Thick Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Massaman

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Massaman is my favourite South East Asian curry. It should be thick and rich with a slight peanutty flavour. You can get Massaman curry paste in Asian supermarkets. If you cannot get any the use a red or yellow Thai paste and add half a teaspoon of ground cumin and ground coriander. Cauliflowers are really good at the moment and have a good flavour. Cruciferous vegetables are excellent for strong immunity and help us to fight colds over the winter.

 

Preparation time 10 minutes. Cooking time 15-20 minutes

Serves 3

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of Mossamon curry paste

1 cinnamon stick

1 stick of lemon grass crushed a little

A thumbnail sized piece of ginger left whole

Two medium sweet potatoes peeled and diced into 3cm cubes

A medium cauliflower broken into small florets

A tin of coconut milk

A handful of toasted peanuts finely ground

A large red chilli chopped

A handful of fresh coriander

A few toasted peanuts for garnish

Put the curry paste into a warm pan and toast it for a few seconds before adding half of the coconut milk. Stir till it is all combined. Add the lemon grass, cinnamon and ginger and the fresh chilli to taste. Add in the vegetables and stir to coat with the wet ingredients. Add the rest of the coconut milk, bring to a boil and turn to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes and cauliflower are just soft. Stir in the ground peanuts and most of the coriander. Garnish with whole peanuts and coriander.

 

 

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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.

Vegan Paneer Palak

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Paneer is an Indian cottage cheese used a lot in North Indian food and often served with spinach (palak). I love spinach and this recipe is very spinachy so be warned if you are not as keen on it. Spinach is high in iron but needs to be cooked with other veg that contain vitamin c in order for the iron to be absorbed. In this recipe, tomatoes do that job. I replace the paneer with a mix of tempeh (as I had some left over) and tofu. To be honest, you cannot tell the difference once it has been cooked in the creamy, spicy, spinachy sauce.

For this dish, I used my own super quick method for making curries by blending most of the ingredients when raw to cut down on the chopping and cooking time. It works really well and I was able to make this curry in 20 minutes.

As always with a rich dish, I served it with something fresh. This time it was a spicy tomato salsa and a mixture of white and wild rice.

Ingredients

About 350g of firm tofu or tempeh or mixed
About 375g of fresh spinach washed well
Half a large onion
2 large ripe tomatoes

Whole spices
A teaspoon each of black peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds-dry fried and ground
Half a teaspoon of fennel seeds left whole

A teaspoon of garam masala
Two large cloves of garlic
A thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger
Four whole chillis or less if you don’t like it spicy
A teaspoon of sugar
A few toasted cashew nuts
Freshly chopped coriander
Oil
Salt to taste

Put the following in the blender, blitz to a liquid and remove -tomatoes, onion, chilli, ginger and garlic.Next place the spinach in the blender with a tablespoon of water and blitz.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wide, shallow pan and add the whole and ground spices. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato paste mixture and the spinach. It will be quite wet and will need to be reduced on a medium heat for about ten minutes. Then add the tofu or tempeh and sugar (this balances the sourness of the spinach but can be omitted if you like that taste) and continue to cook for another ten minutes until the sauce is thick and the tempeh or tofu have become greener and absorbed the sauce. Add salt to taste, a pinch of garam masala to freshen it up and a small handful of fresh coriander. Serve garnished with generous, toasted cashews to add texture and extra protein.

Tempeh and Pumpkin Penang

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I found fresh tempeh in the Asian supermarket yesterday for just over a euro. Tempeh is fermented soya bean curd and they use it a lot in Indonesian cooking. It makes a nice change from tofu as it has more texture and really crisps up when fried. It also takes on the flavour of the sauce it is cooked in really well.

This curry is influenced by Thailand, Burma and Indonesia. It is made with a homemade paste but you could buy a Thai yellow curry paste and add some fresh spices in the cooking to liven it up. Bought curry paste is very salty and needs sugar to be added to the curry to get the right flavour.

The finished dish should be thick with the sauce coating the tempeh and pumpkin. It is quite rich so I made a Thai inspired salad to go with it.

Ingredients

The curry paste

Two sticks of lemon grass

Four cloves of garlic

Two thumbnails of ginger

A handful of fresh coriander- if you can get a bunch with the roots on then use only the roots and stems, save the leaves for later

Five small Thai chillis

A teaspoon each of whole cumin and coriander seeds

The curry

Half a small pumpkin chopped into small chunks with the skin left on

A small packet of tempeh but you can use tofu

250ml of coconut milk

A handful of toasted peanuts ground to a fine powder in the coffee grinder

2 big chunks of galangal, a whole black cardamom pod and a star anise

Salt to taste

Oil

A small handful of fresh coriander and fresh Thai basil plus 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves to garnish

Make a paste with the first set of ingredients. I do this by first using the food processor and then transferring it to a coffee grinder to get it smoother. Add a few drops of water to get it moving.

Cut the tempeh into small cubes or slices and fry in a tablespoon of oil on a low heat for about ten minutes, turning it until it is brown on all sides. Remove from the pan. Fry about half of the curry paste for a few seconds and then add all of the coconut milk and the pumpkin. stir through before adding back the tempeh. Add the galangal, cardamom and star anise. Simmer with a lid on for about 20 minutes until the pumpkin is just soft. Add salt to taste and then stir through the ground peanuts. You may need to let it down with a little water at this point if it is too thick. Stir through some finely chopped coriander and, if you can get it, Thai basil leaves and very finely shredded kaffir lime leaves.
I served this with red rice.

Chana Dahl and Purple Aubergine

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Dahl is my favourite comfort food as well as a well-loved, dinner party dish but I also eat it when I am feeling the need for something plain. Dahls can be made richer with the addition of coconut milk, grated coconut or ground almonds or made simple and cleansing like this recipe. Chana dahl or just red split lentils are my favourite for a simple dahl dish like this. Chana dahl are split chick peas.

Ingredients

3 big handfuls of dried chana dahl

Half a large onion thinly sliced

Two cloves of garlic crushed

A thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped

3 fresh chillis

3 large tomatoes

A teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground garam masala and ground cumin

Half a teaspoon of ground tumeric

Half a teaspoon each of black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds

A medium aubergine chopped

A tablespoon of oil.

2 handfuls of fresh coriander finely chopped.

Salt to taste

Cook the chana dahl in plenty of water until it is still a little firm. This should take 20-25 minutes. Drain most of the liquid and set aside. Meanwhile add oil to the pan and cook the onion slices slowly until they are soft and caramelised. Add the aubergines with a little more oil and cover the pan for 5 minutes to allow them to soften slightly. Toast the ground and whole spices and add to the pan.

In a blender blitz the tomatoes, garlic and chilli together with   3-4 tablespoons of the dahl and the dahl liquid. Add this mixture to the pan, followed by the rest of the dahl. Add salt and a large handful of the fresh coriander and 100ml of water. Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on the pan for around 30-40 minutes . During cooking, check whether more water is needed. When cooked the aubergine should be melting and the dahl soft but not mushy. Stir in the remaining fresh coriander.