Tag Archives: winter

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.


Beef & Vegetable Hotpot

1 Feb
This is real winter comfort food and a throw back to my 1970’s childhood. Hotpot was a favourite dish in our house, with us kids fighting over the crispiest bits of potato stuck around the pot. This version uses minced beef and our winter vegetables. The meat and vegetables are first gently fried then laid in a pot with gravy and a thick topping of thinly sliced potatoes. The potatoes act as a lid and are both steamed and roasted as they cook on top of the lovely stew mixture. There are no real measurements for this dish, just use what you have available. I like a lot of vegetables so the ratio is about 3:1 of vegetables to meat.

Prep 20min Cook 45-60min

  • Lean beef, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • I onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • leek
  • carrots
  • white turnip, peeled and chopped
  • 3 peeled and chopped tomatoes (tinned ones are fine)
  • Potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 stock cube or gravy salt (this is a 70’s dish)
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour mixed with a little water
  • salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Turn on the oven and pre-heat to 180c. Prepare the vegetables. Fry the onion in oil then add the mince stir and cook until the mince is browned. Add the garlic and leeks and stir fry for a few minutes then add the remaining vegetables except the potatoes. Meanwhile dissolve the stock cube in hot water and add the cornflour mix give it a stir. Put the meat and vegetable mixture into an oven dish, poke the bayleaves into the mixture and pour over the liquid, enough to just cover the vegetables, check the seasoning. Lay the potatoes in several, overlapping layers, to cover the whole dish. Push down gently so that some of the stock bubbles up over the potatoes, Add a little more liquid if necessary so that the potatoes have liquid around them but not fully covering. Cover tightly and bake for 30 minutes remove the cover and bake for another 15-30minutes until the potatoes on top are crisp. Serve with lightly steamed sprouting broccoli or another green vegetable.

Variations: use any winter vegetable you like such as parsnip, root parsley, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes etc you could even use frozen broad beans or peas. I prefer to leave out any green vegetables and serve those lightly cooked on the side.

Rocket & Dried Tomato Salad

31 Jan

In the depths of winter this salad is a bit of a pick-me-up. The spicy rocket leaves make an excellent partner for the deep sweet flavour of preserved roasted or sun dried tomatoes.

  • Tomatoes roasted or dried and preserved in oil
  • freshly picked rocket
  • crushed sea salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Capers (optional)

If you are using fresh tomatoes. Wash the tomatoes cut in half and lay on a baking sheet cut side up, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a medium hot oven for 13-30mins. Set aside to cool. If you are using preserved dried tomatoes remove from the jar, and slice into bite size pieces.
Wash and dry the rocket. Lay the leaves in a large wide bowl add a slosh of olive oil and dash of balsamic and a good pinch of salt. Toss gently then scatter with the preserved tomato pieces add some capers to taste and serve.

Variations To punch up the salad to a main course add toasted pine nuts, shaved parmesan and serrano ham.

Gardeners Note Rocket is tough stuff and stands fresh in my garden all year round from 2 sowings, I’ve even brushed snow off the plants to pick still perfect leaves.