27Mar/15

Carrot fritters

Carrot fritters(2)

Have you ever looked in your salad drawer and found sad faced veggies begging to be used?  I bet you have!  The other day my husband pointed out that the carrots looked very sad and would welcome some attention from me.  And that’s how I decided to make some carrot fritters for lunch and am the first to admit that the carrots behaved very well indeed… just scraped off the hairy bits! and underneath they were good to go.  You could do the same with courgettes although carrots are crunchier and such a pretty coral.  Sweet mango and chilli sauce tied the proverbial knot and the carrots were over the moon with all the attention they were getting – so everyone was happy!

Feel free to experiment with spices of your choice or add one de-seeded chopped green chilli to it for the extra bite!

Ingredients

1 cup chana dal (split peas) soaked for 1 hour if have the time, if not, no worries
½ teaspoon garlic powder (use fresh if you prefer)
½ teaspoon ginger powder (use fresh if you prefer)
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ level teaspoon baking powder
2 cups grated carrots
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 heaped tablespoon basan (gram flour)
Small handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Flour to coat fritters
Oil to shallow fry

Method

  1. Rinse dal and add ¼ teaspoon of baking powder, garlic, ginger, turmeric and water (water should stand about 2 inches above the dal)
  2. Bring to boil, lower heat and cook for about 40-45 minutes until dal is cooked but not mushy. If you can dry the liquid off do so, if you have too much left, just strain in colander
  3. Lightly mash the dal with a fork – leave most of it whole because it adds texture
  4. Add carrots, onion, cumin powder, gram flour, coriander leaves and salt and mix thoroughly
  5. Shape into flat patties, pat them on both sides in the plate of flour and fry on low/medium gas for about 4 minutes each side until golden and cooked through
24Mar/15

Mushroom & peas bhaji

Mushroom&peas bhaji(3)

Those who are familiar with my blog will know that most of my cooking is based on simple recipes to help you prepare a hassle-free, simple and satisfying meal.  Making your own seitan or vegan cheese is great and a lot of fun, but most of us only get around to do these once in a while…..So here’s a mushroom & peas bhaji which we had with brown rice & chickpeas (also a quickie, see link below) and some flat leaf parsley and red onion salad……simple, yet a perfect combination and hits the spot just right!

Rice with chickpeas(4)

Brown rice with chickpeas

Parsley Onion salad(3)

Parsley & red onion salad (olive oil, lemon juice & sea salt dressing)

Ingredients

200 grams button mushrooms (best to use button mushrooms for this recipe)
1½ cups frozen peas
1 onion, sliced
2 good tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon chilli powder (use less or more, according to taste)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Fry onions in oil until pale golden
  2. Add all the spices, salt, tomatoes and tomato puree and fry over low heat for a few minutes to cook the spices
  3. Cover and cook the tomatoes on low for about 10 minutes until soft
  4. Add mushrooms and peas, cover and cook for a further 10-15 minutes
22Mar/15

Sweet & sour pickle

Vegetable pickle

This has to be one of my absolutely, forever, favourite pickles!  It perks up many a meal – curries, one-pot rice, salads and sandwiches will never be the same again.

Iranians will recognise this pickle as one of the mainstays on their dinner table and their pickle shelf! We were never without this pickle in our house and my mother learnt it from my grandmother who in turn learnt it from her mother and thus the tradition and recipe was passed down the matriarchal line.  I will confess that I have tweaked this recipe a teensy weensy bit by adding celery (which at the time wasn’t available!) and I think it adds just that bit more flavour and crunch to the overall taste and texture.

The only problem I have with this recipe is that I made it a while ago and can’t remember, try as hard as I will, how many jars I used!!  A good guess would be 3 regular jam jars ……!  The jar in the picture is bigger than a regular 340 gram jam jar.

Ingredients

250ml cider vinegar
150ml malt vinegar
250ml water
1 large or 2 medium aubergines, cut into small pieces
1 large red pepper, cut into small pieces
1 large green pepper, cut into small pieces
2 sticks of celery, cut into small pieces
6 large cloves garlic, sliced
Spices
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (also known as onion seeds – click on link)
2 teaspoons dried mint
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (available from Asian stores or some supermarkets – click on link)
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses + 1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar OR 3 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt

Method

  • Wash and pop 3 regular jam jars into the oven at 140C, 275F or gas mark 1 to sterilise
  • In a stainless steel saucepan mix the vinegars and water and bring to boil
  • Add all the other ingredients and boil on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Carefully taste the liquid (it will be hot) and add a little more molasses/sugar if you prefer it sweeter
  • Let the pickle cool for a few minutes then pour into jars and press the vegetables into the jar.
  • Cover with cling film or waxed jam jar covers and screw on the lid tightly – best left for at least a week before diving in!

Note: Pickle should keep for 6 months but once opened keep it in the fridge, just to be safe

18Mar/15

Brown rice with fresh herbs & aubergine stack

Brown rice with fresh herbs & aubergine stack

Of all the carbs we are blessed with, I love rice and potatoes best.  For me, life in the kitchen wouldn’t be the same without rice or potatoes – these are the two most versatile foods in the pantry and can be adapted, messed around with, fried, steamed or boiled and served with just about any other veg, bean or legume.

Iranians are experts at putting together a huge variety and combinations of rice with various herbs and vegetables.  My mother being of Iranian origin and my father Indian, we were lucky to have two of the major cuisines of the world served to us effortlessly (at least it seemed that way!).  Iranians food resembles Indian/Pakistani cuisine in many ways;  rice and bread served with stews and curries but they use very few spices and chilli and an awful lot of herbs in their cooking which makes their dishes so supremely fragrant.

Here I have adapted a rice dish and used brown rice (normally good quality white Basmati rice would be used) and chosen parsley and dill to flavour the rice.  Served with a stack of aubergines and tomatoes, you can easily win the hearts of friends and family and, as always, it is a simple, easy meal to prepare.

4 servings

Ingredients for herb rice

250 grams brown rice (I used brown Basmati)
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 inch stick of cinnamon
2 tablespoons tomato puree
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons olive oil (the cheaper cooking variety)
1½ cup fresh chopped dill
1½ cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
650ml water
½ teaspoon salt

Method

  • Fry the onion and cinnamon stick in oil until golden
  • Add garlic, turmeric, chopped herbs and salt – fry for 2-3 minutes to release flavours
  • Add tomato puree, salt, rice and water
  • Bring to boil and lower heat. Cover and cook for about 25 minutes or so, stirring intermittently, until rice is cooked and all the liquid absorbed

Ingredients & method for aubergine stack

2 medium size aubergines, sliced thinly (about 0.5 cm)
2 large beef tomatoes, sliced thinly
Pesto (see below)

  • Put 1 good tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy frying pan and fry aubergines on low heat for 5 minutes
  • Turn over the aubergines, add another tablespoon of olive oil and fry for 5 minutes until both sides are golden
  • Place a slice of tomato on a plate topped with a slice of aubergine; spread half teaspoon of pesto. Continue layering this way and hold the stack together with either a twig from a rosemary bush if you have one growing or a toothpick. You should get 4 good stacks

Ingredients & method for Pesto

½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped dill
1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon pistachios, pine kernels or cashews (I used pistachios)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water to thin the pesto
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt

  • Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth
  • Adjust consistency by adding a little water or olive oil
13Mar/15

Brown rice & chickpeas

Rice with chickpeas(4)

What could be simpler than this awesome brown rice & chickpeas dish…..serve with a salad of your choice or like I did with some cauliflower bhaji and you will surely have this on your list of weekly must-haves – I do!

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

200 grams brown Basmati rice
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons kala zeera (black zeera looks much like cumin but smaller – see here)
2 teaspoons lightly crushed whole coriander seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
500ml water

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add kala zeera
  2. Give it a minute and add coriander seeds, followed by chickpeas, turmeric, onion powder and salt
  3. Fry for a minute or two and add the rice and 500ml of water
  4. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and cook for about 20-22 minutes
  5. Stir the rice intermittently until the broth has been absorbed and rice cooked

Rice with chickpeas(3)
We  had ours with some cauliflower bhaji – click here for the recipe!

13Mar/15

Spicy dry potatoes & green pepper

Dry Potatoes & green pepper(4)

I have been away for a few weeks visiting my family and specially my delightful little granddaughter…..missing them already.  I did this quick and easy potato and green pepper dish just before I went but never got around to posting it.  If you cook spicy food at all, you will have all the ingredients in your cupboard  – these potatoes are excellent for stuffing a wrap and taking to work or a light lunch at home when you don’t fancy beans on toast, however yummy these might be.  

Ingredients

4 medium potatoes (waxy not floury roasting potatoes), cut into 1 inch chunks
1 small green pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds – see here
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
Few curry leaves (optional – available from large supermarkets or Asian stores – see here)
2-3 tablespoons oil
Salt

Dry Potatoes & green pepper(2)

Method

  1. Heat oil and add mustard seeds
  2. As soon as they start to pop add cumin seeds – give it about 30 seconds and add the onions
  3. Fry until onions are golden brown
  4. Add spices, potatoes, green pepper and salt – fry for 2-3 minutes
  5. Add 50ml water, cover and cook for about 20 minutes until potatoes are cooked
14Feb/15

Brown rice with green lentils

Brown rice, green lentils & celery(4)

Brown rice goes nicely with green lentils….both have a nutty taste and as brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice, they cook well together. You could of course use Puy lentils or brown lentils instead.  This is a one pot rice which can be eaten on its own or as I did, serve with fried aubergine and a nice salad (I made do with red onions).

3-4 servings

Ingredients

200 grams Basmati or long grain brown rice
100 grams green lentils
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
3 sticks celery, sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped (or dill, up to you)
1 large cup frozen peas (defrosted – just add some hot water to the peas to defrost if in a hurry)
1 tablespoon soya sauce
Half teaspoon salt
700ml water


Brown rice, green lentils & celery(2)

Vegetables fried and ready for rice and lentils to go in!

Brown rice, green lentils & celery(3)

All in and ready to go!

Method

  1. Fry onions and cinnamon in oil until onion is a nice golden brown (always use a large pan for rice)
  2. Add celery, carrots and garlic and fry for a few minutes
  3. Add parsley and fry for another 2 minutes
  4. Add lentils, rice, soya sauce, salt and 700ml water
  5. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover the pan and let the rice and lentils cook for about 20 minutes
  6. Add defrosted peas, give a stir and cook for a further 2 minutes
  7. Make sure you stir the rice intermittently. If you need to add a little more water, always use hot water

Fried aubergines

Slice the aubergine thinly. Fry in hot oil until a dark golden brown.

05Feb/15

Sweet potatoes in tangy walnut sauce

Fruit&Nut sweet potato(2)

This recipe originates from a Persian dish my grandmother made for special occasions.  She used aubergines but I have substituted this with sweet potato and it works beautifully.   Sweet potatoes are of course sweet as the name rightly suggests with a nutty, fruity taste.  I always feel any vegetable with so much to give is best dressed with duly subtle spices and herbs, so that the taste of the vegetable is enhanced and not drowned with an overdose of spice and herb.

Here we will use simply turmeric and cinnamon for spice, ground walnuts to complement the nuttiness of the sweet potato and pomegranate molasses to add a hint of tang to balance the sweetness.  Pomegranate molasses is a wonderful, fragrant reduction of pomegranate juice which is used to add a sweet, tangy and slightly molasses-like flavour to food and it is well worth adding to your larder.  

 Very easy and quick to prepare as usual.  Try sweet potatoes in tangy walnut sauce with rice, quinoa or cous cous.

2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, about 400-450 grams, peel and cut into large chunks
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil (not your best)
2 inch stick of cinnamon
½ teaspoon turmeric
Half cup ground walnuts
6 prunes
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses/syrup (see link)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
Salt to taste
Sunflower seeds for garnish

Method

  1. Fry onion and cinnamon stick in oil until onions are golden brown (they need to be a golden brown and not just translucent!)
  2. Add turmeric, ground walnuts, tomato puree and fry for 2-3 minutes with small splash of water
  3. Add sweet potatoes, prunes, pomegranate molasses, salt and 150ml of water
  4. Cover and simmer for about 25-30 minutes until sweet potatoes are cooked but not mushy –  keep checking
  5. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds or some more walnuts
  6. Serve with rice or quinoa
31Jan/15

Mash Bash!

Mash & mushrooms(2)jpg

Mash Bash! was born of a mad, insatiable craving for mash and gravy….but not ordinary gravy, not just gravy, but gravy with bits!  And what better than a handful of mushrooms and peas to crown this glorious pile of scrumptious tatties?  So here we have a quick and nourishing meal for cold winter evenings and as we know there is no better comfort food than a good mash!  As a last minute thought, I quickly fried some tofu to go with it but you can have it with vegan sausages or burgers or whatever is available in the freezer.

For flavouring I have used what I have in my cupboard – Bragg’s Liquid Amino, an all time favourite, a dash of Geo Watkin’s Mushroom Ketchup, also very good for pepping up the flavours.  I ran out of Biona Worcester sauce, but this is also one of those indispensable ingredients which can save the day!  All of these are available at large supermarkets, Wholefoods or As Nature Intended and as only a very small quantities are required for any recipe, they are worth investing in.

I’ve just set out the recipe for one serving so just increase the quantities for more.  

1 serving

Ingredients

For mash
2 potatoes, floury sort like King Edward’s or Maris Piper
1 teaspoon vegan butter
1-2 tablespoon plant-based milk
1 teaspoon Nutritional Yeast
Salt to taste

Mushrooms & peas
Handful of mushrooms roughly chopped, mixed variety preferably
2-3 tablespoons frozen peas (as much as you like really!)
1 clove garlic sliced (optional)
Dash of each Bragg’s Liquid Amino and Mushroom Ketchup (Tamari, soya sauce and Biona Worcester sauce are also good for flavour)
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cornflour mixed with a little water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  • Boil potatoes and mash with all the other ingredients and set aside
  • Fry mushrooms and garlic, if using, in the oil for a few minutes
  • Add peas and fry for a further 2 minutes
  • Add all other ingredients (except cornflour) and 100ml of water.  Cook gently for a further 2-3 minutes and add cornflour paste to thicken sauce
  • Pour over Mash Bash! and enjoy!

Fried tofu

  • Slice tofu and drizzle with a little soya sauce.  Set aside for 15 minutes (add any other flavouring to marinade you wish)
  • Coat slices in flour first and then dip in cornmeal and fry till golden brown – you can use just flour if you wish

Note: this is a quick fry tofu but if you wish to marinade it for longer for a more chewy tofu see here!

29Jan/15

Blackeyed beans & tofu burger with roast chips

Blackeyed bean & tofu burger

Vegans are always on the look out for new and exciting recipes for healthy and tasty burgers!  I definitely try my hand with just about every suitable ingredient, throw in a few herbs and flavouring, shape into burgers and shallow fry.  Generally the recipes come together really well and these blackeyed beans & tofu burgers served with roast chips are one of the many burger variations I am sure you will love and the roast chips by far use less oil and are every bit as delicious as traditional fried chips and so much simpler to prepare.

I’ve noticed that many burger recipes, specially veggie burgers in restaurants, are curry flavoured!  I suspect it is easy to just bung in a teaspoon of curry powder and eliminate the need to experiment with other, more subtle flavourings like herbs and nutritional yeast.  I simply can’t come to grips with curry flavoured burgers!  Curry flavoured kebabs yes, but burgers no; for me a burger means a blend of herbs, beans, lentils, vegetables, nutritional yeast, and a zillion other flavourings to choose from, combined to complement each other and produce a flavoursome burger not overwhelmed with curry powder – curry powder serves me very well with curries and I use it often, but for burgers I choose to give it a miss.

This is a very simple and easy recipe and despite the short list of ingredients, tastes beautiful; just how burgers should taste with some roast shallots and chips to keep them company!  If you are pushed for time, use tinned blackeyed beans although blackeyed beans are one of the easiest to cook. 

Makes about 4-5 burgers depending on size

Ingredients

100 grams uncooked blackeyed beans (cooked weight 250 grams or use tinned beans)
200 gram firm tofu (I used half a pack of Cauldron)
2 tablespoons oats
2 teaspoons Nutritional Yeast (I use Bob’s Red Mill and although it is a tad expensive it is worth it. Marigold are cheaper and can be found in most health food shops)
1 teaspoon onion salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 heaped teaspoon Herbes de Provence or mixed herbs
Salt and black pepper to taste
Oil for frying

Method

  1. Cook the blackeyed beans which takes about 40 minutes (these don’t require pre-soaking) or use equivalent amount from a tin
  2. Drain the beans and roughly mash with a potato masher or fork
  3. Pat the tofu dry on kitchen paper and blend until smooth
  4. Mix all the ingredients and stir thoroughly
  5. Put in fridge for 30 minutes to allow the mixture to firm up
  6. Form into burgers using plenty of flour to keep it from sticking – flour will also help to coat the burgers and fry well
  7. Shallow fry for 5 minutes on each side on low heat
  8. Serve with roast chips – recipe below!

Roast chips & shallots

  • Pre-heat oven to 200C, 400F or gas mark 6
  • Use roasting potatoes like Kind Edward’s and not waxy potatoes
  • Peel and slice into thick chips
  • Bring to boil in salted water and boil for 4 minutes (time from the moment the water comes to the boil)
  • Peel and half a few shallots or onions if you don’t have shallots
  • In the meanwhile pour enough oil to cover the base of the roasting pan and pop in the oven to heat
  • Put the chips and shallots in the hot oil and roast for approximately 40 minutes, turning the chips once half way through the cooking process