Monday, 21 May 2018

Vegan Aubergine & Lentil Curry

The aubergine I bought what seems like weeks ago was beginning to go mouldy at one end, so I decided to lose it in a curry.  I googled aubergine curry and came up with yet another Maunika Gowardhan recipe which I added a few more of my favourite ingredients.

This is a mildly spiced curry.  Aubergine lovers like me can still taste the aubergine, whilst the aubergine phobics in this family had no idea until I told them and yet would happily eat it again.

Serves 4

2 large onions
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 large aubergine
2 tbsp cooking oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
5cm cinnamon stick
5 green cardamon pods
1 500g carton passata
1 heaped tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp tamarind paste
100g green lentils
1 carton recently boiled water
1 tsp salt

Peel and slice the onions.  Fry in 2 tbsp oil over a medium heat for about 20-30 minutes until brown and caramelised but not burnt.  Scrape into a stick blender jug.

Whilst the onions are cooking cut the aubergine into 1cm cubes and fry in the remainder of the oil until browned or it starts to stick.  Add the whole spices, liquidise the cooked onions with about 250ml of water to make a paste the consistency of double cream.  Add the remaining spices to the aubergine and stir around for a few minutes then add the rest of the ingredients.  Add as much water to make a slightly watery stew, as the lentils will absorb some of this liquid.

Bring to the boil and simmer briskly for 10 minutes then turn the lid down and leave to simmer gently for another 30 minutes.  Stir from time to time to check it is not sticking.  Add more water if you think it is, or remove the lid for the final 10 minutes if the curry is too liquid for your tastes.

Season to taste and serve with basmati rice.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Retro Borscht or Beetroot Soup

Beetroot must be the Marmite of vegetables.  Mention it to the wrong person and they start gagging and retching at the very thought of it.  I'm sure this is because of a traumatic memory of the overly vinegared stuff on their grandmother's table served with the cold cuts.  But sadly it is hard to get past the amateur dramatics to get them to try it served a different way.  After all, it's flamboyant colour is near impossible to hide.

Bortsch has been a favourite of mine since my early teens, when my mother seemed to go through a phase of working her way through the 1960s recipes from her Kenwood liquidiser manual.  In the absence of this manual I have attempted to recreate Borscht as I remember it.

We usually ate it chilled in summer, but it equally good warm on a cold British summer day.

Serves a greedy 2

2 large or 3 medium cooked beetroot
1 small onion
1 medium carrot
1 stick of celery
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
600ml boiling water
1 beef stock cube
juice of 1 small lemon
salt and pepper
2 tbsp greek yoghurt

Peel and roughly chop the onion and start to soften in a saucepan over a medium heat whilst you peel and roughly chop the carrot, beetroot and garlic, and roughly chop the celery.  When the carrot and celery is chopped add this and soften for a few minutes before adding the hot water, stock cube, garlic, and chopped beetroot. Bring to the boil with a lid on and then simmer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes blitz the boiled ingredients.  If eating hot,  blitz with the lemon juice.  Season to taste.  Pour into bowls and serve with a heaped teaspoon of yoghurt.

If serving chilled, blitz, cool, then chill in the fridge.  Stir in the lemon juice before serving, then add yoghurt teach bowl as before.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Knocked up this lunchtime, discovering half a limp cauliflower in the fridge.

Serves 2

Half a small cauliflower
1 small baking potato
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
1/2tsp garam masala
1/2tsp curry powder
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 vegetable stock cube
600ml recently boiled water
Chilli oil/chilli powder (optional)

Peel and roughly chop the onion and fry in a saucepan with the oil for about 5 minutes until it starts to brown.

Roughly chop the potato and add to the onion, together with the broken up cauliflower including any tender inner leaves.

After another 5 minutes add the spices and the peeled and halved garlic.  Stir around then add the hot water and stock cube.

Cover and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

When the time is up, liquidise with a stick blender, or a liquidiser for a smoother soup.  Serve with a drizzle of chilli oil or chilli powder.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Thai Carrot Salad

Can't recall where the recipe for this salad came from. My recollection is the original is much sweeter, as Thai tastes can be, but this is a slightly healthier version.

Serves 2

2 large carrots
3 tbsp wine or cider vinegar
3 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp hot chilli flakes
1 tsp brown sugar
Large pinch of salt

Peel and grate the carrots.  Mix together with all the other ingredients.  Leave for the flavours to develop if you can.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Vegan/Vegetarian Bolognese Ragu Sauce

Had quite a lot of pulses last week, so thought I'd make a more 'meaty' textured vegan meal tonight.  Kids were fooled.

Serves 6

50g soya mince
Red wine or water (to soak soya mince)
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 large stick of celery
1 large clove of garlic
1 tin plum tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil

Weigh the soya mince into a mug and pour over enough wine or water to cover, and leave soaking whilst you prepare the vegetables.

Peel the onion (don't bother to peel the carrot), and roughly chop all the vegetables.

Soften the chopped vegetables in the olive oil over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and a can of recently boiled water.  Cover and bring to the boil,  then turn down to simmer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, liquidise the sauce with a stick blender, taking care not to splatter yourself.  Add the soya mince and the soaking liquid and bring back to a simmer again.  Leave to simmer, and thicken, with a lid on whilst you cook your pasta.   If using in a lasagna, you may wish to reduce the sauce a little more by leaving the lid off after adding the soya mince.

Season to taste before serving.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Wild Garlic Pesto

Wild garlic leaves start to appear in March, so I am late to the party to make my first wild garlic dish of the year.

Serves 4
1 handful of wild garlic leaves, the younger the better
50g mature cheddar
50g walnuts
50ml or more light olive oil

Put everything in a mini food processor and whizz together to a smoothish paste, add a little more olive oil if needed to make a loose paste.

We only ever serve pesto over pasta, but there must be other uses but the kids won't let us.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Vegan Dhal Makhani

Maunika Gowardhan's Punjabi Dal Makhani popped up on my Instagram feed last night, so I thought I'd try to make a vegan version with cashew nut cream, and minus the butter. I also made it with a combination of green and red lentils, as I didn't have urad dal, and green & red lentils don't require remembering to soak overnight.

Serves 4

100g green lentils
150g red lentils
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
2cm ginger, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
500ml passata
40g cashew nuts
1 tsp salt

Weigh out the lentils into a saucepan with a lid.  Pour over 600ml water, cover and bring to the boil.  Simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes whilst you prepare the sauce.

Pour 100ml boiling water over the cashew nuts in a jug you can use a stick blender in, and leave to soften.

Fry the onion in the oil until starting to brown (about 5-7 minutes), stirring from time to time.  Add the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger and stir around until you can smell the spices.  Add the rest of the ingredients with 250ml/half a passata carton of recently boiled water, and the cooked lentils.  Liquidise the cashew nuts and water and add to the pan.  Stir and leave to simmer gently with the lid on for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Serve with basmati rice.
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