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Green Bean and Coconut Fry

21 Aug

This is a delicious Indian style vegetable dish. Quickly fried with fragrant subtle spices and coconut to preserve the fresh taste of green beans. Great with dals and rice.

  • Green beans trimmed and cut into short lengths
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1-2 dried red chilis
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 3-4 tbsp grated fresh coconut
  • 1 fresh green chilli, thinly sliced
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt

If you have one use a wok or a large wide pan. Heat a little vegetable oil and when hot throw in the dried chilli and cumin stir around until the chilli starts to darken then add the fennel and fenugreek. Don’t let the fenugreek brown or it will become bitter so quickly add the prepared beans. Stir fry until the beans turn bright green then add the coconut and green chilli cook for a minute or 2 longer but make sure not to over cook the beans. The dish will taste superb if you use fresh coconut but the dried desiccated stuff will give a good result particularly if soaked in a little water first and will need a little longer cooking. Season and sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately.

Variations You can substitute runner beans, long beans or flat beans and this recipe works well with peas, asparagus and courgettes.

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Coconut Dal (spicy lentils)

20 Aug

A simple soupy lentil dal flavoured with coconut milk, chilli, garlic and curry leaves. I love all kinds of dal or dhal and this one is a particular favourite with a soft rounded flavour sweet with coconut and warming subtle spices. Serve with rice or Indian breads such as chapati, some pickles and a dry meat or vegetable curry.

  • 1 cup split hulled orange lentils
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 green chilli
  • 4 cups water

Wash the lentils and cook in a roomy pan with the turmeric chilli and water. When the lentils are soft, about 30-40 mins, add coconut milk and season to taste.

final fry

  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • Half an onion
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 3 small hot dred red chillis or sliced large ones
  • 2-3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 12 curry leaves

In a small frying pan heat some vegetable oil or ghee and throw in the onion when it begins to colour add the garlic and when it starts to colour finally throw in the dry chillis and curry leaves fry for a minute then pour the hot oil and spices into the lentils, stir quickly, cover and let the flavours infuse before serving. Stir in a handful of fresh coriander leaf and serve scattered with a little extra fresh coriander leaf or shavings of fresh coconut.

Chicken & Cherry Tomato Balti

20 Aug

This is a delicious quick chicken curry; sweet, sour and aromatic full of flavour but not too hot. Chicken breast is marinated in a mixture of sour tamarind, sweet tomato, sesame seeds and coconut then cooked quickly in a karhi or hot wok with some wonderful aromatic Indian spices and fresh cherry tomatoes. Serve with rice for a simple family meal or with breads, raita and a potato or vegetable side dish for a great dinner party.

  • 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
  • 4 tbsp tomato passata or 4- 6  tomatoes crushed and pushed through a sieve
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp chilli powder or to taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp ginger paste or grated ginger
  • 2 tsp garlic paste or crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin, roasted and ground
  • 1.5 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1 lb chicken, thigh or breast meat
  • 5 tbsp veg oil
  • 25 curry leaves
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 3 large dried chillis
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seed
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander
  • 2 fresh green chillis, sliced

Put the tomato passata and tamarind in a bowl along with the chilli powder, salt, sugar, ginger, garlic, coconut, sesame seeds, cumin and coriander. Stir well then add the chicken cut into bit size pieces stir well to coat then set aside. (at this point you could leave the dish in the fridge until it is time to eat so it is a great one to prepare in advance for dinner with friends so that you can concentrate on them and not cooking). Heat oil in a wide pan or wok and when hot add the curry leaves, nigella seed, dried chillies, and cardamom a few seconds later add the fenugreek seeds and fry until aroma rises. Lower heat and gently add the chicken along with the sauce, stir well and simmer gently for 12-15 mins. Add the fresh tomatoes and green chillies cook for 3 mins or until the cherry tomatoes begin to burst then add the coriander stir and serve.

Source  This recipe originally came from a book called  The Definitive Cook’s Collection of Indian Recipes by Shehzad Husain and Rafi Fernandez  that my um bought for Rachel. I liked the idea of up front prep then fast cooking method so have adapted it over the years. NB original recipe called for 4 tbsp tomato ketchup but I could not bear to use it myself, so I use pasatta or pureed fresh tomatoes.

Fried Rice (Indonesian)

14 Aug

In Indonesia this dish would be called Nasi Goreng. It is one of the most popular family or street foods, almost a national dish, often eaten for breakfast, made from left-overs from the night before and found on most Indonesian or malay restaurant menues in the west. The Chinese brought their fried rice dishes to Indonesia, where they adapted to local tastes; the Indonesians cook this dish in woks but it tends to be spicier and flavoured by their sweet sticky Kecap Manis. This is a great dish, adaptable to whatever you have available, and can be made with meat, shellfish, poultry, offal or kept clean and simple with no animal products at all. The only essential ingredient is cold cooked rice making it a useful way to use left-overs and an easy to prepare breakfast or delicious packed lunch.

  • Cold cooked long grain rice
  • green or spring onions
  • garlic
  • Seasoning Ketjap Manis (a sweet soy sauce and speciality of Indonesia)
  • vegetable use whatever is in season, green beans, long beans, runner beans, asparagus, chinese greens, peppers, carrots, fennel, corn, peas, mushrooms
  • protein you can use fried tofu, peanuts, chicken, prawn, pork or sausage.
  • Additional flavouring use dried prawns whole or powdered or prawn paste.

Toppings Serve with fresh vegetables such as; cucumber, cherry tomatoes, peppers or green onions and comdiments such as crispy fried onions and sambal olek (chilli paste), you can also serve topped with shredded egg omelet or hard boiled eggs.

Variations

Cooks Note If you don’t have Katjap Mannis you can make a similar product by mixing soy sauce with sugar, and a little miso paste, garlic and chinese 5 spice) or just use soy sauce and a little sugar.

Chicken Dumpling Soup (Thai)

22 May

Chicken and rice dumplings simmered in a spicy coconut broth with vegetables.

I came up with this recipe when I wanted to make  Tom Kha Gai or chicken in coconut soup but I did not have enough chicken to feed everyone so I used rice to mix with the chicken and make tasty dumplings instead.  Delicious!

For the dumplings

  • 1 cup cooked cold white rice
  • 1 chicken breast
  • fresh coriander
  • 1 clove garlic
  • garlic chives or spring/green onions
  • a splash of fish sauce
  • a splash of soy sauce or pinch of salt
  • pinch freshly ground white or black pepper
  • 1 red or green chilli minced (optional)
  • 1 egg white
Bung the whole lot in a food process and pulse or finely mince all the ingredients together. Take a heaped tsp at a time, shape into balls then drop into the hot broth gently. The dumplings will rise to the surface when cooked, in about 5-7 minutes.
For the soup broth
  • chicken stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • red chilli sliced
  • sliced galangal
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
Put the ingredients for the soup broth into a roomy pan and bring to a simmer, drop the dumplings in to cook. After 5 minutes or so add some green vegetables. As soon as the vegetables are just cooked the soup is ready to serve. Check the seasoning and add a dash of fish sauce and / or a squeeze of lime to taste, ladle into bowls and scatter with a bit of fresh coriander, a few slices of red chilli or sliced spring onions.
Variations
Vegetables Use any green vegetables for colour and flavour such as green beans, runner beans, asparagus, garden peas, broccoli, mangetout peas, cabbage or pak choi
Noodles I sometimes serve this soup over noodles to make more of a meal of it. It is best to cook the noodles seperately to ensure that they don’t get over cooked any kind of oriental noodle works well, soba, vermicelli, yellow wheat noodles or big fat rice noodles. Just put a serving into each bowl and ladle the soup over them.
Tip To make your own stock simmer chicken bones with an onion, galangal, lemongrass and a few peppercorns.

Crunchy Breakfast Cereal

22 May

My friend Diana gave me a jar of carob molasses to see if i could find a use for it. I love trying out new ingredients and seeing what can be made with them and the runny carob molasses made a most delicious crunchy breakfast cereal or granola. This is a super healthy start to the day; packed with vitamin and mineral rich seeds, nuts and dried fruit as well as slow burn carbs so keeps you going right through till lunch.

  • 500g organic jumbo rolled oats
  • 1.5 – 2 cups of seeds such as sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, linseed and sesame seed
  • 1 cup of nuts almonds, brazil or hazelnuts
  • 4 tbsp runny carob molasses or honey
  • 1 cup dried fruit such as apricots, figs and dates
Mix the oats, seeds and nuts in a large bowl. Drizzle in the molasses or honey and mix well until all the dry ingredients have been coated in the sweet stuff. Spread out on a baking tray (2 trays for this quantity) and bake in a low oven 150c for 20-30 minutes. Take it out at the half way point and give a good stir to make sure the cereal is cooking evenly. Towards the end of cooking keep an eye on it as you don’t want the oats or nuts to burn, which will give it a horrible taste. While it is cooking chop the dried fruit into bite sized bits. Remove from the oven, give it another good stir and leave to cool for a few minutes then stir in the chopped fruit. As the cereal cools the toasted oats and nuts will crisp up. When completely cool and crisp decant into an airtight tin or jar. The granola keeps well for several months.
Variations for an exotic version add dried pineapple, cashews and ribbons of coconut. The next batch I make I will try using rolled barley flakes.

Note 1 cup = 8 tbsp. This quantity makes about 30 portions. Cooking times may vary according to your oven.

Spiced Veg Salad (Cachumber)

12 Sep

This spiced salad of raw vegetables is known as Cachumber, Kachumber or Kachmbar in Southern India and Koshumbir or Koshimbir in Western India. These small side dishes of seasoned raw vegetables can be as simple as chopped onion seasoned with lemon and salt or a complex mixture of many vegetables and fried spices. This one is on the more complex end of the spectrum and is really delicious, it adds a lovely crunch to any meal. Choose your own variety of vegetables, whatever is in season, and feel free to experiment with other spices.

  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Peppers (sweet or hot)
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • Herbs; Coriander leaf (optional), garlic chives (optional)

Seasoning for 2-3 cups of vegetables

  • 1-2 tbsp descicated coconut
  • 1/2-1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2-1 tsp whole cumin seeds
Finely chop the vegetables, for this recipe i usually do about 2-3 heaped tablespoons of each vegetable, aiming for about 2-3 cups of vegetables altogether.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil and when hot add the mustard and cumin seed then add the coconut. Stir and lift off the heat as soon as the mustard seeds crackle and the aroma from the coconut rises. Stir the fried spices into the freshly chopped vegetables add the juice of half a lemon or more and salt to taste. Leave for 1 hour before serving so that the flavours and juices of the vegetables mingle. Serve with a little extra coconut sprinkled on top.
Variation freshly grated coconut would be great but as i cannot grow it here i keep some bought unsweetened descicated in the pantry.
For other Koshumbir type recipes have a look at:

Lemon Rice (Indian)

11 Sep

Basmatti rice is one of my favourite types of rice, I love the fragrant taste and it is strong enough to take all kinds of seasoning and re-cooking. In this method the rice is first cooked with salt and turmeric and then cooked for a second time with a final fry of mustard seeds, curry leaves and cashew nuts and finally seasoned with lemon juice and lemon zest. It can be cooked in one go or the basic rice can be re-cooked with seasoning making this a great left-overs recipe.

  • 1 cup Basmatti rice
  • salt
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • small handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 lemon

Wash the rice in several changes of water and put in a pan with one and a half times the volume of water and slat to taste. I usually use a little cup that i know makes just enough for 2. Bring to a brisk boil then turn down the heat and cover, tightly and cook the rice for 10 minutes.

When the rice is cooked do not lift the lid but set the rice aside for a further 7-10 minutes to continue cooking in its own steam. Remove the cover after 7 minutes and lightly fork over the rice, cover again for 3 mins if it is still a little hard. The rice is now ready for the next stage. It can be served as it is or seasoned following this recipe or you can let it cool and save it for later.

Seasoning

heat a little oil in a small pan and add the cashews, mustard seed and curry leaves when the mustard seeds start to crackle tip into the rice and gently mix in along with the juice and the zest of the lemon, as much or as little as you like.

Noodles with Peanut Dressing

8 Aug

Noodle salads are perfect summer lunch fare they also travel well so they make excellent picnic or lunch box food. This salad is dressed with crushed peanuts and oriental seasonings along with fresh cucumbers and mangetout from the garden, but you can use whatever is in season.


Serves 2  Prep and cook time 10 minutes

  • 2 servings of Soba or other oriental noodles
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • green onions or garlic chives
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1-2 tbsp rice vinegar or lime/lemon juice
  • chilli (fresh, ground or flaked) to taste (optional)
  • roasted peanuts, crushed
  • vegetables such as cucumbers and lightly cooked green beans or mangetout

In a large pan of water. Boil the noodles, for 3-7 minutes depending on the variety and packet instructions, until just cooked. Meanwhile slice the onions and put into a wide serving bowl along with the remaining ingredients, mix well to dissolve the sugar. When the noodles are cooked drain and toss in the dressing mixture. Serve hot or cold, and for a robust meal with some korean small dishes such as Green Onion Relish or Beansprout Salad .

Cooking Tip. It is important to slightly under cook the noodles when making this salad and any vegetables raw or lightly or cooked to keep the ingredients fresh so they are at their best served cold.
Noodles soba are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat which comes in a number of varieties and flavours, the ones use in the picture above are flavoured with une plums, you could also use rice or mung bean noodles or even whole wheat spaghetti makes a great alternative.

Yogurt and Walnut Relish

19 Mar

This Indian raita comes from Madhur Jaffrey who has several versions of a yogurt and walnut relish. In her book Madhur Jaffry’s Indian Cookery 1982, Kheere ka raita includes yogurt, chilli, salt, walnuts, green coriander, green chilli, spring onion and black pepper while the Kashmiri version in A Taste of India 1985 has simply yogurt, chilli, salt and walnuts. This version is based on the kashmiri recipe but with the addition of coriander and green chilli.

  • yogurt
  • 15-20 walnuts (shelled)
  • black salt or sea salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp coriander, minced
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • ground dried chilli to taste

Bash the shelled walnuts with the coarse salt then stir into yogurt add sliced green chillis and ground dried chillis to taste add coriander stir well and serve.