Cooking a Sri Lankan Curry For Critical NHS

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all keeping well and remaining upbeat in these uncertain times. This week I am doing a collaboration with the effervescent British-Sri Lankan interior designer and boutique hotel and villa owner of Kalukanda House in Sri Lanka, Dee Gibson. She also happens to be a fellow south west Londoner like myself.

Photo credit: Kalukanda House

Dee has worked super hard over the past few years bringing her expertise in design to create Kalukanda House from scratch. The original building had to be pulled down as it was structurally unsound. You can read all about the incredible transformation here.

The finished result is beautifully designed and a real oasis of tranquility and peace. It is fully staffed and can be rented exclusively or on a more boutique hotel set up.

Photo Credit: Kalukanda House

Dee contacted me earlier this week to see if I would come up with an exciting recipe for Kalukanda House and one that we can encourage readers to cook and in return donate a money to ‘support front line critical care staff’  – Critical NHS

By supporting the critical care frontline staff at St Georges and other London hospitals over the next few weeks and months, will in turn support the local shops and restaurants in doing so. They have decided to set up a PayPal pool where you can send donations, which you can see here here.

My recipe will be going on Dee’s blog, as well as her social media feeds – instagram @kalukandahouse as well as Youtube (Kalukanda House) so we would LOVE it if you are able to cook it and share it on your feeds. Any donation – however small – will be of immense help.

So the recipe I want to share with you is twofold. Firstly it is a home-made Sri Lankan roasted curry powder. If you don’t have all the spices, please do not stress and simply use the ones that you have. You can even use a bought one or a curry powder  you have at home that needs using up!

If you do make my one however (which I hope you will) you do need to grind it up either with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder -I use this one. You then have a delicious curry powder that you can use on many occasions going forward – just remember to store it in a sealed jar.

The main event however, is my vegan Sri Lankan butternut squash curry. It is super easy and I hope you have most of the ingredients already in your store cupboards. If you are on instagram I’ve done short films of me cooking both recipes on my IGTV so have a look.

Best of luck and please tag me #chilliandmint and #kalukandahouse if you make it and are on instagram. Otherwise please write in the comments box below and I will get back to you. Let’s try and raise some money together for Critical NHS.

 

 

Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder

makes a small pot

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp uncooked basmati rice

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds

5 cloves

5 green cardamom, opened

10 fresh/frozen or dried curry leaves

 

I haven’t added any dried chillies but you can add a couple if you wish to make this a ‘hotter’ curry powder.

If you don’t have any of the spices above, leave them out and you have created your own new version of a Sri Lankan curry powder.

  1. Warm a frying pan and then add all the spices, rice and curry leaves.
  2. Keep on a low heat and move around the pan so that they do not burn. Wonderful aromas will be released.
  3. After 5 minutes the spices, rice and curry leaves will be nicely bronzed so transfer to a bowl to cool and remove the green husks of the cardamom pods and discard.
  4. Then either pound in a pestle and mortar or use a spice grinder to grinder to form a smooth powder.
  5. Store in a sealed jar for a couple of months.

The curry powder works well with all meat curries, as well as vegetarian/vegan curries too.

 

 

 

Sri Lankan Butternut Squash Curry

serves 4-6

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

10 curry leaves (if you have them)

1 red onion, sliced into half moons

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1.5 inches of fresh ginger, finely diced

1 tsp salt

900g butternut squash, cubed

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 heaped tsp Sri Lankan roasted curry powder

1x400ml tin of coconut milk

300ml water

a couple of 2 inch pandan leaves, optional

 

  1. Heat a deep pan and add the coconut oil. If you don’t have coconut oil, you can use vegetable or groundnut oil.
  2. Add the mustard, fennels seeds and curry leaves if you have them. Allow them to sizzle in the pan for 30 seconds, before adding the onions.
  3. Now add the garlic and ginger and stir into the spices and add the salt to help soften the onion. Move around the pan for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the butternut squash followed by the turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder and Sri Lankan roasted curry powder and mix well.
  5.  Add the coconut milk, saving a little of the creamier part for later, add the water as well.  IF you have them add the pandan leaves, but absolutely not essential if you don’t have them to hand.
  6. Stir and then cover for 15-20 minutes, checking intermittently and giving a good stir.
  7. Add the remaining coconut milk. Check the seasoning and using a sharp knife check to see if the butternut squash is soft.

Serve with a scattering of fresh coriander leaves and some lemon or lime wedges. Serve alongside basmati rice, chapati or paratha.

If you want to add more heat to this curry you can add fresh or dried chillies when you add the mustard and fennel seeds to begin with.

 


A Couple of Simple and Yet Tasty Lunch Ideas

Hi everyone. How are you all doing? The days seem to be flying by don’t you think? Have you managed to get yourself into a rhythm that suits you and your lifestyle?  I’m loving all the cooking and baking that everyone seems to  be doing on instagram. Being stuck inside seems to have unleashed inner domestic culinary gods and goddesses in us all; it is wonderful to see. It seems everyone is baking banana bread and making their own hummus – I can almost smell it when I step outside on my daily exercise.

Meal times have always been a special time for my family to get together, update each other on each others days and news and during this period of uncertainty they have become even more sacred. We take it in turn to cook as it’s a good way to relax and focus the mind and we try and come up with interesting things to cook, to keep the diet varied and interesting. I thought it might be helpful to share a couple of lunch, or indeed supper ideas, that we have eaten recently that were super simple, require few ingredients and take 15 mins max to cook.

First up is my spaghetti alla puttanesca – also known as prostitutes pasta – as it can be made quickly, in between other obligations, hence the prostitute allusion! My version is similar to the Neapolitan in that omits anchovies as I think it makes the dish just too salty. I also add spinach because I LOVE spinach and you can add fresh chillies or chilli flakes but I have omitted these this time round.

The main ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, black olives and capers and together they work so well with the spaghetti. You can use linguine too, whichever you have to hand.

 

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

serves 4-6

Spaghetti/linguine (enough for 4-6 or however many you are feeding)
2 tbsp olive oil
8 medium tomatoes, quartered
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 large tbsp of stones black olives, halved

1 tbsp capers
salt
pepper
3 large handfuls of fresh spinach
1 cup pasta water

1. Fill a large pan with boiling salted water and add the spaghetti/linguine.

2. Heat a large wide pan with olive oil then add the tomatoes 🍅 followed by the garlic. Stir

3. Add the olives and capers. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes to allow everything to soften and meld together.

4. Check to see the spaghetti is cooked and when it is to your liking add it to the sauce, mix well with tongs and then add the spinach.

5. Add a cup of the pasta water to loosen and continue to fold in together. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

6. Serve immediately.

It’s deliciously sweet from the tomatoes and salty from the olives and capers and I love the taste of spinach and garlic binding it all together.

The other easy meal is “cauliflower fritters”. I was inspired by Sami Tamimi (Yotam Ottolegnhi’s business partner) who made them on his instagram feed. If you are on instagram have a look at him cooking them on his feed – you can find him @sami_tamimi.  I made a few changes in that I added a heaped tsp of curry powder and some black urfa chilli from my favourite spice provider in the US Burlap & Barrel. If you live stateside I highly recommend you ordering some of their spices. They are incredible. I always try and pick some up when I am in the US or have friends bring some over. I also only used plain flour, but you can use chickpea/bread flour or whatever you have to hand.

I also decided they would go really well with a simple tomato, fresh coriander, black olive and feta salad on the side, instead of his suggestion of a yoghurt raita or tahini dip, but it’s totally up to you.

Spiced Cauliflower Fritters

serves 4 (makes around 11 large fritters)

1 cauliflower, chopped into even size piece and the green leaves washed

 2cups/ 300g flour or enough to form a batter (you may need to add a little more so adjust as need be)

3 eggs

water – a little to loosen the batter

1 white onion, finely diced

1 large handful of fresh parsley, finely sliced

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp cumin powder

1 heaped tsp of curry powder

1-2 tsp chilli flakes (black Urfa chilli, Allepo chilli flakes, red pepper flakes)

1 heaped tsp salt

pepper

 

*********

Tomato salad

8 tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tbsp black olives, stone removed and halved

handful of fresh coriander (or parsley) chopped

1 tbsp feta, broken up

 

  1. First boil a large pan of water and then add the cauliflower, including the green stalks, which you keep at full length at this stage.
  2. Meanwhile mix the flour with the eggs, water, spices, parsley, salt, pepper and white onion.
  3. When the cauliflower has completely softened – around 6-8 mins, drain and remove the green stalks.
  4. First thinly slice the green stalks and add them to the batter.
  5. Using a knife or potato masher, roughly break up the cauliflower so that it is broken down but not like mashed potato.
  6. Turn it out into the batter and mix together.
  7. Heat a large pan with a little vegetable or sunflower oil – you want to shallow fry  NOT deep fry.
  8. Using a large spoon turn out some of the cauliflower batter into the pan and flatten with the back of the spoon. Fill up the pan – I find three work well as you don’t want to over crowd the pan. Leave the fritters to bind together and bronze. If you touch them too early they will break apart.
  9. Leave to bronze on both side. This will take around 3-4 minutes per side. If it is not bronzed sufficiently leave for a little longer.
  10. Once both sides have bronzed, turn out to a plate with some kitchen roll and keep in a warm oven whilst you continue with the others.
  11. Prepare the tomato salad whilst the fritters are bronzing and place in a bowl ready to serve.
  12. Once all the fritters are ready serve and eat whilst still hot.

 


Vietnamese Chicken and Cabbage Salad

 

If you are after a salad that is healthy, zingy, super tasty, fresh AND will feed a crowd, then my Vietnamese chicken and cabbage salad with a nuoc cham dressing works a treat.

Much of the salad can be prepped in advance and it is far easier to prepare than you would think if you have a magi-mix as it can do all the slicing (other than the chicken) easily and efficiently.

The three herbs that I like to use to give it a delicious freshness is mint, coriander and Thai basil (you can easily pick this up in large supermarkets these days). The addition of peanuts and fried shallots (you can have these ready made too to save time) really adds to the textures and flavours.

 

Vietnamese Chicken Salad 

Serves 8-10

1/2 white cabbage, finely chopped

1/2 red cabbage, finely chopped

7 carrots, peeled and finely grated (you can do this in the magi-mix too on the grater setting)

6 chicken breasts, skin removed

3 large handfuls of coriander, finely chopped

2 handfuls of fresh mint, finely chopped

2 handfuls of fresh Thai basil, finely chopped

2 handfuls of unsalted peanuts

2 handfuls of crispy fried shallots (to save time buy these already made)

 

Nuoc Cham Dressing

3 tbsp  fish sauce

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1-2 limes, freshly squeezed

1 heaped tbsp caster sugar

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped (keep seeds in if you want more heat)

 

  1. If you have a magi-mix place your attachment, which has the thinnest slicer, and slice the red cabbage and white cabbage. If you do not, then you need to do this by hand.
  2. Next change the attachment to the grater and grate the carrots. If you do not have this you can do this with a regular grater.
  3. Place the chicken breasts whole into a deep pan and cover with water and bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts and allow to cool and then use two forks to shred finely. Place to one side in bowl.
  4. Next finely chop the coriander, mint and Thai basil.
  5. Heat a frying pan and when it is hot add the peanuts and allow to bronze slightly – this will take around 3 -4 minutes. Keep moving around the pan so that they don’t burn. Once lightly bronzed remove and place to one side.
  6. If you are preparing the shallots from scratch – instead of bought fried shallots – simply finely slice them and then shallow fry them in sunflower or vegetable oil until bronzed. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper.
  7. Next you want to make the ‘nuoc cham dressing’. The trick is to add all the ingredients to a pan and warm up so that the sugar has completely dissolved. It is important to taste test so that you have a good balance of salty, sweet, zingy and sweet. If it is too salty from the fish sauce add a little more caster sugar. If you find it too chilli hot, strain the dressing and therefore remove the chillies.
  8. You can prepare all of this a day in advance and keep in the fridge (minus the shallots, which can be kept in a sealed jar). IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO ADD THE DRESSING UNTIL JUST BEFORE SERVING.
  9. When you are ready to serve add a little of the dressing to the chicken and mix in to soften and flavour the chicken.
  10. Next use a mixing bowl and add a little of every ingredient and a little of the dressing and mix well before repeating the process. Make sure you keep back some of the shallots to scatter on the top along with a little of all the herbs.
  11. Serve on a large platter so guests/family can help themselves. It also looks rather lovely presented in this way.
  12. Best eaten at room temperature.

Any leftovers will keep in the fridge easily for a few days. If you want to feed more then use the whole cabbage, add a few extra chicken breasts, add an extra handful of herbs and double up on the dressing.

 

 

 

 


Nigel Slater’s Beef and Okra Soup for Stormzy

A recipe in the Guardian caught my eye recently and I made a note to myself to try making it in the New Year. Nigel Slater – who quite frankly is a culinary genius, came up with a dish ‘beef okra soup recipe for Stormzy’.  Now beef is a meat I rarely eat if I’m honest. Large slabs of any meat – particularly steak – don’t really float my boat, but if the meat is slow cooked and falling off the bone, with spices, then that is exciting. The recipe ingredients sung to me: ginger, garlic, plum tomatoes, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon stick, okra, Scotch bonnet chillies. It sounded the perfect meal to make you feel alive and well in the cold bleak month of January. Don’t you agree?

 

It’s very straightforward but does take time, so if you have things to do in the house one morning then it is the perfect dish to cook. Nigel states that “the dish is even better if refrigerated overnight and reheated the following day”, so would be perfect for feeding a crowd as you can do all the preparations and cooking a day in advance. I’m too excited to dig in so shall be having it for my supper, I can hardly wait.

I’ve made a few changes to the recipe but you can find the original recipe here.

Nigel Slater’s Beef and Okra Soup for Stormzy

serves 6

1.6kg beef short ribs (get your butcher to cut the ribs into short lengths)

3 large onions, roughly chopped

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

60g ginger, skin removed sliced and then cut again into thin batons

1.6kg plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthways

3 tbsp beef dripping/oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

12 black peppercorns

6 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1-2 scotch bonnet, seeds removed (unless you want it super hot) and finely diced (wear gloves)

3 bay leaves

1 litre hot beef stock

350g okra, sliced lengthways

salt and pepper

 

  1. Heat your oven to 220 degrees centigrade/gas mark 9 and place the ribs in a casserole pan in the oven for 20 mins.
  2. After 20 mins remove from the oven and add the dripping or oil and then add the garlic and onions and return to the oven for 15 minutes, lowering it to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.
  3. Remove from the oven again and this time stir in the ginger, spices, chillies, bay leaves and half of the halved tomatoes (reserve the rest for later).
  4. Return to the oven for 40 minutes and then remove from the oven and pour in the hot stock, cover and return to the oven for an hour.
  5. After the hour place the casserole pot onto the hob and add the okra and remaining tomatoes. Season well with salt and pepper and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes, by which time the okra will have softened.
  6. Before serving cut the beef from the bones and place in a deep bowl and ladle in the broth and vegetables.


Happy New Year and Toor Dal with Fresh Coconut and White Poppy Seeds

Happy New Year and a warm welcome to my new (and old of course!) followers who have recently signed up to this blog.

January is a funny old month. The revelries from Christmas and the New Year are well and truly over and we all look forward to making a fresh start in the new year. With goals, aims, hopes and plans whirling away in our heads, it’s like shedding a skin and growing a new one. Veganuary has gained a lot of momentum over the last few years, with increasing numbers introducing more vegan recipes into their diets and some even making the transition to become fully vegan. Whilst I have no plans to ‘do’ veganuary, I naturally eat a number of vegan meals throughout the year without even really thinking about it. Indian food is heavily focused on vegetables with the large majority in India having a vegetarian diet. On this blog I have a number of recipes which would work really well if you want to bring more vegetarian or vegan meals into your culinary repertoire. Here are just a few.

Upma (a savoury breakfast semolina eaten in India)

Dale Bora (a delicious street snack from Kolkata)

Indian sprout and carrot curry

Beetroot curry

Cauliflower with dried fenugreek/methi

Black pepper tofu

Aubergine, peanut and tomato curry

Indian corn on the cob

Butternut, lemongrass, coconut and spinach curry

For my first recipe for 2020 however I thought I would show you a new dal recipe, which just happens to be vegan. I have loads on my blog – just pop the word ‘dal’ in the search box on the right when you go to my blog. Dals all taste so different that I could make a different one each day of the week and they would be completely unique.

This one uses the toor dal, which is also known as ‘pigeon pea’. It looks similar to the chana dal, which is a split chickpea. You don’t need to soak it but it does take around 50 minutes to soften sufficiently if you are using the stove top. When it is gently boiling away you will need to remove, with a spoon, the scum that will form whilst cooking. You may also need to add more water if it looks to become too dry. I never measure out the water and instead go more from sight and add a little more here and there when required.

Excuse the rather dark muted photos of the dal – I cooked it in the afternoon and when I was ready to photograph the light had gone so had to use the lights from my kitchen which give it a pretty awful glow. Anyway you get the gist. I ate it along with a butternut squash curry I made and a cabbage curry mopped up with some homemade luchi – which are also known as poori. Most delicious and all coincidentally vegan.

 Toor Dal with Poppy Seeds and Fresh Coconut

250g toor dal, washed through a couple of times with cold water

900ml water

2 tbsp rapeseed/sunflower oil

1 white onion, finely chopped

30g grated fresh coconut (or desiccated)

a small handful of fresh coriander

100ml water

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

2 tsp white poppy seeds

10 fresh curry leaves (you can freeze them – much better than dried which have lost their taste)

1 heaped tsp ginger-garlic paste

1 tomato, finely chopped

1 green chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1/2 fresh lemon, juice only

salt to taste

  1. First rinse the toor dal and then place it in a pan and cover completely with water. Start by adding 900ml water and you can add more later once the water has soaked up. It will take around 50 minutes to soften. Scum will form on the top so just remove this with a spoon and discard. You know the dal has softened when you can easily pinch one toor dal between your thumb and forefinger. Continue to add a little more water if it has all been soaked up.
  2. Meanwhile in a frying pan, add a tablespoon of oil and gently fry the onion and the fresh coconut so that they begin to lightly bronze. Remove from the pan and then blitz in a blender with some fresh coriander and then leave to one side.
  3. Using the same pan add the rest of the oil and add the cumin, mustard and poppy seeds. They will begin to sizzle almost immediately. Be careful of the spluttering.
  4. Add the fresh curry leaves and the ginger-garlic paste – fresh or store bought. Move around the pan and then add the tomato and fresh chilli.
  5. Return the blitzed onion-coconut-fresh coriander to the pan and stir so that all the ingredients are nicely mixed together.
  6. Now add the turmeric, coriander, Kashmiri chilli powder, lemon juice and salt.
  7. Once the dal has softened turn the contents of the frying pan into the dal and mix together. Check the salt levels.
  8. Leave to simmer for a few more minutes, then you are ready to serve.

 

 

 

 

 


Fennel and Preserved Lemon Soup

As those who have been following this blog for a while will know, I absolutely ADORE soups. I’m happy to eat them all year round for breakfast (yes, in Vietnam you eat pho – which is their version of a soup/broth – for breakfast), lunch or supper. I am always trying to think of new pairings that might work well and since I had some fennel in my fridge that needed to be eaten I thought I would use that as the star ingredient and built up a few other ingredients around them.

I always have preserved lemons in my fridge so I decided to use them along with a leek. My other go to ingredient, which completely elevates dishes and which I do go on about a lot on my instatories, is my garlic confit. Seriously it takes very little effort to make a batch, stores in the fridge for ages, and really adds huge flavour to a host of dishes. In fact, it would make a great Christmas gift for any foodie friends or family. It shows thought and I bet the receiver would love you forever (although I am sure they already do ;o) anyway I digress.

The other ingredients are vegetable stock – I literally just used a stock cube, water, pepper and salt. I decided to top each soup with a parmesan crips and some of the fennel fronds to add a bit of umami to the dish (coming from the parmesan). If you are on instagram go to my stories and you can watch me cooking the dish on my instastories.

I think this soup would be a good one over the Christmas season if you are cooking for large groups. We always have a starter at each meal when the whole family gets together, so I will be definitely adding this one to my repertoire over Christmas.

 

Fennel and Preserved Lemon Soup

Serves 4-6

3 tbsp garlic confit including around 5 garlic cloves from the confit

2 fennel, finely chopped (fronds removed and placed to one side)

1 leek, finely sliced

1-2 preserved lemons, finely chopped

1.2 litres water

1 vegetable stock cube

salt and pepper

 

Parmasan Crisps

will make 6

50g parmesan, finely grated

freshly ground black pepper

 

 

  1. Finely cut the fennel, removing the fronds and placing them to one side – you can use these later when serving the soup.
  2. Finely cut the leeks.
  3. Heat a large deep pan an add the garlic confit – oil and a few of the garlic cloves. This is what will really give the soup flavour and depth. Move around the pan and then add the fennel, leeks and a little salt and allow them to sweat and soften for 5-6 minutes.
  4. Add the preserved lemon. Add one to begin with, you can easily add one more later if you want it more lemony.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and boiling water and allow to simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  6. Using a hand blender, blend the soup so that it is completely smooth. You many need to add more water if you want it less thick in consistency. Taste test and then add a little more salt and freshly ground pepper. Also check on how lemony the soup is. If you would like it more so, add one more preserved lemon. It’s really down to personal preference so taste test and see what you think. Personally I like to add two.
  7. To make the parmesan crisps, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  8. Finely grate the parmesan and then place them in round piles and flatten to approx 2 inches in diameter on the greaseproof paper. Space them out as they will spread slightly. Add a little freshly ground black pepper on top.
  9. Heat in the oven for 6-8 minutes, so that they begin to lightly bronze, then remove and allow to cool.
  10. When serving the soup place a couple of ladles in each bowl and then add a parmesan crisp, some fennel fronds and sound freshly ground pepper.

Delicious. I hope you agree.

 


Indian Sprout and Carrot Curry – perfect for this time of year

This recipe I posted way back in 2012 (yes my blog has been running for that long!), but unless you scroll my recipe library you are unlikely to know it is even there. Quite frankly, it’s fab and will win over even the non-sprout lover amongst us. Seriously. Basically, by adding a touch of spice, it elevates the humble sprout. We are beginning to see them in the shops so I urge you to give this recipe a whirl when you are next mulling over what to cook. Give it to your family, flat mates, friends and don’t tell them what it is and I can bet you they will love it and ask for more. Mention the word ‘sprout’ however and then they may not even give the dish a chance.

My mother-in-law originally taught me this many years ago and now it’s a firm favourite in my Indian culinary repertoire.  If you cook it alongside a dal it makes a perfect vegan meal. I suggest my go to ‘Bengali Red Split Lentil Dal’ would be the perfect accompaniment. Both dishes can be prepared and cooked within 30 mins and  are very affordable, healthy and tasty. It’s a win win win.

Indian Sprout and Carrot Curry

Serves 4

325g sprouts, finely sliced

300g carrots, grated

1 green chilli, finely sliced (optional)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 level tsp turmeric

1 tsp nigella seeds (kalo jeera)

1 tsp salt

100ml water

1. Finely slice the sprouts, grate the carrots and, if using, finely chop the chilli. I tend to leave the seeds in, but to make it less spicy just remove the seeds.

2. Heat a pan with oil and add the nigella seeds. After 10 seconds add the chilli and turmeric and stir in together for a further 10 seconds.

3. Add the sprouts and carrots and stir well with the other ingredients. Continue to stir continuously on a medium heat so that the carrots and sprouts soften and do not burn. Use a wooden spoon to press down on the ingredients as you gently stir.

4. After a few minutes of stirring add 50ml of water and stir into the curry. You may find that you do not need to use the remaining 50ml of water if the sprouts and carrots are sufficiently softened. Add the salt to taste. Continue stirring for a further 5-7 minutes and the dish will be done.

Nigella seeds (above)


10 Minute Vegetable Noodle Broth

Earlier this week I popped the photo above onto my instagram feed. It was a last minute speedy photo, not really styled, but a quick snap before I dived in. I hadn’t given it much attention but thought I would pop it up on my feed. It was simply a quick broth that I had thrown together in 10 minutes one lunch time. I hadn’t made the broth from scratch by boiling up the bones/veg, it was a quick fix that hit the spot and fast.

It had such a positive response with a number of people asking me for the recipe that I thought I would pop it up on my blog so you can all see how quick and easy it is to prepare.

In fact I have popped up very similar recipes on my blog to this one over the last few years. Check out the following. All equally delicious and pretty simple to make as you will see.

 

Fragrant Lemongrass and Ginger Salmon Broth

Chiang Mai Noodle Broth

Miso Chilli Vegetable Noodle Broth

King Prawn Noodle Broth

 

So for the one I made earlier this week the magic ingredient is my garlic confit. Have you tried making it? I popped it up on a post in the summer and all I can say is that it is now my fridge staple.

If you haven’t made a batch then simple add olive oil and add 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped. Let me know how you get on if you make it and tag me #chilliandmint @chilliandmint on your instagram feeds. Happy lunch time eating all. Life’s too short to rely on sandwiches and salads every lunch.

10 Minute Vegetable Noodle Broth

serves 2

2 tbsp of garlic confit oil or regular olive oil if you have not made my recipe above

4 garlic confit cloves or 4 regular garlic cloves, chopped

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, skin removed and finely chopped into batons

3 spring onions, sliced at an angle

1 red or green chilli, finely chopped, optional

1 heaped tbsp of white miso paste

1 pint boiling water

1 tbsp light soy sauce

8 broccoli florets, chopped in half

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

2 packets of udon noodles

2 eggs

10 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half

handful of fresh coriander

sprinkling of Japanese togarashi

 

  1. Gently lower the eggs into a pan of boiling water. If you want soft boiled eggs leave for 6 minutes max and if you want hard leave them for 8 minutes.
  2. In another pan, heat the garlic confit oil and garlic in a pan. If you have not made a batch of garlic confit – do seriously – you won’t look back after you have made one batch. Otherwise use olive oil and some fresh garlic roughly chopped. Move around the pan for a few minutes.
  3. Add almost all the  ginger batons, spring onions and chilli (if adding) followed by the miso paste and light soy sauce. Move around the pan for 20 seconds and then add the boiling water. I never actually measure out the water so add a pint and if you think it needs more, which it may well do add a little more.
  4. Add the udon noodles and broccoli and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, spinach and leave for 1 minute before turning off the heat. Taste test the broth and add more miso paste, soy sauce, boiling water to your liking.
  6. Remove the eggs from the pan and run under cold water whilst you remove the shell – you will find it easier to remove the shell this way. Cut them in half lengthways.
  7. Ladle the broth and noodles into deep bowls then add a good handful of fresh coriander, the remaining fresh ginger batons and place the eggs on top. Sprinkle some Japanese togarashi on top.

I often like to add a little Sriracha on top.

So easy and great for lunch or supper whether you are on your own or with company.

Slurping compulsory. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Indian Panch Phoron Damson Achaar

After chatting on instagram with my friend Harriet, aka ‘The Nutritional Bean’ about damsons and what to do them – damson wine or chutney was my go-to response, my mother independently called me moments later to ask if I wanted any. Seeing it as a sign, I said yes and she arrived later that day with said damsons, as well as a bounty of other fruits and veg from the garden. Juicy sweet yellow plums, pears and some runner beans and tomatoes. The damsons were so ripe that they were about to turn and go off, so I felt an Indian achaar (chutney) would be a good way to work with them quickly. Indian achaar is different from those made with vinegar, which allows them to keep for a month or two. An achaar is often made and eaten on the same day with dal, rice and/or curry. Whatever fruit or vegetable that needs eating you can make into an achaar. This is my mango  achaar recipe.  They are always deliciously tangy, spicy, sweet and sour and work so well with Indian and Sri Lankan food.

The magic ingredient, which I have spoken about many times over the last nine years of writing this blog, is the Bengali five spice known as ‘panch phoron’. It is often used in achaar in West Bengal. You can either make your own – by reading this post – or you can pick up panch phoron at any Asian grocers and I have even seen some of the large supermarkets stock it. When it comes to de-stoning the damson you can either do it the long way (which was my option) by cutting it half and then scoping out the stone or invest in a cherry and olive pitter, which will also fit damsons. It’s definitely on my Christmas wish list.

 

Like all chutneys it does involve adding a good measure of sugar to counterbalance the acidity. As you will only be eating one or two spoonfuls per person per sitting, it ends up balancing itself out, but be aware that it does seem quite a lot at first glance. Taste test as you go and if you find your damsons are not too acidic then you can add less sugar.

Whilst you can eat the chutney with Indian snacks, curries or dal, the achaar also works really well with cheese. It lasts in the fridge for 3-4 days. Have you had any damsons this year? If so how are you using them? I would love to know.

 

Indian Panch Phoron Damson Achaar

Makes a small bowl full

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 small dried red chillies

1 tsp panch phoron/Bengali five spice

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

655g (or thereabouts) damsons, stone removed

2 tbsp raisins, optional

1 tsp grated ginger

3-4 tbsp sugar (you can use caster or brown)

salt, to taste

 

  1. In a deep pan heat the oil and then add the 2 dried chillies. Allow them to begin to darken – it may make you cough a little – this is normal.
  2. Next add the panch phoron (fenugreek, nigella, fennel, black mustard, cumin seeds) and allow them to begin to splutter.
  3. Next add the turmeric quickly followed by the damsons. Give a good stir then add the fresh ginger and raisins.
  4. Add the sugar, a little at a time and taste as you go. Depending on the acidity of the damsons depends on how much you will require.
  5. Allow to bubble away on a low heat for 15 minutes. Add a little salt if required.
  6. Allow to cool and serve with Indian food or cheese, it works really well with both – just probably not together.

 


Brown Lentil, Smoked Sweet Paprika and Parsley Soup

Continuing on the theme of lasts weeks post I wanted to show you a recipe that incorporates garlic confit.

So who has made it yet? Be honest!

Basically garlic confit is great in soups, stews, broths and pastas. It adds warmth, flavour and many delicious notes to a dish.

You will wonder how on earth you survived without it until now.

The soup I wanted to show you I’ve made a few times since my discovery of garlic confit. It takes minutes to prepare and is addictively delicious. The brown lentils I use are the ones in glass jars, as I just think they taste a whole lot better. If you can only find the tinned ones then absolutely use those – it will still taste great.

I love soups whatever the weather but I know that it is not customary to eat hot soups in hot weather here in the UK. In India it is quite different and hot soups are eaten even in 35 degrees heat. This recipe does have autumnal tones and I think that it will appeal to a wide audience as the days get cooler – at least I hope so.

Brown Lentil, Smoked Sweet Paprika and Parsley Soup

Serves 4-6

3 tbsp oil from the garlic confit

8 confit garlic cloves

1 small white onion, finely chopped

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika

400g brown lentils

1 tbsp tomato puree

800ml of stock – vegetable or chicken

salt to taste

2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

juice of half a lemon

 

  1. In a large deep pan – I love to use my Le Creuset pot – add the garlic confit oil, along with 8 garlic confit cloves. Allow to heat up and then add onion and allow to soften.
  2. Add the tomatoes and smoked sweet paprika to the onion and garlic confit.
  3. When the tomatoes have softened, add the brown lentils and the tomato puree followed by the stock.
  4. Allow to come to the boil and then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add salt to taste and then add the fresh flat leaf parsley and lemon juice.
  5. Serve immediately with some crusty bread.