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! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

Mince samosas

 

These samosas are the best in the world.  Definitely worth a try... but if you are completely time poor like me, you can use this filling and make curry puffs using puff pastry instead.  I have also recently experimented with baking these samosas too, brushing them with oil and cooking them in a hot (around 200 degrees celsius) oven until done (about 30 minutes). 

To make the mince filling for around 40 small samosas, you will need:

500 grams of beef mince, 3 star (the mince needs some fat)

1 tablespoon of oil

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

a tablespoon of ginger, crushed

1 green chilli, split vertically down the middle 

1 heaped tablespoon of bottle masala (or very good, freshly made curry powder)

1 cup of fresh or frozen peas

1 tablespoon of full fat yoghurt 

1 teaspoon of salt

Fresh lemon juice to taste

(One potato, boiled and mashed, optional)

For the samosas you will need:

1 packet of frozen spring roll pastry

a bottle of peanut oil

To make the mince, heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli, fry until it smells nice, then add the bottle masala, followed by the mince.  Keep frying to break up the mince.  Lower heat and cover and cook for a few minutes, then remove the lid, turn the heat back up and fry the mince until it is quite dry and the fat is released (it starts to fry in its own fat).  Throw in the peas and cook until they are done, then add salt, stir in the yoghurt and squeeze in some lemon juice (to taste). You can stir in some chopped spring onion and/or coriander at this point too, and another option is to add in some mashed potato to make the mixture softer.  Set aside and leave to cool.

To make the samosas, defrost the pastry and cut the sheets into 4 strips.  You need two layers of pastry on top of each other per samosa.  In a small bowl, make a thick paste of flour and water and set aside, this is your 'glue'.  Also get hold of a damp tea towel to cover and keep the stack of pastry damp so that it doesn't dry out.  

Starting at the top, fold the pastry strip down into a triangle, and take the opposite corner and fold over to make a slightly bigger triangle.  You should now have a small cone that you need to fill with a heaped teaspoon or so of cold mince.  Once the mince is in the pastry, keep folding the pastry down into triangle shapes, taking the opposite corner each time.  Keep the corners tight so the mince filling stays inside, and use the flour and water paste to 'stick' the folds together.   When you have just a small bit of pastry left, apply some paste and tuck it into the last fold, like an envelope.  The photo above should demonstrate each fold from start to finish where my explanation has failed. 

When you have all your samosas done, you will need to shallow fry them on high heat in a large, heavy frying pan using about an inch of oil.  They won't take more than a couple of minutes on each side to brown.  Drain them on kitchen paper when they are done.

If you have made a big batch of samosas you can also freeze them uncooked in small batches, to make it easy for them to be defrosted and fried up.  You can also easily warm up leftover samosas in the oven to keep them crispy.  We don't really have this problem as they disappear pretty quickly.  

 

Quick coconut chutney

 

I do like my chutneys.  I live on green chutney, but this coconut chutney is also pretty good... for total convenience I make it with desiccated coconut but it would be lovely with fresh grated coconut.  I served it with this curry leaf and coconut toast and it was delicious.  To make your own, you will need:

1 cup of dessicated coconut

1 green chilli

1 inch square of ginger

½ a teaspoon of salt

1 ½ teaspoons of sugar

juice of half a lemon

For tempering:

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1/3 teaspoon of mustard seeds

a stalk of curry leaves (10-12 leaves)

For the curry leaf toast:

sliced bread

10-15 curry leaves

coconut oil

To make the chutney, first place the coconut in a bowl and pour in some bowling water – it should reach the top of the coconut but not go over.  Set aside for 10-15 minutes.  After this, put it in a blender with the rest of the chutney ingredients and blend to a paste.

Heat the coconut oil in a small pan, throw in the mustard seeds and wait until they start to pop, then add the curry leaves and keep frying for a few seconds.  Tip this mixture into the blender and blend again to a paste.

Taste chutney for lemon, salt and sugar before serving. 

To make the curry leaf toast, I smeared a few slices of bread with coconut oil, arranged the curry leaves on top and placed them in a sandwich grill to brown.  I sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper on to the toast before serving. 

Bombay potato chops

 

Potato chops are an institution in Anglo Indian cooking.  They are basically crumbed and fried patties with a surprise centre of spicy mince coated in soft mashed potato, and definitely take the made-for-each-other combination of meat and potato to a whole new level of deliciousness.

In my family of course everyone has their own version of the recipe which they will fight in the trenches to claim as the best.  To maintain my relationship with my mother I had to overlook my Nana's and her old cook Hira's recipe and go with hers, and I have to admit they were pretty amazing.

Potato chops are a bit fiddly to make but they are worth the effort.  You can always make the potato and mince filing a day ahead so you're not in the kitchen for hours doing them all at once. Or more efficiently, make your mum do it for you.  

Eat them with curry and rice or just plain as a burger or in a sandwich... however you do you'll be converted.. especially if you're my Irish husband, who's enthusiasm was so great it stretched to the inadvertent consumption of eggplant.

To make 12 potato chops you will need:

For the mince:

2 tablespoons of oil

300 grams of good quality lamb mince (we used organic)

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 large tomato, finely chopped

1 small Japanese eggplant (or substitute with regular eggplant or another veg)

½ a green capsicum

1 heaped tablespoon of Bombay Bottle Masala (or substitute with a good curry powder)

3 finely chopped spring onions

2 finely chopped green chillies

handful of finely chopped coriander

salt

lemon

For the potato chops:

8 large potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed

1.5 cups of breadcrumbs – make your own if you can

1 egg

½ cup of oil to fry

Prepare the potatoes and leave aside to cool.

To cook the mince, heat oil in a large heavy frying pan and brown the finely chopped onion slowly.  Add the garlic and then the tomato and stir fry for a minute, then add the bottle masala.  Next add the finely chopped vegetables – eggplant and capsicum, and when everything is looking well cooked add the mince.  Stir fry to break up lumps and ensure everything is well mixed, add a splash of water if you need to and a teaspoon of salt.  Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  When it is done, stir through fresh spring onions, green chilli and the juice of half a lemon, and check for salt.  Set aside to cool.

To make the potato chops, have your bowls of mashed potato and mince ready, spread the breadcrumbs over a large tray, whisk the egg in a small bowl and roll up your sleeves.

Use a 1/3 cup measure or similar to take a scoop of mashed potato in your hand, flatten it into a round patty and then shape it like you are making a small bowl.  Place a tablespoon of mince into the middle of this, and work with your hands to fold over the potato so the mince becomes enclosed (see pic below). 

It takes a bit of practice, but after a few you should get the hang of it and end up with 12 evenly sized flat potato cakes (it is definitely worth persisting).

When you are done, dip these one by one in the beaten egg and coat them in breadcrumbs.

Heat a good layer of oil in a frying pan, and shallow fry the potato chops until they are golden on all sides.  Drain on kitchen towels and if you need, place them in a warm oven to stay crispy until you serve them.

 

Green chutney with ginger and garlic

 

You can never have too much green chutney.  It is packed full of healthy greens and is so tasty and spicy it really doesn't feel like you're basically eating a pile of herbs.  

This is a variation on my normal recipe - I made it as the base for a green chicken curry from one of Nana's old books (recipe to come), but is was so easy to make and more-ish it deserves to be acknowledged in its own right.  The original recipe this was taken from contained 10 cloves of garlic and 12-15 green chillies, so I have also toned that down for normal consumption... 

100 grams of fresh coriander

50 grams of fresh mint

3-4 green chillies

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 inch square of ginger, peeled

50 grams of dessicated coconut

1/2 a can of coconut cream (around 135 grams)

3 teaspoons of raw or brown sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

juice of half a lemon

Rinse and dry coriander and mint leaves on a tea towel.  Roughly chop chilli, garlic and ginger and then put all ingredients in a Thermomix or blender.  Blend until the mixture if a fine paste and taste for salt and lemon. 

Green chutney on toast or in sandwiches is my absolute favourite, but it also makes a great dip, and a base for stir-fries and curries.  If you have any leftover, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray and pop out a cube or two whenever you need some. 

Breakfast poha

 

Poha is the Indian name for flattened, or beaten rice flakes.  There are many versions of this popular recipe, traditionally eaten for breakfast but great as a snack or side dish at any time of day.  It's very easy to make, and I just love it.

1 cup of poha (available from most Asian grocery shops)

1-2 tablespoons of oil (unrefined coconut oil is a good choice)

1 stalk of curry leaves

1-2 green chillies

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoons of peanuts, freshly roasted (optional)

1/2 cup of finely diced fried potatoes (optional)

lots of freshly coriander 

Rinse and soak the poha for a few minutes.  The flakes should soften and start to swell, but stay separate and not turn into mush.  Heat oil in a frying pan and add mustard and cumin seeds.  When they start to pop, throw in curry leaves, green chilli and onion and stir briskly for a couple of minutes until onions soften and start to brown.  Add poha, turmeric, salt and sugar and stir fry quickly.  Add potatoes if using, cover and cook for a couple of minutes until poha is soft - but be careful not to overcook.  Finish by squeezing the juice of half a lemon over it, and top with roasted peanuts and fresh coriander.