Tag Archives: chilli

Recipe: Chilli Tofu

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Chilli Tofu

This is based on the recipe of Chilli Panner from
Meera Sodha’s Made in India: Cooked in Britain book. The recipe is delicious but it had one great failing as far as I’m concerned – there wasn’t enough of it. Meera’s dish is a snack, I wanted something to use as part of a main course, so I have added more tomatoes to carry the wonderful flavour on for a little longer.

You need to try this recipe. It has bags of flavour and cooks in less than 20 minutes (apart from pressing the tofu). And, considering the amount of garlic in it, it might be my new favourite way of dealing with a snuffly cold!

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Ingredients
400g tofu, drained & pressed, cut into 2cm cubes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 tsp cumin powder
1 green chilli, finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Lemon wedges, to serve

Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and add the tofu. Fry the tofu until lightly browned on all sides. You may need to do this in a couple of batches.
Add all the tofu back into the pan and stir in the garlic, cumin and chilli.
Saute on a low heat for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes.
Simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little.
Season with salt & pepper.
Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over.

Serves 4

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Recipe: Five Veg Chilli

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In the summer I ate at the Grain Store near Kings Cross. When it opened it got a lot of plaudits for giving vegetables the same weight as meat on its menu. To read some reviewers, you’d think it was ushering a whole new era of vegetable-centred food. *Looks around* Yeah, that so worked! Anyway, they do have a higher than normal number of veggie options on the menu and when I was there I had the Chilli con Veggie. I was impressed because they produced a thick, satisfying chilli with no use of meat substitutes, just vegetables.

I didn’t really have a clue how to emulate this until I watched a TV series Kew on a Plate where Raymond Blanc cooked the produce of a splendid kitchen garden. He produced a chilli that was pretty much made up entirely of grated vegetables. Now I knew what to do.

This is great. It is everything I wanted it to be – hearty, satisfying and with no fake meats in sight. I suspect it will do a lot towards your five-a-day within one serving.

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Ingredients
200g dry kidney beans
1 onion
2 medium carrots
1/2 large fennel bulb
1 red pepper
3 stalks celery
1 small aubergine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp marmite
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Soak the dry kidney beans overnight.
Drain, and add to a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender.
When cooked, drain but reserve the cooking liquid.

Grate the onion, carrots, fennel, pepper, celery and aubergine.
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan.
Add the garlic and chilli and stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the grated vegetables to the pan and stir.
Cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes.
Add the cooked kidney beans.
Add the chopped tomatoes and fill the empty tin with the juices from the cooked beans and add to the pan.
Add the tomato puree, marmite, mushroom ketchup, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chilli flakes and the cocoa powder.
Stir thoroughly, bring up to the simmering point and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Check for seasoning.
Serve with a sprinkle of coriander leaves over the top.
This goes well with rice or crusty bread.

Serves 4 hearty appetites

Recipe: Roasted Chickpeas

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Snack attack!

I’ve been wanting to make roasted chickpeas for a long time. Today was finally the day. I don’t think you can claim these are massively healthy – the oil and salt take care of that, but they’re high fibre, full of protein, full of flavour and you know exactly what’s gone into making them. And they’re really easy as well.

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Ingredients
400g tin of chickpeas, drained
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp salt

Pre-heat the oven to 220C.
Add the chickpeas and the other ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly until all the chickpeas are coated with the mix.
Spread evenly over an oven tray.
Put in the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
Take out of the oven and stir the chickpeas around so that they will cook evenly.
Put back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more.
Leave to cool and serve with the film or TV sport of your choice.

Edit & NB I’ve been asked questions about timings on this. This recipe very much depends on your oven, if the timings here don’t get the chickpeas as crispy as you’d like, add an extra 5 minutes at a time until they are. Remember they will crisp up a bit more as they cool down. I’m sorry, this is one recipe where you’ll just have to experiment to see what works in your kitchen.

Recipe: Spaghetti with Garlic, Chilli and Olive Oil

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This is the classic pasta dish Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. All the recipes I’ve seen add chilli to the mix. It’s known in my house as ‘cold cure pasta’. I didn’t know about its curative properties when I first made it, however. I had a streaming cold and was just looking for a quick and easy dinner. This dish takes no longer to cook than the time to cook the pasta, but once I’d eaten it I found that my nose dried up for the rest of the evening!

Even if you don’t have a cold to deal with (or a battalion of the undead to keep away with the garlic!) this is still one of the great pasta dishes. As there are only a handful of ingredients, which are treated incredibly simply, use the best quality you can get. This is one to use the plumpest garlic and the extra virgin olive oil.

I’ve given the quantities for two people here, but this is a solitary dish for me so I don’t need to worry about table etiquette of eating spaghetti dripping with oil and flavour.

Pasta with Garlic, Chilli & Olive Oil photo DSCN1776_zpswoqrh5xn.jpg

Cook 150g of spaghetti according to packet instructions. While the pasta is cooking gently warm 3 tablespoons of good olive oil in a frying pan. Stir in 2 minced plump cloves of garlic and 1 chopped birdseye chilli. Stir the garlic and chilli through the oil but you are only warming and flavouring the oil, do not fry the garlic and chilli. When the pasta is cooked, drain it thoroughly. Put it in the frying pan and stir through the oil until every strand is coated. Season with black pepper and serve, sprinkled with a few chopped basil leaves.

Serves 2

Recipe: Lemon and Coriander Noodle Soup

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This is a simple, fragrant soup with sour and hot notes. it makes a lightening-quick, great tasting, lunch or supper. You can add more vegetables to this if you want, but I’ve kept it simple with only the flavour of lemon, coriander and chilli.

I have assumed you’ll be using the type of noodles that come already portioned in nests or bundles of noodles. If you don’t have that type of noodle, you’ll need about 80g per person.

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Ingredients
2 portions noodles (about 80g each)
500ml vegetable stock
1/2 chilli, chopped
25g fresh coriander, chopped
100g tofu, diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Sesame oil

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions.
Drain into a colander and cool under a running cold tap.
Set aside.
Heat the vegetable stock in a saucepan.
When it is simmering add the chilli, coriander, tofu and the lemon juice.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Season with salt.
Divide the noodles into two serving bowls.
Pour the soup over the noodles.
Serve with a little sesame oil drizzled over the top.

Serves 2 for lunch

Recipe: Spicy Sprouts

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I had a first last week. I sent a dish back at a restaurant. The first time in my life that I’ve ever had to do that. I’m not going to name the restaurant because they didn’t quibble and took the dish off the bill so I have no complaints about the service. The dish was a mexican take on brussels sprouts. The problem was that sprouts aren’t a traditional mexican dish and in any case the chef cooking them didn’t know how to cook sprouts. For anyone reading this, rolling whole sprouts around in a hot pan for a few minutes will not cook them. They were warm, but like bullets.

This irritated me, because it could have been a nice dish. I determined to try my own version with heat and citrus notes but where the sprouts were actually cooked. I’m pretty pleased with it. And, considering that sprouts aren’t as strong-flavoured as they used to be, you could also make this with shredded spring greens to get that slightly bitter tang.

This is a side-dish, but if you wanted to make it more substantial, a bit of feta wouldn’t go amiss. You could also swap out the pine nuts for chopped hazelnuts as well.

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Ingredients
250g brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1/2 green chilli, chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
Juice 1/2 lemon

Blanch the sprouts in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
Drain and set to one side.
Heat some oil in a medium hot frying pan.
Add the chilli and garlic and fry for a minute.
Add the sprouts to the pan and cook until the sprouts take on some colour and are tender.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with the pine nuts and lemon juice sprinkled over.

Serves 2 as a side dish

Book Review: Curry Easy Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey

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For a long time in the UK, if you wanted a book to show you how to cook Indian food, Madhur Jaffrey was the only choice. So it’s just as well that she knows what she’s talking about and can communicate successfully to a wide range of people.

This year I have bought three Indian cookery books, all of a high quality. Curry Easy Vegetarian is the third one of the three and I’m reviewing it first, because it is the best.

As a home cook, I tend to like books written by cooks rather than chefs. It may be the tone is friendlier, it may be the knowledge of what is achievable in a home kitchen, it may be because it’s written by someone who has to do their own washing up. I don’t what it is, but give me a book written by someone who doesn’t have a test kitchen. There are some unfamiliar recipes and techniques here, but Madhur Jaffrey has the tone of someone who is encouraging you to have a go, rather than someone setting a test.

The recipes are divided into eight chapters:
Soups, Appetizers and Snacks
Vegetables
Dals: Dried Beans and Legumes
Grains: Rice, Semolina and Quinoa
Grains: Breads, Pancakes, Savouries and Noodles
Eggs and Dairy
Chutneys, Relishes and Salads
Drinks, Sweets and Desserts

The recipes are well laid out, attractively photographed and carefully explained. When I was first going through it, I found so many recipes I wanted to try that I ran out of bookmarks. The vegetable section has one recipe more enticing than another. There are poriyals – stir-fries with indian flavours that I can’t wait to try and dals that make me glad cold weather is coming so I can curl up on a wet day with them. And there are unexpected flavours too – rice with dill and peas, fresh peach salad, cucumber salad.

In terms of ingredients most of them should be familiar and available in most supermarkets (for which Madhur Jaffrey should take a good deal of the credit). She explains the more unfamiliar ones. My only warning is that several of the recipes require fresh curry leaves which may not be that easy to get hold of.

I really like this book and I’ve been recommending it to friends. It has a recipe for turnip – what’s not to like?

Title: Curry Easy Vegetarian
Author: Madhur Jaffrey
Publisher: Ebury Press
Year: 2014
Pages: 352
Recipes: 194 all vegetarian (including 132 vegan)
Price: £26 (hardback)
ISBN 9780091949471

In the introduction Madhur talks about how a lot of the recipes are from homes throughout India and won’t have appeared on restaurant menus. One of those she mentions is Kodava Mushroom Curry. I decided to give it a try. I stuck to the recipe, apart from using low-fat coconut milk, so I omitted the stage of letting it settle as it would have had no effect. I don’t know if that made a huge difference, this was hot, creamy and delicious anyway.

Kodava Mushroom Curry with Coconut

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Ingredients
1 400ml tin coconut milk left undisturbed for 24 hours to allow the cream to rise to the top
450g button mushrooms, halved
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
4tbsp vegetable oil
6 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2-3 fresh chillies, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice

Open the tin of coconut milk and spoon the thick cream at the top into a bowl. Leave the thinner milk in the tin.
Put the mushrooms in another bowl, sprinkle over the salt and turmeric and stir until all the mushrooms are coated.
Set aside for 10 minutes.
Put the oil in a medium hot frying pan or wok.
Add the shallots and fry until they are just starting to turn brown.
Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander and chilli powder.
Return to the heat and add the chillies, and then the mushrooms and their accumulated liquid.
Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the thin coconut milk and simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes.
Add the coconut cream and simmer on a very low heat for a minute.
Add the lime juice and serve

Serves 4