Tag Archives: lunchbox

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:

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.

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.

Green Olive Tapenade (Italian)

29 Jun
Green olive pate is the perfect Mediterranean summer food, it does not spoil, travels well and tastes divine when its hot making it a great picnic or lunch item. Salty and sour with capers and anchovies ground to a paste with garlic and lemon juice, delicious! Serve on bread or crackers as an aperitif or snack.

Makes enough to fill a 1 pint (1 quart) kilner Jar. 

  • 500g green olives, pitted
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp pickled capers
  • 4 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 1/4 cup oilive oil
  • zest  and juice of half a lemon

Simply pound or grind all the ingredients together adding more or less of each ingredient to your own taste and to get a good consistency. Ready to eat immediately and will keep in the fridge for about 18 months.

Variations i sometimes add coriander leaf for a change and do not always add anchovies particularly when cooking for friends who are vegetarian.

Potato Omelete (Spanish)

21 Sep
Tortilla de Patatas or Potato Omelete, spelled omelette in France, is simple uncluttered food that is so easy to make once you get the heat and timing right. This is one of my favourite lunches or snacks and is sold in almost every Tapas bar in Spain, often cut into small squares to accompany drinks.
Serves Cook 15-25min
  • 3 Potatoes, thinly sliced (raw) or parboiled into thicker slices.
  • 1 Onion, thinly sliced into half rings (optional)
  • 4-6 Eggs, beaten
  • crushed rock sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • perhaps some fresh herbs for variation if you have them handy
There are three ways of making a traditional Spanish Omelette. All three require a good frying pan that will not stick and has a tight fitting lid.

  1. Fry onions in olive oil then take the onions out of the pan and set aside. In the same pan add a little more olive oil and fry the sliced raw potatoes over a very low heat (10 minutes) until almost cooked. Remove from heat stir in the eggs and cooked onions, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set and without letting the bottom burn.
  2. Fry onions in olive oil add parboiled potatoes stir to coat in oil. Remove from heat, stir in the eggs making sure all the potato pieces are coated in egg pushing any protruding pieces of potato down under the egg, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set.
  3. Fry the peeled and roughly sliced potatoes, with a little onion if using, in lots of olive oil covered to stew in the oil and steam. When cooked removed from the heat and stir into a bowl of beaten eggs. Season and return the mixture to the pan that has been cleaned and oiled or seasoned with lard. Cook gently until the egg sets.
Serve as a light lunch with salad or as canapés cut into bite size squares.
Cooks TIP if you have trouble getting the egg to set without burning the bottom finish off under a grill or turn the tortilla using a plate.

Courgette Frittata

23 Jul

This is a kind of omelette and a delicious way of cooking courgettes, particularly the yellow ones. It makes a quick and easy lunch and an ideal picnic food.
Serves 4-6 Prep 7min Cook 20min

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 courgettes thinly sliced, yellow will be better
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as basil, tarragon, parsley or thyme
  • 4 eggs
  • crushed sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Heat oil in a large non stick frying pan. Add onion and cook gently 3-4 mins until soft, add the garlic and courgettes stir well and cook until courgettes are softened and have a little colour, about 10mins. Beat eggs and stir in herbs, season and pour into the frying pan, stir well and continue to cook on a moderate heat until the underside is set. Sprinkle the top with parmesan. Heat the grill and place the pan under the grill to cook for a few more minutes until the omelette is set and the cheese is golden.

Source Necessity is the mother of invention and courgette gluts have inspired some pretty inventive dishes. Our neighbours find it hilarious that we grow so many courgettes they only have 2 plants and still the Jersey cow ends up eating half of them. I have cut down the 10 or more plants I grow to a more manageable 4 and harvest young.