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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SUN DRIED TOMATO, OLIVE AND CHARD FOCACCIA

One more recipe for sour dough discard! Even if you don’t have sour dough discard, you can still make this by adjusting the amounts of yeast used. You can use spinach instead of chard or silver beet. I used a Chinese cleaver to finely mince my silver beet but you can use a food processor for this.

I love making my own breads and feel so wonderful kneading the dough manually. I served it with a minestrone style soup – it is yummy on its own too.

Sun dried tomato, olive and chard focaccia bread

INGREDIENTS

For the dough

325g high grade flour

25g wholemeal flour

5g salt

5g instant yeast (use 7g if no sour dough discard)

40g sour dough discard

120g silver beet finely chopped (see note above)

1 tablespoon olive oil

200ml tepid water

For the topping

3 – 4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

5-6 olives, sliced or halved

Sea salt crystals

Olive oil as needed

1 -2 tablespoons water

METHOD

Place all ingredients for the dough into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, combine the ingredients to form a dough mass.

You can use the dough hook on your stand mixer and knead for 10 minutes giving a 30 second break every 3-4 minutes of kneading. If you are like me and prefer to knead manually, tip dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, resting it for 30 seconds every three minutes. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave in a warm place for an hour and a half to two hours to allow it to double in size.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and drizzle with two tablespoons of oil. Spread oil around to grease the paper. Using the palm of your hand, flatten dough to a 20cm disc and place on prepared baking tray. Using your fingertips, press dough down, leaving fingertip impressions. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave to prove for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius.

Stud the dough with sun dried tomato and olive pieces. Sprinkle the sea salt and make indentations with your fingertips. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle water. Bake in preheated oven for 12 -15 minutes.

Remove from oven and brush focaccia with olive oil. Place on a wire rack to cool for half an hour at least before slicing.

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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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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SPICED RHUBARB WITH SAGO CUSTARD

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable but it is cooked like a fruit! When you think of rhubarb and associate with a pie, you are not wrong because the red stalks (part used) are generally paired with sugar, butter and flour!

Rhubarb, with its attractive pinkish red hue is a heavy weight in terms of nutrition value. It is high in fibre, Vitamin K and also has more antioxidant punch than kale! Some people therefore consider rhubarb as super food. I personally wouldn’t say that because it only becomes palatable if you add sugar to it so I would go as far as saying that it is a healthyish dessert choice!

Spiced rhubarb with sago custard

This is a lovely dessert and it is vegan! I guess you could also try sub rice for sago.

INGREDIENTS

For the custard:

400ml tin of coconut milk

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TOFU KATSU CURRY

Japanese curry is served in three forms – curry rice (simply referred to as curry), curry udon (noodles) and curry bread. You guessed it, curry was introduced from India by the British and is extremely popular in Japanese cuisine.

Katsu is simply a cutlet, crumbed and deep fried and put in a curry sauce. Mine is a vegan version and I shallow fried the tofu. I know, I wax lyrical about tofu because it is so versatile and a great bearer of flavours. So do try this curry as it is very different to Indian curries.

I served mine with medium grain rice which is naturally sticky. After cooking, I mixed through cut spring onions and poured a few drops of sesame oil on each serve.

Tofu Katsu Curry

INGREDIENTS

5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

100g onion, chopped

2 teaspoon dark brown sugar

200g carrots, peeled and chopped

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LENTIL & CARROT SOUP

One of the reasons I love winter is because you can make a hearty soup that warms the body and soul. You kind of feel good tucking into a bowl of wholesome soup because you know it is very nourishing. I love to experiment not only with different flavour combinations but also incorporate beans or lentils or grains for the protein.

When I was growing up I hated cooked carrots, felt that they have a smell and it is more pronounced on cooking. Luckily I got over that and carrots cooked or raw are absolutely delicious. The soup is a bit different in the sense that I cooked the lentils separately.

Lentil & Carrot soup

INGREDIENTS

500g carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

100g onions, diced

50g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

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CHICK PEAS TAGINE STYLE

A piece of trivia for you – I always thought chick peas were native to the Indian subcontinent but now know that they were grown in Turkey about 8000 BC!!

Tagine or Tajine is a North African Maghreb dish which is named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. Algerian and Moroccan tagine dishes are slow-cooked savory stews, typically made with sliced meat, poultry or fish together with vegetables or fruit. Spices, nuts, and dried fruits are also used. Common spices include ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron. Paprika and chili are used in vegetable tajines.

My version is a vegan one (omit the feta cheese as topping) and it is a one pot dish cooked over a couple of hours in the oven. Unfortunately, you can’t put the oven on timer and wander off as you need to stir once in a while and add the herbs in between! It is very flavourful and the prunes breakdown giving a bit of sauce and also makes the stew rich and gooey.

Chick pea tagine style

INGREDIENTS

400g dried chick peas, rinsed and soaked in lightly salted water overnight

250g red onions, each onion cut into eight chunks

100g pitted prunes

500g carrots, peeled and cut in half

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KOFTAS & FLAT BREADS

Every cuisine offers exciting vegetarian / vegan options. I love experimenting with different spices and flavours to create my own version of classics from around the world. I served these vegan koftas with flat breads, shredded cabbage with some chopped fresh coriander leaves mixed in and harissa yoghurt.

To make harissa yoghurt, add a tablespoon of harissa to a cup of yoghurt. Squeeze a tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix in a few good pinches of salt and sugar. Mix and serve as sauce for flat breads.

Koftas & Flatbread

INGREDIENTS

100g dried chick peas, washed and soaked in water overnight

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

75g onions, sliced thinly

2-3 green chillies, chopped

Generous handful coriander stalks and leaves, chopped

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THAI GREEN CURRY WITH TOFU & VEGETABLES

As far as curries go, I love Thai curries. In Thai language, the green curry is called kaeng khiao wan which literally means sweet green curry. There you go green curry is not meant to be fiery hot. Just bursting with flavour from lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves and coriander roots and stems.

Ingredients for Thai green curry – Galangal, Kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass

Thai people usually make their curry paste in a mortar and pestle as the spices are crushed and so the end result is more aromatic. This can take about half an hour so be prepared! The curry paste makes enough for another curry and I like to freeze any surplus. When you want to use it next time, just bring it to room temperature and just use straight from the jar.

Thai Green Curry with tofu and vegetables

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 generous tablespoons green curry paste (recipe below)

400ml coconut milk, shake well before opening the tin

250g extra firm tofu, cut into squares of 3 centimetres or so

150g eggplant, cut into 2 centimetre dice

120g butternut squash, cut into 2 centimetre dice

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