Tag Archives: runner beans

Book Review: Made in India Cooked In Britain

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An Indian kitchen can be anywhere in the world. Mine just happens to be in London.

I had decided that I wasn’t going to buy any more recipe books that included meat recipes. I was sick of having to skip over so many pages that I couldn’t use. I was going to stick to buying only vegetarian recipe books. And then I was listening to the Woman’s Hour Cook the Perfect podcast on the way to work one morning. I listened to Meera Sodha cook her Daily Dal recipe and talk about cooking Indian family food in Britain.

Meera’s family (originally from Gujarat in India) had been expelled from Uganda in 1972 and had ended up Lincolnshire. Meera’s mother had continued to cook Gujarati food but with British ingredients. This cookbook is based around those recipes.

It’s a lovely warm hug of a book. It’s full of fresh flavours and recipes that encourage rather than intimidate. There are some specialist ingredients, but most of these recipes only need a trip to the average supermarket, not an hour spent online tracking down obscure spices.

The book is divided into:
Starters and snacks
Vegetables
Meat
Fish
Eggs
Pulses and grains
Sides
Breads
Chutneys and pickles
Puddings
Drinks
Housekeeping: Make your own and Leftovers

There’s a Menu Ideas section with menus for 2, 4, 6 and 8 vegetarians. There’s an Alternative Contents section with ideas for 1st Timer Recipes, Midweek Meals, Get the Kids Involved, Gluten Free and other options.

The recipes are clear, one to a page with plenty of full page colour photographs. While there are meat recipes there, they are restricted to two chapters and make up less than a quarter of the book. The tone of the book is chatty and cheerful, mixed in with a few family stories, like a good conversation between foodie friends.

I have tried the Daily Dal and it is excellent. There is also a recipe for 100 Garlic-Clove Curry. I might have to give that one a try sometime soon!

Title: Made in India Cooked in Britain: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen
Author: Meera Sodha
Publisher: Penguin Fig Tree
Year: 2014
Pages: 319
Recipes: 133 (including 47 vegetarian and 49 vegan)
Price: £20 hardback
ISBN: 9780241146330

Runner Beans with Mustard Seeds and Ginger

Beans with ginger and mustard seed photo DSCN1690_zpsf24d0372.jpg

The recipe in the book calls for French beans, but with runner beans being in season I decided to use them.

This is a lovely, gently spiced dish. It’s not hot, but warming from the ginger. It can be served as a side dish safe in the knowledge that it won’t overpower whatever it’s served with.

Ingredients
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds
250g runner beans, topped, tailed and sliced into cm lengths
2 cm ginger, peeled and grated
2 tsp tomato puree
1/4 tsp turmeric

Add a little oil to a large frying pan on a medium heat.
Add the mustard seeds and sesame seeds.
When they start to pop add the beans and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the ginger and stir for another two minutes.
Add the tomato puree, turmeric and a splash of water.
Cover with a lid, turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes.
When the beans are tender, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 2 as a side dish

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Recipe: Green, bean salad

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It’s bean season. I got a bit carried away at the supermarket when I saw a pack of broad beans and then had to buy some others to keep them company. My grandpa used to grow broad beans on his allotment, I used to love unzipping the stiff, green case and finding the beans sitting in their damp, fluffy bed. I never liked eating them, though. That’s probably because my Mum never peeled them. I have learned that lesson.

So here’s a fresh bean salad with some avocado for creamy contrast. I could have used mint for a dressing and it would work well, but I decided on the warmth of tarragon instead, as it’s not hot enough for cooling to be essential.

green bean salad photo DSCN0890_zpsde8283a5.jpg

Ingredients
For the dressing:
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp tarragon, finely chopped
1/4 tsp mustard powder
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil

For the salad:
500g broad bean pods
6 runner beans, topped and tailed
20 green beans, topped and tailed
1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Mix the dressing ingredients together, season with salt and pepper and set aside while the beans are cooking.
Shell the broad beans and put them in a pan of boiling, salted water.
Slice the runner beans and green beans on the diagonal and add them to the pan.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Strain the beans and run under cold water to stop them cooking.
Skin the broad beans, by nicking one end of the bean and squeezing the bean out through the slit.
Toss the all the beans together with the avocado in a bowl.
Spoon the dressing over and serve.

Serves 2 as a light lunch with some crusty bread to mop up the juices. Some crumbled feta would make this more substantial if you don’t want to keep it vegan.

Recipe: Cassoulet with runner beans

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It must be the weather getting colder, but I fancied a bean stew this week. I wanted to try my hand at a veggie version of cassoulet. Now, I know a cassoulet without duck or meat sausage is not a real cassoulet and I believe Raymond Blanc just suffered a sudden unexplained twinge at the mere concept, but there are some nice veggie sausages out there that seemed making it worth a go.

Quorn have recently come up with a new Chef’s selection range of sausages (of which more later) and I used the wild garlic and parsley sausages in this recipe.

I made this in the slow-cooker, but I wouldn’t do so again with these sausages. They disintegrated and went mushy after the long cooking. It was still tasty, but the texture wasn’t there. I have made adjustments in the recipe so it shouldn’t happen again.

Cassoulet with runner beans

Cassoulet
110g pinto beans
1/2 onion, chopped
2 veg sausages, cut into pieces
300 ml water
1 tsp veg stock
1 tsp marmite
Thyme

Soak the pinto beans overnight then drain and rinse.
Soften the onion in a little olive oil in a saucepan until translucent.
Add the beans, sausages and the rest of the ingredients. Add a pinch of thyme and some black pepper, but no salt yet as it makes the beans take longer to cook.
Bring to the boil and then reduce to a slow simmer.
Cover the pan and cook for 2 hours until the beans are tender.
Stir in salt and serve.
Serves 2

Runner beans with tarragon and lemon
I got the idea for this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Veg Everyday’, but he cooks the beans for 20 minutes, which is way too long for me.

1 clove garlic, chopped
6 runner beans, destringed and chopped on the diagonal
pinch tarragon or 1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
Squeeze lemon juice

Soften the garlic in some olive oil in a saucepan.
Add the runner beans and the dried tarragon (if using) and stir in the hot oil for a minute.
Pour in a few tablespoons of water and simmer the beans for five minutes until they are tender but still bright green.
If you’re using fresh tarragon now is the time to add it, along with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Give it a good stir and serve.
Serves 2.