Spicy Mixed Lentils & Vegetables

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A delicious way to prepare lentils, mixing them with a mixture of sweet sautéed vegetables spiced with garam masala and chilli then topped with a garnish of sweet caramelised onions and crispy ginger.

For 4 portions

50 grams green lentils

50 grams mung beans

50 grams small white lentils

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

4 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1 fresh chilli – finely chopped

2 carrots

stick celery

1/4 red pepper

1/2 medium courgette

olive oil for frying

1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala

Piece of fresh ginger – peeled and cut into fine strips

1 large onion – peeled and cut into thin rings

Pinch of white sugar

Soak the three types of lentils in advance, either in cold water overnight if you remember, or pour boiling water over them a couple of hours before you plan to cook them and let them steep. I find that the soaking helps soften the centre of the pulses so that they then cook more evenly.

Drain the lentils from their soaking liquid and put in a pan with enough water to reach about a centimetre over them.

Add the coriander seeds, asafoetida and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until the lentils are cooked.

Next prepare the garnishes. Heat a couple of tablespoons oil in a small frying pan and add the ginger. Cook until slightly browned and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Sprinkle a light dusting of sugar on to the onion rings, then slowly fry them in the same pan, adding more oil if needed. The sugar helps the onions caramelise.

Keep frying the onions on a low heat until browned and caramelised. This will take some time, at least 20 minutes, stir them round from time to time.

Now to the vegetables. Cut all the vegetables into small cubes.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and chilli. Fry for a few minutes.

Add the vegetables and stir in. Fry gently for ten minutes stirring from time to time.

Add the garam masala and season with salt. Mix in well and continue frying until the vegetables are cooked and lightly browned.

The lentils should have absorbed nearly all their cooking liquor, if not drain some off leaving the lentils a bit moist.

Add the lentils to the vegetables and stir well to mix. Cook for a couple of minutes for the flavours to infuse.

Serve topped with the caramelised onion rings and crispy ginger.

Broccoli with Garlic

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A very simple recipe, broccoli braised with lots of garlic and ginger and then flavoured with either oyster or mushroom sauce.

As you can see in the photo, a good variation is to add a few mushrooms to the dish. I used oyster mushrooms.

For four portions

1 large head broccoli – cut into florets

Few mushrooms – either oyster or shiitake – sliced – optional

whole head of garlic – peeled and sliced

Piece of ginger as big as your thumb – peeled and finely chopped

peanut or olive oil for frying

1 tablespoon oyster or mushroom sauce

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wok and add the ginger and garlic.

Stir fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the broccoli and mushrooms if using, and stir fry for a few minutes until it becomes a lovely bright green.

Add the oyster or mushroom sauce and a tablespoon of water. Stir in well the coat the vegetables.

Cook for a few more minutes until the broccoli is just cooked but still has some bite.

Malaysian Turmeric Chicken Curry

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This is one of those dishes with few ingredients where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, in other words, the depth of flavour achieved with the ingredients is wonderfully surprisingly rich. The sauce is just lots of onion and garlic, slowly fried with the chicken to make a slightly sweet rich moistness which contrasts perfectly with the spiciness of the chilli.

A good chicken is essential for making this successfully. You want a big free range one. You can get the butcher to chop up the whole chicken and cook it all in the curry, but I only use the legs and the plump bits of the wings, saving the more tender breast for another dish.

For 4 servings

legs and wings of a large free range chicken – cut into large pieces leaving the skin on

olive or peanut oil for frying

6 sweet onions

2 bulbs garlic

salt

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoons smoked pimenton picante/ paprika

1 or 2 fresh chillis – finely chopped – it’s hard to be precise about chillis as there are so many different types and strengths, you want the curry to be pretty spicy

freshly ground black pepper

Juice of a fresh lemon

Peel the onions, cut in half and slice them

Peel the garlics – a tip, if you soakthe garlic cloves in water for half an hour the skins become soft and are much easier to peel

crush the garlics in a pestle and mortar with 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil in a shallow thick based pan. Add half the onions and all the garlic.

Fry gently for about ten to fifteen minutes until slightly browned.

Add the chicken pieces and cook for ten minutes each side to seal.

Add the turmeric, pimenton and chilli. Stir in well to mix.

Continue cooking the dish slowly uncovered, turn the heat to the lowest possible. Turn the chicken from time to time and stir the onions.

Every half hour add a third of the remaining onions to the pan to continue to moisten the curry, and mix in well.

Half an hour after the last of the onions go in, add the lemon juice and check the seasoning adding freshly ground black pepper and salt as needed.

Leave to cook for another half hour when the curry will be done. Your total cooking time is 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Serve with plain basmati rice and a vegetable dish like broccoli in garlic sauce, the recipe for which I will post tomorrow.

Thai Pomelo Salad

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My grapefruit tree seems to have got itself extremely confused about the seasons this year, so surprised me with five fruits ripe in August. The usual season for ripe fruit is late December to March or April. So to celebrate this unexpected bounty I remembered this spicy salad that I had in Thailand many years ago.

As with most salads a little variation can be made without losing the essentials of what makes the salad successful. For this one the essentials are, of course the grapefruit, peanuts, fresh coriander, coconut slivers and the dressing. I’ve used as well on this occasion some alfalfa sprouts and watercress.

For two portions

1 grapefruit – either pink or yellow fleshed

30 grams dry roasted peanuts

piece fresh coconut roughly 4 x 4 cm – peeled and sliced into slivers

small bunch of fresh coriander leaves

small bunch of watercress leaves

alfalfa or other small sprouting seeds – fenugreek are very tasty

For the dressing

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon Nam Pla fish sauce

1 tablespoon agave syrup / honey

1 finely chopped green Thai chilli

Cut the grapefruit in half and then cut away the skin and pith. Cut in half and then into thin slices.

Put into your salad bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients.

Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad. Mix well.

I served my salad with a Prawn Green Curry, steamed broccoli and black rice.




Acar Campur

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This is an Indonesian cooked vegetable salad with a slightly sweet and sour dressing, which can be eaten hot or cold although I prefer it cool as the flavours are more pronounced.

When I cooked this I was at the end of the week with little in the fridge, but the three things I had were exactly what go in this dish, with the addition of some sweetcorn which I thought would fit for this.

For one serving

For the paste

1/2 sweet onion – roughly chopped

1 large clove garlic

15 grams nuts – ideally candlenuts but otherwise macadamias or hazelnuts

1 small green chilli

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon smooth mustard

1 teaspoon agave syrup / honey

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 tablespoon Nam Pla fish sauce

100 ml water

Put all the above ingredients in a food processor and blend to a paste.

65 grams french or runner beans – cut into bite sized lengths

1 carrot – peeled and cut into julienne

few sprigs of broccoli or cauliflower

Fresh corn kernels from 1/2 a cob of corn – just slice them off – optional

Put the paste into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Put the beans into the sauce adding a little extra water if needed so that they are covered. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add the carrots and corn and bring back to a simmer, again adding water as needed. Cook for about another 3 minutes.

Now add the cauliflower or broccoli and simmer for a couple more minutes until the broccoli is just cooked but still has bite.

Either eat as it it or leave to cool before serving.

Indian Spinach Salad

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This salad does not have to be only spinach, it can be a mixture of any dark leaves. If you can include some bitter ones like chicory or rocket it will add to the depth of flavour. I used mostly spinach, three shredded chicory leaves and some watercress.

If your leaves are tough, then you will need to boil them in water for five or ten minutes until they are tender but still with a bite.

If the leaves are very tender then blanch them by pouring boiling water over them and then leave them for a couple of minutes before draining the water away.

The dressing is raw and made in the food processor.

Bunch of fresh mint leaves

1 clove garlic – roughly chopped

fresh ginger – 2 x 2 x 2 cm – roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon smooth mustard

2 tablespoons peanut or olive oil

fresh chilli – roughly chopped

Whizz these ingredients together, then add to the warm leaves. Mix well and leave to marinate for about an hour before serving.

Mixed Dal Curry

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Dal or lentils have the second highest protein content of pulses after soy beans, and more importantly are very tasty. There are many recipes for dal using a variety of ingredients, so you can adapt to whatever you may have ready in your veg garden or fridge.

The dal are generally boiled with flavourings and then once cooked a fried spice mix is added to complete the flavouring.
My regular readers will already know that I am a great fan of soaking dried pulses and grains for several hours or overnight. I find that this way the centre of the pulse is already softened so then they cook more evenly and quickly.

For 4 portions

70 grams green lentils/ Pardinas

70 grams moong dal/mung beans

50 grams white lentils

125 ml tomato passata / tomato frito

125 grams butternut squash cut into small cubes

Piece of fresh ginger 2x2x2 cm – chopped

1 small green chilli – chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the finishing spice

2 tablespoons peanut or olive oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

8 curry leaves

3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

piece of ginger 2 x 2 x 4 cm – finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon asafoetida

Put the lentils and beans in a container with a generous amount of cold water to allow for absorption. Leave for alt least four hours.

Once the lentils are soaked, drain and put in a pan with the passata, ginger, chilli, butternut squash and salt. Add water to cover.

Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer.

Check the water level from time to time and add more if needed. You want a fairly wet mix and some of the lentils will break up into the liquid and thicken it.

The lentils should take around 40 minutes to cook through, so check them after this time. If you prefer your curry to be a softer purée, then continue cooking a little longer.

Once the lentils are about done, prepare the spice mix.

Heat the oil in a shallow pan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds, then the curry leaves. Fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the garlic an ginger and fry for a few more minutes until the garlic is lightly browned.

Stir in the turmeric, coriander and asafoetida, then add the spice mix to the pan of lentils.

Stir well to mix in an leave to cook for another five minutes for the flavours to mix.

I served my curry with plain boiled brown rice, spicy spinach salad, a fresh peach chutney and pickles. So tasty! I’ll give you the recipe or the spinach salad and peach chutney tomorrow.


Three Salads

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In this summer heat, lunch for your friends wants to be a light and fresh affair, Watermelon Gazpacho followed by three salads served with freshly homemade bread. To finish a small pot each of intense dark chocolate sorbet and crispy ginger biscuits.

BEETROOT & RADICCIO SALAD WITH PURPLE BASIL

The beetroot was roasted for an hour with whole cloves of garlic, a generous splash of balsamic vinegar, sprigs of fresh oregano and olive oil, season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Let the beetroot cool before mixing with shredded chicory and purple basil leaves.

LENTIL & POMEGRANATE SALAD WITH FRESH CORIANDER

His salad is cooked green lentils, a good amount of the little pomegranate jewels that I have plenty of in the garden this year, then finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes and celery. Add a generous amount of roughly chopped coriander leaves and dress lightly with lime juice and olive oil.

I’m a fan of soaking dried grains so that when you come to cooking the grains are already re moistened in the centre, and so require less cooking. Pour boiling water over the lentils and leave an hour or so to steep before cooking until just tender. Drain the lentils and let them cool before adding them to the salad.

SALAD OF FRESH FIGS, ROASTED RED ONIONS AND HAZELNUTS

This is a Yotam Ottolengi recipe which has a lovely contrast of flavours with the sweet roasted red onions and figs, and the peppery watercress and rocket. His recipe uses radiccio rather than rocket, but as I have both I decided that the more peppery rocket suited this recipe better. I was surprised to find that what I thought was weeds in my vegetable patch is actually rocket, and it hasn’t become overly peppery in the strong Spanish heat.
I haven’t used roasted red onions in a salad before, and I have to say, I’m a total convert. I shall be roasting a tray full regularly so that I have them at the ready in the fridge.

This amount serves 4

2 small red onions – peel them and cut each into 6 wedges

50 grams hazelnuts with skin / or ready dry roasted unseasoned hazelnuts

1/2 small head of radicchio / or a similar amount of rocket

good bunch of fresh basil – either the green or purple

bunch of watercress with the stems removed

6 ripe fresh figs, cut into quarters

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

Roast the onions drizzled with olive oil at 180 C for 30 minutes. Leave to cool.

If you are roasting hazelnuts, turn the oven down to 140, and once it has reached this temperature, spread the hazelnuts in a shallow pan and roast for 20 minutes. Leave to cool then break up into pieces with a pestle and mortar. If you are using the ready roasted hazelnuts break these up as above.

To put the salad together, start with the leaves, rip them into pieces and put in a large bowl, add the onions and figs.

Dress with the oil and vinegar and gently toss. I like to do this with my hands as it’s more gentle than using implements.

Scatter over the broken hazelnuts and serve.

Falafel

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There are so many recipes for falafel both in cookery books and online that it’s difficult to decide which to go for. Personally I’m not keen on the ones that use ready cooked chickpeas, for me the texture is too mushy and wet compared to the traditional recipes that start with dried chickpeas. The only thing with using dried peas is remembering to start soaking them the day before you want them, so a tad of planning ahead is needed, but otherwise they are simple and easy to make.

This makes 4 falafel

75 grams dried chickpeas

1/2 a small onion

1 large clove of garlic

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon of Garam Masala or 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or coriander

oil for frying

Start the day before you want to eat the falafel by soaking the chickpeas in plenty of cold water. Because it’s so warm here I changed the water every few hours so that it didn’t start to ferment, or you can put the container of peas in the fridge to keep it cool.

Peel and roughly chop the onion and garlic. Put in the bowl of a small food processor and whizz to chop.

Add the drained chickpeas and the rest of the ingredients.

Whizz to chop up. You will have to open the processor and scrape the ingredients from the sides several times to ensure an evenly chopped paste.

What you are aiming for is a slightly rough mixture that will just stick together.

Heat a good layer of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.

Form your mixture into four even sized rissole shaped cakes and gently put into the hot oil.

Cook for about 10 minutes before carefully turning the cakes. If they are not crisping up on the cooked side turn the heat up slightly, and if they are getting too brown too quickly turn the heat down.

Cook for 10 minutes again on the second side adding more oil if the pan is getting too dry.

Once cooked remove the falafel from the pan and blot any excess oil with kitchen paper.

Serve with salad and a sauce, I had mine with my Chill Jam, Tahini Sauce is good and also Yogurt with cucumber and mint.

Pomegranate & Buckwheat Salad

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After the, for southern Spain, very wet spring that we have had, all the fruit trees have super abundant crops this year. The little pomegranate tree must have at least 70 fruits on it , the ripest of which are splitting open. With so many fruits they are small, I should have thinned them out earlier in the season, and the jewelled seeds are small and not so sweet but so tasty, and lovely for salads.

For 4 servings

100 grams buckwheat

seeds from 1 large or 2 small pomegranates

1/2 green pepper

2 large tomatoes

1 avocado

1/2 cucmber

1/2 sweet salad onion or spring onion

1 stick celery

chicory leaves – cut into thin strips/ watercress / mache salad

extra virgin olive oil

cider vinegar

good bunch of basil leaves

juice of 1 small or 1/2 large lime.

I like to soak the buckwheat in cold water overnight in which case it only takes five minutes to cook in salted water, but if you haven’t time to soak it, don’t worry, it will just take 10 – 15 minutes longer to become tender.

Once just cooked, drain the buckwheat and let it cool.

Peel the cucumber and cut into small dice.

Cut the green pepper, tomato, avocado, onion, and celery into small dice. Put into a salad bowl with the cucumber and cooled buckwheat.

Add the salad leaves and coarser chopped basil leaves. Mix well.

Dress the salad with the olive oil, lime juice and cider vinegar.