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. 

 

 

 

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.  

Red cabbage stir fry

 

We have made our red cabbage stir fry at the Bombay Cook Club a few times recently and have many requests for the recipe.  It's so easy, so healthy and so tasty... full of nutrient packed ingredients like mustard seeds, turmeric and ginger.  Red cabbage is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat, full of anti-oxidants and properties that can assist in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.  It is also low in calories, and full of immune system boosting vitamins like vitamin C.

You can use pretty much any vegetable as a substitute for the cabbage, including potatoes, cauliflower, peas, capsicum and zucchini.  Just make sure you adjust cooking times to suit. 

Here below is how you make it:

1/3 to ½ a red cabbage, finely sliced (you can use a ready cut bag of coleslaw mix for convenience too)

1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 stalk of curry leaves (optional)

1 tablespoon of grated ginger

1-2 green chillies (to taste), sliced vertically down the middle

½ teaspoon of black mustard seeds

½ teaspoon of cumin seeds

½ teaspoon of turmeric

½ teaspoon of salt (to taste)

Sprinkle of black pepper

Juice of a lemon

Fresh coriander to garnish

Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan and fry the curry leaves for a minute or so, then add the mustard seeds, followed a few seconds later by the cumin seeds.  These ingredients will start to spit and pop, then add the green chilli and ginger and fry for a minute or two. 

Add a handful of cabbage and then put in the turmeric powder (so it doesn’t burn directly in the oil), then keep adding the cabbage, stir-frying quickly so it doesn’t overcook and stays a bit crunchy.  Cook for a couple of minutes then turn off the heat.  Squeeze in the juice of a lemon, and add salt, and a grind of black pepper, to taste.  Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot.

Spicy vegetable dal

 

I eat spicy Indian food all year round, but in winter it really becomes comfort food. This spicy, vegetable laden dal is a great way to up your veggie intake and use up everything in the fridge, you won't be able to stop eating it.  Best of all, I make this version with no oil... so it's a good everyday guilt-free meal.

For four serves of dal, you will need:

1 cup of toor dal, moong dal or red lentils (most dals will do)

4-5 cups of water

1 red onion

2 tomatoes

1-2 green chillies

A selection of vegetables: I used zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant and silverbeet

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of tamarind paste, or the juice of at least one lemon

Fresh coriander to serve

Wash and rinse your dal well, and soak it in about 4 cups of water for half an hour to a few hours. Bring it to boil in a large pan, and once it is boiling, skim all the scum from the top and discard.

Have all your vegetables cut into large chunks, and add them now.  Add the cumin seeds, salt and turmeric, lower heat, cover and leave to simmer for about an hour.

This dal is done when everything is lovely and mashed up looking.  You can now blend it, or just mash any large pieces of vegetables up with a potato masher.  At this stage I like to put in some greens - silverbeet or spinach, and cook for another 10 minutes or so.  Taste the dal, add more salt if needed, and the tamarind or lots of lemon juice.

If you want to add a tarka, at this stage you can heat some ghee, fry some more onion till it is brown, garlic, curry leaves, mustard seeds and more cumin seeds, and add it to the dal.

Serve with lots of fresh coriander.  When I made this dal, I coated some Japanese eggplant in olive oil and salt and grilled it, then used it to garnish the dal... it was delicious.

If you're like me you will eat this all winter... sometimes I freeze portions and heat with a bit of extra liquid so I can drink it like soup.

Enjoy!

Spicy cauliflower, pea and spinach vindaloo

 

This is a very tasty way of getting a lot of different vegetables into a meal: I've used cauliflower, peas and spinach but you can throw pretty much anything you have in the fridge into this curry.

For around four people you will need:

Half a head or so of cauliflower, washed and broken into pieces

A cup of frozen peas

A cup or two of washed spinach leaves 

2 tablespoons of ghee

1 red onion, finely chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 stalk of curry leaves, omit if you don't have any

2 teaspoons of vindaloo masala

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

3 tomatoes, blended, or a tin of diced tomatoes

2-3 teaspoons of vinegar

Heat the ghee and fry the onions gently for 15 minutes until they are lovely and soft and caramelised.  It's really important to fry the onions well at this stage.  Add the curry leaves, garlic and green chilli and fry for another few minutes until the garlic smells cooked.

Add the vindaloo masala, and the tomato, bit by bit, stirring between each addition - you want to build up a thick glossy gravy slowly.  Once the tomato is added, add the cauliflower and peas, and a bit of water or stock to top up the gravy.  Simmer for 20 minutes or so, then add the salt, sugar and vinegar, tasting the curry to make sure you have the balance of flavours right.

Stir in the spinach leaves and serve with hot white rice.

 

Ilona's spicy pepper dish

 

It's such a pity that people don't write any more.  Real writing, beautiful handwriting, on thick paper.  My great grandmother and grandmother's hand written recipe books mean so much more and convey so much more emotion than if they'd been typed into a word document.  Fading script that gets shakier as the books end, smudges, doodled patterns... the books talk to me in a way the typed word never could.  And the letters! Lovingly written aerogrammes on wafer thin paper from India, gossipy and full of news .... I would do anything to go to the letterbox and find one.

Luckily I'm from a family of hoarders, and we still have boxes of paper everywhere. Mum just found this recipe in an old letter written to her by her friend Ilona ... I decided to make it on a whim and oh my goodness!  It's delicious!  Cook it now!  You will need: 

3 peppers (capsicums): red, yellow and green, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon of mustard seeds

a stalk of curry leaves

2 teaspoons of besan (chickpea) flour

1 teaspoon of red chilli powder

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

oil

squeeze of lemon juice

Make a paste of the besan, chilli, turmeric, salt and sugar by mixing it in a small bowl with a little (1-2 tablespoons of oil) and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, waiting until they pop.  Add the finely sliced peppers and stir fry quickly for a minute or two on high heat.

Add the besan paste, stir it in, and then turn down the heat for another minute or so to finish cooking while stirring to make sure it has blended in.  

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.

 

Healthy black eyed bean and yoghurt curry

 

It's such a relief to be back to healthy eating after snacking and drinking my way through the holidays.  I have so many fabulous, really nutritious recipes from my family archive that I can't wait to share this year.  My mum's black eyed bean and yoghurt curry is up there with some of the tastiest food I have ever eaten.  When she cooks a big pot of this, I can eat it for days... on its own, with rice, roti, or leftover on toast (a highly recommended option).

To cook this for 4 people, you will need:

2 cups of black eyed beans (washed and soaked for a couple of hours), or a couple of tins if you need an easy fix 

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of salt

3 tablespoons of oil

1 red onion, finely sliced (optional)

1 stalk of curry leaves (omit if you don’t have any)

1 tablespoon of ginger, finely grated

2 teaspoons of spice mama’s bottle masala (or good quality curry powder)

1 cup of greek yoghurt

sugar and salt to taste

fresh coriander to garnish

Boil the black eyed beans in a large pot of water covering the beans by an inch or so (and the teaspoon of cumin seeds and salt), for around 40 minutes, or until they are soft.  Don’t drain the beans, there should still be a couple of inches of water left and its full of nutrients and taste.  If you're in a hurry, using tinned beans is fine. 

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and fry the onion if you are using on medium heat for 10-15 minutes until they are brown and caramelised.  Add the curry leaves, ginger and bottle masala, stir for a minute or so on low so nothing burns.

Add the beans, and stir for a few minutes. Whisk the yoghurt with a cup of water, and with the heat on very low, very slowly stir it into the pan, so it doesn’t split.  

Cook for another 10 minutes or so, taste and add salt and maybe half a teaspoon of sugar; and garnish with fresh coriander before serving.

Easy veggie curry

 

No matter what time of year it is, this easy curry is my go to when I need to up my vegetable intake in a really tasty way.  I can throw in whatever is in season, and I can also make an oil-free version, which makes it totally guilt free.  

To make this curry for 3-4 people, you will need:

1 red onion, finely chopped (optional)

2-3 tablespoons of oil (coconut oil is a good choice)

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped or blended (or a tin of chopped tomatoes will do)

1-2 large green chillies - sliced down the middle and put in whole

1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional)

1 inch piece of ginger, crushed

2 heaped teaspoons of bottle masala (or good quality curry powder)

500 grams of assorted veg, I used cauliflower, snow peas and peas

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

lemon juice, vinegar or tamarind 

Start by heating the oil on a medium fire and frying the onion slowly if using (10-15 minutes) taking your time stirring them until they are soft and caramelised. Adjust the heat so they don't burn, and if they are, add a splash of water now and again and scrape them off the bottom of the pan.  (If I am running short of time I leave out the onion altogether). 

Add the garlic, again optional, the chilli, ginger and the curry powder, fry a minute or so more, and start adding your tomato a very little at a time so you end up with a lovely thick masala paste in your pan.  Finish adding the tomato so you have your gravy, throw in the salt and sugar, partly cover and cook for 15 minutes or so.

While the curry is cooking, prepare and lightly steam your vegetables.  After 15 minutes, throw them into the curry, stir well and cook for another few minutes until they are fully cooked.  Taste for salt and sugar, and add either a good squeeze of lemon juice, a tablespoon of vinegar or a teaspoon of tamarind paste.  The 'sour' ingredient, along with the salt and sugar, is important to give your curry the right balance of flavours.

Serve the curry garnished with a few fresh ingredients - mint, basil or coriander leaves, sliced red onion, chopped cherry tomatoes are all good.

 

 

Turmeric roasted cauliflower salad

 

I have spent the winter roasting everything is sight, and am having problems weaning myself off all of the amazing roast vegetables I have become addicted to, particularly pumpkin, sweet potato, potatoes and cauliflower.  

Luckily, I am successfully converting many of my roast meals into salads, and this completely invented on the spot cauliflower concoction was so good, it deserves to be immortalised in an actual written recipe.

For a side salad for four, or a meal for two, you will need:

Half a head of cauliflower

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

1/2 a teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/3 of a teaspoon of mustard seeds

1/3 of a teaspoon of salt

Juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon of olive oil

A bag of washed rocket leaves

Half a lime, chopped into quarters

One chopped red chilli 

A handful of coriander leaves

Some sliced red onion

Salt to taste

Start by heating the oven to 200 degrees celsius.  If you have a whole cauliflower, slice it into two, then slice thinly into pieces around half an inch thick.  Wash and dry the cauliflower pieces.  In a small bowl, add the turmeric, mustard and cumin seeds, salt, lemon and olive oil and mix.  Spread the cauliflower pieces on an oven tray lined with baking paper, and using a pastry brush, brush the cauliflower on one side with the turmeric mix.  

Bake for around 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is looking browned, even a little bit burned around the edges.  Remove from oven, turn the pieces over, brush with remaining marinade and continue to bake until this side has also browned well.  Remove from oven and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the rocket leaves, coriander leaves, red onion, lime and chilli slices. Squeeze over with a bit of lime juice and add salt to taste.  Place around half this mixture on a serving platter, top with pieces of cauliflower, and then add remaining salad and arrange to preference.

You can definitely use a bit more oil both to roast the cauliflower and to dress the salad - but I'm trying really hard with my oil free cooking, so am very conservative in my use.

I have to say this ended up being a very tasty and also very filling meal... I did end up eating nearly half a cauliflower for lunch on my own, but I was in heaven the entire time!!! Enjoy.

Amazingly easy palak paneer

 

Paneer is so easy to make once you try it you won't ever buy it again.

To make a small ball of paneer around 250 grams in weight (to feed 4-6 in a curry), you will need:

3 litres of full cream milk

1/3 a cup of vinegar (apple cider or white vinegar is fine, you can even use lemon juice)

1 teaspoon of salt

Heat the milk in a large pan on the stove until it boils, stirring well.  To flavour the paneer, we added a teaspoon of red chilli flakes and a teaspoon of cumin seeds.  When the milk is bubbling and rises, pour in the vinegar and keep stirring. The milk will start to curdle really quickly.  Stir and stir until the whey has fully separated and is almost clear.  Turn off the heat.

Place a piece of muslin or cheesecloth into a large strainer in the sink and quickly pour in the curdled milk.  Drain away all the liquid, and squeeze the solids in the muslin into a small ball.  Keeping it wrapped in the cloth, place it on a plate or in a bowl with another plate on top of it and a heavy weight to weigh it down.  Keep it pressed for half an hour or so, then unwrap - you should be delighted to find a solid ball of cheese. 

To make paneer and spinach curry for 3-4 people, you will need:

One portion of homemade paneer, cubed

2 tablespoons of ghee or oil

1 heaped teaspoon of my vindaloo masala (or any good curry powder)

1 large tomato, blended or finely chopped

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 large bag of washed spinach leaves

salt and a bit of sugar to taste

To make your curry, heat the oil in a heavy pan.  Add the vindaloo masala powder, tomato and tomato paste and stir well until you have a glossy and shiny curry paste.  Throw in the spinach leaves and stir for a minute or so, then gently add the paneer.  From here on stir gently so as not to break up the paneer.  Add salt to taste, and a bit of sugar if you need it. Add a bit more water to form as much gravy as you prefer - we eat it as quite a dry dish.

Chick pea vindaloo

 

I am so gloriously happy to see the last day of winter finally come round, albeit a wet, cold and windy one.  Spring is nearly here!  I have made myself the hottest possible vindaloo for lunch and am going to dream about the sun while I'm eating it.  This recipe uses my hand roasted, small batch vindaloo masala, an all natural mix of dried chillies, turmeric, cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper.  If you haven't got your hands on some, try and use another good quality vindaloo masala. 

For 4 people you will need:

2-3 tablespoons of oil

2-3 big tomatoes, blended or grated into a pulp

1 large clove of garlic, crushed

1 green chilli, sliced down the middle

2 heaped teaspoons of vindaloo masala powder

2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or substitute kidney beans, black eyed beans or cannelini beans, alternatively you can also use vegetables)

A cup of stock

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

1 heaped teaspoon of tamarind paste

To make the curry, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and gently fry the garlic and green chilli for a minute or so until it starts to smell cooked, then add the pulpy tomatoes and stir, followed by the vindaloo powder.  Stir-fry on medium heat until the tomato starts to reduce and the mixture becomes thick and glossy.  At this point add the drained chickpeas, half to a cup of stock, the salt and sugar and the tamarind paste.  Gently cook for 15-20 minutes until the curry reduces nicely, adding a bit more stock to top up the gravy as you go and at the end to achieve the consistency of gravy you like.  Taste for salt, sugar and the right balance of flavours at the end and serve with some baby spinach leaves tossed through, and or some fresh coriander.

Roasted pumpkin, ginger and coconut curry

 
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I posted this pumpkin curry recipe at the start of winter and I can't think how many times I have cooked it over the last few months, it has definitely been on high rotation. I am reposting it because although the weather is getting warmer, it is definitely going to stay on the menu in this house.... definitely recommend giving it a go.

To roast the pumpkin:

400-500 grams of pumpkin, peeled and cubed (I use half a butternut pumpkin, or squash)

1 tablespoon of coconut oil 

half a teaspoon of salt

half a teaspoon of turmeric

half a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds (optional)

For the curry:

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 tablespoon of ginger, finely grated

1 tablespoon of bombay bottle masala

1 green chilli

1 stalk of curry leaves (optional)

1 can of coconut milk - I use Ayam brand

half a teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 heaped teaspoon of tamarind paste

Coat the pumpkin with oil, salt and turmeric and roast for 20 minutes in an oven heated to 200 degrees C.  Leave to cool.

To cook the curry, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the green chilli, curry leaves (if you have them), ginger and lastly the bottle masala.  Keep cooking for a couple of minutes, adding a splash or two of water if it starts to stick.  Slowly add the coconut milk to taste – you can add the whole can or half a can plus half a can of water or stock depending on your preference. 

Add salt, sugar and tamarind, and simmer for around 15 more minutes.  Then add the pumpkin, a tablespoon of tomato paste and stir, cooking for a further few minutes.  Taste for seasoning and toss in a large handful of fresh baby spinach leaves to serve.