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!

Indian Salad (v)

I’m sure I have blogged this before, but blogger and google are coming up blanks for it, so in case I haven’t, here it is… This is the perfect accompaniment to a fiesty curry. It’s tasty, cooling and delicious. Thanks to my mum for the recipe! (the salad is in the top right of the very full plate!! The other recipes are aloo curry and chickpea, red lentil and vegetable vindaloo. And Geetas lime pickle and mango chutney cos a curry isn’t a curry without those!).

For 3-4 portions you need
1 red onion, finely sliced
1/2 cucumber, finely sliced
large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2-3 tomatoes, chopped (no need to skin and deseed)
juice of half a lemon
2 tsp dried mint
pinch salt

Place everything in a bowl and mix. That’s it!

Cardamon Rasmalai with Saffron; Vanilla and Nutmeg

I cheated for this, and used a packet. But frankly most of the Asian cooks I know do the same. You can buy the Shan ones from Asda for under £1. This was the perfect sweet note to follow our curry night, and calmed my tingling taste buds down after the fiery madras.

For 6-8 portions you need
1 packet Shan Ras Malai mix
5 tsp vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 litre of milk
500ml water
200g caster sugar
pinch saffron fronds
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1/4 nutmeg, freshly grated

Place the milk, water, sugar and saffron in a large pan and slowly bring to the boil. Stir every now and then to ensure the sugar melts evenly.

Make the ras malai following the packet instructions (tip powder into a bowl, add the oil and enough beaten egg to make a stiff paste).

Once the milk mixture has come to the boil, keep on a full flame and drop in small teaspoons of the ras malai mix (you can be pretentious and make them into quenelles if you want, or roll into balls). Cook for 5 mins until the ras malai has puffed up to 3-4 times its original size. Remove and leave to cool in a bowl. Reduce the milk mixture by half and then flavour with the nutmeg and vanilla. Pour the milk over the ras malai and leave to chill thoroughly before serving.

Three Good Things: Onion, Coriander and Cauliflower Bhajis (v,gf)

My lovely boyfriend made us a lovely curry over the weekend and I rustled up these to stave off the hunger pangs and to use up some of the stuff languishing in the bottom of the veg box. Based on River Cottage’s three good things principle, they showcase three yummy ingredients perfectly and are, I have to say, the bestest bhajis I have ever made *polishes halo*.

For 10-12 bhajis you need
2 onions, sliced
1/2 cauliflower, the florets cut into thin slices
2 large handfuls of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 cup garam flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper
water to mix the batter
Oil for deep frying

Place the garam flour, baking powder and salt and pepper in a bowl and add enough warm water to make a batter with the consistency of fresh custard (you should be able to run your finger through it and it not fill back up again iyswim…). Toss in the veg and mix thoroughly.

Heat the oil and fry teaspoonfulls of the batter in the oil until golden brown. Turn over half way through to ensure even cooking. You can make larger ones if you want, but I find they tend to be a bit underdone in the middle and prefer the canape approach.

Serve with chutney or raita or whatever else you fancy. Leave some space for the main course! They keep well and are nice cold the next day for a packed lunch or you can reheat in an oven for about 10 mins.

Cauliflower, Carrot & Spinach Curry (v)

It’s officially autumn today. The lights were on in the living room from 4pm and it’s grey, murky and dankly drizzly outside, sigh. This is the sort of food you need on days like that…

For 4-6 portions you need:
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup split red lentils
600ml water
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 jar minara madras curry paste
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cauliflower, broken in to florets
1/2 bag spinach
1 tbsp oil

Sautee the onions in the oil for 10-15 mins, adding the carrots after 5 mins. Add the curry paste and garlic and cook out for 1-2 mins. Add everything else apart from the spinach and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 mins till the lentils are cooked. Add the spinach and cover with a lid to allow it to wilt. Serve with mango chutney, lime pickles, indian salad and, er, chips if you want 😉 I added a hardboiled egg too but obviously omit if you’re vegan.

Creamy Curry Sauce (v)

When we were in Toronto we went to an amazing veggie eatery called Fresh. We had a sauce similar to this there with sweet potato fries. It’s sort of like chip shop curry sauce but soooooooooo much nicer. It makes a large batch but keeps for a week or so in the fridge (or you can freeze it) so halve it if you don’t want to be drowning in curry sauce…

For 8-10 portions you need:
1 can coconut milk
3 cups vegetable stock
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 chilli, chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
3 tsp each turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 – 1tsp chilli flakes depending on how hot you like it
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Fry the onion, chilli and garlic in the oil for about 10 mins till softened. Add the flour and dry spices and cook out for a further 3-4 mins. Slowly add the stock, stirring to avoid lumps. Add the coconut milk and tomatoes. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 mins. Serve with rice and lentils or whatever you fancy really. Including chip shop chips…