CHICK PEA & PUMPKIN KEBABS

When you think of kebab, you often picture meat on a skewer or stick which in India is also referred to as Sheek Kebab. The other type of kebab is a Shami kebab where it is a ground meat patty mixed with spices and besan or chick pea powder and sautéed.

This recipe is a plant based version of a Shami kebab. I used tinned chick peas and the spices are pantry essentials!

Chick pea & pumpkin kebabs

INGREDIENTS

800g tinned chick peas rinsed and drained

300g pumpkin, peeled and grated

150g onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 green chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander

1 tablespoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

½ tablespoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon garam masala

4 tablespoons chick pea flour (besan)

Salt to taste

Oil for shallow frying

FOR THE MINT & YOGHURT SAUCE

2 generous handfuls of mint

1-2 green chillies, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt to taste

300g Greek style yoghurt

METHOD

Mash the chick peas with your hands, making a semi coarse mixture which is not too smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Rest for 15-20 minutes. Form into 20 golf sized balls and flatten to form round kebabs or patties. If your mixture is too wet or breaks, add more chick pea flour.

Chickpea and pumpkin kebabs

Shallow fry the kebabs in medium hot oil until crisp and browned on both sides. Serve with mint yogurt sauce. Serves 4.

For the mint and yoghurt sauce

Place all ingredients except yoghurt in a blender. Blend well to a puree. Add the yoghurt and pulse a couple of seconds and your sauce is ready.

MUSHROOM & TOFU PANANG CURRY

Phanaeng or Phanang or Panang is a type of Thai red curry that is a little sweet, salty and nutty. It is generally made with meat but my version is a vegan one. I used soy sauce instead of fish sauce. This is great served with sticky rice and a side of greens.

Mushroom & Tofu Panang Curry

INGREDIENTS

600ml coconut milk

500g extra firm tofu

350g mushrooms

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

3 Kaffir lime leaves

Thai basil leaves for garnish

3 tablespoons chickpea flour

¼ teaspoon chilli powder

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

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SPICY SOUP WITH CHICK PEAS & PUY LENTILS

You might think chick peas and Puy lentils as an unusual combination to say the least, and throw in bulgur to the mix. I assure you it works well and makes a very hearty meal.

Spicy soup with chick peas and Puy lentils

I make stock at home and of late been adding coriander stems as well as leek tops and the stock is just bursting with flavour. I do recommend making your own stock at home as it is so much more flavourful plus no nasties in the ingredients list! I mention here because your soup is only as good as the stock you use!

INGREDIENTS

75g Puy lentils rinsed

400g tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed

100g onions, finely diced

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

200g carrots, cut into a 1cm dice

100g celery, sliced thin

1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder

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CREAMY BROCCOLI AND KALE SOUP

I love brassicas and always look for new and innovative ways to feature them front and centre as opposed to relegating them to a mere side dish. My creamy broccoli and kale soup is wholesome enough to be served on its own for lunch. This soup is vegan and the creaminess comes from the haricot / cannellini beans. The preserved lemon adds a refreshing, lemony flavour.

Creamy broccoli and kale soup

INGREDIENTS

500g broccoli (1 medium sized head), cut into small florets, stem and all

100g kale, remove the rib and cut

150g onion, chopped

100g boiled potato, diced

6 plump garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 green chilli, sliced

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tahini

750ml vegetable stock

1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans

½ a preserved lemon (discard seeds and chop)

Salt to taste

For garnishing:

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

METHOD

Heat the olive oil in a largish saucepan. Throw in the crushed garlic and green chilli. Fry for a minute and add the onions. Continue frying for three minutes. Add the potato and the tin of beans along with the liquid. Pour the stock in along with 500ml water and let it come up to the boil. Mix in the preserved lemon, tahini and kale. Cook for 3 minutes.

Toss in the broccoli. Once the soup comes up to the boil, cook for a further 3 minutes. Season with salt. Blitz the soup using an immersion or stick blender.

Spoon the serve into four bowls (if serving as a main or six bowls as starter). Drizzle a few drops of the sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds.

Serves 4-6

PISTACHIO CHICKEN KORMA

When I was growing up in India, most of the dried fruit and nuts used to come from Afghanistan or Pakistan. They were mobile vendors on bicycles, who would do door to door selling. They were referred to as Kabuliwala, meaning a person from Kabul.

I am writing about this, because this korma dish uses pistachios. They are referred to as pista for short and generally reserved for ice-creams and halwas but pistachios along with cardamom add an interesting flavour to this chicken dish.

Pistachio Chicken

INGREDIENTS

1 kilo of boneless, skinless chicken thighs

100g shelled pistachio nuts, unsalted

6 green chillies

2 onions (100g each approximately)

3 centimetre piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

6 plump garlic cloves

¾ teaspoon garam masala powder

2 bay leaves

¾ teaspoon ground white pepper

1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds

12 cardamom pods

3 tablespoons chopped coriander stems, leaves and roots

1 teaspoon tamarind puree

200ml chicken stock

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt to taste

METHOD

Cut the chicken thighs into half or a third depending on the size. Set aside.

Place pistachios in a microwave safe bowl that is fairly large. Pour enough water to submerge the nuts from a freshly boiled kettle. Let soak for a couple of minutes and then microwave on high for three minutes. Let cool. Once cool, rub the nuts with your fingers and remove the skin. Set aside.

Quarter one of the onions and finely dice the other onion. Place the onion quarters in a microwave safe bowl and pour enough water to drown the onions from a freshly boiled kettle. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Discard the cooking water by fishing out the onions.

Put the pistachio nuts, the onion quarters, ginger, garlic, 4 of the green chillies, coriander leaves in a food processor along with 50mls water and process to a fine paste.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and fry the onions on medium high for five minutes until lightly coloured. Add the garam masala, white pepper, bay leaves and fennel seeds and fry another minute. Mix in the spice paste and stir continuously for a further two minutes.

Add the chicken and sauté for five minutes. Add the tamarind puree, remaining chillies, chicken stock and salt. Cook for another 15 -20 minutes until done.

Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and using a rolling pin or mortar and pestle powder the seeds. Just before serving, sprinkle the freshly ground cardamom powder. Serves 4-6.

KHAMAN – a GUJARATI SPECIALITY

I consider myself lucky to have experienced authentic Gujarati cuisine when I was in the hostel studying for my post graduate degree in Mumbai. People not familiar with Gujarati cuisine use the term khaman dhokla without realizing that there is no such dish. There is dhokla which is made using rice flour and khaman is made using chick pea flour or besan.

Khaman

My mother used to make khaman by using a few tablespoons of idli batter as leavening agent. I used the same technique. Also I used a sponge cake tin (20 centimeter diameter) as a vessel for the batter and steamed in my Dutch oven.

INGREDIENTS

1 and a ½ cups of chick pea flour or besan

4 tablespoons idli batter

5 centimetre piece of ginger

3-4 green chillies

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HOT & SOUR GOAN FISH CURRY

I make this spicy fish curry with monk fish but any firm white fish fillets would work. I can’t claim credit for this curry – I have adapted from Atul Kochhar’s “Simple Indian” cook book.

The curry goes well with plain steamed rice and a refreshing salad with cucumber, radish and carrots.

Hot & Sour Goan Fish Curry

INGREDIENTS

600g monk fish, cut into 5 cm cubes

30g tamarind pulp (read note below)

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

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ROAST TOFU WITH KALE & SPRING ONIONS

I could just about write a recipe book just on 100 ways with tofu as I am confident I can convert any tofu hater to a tofu convert!!

In some of my previous blogs, I wrote about my desire to render the same cooking method to vegetarian / vegan dishes as conventionally reserved for meat based dishes. This dish evolved as I was making a chicken version for the family and this vegetarian option for myself. My son actually preferred this tofu version so here is the recipe.

Roast tofu with kale and spring onions

If you don’t have firm tofu, press tofu amidst several layers of paper towel for 15-20 minutes. You do have to marinate the tofu for six hours and the roasting takes 45 minutes so it’s not exactly something you can whip up on short notice. Serve with steamed rice and a salad.

INGREDIENTS

300g firm tofu

100g kale, finely chopped

3 spring onions, chopped 1 cm pieces

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CREAMY LEEK & FENNEL SOUP

I have mentioned in some of my previous posts that I like to incorporate some protein element to my dishes to keep them nutritionally balanced. The logic is that if this is the only thing you are going to eat for that meal, you will feel satisfied and fuller for longer because of the fibre, protein and low glycaemic index of vegetables. Fennel is a versatile vegetable and you should try if you haven’t tried it before. You can roast it with beetroot for a roast salad or finely slice for a crisp coleslaw or is great in soup. Fennel also goes well with tomato and any white beans – you can make a soup out of tomato, fennel and cannellini beans.

Creamy leek and fennel soup

My recipe uses your pantry staple lentils, leek and fennel. The trick to washing leeks well is to cut them in half longitudinal and wash the layers with running water. Fennel the vegetable is mild but it lets you know that it has been used. It is not in your face flavour but in the same token it is creamy when cooked and does take on more flavours. Do give this soup a try because every time I make it, the bowls are licked clean and it is a no fuss recipe with few ingredients!

INGREDIENTS

1 leek, sliced thinly into half moons

1 large fennel or 2 medium sized (about 750g), chopped

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