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!