Thursday, 17 February 2011

Essential store cupboard herbs and spices

Here's a list of some of the basic seasonings in my cupboard :
  • Coarse ground black pepper: Coarse because then the flavour doesn't disappear and you can actually see it!
  • Atlantic seasalt, fine and coarse: I think this is the best salt; contains minerals and is naturally produced (saw it being produced when I was on holiday in France last year).
  • Black salt: Actually pinkish. We don't use this that often because I'm the only one in the family who actually likes its distinctive, sulphur-y taste. It is really good on avocado.
  • Dried bay leaves: We dry them ourselves from my mother in law's tree. I couldn't make tomato sauce without them! They can also be used in khir (Indian rice pudding).
  • Rogan josh masala mix: The one I use is free from onion or garlic powder. Perfect for quick veg "curries".
  • Hing: I have had the resin, which you grate as needed, but the powder is more widely available where I live. I use it in dishes which traditionally call for garlic and/ or onions as it is comparably pungent. You don't need much as it's very strong.
  • Braggs liquid aminos/ soy sauce: Instant orient! Braggs is better, as it is unfermented therefore more sattvic.
  • Chilli powder: for obvious reasons...
  • Dried oregano: I think this is the best herb for pizza
  • Dried basil: Distinctive Mediterranean flavour
  • Chinese 5-spice: Great in stir-fries and also mixed with flour and chilli for spicing roasted nuts and seeds.
  • Powdered ginger root: A good substitute for fresh root in savoury dishes and teas; also good in baking
  • Herbes de Provence: This is an aromatic French mixture of dried herbs which includes thyme and lavender. It's lovely for anything with a fresh, summery feel like green pea soup or salad dressings.
There are so many more packed into that little cupboard of mine, including cumin seeds and all the other Indian spices... I just picked the ones I use in the most recipes at the moment.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day! A tale of 4 ladus...
 Follow the above link to read an amazing true story from India about offering food to deities...
This is a sweet stall in Banki Bihari Bazaar, Vrndavana, the scene of the story. (I found this pic as a search result)

Helda Bean Fassoulakia with Potato and Pumpkin Rosti: Happy Valentine's Day!!

Helda beans are tender and flavoursome green beans from Spain; they grow very well in our allotment here in England in good summers too. As we still have not got through last year's bumper crop of pumpkins my husband suggested I make rosti with them. The result was an "European fusion" meal!
(Even the wonderful kitsch plate is from Greece!)
I first tried this many years ago, whilst working in Crete. The secret is to cook the beans long and slow in a minimum of liquid so that they come out braised and tender. The quantities here serve 6.
3 packets helda beans (or 2 of helda and one of fine beans)
a tin of chopped tomatoes (fresh cherry tomatoes would have been better, but I was in a hurry!)
extra-virgin olive oil
dried basil
salt, black pepper and hing
  • Put the prepared beans in a pan and gently cook in the olive oil for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add seasonings, a couple of tabs water, put the lid on the pan and turn the heat right down and cook until becoming tender
  • Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer very gently for a further 5-10 mins, or until beans are thoroughly cooked.
  • Adjust seasonings to suit your taste.
Use grated pumpkin and potato in the ratio 1:3, with salt, pepper, a little turmeric and a pinch or two of buckwheat flour. Shape into cakes and cook in an oven preheated to 200C on a well-oiled baking tray, turning from time to time. After the final turning, top with a little grated cheese if desired.
PS: If this is for a Valentine's meal, why not make the rosti heart-shaped?!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Vegan apricot and blueberry muffins

I thought you might like a vegan version of my cake recipe. Makes 12 incredibly light and fluffy muffins. As the apricots add to the sweetness, you may want to reduce the sugar a little.
400g self-raising flour
4 tsps baking powder
200g sugar
125g fresh blueberries
125g semidried apricots, chopped to about the same size as the blueberries
400ml soya milk
150ml sunflower oil
  • Mix dry ingredients
  • Add fruit and stir well
  • Add wet ingredients and beat for 2 mins, being careful not to burst the berries
  • Put into prepared muffin trays and bake 15-20 mins in an oven preheated to 180C.
  • Remove when cooled and sprinkle with icing sugar.