The Tastiest Spiced Chickpea Curry Ever

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The humble chickpea can provide the most satisfying of meals if it is mixed with a little magic, and in this case spices. The final note of adding chaat masala raises the game of this dish into one bursting with flavour that is both salty and sour. For those who have not come across chaat masala before it’s a spice mix that is commonly used in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and normally includes many of the following: mango powder, black salt, asafoetida, pomegranate seeds, nutmeg, mint leaf, chilli powder, black pepper, salt, cumin, coriander and dried ginger. You can pick up sachet’s or packets at your local Asian grocers or any of the large supermarkets.  If you are feeling really adventurous you could make your own. Have a look at this lovely lady showing you how to do so .

 

Like many of the dishes on my blog this is very straightforward, filling, nutritious, tasty and kind on the wallet. My eldest daughter loves it (she just avoids swallowing the green chillies that I simply cut in half so are easy to spot) and my youngest….well she tells me she prefers ‘English’ food. I asked her like what and she answered ‘Like udon noodles, chicken, spring onions and soy sauce’. Oh dear!

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If you are UK based chances are that you’ll be on half term next week – if you have children that is. This dish ticks so many boxes and is perfect for an adult, or more sophisticated child eater. Next time your are in the shopping aisles of your local supermarket – think Chaat Masala, seriously you won’t regret it. A little bit of searching will reward you royally.

You heard it here first.

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 Spiced Chickpea Curry

2 tbsp groundnut/rapeseed oil

10 fresh curry leaves

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp ginger paste

2 small green chillies

1 tsp cumin powder

3 medium sized tomatoes, diced

500g chickpeas (tinned is fine)

1 tbsp yoghurt

1 tbsp tomato puree

150ml juice from chickpea tin/boiling water

125g fresh spinach

1 tsp chat masala

1/2 lemon, juice only

handful of fresh coriander to serve

1. Gently heat the oil in a deep frying pan and then add the curry leaves. After 20 seconds add the onion and salt and lower the heat to allow the onions to soften and not burn. After 5 minutes add the garlic and ginger paste along with the green chillies and stir into the existing ingredients.

2. Add the cumin powder and then add the fresh tomatoes and allow them to soften slightly before adding the chickpeas.

3. Add the yoghurt and tomato puree and stir into the chickpeas.

4. Add the chickpea juice and/or boiling water and leave until the liquid has reduced. This will take around 10-15 minutes.

5. Stir in the spinach, which will wilt almost immediately.

6. Take the pan off the heat and add the chaat masala and lemon juice and stir into the curry. Add a little fresh coriander on the top of each serving.

Relax, sit back and enjoy a very satisfying bowl of chickpea curry.


South Indian Sardine Curry

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Don’t you just love those recipes that require minimal effort to achieve a very satisfying and tasty result? This south Indian sardine curry is one of those dishes.

Sardines are great fish to have in your diet as they are packed with essential nutrients, including omega 3 fats, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. They are also very reasonable to buy and therefore are within everyones budget. The bones too are so small that you can easily eat them along with the flesh, providing you with calcium.

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I sometimes like to keep the sardines whole and at others times have them filleted. This recipe works equally well, whichever way you like to prepare them.  If you are going to get them filleted your fishmonger can easily do this for you to save time.

You could also add tamarind paste (no more than a teaspoonful) to this dish to give it a different twist. If you do decide to do this add the tamarind at the same time that you add the tomatoes.

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South Indian Sardine Curry

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

10 fresh curry leaves

1 banana shallot, finely sliced

1 tsp salt

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 heaped tsp of ginger paste

2 fresh chilli, sliced lengthways

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

200g fresh tomatoes, quartered

200ml water

450g sardines, cleaned and filleted

1. Heat the coconut oil and then add the mustard seeds moving them around the pan for 15 seconds before adding the curry leaves. After a further 10 seconds add the shallots and salt.

2. Allow the shallots to soften slightly on a medium low heat for 4-5 minutes before adding the garlic, ginger and chilli, followed by the turmeric and coriander powder. Cook for a further couple of minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes and stir into the other ingredients. Place a lid on the pan and cook for around 5 minutes to allow the tomatoes to soften.

4. Add some of the water and stir into the ingredients to create a sauce and then add the sardines and cook on a low heat for around 5-7 minutes with the lid on the pan. Do add more water if you require more of a sauce.

5. Careful not to over stir as the sardines will break up.

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Kakrol Curry – for those who like to try new things

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For the next month or so if you happen to be living near or in an Asian neighboured, or passing by an Asian grocery store, you might just chance upon a wonderful Asian vegetable known in Bengal as kakrol, or you may have heard it referred to as kantola. Then again you may have never heard or seen this Asian vegetable before as it’s pretty unique and is it’s only in season for a month or two.

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It’s a type of Indian gourd that does not have a bitterness like it’s cousin the korola. It’s seriously delicious and actually reminds me pool, which I equally love. It’s in season NOW so seize this opportunity and seek it out. I love the bright vivid greenness of its skin. It’s so inviting it just wants to be eaten!

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You need to half it lengthways and then half it again and then quarter it. Similar to the ones that I have in the photo above. You do not need to peel the skin, simply cut off either end of the gourd.

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The brightness from the turmeric, Kashmiri chilli and the vegetable itself makes for some colourful cooking – just don’t wear a white shirt when cooking.

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I tend to accompany mine with some dal such as red split lentil or cholar and serve it with some freshly prepared chapatis. It’s absolute heaven and the perfect vegetarian/vegan meal. If you do manage to find them and cook this please let me know as I love to hear feedback from readers.

Have a lovely weekend.

Kakrol and Potato Curry

2 tbsp groundnut/olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 potatoes, halved lengthways and then quartered

5 kakrol/kantola, halved lengthways and then quartered (see photographs above)

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp salt

a few tbsp of water to help soften the kakrol

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tbsp ghee

1. Heat the oil in the pan and when it is hot add the cumin seeds and move them around the pan for 20 seconds before adding the chopped potato pieces. Turn the heat down and let the potatoes begin to bronze slightly. This will take around 4/5 minutes.

2. Add the kakrol along with the turmeric, chilli powder, salt, cumin powder and coriander powder. Use a spoon to cover the kakrol and potato in the spices.

3. You may need to add a little water to begin with to help the kakrol to soften. Place a lid on the pan to help steam and soften it. Turn gently at intervals and add a little more water if necessary. Cook on a low heat for 25-30 minutes, by which time the kakrol and potato will both be softened.

4. Before serving add the ghee and garam masala, stir into the curry and serve with hot chapatis or other Indian flat bread.

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Sardinian Fregula with Courgette, Mint, Lemon, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

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Surprise! I have given my blog a new lease of life by making it a little fresher, with bigger food photographs – to tempt you into making my recipes of course. How do you like it? I’ll probably tweek it here and there as it is not exactly how I want it but it will do for the mean time. It’s also probably at it’s best looked at on a computer as opposed to a mobile or iPad but any device will do. Leave a comment below once you have had a little look around.

Now back to the important stuff…. the recipe. This week I want to tempt you into making this wonderful dish that can be eaten hot or at room temperature, perhaps for a picnic. It requires a little effort in as far as locating the wonderful fregula, but once you have done that making the recipe is a doddle.

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So what on earth is fregula I hear you all ask? Well in a nutshell it’s a Sardinian pasta, which is similar to couscous in appearance, and comes in a variety of sizes. It’s made from rubbing semolina and water to create a crumbly texture that is then rolled into balls. It is then sun dried and toasted briefly in the oven.IMG_0990

This process allows the fregula to have that ‘al dente’ texture giving it a slightly nutty taste. I am not suggesting you make the fregula from scratch, far from it. You’ll find it most Italian delicatessen and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the larger supermarkets may well stock it. If they don’t then I am sure they will very soon.

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The overall dish is healthy, takes under quarter of an hour to prep and cook and is really delicious. The flavours are fresh and cleansing, coming from the mint and lemon and this combined with nutty fregula and pine nuts, umami parmesan (check out my article on umami here) and the bright green courgette. It’s a winning recipe if you are entertaining and want no fuss with cooking as it can all be prepped before guests arrive, aside from the boiling of the fregula and courgettes.

For those who like shell fish I will be doing another fregula recipe again in the next few weeks – that leaves you more than enough time to hunt down a packet from your local Italian deli.

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Sardinian Fregula with Courgette, Mint, Lemon, Parmesan and Pine Nuts 

Serves 3

225g fregula (75g per person)

3 courgettes, cut into thin half moons (1 courgette per person)

1 lemon, juice and zest (to taste)

4 stems of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

60g parmesan

1 large handful of pine nuts

salt and pepper

1. Place the fregula in boiling water so that it is completely covered for 12 minutes.

2. Prepare all the other ingredients, whilst you wait for the fregula to cook. After 12 minutes add the half moon courgettes, adding more boiling water if necessary, and cook for 2 more minutes.

3. Drain the courgettes and fregole and place in a large mixing bowl.

4. Add half the lemon juice and zest, most of the parmesan, the mint leaves, pine nuts and season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice and zest to taste.

5. Serve in one large bowl/platter and allow everyone to serve themselves.

Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.


Fiery Chettinad Chicken

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Chettinad is a region in the southern eastern state of Tamil Nadu in India. The cuisine is commonly regarded as one of the most fiery and aromatic.

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It is famous for its dry masalas that use a wide array of spices including, rather surprisingly, star anise, as well as more commonly used Indian spices such as cumin, cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and whole red chillies. Similarly to the rest of southern India, coconut and tamarind are also often used in cooking.

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The Chettinad people have always been successful traders, travelling far afield throughout Asia. This can be seen in their cuisine as they use a wide range of spices and techniques, clearly influenced by their travelling merchant ancestors.

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My recipe is perfect if you crave some spice. For those at the korma end of the spectrum probably ought to give this a wide birth, but for those who like a flavoursome kick THIS is the curry for YOU. My kids definitely would not eat it, but Mr B and I are big fans and I hope that some of you out there will be also. If you prepare it in the morning ready to eat in the evening it works a treat. You could also cook it a day in advance if you are feeling super organised.

If any of you cook this please let me know what you think. It really isn’t that hot if you are used to eating spice, so be brave and give it a go. It would be great on a hot summer’s eve with a cold beer – check out my brother’s beer here or a chilled lassi such as this one.

Chettinad Chicken

Serves 4-6

800g chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 lemon, juice only

****

Masala

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp black peppercorns

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick

3 cardamom pods, seeds only

6 dried red chilli

6 cloves

4 fresh or dried bay leaves

2 star anise

60g desiccated coconut

100ml cold water

****

3 tbsp ground nut oil

14 fresh curry leaves

2 red onions, finely sliced

2 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic paste (or fresh garlic made into a paste)

2 tsp ginger paste (as above)

3 fresh tomatoes, chopped

75-100ml cold water

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fresh ginger batons to serve

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1. First cut the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and cover with the turmeric and lemon juice. Mix in thoroughly and then place to one side whilst you make the masala.

2. Heat up a non stick pan and when it is hot add all the spices (but not the desiccated coconut) and move them around the pan for just over a minute so as to lightly toast them and release the flavours.

3. Place them in a spice grinder. I have this one which is excellent and Debenhams is selling it at the moment for £18. Best investment ever. (I am not on commission to say that!)

4. Whizz them around the spice grinder and then take out half the powder and then add the desiccated coconut or as much of it as you can. Whizz again and remove some more powder and put the remaining coconut in the spice grinder. Transfer to a bowl and add 100ml of cold water to create a thick paste.

5. In the same non stick pan add the ground nut oil and when it is hot add the fresh curry leaves, red onions and salt and gently fry for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger paste and move around the pan so that it does not spit.

6. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for a couple more minutes before adding the masala paste.

7. Add the turmeric lemon chicken and cover fully with the masala paste. Add the remaining water and leave to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the liquid has become virtually dry. Stir at intervals.

To serve place a few fresh ginger batons on top of the curry. It goes really will with rice or Indian breads. It is always good to have a bowl of fresh yoghurt on the side as this dish is renowned for being fiery.


Crispy Skin Cod with White Beans, Padron Peppers, Spinach, Dill and Aioli

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Not so long ago I had a really memorable lunch at Vinoteca in Farringdon. It’s a really relaxed, unstuffy little restaurant with wooden floor boards, a huge (285 if you want to get precise) selection of wines to drink there or buy to take away and a very fine menu of seasonal tasty food. I had this wonderful hake and beans dish with pardon peppers, spinach and aioli and flecks of dill. It was SO good I swore I would  replicate the dish at home and share it all with you.

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For the fish connoisseurs among you you will notice that I have replaced hake with cod. My preference would have been to use hake but as I had recently bought cod to make cod fritters I decided to use that up instead. If you can find hake however I would suggest using that as it holds together far better than cod, which tends to be flakier. In fact any firm white fish would work well.

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The hardest parts of this dish are making the aioli which can be tricky. In an ideal world I would have liked mine a little less runny but the taste and creaminess were spot on. Cooking fish can also be tricky as you want it to have crispy skin and for it not to dry out. You want to make sure the fish is completely dry before cooking so place it on kitchen paper and then add a splash of oil to the skin and season with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick pan and when it is hot place the fish skin side down for around 4 minutes and then turn over and cook for a further 3. You then should remove from the pan and let it rest whilst you plate up the rest of the dish. If it breaks up, don’t worry it will also taste great in pieces within the beans instead of on top of them.

Padron peppers are available right now in the larger super markets. They come from Southern Spain and Morocco and complement this dish really well. They take a couple of minutes to cook so are quick and easy to prepare like the spinach.

A lot of my blog followers have told me how much they love my ‘chickpea, chorizo and cod stew with fresh parsley‘ so I hope that this one will also become one of your new go-to recipes.

Crispy Skin Cod with White Beans, Padron Peppers, Spinach, Dill and Aioli 

Serves 4

Homemade Aioli

1 garlic, finely grated

1 large egg yolk

2 tsp water

1/4 tsp salt

sprinkling of freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juice only (or to taste)

1. In an electric blender or whisk, blend the garlic, egg yolk, salt, water and pepper together. Then add the Dijon mustard and blend again.

2. Then add the oils a teaspoon at the time, continuing to whisk as you do so. Keep doing this until the sauce has thickened and emulsified.

Taste and add more lemon or salt as you require. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Crispy Skin Cod with White Beans, Padron Pepper, Spinach and Dill 

2 tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

1 carrot, finely sliced

1 garlic bulb, finely chopped

540g white beans (this will include the water that they sit in)

1 vegetable stock cube

100ml boiling water

175g fresh fish per serving (700g if feeding 4 people)

135g padron peppers

260g fresh spinach

handful of fresh dill

1 lemon, cut into 4 to serve

1. Heat a pan and add the olive oil and when it is hot add the shallots, carrots and salt on a medium heat.

2. After 5 minutes add the garlic and cook for an extra couple of minutes before adding the white beans (including the water they are in). In addition add the extra boiling water and a vegetable stock cube.

3. Simmer on a low heat for up to 10 minutes, adding more boiling water if it becomes too dry.

4. Meanwhile heat a different non stick pan. Clean each portion of fish and pat dry with kitchen paper. If it has skin place a little olive oil onto the skin along with a pinch of salt and pepper. When the pan is really hot add the fish skin side down for around 4 minutes. Do not move the pan of fish for this time as it will make the fish fall apart. After 4 minutes, gently flip the fish over and cook for a further 3 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to rest on a warm place whilst you prepare the spinach and padron peppers.

5. Using the same pan as the fish add a tablespoon of olive oil and add the pardon peppers. Move them around the pan so that they burn slightly on each side and begin to wilt and soften. This will take around 3 minutes. Place to one side on a warm plate.

6. Using the same pan as the pardon peppers add the fresh spinach and a splash of water and move around the pan for up to a minute, by which time it will have wilted.

To plate up add the beans and carrots stew then add the spinach and pardon peppers. Lay the fish on top and then pop a dollop of aioli by the fish and sprinkle some dill over the dish. Add a quartered lemon to each serving.

Serve immediately so it is nice and hot.


Chingri Maach – Bengali Prawn Curry for Delicious Magazine (April)

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Happy Easter Bank holiday everyone. I’m really excited to share with you the news that my ‘Chingri Maach – aka Bengali Prawn Curry’ is featured in the April edition of Delicious Magazine. So please go out and get your own copy so that sales for April sky rocket and Delicious Magazine want to feature me again ;o). It just so happens that the front of the magazine this month has my favourite cakes of all time – Portuguese custard tarts. They look so temptingly delicious that I will be trying to make them myself shortly.

So what are you waiting for….go grab yourself a copy and do try my prawn curry. The background to the curry is explained in the article. If you are in the US/Canada/India/Australia/NZ etc…then perhaps you could leave me a comment below telling me which are your favourite Food/Lifestyle Magazines in your country so that I can get in contact with them for future features.