Spicy Carrot and Peanut Soup with Coconut Milk

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It started to feel a little autumnal this morning and it was slightly chilly indoors, making me want to eat something warming. This soup has Asian influences but also reminds me of Africa where lots of peanuts are grown. This could be made with pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potato, all of which would be delicious. As this is a blended soup, you do not have the chop the ingredients small and this saves on preparation time. I used pearl barley to thicken this but you could add red split lentils instead.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
3 medium carrot coarsely chopped
Two large shallots coarsely chopped
A clove of garlic chopped
750ml of boiling water
Two vegetable stock cubes
A large handful of pearl barley
100ml coconut milk
A handful of toasted peanuts finely ground
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the carrots, shallots, garlic, cumin, chilli, water, barley and stock cubes into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the carrots are soft and the barley is cooked. Add the coconut milk, half of the coriander and a dessertspoonful of the ground nuts and cook for a further minute. Blend the soup. Serve in a bowl garnished with more coriander, ground nuts and chilli flakes.

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Malaysian Tofu Laksa

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Laksa is a spicy, coconutty, noodle soup. We travelled in Malaysia shortly after becoming vegan. Laksa was the best of Malaysian food and we were lucky to find a tiny vegan café in Malacca where they sold it in huge steaming bowls for less than a euro. It was some of the best vegan food we had eaten. Like many Asian soups, the secret is in the garnish which introduces bags of freshness to compliment the rich spiciness of the broth.

If you have pre-made curry paste as I did or you use shop bought, this takes only minutes to prepare. It is very messy to eat and you need a fork or chopsticks for the noodles and a spoon for the broth. Asian people are very adept at doing this without making a mess. I, on the other hand, usually end up wearing the noodles but it is fun to eat.

Serves 4
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes

Ingredients

A tablespoon of homemade Malaysian or Thai curry paste or shop bought curry or laksa paste (see the recipe for Tempeh Penang for a good curry paste that would work well in this dish).

400ml of water
200ml of coconut milk
Two thumb size pieces of fresh ginger or galangal
A dessert spoonful of soya sauce
A teaspoon of sugar
A stick of lemon grass cut into three
300g tofu cut into cubes or slices
300g of brown rice noodles
Two large handfuls of fresh spinach roughly chopped
Two handfuls of fresh bean sprouts
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
A handful of toasted peanuts crushed roughly
4 spring onions chopped
Chopped fresh chilli for garnish

Place the water in a large pan and bring to the boil. Add the curry paste with the coconut milk, soya sauce, sugar, lemon grass and ginger/galangal. Simmer for a few minutes before adding the noodles. Cook until the noodles are al dente. Add the spinach, tofu and half of the coriander, onions and beansprouts. Ladle into large bowls and garnish with more coriander, beansprouts, onions, peanuts and chilli.

Creamy Coconut Dahl

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It is so hard to get good, vegan, Indian food in Berlin. Dave and I have never eaten so little Indian food in the last 20 years. As I have said before, I love dahl for both feast and famine situations. This dahl is a more luxurious dish than the chana dahl with spinach. It has lots of coconut milk to make it creamy. If you can get fresh curry leaves it would taste even more authentic but I cannot get them here. This is just as nice served with rice or bread. We also ate the peanut sambal with this that I had made to go with the samosas.

Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour
Ingredients

200g of chana dahl precooked
A medium onion finely sliced
Oil for frying
A teaspoon of mustard seeds
Half a teapsoon of cumin seeds
A pinch of aniseeds
2 heaped teaspoons of garam masala
A paste made of a thumbnail size piece of fresh ginger, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 small chillis
125ml of coconut milk
2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
2 tablespoons of water
A handful of chopped frsh coriander

Heat the oil and add the seeds and garam masala and toast for a minute before adding the onion. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft then add the tomatoes and the ginger, garlic, chilli paste and a tablespoon of water. Cook over a low light for about 10-15 minutes, adding more water if necessary. The tomatoes should be soft. Place the whole contents of the pan into a blender and blend with a tablespoon of coconut milk. Return the blended paste to the pan and add the dahl which has been pre-cooked. Add the rest of the coconut milk and half of the corainder and stir well. Bring to the boil then simmer for about another 15 minutes until it is thick and creamy. If it starts sticking to the pan, add a little water. Season to taste and garnish with the remaining coriander.