Vegan potato and cabbage curry recipe

18 Sep

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Today’s recipe is an ancient dish that my ancestors cooked over wooden fires in their village on the Kathiawar peninsula in Gujarat, western India. It’s also something I ate regularly when I got home from school in Lincolnshire, while sitting in front of the telly and watching Neighbours, as well as something I wanted to eat almost every day when I was pregnant. It might be simple and cheap, but it’s also delicious and wholesome, and deserves to continue for many more generations.
Gujarati potato and cabbage curry

My mother uses waxy potatoes such as charlotte or anya in this, because they hold their shape when cooked; I prefer crumbly, fudgy spuds such as maris pipers, which merge into the sauce. Boost the table offering with a dal or spinach curry.

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

800g maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
Salt and black pepper
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 pinch fenugreek seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
200g tinned plum tomatoes with their juice (ie, half a tin)
500g white cabbage (ie, half a large one), cored and shredded
1 tsp ground coriander
⅓ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp ground red chilli powder
250ml lukewarm water

To serve
Chapatis
Non-dairy yoghurt
Fresh coriander

Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with cold water, add a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, then drain and leave to steam.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil over a medium flame in a large frying pan for which you have a lid. Once it’s very hot, add the fenugreek, mustard and cumin seeds and, when they start to crackle, stir in the onion and fry for six minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, cook for two minutes, then add the tomatoes, tipping them in with one hand and crushing them with the other as they hit the pan. Cook until the tomatoes become concentrated and paste-like and the oil floats to the top – about eight to 10 minutes.

Turn up the heat, add the cabbage and stir until well coated in the tomato mixture, then cover the pan and leave to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring infrequently (every couple of minutes, say), so the cabbage caramelises a little while it softens.

When the cabbage is soft, fold in the potatoes, the ground spices and a teaspoon and a half of salt, and stir gently, so the potatoes don’t break up too much. Add the lukewarm water bit by bit, stirring after each addition, and leave to cook down for five minutes, until the liquid thickens into a sauce. Check and adjust the seasoning, then take off the heat.

Serve generous helpings of the curry with warm chapatis (heat according to the packet instructions) , a large spoonful of non-dairy yoghurt and a couple of sprigs of fresh coriander.

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How to cook the perfect… vindaloo – recipe

15 Aug

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The peculiar place of vindaloo, a fierily fragrant speciality of Goa in popular culture can be summed up by the 1998 World Cup football anthem of the same name, whose irritatingly catchy chorus references the curry no fewer than 11 times. As the Observer pointed out, its authors, the “prank art collective” Fat Les, “persuaded, among others, a lot of xenophobic, racist Little England football supporters to celebrate an item of Indian cuisine as a quintessential expression of Englishness”. This is despite Goa having been a former Portuguese colony and one of the few parts of India that never saw British rule.

Yet the vindaloo with which most Brits are most familiar – the hottest rung on the generic korma, tikka masala, madras ladder – bears little resemblance to the aromatic, pickle-sour original. Dan Toombs, author of The Curry Guy, dubs them “eight-pint vindaloos”, after the amount of lager needed to finish one. As chef Vivek Singh observes, though vindaloo is probably one of the best- known Indian dishes, “it’s also one of the most misunderstood”.

Thought to be a corruption of the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos, or meat cooked in wine vinegar and garlic, an authentic, tangy vindaloo tingles the tongue with pepper, clove and other spices, rather than the one-dimensional heat of chilli powder. So unless you’ve got a Goan specialist nearby, if you want to try the real thing, your best bet is to make it at home.

The masala
Whether or not you use it to marinate the meat before cooking, every curry begins with a masala, or spice mix – and in this instance chilli is not the principal ingredient. Though they all use slightly different combinations and amounts, all the recipes I try contain an array of what we might think of as sweet spices – cinnamon, cloves and cardamom – plus a hefty hit of black pepper, and the earthy, nutty flavours of cumin, coriander and turmeric. Chilli powder is generally added for colour, rather than heat, with Jaffrey recommending “bright red paprika” and Stein and Todiwala specifying Kashmiri chilli powder, sold under that name by Indian brands and remarkable for its brick-like hue. According to one Goan of my acquaintance, vindaloo is defined by its “beautiful, deep-red masala”, so be liberal with the mild chilli for maximum authenticity. Jaffrey and Collingham also use mustard seeds, which win points both for their pleasing texture and the little pops of bitter warmth they release.

The vinegar
Though the Portuguese would have originally used wine vinegar (or, some speculate, simply wine that had soured on the long voyage over), the dish was quickly adapted to the local palm vinegar, made from coconut toddy. Collingham notes that if you can get hold of it, “it will add a particularly Goan flavour” to the dish. I manage to source some coconut vinegar, probably made from coconut water, in an Indian grocers (many Oriental stockists may carry a Filipino brand), but as I’m reliably informed, “it’s really hard to find the legit stuff outside the state of Goa, let alone abroad”, I wouldn’t worry too much about hunting a bottle down. Singh uses a mixture of white and malt vinegar, and Stein white-wine vinegar, but the best substitute I find is Jaffrey’s cider vinegar, which has similar sweet notes to the coconut variety.

The vegetables
Todiwala describes the dish as “a sort of meaty pickle, rich and intense in flavour”, which may explain the extraordinary number of onions in his recipe – but, in fact, their sweetness works brilliantly with the tangy vinegar and rich, slightly fatty meat. Much as I dislike chopping the things, it’s worthwhile labour here, especially if you can find the sweeter Indian pink onion; otherwise, yellow ones will work fine. Liberal amounts of garlic and ginger add to the chutney-like effect: rather than crushing them to a paste, however, slice them into thin rounds and strips as Singh suggests, so they don’t get lost in the whole.

Should you cook with Coolio, Sheryl Crow or Kelis

19 Jul

835The photographer from the Guardian is wearing a curious expression, in which a slightly strained smile does its best to conceal a look of disappointment. It is unmistakably the face of a woman attempting to spare someone’s feelings by pretending to enjoy a black bean quesadilla that she really isn’t enjoying much. “No, it’s nice,” she says, clearly in no great rush to eat any more. Besides, I know it isn’t nice, because I’ve tried one myself. The filling has a bizarre texture: somehow crumbly and claggy at the same time.

The reason I’m cooking black bean quesadillas while a Guardian photographer looks on is because they come with a recommendation from acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist. They are one of the recipes in a book she co-authored with chef Adrienne Amato called Pleasures, which details what Feist and her band ate during the making of her 2017 album of the same name. Every track on it has a lunch, dinner and dessert attached to it. And the reason I’m cooking a recipe from Pleasures is because I’m investigating cookbooks written by rock and pop stars. There has been a constant stream of them over the last few years. Rappers, cerebral indie musicians, country music legends and R&B divas alike have felt impelled to share their culinary secrets with the world. What can a music fan and cook of limited abilities learn from them?

The first thing is that their authors have quite a mix of cooking abilities. They range from artists who have trained as chefs – R&B star Kelis is a graduate of the prestigious Cordon Bleu cookery school – to artists who have buddied up with chefs to co-write their books, to artists whose interest seems slightly questionable. Something about the cover of Cookin’ with Coolio – a badly-Photoshopped shot of the rapper apparently flambéing bacon and eggs – which even I know is probably not the best technique – suggests that his enthusiasm for the kitchen might have more to do with prolonging his reality TV career than a lifelong passion for cuisine.

There are books that claim they’ll improve your wellbeing (Sheryl Crow’s If it Makes You Healthy) and books that look like they could kill you. Rapper Action Bronson’s Fuck, That’s Delicious is by some distance the best-written and most entertaining pop cookbook I come across, bursting with knowledge and enthusiasm. But its author is visibly not a man at home to the ascetic health-giving delights of, say, Crow’s brown basmati rice with soy-sage sausage. Put it this way, there’s a photo of him in Japan, shirtless beside some sumo wrestlers and by comparison, the sumo wrestlers look like the “after” photo in a Special K advert. His recipe for “a butcher sandwich the way a guy like me would eat it” contains half a pound of rib-eye steak and involves both buttering the bread and frying it in steak fat, his method for making “the chicken of all fucking chickens” requires three litres of oil, one of his “incredible pairings” reads simply “ten tubs of ice cream and depression”.

Keen to avoid both a physique like Action Bronson’s and/or a visit to the cardiology department, I opt to cook something a little lighter. He claims his two-minute tomato sauce is “the best I ever had”. It’s certainly easy to make – garlic, chillies, basil, tinned tomatoes, salt and pepper – and the end result is fine. If it doesn’t quite live up to its advance billing, perhaps that’s something to do with rappers’ inbuilt capacity for braggadocio. That said, for the purposes of comparison, I make Frank Sinatra’s marinara sauce, from The Sinatra Celebrity Cookbook, and it’s definitely an improvement on that; more garlicky, more flavoursome. Action Bronson 1, Chairman of the Board 0.

I confess to abandoning two of the books without cooking anything from them. I just don’t buy Coolio as a gourmet. There’s no USP to the book, beyond a load of really boring recipes spiced up with the odd “mofo” and “pimpin’” in the method descriptions. Loretta Lynn’s 2006 work You’re Cookin’ it Country, meanwhile, deals in a specific kind of old-fashioned, downhome US cooking that either involves ingredients I can’t find – hominy, catfish – or just sounds, to put it politely, not to my taste. There’s a lot of making casseroles by pouring cream of mushroom soup over minced beef or tinned tuna, and some dewy-eyed reminiscences of Lynn’s childhood in rural Kentucky that make mince floating about in mushroom soup seem like haute cuisine: “Possum is a different-tasting meat, but Daddy loved it.”

I approach Feist’s book with caution, partly because when I open it I’m confronted by a recipe that involves a soup containing halloumi cheese – I love halloumi, but boiling it in soup seems so wrong – and partly because many of the meals are vegan, and veganism and I have previous. I tried a plant-based diet last year, lured by its health benefits, and abandoned it almost immediately, after an ill-starred dalliance with the cookbooks of blogger Deliciously Ella. The taste of one of her dishes in particular, involving roast sweet potato and tahini-dressed avocado, haunted me for weeks. Every time I thought of it, I went off the idea of eating full stop. Keen to avoid a rerun, I opt for the black bean quesadillas in the hope that Mexican spicing will override the lack of dairy.

They are easy enough to knock together, and the song that was apparently recorded fuelled by them – Lost Dreams – is lovely, but the end result is about as far away from the unctuousness of a non-vegan quesadilla as you can get: the only lubrication suggested for the mashed black bean filling is a spritz of lime juice.

I have better luck on the vegan front the following day, with a recipe from Sheryl Crow’s book written by the singer and her chef Chuck White after she beat breast cancer. The book is filled with radiant testimony to the antioxidant and immune-system-boosting qualities of the meals within and, less lovably, terrible posed photos of the singer smiling broadly while stirring saucepans and chopping salad. I make the hot and sour miso soup with tofu and bok choi considerably less healthy by frying the tofu rather than boiling it and slathering it with sriracha. The result is good, a decent midweek supper.

Zoe Adjonyoh’s corned beef stew

22 Jun

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This recipe brings back so many memories of childhood. It’s such simple and economical fare and yet so good for the soul. Don’t be put off by the idea of using canned corned beef; you can buy corned beef from the butcher, but the canned variety is just so handy. My mum also loved this one because it was dinner done and dusted in 20 minutes.

(Serves 4)

For the chalé sauce
600g tinned chopped tomatoes or 375g fresh tomatoes
45g (3 tsp) tomato purée
1½ onions, roughly chopped
7½cm piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
1 or 2 red scotch bonnet chillis, deseeded
1½ tbsp dried chilli flakes
1½ tsp sea salt
4 garlic cloves (optional)

For the stew
2 tbsp rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp extra-hot chilli powder
1 tsp curry powder
350g tinned corned beef
2 carrots, peeled (if not organic) and diced
75g peas
4 soft-boiled eggs

Make the chalé sauce by putting ingredients into a food processor and whizzing until you have a smooth paste.

For the stew, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan, add the onion, chilli powder and curry powder, and sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in the chalé sauce.

Divide the corned beef into four equal pieces (which avoids arguments over portions later), or break it up into the sauce, then add the carrots and peas. Leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes. You may find that the sauce starts to dry out, so add a little water if necessary.

Peel the boiled eggs and slice in half, then add to the stew. Cook for a further five minutes.

Serve with boiled yams and plantain or rice – either way, it will vanish in no time.

Six of the best rice bowl recipes

20 May

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For each recipe, you need 400g Japanese white rice, cooked by the absorption method: rinse the rice until the water runs clear, put in a saucepan with 520ml water, then cover with a lid and bring to a boil on a high heat. Listen to check that it’s boiling – do not remove the lid – then reduce the heat to low and simmer for five minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes is up, gently stir up the rice and serve with your chosen recipe.

Beef, onion and sweet soy
Gyudon – a humble bowl of beef on rice – is a bit like Japan’s answer to a burger. Cooking off the onions releases an irresistible “hotdog stand” aroma, so it’s comforting even before you tuck in. Sweet and beefy and savoury and satisfying.

Prep 30 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 4

500g skirt, hanger or flank steak (or any other cheap and fairly lean cut)
2 tbsp oil
4 small onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2cm piece ginger, peeled and finely julienned
100ml soy sauce
100ml mirin
50g dark brown sugar
150ml beef stock
2 spring onions, sliced
40-50g red pickled ginger
Toasted sesame seeds

Put the beef in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up, then cut against the grain into very thin strips.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium flame, then add the onions and sweat, stirring, until they are soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for a few minutes, to soften.

Add the soy, mirin, sugar and stock, and cook until the sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency – about 10 minutes. Stir the beef through the sauce, and cook together for just a few more minutes, until the beef is no longer pink.

Scoop the rice into deep bowls, top with the beef mixture, and garnish with spring onions, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

Chicken and egg
This comforting recipe has a name (oyakodon) that is kind of cute and kind of disturbing if you translate it directly: “parent-and-child” rice bowl. Which, I suppose, is a little more poetic than chicken and egg. Whatever you call it, it’s very delicious. This doesn’t traditionally contain butter or mushrooms, but I find the combination of butter, eggs, mushrooms and sweet soy irresistible.

Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4

80g butter
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 boned and skinned chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
100g shiitake mushrooms, destemmed and thinly sliced
200ml chicken stock
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
8 eggs
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 pinch chilli powder
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Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the onions and cook until they soften and brown – about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and mushrooms, and cook for another five to 10 minutes, until these brown as well.

Pour in the stock, soy, mirin and sugar, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the liquid reduces and coats the chicken.

Lower the heat and crack in the eggs. Break the yolks and stir gently. When cooked to a semi-scrambled consistency, take off the heat.

Scoop the rice into deep bowls, top with the chicken and egg mixture, and garnish with spring onions and chilli powder.

5 Delicious Valentine Cake Recipes To Impress Your Loved One

18 Apr

valentine-cakeIt’s the season to make merry again. This coming week, the world would be gearing up to celebrate the Valentine’s day. Valentine’s day is celebrated in honour of Saint Valentine, the Christian priest of 3rd century Rome, who played a major role in uniting lovers in his time. Movies, media and popular culture have made the day special for many couples of this generation who go an extra mile to let their loved one know of their deep affection. Cards, candlelight dinners, gifts and poetry; there are multiple ways in which you can express your love, but we believe there is nothing that can beat a valentine cake, baked with all the love and care. This Valentine’s day, surprise your partner by baking these delicious cakes and see them grin eye to eye.

Here are 5 lip-smacking cake recipes for Valentine’s day 2018:

1. Chocolate Mug Cake
Don’t have the time to go through the entire baking drill? No worries, we’ve got you covered. This quick and decadent chocolate mug cake can be prepared in a microwave in just 5 minutes. This rich and lush chocolate valentine cake is one indulgent treat your partner is sure to love.

2. Eggless Date Cake
An unbelievably tender cake made with the goodness of dates, milk and almonds. Vegetarians take note as this culinary wonder is eggless too. Pair this special valentine cake with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy the day with your loved one.

3. Strawberry Cheesecake
Pureed strawberries and rich hung curd are a match made in heaven just like you and your partner. Whip up this velvety soft delight in the comforts of your kitchen with this simple recipe. The decadent delight is a treat to the eyes and the palate as well.

4. Coffee Walnut cake
The beautiful bitter essence of coffee teamed with the nutty goodness of walnuts makes for a sensational pair that has had us rooting for it, since time immemorial. The tempting treat also breaks the monotony of the regular sugary and chocolaty goods that do the rounds during the V-day
celebrations.

5. Eggless Truffle cake
This moist and spongy delight layered with creamy and lip-smacking chocolate ganache is a classic that can never go out of fashion. To this valentine’s day and many more to come, we are laying our bets on chocolate truffle cake as one of our favourite valentine cakes!

5 Foodie Valentine’s Day Gifts For Girlfriends and Boyfriends

16 Mar

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we are loving the love in the air. On this special day, that is celebrated in honor of Saint Valentine, we have the perfect suggestions for valentines day gifts for boyfriends and girlfriends. Valentine was a Catholic priest who lived in Rome in the 3rd Century. According to some popular legends, St. Valentines played a crucial role in uniting many lovers in the 3rd century in Rome. He started marrying many Roman soldiers in secret ceremonies. It was the time when many Roman men were taking to Christianity which was seen as a crime by the Roman emperor Claudius II. When the king found out that St. Valentine was marrying these soldiers in secret Christian ceremonies, he was imprisoned. In the prison, he won the affection of all the prisoners with his kindness and particularly of the jailer’s blind daughter whom he supposedly cured. St. Valentine’s was executed on 14 February in the year 270.

Some historians also believe that the roots of Valentine’s day lie in the ancient Roman spring festival which was celebrated with much pomp and show on 15th February. With the coming of Christianity, the holiday was moved to 14th February and it was only with time that the festival got its romantic reputation.

On the special occasion of Valentine’s day, lovers take out time for their special ones and show them love and affection. Gestures in form of romantic letters, notes, flowers and gifts are also exchanged between the couple. And since we believe that there is no love greater than the love for food, we have compiled best gifts you can give to your foodie girlfriend and boyfriend. Make your Valentine’s Day even more special by gifting your loved one with these amazing foodie stuff. Have a look

5 Best Valentine’s Day Gifts For Girlfriends and Boyfriends
For Her:

1. Chocolate Hamper
One can get never enough of chocolates. And because it is valentine’s day, we can’t find a reason better enough for you and your partner to indulge to your heart’s content. This Valentine’s Day gift her a personalized chocolate hamper, combining all her favourite chocolates in a cutesy basket. When it comes to chocolate, one can never fall short of ideas. You can also throw in some cupcakes and chocolate spread in the middle.

2. Macaroons
They are delicious, they are pretty and spell love like no other dessert. Crispy from outside and chewy from the inside, this French dessert is a delight for all those who have a soft-spot for vibrant and gorgeous looking desserts. There are many special Valentine’s day macaroon gift boxes available at several chocolateries, patisseries and even on various websites.

3. Tea Box
A special Valentine’s gift for women who can’t live without their daily cup of chai. Gift them an assortment exotic teas. You can choose from a range of flavours and varieties like the good old masala tea, green tea, organic tea, fruity concoctions or herbal and floral teas as well.

For Him:

1. Energy Bars
If he is into fitness, you can gift him a box of delicious energy bars. Made with nutrient-dense ingredients like whole grains, nuts or seeds, these protein bars are packed with good quality fiber and proteins. This gifting option is the best for those who love to be in shape yet can’t compromise on their love for sweets. There are many flavours to pick and choose from: like chocolate, hazelnut, peanut butter etc.

2. Personalised Food Coasters
This Valentine’s day, let it just be the love that spills and not the drink in his glass. Gift him customised food coasters with your special message and make the day memorable for both of you.