Keralan coconut curry with classic yellow pilaf

20131029-182303.jpg

Here is the recipe for the Keralan coconut curry, taken from ‘Anjum’s Indian Vegetarian Feast’ cookbook (see Birthday Bloggin’ post). This is a really light and easy to make curry. I used the vegetables suggested in the recipe but this would work well with most vegetables, or even paneer.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-5)
•400g sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks and boiled for 10 minutes
•100g shredded spinach, washed
•400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
•4 tbsp vegetable oil
•1tsp mustard seeds
•1 onion, finely chopped
•3-5 green chillies, whole but pierced with a knife
•25g root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
•5 fat garlic cloves, crushed
•2 small tomatoes, chopped
•salt to taste
•1/2 tsp tumeric
•2tsp ground coriander
•1tsp ground cumin
•400ml creamy coconut milk
•1/2tsp tamarind paste, dissolved in hot water
•3/4 tsp garam masala
•knob of coconut cream
•black pepper to taste

METHOD
1) Heat oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds. Once popping diminishes, add the onion and green chillies, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for another minute.
2) Add the tomatoes, salt, tumeric, ground coriander and cumin, sautéing for 4-5 minutes.
3) Add the coconut milk and a splash of water. Bring to a gentle simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes then add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, tamarind, garam masala and coconut cream. Taste and season.

I then set aside whilst I prepared the rice, re-heating when ready. For the classic yellow pilaf, you will need:
•450g basmati rice
•4tbsp vegetable oil
•1 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
•3 black cardamom pods
•2 cinnamon sticks
•6 cloves
•6 green cardamom pods
•1 onion, finely sliced
•2/3 tsp tumeric
•salt to taste

METHOD
1) Wash the rice in several changes of water then leave to soak as you prepare the dish. Heat oil in a large pan and fry the whole spices for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry until golden.
2) Add the tumeric and turn in the oil for 5 seconds. Stir in the drained rice and add 800ml boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Cover tightly and reduce heat to a minimum. Leave undisturbed.
3) Check after 7 minutes; there should be no water left and the rice should be cooked. Turn off the heat and leave for 5-10 minutes then fluff with a fork.

20131029-182011.jpg
This rice was so aromatic and the flavours worked well with the sweetness of the curry. A delicious, vegan-friendly meal. I can’t wait to attempt some more of Anjum’s recipes!

Advertisements

Just another veggie vent…

20131027-154400.jpg

This morning I was about to embark on a 5 and a half hour coach ride up to Liverpool. It was early and I’d left my flat without eating breakfast but I wasn’t worried. After all, I was at London Victoria where there was an abundance of places to grab food. There wasn’t going to be a problem. Or so I thought.

I looked in Pret a Manger. I looked in Boots. Perhaps it was due to the fact that it was a Sunday morning but there just appeared to be no vegetarian food stocked. My last resort was Sainsbury’s. Even they only appeared to have the odd bog-standard cheese and onion sandwich. Then, hidden behind a load of baguettes, I found a vegetarian option that looked relatively tasty. ‘Goats cheese and grilled pepper ciabatta’. Those were the words exactly as they appeared on the label. I was in a rush for my coach and felt no need to read the finer detail on the label so hurriedly purchased it. As the coach moved through central London, I put my headphones on, admired the city scenery and tucked into my ciabatta. Then I tasted something. Could it be basil or dare I say it….PESTO?!? It was only at this point that I decided to check the label more thoroughly. There, in the fine print, were the words ‘with a creamy pesto dressing’. Given how hungry I was, I clung on to a glimmer of hope that this may well be vegetarian pesto. I desperately searched the packaging for that all-important green ‘v’ symbol. I did not find it. With a grumbling tummy, I had no option but to hand the ciabatta over to my boyfriend. With nothing else but a packet of crisps and bottle of water, my only saving grace was that from previous experience of taking the coach from London to Liverpool, they usually stop off at Lichfield service station. Of course on this particular occasion, they made no such stop. So that’s nearly 6 hours with virtually no food. And I don’t fare well when hungry, to say the least.

Now I wouldn’t say that I’m angry with Sainsbury’s. After all, the onus was on me, the customer, to check the label thoroughly before buying. Nevertheless, I just wish they’d state all the main ingredients in bold print on the label. If the label clearly stated that it contained pesto, I never would have purchased it. Given that most people do not even realise that pesto is not suitable for vegetarians , this label was quite misleading in my opinion. And that’s it. Vent over. Time to go and get some food…

Birthday Bloggin’

20131020-161757.jpg

After launching a vegetarian cooking blog back in July and rambling on about it to anyone who will listen, it was only inevitable that I’d end up with some inspirational blogging material as birthday gifts!

From my good friend Lucy, I received a gift subscription for Cook Vegetarian magazine. I can’t wait to peruse all the tried and tested recipes, as well as reading all the veggie-related articles. This will definitely keep me busy in the kitchen over the next few months!

20131020-154736.jpg

From my work colleagues, I received The French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier of chocolateandzucchini.com

20131020-155357.jpg
I was particularly intrigued by this cookbook as I found dining out in France rather difficult as a vegetarian and I therefore never really experiment with French-inspired food when cooking. This book has categorised its recipes by seasons and many recipes consist of ingredients that I’d never considered using together. I can’t wait to make the aubergine and fresh herb tabbouleh (p69), Corsican bell pepper stew (p85), mushroom broth with Parisisn gnocchi (p116), as well as the lentil croquettes (p176)!

Finally, from my boyfriend I received television’s Anjum Anand’s Indian Vegetarian Feast. Although I’ve yet to visit India, I adore authentic Indian cuisine and was able to sample some in Singapore’s Little India whilst on my most recent holiday. I love how much of Indian cuisine is completely vegetarian and this book consists of many simple, yet creative recipes from breakfast time to dinner time.

20131020-160942.jpg
Yesterday I got the ball rolling and made the Keralan coconut curry, accompanied by classic yellow pilaf-recipe to follow later this week.

20131020-161212.jpg
I often cook different types of veggie curries and always tell myself that next time I will make my own paneer and naan bread. I never do but this book makes it all look so simple! So I’ll definitely need to give it a try.

What a great birthday with some lovely gifts from some lovely people. This will keep me busy with blogging material…until Christmas at least!

Mildreds, Soho

20131017-195441.jpg

Whenever it’s my birthday or another special occasion, I always choose to go to my favourite vegetarian restaurant in London-the wonderful Mildred’s. Situated on Soho’s Lexington Street, Mildred’s offers a range of vegetarian and vegan dishes at reasonable prices, as well as plenty of vegan vinos. As I turned twenty-something earlier this week, there was only one place I wanted to celebrate!

Mildred’s do not take table reservations so if you venture here at the weekend, prepare to wait a little while for a table. This is not too much of an inconvenience as you can enjoy a cocktail in the small bar area. As it was a Monday night when I went to Mildred’s, I expected the restaurant to be almost empty. How wrong I was! Whilst we did get a table almost immediately, the small restaurant was still bustling, which speaks volumes about its popularity!

As ever with visiting vegetarian restaurants, deliberating over the menu can be a lengthy process as I relish the possibility of eating everything on the menu. Eventually, I opted for the deep fried chinese dumplings tossed in ginger, garlic, chilli with kim chi whilst my boyfriend chose gyoza dumplings with mirin and soy dipping sauce.

20131017-185903.jpg

20131017-185918.jpg
For my main, I chose a dish that I’d had before-sri iankan sweet potato and cashew nut curry served with yellow basmati rice with peas and coconut tomato sambal.

20131017-190123.jpg
I loved the flavours in this curry and it didn’t feel heavy and greasy like curries in many restaurants tend to be. Ever a lover of burger and chips, my boyfriend inevitably opted for the veggie burger with relish, red onion, rocket and tomato, with fries and basil mayo
plus monterey jack cheese and sweet potato chips.

20131017-194901.jpg

Whatever your food preferences may be, I’d strongly recommend a visit to this lively vegetarian/vegan restaurant. I’m already excited about my next visit!

45 Lexington Street,
London,
W1F 9AN

020 7494 1634
http://www.mildreds.co.uk/index.html

Vegan Sunday Roast

20131013-193446.jpg

20131013-193427.jpg

Lentil and cashew nut roast with curly kale, green beans, roasted carrots, sweet potato roasties and a porcini mushroom and red wine gravy.

The rain is pouring down, the nights are drawing in. One thing is for sure…Sunday roast season is back with a bang! Being vegetarian, I’ve never found making a veggie-friendly roast to be a particularly difficult task. So today I thought I’d set myself the challenge of making a completely vegan roast dinner for the best friend and boyfriend, my meat-eating companions.

I used the porcini mushroom and red wine gravy recipe from a vegetarian recipe website. I only deviated slightly from this recipe by choosing to use marsala instead of sherry. The recipe advised to prepare the gravy the day before, in order to let the flavours settle. As I only discovered this recipe this morning, time was not quite on my side so I ensured that this was the first thing I prepared and left it aside whilst I cooked everything else.

INGREDIENTS (4 portions)
½ packet (approximately 7-10g) porcini or mixed dried mushrooms
300ml/generous10 fl oz boiling water
2 tbsp medium-dark miso – soya bean paste, available from Oriental/health food shops or large branches of Waitrose or Sainsbury
2 tbsp cold water
4 shallots or one small red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp cornflour mixed with 4 tbsp cold water to a smooth paste
450ml16floz hot vegan stock
240ml/generous 8fl oz red wine – Co-op labels its own range where suitable or check this for other vegan wines
2 tbsp sherry or marsala
½ tsp basil
½ tsp tarragon
1 large bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD
1. Boil the kettle. Place dried mushrooms in a jug or bowl, pour boiling water on them, cover and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan on medium-high heat, sauté shallots/onions in oil until translucent.
3. Add the stock then add cornflour paste and stir in well.
4. Add wine, marsala and herbs. Bring to boil, stirring thoroughly to ensure that no lumps form.
5. Lower heat and simmer until sauce is thickened, stirring often.
6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix miso with the cold water to a smooth paste. Set aside.
7. Add porcini mushrooms and their soaking water to gravy– omitting gritty liquid at bottom!
8. If gravy too thick, add a little more water/stock; if too thin, make a paste from 1 tsp cornflour and a splash of water – bring to boil again. Add more if necessary.
9. Blend gravy to the texture you prefer – if using a goblet blender, return gravy to pan. If using a stick blender you can whizz it directly in the gravy pan.
10. Stir in miso paste but don’t allow gravy to boil.
11. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary and set aside until ready to serve.

20131013-191203.jpg
I then set to work on my nut roast. This recipe is taken from All Recipes website. I omitted the egg and added a drop of soy milk instead to bind, in order to keep the dish vegan.

INGREDIENTS
200g red split lentils
450ml vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
100g unsalted cashew nuts
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small leeks, trimmed and finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
100g mushrooms, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
A dash of soy milk

METHOD
1) Rinse the lentils in a sieve under cold running water. Drain, then tip into a saucepan. Add the stock and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, then cover and cook for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and pulpy and the stock has been absorbed. Stir once or twice towards the end of to prevent the lentils sticking. Discard the bay leaf.
2) While the lentils are cooking, put the cashew nuts in a non-stick frying pan and toast over a moderate heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool, then roughly chop. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5. Line the bottom of a 1.4 litre loaf tin with a piece of greaseproof paper.
3) Add the oil to the frying pan and cook the onion over a moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the leeks, red pepper, mushrooms and garlic to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in the lemon juice. Blitz these ingredients, along with the nuts, in a food processor, forming a thick paste.
6) Mix the paste with the lentils, soy milk and bread crumbs then spoon into a loaf tin, levelling the top and cover with foil.
7) Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool and set in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out and cutting into thick slices.

20131013-192214.jpg

Roasted carrots
1) Wash carrots, leave skin on and cut into length-way chunks. Boil for 5 minutes, drain then place on a baking tray.
2) Add a sprinkling of caster sugar, dash of red wine then roast in the oven for 45 minutes, turning occasionally.

Sweet potato roasties
1) Wash, leave skin on and cut into large chunks. Place on a baking tray with adequate spacing and sparingly cover in olive oil, add a sprinkle of thyme and nutmeg, leaving to cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
2) Turn over each chunk then put back in the oven for 10 minutes- perfect!

20131013-192842.jpg

Boil the green beans for 10 minutes and sizzle the kale gently in oil for 10 minutes. Re-heat the gravy and serve all the components together on a plate.

Flavoursome and healthy! Who needs meat?!

20131013-193358.jpg

Vegetarian Laksa

20131008-182904.jpg

I’d never even heard of laksa until a year ago when dining out at a vegetarian restaurant. Now I can’t believe what I’ve been missing out on! Of Malaysian origin, this coconutty noodle soup strikes the perfect balance of sweetness and spice. This vegan-friendly recipe below is taken from the renowned chef, Yottam Ottolenghi and was featured on The Guardian website.

Due to personal taste and availability of ingredients, I made some amendments to this recipe. I also decided to use whole wheat noodles to keep the dish healthy and nutritious.

INGREDIENTS (4 large portions)
100g peeled baby shallots
8 garlic cloves
25g peeled ginger, sliced
15g lemongrass (soft white stem only), sliced
2 tsp ground coriander
3 red chillies, de-seeded
4 tbsp vegetable oil
50g fresh coriander
1¼ litres vegetable stock
3 branches laksa leaves (aka kesum leaves), or curry leaves, or both
2 tsp curry powder
1½ tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
400ml coconut milk
100g whole wheat noodles
300g bean sprouts
150g french beans, trimmed and halved
250g tofu, drained and grilled for 10 minutes
4 limes, halved

METHOD
1) Put the first seven ingredients in a small food processor bowl. Add half the oil, and the roots and stems of the fresh coriander, and process to a semi-smooth paste.
2) Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the spice paste on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring all the time – you want to cook it slowly without burning. Add the stock, laksa branches, curry powder, salt, sugar and coconut milk, simmer gently for 30 minutes, then taste and add more salt if necessary.
3) Once the broth is done, steep the rice noodles in boiling water for three minutes and drain. Throw the bean sprouts into a pan of boiling water, drain at once and refresh. Cook the beans in boiling water for three minutes, drain and refresh.
4) Just before serving, remove and discard the laksa branches (the leaves can stay in the soup). Add the beans, noodles and half the sprouts, ladle into large bowls and top with the remaining sprouts, tofu and shredded coriander leaves. Squeeze lime juice on top and throw one half of squeezed lime into each bowl.

This did require a lot of ingredients and was rather time consuming for a Monday night but it was definitely worth it, I feel like it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve made!

20131008-182845.jpg

Meet me at The Veggie Table

20131006-110630.jpg

My older brother and his partner visited me from North Wales this weekend and I was keen to show them some of the things that I love most about London. Inevitably, most of these things are centred around food and I knew that a visit to Borough Market was essential.

One of London’s most renowned food markets, Borough offers a range of organically sourced British and international cuisine. Stall upon stall of weird and wonderful food, the market provides ample choice for omnivores. As a vegetarian, the choices are somewhat limited but I still enjoy soaking up the atmosphere of this busy and bustling food market.

After a few laps of the market, it was time to make the all important decision; which stall to buy food from. For me, my choice was easy and I headed straight to The Veggie Table. With a stall at Broadway Market also, The Veggie Table offer healthy, wholesome, vegetarian and vegan food in the form of burgers and salads. No risk of any meat cross-contamination here!

20131006-105003.jpg
The aromas from this stall were heavenly and unsurprisingly, the queue was rather long. At The Veggie Table you can choose to have your burger in a bun, on salad…or both! Dips and sauces on offer include hummus, salsa and red onion jam. I opted for the vegan-friendly organic super veg burger, made with vegetables, nuts, sultanas, quinoa and cumin. I had it served up in a bun with lots of delicious hummus!

20131006-105520.jpg
After presuming that my brother had gone off to eat a load of meat somewhere, I was pleasantly surprised to also see him at The Veggie Table; he fancied sampling something different to what he might normally opt for. He chose the heavenly halloumi burger, made with halloumi (obviously!) carrots, courgettes, mint and coriander, with the tomato salsa. There was no holding back as he opted for the fresh salad as well!

20131006-110040.jpg

20131006-110102.jpg
So if you haven’t done so already, I’d strongly recommend eating at The Veggie Table next time you visit Borough or Broadway Market, appealing to veggies, vegans and meat-eaters alike! Now I can’t wait until Christmas time when they offer up their tasty nut roasts…!

20131006-110435.jpg
http://www.theveggietable.co.uk/
http://m.boroughmarket.org.uk/

Ode to a sweet potato chip

20131003-192039.jpg

I’ve always thought of ‘chips’ as quite a dirty word. When I hear it, I conjure up images of a hectic McDonalds scene or a big, greasy bag of newspaper. Chips were always something I tried avoiding eating too often from the age of 15; I was plagued with a fear of obesity and/or acne. To cut it short, chips are bad for you, end of story.

In recent years, I’ve used sweet potatoes on an increasingly frequent basis. Curries, casseroles, salads. Given their health benefits, I’m surprised that everyone hasn’t completely traded in starchy white potatoes for them. Sweet potatoes include vitamin C, D and iron; something which many vegetarians unknowingly lack in their diet. For further reading on the health benefits of sweet potatoes, visit http://www.care2.com/greenliving/9-reasons-to-love-sweet-potatoes.html.

Given their healthiness and versatility, it only makes sense to use them to make chips. Now this is something I’ve fought many a losing battle with. How difficult can it be to produce the perfect sweet potato chip?! I thought that drowning them in olive oil was the key to forming the crispy outer layer. Sadly, all that left me with was a soggy mess. Still, I persevered and I can now confidently say that I know how to make the perfect sweet potato chips!

Now I would love to say that this is an achievement I acquired through my own hard graft. But that would be a lie. I took the tips from the Instructables website. Nevertheless, a major part of my culinary habits have been revolutionised and I’ll never look back. Some of the key tips I picked up from this website include:-
• leaving the skin on- after all, that’s where most of the nourishment is contained.
• Use MINIMAL oil. This will stop the chips from turning soggy.
• Spreading out the chips on a baking tray will allow them adequate space to cook beautifully.
• Even a small sprinkling of salt and black pepper will make a world of difference to the flavour.
• Pre-heat the oven to 200c. Leave the chips in for 15 minutes then flip them over and cook for another 10 minutes.

The beauty of these babies is that you can add them to so many meals! I find them particularly useful to create a bit of a ‘pub grub’ vibe at home. Some recent dishes where my sweet potato chips have acted as an accompaniment include a homemade mushroom stroganoff and salad…

20131003-191259.jpg
And that classic; portobello mushroom and halloumi ‘burgers’.

20131003-191543.jpg

So what are you waiting for?! Switch to sweet potatoes today; your health will thank you for it!

20131003-192011.jpg