Yummy beetroot chutney

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I am a bit of a chutney addict, I definitely couldn't live without a jar or two of my favourites in the fridge... namely my green chutney and my red chilli and ginger chutney. I make them fresh weekly and while it would be more traditional to temper them with oil and whole spices I prefer leaving them oil free.  That way I can add them to everything I eat fairly guiltlessly!

Any fans of my green chutney out there will love this new chutney variation... easy to whip up as I have cheated by using tinned beetroot, but delicious as anything.

To make a big bowl of it, which will last you for ages, you will need:

200-220 grams of tinned whole baby beets (drained weight), rinsed  - but save an inch or so of the liquid in a separate bowl - you can use it to thin the chutney 

1/2 cup of dessicated coconut  

5 red chillies, 2-3 of them deseeded depending on the heat level you like 

1 tablespoon sized bit of ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar  

Whiz all ingredients together in a good blender, I use my NutriBullet. If the chutney is too thick, loosen with a splash or two of the liquid you have reserved from the tinned beetroot.

Use as a dip, topping or filling in rolls and wraps. I love the spicy, sweet and vinegary flavour. It's delicious! Enjoy! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect rice

Pilau rice with turmeric and peas  

Pilau rice with turmeric and peas  

Cooking perfect rice is one of the essential skills in Indian home cooking. And the secret to this art? Buy the right rice and you're halfway there.

I would never recommend buying rice from the supermarket, you need to get yourself to an Indian grocery shop and find the best Basmati you can. Look for aged Basmati rice, beautiful long fragrant grains which will cook separately (Indian rice should never be soft and mushy).

You can even buy Sela Basmati, which is parboiled before milling to preserve its nutrients, and cooks even faster. Most Pakistani Basmati is good, a couple of the brands I buy include Dawaat, Lal Qila and Kohinoor. The rice comes in big five kilo bags, but it will last for ages.

The next trick is soaking the rice before you cook it. Always wash it well, and then leave it to rest in the water you are going to cook it in for at least 15 minutes, though half an hour is better.  In terms of the ratio of rice to water, I use 1:2 - a cup of rice (usually enough for four people) and 2 cups of water. You want the water level to be about an inch higher than the level of the rice in the pan.

To cook the rice, turn your heat to high and bring it to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn the heat down to very low, partially cover with a lid and cook for 10-12 minutes until all the water has evaporated, then turn the heat off. Put the lid on fully and leave the rice to keep cooking in its own steam for another 10 minutes, if you have an electric stove just keep it on the warm hob.

Always fluff the rice up before serving, you can drizzle in some olive oil or a spoon of butter or ghee.

There are infinite variations for flavouring rice as you cook it, and I have included a few below.  All quantities are based on a one cup serve of rice. If you are cooking more than a cup, you probably want to increase the amounts by one and a half.

Basic rice

Add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil to the cooking water.... include this in all variations below.

 Jeera rice

Add a teaspoon of cumin seeds along with the salt and oil.

 Turmeric rice

Add half a teaspoon of turmeric along with the salt and oil, with or without cumin seeds as well.

Pilau rice

Whole garam masala adds a beautiful fragrance to your rice. Add a bay leaf, 3-4 cloves, 2-3 cardamom, a few peppercorns and a stick of cinnamon.  You can also fry these in a bit of oil first, then add the raw rice and water, but simply adding them to the water is fine.

You can also include half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, and half a teaspoon of turmeric.

Cooking liquid

Another easy variation is to change the cooking liquid. Instead of water, you can use stock (homemade chicken stock is amazing with all the whole spices), or even coconut milk.

Another option is to add a quartered tomato, or include some tomato passata in the liquid. Throwing in some frozen peas as the rice cooks is also nice.

Garnish

All sorts of garnishes work well on rice, especially if you have made a lovely yellow pea pilau, or a fragrant rice with stock.

Chopped herbs, coriander, spring onions or mint, or a bit of red chilli for colour are perfect.

Deep fried shallots or onions give a lovely crunchy texture, and this also pairs well with sliced hard boiled eggs.

There are so many more delicious ways to cook rice, lovely pilaus with lots of veggies, khichri, which is rice cooked with lentils, and lots of rice variaties to use, like brown and red rice.

I'll be posting some of these more complex recipes separately this year, so stay tuned.

Gur papdi (wholewheat and jaggery sweet)

 

There are some foods that are just magic: they have the Proustian power to transport you through time and space, to where you began, to when you felt most loved, and most safe.  That warm kitchen, that sweet food, the murmuring of women talking as they cooked.  We all have comfort foods that take us back to our childhoods, and this gur papdi is one of mine.

Gur papdi is the simplest of sweets made with the simplest of ingredients, a mix of ghee, atta flour, nuts, jaggery and spices, and a recipe that has been handed down by many grandmothers past.  To make a large tray of gur papdi, you will need:

2 cups atta flour

1 1/2 cups ghee

3/4 cup of ground nuts (any or a mix will do: almond, pistachio, cashew)

1 1/2 cups jaggery

cardamom to flavour (optional)

Heat the ghee in a large heavy based frying pan, and when it is hot add the flour.  Stir fry the flour and cook until it is golden brown, then stir in the nuts and keep cooking for a minute or two.

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the jaggery.  Keep stirring to mix well.  Add a couple of pinches of powdered cardamom now too, if you like.

When everything is well mixed, tip it out into a large flat tray like a thali, and spread it flat.  You want it to be as compressed as possible, my mum uses the bottom of a saucepan to 'thump' it into place (clearly a refined cooking technique).  

Cut the gur papdi into squares or diamond shapes, and keep in an airtight container.

Simple paneer cheese

 

Making paneer is one of life's small simple joys.  I think we're so used to buying all our food we sometimes forget how easy it is to make things yourself: I'm thinking bread, butter, cheese... recipes our grandmothers used to know by heart.

We've made paneer at The Bombay Cook Club a few times, and have been experimenting with adding flavours to it.  Here are suggestions for three we made recently, but you can experiment with adding things according to your own preferences once you've mastered the basics.

To make one small round of cheese you will need:

2 litres of full cream milk (you can also add cream as a portion of this for a richer cheese)

3-4 tablespoons of vinegar (we use apple cider vinegar but you can use any type)

1 teaspoon of salt

Bring the milk to boil in a large pan, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn't burn. Once it is boiling, add salt and any flavourings, then add the vinegar and keep stirring. The milk will split into curds and whey very quickly.  When it does, take the pan to the sink and strain the curds into a strainer lined with a muslin cloth, or nut milk bag.  If you'd like to save the whey, do so, it can be used in baking in place of buttermilk.

Wrap the muslin cloth tightly around the curds and squeeze as much liquid out as you can.  Form a pat and place it back in the strainer, with a heavy weight on top of it. Leave for half an hour, then unwrap: you should have a firm block of cheese you can slice, eat immediately, use to make palak paneer, or fry like halloumi.

To make flavoured paneer, you basically need to add your extras to the milk at the same time as you add salt as follows:

RED CHILLI AND CUMIN SEED PANEER

Use 1 teaspoon of red chilli flakes and 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds.

FRESH HERB PANEER

Use 1 tablespoon of a couple of different herbs: we used basil and garlic chives.

SWEET PANEER

Don't add salt to this one.  Instead add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, a good pinch of cardamom powder and as much saffron as you can spare: around 1/3 of a teaspoon works.  We also added a tablespoon of finely chopped walnuts.  

We served our sweet paneer with honey.

You can use your paneer to make palak paneer, from the recipe on this site. 

 

 

 

40 ingredient lamb curry

 

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet is to ensure you eat a diverse range of natural, minimally processed whole foods every day.  There are so many nutrients in whole food that you just can't take in supplement form, and I've found some of the best advice health advocates give is to encourage you to consume as many good, colourful, real ingredients as you can in order to get the benefits from a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (found in spices). 

My lamb curry is one big hit of whole ingredients, put together into a flavour packed combination that even my usually fussy children can't resist.  Including my bottle masala, which adds 20 freshly roasted whole spices to the mix, there are 40 real ingredients in this delicious meal.  Over 10 different vegetables, plus high quality meat and dairy in the form of ghee and full fat greek yoghurt.  I can guarantee you'll enjoy this curry as much if not more than any Indian take-away meal... because this curry contains the kind of long ingredient list you are actually looking for in your food.

To feed your family fully of goodness, you'll need:

1 kilo of good quality lamb, as free range as you can get, with bones (forequarter chops are great)

half a cup of full fat greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 heaped tablespoon of Spice Mama's bottle masala (or very good quality curry powder)

1 teaspoon of salt

half a teaspoon of sugar

2 tablespoons of ghee

1 stalk of curry leaves

6-8 spring onions, finely chopped

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 heaped tablespoon of grated ginger

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon of grated fresh turmeric

1 chopped tomato

half a zucchini, grated

half a small eggplant, grated

half a cup of pumpkin, grated

2 large potatoes, cubed

half a cup of frozen peas

a large handful of baby spinach leaves 

a large handful of chopped coriander leaves 

With a list of ingredients a mile long, this recipe sounds much more complicated than it is.  To begin, clean and dice the lamb, then marinate in a mix of the yoghurt, tomato paste, bottle masala, salt and sugar.  Leave overnight or even half an hour helps if you're time poor.

Grate all the veggies: zucchini, eggplant and pumpkin, and set aside.

Heat ghee in a large, heavy based pot, then fry off the curry leaves, spring onions, chilli, ginger, garlic and turmeric until lightly brown, then add the tomato and keep frying until lightly mushy.  Add the grated vegetables and keep frying for another minute or two.  Then pour in the lamb and marinade, and fry for a few more minutes until the oil starts to separate from the mixture.

Turn the heat to low, add half a cup of water and cover, cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for an hour and a half.  After this time, add the potatoes, cook for another 15 minutes, then add the peas and cook for another few minutes.  At the end, taste for seasoning, adding more salt if you need to.  Stir through the fresh spinach leaves and chopped coriander just before serving. 

 

 

Hot and spicy pumpkin soup

 

One of the few consolations of winter is being able to eat unlimited amounts of lovely pumpkin. Pumpkin goes really well with Indian food, it has a sweetness which balances perfectly with spices and contrasts beautifully with ingredients like ginger, tamarind and lemon.

My favourite pumpkin soup is less of a recipe than an exercise of throwing everything in, and here is a rough idea of how to make it... adjust the quantities to suit your own personal preferences, once you've made it a few times you'll know what to add less or more of.  

For a family sized pot of soup, you will need:

half a large pumpkin, cleaned and diced: I like butternut pumpkin or squash 

1 tablespoon of coconut oil 

3-4 spring onions, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of ginger, finely grated

2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

half a teaspoon of turmeric

a few cups of water or stock

1-2 teaspoons of tamarind paste (or the juice of a lemon)

half a tin of coconut milk (or more, to taste) (I use Ayam brand) 

salt and pepper (around a teaspoon of salt is good but add according to taste, especially if you use salty stock)

To make the soup, heat the oil in a large soup pot and stir fry the cumin seeds for a minute, then add the ginger, spring onions and chillies and fry a bit longer till lightly browned.  Add the pumpkin, sprinkle over the turmeric, add the stock, turn down the heat and cover the pot.  Cook until the pumpkin is mushy (around half an hour is plenty) and then blend the soup with a stick blender.  Add the tamarind, salt and pepper and a bit of coconut milk, stir, taste and serve with crusty bread or roti.