GROWER’S PIE

I’ve made variations of a vegetarian shepherd’s pie for a long time now. The kids loved the idea of a shepherd’s pie albeit vegetarian. I have modified the recipe over the years and this version is filling, satisfying and absolutely scrumptious even though I say so myself. I also stopped calling it shepherd’s pie and started calling it grower’s pie to reflect the meatless nature of this pie.

Grower’s pie

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:

400g tin of lentils

400g tin of beluga lentils

400g tin of kidney beans, drained, rinsed and mashed

200g onion, finely chopped

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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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RICE & VEGETABLE AASH

Aash or Aush is a staple in Persian cuisine. Generally made with two unique ingredients reshteh a type of thin noodle and kashk which is a whey like fermented product. There are about 50 types of this soup and generally made during autumn and winter. My recipe has been adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s book “Bazaar”. Please do try as it is wholesome and super delicious. Prepping the herbs takes a long time!

Rice and Vegetable aash

INGREDIENTS

300g onions, finely chopped

100g flat leaf parsley, (leaves only), finely chopped

100g fresh coriander, stems and leaves, finely chopped

5 large cloves of garlic, crushed

3 teaspoons unsweetened tamarind paste

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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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MASALA VADA

We all love masala vadas and these are my mum’s speciality. I think she makes the best and the smell wafting from the kitchen is very telling of the spice and crunch that is to follow.  You can say they are a bit like falafel in the sense that they are made with 2-3 different kinds of lentils. I have tried making these a few times and until now, they were a flop. The trick is to soak for three hours or so, not grind it too much (pulse a few times) and lastly keep the lentils separate. Follow my tips and you can have mouth-watering vadas at home.

Masala vada

INGREDIENTS

1 cup urad dhal

½ cup channa dhal (split chick peas)

½ cup red lentils

2tbsps finely chopped ginger

2-3 red or green chillies

200g onion chopped

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

METHOD

Combine the channa dhal and red lentils. Rinse well and soak for three hours. Rinse the urad dhal well and soak in a separate bowl for three hours.

After soaking, wash well (a sieve works well) and using a food processor, grind the urad dhal with salt. Pulse and try to grind without adding water. If you must add only a spoonful at a time. Remove and set aside.

In the same food processor bowl, grind the channa dhal and lentils along with chillies and ginger. Add salt to taste and pulse. The lentils should be combined and half of them will be left whole and this is okay.

Heat oil to 180 degrees C (or if you add a small piece of lentil, it should spring up to the top immediately) in a kadai or a small sauce pan. Section the urad dhal and lentils mix into three equal portions. In a separate small bowl, combine one section of urad dhal and lentils mix. Mix in a third of your chopped onions.

Masala Vada

Wet the palm of your less dominant hand and shape a small lime sized mix into a patty or vada. You can also use a banana leaf or a plastic sheet instead of your palm. You want them fairly thin – too thick means they will take longer to cook and also won’t be as crunchy. Slide the vada very gently and carefully into the hot oil. Repeat with the remaining. Fry till golden (can take up to two minutes on each side) and serve hot. Makes about 30 medium sized ones.