Tag Archives: coconut milk

Book Review: Curry Easy Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey


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
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

kodava mushroom curry photo DSCN1728_zps0b5995b4.jpg

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

Recipe: Cambodian Mushroom Dip


This is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from Everyday Veg. This simple recipe produces a rich, creamy, spicy dip with a complex flavour. This could well be making a permanent addition to my dip repertoire.

The mushrooms should be chopped to a medium-fine texture at first. Not duxelles fine, but not coarse either. They should still retain some texture after cooking.

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250g mushrooms, chopped
1/2 birds eye chilli, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsp curry powder or paste
1 tbsp peanut butter
200ml coconut milk
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp chopped coriander

Heat a little oil in a wok or large frying pan, add the mushrooms and fry until the liquid has reduced down to very little.
Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a minute.
Stir in the curry powder, peanut butter and then add the coconut milk.
Stir to mix thoroughly.
Lower the heat and simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes until it has reduced to a soft but not soupy consistency.
Add the soy sauce and lime juice.
Serve with the coriander sprinkled over.

Recipe: Curried Coconut and Noodle Soup


This is another mid-week recipe. You can spot these because they use curry powder and pre-cooked noodles. This recipe uses two ingredients that are fast becoming staples in my kitchen: coconut milk and fresh rice noodles. There are a lot of vegetables in this dish, some cooked in the coconut and curry broth and some added as it is served.

This is really quick and really tasty. You can ring the changes depending on what you have in the fridge so it is endlessly adaptable when you don’t have time to shop.

Rice noodles in curry coconut broth photo DSCN1129_zpsb1f631f2.jpg

60g tofu, cubed
1 tbsp curry powder/paste
150ml coconut milk
350ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
150g rice noodles
handful bean sprouts
6 sugar snap peas, or mangetout, sliced lengthways
1/2 little gem lettuce, shredded
3-4 slices red onion, sliced
1 spring onion, sliced
1 red chilli, chopped
1 tbsp coriander, chopped
1 lime wedge

Heat some oil in a large saucepan and add the tofu.
Fry for a few seconds and then stir in the curry powder or paste.
Make sure that the tofu is coated in the spice mix and let it cook for a few minutes.
Add the coconut milk, vegetable stock and soy sauce and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the noodles, bean sprouts and sugar snap peas.
Bring back to the simmer and let cook for a minute. You’re not actually cooking anything, just heating things through.
Just before serving, turn off the heat and stir in the lettuce.
Serve in a large bowl with the red onion, spring onion, chilli and coriander placed on top as a garnish.
Add a lime wedge for squeezing.

Serves 1

Recipe: Pasta with Lemon and Artichoke Sauce


This is a fresh, little sauce, based on my theory that it’s possible to mix up something tasty in the time that it takes for the pasta to cook. This is a great cheat sauce as well – giving you a tangy, fresh taste using mostly store cupboard ingredients. A word of warning – be careful of the lemon zest – this is a pasta sauce not lemon curd!

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200g pasta
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
200ml coconut milk
1 lemon, juiced
A few gratings of lemon rind (optional)
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Put the pasta on to boil.
While the pasta is cooking, heat some olive oil in a small frying pan and add the garlic.
When the garlic starts to brown, add the sliced artichoke hearts and fry them gently until they start to colour.
Add the coconut milk and lemon juice and simmer.
Taste to see if you need more lemon flavour and if so, add a couple of gratings of lemon rind.
Season with salt and pepper.
When the pasta is cooked, drain well, and toss in the frying pan with the sauce until it is coated.
Serve with the basil leaves scattered on top.

Serves 2

Recipe: Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff


Mushroom Stroganoff is one of those dishes that define an era, much in the same way that black forest gateau and prawn cocktail do. In the days before goats cheese, mushroom stroganoff was a perennial vegetarian option on menus. But, in common with its menu mates, when it’s done well it’s a dish worth eating.

The secret to this is the stock you use – Italian porcini mushroom stock. You can find it in some supermarkets and delicatessens. It’s worth your time seeking it out and buying it when you find it. It adds an intense mushroom flavour to stroganoff and, indeed, mushroom risotto as well. If you can’t get it, then vegetable stock will do.

Mushroom Stroganoff photo DSCN1111_zps03d0c710.jpg

1 red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp white wine
1/4 tsp english mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
few rasps of nutmeg
150ml mushroom stock
100ml coconut milk
1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Sweat the onion and garlic in a large frying pan.
When they have softened, add the mushrooms and turn up the heat a little.
When the mushrooms have taken on a little colour, add the white wine and let it bubble down.
Then stir in the mustard, paprika and nutmeg.
Cook the mushrooms in the spices for a minute and then add the stock and coconut milk.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the stock has reduced by at least half.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with the parsley sprinkled on top.

Serves 2 with rice

Recipe: Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup


What’s your favourite comfort food? Not the ‘it rained on me when I was walking home’ food, or the ‘planned outing was cancelled’ food, but the real ‘my entire life sucks, everyone hates me and I think I had something to do with it’ food. When the chips are down and all hope is gone I turn to cream of mushroom soup, but not just any mushroom soup, specifically Campbell’s Condensed Mushroom soup eaten undiluted and served over white rice with a lot of black pepper. When Superman’s otherwise engaged, the Bat Signal’s bulb has gone out and The Avenger’s satnav is leading them astray, this will save your life. Trust me on this.

Having said that, I’m eating less and less dairy nowadays, so I wanted to see if I could replicate the creamy soul-saving effects without using real cream. Soy yoghurts are out of the equation, the only plain one I’ve found has vanilla in it, which would just be wrong. The vegan milk replacements wouldn’t be creamy enough. Eventually I settled on coconut milk. I had used it in the lentil, spinach and coconut soup and had been impressed by the way it didn’t take over the dish, but made it much richer and creamier. It does exactly the same here, the creamy richness is there, but you have to really look for the coconut flavour.

The other thing that helps this recipe work is the Porcini stock cubes. Not all supermarkets keep them (I found mine in Waitrose) but if you spot them they are well worth buying. They pack a huge mushroom flavour. If you can’t find them, don’t worry, just use a good veg stock and 2 tablespoons of the mushroom ketchup.

Cream of mushroom soup photo DSCN0957_zps9d040773.jpg

1 leek, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
400g mushrooms, roughly chopped
500ml mushroom stock
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
150 ml coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut milk for garnish

Sweat the leek in a little oil in a large saucepan.
When the leek is softened add the garlic and stir for about a minute.
Add the mushrooms, stock, mushroom ketchup and coconut milk.
Bring to the simmer and leave for 30 minutes.
When cooked, remove from the heat and blend until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot with a swirl of coconut milk for garnish.

Serves 2 (or 1 if you really need it!)

Recipe: Lentil, Coconut and Spinach Soup


This soup was a surprise. I was trying to find a way of using up the coconut milk I had left over from the Tofu with Coconut and Lime I’d made earlier in the week. I was expecting something fairly ordinary that would do for a midweek supper or to take to work for lunch.

What I got was a subtly-spiced, rich, creamy soup that I would happily eat at a dinner party. With all the exotic ingredients that go into this dish, the predominant flavour is still that of the lentils, but with hints of lime, coconut and spices lingering around the iron greenness of the spinach.

Stick a fancy garnish on this one and you’ll find it has substance to back up the style.

Lentil and spinach soup photo DSCN0953_zpsf4fba8ad.jpg

200g red lentils
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 kaffir lime leaf
100ml coconut milk
75g frozen spinach
1/2 lime, juiced
chopped coriander to garnish

In a large saucepan add all the ingredients except the spinach, lime and coriander and bring up to the simmer.
Add the spinach and let the soup come back up to heat again.
Cover the pan and let it simmer gently for 25-30 minutes for the lentils to be cooked.
Remove the lime leaf and blend the soup until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the lime juice.
Serve with the chopped coriander as a garnish.

Serves 2

Recipe: Tofu with Coconut and Lime


This is a based on a great recipe from St Delia.I’ve been meaning to vegetise this recipe for a while now. When I was still eating chicken this was a go-to recipe for when I had friends round. It’s quick, simple and easy to expand for more guests. The same applies with the tofu version. If anything it’s got even quicker because you just have to heat the tofu through rather than wait for the chicken to cook.

The original recipe calls for fish sauce, but I’ve found that a combination of soy sauce and mushroom ketchup is a good substitute. If you can’t get mushroom ketchup then just add more soy sauce. I’ve boosted the lime flavour with the use of a lime leaf, but it’s not essential. Lime leaves aren’t always easy to get, but if you find some (Sainsbury’s had some last time I was in) they’re well worth buying. They freeze perfectly, so you don’t need to worry about wasting any.

You can mess around with the vegetable element, but I’d keep with the white and green theme. Mangetout, sugar snap peas, courgette strips, cucumber or kale would be good. If all else fails stir in some chopped lettuce right at the end.

I tend to serve this with rice, but noodles would be good too. You could add some of those white, rice vermicelli noodles that you find near the stir fry veg packs at the supermarket. They would be fine stirred in a minute or two before serving.

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250g firm tofu, cubed
juice and zest of a lime
1/2 green chilli, chopped
150ml coconut milk
2tsp soy sauce
2tsp mushroom ketchup
1 lime leaf
2 pak choi, sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
coriander, chopped for garnish

Marinade the tofu in the lime juice and zest for 30-60 minutes.
After that time, drain the tofu and reserve the marinade.
Heat some oil in a wok or a large saucepan.
Add the tofu and cook until browned on all sides.
Add the chilli and let that heat in the oil for a minute.
Then add the coconut milk, soy sauce, mushroom ketchup, lime leaf and the stem parts of the oak choi.
Stir and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the lime leaf.
Just before serving, turn off the heat and stir in the green parts of the pak choi and let them wilt in the residual heat.
Serve with the spring onions and coriander sprinkled over the top.

Serves 2 with rice or noodles