Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Danish Pastries

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I'm just about to jump in a taxi to get to the airport for a short work/research trip to Denmark, but I've got a recipe for Asparagus and Parma Ham Pizza for when I get back next week!

If you find yourself in Doverodde at the Book Arts Festival stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Chana Dal

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I love dal. It's simple, it's comforting, it's filling, it's budget friendly.

The mistake I often make though is to over-complicate it, and whereas I really do like Makhani Dhal and Lentil, Cabbage and Tomato Dal (which I can't believe I haven't shared on here), I always really enjoy it when friends cook a really simple dal or on the rare occasion that I get an Indian take away.

When choosing things to cook for last week's curry night my mission was to try and keep the dal simple. So, I picked Chana Dal or Dal of Bengal Gram from Camille Panjabi's 50 Great Curries of India cookbook, a book which I've had for ages and which is full of really good recipes from various different regions.

The Dal is nice and creamy in texture. I photographed it cold the next morning, 
so it appears somewhat drier and grainier in the image.

Chana Dal (serves 4)

250g Bengal gram (chana dal)
vegetable oil or ghee
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely
2 green chillies, chopped finely
1 bay leaf
1/2tsp cumin seeds
3/4tsp red chilli powder
1/2tsp tumeric
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
a pinch of asafoetida
fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Wash the dal well and put it in a pan covered with water to soak for 15-20 minutes.

Drain and top with 500ml of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so until soft.

Add about a teaspoon of salt and remove from heat.

Heat some oil in a small frying pan and saute the garlic, ginger, chillies and bay leaf for two minutes.

Add the cumin, red chilli and tumeric and stir well, then add the chopped tomato and continue to stir for two more minutes.

Add this spice mixture, the sugar and the asafoetida to the dal and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer until the dal is very soft, but still semi-separate.

Top with fresh coriander leaves before serving with rice or roti.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Aubergine and Green Bean Curry

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If you follow this blog then you will have noticed that I have been trying quite a few recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook. The Aubergine and Green Bean Curry is the latest one I have tried and once again it confirms to me what a great cookbook this is.

I had seven friends round for dinner on Monday and rather than just making one huge curry I made three different ones, a Chana Dhal, Muttar Paneer and the Aubergine and Green Bean one. I think they all went down equally well and different people had different favourites.


Now the original recipe can be found here, but below is my adaptation. I stuck with the ingredients and measurement, but only made one portion of curry paste (rather than making double and freezing half). The more important change I made though was the aubergine prep. The thought of frying five large aubergines in batches, as suggested in the original recipe, filled me with dread. I knew I'd be bored before I even got into the real cooking, so after chopping them I simply put them in the oven and roasted them instead. Easy-peasy, little effort and I'm sure just as good.


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Aubergine and Green Bean Curry (serves 6-8)

5 large aubergines (eggplants)
olive oil for drizzling
400ml coconut milk
300ml good quality tomato passata
300g green beans, topped and tailed 

For the curry paste:
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 shallots, roughly chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, roughly chopped
2 hearts of lemongrass, chopped
2-3 green chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric

For the raita:
3 tsp mango chutney
8 tbsp plain yogurt
fresh coriander (cilantro), to garnish

Optional: Some crushed toasted cashew nuts or almonds to serve.

Preheat your oven to 190C/Gas 5/375F.

Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and divide each half into four again. Then cut all the long strips in half, so that you get 16 wedges from each aubergine.

Spread them out into a single layer on a large baking tray (I had two trays full), drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast for 30 minute, until starting to brown.

Whilst the aubergines are roasting, put the garlic, shallots, ginger, lemon grass, chillies, ground coriander, ground cumin and turmeric in a food processor. Add a tablespoon or so of water and blitz until you have a smooth paste.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a large saucepan and fry the curry paste for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously.

Add the roast aubergines and stir until they are well covered with the paste.

Add the coconut milk and tomato passata, stir until well combined and bring to a simmer.

Add the green beans and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or so. You want the beans to be tender but still have a little bit. The aubergines will break apart a bit, but it just adds to the richness and texture of the sauce.

Serve with rice and/or chapatis.

If you like top with some toasted cashew nuts or almonds. It adds a lovely bit of sweetness and crunch.

Combine the mango chutney and yoghurt in a small serving bowl. Sprinkle with some chopped coriander and serve alongside the curry.