Mum’s Saturday night dhal
I’m a little surprised at myself for not posting this recipe sooner – it’s the simplest dhal you can make. It uses masoor dhal (red lentils), which take a mere 10 minutes to boil. After that, it’s just a case of flavouring it. The entire dish takes about 15 minutes to make. We’ll be eating it tonight with fried spicy sea bass, curried bitter gourd (which is this freakish looking thing), rice and chapattis. [Read More]
Pasta e fagioli
I’ve discovered a new soup recipe to add to my list! I’ve realised that the soups I like best are either thick and creamy or verging on stews, and this one falls into both categories. It’s an Italian soup of pasta and beans - carbs with carbs, my favourite kind of meal.
I’ve seen variations in a couple of cookbooks, including Jamie’s Italy and Nigella’s Bites, so the one I made today took elements from both. I used a very simple homemade chicken stock, made with the carcass of Sunday’s chicken.
Pasta e fagioli
75g little pasta (I used baby farfalle - so cute - but you could use macaroni or any other mini variety/soup pasta you find)
1 tin of borlotti beans, rinsed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
A sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (if you don’t have any you could perhaps try dried herbs but it won’t be as good)
500ml chicken stock
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper
In a saucepan, fry the onions, garlic and rosemary on a low heat, with the lid on, for 15 minutes so that they soften but don’t brown.
Then tip in the beans and stock, stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Let this cook for half an hour.
Use a slotted spoon to take out about half the beans (some of the onion will of course come out with it, and that’s fine). Set these aside in a bowl.
Whizz the rest of the soup up until smooth using whatever blending machine you have.
The soup goes back into the pan and on the heat. Stir in the whole beans, along with a big pinch of salt and a regular pinch of pepper, and then add the pasta too.
Cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked (check packet instructions). Stir occasionally to make sure the soup isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan, which may happen if it’s a thick mix. If you feel it’s too thick and not soupy enough, stir half a mug of boiling water from the kettle.
Just before serving, check the seasoning and add the chopped parsley.
Tonight I had the flat all to myself, which is a rare occasion and therefore a real treat, so dinner was cooked with some Motown power ballads on full blast* (from both me and the speakers) and a glass of red in hand, and eaten in a lounging position on the sofa, still wearing an apron, whilst catching up on some crap telly. I had a whale of a time.
* The playlist included:
Respect (Aretha Franklin)
Ain’t No Mountain (Diana Ross)
My Girl (The Temptations)
You Make Me Feel (Aretha Franklin)
Baby Love (The Supremes)
What Becomes of the Broken-hearted (Jimmy Ruffin)
Sinnerman (Nina Simone)
You Can’t Hurry Love (The Supremes)
Stand By Me (Ben E King)
Signed Sealed Delivered (Stevie Wonder)
I Say a Little Prayer (Martha Reeves & the Vandellas)
Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)
Rescue Me (Fontella Bass)
Ottolenghi’s green bean curry
Over the past few weeks I’ve watched as, one by one, each member of my team at work was hit down by cold and flu. There was just me left, and I thought I’d escaped it, I thought I was invincible!
Apparently not. This week has been a snotty one. For me, being ill means two things – comfort food and spice. (Also tissues, vicks and sleep)
I made Ottolenghi’s green been curry (pictured above) because it’s so different to the curries I normally make. Instead of fresh chillies, this recipe uses lots of warming dried spices - ginger, cloves, coriander, cumin and cardamom. The green beans, sugarsnap peas and broad beans balance out the heat and make the dish fresh and healthy. The recipe has been posted here by someone else.
I also made one of my usual Gujarati meals, because dhal just makes everything better. I used red lentils for the dhal because they are super quick to boil, and flavoured it with cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, chillies, ginger, garlic, and the usual dried spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala & chilli powder). Lots of flavour, perfect when your tastebuds are dulled by illness! We had it with white rice, green tomato curry (can you believe we still have so many left!), spicy potatoes, and my mum’s parathas (spicy, fenugreek-flavoured chapattis). Proper little feast, not bad for someone practically on her death bed (or so it felt).
Green tomato curry
We had so many tomato plants this summer, and although we harvested a good few bowls of sweet, brightly coloured toms, there unfortunately was not quite enough sun to ripen them all. I hacked down the last of the plants this weekend, as the recent cold spell means they’re unlikely to last much longer anyway, and as I was doing so I filled the bowl pictured above.
As you’d imagine, green tomatoes have a much tangier flavour than ripe ones, but they’re not actually that sour to eat and don’t take too much effort to cook into something delicious. It seems a shame to waste them when they are perfectly edible (quite delicious in fact!), so this evening I turned half of my bounty into…well, a curry of course, what else?
Green tomato curry
Green tomatoes (I used about a cereal bowl full)
1 big onion, chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
small knob ginger, grated
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
5/6 curry leaves (if you have them)
Start frying your onions in some vegetable or sunflower oil, along with the curry leaves if you’re using them.
Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes. For the bigger ones, I cut them into quarters and then cut each quarter in half. Most of the cherry tomatoes were halved, except the smallest ones which stayed whole.
When the onions have started to brown a little, chuck in the chillies, ginger, garlic, salt and all the dried spices. Fry for about 20 seconds and then tip in the tomatoes.
Give it all a good stir and leave to simmer gently on a medium heat until the tomatoes start to soften and break down, and the flavours have all mingled nicely.
It’s basically ready when you want it – I let mine cook for a further 10 minutes to get rid of some of the liquid and create a thicker sauce, but you don’t have to.
We had this with rice, dhal and a side dish called sambharo – vegetables that have been very quickly fried in a few spices, along with big slices of green chilli. You only cook them long enough to combine the flavours, so the vegetables should still be crunchy. It’s very slightly salty, and you generally just have a little on the side of your plate as a different texture and flavour from the rest of your meal. In a way, it’s like an unpickled pickle.
Dinner at a friend’s: sausage casserole
A friend of mine is house sitting in Charlton at the mo, so this evening Karl drove down for dinner, a natter and a little snoop around.
It’s such a beautiful house, done up by two people with an exceptionally good eye for design. Not fancy or fussy, just well thought out and executed. Makes me look at our mismatched ikea furniture in a slightly different light, but I guess you have to start somewhere!
Anyway, dinner was a sausage and butterbean casserole, with a lovely deep red sauce from slow cooking and a splash of red wine. There were two types of sausage - pork and venison - and because the casserole had been simmering away in a pan rather than the oven, they were particularly soft and juicy.
We had this with roast potatoes, warm crusty bread and a bottle of red, while making fun plans for October.
Curry, dhal and rice
We usually have Indian food once a week, and tonight was that night. My mum had picked up some fresh tuwar (pidgeon peas) for me from an Indian grocery shop, so I cooked these up with some aubergine - it’s my absolutely favourite curry, and always has been. It’s great with kadhi, but as we’d already had this at the weekend I decided to make a dhal instead.
Usually if I make dhal on a weekday evening, I’ll go for a quick and easy option (like maybe these split yellow mung lentils), but tonight I fancied something a bit more complex so I went for a soupy variety that we often have with rice. It takes longer to boil, but it’s tangy as well as spicy, and it’s one of Karl’s favourites. A pile of steaming hot chapattis were on hand to mop the whole lot up. Delish.
Sausage & lentils
Fab dinner this eve, definitely one we should make more often. And a pretty good photo of it too, considering it was taken with an iPhone!
Dinner was made using this recipe. I used Sainsbury’s Butchers Choice sausages, which were decent enough but I think it’s worth spending just a little extra for really good quality ones with this dish. You really can, as Sainsbo’s would say, taste the difference.
Everyone’s taking about… Feast, a foodie event in London this weekend (3-5 August) that brings together some of the city’s best eateries serving foods from around the world, from Tonkotsu’s amazing ramen soups and Vietnamese baguettes at Bahnmi11 to Jamie’s Berbecoa barbecue (they were at Ribstock) and Jose Pizarro’s delicious tapas (see here). Thinking of going, but to be honest it depends on what you get for the £6 entry fee…
As British weather can be so unpredictable, we’ve decided to make as much of this gorgeous sunshine as we can while we have it, starting with a spontaneous barbecue this evening.
Instead of the usual chicken legs, burgers or sausages, we went for a meal we first made in Australia, when camping in a little coastal town called Woolgoolga. There were communal cooking areas with huge grills for barbecues, so we picked up a couple of lamb steaks from the butcher shop round the corner, marinated them in garlic and herbs, and grilled them for a few minutes on each side until they were lightly charred.
We had this with a salad of chickpeas, feta, red onion, red pepper and more fresh herbs, and the whole thing worked together beautifully.
When raiding the reduced section of Sainsburys for our impromptu barbecue yesterday I came across many of the same ingredients, so my mind was made up! This time, I marinated the lamb in garlic, rosemary and mint, which was all bashed up in a pestle and mortar with salt, pepper, olive oil and a squeeze of lime. A slightly random combination, but it worked. The lamb was marinating for about half an hour while we got the barbecue started, and then cooked for about 5-10 mins on each side.
We also put on some courgette, peppers and wedges of red onion on skewers, wrapped a sweet potato in foil and cooked it on the coals (if you do one thing with your next BBQ, do this - prick holes in it first, rub with oil and sprinkle with salt), and made a salad using chard, baby kale, rocket, courgette flowers and chives.
Split mung dhal
Lentils always make for a comforting dinner and, even though it’s the middle of summer, the endless rain and grey skies mean this was a pretty suitable meal this evening.
They’re incredibly easy to make and a great option for a last minute, store cupboard meal. You can have it ready in half an hour, and it’s lovely with rice or chapattis. Or if that’s too carb heavy, try a soupy version eaten with a vegetable-based side dish (in today’s case curried spinach - cooked in the same way as here but without the paneer).
Split mung dhal (makes about 4 portions)
1.5 cups split mung beans
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1 or 2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, grated
2cm ginger, grated
Rinse the lentils a few times in cold water, in the same way as you would rice.
Add to a saucepan with 3 cups of water and boil. They’ll take about 20 minutes to cook. If the water runs low, top it up with hot water from the kettle.
When they’re almost cooked, start preparing your spice mix.
In another saucepan, heat two tablespoons of oil and throw in the mustard and cumin seeds. When they start to pop, stir in the onions.
By now the lentils should be cooked so take them off the heat. If there’s too much water in there and it’s soupier than you’d like, drain some of the water off. Set the lentils aside.
When the onions are just starting to brown, add the chillies, ginger, garlic, dried spices and salt. Give it all a mix and fry for a few seconds.
Then it’s just a case of stirring in the lentils so that you’ve got a lovely spicy dhal. Check it’s seasoned to your liking.
Let it cook for a further 5 minutes so that everything is nicely combined.
Bean curry with spinach & paneer
It’s been a few weeks since I last cooked a Gujarati dinner so this evening I went for spinach & paneer, one of our favourites.
We had it with a quick & easy bean curry and some hot chapattis.
Sorry there isn’t more to say – get’s a bit tricky when I’ve made these dinners so many times before!