SILVERBEET STALKS WITH MUSTARD – Silverbeet kadalu awa pettina koora

Silverbeet stalks with mustard

Eating root to shoot isn’t a new idea. Long before it became a thing, my mother and grandmother were doing it. Growing up, it was always drummed into me that we need to respect not only food but also the farmers who produce and as a mark of respect, if it is edible, it is not be wasted. So very often we would have the leaves served up one day and the next day it was the stalks. This is a very traditional Andhra dish (the Telugu name is in small) and you can use the same technique to cook amaranth stalks, cabbage, radish or even plantains.

400 grams silverbeet stalks (washed, peeled and cut into a 3 centimetre dice)

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EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA

Eggplant Parmigiana

Did you know that this classic Italian dish has its origins in Campania, Sicily? People tend to associate Parmigiana to Parma in the north but now you know. There are several variations and you can do it with breaded meat but in our household we prefer the vegetarian version with eggplants. The process is long but I assure there is nothing technical or hard and the end result is very tasty. Remember good things take time!

Eggplant Parmigiana

3 large eggplants

Plain flour for dusting

100 ml of extra virgin olive oil

2 cups salsa di pomodori (recipe below)

150 grams Mozzarella cheese grated or sliced thin

50 grams of Parmigiano Reggiano

Salt

METHOD

Slice the eggplant lengthways into 1 centimetre slices. You will have about 7 or 8 slices from each eggplant. Don’t make them too thin as they will disintegrate when you fry. Sprinkle each layer liberally with salt, as you place in a colander in a sink and leave for about 2 hours.

Slice the eggplant lengthways
Salting the eggplant

Preheat oven to 180oC while you prepare the salsa di pomodori and the eggplant.

 Pat dry with kitchen towel, dust lightly with flour. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wide fry pan. Add the eggplant slices and fry briskly until browned on both sides. Do not crowd the pan. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining oil and eggplant slices.

Layering the Eggplants with salsa di pomodori

Use a lasagne dish, with alternate layers of salsa di pomodori, eggplant and Mozzarella cheese. Finish the last layer with Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden. Serve hot as a main for four with crisp Cos lettuce salad or as a side dish to accompany meat for eight people.

SALSA di POMODORI

500 grams of tinned plum tomatoes

1 onion finely chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves of plump garlic finely chopped

1 carrot diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

½ to 1 teaspoon chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

2 – 3 sprigs of fresh basil

METHOD

Heat a saucepan and when hot enough add the olive oil, followed by the onion. Once onion is softened, add the garlic, chilli flakes, sugar, tomatoes, carrot and tomato paste. Salt to taste and grind plenty of black pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes. Add half cup water and bring to the boil. Partially cover and let simmer for 15 -20 minutes. Remove from heat, blitz to form sauce. Stir in basil if using.

BEANS & PEAS SABZI

Beans and Peas Sabzi

400 grams of beans cut into 3 centimetre pieces (I use cut frozen beans)

300 grams of peas

1 large onion chopped finely (150 grams)

1 thumb size ginger, peeled and grated

2 large tomatoes blanched, skin peeled and chopped fine or use 1 plum tomato from a tin of plum tomatoes and squash it up with fingers

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ to 1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon garam masala powder

3 tablespoons ghee

Salt to taste

Squeeze of lemon

METHOD

Put the beans and peas into separate bowls of cold water to thaw.

Heat a medium sized sauté or fry pan. Add the ghee and once it melts, add the cumin seeds so they splutter. Fry the onions until golden (about 10 minutes) and then add the turmeric, garam masala and chilli powder. Fry off for about 30 seconds and then add the tomato along with a tablespoon of water. While tomato is frying, squeeze out the ginger juice (from the grated ginger) into the pan and mix it in. Now add salt and the beans and mix to combine. Cover with a lid and reduce heat so the steam cooks the beans for about five to seven minutes. Stir in the peas and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes. If you find there is too much water, then remove the lid, turn to high and cook off for a minute or so until the water evaporates. Just before serving, squeeze the lemon if using. Serve hot with rotis or pita bread. Serves 4.

MOOLI MASALA (RADISH MASALA)

Radish

I have adapted this recipe from Atul Kochhar’s “Simple Indian” cookbook. He made this dish with baby turnips but I feel the pink table radish we get here are succulent prepared this way.

400 grams radish, cleaned and trimmed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1 green chilli, chopped

2 centimetre piece of ginger finely chopped

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves

5 grams root ginger julienned

Salt to taste

METHOD

Mooli Masala

Cut the radish into quarters. Heat the oil in a sauté pan, add the nigella seeds, green chilli and ginger, and sauté for 1-2 minutes until the seeds crackle.

Add the radish and powdered spices, and sauté over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and salt. Cover and cook until the radish are soft.

Sprinkle chopped coriander and ginger julienne over the radish and serve hot as an accompaniment.

Serves 4

BEETROOT & CARROT VEPUDU

Beetroot and Carrot Vepudu

In Andhra Pradesh, the state where I was born vepudu is a common method of cooking vegetables. It literally means fry but the vegetables are not deep fried and the dish is dryish to look as it is eaten with liquid accompaniments like rasam or sambar.

There is sweetness from the carrots and beetroot and a hint of chilli coming through. The vegetables are lovely and juicy and I think it is a colourful accompaniment.

3 large carrots (450 grams) evenly diced to 1 centimetre pieces

3 medium sized beetroots (250 grams) evenly diced to 1 centimetre pieces

1 dried red chilli

1 green chilli finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon channa dhal (split chick pea)

3 tablespoons peanut or other vegetable oil

3 tablespoons roasted peanuts

3 tablespoons desiccated coconut

Salt to taste

METHOD

Heat the oil in a heavy based fry pan with a lid. When hot add the channa dhal if using, followed by the red chilli. Allow them to fry slightly for about thirty seconds and then add the green chilli and cumin seeds. When you can smell the cumin seeds, add the beetroot and fry for a minute before adding the carrots. Put the burner to high heat and cover the pan with lid and do not touch for a minute. Then remove the lid, stir to mix and do the same again that is cover with a lid and do not touch for a minute. Then reduce heat to low, add salt and stir to mix. Cover with lid and allow to cook for ten minutes. Fry once more this time remove the lid and allow the moisture to evaporate. Turn off the heat, add the desiccated coconut and the peanuts, mix and serve. Serves 6.

ZUCCHINI VEPUDU

Zucchini Vepudu

Vepudus are fried (but not deep fried) or stir fried dishes from the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Crisp, fried foods are a basic part of the meal and add a textural element when served alongside a plain tadka dhal. In Andhra or Telangana, vepudu is made using vegetables such as okra or small tender brinjals and I have used the same technique for zucchini.

4 plump zucchini

3 tablespoons chick pea flour (besan)

1 tablespoon ground cashew nut

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 clove garlic finely chopped

1 teaspoon chilli powder (mild or moderate hot)

Salt to taste

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

METHOD

Wash, top and tail the zucchini. Depending on how big your zucchini is, cut in half or thirds. Put the zucchini piece upright on your cutting board and make a slit of about 3 centimetres down towards the centre. Do the same on the other side but in the opposite direction to the top end slit. So if you do one left to right, then make the other one north to south so if the slits were to meet they would make quarters of the piece of zucchini. However you do not want them in quarters and do not want the slits to meet.

In a bowl mix the chick pea flour, ground cashew nut, cumin seeds, garlic, chilli powder and salt. Add a couple of teaspoons of oil and mix with your fingers. It should look like bread crumbs. Use your fingers to stuff the zucchini pieces with the chick pea flour mix in the slits being careful not to break the piece in half. If there is any leftover mix, reserve this to sprinkle on top of the fried zucchini in the end.

Stuffed Zucchini

Heat a heavy based fry pan and add the remaining oil. When hot enough add all the zucchini pieces and set your pan on high heat. Cover with a lid for 3 to 4 minutes. Using two spoons or tongs gently turn them over and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for a further 3 -4 minutes. Remove lid, reduce heat to low sprinkle a tablespoon of water and let cook until everything is evenly roasted. About 12-15 minutes. Serve hot as a side dish to your Indian meal.

SPICY POTATO WEDGES

Spicy Potato Wedges

750 grams potatoes washed (Agria or Red Desiree potatoes)

4 teaspoons vegetable oil like canola

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon chilli powder or ground cayenne

½ teaspoon hot chilli flakes

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon mild paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Dry the washed potatoes thoroughly. No need to peel. Cut to make about 8 wedges from each potato (depends on how thick your potatoes are). Place the wedges in a large mixing bowl. Mix all the spice powders in a separate small bowl and sprinkle on the wedges tossing them as you go along. Then drizzle the oil and toss to ensure all wedges have a bit of the spice mixture and the oil. Lay them out on a large shallow baking tray. Place on top shelf for 40 minutes turning them once or twice during cooking. Serve hot.

RAINBOW SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING

This is a very colourful and scrumptious salad that can be served on its own, or as a side dish to quesadillas or tacos. Poached chicken is optional.

For the Salad:

¼ small red cabbage

¼ small green cabbage

1 large carrot

3 or 4 pink table radishes

2 sticks celery, peeled and sliced

3 or 4 spring onions sliced

Handful of parsley roughly chopped

Handful of mint leaves sliced

½ cup sunflower seeds toasted (optional)

For the dressing:

4 tablespoons tahini

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons liquid honey

2 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground pepper

For poached chicken (you will need an instant read thermometer)

400 grams chicken breasts

2 -3 pods of garlic

1 teaspoon pepper corns

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 sprig of coriander or parsley stalk

If using poached chicken, prepare this first so chicken has time to cool. Place chicken in a deep sauce pan. Add enough cold water so the chicken is at least submerged 5 centimetres deep. Add the remaining ingredients. Put the sauce pan on gentle heat and check temperature has reached to 65 degrees Celsius at the thickest part of the breast. This normally should take about 10 -12 minutes depending on the size of pan and amount of water. Once the desired temperature has reached, remove chicken breasts and let cool completely on a plate before slicing on a diagonal.

Prepare the salad by finely slicing the cabbages and julienning the carrot and radish. I normally use a mandolin for this. Mix all the prepared salad vegetables and set aside in a large bowl as it yields about 12 cups or so. You can add the parsley and mint after dressing the salad.

For the dressing, mix all the dressing ingredients until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference. Set aside.

Mix the dressing a little at a time with the salad vegetables and chicken if using (I normally take out enough for one time use and store the remaining vegetables in the refrigerator). Once the dressing is mixed in, I stir in the herbs and garnish with the toasted sunflower seeds on top.

BROCCOLI SALAD WITH MISO DRESSING

1 large broccoli washed and trimmed into florets (the stems are sweet and tasty, just peel lightly)

For the Miso dressing

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1 small garlic grated

2 teaspoons grated ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

¼ cup vegetable oil like canola

Salt and pepper to taste

Put the broccoli florets into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 6 minutes or less if you prefer the pieces crunchy, taking out after three minutes and giving the broccoli pieces a shuffle. Drain any liquid and set aside to cool.

Prepare the dressing in a large bowl by mixing the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. When the broccoli is warm to touch, pour in the dressing and mix well. Serve at room temperature. Serves four.