came with our Riverford veg box, so thanks, Jane!

60g soft butter
350g brown sugar
3 large eggs
vanilla essence or ground vanilla
a pinch of salt
300g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200 ml creme fraiche
zest and juice of 1 orange
600g-800g rhubarb, cut in pieces

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Prepare a springform cake tin (24-28cm) by lining with baking parchment or greasing well and dusting with flour.
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla.
Mix flour, salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon, then add to the egg mix, beating well.
Add orange zest, juice and creme fraiche.
Transfer about half the mix into the tin, then stir the rhubarb into the remainder.
Mix 4 tbsp brown sugar with 1 tsp ground cinnamon and sprinkle over cake.
Bake for 60 - 75 min.

I used a half-fat organic creme fraiche, which yielded a lighter cake which benefitted from being eaten with whipped cream. If you want a more continental cake, I would suggest using either a full-fat creme fraiche or more butter and less creme fraiche in proportion. Lovely cake for this rainy day!

national vegetarian week: Cafe Nomad, Couscous and veg, curried date spread

It‘s national vegetarian week in Britain, but my cooking has been sadly uninspired. Well, on Thursday we had a takeaway from Cafe Nomad (Hucknall Rd, Nottingham) - the stuffed marrow was amazing! I would really like to know how he did this stuffing. There was rice in it, pistachios and coconut cream and the result was a really new taste experience for me.
Last night, finally, I cooked up something nice - a veg pot which went nicely with Couscous. Here's what went in the pot

Veg for Couscous or Bulghur

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 dried red chilli
2 big leeks, cut in chunks
4 medium carrots, cut in chunks
1 can chickpeas
3 small tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
coriander leaves for garnish

Heat the oil and briefly fry the spices. Add the leeks, carrots and tomatoes. Pour in 500ml of water or veg stock. Bring to the boil and cook for a bit. When carrots start to soften, add the chickpeas with their liquid. Cook well. When done, stir in tomato puree. Serve with Couscous, garnished with coriander leaves.

We had planned a picnic for today, but it's raining... However, I did make a spread which never fails to delight:

60g dried, pitted dates roughly chopped
50g cashews
2 spring or salad onions
1/2 tsp green curry paste (Thai)
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp lemon, lime or orange juice
a piece of fresh ginger root, chopped (try about 2 cm)

Chop everything with a blender or in a mixer.

Montag, 24. Mai 2010

easy methi rasam and lemon rice

We had friends over for lunch yesterday, and here's the spread:

easy methi rasam:

1 cup red split lentils
1 litre water
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
a pinch of asafetida
1 tsp rasam powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
a few curry leaves
2 tsp ghee or oil

Boil the lentils with the water and fenugreek. When they are quite soft, add tamarind, asafetida, rasam powder, turmeric and salt and keep on low flame. Heat the ghee or oil and quickly fry the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Drop into the lentils, stir and cover. Cooks quickly, can easily be made ahead and can be thinned down to whatever soupy consistency you like. We had this sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves and with papadams as a starter, but you could serve it along with the lemon rice.

lemon rice - the Adiraja Dasa - hare krishna - version

350g rice (basmati)
1 tbsp ghee or oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
a few curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 green chillies, minced (deseeded if you don‘t want too much heat)
825 ml water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
lemon wedges and coriander leaves for garnish

Heat the ghee or oil in a pot. Quickly fry the cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Drop in the cinnamon stick and chillies, and briefly fry the rice, too. Then add the water, salt and turmeric. Cover and cook until rice starts to get soft. Leave to fully soften, then carefully stir in lemon juice and butter. We had this with a cucumber raita and tomato salad with lemon juice and coriander leaves.

Samstag, 22. Mai 2010

Broccoli Dal (Huli), tofu spread and caribbean butter

The inspiration for this dal came from Yashodhara Aithal‘s "indisch kochen - vegetarisch". I take much inspiration from her way of using European fruit and veg in very classic Udupi cuisine.

1 cup toor dal
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp butter or oil
1 large broccoli head
1 tsp tamarinde paste
1 tsp jaggery or brown sugar

Boil the dal with four cups of water, the butter and turmeric. Preferably pressure cook. Add the broccoli when dal is about done. When the broccoli starts to soften, add rest of ingredients.
While the dal cooks, make a spice paste from the following ingredients and add the paste to the cooked dal and broccoli at the end:

3 tbsp desiccated coconut or fresh scraped coconut
2 dried red chilies
2 fresh green chilies
2 tsp coriander seeds
1-2 cloves garlic

We‘ll have the leftovers of this tonight.

For brunch, I made the two spreads - easy & tasty:

savoury tofu spread (I make lots of variations of this, more to come soon!)

200g tofu
3-4 tbsp (walnut) oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
3-4 tbsp walnuts
coriander leaves (optional)
hot japanese spice (optional)

Blend everything to a course to smooth consistency with a blender. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Caribbean butter - yummy....

a tin of roasted chestnuts
4 tbsp cocoa powder
50-100g butter oir vegetable spread, softened
a pinch of vanilla or a tsp of ground cinnamon
1 ripe banana

As above: blend. Popular with children, pregnant women, chocoholics...
Will keep surprisingly well in the fridge.

Dienstag, 18. Mai 2010

more Indian food: saffron-asparagus khichadi and spinach-paneer pulao

We just love Indian food in all guises. I am also very much interested in Ayurveda, and the following kichadi comes from Amadea Morningstar‘s "Ayurvedic cookbook". Both saffron and asparagus make it a very sophisticated dish. It is apparantly excellent for reproductive health. To me, it seemed balancing and soothing to my whole person. As usual, I adapted the quantities for our taste.

a generous pinch of saffron strands
2 tbsp ghee or oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp fenugreek
a handful of curry leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
1/8 tsp asafetida
1/2 cup mung dal
1 cup basmati rice
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 tsp salt
5-6 cups water
1/2 tsp ground cumin

The original recipe dry roasts the saffron. I found that it easily burned and didn‘t increase the flavour, so I‘d suggest soaking it in a little milk and adding with the asparagus.
Heat the ghee or oil. Brown the cumin and fenugreek, then add onion and curry leaves. Add the asafetida and stir in dal and rice. Pour over the water (the quantity depends on your lentils, your hob, and how mushy you like the dish). Bring to the boil and cook till soft. When the dal is about soft, add the asparagus (you can add some boiling water at this point if all the initial liquid has been absorbed). Finally, season with salt and cumin. Serve with pickle and yoghurt.

This spinach-paneer rice comes from one of my favourite Indian cookery books: Yamuna Devi's "Lord Krishna's Cuisine, The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking". I love her anecdotes, and all I‘ve cooked from this tome so far has been a delight. The recipes are easy to follow, too, but even if you are a seasoned cook in Indian-vegetarian fare, I am sure you‘ll find lots that‘s new.

3 tbsp ghee or oil
1/3 cup cashew bits or halves
125g paneer, cut in cubes
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp black mustard
2 tbsp sugar
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup basmati rice
3/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp chilli powder (this dish can really handle a bit of heat- if you can! if you can‘t, substitute with paprika)
1 1/2-2 cups water
250g baby spinach
2 tsp lemon juice

Fry the cashew bits in the oil, then remove. Fry the paneer, and when it starts to brown, add the cumin and mustard seeds. Add the sugar and allow to caramelize if you can without burning the spices. Add the tomatoes before this happens! Add the ground spices and fry for a little bit, then add the rice. Pour in water and salt. Bring to the boil, cover and cook until almost soft. Stir in the spinach and allow the rice to soften over very low flame/rest of heat in e-cooker. Fold in the nuts and lemon juice.
This goes well with pickle too and is one of those nice one-pot meals.
The original recipe recommended removing the paneer after frying, and only then frying the spices. I find it soaks up the flavours nicely if left in the pot, but it impairs the caramelizing process - which I didn‘t mind in the final product.

Samstag, 15. Mai 2010

South Indian breakfast dish and curry

I've been away for two weeks; cooking little in my mother's kitchen, but I did make a curry one night, and I‘ll also include today's breakfast.


This is one of my favourite curries. It goes well with plain white (basmati) rice, rice noodles or idli.

2 bananas or plantains (depending on how sweet you like it, choose underripe or green bananas if using)
or 1 sweet potatoes
veg of your choice: carrot, green beans, peas and cauliflower or broccoli are classic and go well
1/2 tsp turmeric
200 ml water
200 ml plain yoghurt
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 chopped green chilli
chilli powder to taste
2-4 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp oil or ghee
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp black mustard seeds
a few curry leaves

boil the veg in the water with salt and turmeric. I usually pre-cook those that take longer and add the bananas and more delicate veg later. While they are cooking, combine the yoghurt with the coriander, cumin, chilli and chilli powder and coconut. When the veg are tender, take off the heat, add the yoghurt mix (it shouldn't boil!) and fry the ginger, mustard seeds and curry leaves in the oil or ghee. Add to the veg, stir in and serve.

The following is a classic South Indian breakfast dish which is also nice as a light lunch or afternoon tea. You can add vegetables like pre-cooked potato cubes or frozen peas if you like. There is lots of variation possible, including different nuts and different basis like semolina, pounded rice or vermicelli noodles. Here is what we ate this morning, with chutney powder, yoghurt, a banana and chai:


2 tbsp ghee or oil
1 tsp minced ginger
1 small minced onion (optional)
a handful of cashews (bits or whole)
1 tsp mustard seeds
some curry leaves
150g coarse semolina
1-2 tbsp brown or palm sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric
some freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups boiling water

Heat the ghee. Throw in the mustard seeds and soon after the ginger, onion and cashews. When the cashews start to brown, add the curry leaves. Then add the semolina and fry briefly while adding the salt, sugar, turmeric and pepper. Add the water and lemon juice. Cooks and thickens in a few minutes. Enjoy!

Montag, 26. April 2010

cooking little

well, Friday I spent outside all day with the little ones, having lunch at Dotty‘s cafe in Nottingham, and ending up with some quick pasta in the evening as I was starving and cappati would have taken too long. On Saturday, we had a Bulgarian meal at a friend’s which was lovely (the biggest beans I have ever seen!) and yesterday I made a curry with a spice mix I bought in a tiny shop in South India so not much use sharing it here. Tonight I hope to be making some fried rice with bananas. Let‘s see.

Donnerstag, 22. April 2010

green mango dal & red kidney bean stew

I made this last night, taking most of the recipe from a collection called Andhra Gumagumalu by Vijayalaxmi Reddy - DH loves Andhra food! It came out pretty spicy, but the recipe called for even more green chillies and an additional tsp of chillipowder, so feel free to heat up!

1/2 cup toor dal
1/4 mung dal
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Pressure cook with 2 cups of water.

1 or 2 unripe mangoes cut into small pieces
1 or 2 small heads spring (pointed) cabbage, shredded
1 chopped tomato
1 tsp sambar masala
1 tsp jaggery or brown sugar
1 tsp tamarind concentrate

1 tbsp ghee or oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
a few curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
a pinch of asafetida
2 dried red chillies
1 hot green chilli
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chopped onion
1 tsp urad dal - if you have
Heat the oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and fry well. Pour into dal-veg mix. Good with rice and papad.

This red kidney bean stew is what we had a few days ago. As it uses canned beans, it cooks quickly. We spooned it into wraps, added some shredded lettuce and a dollop of soured cream, and that what lovely. Would also work well with chappati or other bread. Here I owe Sushila Issar and Mrinal Kopecky for the recipe though I played with it, as usual.

2 cans red kidney beans, 1 drained
2 tbsp oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 onions finely chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
1/8-1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
coriander leaves for garnish

Heat the oil. Roast the cinnamon stick for a few minutes, then add onions. When they are starting to brown, add tomatoes and ginger. Allow to simmer for 5 mins. Add chillipowder, turmeric, coriander and salt and cook for another minute or so. Add the beans with their liquid and the drained beans and simmer uncovered until it reaches desired consistency.

And today? Leftovers! Watch out for chappatis and a potato curry tomorrow.

Mittwoch, 21. April 2010

I am back!

quite ridiculous to resume this blog after more than a year, but hey. we have moved and had another baby and keep cooking and growing! only we`ve not had new things in days - the already posted wok veg (though with rice), the carrot pasta sauce… but this was new and nice:

tofu spread

a pack of tofu
4 tbsp walnut oil
4-6 tbsp walnuts
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
some chilli powder or black pepper
blend. nice with spelt bread.

we`ve had an amazing Easter brunch with our neighbours; here‘s a few things we made –

mushroom cream cheese

coarsely blend:
some sauteed mushrooms
plenty of dried or fresh herbs
cream cheese
black pepper

Slowenian Easter bread (I had to make this twice as it didn't rise first time around!)

500g plain or strong white flour
35g live yeast or 4 tsp dried yeast
180 ml lukewarm milk or water

Put the flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Dissolve the yeast in the milk or water and wait till it bubbles. Then pour into the well and mix lightly with a little flour. Allow to sit for 30 min.
Cream the following ingredients well:
100g butter, melted
100g sugar
2 large or 3 small eggs
some grated lemon and/or orange peel
1 tsp ground cardamom
Mix the yeast into the flour well, then add the creamed ingredients and knead into a smooth dough. Allow prove until slightly risen (15-45 min), then work in
100g raisins or sultanas
100g ground almonds
Shape into a ball, put on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise well.
Bake at 180° C for about 45 min.

We also made a Ligurian Torta Pasquale, the recipe for which I might share next year :-)