TWO WAYS WITH CAULIFLOWER

I love cauliflower because it lends itself so well to all cooking styles. I know there is the recent craze with cauliflower rice and tabouli but be it in a soup, roasted or in a curry, a stir fry or a humble cauliflower cheese, they are all delicious. People talk about pantry staples and if I were to talk about fridge staples, cauliflower will probably be in my top 5.

You can feature these cauliflower steaks as a main course or a starter for a vegan degustation meal.

 CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH CANNELINI BEANS & ROASTED CHICK PEAS

Cauli steaks with cannelini mash and roasted chick peas

INGREDIENTS

1 large cauliflower weighing at least a kilo

1 tablespoon garam masala powder

1-2 teaspoons chilli powder

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well

400g tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed well

1 tablespoon ground almonds

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FALAFEL WITH HERBY PEANUT SAUCE

I know there are a number of recipes for falafel but this recipe is not a true falafel. I couldn’t think of another name so I called them falafel. These falafels are made with red lentils, butternut pumpkin and bulgur. Served with baby cos lettuce leaves or other salad geens they are a complete and satisfying meal.

Falafel with herby peanut sauce

INGREDIENTS

1 cup red lentils

¼ cup split mung beans

½ cup bulgur

350g butternut pumpkin, finely grated

30g ginger, chopped

15g coriander leaves and stems, coarsely chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1-2 red chillies, chopped

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Salt to taste

Oil for shallow frying

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CRANBERRY BEAN STEW

Cranberry beans also called borlotti beans, Roman or romano beans are creamy and flavourful. They do lose their gorgeous colouring once cooked.

Cranberry beans

You can cook them in a number of ways but I wanted to make a hearty vegan one pot dish and this is as easy as they come. You just need to remember to soak the beans overnight so you need a bit of planning to make this. When I make dishes like this, I tend to save one half for another meal before eating!

INGREDIENTS

400g cranberry beans (soaked overnight)

300g onion, evenly diced

400g carrots, chunky diced

2 celery sticks, sliced thinly

200g tinned tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

15 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

6-7 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Aleppo style chilli powder or a mild chilli powder

1 teaspoon smoky or mild paprika

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KADI – ONION PAKODI IN A YOGHURT SAUCE

There are several regional variations of kadi. This one is with onion pakodis but you can substitute spinach for the onion. In the South, they use vegetables like choko or okra to make kadi.

Kadi – onion pakodi in a yoghurt sauce

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE PAKODIS

150g onions, diced

3 tablespoons chick pea flour (besan)

1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder

Pinch of baking powder

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

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APACHULU (RICE CRACKERS)

By now you may have guessed that I am trying to introduce you to more South Indian home cooking. This is another popular homemade snack from Andhra. These are crunchy, gluten free and really very moreish even if I say so myself.

Apachulu (Andhra style rice crackers)

INGREDIENTS

½ cup heaped rice flour plus more for dusting

2tsps channa dhal (split chick peas), soaked in water for ½ hour

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

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RAGDA PATTICE

A classic Mumbai street food that has become very popular all over the sub-continent. You see food carts with a big griddle of the spicy ragda (spicy pea stew) on one side, already cooked and being kept warm and on the other side are the pattices or potato patties. I don’t know why pattice is spelt this way – I just wanted to put it out there just in case you think I didn’t spell check!!

This is the lockdown version as I couldn’t get to an Indian store to get the garnishes. Normally garnished with Sev (crunchy, fried noodles), green coriander chutney, I subbed these for crushed corn chips and lightly pickled red onion.

Ragda Pattice

For the pea stew, you can use tinned chick peas I suppose or even split chick peas could work. I used dried white peas you get in an Indian store.

FOR THE RAGDA

INGREDIENTS

200 grams dried white peas (safed vatana)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

½ teaspoon black mustard seeds

6-8 curry leaves

A pinch of asafoetida (hing)

3cms ginger, peeled and chopped

1-2 green chillies, chopped

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

Salt to taste

METHOD:

Soak the dried white peas overnight. Discard the soaking liquid, rinse. If you are using a pressure cooker, put the peas in the pressure cooker, add two cups water and cook for 15 minutes on low heat after the first whistle.

If you are using stove top method, put the peas in a heavy bottomed saucepan and pour 3 cups of water. Bring it up to the boil and allow to simmer and cook for 45 minutes to an hour.

Using a mortar and pestle, mash the ginger and green chilli to form a fine paste.

Take a clean pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. Mix and cover with lid until you hear them pop. Remove lid, add the asafoetida along with curry leaves. Stir in the ginger – green chilli paste along with the cooked peas. Mix in the salt and turmeric powder.

Allow to cook for five minutes. Check seasoning and set aside with the lid on until ready to assemble.

FOR THE PATTICE

INGREDIENTS

400g boiled potatoes, finely grated

½ teaspoon hot chilli powder

½ teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons corn flour

Salt to taste

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil to pan fry

METHOD

Combine all ingredients for pattice and knead a little to make a smooth mixture. Divide potato mixture into 12 equal portions. Shape into patties about 6 centimetres in diameter. Rest patties in refrigerator for half an hour.

Heat a fry pan and working in batches, fry the patties a few at a time. Keep warm.

FOR THE CHILLI CHUTNEY

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup tomato ketchup

¼ cup Sriracha sauce

1-2 tablespoons malt vinegar

METHOD

Mix all ingredients for the chilli chutney. Taste and adjust according to personal preference.

FOR THE TAMARIND SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons store bought tamarind puree

2 tablespoon date puree

5 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon hot chilli powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

150ml water

Salt to taste

METHOD

Put all ingredients except salt in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil. Add salt and simmer for five minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning.

FOR THE PICKLED ONIONS

INGREDIENTS

125g red onion, peeled and finely diced

½ teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder

Salt to taste

METHOD

In a bowl, salt the red onion and rest on an incline for half an hour. If any water collects, strain out the liquid. Sprinkle chilli powder and ready to serve.

TO SERVE

20 or 25 corn chips, placed in a snap lock bag, wrapped in a tea towel and use a rolling pin to crush lightly

ASSEMBLE IN INDIVIDUAL BOWLS

In a shallow bowl, spoon the ragda. Arrange the potato patties. Toss some of the crushed corn chips. Spoon the tamarind and chilli chutney. Sprinkle some of the onions and serve. Serves 4.

CARAMELIZED ONION& SPINACH &WALNUT QUICHE

There is something very moreish about a well-made quiche. The creaminess from the savoury custard provides a textural contrast with the crisp pastry base. I made this with store bought shortcrust pastry and it worked perfectly, saving time. I used a loose bottom 24 centimetre flan tray

Caramelized onion and spinach quiche

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE PASTRY

400g block of frozen short crust pastry (store bought), thawed as per instructions on packet

Extra flour for dusting

Butter to grease the loose bottom flan tray

FOR THE CUSTARD

3 large eggs

50ml whole milk

150ml cream

Pinch of ground nutmeg

FOR THE FILLING

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MALAI KOFTAS (VEGAN)

Koftas are fried dumplings usually made with vegetables like bottle gourd or paneer or meat and cooked in a rich tomato and cream sauce. Everyone loves the rich creaminess of malai kofta. I wasn’t sure if a vegan version would be good enough. Surprisingly this version got the tick from the family. I don’t favour vegan cheese or vegan cream. I always feel it has a lingering after taste. That’s why in my no cream, no paneer version, I made with cashew nuts and tofu. Trust me, no one would be able to sniff the tofu and will convert even the worst sceptic.

Malai Kofta – the process

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE KOFTAS

300g firm tofu

100g potato, boiled, peeled and grated

1tbsp onion powder

2tsps sesame seeds

½tsp chilli powder

½tsp turmeric

3tbsps potato flour

Small handful of sultanas soaked

Oil for deep frying the koftas

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PEA FRITTERS

I reckon you can make fritters with just about anything – a case in point are my pea fritters. They have edamame beans as well as kale – so I feel this is a complete meal. They are quick and easy that is take less than 45 minutes from start to finish.

Pea fritters with tomato chilli jam

INGREDIENTS

250g frozen peas, divided (thawed)

150g edamame beans, thawed

2-3 cloves garlic

1 red onion, finely chopped

50g kale, chopped

20 mint leaves

2 eggs

1/2 tsp baking powder

30g corn flour

30g rice flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for pan frying

METHOD

Put the edamame beans and 100 grams of the frozen peas in a food processor along with garlic, mint and kale. Add salt and pepper. Process for a minute or so until it is more than coarsely ground but not too smooth. Mix in the remaining peas and pulse for a few seconds so the peas are broken but still retain most of the shape. Remove to a bowl. Stir in the finely chopped onion and set aside.

Whisk the eggs with the corn flour, rice flour and baking powder. Fold in the pea mixture. Heat a pan and add a tablespoon of mixture to the pan in batches. Spoon a little oil on each fritter so it does not stick to the pan. Press down to flatten slightly and continue frying both sides on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until brown on both sides. Depending on size of your pan, you can do three to four fritters at a time. Repeat until all mixture has been fried. Makes 12 fritters. Serve with tomato relish.