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Indian Mixed Vegetables

This is my general recipe for indian mixed vegetables – it is basically an aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower) recipe which you can adapt to suit your taste and to suit whatever you have in the cupboard.
It helps if you have green masala paste and dhania/jeera spice mix already made up, but don’t worry if not – you can adapt the recipe for a one-off version, but if you find that you are making it regularly, I would advise making up a batch of each to save time.
See my page on home made Indian food for instructions on dhania/jeera and green masala.

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Aloo gobi

Here is the recipe for my aloo gobi, but feel free to change the vegetable content (carrots, broccoli, swede, spinach, capsicum, butter beans etc) – I would recommend always having potato and onion in it, but you can use sweet potato if you prefer. If you like a good variety of veg, you can make it with frozen diced mixed vegetables too.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium to large onion – chop half of it finely and the other half quite chunky
1 -2 potatoes (or sweet potatoes) diced
half a cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces
2 ripe tomatoes chopped (skin them too if you are fussy)
2-3 large mushrooms sliced
1 tablespoon of dhania jeera mix (alternatively use a heaped half tablespoon of ground coriander and a heaped quarter tablespoon of ground cumin)
half a tablespoon of ground turmeric
2 teaspoons of green masala (alternatively grate a green chilli, 2cm ginger and 2 cloves garlic)
1-2 teaspoons sugar
half to one teaspoon salt (depending on taste)
a handful of frozen peas
a handful of fresh chopped coriander

Method:
1. Prepare all of the veg.
2. The amount of oil you need can vary depending in how many veggies you have and how watery they are – if you are not using tomatoes or mushrooms, add a little extra oil. Heat the oil in a large pan (use a huge saucepan or wok, but make sure it has a lid).
3. When the oil is hot add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds – fry until they pop and crackle.
4. Now add everything else except the peas and coriander. I find it easier to stir the spices and masala paste into the oil, then add the veggies. You won’t coat them all in spice to start with, leave them to reduce a bit and stir occasionally. Put the lid on throughout the cooking. If the veggies seem to be sticking a bit you can add a splash of water to help steam them, but don’t add too much water.
5. The veggies will take approx 30 minutes depending on how many hard veg you have. Stir them every 5 minutes and test them with a knife. When nearly done, add the frozen peas and coriander and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
6. Serve as a veggie curry on it’s own, or as a side dish, or in Indian bread with yoghurt.
Add fresh shopped chilli if you like it hotter. If it’s too hot, add a little extra sugar and stir it in well.

Bhuna Sauce

I made an epic prawn bhuna the other day and I’ve had a few people asking me for the recipe, so here it is. It doesn’t have to be a prawn bhuna, you can make it with any meat, or tofu, vegetables, paneer (Indian cheese) for vegetarian/vegan options.

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I make mine dairy free, so I use coconut yoghurt or coconut cream instead of usual yoghurt, but if you don’t mind dairy, feel free to use lovely thick Greek yoghurt. I also use fresh tomatoes because the produce here in Perth is outstanding, but feel free to use tinned tomatoes if you wish.
This is how I skin and prepare my tomatoes – it’s quick and easy and by the time you have chopped your onions and garlic, the tomatoes will be ready to peel. I boil the kettle, and with a sharp knife I cut a shallow cross in the top where the stem was and again on the opposite side. Then I place them in bowl of boiling hot water for about 5-6 minutes.

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Be careful when you remove them because they’ll be hot. The skin should come away easily just by rubbing it slightly, if it doesn’t then they need a bit longer.

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I also remove any thick inner stem and the fibrous part where it attached to the plant. For this recipe I also remove most of the watery seedy part so that the final product is chunks of skinless tomato flesh.

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This recipe is enough to serve 6 people, you can also freeze portions of sauce to use later then you can add fresh chicken, vegetables, or prawns on the day that you serve it.
Ingredients:
a quarter of a teaspoon each of:
coriander seeds
cumin seeds
fennel seeds
black mustard seeds
2 onions (chop one and a half of them and puree the other half in a blender)
2 teaspoons of garlic (either crushed or pureed with the onion puree above)
2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger (or from a tube if that’s more convenient)
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
2 teaspoons of chilli paste (or 1 teaspoon of chilli powder)
4 teaspoons of medium curry powder (I use Clive of India but choose your favourite brand or make your own)
300mls of chicken or vegetable stock
2 generous heaped dessertspoons of Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt or approx (150-200ml coconut cream)
4 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 teaspoons of garam masala
oil – vegetable, groundnut or something else with a mild or no flavour
salt and pepper

1. Get everything chopped, pureed, and ready:

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pan and add the whole seeds.

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3. Once you hear them pop and crackle, add the onions, ginger, and garlic and stir to coat them in the spicy mixture.

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4. Once the onions start to soften, add the turmeric, chilli, and curry powder.

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5. Give everything a good stir, cook for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and tomato puree

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6. Cover and cook for approximately 10 – 15 minutes then stir in the yoghurt and the garam masala. The garam masala will make the sauce take on a brown colour. Once the tomatoes and onions are soft and a bit mushy, turn the heat off and leave the sauce covered to cool down in the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too spicy, add a little sugar to balance the spices. Freeze in appropriate portion sizes.
7. If using the same day, reheat the sauce and add the protein of your choice e.g. raw prawns, chicken, lamb, tofu, veggies and cook until the protein or veggies are cooked through. I used lovely fresh large raw jumbo tiger prawns and they were delicious.
8. Bhuna tends to be quite a dry curry, so use as much sauce as you like that suits your needs. I prefer more gravy so I tend to be quite generous with the sauce. If you reheat it uncovered, you can reduce the sauce if you prefer a thicker, richer flavour.

Mushroom Bhajee

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500g mushrooms (I use the white round mushrooms, but you can use any)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (Rai)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (Jeera)
2 large teaspoons green masala paste
1 tablespoon dhania/jeera powder (see above)
1 onion chopped medium fine (however you like it)
2 tomatoes chopped and peeled (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric (Haldi)
2 tablespoons butter or non-dairy spread (optional)
oil such as sunflower, peanut
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped

1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan, and add the black mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Fry quickly for a minute or two – they will crackle, and this initial spice/oil mixture is called a ‘vagaar’.
2. Fry the onions in the vagaar, until they begin to soften slightly, then add the green masala paste, dhania/jeera and turmeric.
3. Now add the mushrooms and mix well to coat them with spices. Put a lid on the pan.
4. After approx 5 minutes, add the tomatoes (if using), butter, stir in the coriander leaves and cook on low for a further 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft.
5. Taste, and add salt, pepper and a sprinkle of garam masala if needed. There should be enough to serve 4 people as a side dish.

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Jaffa chocolate brownies

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Another variation on the brownie theme is the orange flavoured brownie. I first tasted one of these at Mooba coffee bar when it used to be in Subiaco, and it was very memorable. This recipe is enough to fit in a standard loaf tin.

Ingredients
100g butter or dairy free spread
100g of dark chocolate such as Lindt 70% or 80%
the zest of an orange (pick a nice deeply orangey coloured one, not a pale one)
2 eggs
150g sugar
50g plain flour
a pinch of salt
25g cocoa powder
50g of chopped orange flavoured chocolate such as Lindt Orange Intense

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Method
1. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment and set the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. In a small saucepan gently heat the butter or spread, chocolate and orange zest to melt it. Once melted, cool it slightly but don’t let it go too stiff.
3. In a bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until the colour goes pale and the volume doubles.
4. In another bowl sift and mix the flour, salt and cocoa together.
5. Add the cooled melted chocolate to the whisked egg and sugar mixture, keep whisking as you add. If the chocolate is too hot, the eggs will scramble, so make sure that the chocolate mix is cooled as much as possible without going stiff.
6. Stir in the flour, salt and cocoa mixture.
7. Stir in the chocolate orange pieces.
8. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, tap the tin to make sure that the mixture gets to the corners.
9. Bake for approx 35-40 minutes. It should be slightly gooey in the centre.

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Once cool(ish) slice into pieces and share with only your very best friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dairy free chocolate brownies

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I didn’t know if dairy-free chocolate brownies would taste okay, but I made them today and they were rather good.
The dairy item in a ‘normal’ brownie is butter, I replaced the butter with a vegan spread called Nuttelex – which is just emulsified olive oil.

Recipe:
75g plain flour
half a teaspoon of baking powder
a quarter of a teaspoon of salt
160g fine dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% which is dark enough to be classed as vegan and dairy free)
200g Nuttelex or other non-dairy spread
4 eggs (or equivalent egg replacer if vegan)
220g brown sugar (this is half the amount that the original recipe recommended!)
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

  1. Line a 8 inch (20cm) square cake tin with baking parchment and heat the oven up to 170 deg C.
  2. Melt the chocolate and spread in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water – don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Meanwhile whisk up the eggs, sugar and vanilla in another bowl until foamy and creamy.
  4. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
  5. When the chocolate and spread has melted, leave it to cool for a while (but don’t let it go hard) about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir the chocolate mixture into the whisked eggs and mix well. Use a spatula to scrape all ofthe chocolatey mix out – don’t waste a drop.
  7. Now fold in the flour/salt/baking powder gently until it is all combined.
  8. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for approx 35-40 minutes. When done it should be crispy on top, but gooey in the middle although a skewer should come out clean.

Mmmmm – serve warm with a nice cup of tea.

Overnight Oats

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Overnight oats are so quick and easy to prepare and very adaptable to suit your own preferences. You can use any milk or combination of milks that you like, any fruits, you can add flavourings and sweeteners to suit your diet.
All of my overnight oats start with a basic recipe of half a cup of breakfast oats (this is one serve). Oats are relatively gluten free but they can contain traces because they tend to be manufactured in the same places as gluten cereals. If you are really allergic then buy gluten free oats. I then add approx 1 cup of milk. I tend to mix soy and almond milk, but you can use any milk – cow, goat, rice, coconut etc. You can also add yoghurt for a thicker consistency. I add a teaspoon of chia seeds – you can add more if you wish, but chia can be calorie rich so keep an eye on what you are adding.
I then add something to spice it up a bit like cinnamon or mixed spice. Give it a good stir because cinnamon doesn’t really dissolve in the milk. You can also add any supplements like whey protein, spirulina etc., seeds, or dried fruits like dates, apricots, sultanas, mixed peel.
My next addition to the pot is two types of chopped, sliced, or grated fruit. My favourites are grated apple (wonderful with cinnamon), pear, fresh raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, white peach and banana but you can use any fruits you like. The berries tend to be lower in calories than other fruits.
If you prefer sweetener, add a little sugar or some maple syrup, agave syrup or honey, but it really shouldn’t need any. Give everything a good stir, make sure the chia hasn’t clumped, and make sure that the oats are coated in the milk.
You can make a huge portion in a bowl and store it in the fridge, but I prefer to make individual portions in mason jars. Leave them in the fridge overnight and then they are ready to serve in the morning. I eat mine cold, but you can warm it up in a microwave or saucepan if you prefer. Couldn’t be easier.

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Lemon Cake

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I do love a lemon cake, and this recipe makes a lovely light lemony sponge. The amounts for the frosting are approximate because I add and taste as I go along.
Set the oven to 170 deg C and grease and prepare two standard cake tins. I like to put baking parchment in the base and I tend to use springform tins because its easier to pop the cakes out once they’re done.

Ingredients:
Cake:

170g butter (or Nuttelex Buttery or other vegan butter/substitute if you are dairy free)
200g caster sugar
4 eggs beaten
320g plain flour
4 tablespoons of cornflour
Half a teaspoon of salt
One and a half teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of milk (you can use soy, almond, coconut, or a mixture if you are dairy free)
A quarter of a cup (60 mls) of vegetable oil (don’t use olive oil – it will taste too olivey)
The zest of 2 lemons and 60mls of lemon juice (wash the lemons before zesting them)
Frosting:
Approx 150g of butter or non-dairy substitute
Approx 125g (1 cup) of icing sugar (powdered sugar)
Zest of 1 lemon plus some of the juice (see method)

Method:
1. Set the oven to 180 deg C (or 175 fan assisted).
2. Using an electric whisk, whisk the butter and sugar until light and creamy (2-3 minutes).
3. Add the eggs and whisk again for a minute or two.
4. Stir and fold in the dry ingredients – flour, cornflour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder.
5. Stir in the wet ingredients – milk, lemon juice, and oil.
6. The batter should be fairly liquid rather than thick . It’s okay if it is a little bit lumpy, but try to smooth out any big lumps.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared tins.
8. Bake for approx 20-30 minutes, but check them after 20 minutes. When they are lightly golden brown and a skewer or fork comes out of the mixture clean – they’re done.
9. Leave them for 5 minutes, then take the cakes out of the tins and cool on a cooling rack.

Frosting:
1. Using an electric whisk, whisk the butter or substitute until light and creamy.
2. Add the icing sugar slowly – it should thicken up.
3. Stir in the lemon zest.
4. Add some of the lemon juice and whisk again. Keep adding the lemon juice until the frosting is spreadable but not too runny. If you add too much lemon juice, add more icing sugar to thicken it up again. Taste the frosting to make sure it tastes good and isn’t too greasy or too acidic – adjust the sugar and lemon juice as required. If too lemony, you can always add water instead of juice to make it looser.
5. Place the base of the cake on a suitable plate or stand (you can line it with baking parchment if you like).
6. Spread half of the frosting in the middle of the cake and sandwich the halves together.
7. Spread or pipe the rest on top of the cake.
8. Put the kettle on… it’s tea and cake time !

Kung Po

This is a nice recipe for mid-week dinner. You can pretty much make it up as you go along – it’s probably not the definitive authentic kung po recipe, but it works for me and is very tasty.

Kung Po Chicken:
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Kung Po Tofu:
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Serve it with rice. You can vary the veggies that you add to it depending on what you have in the cupboard, but traditional favourites are carrot, onion, baby sweetcorn, capsicum and tomatoes. You can also add peanuts and extra chilli if you like it hotter.
It contains dried chillies, which are quite hot, if you don’t want it to be quite so spicy, leave the dried chilli seeds out.
You can also use fresh chilli instead of dried – use whatever you prefer or have available – even a teaspoon of chilli paste would work.
This recipe is for chicken, but you can use tofu, prawns, or pork instead.

Recipe – serves 2 :
300g chicken sliced into thin bite sized strips (or other meat or firm pieces of tofu)
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 teaspoon crushed szechuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 or 2 chopped dried red chillies with or without seeds
Mixed veg, sliced thinly for stir frying e.g.:
Carrot, baby sweetcorn, red onion, capsicum, tomatoes, mushroom, broccoli, beansprouts, snow peas.
Peanuts (optional)

1. Mix the cornflour with the crushed peppercorns, and coat the chicken with the flour mixture.
2. Mix together the sauce ingredients in a jug – hoisin, dark soy, rice wine vinegar and dried chilli.
3. Prepare your veggies of choice by washing and slicing them thinly – allow a handful of veggies per person.
4. Heat a wok with 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable or groundnut oil in it.
5. When hot, add the chicken and stir fry for approx 4 minutes.
6. Now add the veggies and peanuts and stir fry for a further 3-4 minutes.
7. Add the sauce (rinse the jug with a little water to get every last drop). Heat the sauce through and stir it to coat all of the veggies and chicken. When the chicken is cooked, it is ready – cut through a piece of chicken to be sure.
8. If you like it salty, you can add some salt at this stage, but I find that the dark soy adds plenty of salt flavour.
Serve with rice and enjoy.

Dukkah

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Dukkah or Duqqa is a Middle-eastern dish which is a mixture of nuts, spices and herbs. It is quite versatile – I made mine to serve as a starter with bread. To use it this way, you serve some fresh crusty bread of your choice, a dish of olive oil with some balsamic vinegar added, then you tear off a piece of bread, dip it in the oil/balsamic and then dip it in the dukkah so that the dukkah mixture sticks to the bread. You can also dip fresh veggies in the same way. Dukkah can also be used as a crust for fish or chicken that you are going to oven bake or pan fry. This recipe makes quite a large quantity, so adjust the quantities to suit your needs. this quantity will easily serve 8 people if you are implementing the bread/oil starter idea, and you still might have some left over to use as a crust for a midweek meal.
There are a lot of variations, the following is the version that I made, but you can use different varieties of nuts, herbs and spices to get different flavour combinations. You don’t have to fry and toast the ingredients, but it really makes the end result more flavoursome if you make the effort.

This is what I did:
1. I heated the oven to 180 deg C. I put 120g of hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toasted them for about 5 minutes, shaking them regularly. Don’t burn them. When you take them out they should smell nice, as if the flavours are being released. I then whizzed up the nuts in a food processor so that they were a nice biscuit crumb consistency, and placed them in a large bowl.
2. I dry fried 80g of sesame seeds in a heavy based pan for 2 minutes, shaking them around as they heated. I then added them to the hazelnuts.
3. I dry fried 2 tablespoons each of coriander and cumin seeds in the same pan for 1-2 minutes until the aroma was released. I then ground them up in my spice grinder and added them to the bowl.
4. I added a further tablespoon of smoky paprika, a dash of chilli and a tablespoon of mixed dried herbs, along with approx 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper and a teaspoon of salt.
5. I mixed it thoroughly, and then tasted the mixture, adjusting the salt and pepper to taste.
Variation ideas are detailed below – you can have fun making the mixture that suits your tastes:
Nuts you can use include pine nuts, brazils, macadamias, almonds, pistachios, cashews. You can also add chilli, star anise, fennel seeds, cloves, cardamom, cayenne, thyme, mint, oregano etc.

Best Yorkshire Puddings

I used to be terrible at making yorkshire puddings. My efforts were always a bit hit and miss, sometimes really tall and lovely, sometimes flat and stodgy.
In my opinion the perfect yorkshire pudding has to be tall and crispy around the edges and soft in the middle, then you can pour your gravy in the middle and enjoy the contrast of soft and crispy textures.

My epiphany happened when I saw Jamie Oliver making yorkshire puddings. His method is so simple it is ridiculous.

Here are the basic pre-requisites:
1. Have your oven as hot as possible – the ideal time to cook your yorkshire puds is when you have taken the meat out to rest – you can then crank the oven up to between 200 and 220 deg C.
2. Put your tin or tins in early to get the fat as hot as possible – it doesn’t matter if you make individual yorkies in a muffin tin or one big communal yorkie – just get the tin in early.
3. Make sure there is enough fat to cover the bottom of the tin – I use lard because it imparts extra flavour, but you can also use oil.
4. Now for the recipe – use equal volumes of egg, milk and plain flour plus a pinch of salt. I always measure out the egg first – a one egg yorkie in a standard 7 inch round cake tin will serve 2-3 people, so just scale up from there. Use a measuring jug – if one egg measures 50mls, add 50mls of milk and then spoon flour on top up to the 150ml mark. Add a pinch of salt (bigger pinch for bigger volumes) and whisk with a fork or a balloon whisk until it is
smooth. Don’t stress if there are a few small lumps, it will all be ok in the end.
5. When the fat is as hot as it can be, quickly pour the mixture in the tin, put it back in the oven for 15-20 mins and watch it rise perfectly.

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