My daughter, who is currently studying for her finals, returned home unexpectedly last weekend, agitated, unable to revise in peace as her pesky neighbours have been creating a lot of noise at unearthly hours for a number of weeks. Time for some quick comfort food, I thought. I had some pre-boiled “scrapers” (small new potatoes from Osterley Park farmshop) in the fridge, I simply sliced them, then gave them a good coating of gram flour, salt and chilli powder. Gram flour is a key ingredient in a lot of Indian cooking (both sweet and savoury), it’s very healthy as it’s made from ground chick peas, and does not contain any gluten. These pakoras took minutes to prepare, with minimal effort and fuss. The verdict from my daughter – “To be honest they’re not very Indian and I have tasted something similar at Leon’s, but they are still really delicious!” I was not certain whether I should be flattered or dismayed. But hopefully the taste will speak for itself.
I also visited Twickenham Farmers Market for a change and greater selection of produce. I was immediately drawn to the rainbow chard. This has got to be one of the most beautiful vegetables, the colours are staggeringly vibrant and I bought 2 large bunches.
(See tip below)
Preparation – 10 – 12 minutes
Cooking – 10 minutes
Vegan (buy alternative yoghurt
Freezing – not suitable
500g new potatoes – boiled and cooled (this can be done a day in advance)
40g gram flour
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¾ teaspoon salt
Just under ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper/chilli powder
100ml vegetable oil
You will need a large frying pan
- Slice the potatoes (thickness of a £1 coin), place in a bowl. Sift the gram flour onto the potatoes. Then add the salt and cayenne pepper/chilli powder. Mix these well, I found the best way was to toss them in the bowl. Be gentle, otherwise the potatoes will break. You basically want to ensure that the potatoes have a coating of the flour mixture.
- Place a piece of kitchen roll on a plate. Set aside. Put the oil into the pan, once heated place the potatoes, don’t over crowd the pan, and gently fry on both sides until they are a beautiful golden colour. You will need to do this is in a few batches, depending on the size of your pan. Place the pakoras on the plate lined with kitchen towel. If eating immediately, store them in a warm place.
Rainbow chard raita with a tangy tamarind topping
200g – Greek yogurt (I always buy Yeo valley organic yogurt)
Handful of rainbow swiss chard, very finely chopped (you can substitute this for spinach or rocket if you prefer)
Chaat masala (available in supermarkets)
- Place the yogurt onto a plate, top with the yoghurt, then the rainbow chard and a good sprinkling of chaat masala.
I had bought 2 large bunches of rainbow chard, however, was not going to use it all. One of the things that I learnt from my mother and aunty was the benefits of freezing food. It has saved me a lot of time in the kitchen and often been a saving factor for a last minute meal. This is why frozen food is so good for you, some of this information has been extracted from Sue Quinn’s article in BBC Good Food magazine, April 2019 issue:
- Frozen food can be equally or even more nutritious than some fresh produce (Research by Chester University’s Institute of Food Science and Innovation found the vitamin C levels in frozen and just-picked blueberries stored in the fridge for 3 days showed a significant decrease in vitamin C)
- Convenient for a last minute meal
- Enables you to eat food that is not in season
- Portion control – enables you to freeze portions in accordance with amount required
- Reduces food wastage
- Saves preparation time
Finally, if you fancy something a bit healthier than the ‘scraper pakoras’ this raita also pairs wonderfully with our tofu pilau recipe!