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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.

Cauliflower with Lentils

1 May

This is a delicious way of cooking cauliflower in a sauce of spiced lentils known as dal or dhal in Southern Asia. The combination is subtle, savory and wonderful. You can add nuts for protein to make this a complete meal or serve as a side for a meat dish or with any number of vegetable dishes for a vegetarian feast.

Make a batch of basic dhal

  • 1 cup red hulled split lentils
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 large green chillis
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seed (optional)

Wash the lentils then put into a roomy pan with the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 30minutes or until the lentils are soft.

  • Half a cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel, nigella or cumin seed
  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
  • 1-2 dried red chillis
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced (optional)
  • pinch asefetida (devil’s dung)
  • a small piece of ginger grated (optional)
  • 1 thinly sliced fresh green chilli (optional)

Cut the cauliflower into bite size florets. Remove the green chilli from the dal and add the cauliflower, cover and simmer slowly, meanwhile…

In a small pan or skillet heat the oil then throw in the first 5 spices, when they pop add the garlic and as soon as it starts to brown add the asefetida and pour straight into the lentils and cauliflower, stir and continue to cook until the cauliflower is just tender but still has a fresh tasting bite. Stir in a little more fresh green chilli and ginger, if using, and some fresh coriander leaf if you have any then serve.

Serve with rice or chapatis or a lamb biryani , a grilled meat dish such as masala roast chicken, or a hot meaty curry like Beef Roganjosh or with Bombay potatoes or any number of vegetable dishes such as green bean Coconut Fry  for a vegetarian feast.

Cooks Note Add spices according to your taste, you could add nigella, fennel or cumin seed or indeed all three, use green cardamom instead of black for a more floral taste and use asefetida instead of ginger for a more earthy savory taste and vary the spicing and quantity of chilli depending on what the dish will be served with.

Colombo Prawn Curry

30 Apr

This is a lovely curry, a little like a Parsi prawn patia, with a hot, sour, aromatic flavour and a touch of sweetness. I have called it colombo prawn curry because the flavouring comes from a spice mix called colombo. Colombo curry powder is common in France where an Indian curry powder like Madras is more common in England. It gets its name from the former capital of Sri Lanka where this mix originated. The spices were brought from Sri Lanka with plantation workers to the French West Indies, particularly Martinique and Guadeloupe. In the French West Indies this spice mix is used to make a stew or curry of meat. Here I make a much simpler and quicker dish using prawns.

Serves 2-3  Prep 5mins cooking 25mins

  • 2-3 tbsp oil, vegetable or corn
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and cracked black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp colombo spice mix (my blend contains: ground cumin, coriander, caraway, fennel, bay leaves, and turmeric).
  • 1-2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 cup water
  • Fresh red chilli sliced or pickled jalapeno peppers to taste
  • 2 big handfuls cooked frozen prawns
Fry the sliced onions in a heavy pan with the oil and a good pinch of cracked black pepper and salt. Cook the onions slowly until they are very soft and starting to brown, this takes about 15 minutes, then add the garlic and tomato purée cook stirring until the aroma rises from the garlic then stir in the curry powder and fry for a minute. It is important to cook the tomato paste like this in order to bring out its sweetness. Add a cup of water and the chilli, as much or as little as you want for your taste and heat tolerance. I like to use hot pickled jalapeno peppers in this recipe as they add an extra sour note. If not using add a little vinegar or some lemon juice at the end. Cook for around 10 minutes keeping an eye on it to make sure the sauce does not catch or get too dry just add a little more water if it does. Cook until the oil separates from the sauce and rises to the top then add the prawns stir a few times and continue to cook for only a minute or two until the prawns are heated through and ready to serve.
Cooks TIP Do not over cook the prawns they need to be only just cooked. This is a good dish to make ahead of time so its great for a dinner party. You can make the sauce and add the prawns at the last moment just before serving or add the prawns and set aside immediately where they will soak up all the flavours of the sauce then heat the dish when you are ready to serve. You can also use raw prawns and cook them in the sauce before serving.
Note Colombo spice blends can vary but tend to contain at least 5 of the following: cumin, coriander, fenugreek, caraway, nutmeg, cinnamon, fennel, black pepper, brown mustard, turmeric, bay leaves and cloves. Some recipes also call for ground rice in the mix but that really is just adding bulk and I don’t use it. It does not normally contain chilli powders and is a fairly mild but aromatic curry powder which makes it very versatile in the kitchen. You can buy  Epices Colombo also known as Caribbean Curry Powder or Colombo spice mix easily in France or you can find an online spice retailer such as Seasoned Pioneers  or The Best Possible Taste which deliver worldwide or better still make you own.

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:

Summer Pickle (Gujarati)

12 Sep

Crisp, fresh, summer vegetables tossed in a sour-pungent dressing of crushed mustard seeds, lemon juice, turmeric, and asafoetida. This is an instant Indian pickle that comes from Gujarat where it is also served as a salad. This pickle or salad is best made just before serving but it will also keep for a couple of days in the fridge, so it can be made ahead of time.

  • 2 sweet carrots
  • half a small cucumber
  • 2 – 4 hot green chillis, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 6 or 7 cherry tomatoes or physalis
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (Devil’s Dung)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chilli oil
  • 1 small clove garlic (optional)

Peel and cut the carrots into thin 2cm-ish batons, peel the cucumber and cut into quarters lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into bite size slices. Put the carrots and cucumber in a bowl with the salt and set aside for 15 minutes then pour off any liquid that forms. Halve the tomatoes, slice the chillis and crush the garlic add these to the salted veg along with the rest of the ingredients toss well to coat and it is ready to serve.
Variations
Other vegetables I would use any other sweet fresh crisp vegetables including; turnips, radishes, French beans, sweetcorn.

Recipe Source
This recipe is based on the Cucumber & Carrot Pickle in Tarla Dalal’s Book Achaar aur Parathe I have changed it slightly by adding yellow cherry tomatoes and using chilli oil instead of mustard oil, I also added crushed garlic and in future I would add more chilli and other summer veg.

This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com on 31/7/2008.

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.

Spiced Potato Burgers

10 Aug
Potato cakes or burgers like these are sometimes referred to as chops by Indian cooks and are one of the most popular chaat or snack foods of India where they are called Aloo Tiki, Tikkia, Tikiya or Tikya. I’ve done a fair bit of experimenting with the idea of these cakes and this is my version of them. They are pretty versatile and make a great snack, starter, lunchbox or finger food.
Makes 6 – 8 cakes
  • 3 large potatoes (cooked)
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch ground black peppercorns
  • pinch cumin seed (dry roasted & ground)
  • pinch ground chilli
  • 2 green chillis (de-seeded and minced)
  • small handful coriander leaves minced
  • 1 spring onion, minced or grated
  • grated ginger (optional)
  • oil for frying
  • fresh dried breadcrumbs to coat
Peel the potatoes and crush with your hands into a bowl, you don’t want a puree but a chunky mash. Season generously and to taste with salt, pepper, chilli and cumin, mix well then stir in the green chill, onion and coriander leaf and some ginger if using.
Divide the mixture into 6 to 8 portions depending on how large you want the cakes. Squash the mixture together and shape into balls. Flatten each ball of potato mixture into a cake the shape of a small burger. 
To cook 
There are four ways of cooking potato cakes like these:
  1. Shallow fry; in a frying pan or on a griddle with a little oil.
  2. Dip the cakes in beaten egg and shallow fry as above.
  3. Dip the cakes in beaten egg then coat in dried breadcrumbs and shallow fry as above.
  4. Dip the cakes in beaten egg then coat in breadcrumbs and deep fry.
Update Version 3 also works really well baked in an oven 180c for 15 minutes.
Personally I find the cakes dipped in egg then dried breadcrumbs and pan fried with a little oil are by far the best or as above baked, they hold their shape well and develop a lovely crisp outer shell which makes them more portable and suitable as snack, lunchbox, or finger food. The uncoated ones soak up too much oil, the egg coated ones make the cakes taste eggy and a bit soft and I try to avoid deep frying. I love fried food, so once I’ve got a pan of oil on the stove I am lost, I’d be eating fried food breakfast, lunch and dinner. It must be my Scottish upbringing that gives me the compulsion to deep fry everything.
I also like the cakes stuffed with a minty onion relish before being coated and fried. Choose your own method and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve sprinkled with a little chaat masala or with a tomato chutney or tamarind chutney and an onion relish.
Variations on spicing i sometimes add grated ginger when not stuffing and a pinch of garam masala for a warm zing. Although this is an Indian inspired recipe you can use any spices you like, they don’t have to be Indian flavours and you can use parsley or other fresh herbs with great results.
Gluten free version For those who cannot tolerate wheat instead of the breadcrumbs use crushed rice vermicelli noodles, put them in a bag to make it easy to crush, or use rice or chickpea flour to coat.
Cooks Tip this is a great recipe for using left over boiled or baked potatoes. If you are cooking the potatoes from scratch i think you get the best flavour out of them by boiling whole with the skins on, in salted water, then peeling when cooled. The potatoes will keep for several days in the fridge and the cakes seem to be better with potatoes kept for at least a day before using.

Minty Onion Relish

19 May


This raw salad type relish has bags of flavour and a lovely fresh zing to it. Sweet white onions are simply seasoned with salt, lemon and mint and the result is a delicious fresh side salad or relish to go with grilled foods, lentil or rice dishes.

  • 1 large sweet white onion
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • pinch salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
Mince the onion finely. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice. Rub the dried mint between the palms to break it down to a fine powder and sprinkle over the onions. That is it done, stir and serve. The salad can be left for an hour or so before serving and is still good 24 hours later so it can be made in advance.
Note In this part of France we a re lucky that it is an area famous for its sweet onions including the Cevennes Doux. A sweet Spanish or salad onion would make a good substitute. In most cases I would choose fresh herbs rather than dried but for this relish dried really does work best.
Garden Tip If you grow mint it is best to cut it back once or twice during the year, particularly as the weather gets hotter, to encourage fresh new growth. I grow a lot of mint so the twice annual cut backs provide plenty of mint to use fresh and to dry.