Roasted Fennel with Orange and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Friends from California came and stayed at the weekend and gave me the Gjelina cookbook, which I have been cooking from ever since. My goodness it is good. Having received it on Saturday I have since cooked 4 recipes:

garlic confit

roasted yams/butternut squash with honey, red pepper flakes and lime yoghurt

roasted cauliflower with garlic, parsley and vinegar

roasted fennel with orange and crushed red pepper flakes)

I plan to cook a 5th (grilled squash with mint-pomegranate pesto, which is on the front cover below) tonight, so I guess you could say I’m rather smitten with the book.

For those of you in the dark, Gjelina just so happens to be one of my favourite restaurants in LA. As it says in the book cover: “In Southern California, there’s no restaurant that better expresses the energy and cool excitement of Venice Beach than Gjelina” and I couldn’t agree more. It epitomises grain and vegetable centric, globally inspired cuisine, which suits me down to the ground. It has echo’s of Ottolenghi’s tomes – think za’atar and pomegranate molasses infused dishes – but the thing I automatically liked about it is that the recipes are those you actually want to cook and share with friends and family, also they are dead easy and if you don’t have an ingredient you can ad lib and make your own additions. The photos and props are also definitely the style that I love.

I have a large pot of garlic confit sitting in my fridge now, like the one above. I can’t wait to make their version of mushroom toast – I mean how divine does it look?. This would definitely appeal to my father who also has a deep fondness to mushrooms, like myself.

So last night I made the ‘roasted fennel with orange and crushed red pepper flakes’. I couldn’t find any blood oranges so I used a regular orange. I also played around with the measurements here and there to suit me. The final dish was delicious and is perfect with a roast chicken, fish or perhaps some other vegetable dishes. Great for summer gatherings. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

 

Roasted Fennel with Orange & Crushed Red Pepper Flakes 

2 fennel bulbs, cut into wedges and the stem into thin slices, reserve the fronds

1 large orange, peeled and cut into segments

60ml extra-virgin olive oil

flaked sea salt

80ml fresh orange juice

30ml masala wine (they use 60ml of white wine but I none to hand)

60ml of vegetable stock (I used my homemade poussin stock which is so flavoursome)

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

freshly ground black pepper

  1. Prepare the fennel bulbs and then in a large frying pan warm the olive oil. When it is hot add the fennel wedges so that the cut sides are against the bottom of the pan to get a good sear.
  2. Cook until the fennel is caramelised, which takes about 3 minutes. Turn over, using tongs, and caramelise the other side for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and toss in the fennel stems and continue to cook for another 2 minutes so the stems are well-browned.
  4. Now add the orange juice, wine and stock and let reduce do that the sauce thickens and the fennel is seared and starting to softened – this should only take a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour onto a serving platter and garnish with the fennel fronds, orange segments.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Super easy and super delicious. I hope you agree.

 

 

 


Aloo Matar – Potato and Pea Curry

Increasingly I am eating more and more vegetarian dishes (and fish) throughout the week. Has anyone else found that their meat/veg ratio has changed quite a lot in the last couple of years? I do still eat meat, but certainly not every day. I find it immensely helpful to have a number of go-to vegetarian recipes up my sleeve, so thought I would share this one with you. It’s a good one for the whole family as it is spiced but not spicy. Invariably I always have potatoes, tomatoes and frozen peas in my house, so this recipes is an easy one to whip together at a moments notice. It’s very similar to a dish that I started cooking way back at university, and in many respects laid the foundation stones for my future Indian cooking exploits.

I know that potatoes seem not to be so in vogue as they once were, like bread, but I still love to eat both potatoes and bread – especially sourdough – in many different guises. Do you have a potato recipe they you always fall back on time and time again? Do let me and my readers know in the comments section below.

 

Also if you cook this dish please share it on instagram and tag me @chilliandmint so that I can see.

 

Aloo Matar (Potato and Pea curry)

serves 4 

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ chilli powder

1 tsp salt

400ml water

3 medium/large potatoes, chopped into 1.5inch pieces (approx)

100g peas

½ tsp garam masala

2 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek)

1 tbsp fresh coriander

  1. Place the tomatoes and ginger in a hand blender and blend to a smooth puree. Place to one side.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, they will begin to sizzle almost immediately. After 15 seconds add the red onion.
  3. Gently saute for 5 minutes before adding the coriander, turmeric and chilli powders.
  4. After a minute, add the tomato and ginger puree followed by the potatoes and cover with the water.
  5. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potato has softened.
  6. Add the peas after 8 minutes.
  7. Just before serving scatter the kasoori methi and garam masala and fold into the potatoes.
  8. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.

 

 


Roasted Sweet Potato, Garlic and Smoked Paprika Soup

So hands up if you are as addicted to soup as me? I could, and almost do, have a bowl most days. Indian dal is very like soup and I often make one up for lunch – my red split lentil dal is a fav – see here.

Today however I wanted to show you my roasted sweet potato, garlic and smoked paprika soup. Anything roasted has that wonderful smokey flavour that is so addictively satisfying. This soup will warm the belly and soul with one spoonful (or preferably a whole bowl). The snow provided such a good backdrop the other day that I ran outside to take this shot. When I came to eating the soup later in the day I realised it was far too thick so I added more liquid. How thick or soupy you like your soup is up to you but just add the stock a little at a time until you have reached your desired consistency.

The whole family will love it and it involves minimum fuss so win win.

 

 

Roasted Sweet Potato, Garlic and Smoked Paprika Soup

5 sweet potatoes, cleaned and chopped into cubes (skin on)

1 whole garlic bulb

1 heaped tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, roughly chopped

1 tbsp butter

2 stalks of rosemary, leaves only, stalk removed

1 tsp salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

1- 1.5 pint of vegetable stock, add more if you refer a less thick soup

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  2. On a baking tray place the cubed sweet potatoes and add the olive oil and smoked paprika and mix together so that the sweet potatoes are nicely covered. Add the whole garlic. Place in the oven for 40 minutes or until the sweet potato has softened.
  3. Meanwhile in a large casserole pan add the butter and a splash of olive oil and gently fry the red onion and rosemary for 7 minutes so that it has nicely softened.
  4. Remove the garlic cloves from the bulb, which will be all soft and gooey at this stage. Add them and the sweet potato to the main casserole pan and add seasoning and the vegetable stock.
  5. Using a hand whisk, blend until smooth. Add more boiling water/stock depending on how you like your soup consistency. I actually added a lot more water after this photo (above) was taken as it was too thick initially.
  6. Serve piping hot with some crunchy bread on the side. If you want to add a topping you could add a dollop of creme fraiche with a sprinkling of smoked paprika on top,  a little extra virgin olive oil or perhaps some roasted pine nuts.

If you try making this soup please post a photo on instagram and use the #soupmeuptoday so that I can see it.

 

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Bengali Vegetable Curry with Lentil Kisses

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Lentil kisses, known as bori, are little sun dried lentil nuggets that have often been handmade and left to dry in the hot, warming Indian sun. My mother-in-law often brings me back a jar upon visiting her beloved  home city of Kolkata. They remind me of a lentil version of Hershey’s chocolate kisses – the type that visitors from the US often used to bring me and my siblings when we were young. Making bori yourself is not too tricky – there is a lovely recipe here if you are keen – if you live in a country where you can rely on warm, glowing hot sun, but as the weather in the UK is at best erratic when it comes to sunshine, it would probably be rather tricky.

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Whilst I realise not everyone has a Benglai mother-law-in who can magic up bori at a whim, you can get hold of bori in London at any good Asian grocers. In Kolkata, bori is also cooked with fish dishes or with greens, but today I wanted to show you a simple recipe that uses up vegetables that you are likely to have in your fridge. It makes for a very satisfying and enjoyable vegetable meal that is perfect eaten on it’s own or accompanied with some dal, rice or flat breads.

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Good luck in your quest for lentil kisses. They are seriously not that hard to seek out. Let me know how you get on.

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Vegetable Curry with Lentil Kisses

1 large handful of bori (lentil kisses)

2 tbsp groundnut oil

2 small dried red chillies

1 tsp panch phoron

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder, optional

2 carrots, cut into bite sized chunks

3 medium sized potatoes, quartered

1/4 of an aubergine, cut into bite sized chunks

2 tomatoes, finely diced

1 tsp salt

to serve

1 handful of fresh coriander

  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil (or thereabouts) in a pan and when it is hot add the dried chillies and allow them to blacken a little, this will take no longer than a minute, but may make you cough a little so beware!
  2. Add the panch phoron which will begin to fizzle almost instantly. Then add the turmeric and chilli powder (if using the latter) and add the chopped carrots and potatoes. Move around the pan, lower the heat add a couple of tablespoons of water and place a lid on the pan and leave for 15 minutes, stirring at intervals.
  3. Meanwhile in a separate pan add another tablespoon of oil and when it is hot add the bori/lentil kisses so that they bronze slightly in colour. This will only take a few minutes, if you keep moving them around the pan. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate with kitchen roll.
  4. In the main pan now add the aubergine, salt and fresh tomatoes and stir into the other ingredients. Add a little more water to help soften the ingredients, but not too much as you do not want the sauce to become too runny. Place a lid on the pan and leave for another 10 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes check to see if the potatoes and carrots are softening. Add the bronzed bori and gently stir into the vegetables. Place the lid on the pan and leave for a further 5 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots have softened sufficiently.
  6. To serve add freshly chopped coriander.

It is wonderful to accompany with some dal and rice or Indian flat breads.

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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.


Ivy Gourd Curry – also known as Gentleman’s Toes

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We all know that lady’s fingers is okra right? But gentleman’s toes? I had no idea there was a vegetable with such an unappealing name, I mean seriously who wants to eat a gentleman’s toe?

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My Bengali mother-in-law introduced them to me only recently and since then I have become hooked. They look similar, and taste not dissimilar in fact, to gherkins which we are huge eaters of in my household – seriously we get through jars of them, even my four year old has a weakness for them. Gentleman’s fingers is also more commonly known as ivy gourd or in Bengal they are known as kundri. Baby watermelon or little gourd are two other names by which they are known.

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Granted, you are unlikely to find them at the big supermarkets but head to any Indian subcontinent grocers and you’ll stumble across these fabulous little vegetables. I know for a fact that you can source them in Tooting and I imagine the same goes for Brick Lane, Southall, Hounslow etc. They are commonly eaten in India and are a great source of vitamin A and C. Eaten alongside a dal and you’ll have a very filling and tasty vegetarian supper.

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Ivy Gourd Curry

Serves 4

550g ivy gourds/kundri/gentleman’s fingers, halved lengthways

4 tbsp olive oil

1 green chilli, halved

1 tsp nigella seeds

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp chilli powder

 2 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

2 tsp salt (to taste)

2 tsp sugar (to taste)

2 tbsp water

1. Heat a large pan with the olive oil and when hot add the nigella seeds followed by the green chilli. After  20 seconds add the ivy gourds and stir into the oils and nigella seeds. Leave to cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.

2. Add all the other ingredients and give a good stir and then place a lid on the pan and leave to simmer, stirring a couple of times, for 20 minutes or until the ivy gourd is soft but not mushy!

So simple and yet ridiculously satisfying.

I hope you get to stumble across these little beauties before too long.


Broccoli, White Beans and Lemons with Red Pepper Flakes

IMG_7917A very HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all. I hope that you saw in the new year in style. I tend to opt for more relaxed, low key affairs on New Years eve so that I can wake feeling as fresh as daisy on the first of January. I am always impressed by those who are able to take part in the Hyde Park New Year’s Day run or those who decide to enter the freezing waters surrounding Britain, which is becoming increasingly more popular as the years roll by. Typically my family go on a good long ramble and play board games in front of the fire. This year we’ll be playing a lot of ‘Pucket’, which was given to me this Christmas. It’s hugely addictive and really good fun and I’ve turned into a little demon playing it, much to the annoyance of my siblings. You can purchase your very own board here.

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As is often the way we all start the year with many good intentions, whether that be to exercise more, drink less, eat more healthily, read more, achieve more (* delete as appropriate) but as the months go by some of our good intentions begin to wane. I thought that I would lend a hand however on the eat more healthily part. I can bet that we’ll be seeing numerous detox diets and health programmes in the papers and magazines this coming weekend. I do think it is good idea to cleanse the body but to bear in mind that it is January and it is cold and therefore we do need those hearty dishes now and again to fill our bellies. Pulses, vegetables and fish is a great way to start off the year and to only eat meat products a couple of times a week – avoiding too much diary is also a sensible way to crack on with the year.

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I thought this recipe would be a great one to kick off the year with as you may already have all the ingredients in your kitchen waiting to be thrown together. It’s incredibly quick to prepare and can be eaten hot or cold, on its own or accompanied by some white fish or a crab cake perhaps. Tasty and packed with goodness, it’s definitely a feel good dish. Helen who runs the website ‘Well-Being Secrets’ has written an in-depth piece on the benefits of broccoli here, which is both fascinating and highly informative, so have a read. I also like Joey Bruno’s, founder of Thrive Cuisine, article here.

For those who had a ridiculously large night and are feeling a little worse for wear, might I suggest the health regime starts tomorrow and you tuck into some of these little beauties instead – see here.

Broccoli, White Beans and Lemons with Red Pepper Flakes

adapted from the December 2013 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine

Serves 4

3 large tbsp of olive oil

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

3 anchovy fillets packed in oil

1 lemon, washed and finely sliced (pips removed)

225g broccoli, chopped into small florets

5 stems of fresh thyme

2x400g tins of cannellini beans, rinsed

200ml water

salt and pepper

generous pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tbsp parmesan, finely grated (plus a little extra for grating on top)

1. Gently heat the oil in a large deep pan and then add the garlic, lemons and anchovies, stirring occasionally to help break up the anchovies. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the broccoli florets and thyme and stirring into the juices from the lemon.

2. After a further 5 minutes add the cannellini beans and water and stir into the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer allowing the flavours to blend together for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add the parmesan and stir into the ingredients and place a lid on the pan and take off the heat.

4. Turn out onto a serving dish and sprinkle with red pepper flakes (chilli flakes could also be an option here in fact) and an extra scattering of fresh parmesan.

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