Eggplant, Chickpea and Mushroom Pilaf with Toasted Almond Flakes

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I keep complaining how hard it is to get really good Indian food in Berlin. Sometimes I need to eat a plate of Indian food that is  vibrant with the complex flavours of fresh, whole spices. That is hard to find here so I have to cook it myself. I like this dish because, although it is rice based, it is light and  not at all stodgy. Use the best basmati rice that you can afford and rinse it well before use then be very careful to cook it lightly as it can turn to mush easily. Both eggplant and mushroom have good, strong texture and hold their flavour well. The toasted almonds add extra flavour and texture. It is really important to use fresh, whole spices, powder is just not the same in this dish.

Ingredients 

Serves 4

1 large onion thinly sliced

Half an eggplant cut int thin half moons

200g mushrooms cut into thick slices

2 medium tomatoes chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, a whole green chili and a thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger ground to a pulp

250g basmati rice rinsed

1 tin of chickpeas

1 teaspoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds

1 piece of cinnamon stick

2 black cardamom pods

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons of toasted almond flakes or slivers

A large handful of fresh coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onions gently in half of the oil until they are dark brown but not burnt. In a separate pan fry the eggplant and mushrooms in the rest of the oil. Toast all of the whole spices in a small dry pan but be careful not to burn them. Then combine them together with the chili, garlic, ginger paste, rice, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, chickpeas and tomatoes in a larger pan. Add just enough water to barely cover the rice and season. Bring slowly to the boil and  cover tightly with some foil before putting on the lid. Turn to a very low simmer until the rice is about two thirds cooked. Do not stir during this time.This will take about 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave with the lid on tight for a further 5 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and liberally garnish with almonds and coriander.

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Roasted Corn and Butternut Squash Couscous Salad

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Couscous can be very dull and you need to add a lot of flavour to make it into something wonderful. This dish has sweetness from both the squash and the corn plus bags of freshness from the mint and coriander. We like our food spicy so you can also add chill like I did to give an extra punch but it can be left out. Chickpeas are added for extra protein but green lentils would also work.

This could be served on its own or as part of a vegan mezze platter. It could also be put inside a wrap with some red pepper hummus from the previous recipe. You could add a handful of toasted walnuts for extra texture.

Makes a large bowlful
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
150g couscous
Half a small butternut squash
Half a tin of chickpeas
2 ears of fresh corn
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
A handful of fresh mint chopped
Half a clove of garlic
A tablespoon of honey mustard dressing
A teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (optional)
A spring onion finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste?

Cut the butternut squash in half and place on a baking tray with the corn ears. Roast in the oven at 170 Celsius. Remove the corn after about 10 minutes and remove the squash after a total of about 30 minutes. Leave to cool.

Place the couscous in a pan and add just enough boiling water to cover the couscous. Leave with a lid on for 10 minutes then remove the lid and stir with a fork. Put to one side.

When all the ingredients are cool, place the couscous in a large bowl and add the chickpeas, mint, garlic, coriander and onion. Chop the squash into bitesize pieces and remove the corn from the cobs. Add the squash, corn and dressing to the couscous mixture and season to taste. Add the chilli if using. Chill before serving.

Moroccan-style Burgers

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I have been to Morocco and they definitely don’t have vegan burgers. However, I used Moroccan spices to flavour these burgers which are spicy and rich and can be served with just about anything. Try couscous or quinoa salad, potato wedges or just a huge green salad.

When I make burgers, I don’t start off with a recipe as it really depends on what is in the cupboards and fridge. Any pulses and/or nuts and/or tofu will work. There are infinite flavours you can create by adding vegetables and herbs and spices.

The problem with vegan burgers is getting them to stay together as you cannot use eggs to bind them. I discovered recently that a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds mixed go a paste with water and then added to the burger mix binds them really well. At last my burgers look like burgers.

Ingredients
For 4 large burgers
Half a pack of smoked tofu
A tin of chickpeas
A handful of almonds
Half a medium onion
A clove of garlic
2 teaspoons of chermoula paste or dried Moroccan spices
A chilli
2 tablespoons of whole wheat breadcrumbs
A tablespoon of ground flaxseeds mixed to a paste with a little water
Salt and pepper to taste

Blitz all of the ingredients in a food processor, except for the flaxseed paste and breadcrumbs. Turn out into a bowl and mix together. Add the breadcrumbs and the flaxseed paste. Form into burger shapes and put into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Place on an oiled baking tray and cook in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade for 15 minutes before turning and cooking for 15 minutes on the other side.