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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.

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.

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.

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:

Coconut Chutney Preserve

25 Jul

Tart, sweet, hot and full of delicious coconut flavours it is a wonderful accompaniment to curries, potato dishes and dals or Indian breads and snacks. This chutney is more of a preserve and quite different to the fresh Indian style coconut chatni or pachadi I make. I used to buy something like this in jars when I worked in London, from a South Indian grocer, and this is my best effort so far in replicating it.
Makes 3 small jars

  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup mild white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • handful dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 4 dried chillis, crumbled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • chilli powder to taste

Pour the boiling water over the dry coconut and set aside until the water is absorbed. In a pan heat the oil then throw in the mustard seed, curry leaves, fenugreek and chillis as soon as they start to pop add the vinegar and sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and boil for 5 minutes or until it thickens slightly then add the coconut, salt, and chilli to taste. Cook for 10 minutes or so then spoon into warm sterilised jars and seal.

Cooks Note if you can use a fresh coconut, miss out the first step and simply grate the flesh and use it along with the milk, the chutney will be much better. Also I think I need to use Indian sugar rather than granulated for a more authentic taste. The chutney I was trying to copy (it is at least 10 yeas since I have even seen a jar of it) so if memory serves I remember it as being more green in colour when may have been colouring but may have been achieved by using fresh curry leaves or fresh green chillis.

Crunchy Coconut Relish

6 May

Coconut relish is one of the classic Indian relishes, particularly in the South. I make quite a few different coconut relishes, chutnies or pachadis. This one is quite dry and crunchy; a delicous blend of cool coconut, hot chillis with fried spices and crunchy lentils stirred in at the last moment.  It is a perfect accompaniment to vegetable curries, dals and Indian breads.

  • 100g desiccated coconut or half a fresh coconut grated
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 dried red chillies, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp very hot chilli powder (I use lemon drop) optional or to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable, coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp urid dal
  • 1tsp brown or yellow mustard seeds
  • 16 dried curry leaves, crumbled or small sprig fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • pinch asafoetida

If desiccated coconut is used, sprinkle it with 3 tablespoons water or coconut milk and mix well to moisten. Stir in the lime juice, chilli powder and salt to taste. Heat oil in a small pan and fry the mustard seeds and dhal until the seeds pop and the dhal is golden. Add the the dried chilli curry leaves wait until the chilli darkens then add the nigella and asafoetida and turn off the heat immediately, pour over the coconut and mix well leave to stand for 15 minutes before serving. It will keep for 3 or 4 days in the fridge.


Note if you can get fresh coconut then fantastic – use it – the grated flesh of fresh coconut tastes so much better. You can also make a smoother chutney by adding a little more liquid and grinding the whole lot to a smooth paste but I personally like the crunchy texture of it made this way. I sometimes add crumbled dried red chillis instead of the fresh or powdered and that is wonderful too
Gardeners Note If there is one thing I wish I could grow in my garden and I can’t it is a coconut. I love it but there is no hope, it is early May here and it has been raining for days and the temperatures feel like they have gone back to winter.
Recipe Source The original recipe came from Rafi Fernandez’s ‘Thenga Chutney’  p 82 in Cooking of Southern India. I have adapted it over time to my taste so it is a quite different and this is my version of her wonderful recipe.