Biriyani? Kichari? Kedgeree? Rice, Lentils and Vegetables! (v)

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I’m not sure what to call this. Is it a biriyani? A kedgeree? It’s rice and lentils and vegetables cooked in a spicy Indian base at any rate. And it’s utterly delicious, both hot straight from the pan and cold the next day for an easy work lunch. Add a hardboiled egg if you want to boost the protein and you aren’t vegan. Or leave it as is. You can choose what spices and veggies to use, the golden rule to follow is the rice + lentils to water ratio to ensure it all cooks properly without sticking or going gloopy. I served ours with minted almond yogurt and some lip puckeringly sour lime pickle 😀

For 3-4 portions you need

  • 225g rice – I use easy cook white as we still have 6kgs left from an over zealous Costco trip…
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 50g red lentils
  • 2 red chillies, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 6-8 cardamom pods
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2″ piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 cauliflower broken into florets
  • 1/2 pack fresh spinach
  • 650ml stock
  • handful cashew nuts, toasted in 1 tbsp oil
  • fresh coriander to garnish
  • 1 tsp mint sauce
  • 4 tbsp almond yogurt (or any yogurt)
  • lime pickle
  1. Begin by crushing the dry spices, apart from the turmeric and cinnamon, in a pestle and mortar until roughly ground.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and toast the spices until they sizzle and start to release their aromas. Add the turmeric.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, carrots and chillies. Saute, covered, for 3-4 mins until softened.
  4. Add the rice and lentils to the pan and cook for 1-2 mins over a moderate heat until they are toasted.
  5. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Stir well and cover, reducing the heat to low. Cook for 10 mins.
  6. Add the cauliflower to the pan, mixing well. You might need to add a little more water at this stage if things are looking dry. Cook for a further 5 mins until the rice and lentils are pretty much done.
  7. Once the rice, lentils and vegetables are nearly done, turn off the heat and stir through the fresh spinach leaves. Cover and leave to sit for 3-4 mins until the rice is fluffy, the spinach is wilted and everything else is cooked to perfection.
  8. Mix the mint sauce into the yogurt, toast the cashews until golden brown and serve.

 

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Rice and Peas (v)

This is proper Indian kichiri, with none of the Anglo-Indian trimmings. Just rice and peas and spices. It’s a fab side dish to any curry and the pulses in boost the protein content making it a good whole meal in itself.

For 6 portions you need
1/2 cup moong dhal, rinsed clean and soaked in cold water for 4 hours
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed clean and soaked for an hour in cold water
3 tbsp butter or oil
2 indian bay leaves
2 cloves
1 tsp whole coriander
1 tsp whole cumin
3 cardamon pods, crushed to release the seeds
1″ piece of cinnamon bark
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 tsp salt

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the spices for 2-3 mins until the aromas are released. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until browned and crispy. Add the drained rice and peas and stir fry to coat in the oil and spices.

Add 2 and 2/3 cups of water and bring to the boil. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 20-25 mins until the rice is light and fluffy and the peas are cooked.

Mixed Vegetable Makhanawala (v)

I am slowly working my way through Rick Stein’s India, a very fine book on curries and Indian food. This recipe caught my eye as I was meal planning over the weekend, and Abel and Cole obliged by providing most of the ingredients for it in their weekly box this week. The curry is delicious, rich and creamy but not heavy. Spiced and fragrant with a little kick of heat but not searingly hot. It might look complicated but it’s not, it was very easy to make and was definitely worth the effort.

For 4-6 portions you need
800g mixed vegetables – I used potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and french beans
50g butter or oil
1 medium onion, sliced
5 large garlic cloves, finely minced
5cm stick of ginger, finely grated
400g fresh tomatoes pulverised to make passata (don’t use tinned or a jar, you want the lightness of fresh tomatoes)
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, garam masala and tumeric
1 tsp desiccated coconut
1.5 tsp salt
25g cashew nuts
1/2 tsp sugar
75ml yogurt/soya yogurt
4 tbsp double cream/soya cream (or coconut cream)
Handful of fresh coriander leaves to finish

Begin by boiling the carrots and potatoes until just cooked. Drain and leave to one side.

Melt the butter in a large heavy based pan and add the onion. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and golden. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 5 mins. Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Add the spices, salt, coconut and 100ml of water and cook for a further 10 mins.

In a mini food processor blitz the cashew nuts with a little water until smooth. Add this to the pan along with all the vegetables apart from the potatoes. Add another 100ml of water and simmer for 10 minutes until the veggies are cooked. Add the yogurt, cream and potatoes and heat through for 2-3 mins. Serve garnished with the coriander. It’s truly delicious.

Goldilocks Tarka Dhal (v)

So called because I have made it three times… The first time we used scotch bonnet chillies and it was too cold. The second time I used thai chillies in quantities as per the recipe and it was too hot. The third time I used Indian chillies and it was juuuuuuust riiiiiiiight. You do need to soak the chana dhal for a good couple of hours beforehand or it will take ages to cook. This recipe is from the very fine Rick Stein’s India, a fabulous book about Indian food!

For 4-6 portions you need
For the dhal
200g chana dhal, rinsed and soaked in cold water for 1-2 hours
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 onion, chopped
2 green chillies, left whole and slit, seeds left in
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp tumeric

For the tarka
1 onion, thinly sliced
large knob of butter/vegan spread
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida
Small handful of fresh curry leaves
Fresh coriander leave to serve

Place the soaked chana dhal in a pan with the rest of the dhal ingredients. Cover with water to about 2cms above the level of the chana. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour until the chana is cooked. Mash a little to break up some of the dhal but leave some texture in.

For the tarka heat the oil and butter/spread until hot. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida and cook until the seeds pop. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until brown and crispy, but take care not to burn it!

Pour the tarka into the dhal and serve with bread or rice or whatever you fancy.

Chickpea and Red Lentil Vindaloo with Vegetables (v)

This was a vindaloo simply because that was the only curry paste I had left in the cupboard. Despite the name, it wasn’t too hot! Use any combination of vegetables and pulses that you like, this is simply what we needed to use up 🙂

For 4-6 portions you need
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp curry paste
1 tbsp oil
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup red lentils
200ml water
2 tsp vegetable stock powder
1/2 cup frozen sweetcorn
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tsp sugar

Begin by sauteeing the onion and garlic in the oil. Once soft, add the curry paste and cook out for a few mins. Add everything else and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 mins or so until the red lentils are done. Check the taste and adjust salt, sugar or chilli according to taste. Serve with rice, pickles and indian salad!

Aloo (Potato) Curry (v)

It was a friends 40th at the weekend and we went out for a curry to celebrate, but I wasn’t hungry enough to truly appreciate the food so recreated curry night last night to satisfy a craving. I love the flavours of curry with potatoes but have never had much success making this type of side dish before. The potatoes either didn’t cook properly, or they stuck to the bottom of the pan, or I’d burnt the spices and they tasted bitter, but thankfully the curry gods were smiling last night as this was DELICIOUS!

For 4 portions you need
3-4 cups peeled and diced potatoes. I’d suggest a 1cm dice but don’t worry about making them mathematically perfect…
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp each black mustard seeds, yellow mustard seeds, dried red chill flakes, garam masala, tumeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, coriander seed.
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
150ml boiling water

Place the oil in a heavy based pan and heat. Add the curry spices and ginger to it and cook for 2-3 mins until the seeds pop and it’s come together into a paste. Add the potatoes and water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins or so. Stir often to ensure the potatoes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add a little more water if necessary but the aim is to steam the potatoes, not boil them.

Serve on their own or as a side dish for a curry.

Chickpea Dhal (v)

Fuz and I had beef madras last night, but Lex is still veggie so I made him a quick and tasty chickpea dhal to have for his tea whilst we tucked into the rich beefy goodness. The dhal was a lovely side dish to our meal and Lex thoroughly enjoyed it too.

For 2-3 portions you need
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp rogan josh curry paste
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup red lentils
250ml water

Fry the paste in the oil for 2-3 mins until the oil separates and the aromas are released. Add everything else and bring to the boil. Simmer slowly for 20 mins or so until the lentils are cooked. Serve with rice and whatever else you fancy (in Lex’s case this is cucumber slices topped with mango chutney!).

Beef Madras

It’s soooooooo cold out, but this curry will keep you warm from the inside. Spicy and aromatic, it doesn’t take long to throw together but does need at least an hour of gently bubbling. If you have time, make in advance and then reheat to allow the flavours to really develop and mingle into the tender beef. This recipe is taken from the BBC Good Food site.

For 2-3 portions you need

Curry
1 kg braising steak cut into bite sized cubes
2tbsp tomato puree
300ml Beef Stock
2tbsp veg or sunflower oil
1 large onion, diced
Curry Paste
1/2tsp ground black pepper
1/2tsp chilli flakes
2 fresh birds eye chillies, slit up the length of the chilli, stalk left on
2tbsp ground coriander
2tbsp lemon juice
1tbsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp turmeric
2tbsp of grated ginger
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
Begin by softening the onions in a large heavy based pan over a medium heat in the oil till cooked and golden. Stir often so they don’t burn. Once they are cooked, remove with a slotted spoon to a plate whilst you seal the beef.

Place the beef in the hot pan (you may need to do this in more than one batch to avoid over crowding the pan). Seal it and remove from the pan and place with the onions.
Place all the curry paste ingredients in the pan and cook for a few mins. Add everything else to the pan, including the tomato puree and stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce to a slow simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for an hour, stirring every so often. Remove the lid for the last 10 mins to allow the sauce to thicken. Serve with rice and a nice cold beer or tall glass of sweet lassi. We also had some chickpea dhal alongside it as my son doesn’t eat meat.

Coconut Dhal Soup with Carrot and Parsnip (v)

This is a perfect autumnal warming dish, and it only takes a few minutes to make. I guess if you were Jamie you could do it in 15 mins, but I am not so did it in a more sedate 22 and made less mess than he would have… It used up some sad carrots and parsnips that were languishing at the bottom of my fridge nicely. It freezes well and you can adjust the quantities easily to feed more or less people.

For 2-3 portions you need
1 can coconut milk
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup red lentils
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, bashed
1 inch piece ginger, grated
A little water, depending on how thin you want your finished soup
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp each mustard seeds and ground garam masala, tumeric, coriander, cumin
Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Splash chilli oil

Being by frying the spices in the oil until the mustard seeds pop. Add all the veggies and cover with a lid and sautee for a few mins. Add the lentils and fry for another 1-2 mins. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 mins until the lentils and veggies are cooked. Blitz to a puree and add some water if it’s too thick. Re-heat and serve garnished with the fresh coriander and a drizzle of chilli oil. Delish!

Thai Massaman Curry (v)

We had a Thai extravaganza at the weekend (can you guess from recent blog posts ;-)) and this was pronounced deeeeeelicious by both boyfriend and son. Result.

For four greedy portions you need
1 tub massaman curry paste (I like the Thai Taste one but it contains shrimp paste, use one without obviously if you want it to be vegan…)
1 can coconut milk
1 onion
2 courgettes, sliced
1/2 pack each mange tout and green beans
1 head pak choi
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1-2 sweet potatoes (equal quantities to the squash), peeled and cubed
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fish sauce or mushroom soya sauce if vegan

Begin by frying the curry paste and onion for a few minutes. Add the squash and sweet potato along with the coconut milk. Season with the sugar and fish sauce/mushroom soya sauce and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, covered, for 10 mins. Add everything else and cook for 3 mins until the remaining veggies are al dente. Serve with sticky rice and sigh with pleasure as the fragrant, rich curry fills that hole in yer belly.