Kadhi

Another one of my favourite dishes. It can be made quite thin and drank after meals, or made relatively thick and served with yoghurt. Either option is lovely. So so lovely.

Ingredients:

3/4 pot of soya yoghurt (or natural yoghurt if you aren’t vegan)

2 tbsp gram flour

2 green chillies

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

3 cloves

1 inch cinnamon

8 curry leaves

1 kokum (optional – smashed down in a pestle and mortar)

Lemon juice

Salt

 

1) In a bowl mix the yoghurt, gram flour,  green chillies and water. Leave out for about 30 minutes to get the yoghurt to sour a bit. Mix a bit of sugar in if you like sweet and sour (I love sweet and sour)

2) In oil fry the mustard and cumin seeds until they crackle slightly. Then take it off the heat and add the fenugreek seeds, kokum, cloves and cinnamon

3) Add the yoghurt mixture to the spices. Leave to cook for about 15 minutes on low – medium heat.

4) Season with lemon and salt.

 

Serve with rice

Sambhar Masala

I use these spices quite often, particularly for upma and for korma.

 

These are generally South Indian spices and season lentils quite nicely

 

Ingredients

1 tsp mustard seeds

1.5 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp fenugreek seeds

6 whole dry red chillies

18 dried curry leaves

1/2 tsp asafoetida

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

 

1) Dry roast all of the seeds, and chillies. You can add more chillies if you like the heat

2) Add curry leaves, asafoetida, coriander powder and tumeric powder

3) Cool the spices down and then grind them (dry)

 

Stores for roughly 3 months.

Palak Paneer

This is one of my favourite dishes to serve when I have guests. Unfortunately it isn’t vegan but has some fabulous flavours. To make this vegan feel free to substitute the paneer for tofu or mushrooms.

 

The beauty in this dish comes from fresh ingredients and less spices. It’s a pretty simple dish and needs a blender for best results.

 

Ingredients:

Fresh spinach (the more the better really)

Paneer (or mushroom)

3 medium tomatoes

4 green chillies

6 garlic cloves

2 inches of ginger

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander seeds

1 tsp garam masala

1 onion

Oil

lemon juice

salt

 

1) Blanche the (washed) spinach in hot water for 1 minute. It needs to be removed from water the moment it finishes wilting. It should keep its rich green colour. If it goes dark green it’s been in too long.

2) Chop up the tomatoes, garlic,ginger, and 3 chillies. Blend with a little bit of water and put aside.

3) In a little bit of oil, roast the cumins until they crackle. They shouldn’t go black. About 25 seconds should do the trick. Add finely chopped onions

4) After the onions are soft and brown, add the tomato/garlic/ginger/chilli paste. Add the garam masala and coriander powder. Cook on low – medium heat for 15 minutes

5) While that cooks, puree the spinach with 1 chopped chilli.

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6) Put the paneer in boiling water with a pinch of salt. This softens the paneer nicely

7) After the onion/tomato paste is well cooked add the drained paneer. Add the pureed spinach and remove it from the heat

8) Finish with lemon juice and check salt levels.

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It’s a brilliant garlicky chilli dish which reminds me of a dhaba. If serving to guests, drizzle a bit of cream if you want. The colour should be a stunning light green and the flavour should be garlic. It tastes fab.

Garam Masala Version 2

Here’s the recipe for my second garam masala. I use this for most dishes as it has a lot of flavours. It’s a pretty spice blend.

Ingredients:

1.5 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp cloves

4 green cardamoms

6 black cardomoms

1 tsp black peppercorns

4 bay leaves

1/2 nutmeg (grated)

pinch of mace

4 1 inch cinnamon sticks

1 star anise (broken up)

1) Dry roast all of the ingredients lightly for about 5 minutes on low – medium heat

2) Grind it into a powder using a coffee grinder/spice grinder.

3) Store in an airtight jar. Will be good for 3 months. You can keep using it after 3 months, although the flavours will die down slightly so you may have to use more.

Simple Garam Masala

My cooking skills have matured substantially since my last posts and I’ve ventured into making my own spice blends. The taste of freshly ground spices compared to the pre made packaged crap is other wordly. I have 3 different garam masala blends, this one is my favourite, mainly for its black cardomam which gives each dish a gorgeous kick.

This masala blend is fabulous in punjabi cooking, in particular palak paneer. It’s extremely simple and tastes very homely.

I also recommend investing in an electric spice grinder, or a coffee grinder. As my one is horrible to clean, I make 3 or 4 new spice mixes every 3 months in one go.

Ingredients:

8 dried bay leaves

10 black cardamom pods

1.5 tsp cumin

3 x 1 inches of cinnamon

1 tbsp cloves

1) Roast all of the ingredients on medium heat in a small saucepan for around 7 minutes. Do not use any oil or fat.

2) Wait for the spices to cool, then ground them to a powder using a grinder. You can use a pestle and mortar if you are particularly ambitious, but I can never be bothered

3) Leave the spices to cool and transfer it into a small jar. It lasts about 3 months before the flavours begin to go stale.

Kathal tikka

I remember having kathal years ago as it has a texture which can absorb flavours well and is a kind of meat substitute in India. I felt like trying out a tikka marinade and this came out beautifully. In English kathal is jackfruit and it is available in Asian shops. I used a can mainly because we had a can at home and I was too lazy to search the streets for fresh jackfruit. Apparently it’s easily available fresh at Chinese supermarkets.

Ingredients:

700g jackfruit

2 tbsps soya yogurt

1.5 tsps gram flour

4 garlic cloves

1.5 inch ginger

3 green chillies (whole, slit through the middle) – If you’re ok with heat, chilli is really to your own taste.

1 large tomato

1.5 tbsp dessicated coconut

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp mustard seeds

0.5 tsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp black sesame seeds

1 tsp black peppercorn

1 black cardamom

1 inch cinnamon

2 bay leaves

salt (I suggest 0.5 teaspoon but your choice)

a pinch of nutmeg

1 tbsp sunflower or coconut oil

a splash of lemon juice

 

1. In a pan fry the cumin, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, black sesame seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns, green chillies, cardamom and cinnamon for about 1 minute. You will hear popping and it’ll be super aromatic. Don’t burn it. Add desiccated coconut and stir until it goes brown. It browns very quickly so make sure it isn’t burned. Leave to cool for a few minutes.

2. In a blender add your tomato, garlic, yoghurt, ginger, salt, nutmeg and gram flour. You’ll have to chop up the tomato, garlic and ginger so that it blends properly. Add the roasted spice mix. Make it into a fine paste

3. Coat your jackfruit and leave to marinade for 1 hour.

4. For for best results ideally this should be skewered and barbecued. If the weather is crap throw it in the oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes on the middle shelf. Finish it off on the top shelf under the grill for an additional 10 minutes  to get the blackened tikka bits.

5. Finish it off with a splash of lemon juice. Goes gorgeously with nan.

The photo below is from the oven. Still managed to be brilliant without the BBQ.

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Kav’s korma sauce

I made this dish with eggs for my brother but I’ve been told it also goes brilliantly with fish. The sauce itself is vegan and it’s entirely up to you what you want to put in itBasically it’s a magical curry sauce which goes well with whatever you chuck in it. Kinda like a stylish version of a korma sauce (which can also be hot)

Sauce:

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

A handful of curry leaves

1 onion

Garlic (to your preference)

A splash of oil

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1 tbsp Sambhar masala

1 1/2 tbsp desiccated coconut

1/2 can of coconut milk (optional)

A bit of lemon juice

Chilli powder (again, dependent on how hot you want it)

Salt to taste

1) Fry garlic and onions in some oil. I like this dish very garlicky so I haven’t specified how much garlic to put in. I used a tablespoon of garlic paste.

2) Throw in mustard seeds and curry leaves and leave for 30 seconds. Enough for the seeds to pop but not to fry the curry leaves.

3) Add turmeric, coriander powder and sambhar masala. Leave to cook until you see the fat escape from the oil. Just a couple of minutes, don’t burn the sauce. Add desiccated coconut and roast the mixture.

At this point you can simply add water, lemon juice and hard boiled eggs if you’d like a low fat version. If you’re looking for a gorgeous korma then add coconut milk too. As we like our dishes hot I used a lot of chilli powder and the outcome was a gorgeous creamy coconut garlic and chilli curry

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Admittedly this doesn’t look very appealing but that’s because I’m shit at photography. Trust me it looked and tasted beautiful.

Upma

I’m going through a phase right now where I eat this about 3 times a week. It’s cheap, healthy and versatile. There are many different ways to make it but I’m going to use a simple standard recipe here. Semolina can be substituted for quinoa, cous cous, bulgar wheat…whatever you fancy. Upma is traditionally served as a breakfast food in South India. I generally eat this for lunch and it comes to 300 calories. This recipe serves 1

Ingredients

  • 40g Semolina
  • Mixed veg – I prefer frozen carrots and peas out of laziness.
  • 1 tbsp Sambhar masala
  • A bunch of curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 onion
  • a bit of oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • Red chilli powder
  • peanuts/cashews (optional)
  • Namkeen (I prefer 10g Haldiram’s Plain Bhujia)
  • Lemon juice
  • salt

1) Fry mustard seeds and curry leaves (+ green chillies if you want) and leave to cook (off the heat)

2) Cut and fry half an onion in the same oil.

2) Roast semolina in a seperate pot. Or prepare cous cous, quinoa etc

3) In the fried onions/curry leaves/mustard seed mix add turmeric powder, coriander powder and sambhar masala.

4) Add the semolina, mixed veg and some boiling water. If you’re using nuts then chuck them in here. It’s a good idea to add the salt and chilli powder at this point and stir continuously

5) Keep stirring or you’ll get lumps and that is gross.

6) When it’s ready add a copious amount of lemon juice and serve with namkeen sprinkled on top. As this is a breakfast food it’s gorgeous with orange juice. Flipping love upma.

If you don’t have sambhar masala then it’s not imperative. I think traditionally this is eaten with just green chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves. I don’t think this is a traditional recipe but this is how I eat it and it keeps me so so happy.

Sweet and Sour Tadka Daal

This recipe was first published in Ad Lib magazine. Subscribe here

 

After a number of weekends campaigning in elections; going to conferences and other cross country trips, I was exhausted and used my first free weekend to cook a traditional Indian meal. I started to make a dish I learned in Gujarat and realised I was out of key ingredients. After a bit of substitution I made this dish and it is now my favourite dish. If you can’t find some ingredients at a Supermarket, try an Asian grocery store: curry leaves, black mustard seeds and asafoetida are staples of Indian cuisine. 

Ingredients:

  •  250g Red Split Lentils
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1.5 tbsp Tamarind sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp Sugar

 

For the tadka: 

  • 1 tbsp Sunflower Oil
  • 1 tsp Black mustard seeds
  • 6 Curry Leaves
  • 0.5 tsp Fenugreek seeds
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 0.75 tsp Asafoetida
  • 5 cloves (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Red Chilli Powder

 Serves: 3

1) Boil the lentils on medium heat. Add turmeric and coriander powder directly into the pot. Leave to cook for 30 minutes. 

2) When the lentils can be crushed between your fingertips it is done. If you prefer a thinner texture blend the lentil mixture and add a little bit of water. Put it back in the pot and take off the heat.

3) In a separate pan prepare the tadka (the flavour). Chop up the onion and leave to cook in the pan on medium heat. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Do not wash the curry leaves – the water mixed with oil is a fire hazard. Cover the pan for 3 minutes and allow the mustard seeds to pop.

4) Add the remainder of the seeds – cumin, fenugreek, cloves, cinnamon. Add asafoetida. Be careful – asafoetida is disgusting and stinks if you use too much so use it sparingly. Leave to cook on low to medium heat for 5 minutes

5) Add the tadka to the lentils and mix together. Add red chilli powder and salt

6) Add equal parts sugar and equal parts tamarind sauce. The daal should be sweet and sour with a kick of chilli. Play around with the sugar, tamarind and chilli powder until the taste has the perfect balance of three.

 

Serve either on its own as a soup or with basmati rice. This also goes very nicely with Bombay Aloo. 

Quorn Mutter

A variation of the North Indian speciality Mutter Paneer but using quorn for people trying to switch from meat to vegetarianism (great choice by the way). My apologies, measurements are a rough estimation as traditional Indian cooking requires chucking food into the pot non discriminatorily.

This is the first curry I learned to make and I have perfected the recipe over 8 years. If I had grandchildren, this is what they’d remember me for.

Ingredients:

  • Quorn – Roasted chicken strips from the Deli aisle works the best. Excellent chewy consistency. Frozen quorn chicken is also ok
  • Petit Pois
  • 3.5 tbsp Passata
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
  • A splash of milk (or cream if you’re feeling adventurous)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp Kitchen King masala
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

Serves 4

1)  Chop up your onion and garlic and chuck them into a pan of oil on medium-hot heat until it cooks thoroughly. I prefer thicker chunks of onion for a slight sweet kick

2) Remove the pan from the heat and add turmeric, coriander, Kitchen King, Chicken Curry and Biryani masala. Note – if you don’t have Kitchen King, Chicken Curry or Biryani masala then you can use Garam Masala although it won’t taste the same a mon avi.

3) Leave the spices to cook OFF THE HEAT. It is done when you see the fat escaping from the oil. When the spices are cooked add passata and leave for 2 – 3 minutes.

4) Add petit pois and quorn chunks. Add boiling water and leave to cook for 20 minutes on medium heat. Keep it covered.

5) The peas shouldn’t be wrinkly and you want a slight sweetness to them to remain.

6) When you’ve got step 5, add cardamom, lemon juice, sugar, salt and chilli. The beauty of this dish comes in the balance of these final flavours. It should be hot and spicy with subtle kicks of sweet coming in at the bite.

7) Add milk or cream at the very end and take off the heat. (Otherwise it curdles!)

Serve with naan or rice.

 

I’ll post a photo soon, I’m hungry for this dish now!