The Punjabi Kitchen

Two Punjabi cooks and their evolving journey in the kitchen.

AGM(Aloo, gajjar, matter sabzi) — February 24, 2019

AGM(Aloo, gajjar, matter sabzi)

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A dry potato, carrot and pea curry.

After the rich offerings of last week, here is a simple, economical vegetable curry using staple and seasonal ingredients.

This is my son’s absolute favourite vegetable curry. I could, in winter in particular, make it on a weekly basis and he would not tire of it.

But there’s another really lovely story that I fondly remember with regard to this curry. Back in the days when my son was a teenager and played hockey, we went to a hockey tournament organised in Birmingham. It was a freezing December day, where the sun did not feature at all. The sandwiches that I had prepared suddenly did not seem to be at all appealing.

By lunchtime we were chilled to the bone, when we saw a Sikh gentleman arrive with a large white van. At the back of his van he had an enormous pot, steaming with this vegetable curry. He had also been to the Gurdwara (Sikh temple) prior to his arrival, and together with the “sewadars” (a Punjabi word for a volunteer who offers his/her services to a Gurdwara), they had made chapattis. Out came a chapatti, lined in a napkin, and he placed some piping hot curry onto it. A Punjabi wrap, I thought!

Some of you may recall me writing about the time I was at risk of diabetes and how I changed that through diet and lifestyle. One of the easy steps I took to modify my diet was to decrease the amount of carbs in a recipe, hence the smaller amount of potatoes.

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Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Freezing – not suitable

Vegan – use alternative to butter

Gluten free – be sure to buy a suitable alternative to chapatti or naan
Ingredients

500g carrots – peeled and sliced into even sized pieces (approx 1cm cubes is ideal – we buy organic carrots, they are relatively inexpensive)

250g potato – peeled and cut into same-sized cubes as above (you can leave the peel on if you prefer, especially if using organic potatoes)

200g frozen peas

1 medium – large sized onion – cut into small pieces

2 inch ginger – finely chopped/minced

3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped/minced

1 green chilli or ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons rapeseed oil

1 level teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon garam masala – to garnish

A large non-stick frying pan is ideal

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Method

1. Heat the oil into a frying pan on a medium – low heat, add the cumin seeds. You will see them sizzle, add the onions and salt. Continue to stir. Cover with a lid. Once the onions are a light golden colour, add the garlic, ginger, chilli/cayenne pepper and turmeric. Keep the heat on the low side so that the mixture does not burn. Fry for a further 2 – 3 minutes. If the mixture sticks to the pan, squirt a few drops of water and cover with the lid.

2. Then add the carrots. Stir and cover with the lid. Stir frequently. Again if the mixture sticks to the pan, just add a splash of water. Cook for approximately 5 minutes.

3. Add the diced potatoes and stir the mixture. Cover with the lid again. Continue to stir frequently to ensure it does not stick to the pan. Cook for approximately 15 minutes.

4. The mixture will be almost cooked, add the peas, mix well, and cover with the lid again. After about a further 7 – 8 minutes the mixture should be cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Garnish by sprinkling the garam masala.

Serve with piping hot buttered chapatis/naan and plain yogurt.

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Variations

I sometimes also added a combination of frozen sweetcorn and peas.

You can also add a couple of heaped tablespoons of chopped fenugreek leaves when you add the peas. I buy fresh fenugreek in the summer, chop it and freeze it. Fresh fenugreek is available at some supermarkets or Indian stores, however, we would not recommend you use it for just this the recipe only. Fenugreek is reputed to lower blood sugar levels.

Pitney potato wedges with garlic and rosemary — February 10, 2019

Pitney potato wedges with garlic and rosemary

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We ate a similar version of these, albeit the potatoes were cut into chunks, when we stayed with our very dear farmer friends in Pitney, Somerset. Every time I make this it is synonymous with our stay, hence the name of this dish. The Walronds have been running Glebe farm for over 200 years, and it was converted to organic production in 1999, for further information please see www.pitneyfarmshop.co.uk We love going to visit the Walronds every year, the food produced is second to none, so much so that I even bring back orders for friends! There is also a farm shop and a lovely cafe as well – www.thepitneyfarmcafe.co.uk I will write more about the farm in future posts. All I will say at this stage is that if you are in the West country, a detour to the farm shop and cafe is a must!

Serves 4

This can be halved if you are making this for Valentine’s day, we would also very much suggest pairing this with our succulent salmon

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Ingredients

1kg potatoes, skins on, cut into wedges

2.5 tablespoons of rapeseed/olive oil

4 plump cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped , or 1 teaspoon dried – please note that it would be great if you have a garden that has rosemary or perhaps a friendly neighbour that is willing to let you have some. We are not advocating that you buy a pack specifically for this recipe, especially as I was really surprised to discover that the packs sold in various stores emanate from Morocco.

Salt and freshly ground pepper

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Method

  1.  Heat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/gas mark 6. Put the potatoes into a large pan of cold water, add 1 teaspoon salt. When the water has boiled, reduce to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes. Drain well, tip them into a baking tray, then sprinkle them with the oil, coat them with the garlic and rosemary; season well.
  2.  Spread onto one layer, bake for 25 – 30 minutes until they are crispy and golden. I usually shake them half way through.

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Salmon with a salsa sauce —

Salmon with a salsa sauce

 

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Our love of food is such that we enjoy a wide variety of cuisines. We rarely eat Indian food every day. We do try and eat fish once a week, given its health benefits. So it is only apt that every now and then there will be a recipe which has “nothing Indian about it”.  This is one of Aunty’s inventions. My daughter made it for a lovely Mother’s day meal when she was a teenager which just about sums up how easy it is, given that cooking savoury dishes was not her forte at that stage! It has the added advantage that the salsa sauce consists of a lot of store cupboard ingredients.

Serve it with lightly steamed or roasted vegetables. A side dish of potato wedges is a must – see recipe for Pitney potato wedges with garlic and rosemary.

This recipe can easily be halved for a Valentine’s day meal.

Serves 4

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking: 10 minutes

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Ingredients

4 pieces of skinless salmon fillets (preferably sustainably sourced)

1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

8 tablespoons of salsa – can be mild/hot, depending on how much of a kick you like!

3 tablespoons of mayonnaise

5 tablespoons of Greek yogurt

50ml white wine

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

1. Mix the salsa, mayonnaise, white wine and yogurt in a bowl. Season to taste.

2. Heat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/gas 6 and put the salmon fillets in a baking dish/tray. Squeeze the lemon juice onto it. Bake for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile make the sauce. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the peppercorns and stir until they start “popping.” Add the salsa mixture. As soon as it starts bubbling, remove from the heat.

4. Once the fish is cooked, remove from the oven and place on a warm platter. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve immediately. There will be extra sauce, put it in a bowl should anyone wish for extra.

NB – please remember to remove the peppercorns, generally whole spices are not eaten.

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Mini buttermilk cheesecakes — February 9, 2019

Mini buttermilk cheesecakes

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This was a recipe featured in BBC Good Food Magazine last summer, where the topping comprised of roasted fruit. These mini cheesecakes looked so enticing that I made them as soon as I could. They did not disappoint, and I have made them a number of times since. They are delicious, with a really silky smooth creamy texture. As is the norm, I usually adapt a recipe – I did not bother roasting the fruits, and simply decorated them with fresh fruit in the summer. In winter I use frozen berries.

The other thing I have done is to put less filling in each cheesecake and by doing that I managed to make 3 more. It also reduces the calorie content. Such is the popularity of these cheesecakes, that I will even be making a batch for our very dear friend, for her wedding in May. I also made a batch for my son’s birthday in January, no surprises for guessing he loves his chocolate! If making these for Valentine’s, feel free to decorate them to your heart’s content. Apologies for the pun.

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Makes 12 – but recipe can be halved

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 50 minutes plus at least 5 hours cooling

Vegetarian

Can be frozen
For the cheesecakes

9 buttery biscuits (the recipe says they used Fox’s Butter Crinkle Crunch biscuits – I use any store’s own brand of ginger biscuits)

30g butter, melted

450g full fat cream cheese

150ml buttermilk

100g icing sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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For the topping

Fruits – good quality tinned fruit of your choice, frozen berries or chocolate. You don’t have to cover the entire cheesecake.

Method

1. Heat the oven to 150C/130C/gas mark 2 and line 9 holes of a muffin tin with muffin cases. Put the biscuits in a food bag (I keep one for this purpose) and crush to fine crumbs using a rolling pin. Or you can use a food processor. Mix with the butter. Spoon into the muffin holes and use the back of the spoon to press the biscuits into a compact layer.

2. Whisk the cream cheese, buttermilk, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a jug or bowl. If using a jug, pour into the biscuit bases, filling them right to the top. I use a bowl and then use a small ladle to pour the cream cheese mixture.

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3. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the cheesecakes inside for 2 hours, or until the oven is completely cool. Once cool, chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight if you can.

4. Decorate as you wish, although they are also delicious on their own.

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Healthy sugar-free banana bread — February 4, 2019

Healthy sugar-free banana bread

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In 2017 I was told I was at a high risk of getting diabetes and, after many months of waiting, took part in a NHS diabetes prevention programme. Diabetes, and particularly type 2 diabetes, is a growing health problem for people of South Asian descent. The likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes is reported to be as much as 6 times higher in South Asians than in Europeans. It is a serious condition that is far too readily ignored by many people; it costs the NHS 70 billion a year.

The prevention programme was an eye-opener on many levels and it taught me about the sugar and fat content in many of the foods we eat. Through following dietary and lifestyle changes, I managed to reduce my blood sugar level and am no longer in the high risk category for diabetes.

My one weakness in life has always been sweet foods. My mother is an excellent baker and, whilst growing up in Tanzania, every day at around 4pm we would have a glass of milk together with a piece of her delicious home made cake. This habit has only changed in the sense that the milk is replaced by a cup of chai masala tea instead!

At that stage in 2017, I really struggled to find any cake recipes that were genuinely sugar free. Many would claim to be sugar-free yet contained either honey, agave nectar or maple syrup. I stumbled across this banana bread recipe in BBC Good Food Magazine, but like most recipes, adapted it to suit me. This recipe successfully gave me the “sugar-fix” I so craved and I still make it now.

My father, who is a diabetic, always asks that I make this, alleging that the version my dear mother makes is not as good as mine. I find that hard to believe, but am nevertheless happy to indulge him.

My adaptations – I replaced the wholemeal and self-raising flour with wholemeal organic spelt flour, and added some ground cinnamon and of course, the obligatory crushed cardamom! On other occasions, I have added some ground almonds as well.

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Natural Sweetener – any stewed fruit will do, this is where plums/apples/pears etc any fruits that have seen better days can be used.

On this occasion, I had apples that were well past their expiry date. I have also added some diced apple into the cake that has been gently stewed in some butter and cinnamon for a few mins – this helps to get rid of the excess moisture from the apple.

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This cake freezes beautifully; I slice it and wrap it between sheets of greaseproof paper or cereal packets. Simply take out a piece whenever you fancy it.

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Preparation: 10 – 15 mins

Cooking time: 1 hour and 10 mins

Freezing: suitable

Ingredients

Butter – to grease tin and to brush the apple on top of the cake

140g/5oz wholemeal or wholemeal spelt flour

100g/4oz self-raising flour

1 teaspoon each bicarbonate of soda and baking powder

300g mashed bananas from mashed overripe bananas – see note below

2 large eggs, preferably free-range or organic if possible

150 ml natural yogurt (I always Yeo valley full fat version)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

I teaspoon crushed cardamom pods (optional)

50g walnuts (some roughly bashed, they add texture to the cake) a few kept whole to decorate the top of the cake

150g any stewed fruit, and if using apple, an extra apple, sliced to decorate the top of the cake

Note re. bananas – the recipe says that the blacker and mushier, the better the end result. A banana a day past its best won’t add enough flavour and moistness and you will miss the fat. However, I have added bananas that haven’t quite reached that stage with equally satisfactory results but that may be because I have added stewed fruit instead and full fat instead of low fat yogurt.

Method

1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment and allow it to come 2cm above the tin.

2. Sift the flour(s), bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add the cinnamon and cardamom (if using).

3. Mix the bananas, eggs, yogurt and stewed fruit. Quickly stir into the dry ingredients. Put the nuts, apple (if using) in a nice pattern on top of the cake. Brush the apple with some melted butter. Bake for 1 hour and 10 mins or until a skewer comes clean.

4. Cool in tin on a wire rack. This can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Personally, I think it is best toasted and lightly buttered with a splattering of some reduced sugar jam, (eg St Dalfour).

 

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Savoy cabbage rolls in a fragrant tomato sauce — January 31, 2019

Savoy cabbage rolls in a fragrant tomato sauce

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Back in Tanzania, in the seventies, my mother was taught this recipe from a Russian friend who had lived in Georgia. She said that she made them with vine leaves, but as they were were not available, she advised mum that they could be made with white cabbage instead. As a child I can remember eating these cabbage rolls, but with a mixture of rice and lamb mince.

A few years back I also recall eating these at a gastro pub for our office Christmas dinner, but the filling was pearl barley. It was a lovely change for the rather drab vegetarian alternatives that are often on the menu. I have used brown rice, as that’s what I had available, but any grain of your choice can be used. Just follow the cooking instructions for the grain you are planning on using.

Serves 4

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 30 minutes

Vegetarian – can be vegan if you omit paneer and replace it with tofu. If using tofu, drain as much water as possible. For the method please see the instructions for the “Tofu bjurji” recipe. The rest of the tofu can be frozen.

Gluten free – just be sure to purchase the correct bread rolls.

Tip – to save on preparation time, the tomato sauce and mixture can be prepared, a day or two in advance

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Delicious fresh vegetables, from the fantastic Osterley Park.

Ingredients

I savoy cabbage – you will need 8 of the outer leaves, excess cabbage can be used to make a seasonal winter slaw.

I medium onion – finely chopped

2 fat cloves of garlic – finely chopped

2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

100g paneer – grated (the rest can be frozen) – if you can’t get paneer you can use grated halloumi cheese instead, however, be sure to reduce the amount of salt

250g brown rice – cooked (you can use ready cooked rice if you prefer)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons chopped coriander – (I have a pot of this in the kitchen, but if you don’t have these, it’s not an issue, I am not advocating that you buy a pack especially)

Fragrant tomato sauce

I tin of good quality chopped tomatoes – crushed, or put in a blender to grind

2 tablespoons of tomato puree

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil

1 level teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 fat cloves of garlic – finely chopped

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon turmeric

1 star anise – optional

¼ teaspoon Kasuri methi (these are dried fenugreek leaves, they have a pungent taste so should be used sparingly, they are available in Indian food stores or on Amazon but as this is used so infrequently, I would not necessarily suggest you buy this) – use dried dill, if this is not available, or omit entirely

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Method

As this dish is put into the oven to cook, I spend a minimum amount of time at stage 1 below.

1. Prepare the tomato sauce. Place the oil in a pan on a medium heat. Then add garlic, sauté gently until it is golden. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, salt, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin powder and star anise (if using). Stir well. Cover with a lid. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then finally add the Kasuri methi/dill, if using. Season to taste. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat, sauté the onion for approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté for a few more minutes. Add the paneeer, cumin seeds, salt and cayenne pepper, mix well. Then add the rice and finally the chopped coriander, if using. Adjust seasoning to taste. Then let the mixture cool.

3. Bring some water to boil in a kettle/large pan. Remove the 8 outer leaves from the cabbage. and cook them in a large pan of boiling water. This should only take 2 – 3 minutes. Drain and then run under cold water. Pat them dry with a clean tea towel or kitchen roll. Cut out the central stalk on each leaf.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees or gas mark 6.

5. To assemble the rolls – divide the mixture between the leaves. Put the mixture in each leaf and roll them up, folding in the ends. Put the sauce into a dish and gently place each parcel. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes.

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Serve with a winter slaw and crusty bread rolls

Winter slaw (optional)

Chop the excess cabbage, add some grated carrots, a finely sliced apple, some olive oil and cider/red wine/white wine vinegar/lemon juice and some honey/maple syrup. The proportion of oil to vinegar/lemon juice should be 2:1. Season to taste.

Warmed hasselback butternut squash, pearl barley and sprouted mung beans salad with a parsley pesto dressing — January 22, 2019

Warmed hasselback butternut squash, pearl barley and sprouted mung beans salad with a parsley pesto dressing

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I am part of a book group of 10 women that usually meet on a monthly basis and I have made this salad albeit with different grains (eg spelt, freekeh) and dressings a few times. The vegetables have also been varied according to the seasons. One of the lovely things about our book group is that we all bring a different dish – sweet or savoury. It is an utter gastronomic delight! Whilst enjoying the various foods and chatting about lots of other things, the conversation does eventually steer towards the book in question.

The hasselback version was made for the last meeting, it looked quite spectacular. Any leftovers of this salad made a great lunch. I saw this particular recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine this year and a variation in Bon Appetit. I have adapted the recipe slightly.

Alternatively you can simply slice the butternut squash.

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Sprouted mung beans – I make my own and it’s very easy to do. Recipe to follow shortly. If unavailable, substitute for “Good4USupersprouts” which are available in most supermarkets.

Serves 6

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Vegetarian or vegan if you omit butter for hasselback recipe

Freezing – not suitable

Tip: to  save time, both the pesto and pearl barley can be prepared in advance, I then re-heat the pearl barley just before serving.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

4 fat cloves of garlic, chopped

Good pinch of chilli flakes

2 heaped teaspoons of coriander seeds

300g pearl barley

2 leeks (white part only) sliced into julienne pieces

Olive/rapeseed oil to brush the butternut squash and to fry the leeks

For the parsley pesto

50g parsley (leaves only)

75ml rapeseed oil

3 cloves garlic

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice (I always use unwaxed lemons)

Freshly ground pepper

Dash of Tabasco or any other chilli sauce

Place all ingredients into a food processer, blitz to a paste. Taste and adjust seasoning according to taste. This pesto will keep in a jar in the fridge for a few days (it is great on cheese on toast or on other roasted vegetables!)

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The delicious parsley pesto

 

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius, peel the butternut squash, and get rid of the seeds and pith. Put the 2 halves cut side down in a baking tray that has been lined with greaseproof paper. Brush with some olive oil on both sides, and give it a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast until it has softened but not completely cooked; this should take approximately 35 – 40 mins depending on the size of the squash.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients except the coriander seeds in a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Remove the squash from the oven and slice it as evenly as possible. Make sure you don’t cut all the way through. You might want to transfer it onto a chopping board if you find that is easier rather than slicing it on the baking tray. The recipe also suggests you can place the handles of 2 wooden spoons along the squash to ensure it does not cut through. Personally, I found it just as easy to slice it on the baking tray which I had placed onto a sturdy wooden chopping board.
  4. Coat the butternut squash with the garlic and chilli butter – a pastry brush is ideal to get between the slices. Dot the coriander seeds around. Pop it back into the oven for a further 10 – 15 mins, keep basting every few mins. (Please do keep a careful watch on the garlic as it can burn, so you may need to reduce the heat to 180 degrees celsius, which is what I did). Check at the end if it has cooked, otherwise you may need to give it a few more mins.

Sliced butternut squash– heat oven as above. Peel and slice into 1 inch slices, place on a baking tray lined with greaspeproof paper, drizzle with olive oil and a good grinding of salt, pepper and (chilli flakes – if using).  Bake for 30 – 35 mins, I usually swap the tray half way during the cooking time and turn the slices around.

Pearl barley– boil this in a large pan of salted boiling water (I have also used vegetable stock on occasions) until al dente, it takes about 30 mins. Strain the pearl barley and put it on to a warmed serving plate.

Leeks –meanwhile put a small amount of rapeseed oil (you can use olive oil as well) into a frying pan, and once it has heated, throw in the julienne leeks. Keep the heat high, you want them to char a bit, stir the whole time and remove from the pan after a couple of minutes.

To assemble the salad (a large oval dish is best )

Put the warm pearl barley on to a warmed dish/plate followed by a layer of the leeks, and then finally the butternut squash. Scatter the sprouted mung or sprouts on the salad. Drizzle generously with the parsley pesto.

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Jhutt putt chicken (quick and easy chicken curry) — January 15, 2019

Jhutt putt chicken (quick and easy chicken curry)

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A quick and easy chicken curry, which is also incredibly versatile. 

This really has to be one of the quickest chicken dishes ever, with staple store cupboard ingredients. It can be whipped up in no time, and never fails to impress. It’s been a popular dish with our children who are living away from home as it is quick to prepare, and needs very few ingredients.

Please note that surprisingly all of our recipes are quite mild in terms of spices, as well as salt, the latter primarily due to health reasons and the former because believe it or not, we don’t like spicy food! Yes, we really are the exceptions to the rule. However, if you like a punch in your food, please feel free to  increase the chilli level. The beauty of Indian cuisine is that you can adapt it to suit your taste buds.

 

 

 

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Serves 4 as a main meal with rice/naan/chappati, a salad and dollops of plain yogurt or raita.

Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes

Freezing – only chicken (the leeks and spring onions are not suitable to freeze when raw)

Ingredients

500g skinless and boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into small pieces – it is important that they are an even size so that the cooking time is the same. You can use chicken breast if you prefer, although I find it is a drier meat.

½ level teaspoon salt

½ level teaspoon turmeric

1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds

3 plump cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 inch piece of root ginger – finely sliced into julienne pieces

Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half a lemon, unwaxed if possible (Excess lemon juice can be put into an ice cube and frozen if you are unlikely to use it anytime soon)

2 heaped tablespoons tomato puree

¼ teaspoon cayenne/chilli powder

4 – 5 spring onions – chopped into small pieces

1 small leek – finely sliced

½ level teaspoon garam masala – as a garnish at the end

 

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Method

  1. Rub the zest on the chicken pieces. This can be done ahead, store in an airtight container in a fridge overnight.
  2. Heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the chicken pieces, stir for 3- 4 minutes. Cover with a lid.
  3. Add the salt, cumin seeds, turmeric, and chilli powder/cayenne pepper. Stir well, cover again with a lid and reduce the heat.
  4. Keep stirring frequently, after about 10 minutes add the ginger and  garlic. If the mixture is sticking to the bottom of the pan at any stage, add a dash of water. (You may want to add a tiny bit more oil if you prefer).  Add the tomato puree and half of the lemon juice. Add more lemon juice if you like a zing! Cover again and cook for a few more minutes.
  5.  The chicken will be cooked when a piece comes apart easily. Garnish with the chopped spring onions, leeks and garam masala.

 

 

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Tofu bhurji (scrambled tofu) — January 10, 2019

Tofu bhurji (scrambled tofu)

 

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As a child, and until I became a pescatarian, eating “mattar keema” (lamb mince with peas) was the norm. Aunty invented this many years ago, she struck up a very close friendship with a Taiwanese girl and then incorporated some of the cuisine from the far East into her own cooking. In particular, she replaced paneer (an Indian cheese) with tofu. It’s advantageous as it is much lower in fat than paneer and an excellent food from a nutritional health perspective. (See also recipe for Tofu pilau which will follow in due course). It’s quick to both prepare and cook, it freezes beautifully, and leftovers can even be used as a filling for pasties.

Since we are now in Veganuary this month, it is only fitting that we share this recipe now.

Serve with naan and a side salad of spinach, grated beetroot and carrots with a dressing of some lemon juice, rapeseed oil, freshly milled salt and pepper.

 

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Delicious freshly preparedly ingredients.

Cooking information

Serves 6

Preparation : 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Freezing: suitable

Vegan and gluten free (be sure to buy gluten free naan)

Ingredients

I pack of tofu (not silken variety) – squeeze as much water from the block, you can do this by using a few pieces of kitchen towel or a clean tea-towel. Grate the tofu after you have done this; this can be done a day ahead.

1 medium onion – chopped (not too finely)

1 teaspoon salt

½ level teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon minced garlic

I dessertspoon grated ginger

½ teaspoon green chilli (finely chopped)/ red chilli powder

2 black cardamoms (crushed in a mortar and pestle – opening the pod really brings out their flavour)

A few cinnamon sticks – roughly crushed, as above

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 mug frozen peas

1 teaspoon garam masala – to garnish

Chopped parsley – to garnish, but not essential

You will need a large pan, preferably a frying pan, with a lid

 

Method

1. Heat the oil on a medium heat, and after a couple of minutes, add the crushed cardamom, cinnamon sticks, and cumin seeds. Then add the chopped onion and salt. Keep the heat on medium, cover with a lid and stir frequently. When the onions are a light golden colour, add the turmeric, garlic, ginger and chilli. Stir well. Cover again for a few minutes. (NB – keep the heat low or else the garlic will burn, making it bitter).

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2. Then add the grated tofu and stir well. After a few minutes, add the frozen peas. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or so, until the peas have cooked. Adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with garam masala and parsley if so desired and enjoy!

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Potato pitta pockets with spring greens — January 1, 2019

Potato pitta pockets with spring greens

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Potato pitta pockets with spring greens – a rustic, wholesome and earthy dish.

There is a longstanding joke with my nephew and niece about Osterley Park. For those not familiar with it, it is a beautiful national trust park that I love and am lucky enough to have on my doorstep. Most guests are invariably invited to visit it, much to the amusement of my nephew and niece!

As part of my drive to eat seasonally, I go to Osterley park farm shop once a week. I love spring greens – I find they hold their shape far more than spinach does and this dish ticks all the right boxes for some comforting winter food. It is just as tasty as a filling for a warm sandwich the following day.

I came up with the idea of this recipe last year, and it is already a firm family favourite. Generally in Indian cooking we will eat a dish called “Aloo methi” – potato and fenugreek dish, or “Aloo palak” – potato and spinach dish. However, the fenugreek season ends in the summer in the UK, and I wanted a change from spinach.

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A lovely selection of fresh vegetables from Osterley Park.

Cooking information.

Serves 4 – 6

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 – 30 minutes

Freezing: not suitable

Vegan, gluten free (be sure to buy gluten free pitta bread)

Leftover yogurt – add fruit, put on granola, muesli, etc, radish can be part of a salad

Ingredients

1 medium – largish onion – finely diced

50ml vegetable oil

300g spring greens – washed and dried, then finely chopped with stems included

250g potatoes – peeled and chopped into I cm cubes ( I leave the skin on, but peel them if you prefer)

1 level teaspoon salt

1 inch root ginger, minced/very finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced/finely chopped

You can use ready made ginger/garlic if you prefer – 1 heaped teaspoon of each

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon cayenne/chilli powder – (add more at the end if you like it hot)

1 level teaspoon garam masala to garnish – available from Indian shops/supermarkets

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The finely chopped spring greens.

Suggested serving – 1.5 – 2 pitta breads per person (depends on how hungry someone is!)

100g pot of plain yogurt – I always buy Yeo Valley organic plain yogurt as I think it has such a rich and creamy taste, and it’s my way of supporting the West Country as I have a special affinity to it!

To serve

Radish raita – get a handful of radishes, put these into a bowl. Chop these into small chunks, add them to the yogurt, and just before serving, grind some black pepper onto it. I personally do not add salt but you may wish to do so.

Tip – you can prepare the spring greens the day before, wrap them in a clean tea towel/a few pieces of kitchen towel, put them in a clean bag ( I usually use an old bread bag), store in a cool place.

You will need a large pan with a lid, a non-stick frying pan is ideal.

Method

  1. Put the oil in the pan on a medium heat, let the oil heat up, and then add the onions. Cover with a lid, stir frequently. Sauté the onions until they are a light golden brown. This should take no longer than 10 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, salt, ginger, garlic, chilli and turmeric, stir well, and cover with a lid again. At this stage lower the heat – you do not want the ginger, garlic or spices to burn. If the mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan, add a dash of water.
  2. After a few minutes, there will be a lovely aroma, add the potatoes, mix well, cover with a lid and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
  3. Then add the spring greens and mix well. Cover with a lid and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes. Check the potatoes are cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
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    Cooked and ready to be put in a pitta!
  4. Heat the pitta breads, cut in half and stuff with the potato and greens.
  5. Serve with radish raita, or plain yoghurt if you prefer.