Cauliflower Pakora with Raita

One of the most stressful SuperClubs I have ever done, was at St Mary’s Wimbledon and I did an Indian themed dinner. The starter was Vegetable Pakoras and Onion Bhaajis. But for some reason, the oil, no matter how long I heated it for, would not get hot enough. I tried big pans, and little pans, I tried turning off all the other burners, even turned off the oven, but no matter what I did, the oil was not hot enough for frying. And with 70 people turning up for dinner and no starter …not much fun! Anyway, I guarantee, these are super simple and are stress free.

Cauliflower Pakora with Raita

1 medium-large cauliflower (about 800g), trimmed

Sunflower oil, for frying

For the batter

150g gram flour (chickpea flour)

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

A good shake of cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

For the raita

6 heaped tablespoons plain (full-fat) yoghurt

A large handful of mint or you could try coriander, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the raita, mix all the ingredients together, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cut the cauliflower into small florets, no more than 2cm across in any direction, discarding nearly all the stalk.

For the batter, put the gram flour, baking powder, ground spices and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine and get rid of any lumps. Slowly whisk in 175ml cold water, which should give you a smooth batter with a similar consistency to double cream. Add a little more water if necessary – different brands of gram flour will vary in how much they absorb.

Add the cauliflower florets to the batter and turn them, making sure they are all thoroughly coated.

Heat about a 3cm depth of oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to turn a cube of white bread light golden brown in 30–40 seconds, start cooking the pakoras, a few at a time so you don’t crowd the pan. Place spoonfuls of battered cauliflower – just a few florets per spoonful – into the hot oil. Cook for about 2 minutes, until crisp and golden brown on the base, then turn over and cook for another minute or two.

Drain the pakoras on kitchen paper, then serve piping hot with the raita for dipping.

Roast Cauliflower and Chorizo Rice

The combination of roast cauliflower, chorizo and rice is delicious, It doesn’t really matter what rice you use, although obviously the cooking method will change. You could use basmati and create a pilaf or Arborio rice for a risotto, but I chose paella rice as it has a clear connection with chorizo, whereas the others don’t.

Roast Cauliflower and Chorizo Rice

Serves 4

I large cauliflower, cut into florets

1-2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

Olive oil, preferably Spanish

2 onion, finely sliced

2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

400g good quality chorizo, diced

2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes to make 750mls stock

1 pinch of Saffron

250g paella rice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss the cauliflower florets in some olive oil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and roast on a lined baking sheet in the oven at 180C for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Put a glug of oil into a large heavy bottomed shallow casserole or paella pan on a medium heat, add the onion and fry for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly until completely soft. Add the chorizo and fry to release the oil. Next add the garlic and fry for a minute more. Meanwhile dissolve the stock cubes in 750 of boiling water and add the saffron. Next add your rice to the onions with a good pinch of salt. Pour in the stock and let it bubble away gently, stirring from time to time to avoid sticking. Top up with more stock if it becomes dry and the rice is still raw. After 30 minutes, check the rice is tender and cook a little longer if needed. Season to perfection and serve straight away.

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

This is such a great use-up dish at the end of the week, when your fridge is still full of veg and you know your next veg box is coming. You can throw in whatever you like and haven’t even padded it out with noodle, it is just veg, veg and more veg and you can be sure you have got your 10 a day

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

Serves 2

Teriyaki sauce varies hugely. My favourite is Waitrose home-brand.

Large knob of fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 fresh red chillies

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Handful of purple sprouting broccoli, sliced finely

Head o Bok, Choi shredded

Few sticks of celery and its leaves, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and then peeled into ribbons

Sweet mixed peppers, sliced, seeds removed

Teriyaki (for gluten free a mixture of Mirin, gluten free soy and Chinese cooking rice wine)

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Chopped cashew nuts, toasted

Sea salt

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Aloo Gobi

Riverford supply a variety of different potatoes throughout the year. The qualities of the potato of the moment are always written on the bag ranging from floury to waxy, it is important to choose the right potato for the recipe. Waxy potatoes will never make a good chip, or roast potato for that matter. On the other hand, if you choose a floury potato for your Spanish omelette, you are going to end up with mash. I particularly like the selection of waxy potatoes which Riverford offers. These are quite hard to get hold of in England apart from the obvious new potatoes or Charlotte, which are usually sold very small, making them laborious and time consuming to peel. They are best left whole with their skins on.

Aloo Gobi requires a waxy potato which holds it shape. I used the Alouette potatoes which often turn up in the boxes at this time of year. I like to roast the cauliflower in a little coconut oil and add it at the end to give the finished dish more texture. Serve up on its own with a nan or alongside your favourite curry.

Aloo Gobi

Coconut Oil

2 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1-2 small green chilli, chopped

Large knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even small bite size pieces

1 large cauliflower, broken or cut into large bite size florets

1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

 

Heat some coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add the onion and cook until they become creamy, golden, and translucent. Add the mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric and salt. Continue to fry for a minute or two more but do not burn. Add chopped chillies (according to taste). Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly. Cook a few minutes more. Add potatoes plus a few tablespoons of water and stir well to ensure that they are coated with the curry sauce. Cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Keep checking and stirring every now and then so that it does not catch and burn.  Add a little more water each time if necessary. When the potatoes are about half cooked, add the cauliflower, stir well and cover again.  Leave for a further 10 minutes of so until the potatoes and cauliflower are cooked.  Stir in the cardamom and coriander and adjust seasoning.  Try not to stir to much at this stage so as to keep the texture.  Allow to sit for a while to allow flavours to infuse.

Chickpea, Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Curry

I have been making Thai Curry with Butternut Squash for years but for some reason it never occurred to me to make and Indian Curry with it instead. Butternut squash is very dense and very rich so it is important to cut it with another vegetable. Cauliflower works really well and along with the chickpeas adds texture and interest. As always, I prefer to roast the veg and add them to the sauce at the end.

I think this intensifies the individual flavours of the vegetables as well as stopping the vegetable becoming overcooked.

Chickpea,  Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Curry

3 tablespoon coconut oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic minced

1 knob of ginger, scraped and finely grated

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground cardamon seeds (try Spiceways)

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tbsp. tomato puree

½ a butternut squash diced into ½-inch cubes

1 large cauliflower florets cut into small 1-inch sized pieces

1 tin chickpeas drained

1 tin coconut milk

1 small bunch coriander

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large deep pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté over medium low heat for 10 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Meanwhile toss the butternut squash cubes with another tablespoon of coconut oil, salt and pepper and spread out on a lined baking tray and roast until golden brown. Toss the cauliflower with another tablespoon of coconut oil, salt and pepper and spread out on a lined baking tray and roast until golden brown. When the onions are tender, add the ginger, garlic and chilli cooking and stirring for one minute. Next add the spices and tomato puree and cook for a minute more to release the flavours. Season with salt and pepper. Add the coconut milk and chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the spices have mellowed and integrated. Taste the sauce and add more salt as desired. Stir in the coriander and then add the butternut squash and cauliflower. Reheat and serve with basmati rice.

Cauliflower Korma

I’m kicking this week off with a Cauliflower Korma. I have tried this with parsnips before, with great success. You could try it out with what ever you have to hand, and would compliment well with this  mild, nutty and creamy curry.

cauliflower-korma

I like to roast the vegetables for the curry, whilst I prepare the base. This saves time, but also keeps the texture of the vegetables better.

The freshly ground cardomon is super important and if you dont want to spend hours picking the seeds out of the pods yourself, look out for the seeds only in good Indian Supermarkets. Try Spiceway in Kingston Road. It may look unpromising from the outside but it has a really good selection of Indian ingredients.

Cauliflower Korma

1 large cauliflower, broken into even sized, bite size florets

Coconut oil

2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated

Large knob of ginger, scraped and grated

1 fresh red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cardamom seeds (you can find these in a good Indian food shop. Try Spiceway)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground fennel seeds

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tin coconut milk

2 tbsp ground almonds

2 tbsp flaked almonds

Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Toss the cauliflower with coconut oil and season with sea salt.  Spread out on a large lined roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until the florets are tender and turning golden brown.  Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed saucepan, fry the onions gently in some coconut oil. Sweat for 10 minutes or so until just beginning to turn light brown. Add the chill, garlic and ginger and fry for a minute more. Add the spices and fry for a minute more. Add the coconut milk and simmer gently until you have the consistency of single cream. Season with salt and stir in the ground almonds and chopped coriander. Check seasoning and adjust to taste. Stir in the roast cauliflower and sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve with rice or naan.

roast-cauliflower

Cauliflower and Chickpea Pilaf

I always forget about Pilafs and that is a silly thing because they could not be a simpler, quicker and tastier one-pot dish. The onions are an important part of this dish to make sure you take care of them. As I was eating my pilaf, I couldn’t help noticing how similar it was to a salad I featured on this blog about a year ago – Saffron Basmati Rice Salad with Lentils, Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Fried Onions. Just shows it is delicious either hot or cold. A recipe for all seasons.

Cauliflower and Chickpea Pilaf

Cauliflower and Chickpea Pilaf

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 large onions

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

200g basmati rice

350g cauliflower florets

400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

500ml vegetable stock

50g toasted flaked almonds

handful of freshly chopped coriander

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan and add the onions. Cook over a very low heat for 10 -15 mins until starting to turn golden. Stir in the curry powder and cumin and cook for 1 min more. Add the rice, cauliflower and chickpeas, stirring to coat.

Pour in the stock and a teaspoon of salt and stir. Cover and simmer for 10-15 mins until the rice and cauliflower are tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the almonds and coriander, then serve.

Cauliflower trimmed

Saffron Basmati Rice Salad with Lentils, Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Fried Onions

With the weather finally warming up a little, I have got a couple of salads for you this week, but because it is not quite summer yet, they are quite hearty ones with plenty of filling pulses and grains. The other thing they have in common is the unusual salad ingredient of crispy fried onions. I used these on this blog, back in May last year in a Baby Spinach, Wild Rice, Broad Bean, Grilled Asparagus & Courgette Salad. These super delicious crispy onions liven up all manner of salads and the oil can be incorporated in the dressing, working particularly well with rice, lentils or grains.

Crispy Fried Onions

Crispy Fried Onions

Thinly slice a few large onions. Cut off the top end of the onion and peel the rest of it. Slice as thin as possible. A Mandolin is really good for this or you can use a food processor. Place a saucepan on a high heat and add about an inch of vegetable oil. You don’t want to use too much oil as the more intense the flavour the better. Heat the oil to 180⁰C using a thermometer. Add the onions slowly and carefully and deep fry until light golden brown. Be careful not to burn, stirring regularly, especially in the corners where the onions will cook most quickly. Remove with a slotted spoon, straight into a colander lined with kitchen paper over a bowl. Break up any clumps and leave to crisp up. Season lightly with salt. When cool pour the oil into a bottle for further use.

Saffron Basmati Rice Salad with Lentils, Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Fried Onions Crispy Fried Onions

Saffron Basmati Rice Salad with Lentils, Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Fried Onions

Crispy Fried Onions

1 cauliflower

100g lentils (I used Puy lentils but you can use any)

150g Basmati rice

A pinch of saffron

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp. cumin seeds

Small bunch of coriander

Rinse your basmati rice for 10 minutes or so until the water runs clear. Cover with an inch and a half of water, a good pinch of salt and a generous pinch of saffron. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until tender. Add more water during cooking if necessary. When cooked, drain and refresh in cold water. This is a salad and it is important that the rice is fluffy and separated. Allow to drain again for at least an hour, if not more. Cook the lentils very gently in plenty of water for about 15-20 minutes until tender. You want them to still have a little bite and texture. Drain for at least half an hour. Meanwhile roast your cauliflower. Cut it into even size florets and toss in a little of the onion oil, plenty of salt, freshly ground pepper and the cumin seeds. Mix well and lay out in a single layer in a roasting pan. Roast in the middle of the oven at 200°C (400°F) for 20 minutes, then give them a good toss to ensure even cooking. Roast for 10 minutes more or until the edges are brown and crunchy. In a bowl mix the rice with some of the onion oil, plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Immediately you will taste the great combination of saffron and subtle onion flavours. Add the lentils and cauliflower and check for seasoning. Add a handful of crispy onions, saving some for the top. Pick the leaves from the coriander and mix through the salad. Pile onto a serving plate and heap crispy onions on top.

brown onions

Turlu Turlu

Good to my word, I tried out a fresh tomato sauce, just to see how it turned out. As far as I know, there are two schools of tomato sauce. The Italian version which consists of no more than olive oil, garlic and tomatoes and maybe a little basil, or the French version which can contain pretty much anything. I believe that this is because the Italian version relies heavily on superb ingredients, including very good tinned Italian plum tomatoes, so I decided to opt for the French. I used some onion, celery and garlic in my base, sweated down with olive oil and I added some wild dried Oregano. The results where certainly good enough for this week’s recipe of Turlu Turlu. This is a sort of Turkish Ratatouille, and just the sort of recipe I love. It literally means hotchpotch and can incorporate any number of different vegetables mixed with chickpeas, tomato sauce and lots of herbs. It is a great use up dish and I had a whole array of vegetables in the bottom of my fridge, which all went in, including beetroot, parsnips, red onions, red peppers, courgettes, sweet potatoes, fennel and carrots and of course, the tomatoes. But you could have added potatoes, squash, green peppers, cauliflower, aubergine or any other vegetable you have to hand.

veg for Turlu Turlu

This recipe seems a little more complicated than it is, but only because I insist on separating the vegetables up which cook better on their own. They need a lot of room and different times and this way, all your vegetables are perfectly roasted. It is worth the effort.

As for my tomato sauce – I am not sure it was good enough to just serve on its own with pasta but I will keep working on it and let you know how I get on.

Turlu Turlu 2

Turlu Turlu
Serves 4
1 red onions, cut into into 8 wedges through the root
1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded, and cut into large bit-sized chunks
1 head fennel, cut into into 8 wedges through the root
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
A few beetroot, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
3 courgettes, cut into 1cm slices, slightly on the diagonal
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, or to taste

For the sauce
6 Large ripe tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely sliced

1 tin chickpeas, drained
Freshly chopped coriander
Freshly chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Toss the red onion and red pepper with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray and put in the oven. Toss the fennel with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray, making sure as much surface area as possible is in contact with the tray and put in the oven. Combine the root vegetables – parsnips, beetroot and sweet potato. Toss with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray and put in the oven. Toss the courgettes with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray, make sure as much surface area as possible is in contact with the tray and put in the oven. You will have to check your veg regularly, and rotate veg to ensure even cooking, When your veg are cooked and a little caramelised remove them. Each tray will slightly different time. Meanwhile make your sauce. Sauté the onion and celery slowly in plenty of olive oil, for a s long as possible. Meanwhile, put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Cut a small cross in the top of your tomatoes. Add them to the pan of boiling water and boil for 1-2 minutes, until the skins begin to come away. Remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of cold water. Remove the skins and roughly chop. Add the garlic to the onions and fry a minute more before adding the tomatoes. Cook down gently until the tomatoes have completely dissolved, Season with salt and pepper and oregano. Puree with a hand blender.

Just before your final tray of veg is ready, add the chickpeas and tomato sauce to the tray and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Then remove and add all your veg together. Stir gently to avoid mushing up the veg. Allow to cool slightly before adding your herbs. Serve warm or room temperature.

Turlu Turlu 3

Quick and Easy Baked Vegetable Samosas

Next up this week, a really quick and easy version of Vegetable Samosas. The idea is to be able to knock these up for a quick lunch or for the kids lunch-boxes, so I am not expecting you to make your own samosa pastry. Samosa pastry is readily available in oriental supermarkets in the freezer section but I wanted to try them out with Filo.

I have been giving a lot of thought to good fats recently and I am always questioning what is the best fat to use when cooking? It is a bit of a minefield out there of information at the moment. When I was growing up they told us butter was bad and margarine was best. Now there has been a complete reversal of opinion apart from, rather worryingly, the NHS.

This time it was a tossup between butter and coconut oil. Olive oil, my usual oil of choice, was not appropriate for samosas and I am very anti-vegetable oil. Health wise, butter and coconut oil are both in a similar boat. Once considered bad boys for their high content of saturated fat, (coconut oil has a much higher ration of saturated fat to butter) opinion seems to have changed. It is now considered that it is more important that they are low in omega 6, compared to vegetable oils which are very high. Our bodies need Omega 6 and Omega 3 but in equal ratios. Unfortunately, we are consuming far too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3 and vegetable oil is the main culprit. I now try and use primarily olive oil (high in omega 3), then butter (grass fed cows are also a good source of Omega 3) and finally coconut oil which contains no Omega 3, but neither does it contain Omega 6 and it can withstand high heats and adds a great flavour. Just use them in small amounts!

Taking all this into consideration, I decided to use Coconut oil for flavour BUT to bake my samosas instead of frying, to dramatically reduce the amount of oil I was using.

Finally, a note on frozen peas. I know I shouldn’t be telling all you seasonal veg enthusiasts, striving to eat fresh and local produce but to me, a samosa needs peas, even in the winter. But you can add any vegetables you like.

Samosas

Vegetable Samosas
If cooking for the kids, omit the chilli. To avoid any bad fats, you might want to make your own pastry.
Coconut oil
400 g Maris Piper (or similar floury) potatoes
250 g cauliflower
125 g frozen peas
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
Large knob of fresh ginger
1 fresh green chilli
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
½ a lemon, juice from
Bunch of fresh coriander
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and chop the potatoes into rough 1cm chunks. Break the cauliflower into similar sized florets as the potato. Add the potatoes to a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil. When nearly cooked, about 8 minutes, add the, adding the cauliflower and after a further 3 minutes add the peas. Bring back to the boil and cook for a final minute, then drain.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion. Peel the garlic and grate finely. Scrape the skin off the the ginger and finely grate. Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Heat some coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so until translucent and pale. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and the spices and a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute or two more and add the drained vegetables. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season to taste. Stir in the chopped coriander. Taste again. Add more spices or chilli to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Lightly grease a large baking tray with oil.

Lay out the filo pastry and cut it in half lengthways. Take your first sheet and brush with some melted coconut oil. Spoon in the filling right down one end and fold over in triangular turns until you reach the other end. (Please see youtube link.) Finally brush with a little more coconut oil and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes, or until golden and piping hot through. Serve straightaway if possible.

Making Samosas 4

Making Samosas 3

Making Samosas

Making Samosas 2