Brussel Sprouts Curry

brussel-sprouts

There are very few vegetables I don’t particularly enjoy eating, and they generally tend to be curries made with cabbage or brussel sprouts. I guess it is perhaps because sometimes they are over cooked to make them tender, which in turn makes them bland. We once had this conversation with my sister in-law and I about how our mothers tend to over cook certain vegetables and even foods like pasta and noodles just to make sure that we don’t eat food that is half cooked or raw. By over cooking you loose out on the taste, nutrients and texture of the food, however, if cooked properly and with a good blend of spices, then even these foods are bearable 😉

Wikipedia has this about brussel sprouts:- Whatever cooking method is employed, care must be taken not to overcook. Overcooking releases the sulphur smelling glucosinolate, sinigrin. This is the reason many people profess to dislike Brussels sprouts; only ever having tried them overcooked with the accompanying sulfuric taste and smell. Generally 6–7 minutes boiled or steamed is enough to cook, without overcooking and releasing the sinigrin.

So I guess the key is to cook it like as if stir frying, i.e. fast cooked food to ensure that the nutrients remain as well as the taste 🙂

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Thai Green Curry with Coconut & Lemon Rice

thai-green-curry

I fell in love with the wonderfully fresh, aromatic and spicy Thai food, whilst on honeymoon in Thailand. We went to a beach restaurant in Koh Samui and being vegetarian we were well looked after. It was reassuring to know the pots and pans were well cleaned in our view before preparing our food but it meant our food always took longer to prepare.
While we were there we were told that the authentic food is very spicy, so this is a challenge to me as I love spicy food. Towards the end of our honeymoon, in Phuket we went to another beach side restaurant. I asked for the real authentic green curry that the locals would have, to this I was told we would not be able to handle it !! It was a great curry for me I just loved it :D, on the other hand even though  my dear husband had it, it was too much for him and as a result he needed a few glasses of drinks to cool him down.

With Thai food the way in which the food is prepared and served is very interesting as it shows that, if you add the correct ingredients at the right time into the curry you get the most of the herbs and spices and that adds to the flavour and entire eating experience. It not only is a fantastic treat to the taste buds but also the eye as all the food is carved and looks beautiful, even the pineapple served after every meal was cut up in such away that you just wanted to leave it rather than eating it up.

The inspiration for my vegetarian version has been created by basing it on a Tarla Dalal recipe as well as looking at ingredients on ready made jars of curry paste and from TV shows. I put more lemon grass and coriander in the paste and less coconut in the curry, or as I did this time, none at all as the rice had coconut milk. This is a great curry to have if you like spicy food, and would like a change from Indian food and don’t quite fancy Chinese.

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Undhiu (green vegetable curry)

undhiu

As we were growing up I remember my mother telling us that on the 14th of January, India celebrates the end of winter and start of spring, the change in seasons and wind directions. They celebrate with the festival of Uttarayan also know as Sankrant, Lohri or Pongal. In Gujarat, in particular, they celebrate by flying kites and she would tell us how the skies would be filled with lots of kites in different colours and sizes, and tell us about all the foods eaten that were traditionally associated with the season. However it wasn’t until I went and spent my university placement year in India that I really got the opportunity to understand or appreciate what this and other festivals really meant. I have very fond memories of my Uttarayan experience, the sky was really filled with colourful kites flying high. So many thoughts and memories, which are difficult to put into words – reach for your dreams and set your thoughts free to fly high ….

Associated with this festival are certain foods which are quite abundant around this time. There are certain foods that are eaten around this time like sesame seed balls, and various curries made with fresh green vegetables, like Undhiu. Undhiu is a good all round curry made with all the fresh vegetables of the season and some spicy dumplings (muthais), which are the best bits of the curry :). In keeping with this tradition I made undhiu yesterday, still remembering  my experience in India, as if it had happened yesterday, even though it was actually 11 years ago. Isn’t it amazing how certain foods bring back fond memories and traditions which remain with us for life. The reason why I enjoy this curry is the fact that the masala mix is also made from all fresh ingredients, unlike the other curries which I normally make with dry spice mixes and a tomato base. I have created my own version of this traditional curry by looking at what my mother and other relatives have used, and by getting inspiration from Tarla Dalal’s recipe and other recipe books.

Today (19/01/2009) as I was looking at Jaya’s  site Spice and Curry, and I came across a festival that is being hosted by Preeti (Indian Khana) for Sankranti or Uttarayan, so I thought that since someone has made an event out of a festival I should take part in it also.

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Chora nu shaak (black-eyed bean curry)

black-eyed-beans

Part of everyday cooking is great simple food. Being vegetarian, pulses and beans are the main form of protein so we try to have them either with every meal or as often as we can in a week. The addition of the basic Indian spices and herbs, makes this a simple yet substantial meal. Chora are said to be low in fat, and have no cholesterol, and are high in iron, potassium and fibre. The reason why I am adding such a simple and basic recipe is to  either give people ideas and help create something different with the same old beans or even help students to cook while away from home.

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Vegetarian Sizzler

A sizzler is made on either clay or iron plates, they are heated and various different cooked foods are placed on it and when it starts to sizzle it is ready to be served. It is a good winter dish to have, as it remains hot for a long time. I have had many vegetarian sizzler’s and they have all been interesting, however I guess I am biased with this version as I grew up with it. Another reason why the taste is so good is because of using clay plates as opposed to iron plates, the flavours are absorbed more and it dries up the gravy more so that enhances the flavour. If you break it down and look at it, it is just rice, beans, curries and chips, however the combination works well for our family. It has become a Christmas meal favourite for some years now, like a tradition. Each of the individual curries used in this recipe can be eaten as part of a meal also i.e. with chapatti (rotli) and rice. So in effect in this one recipe I am giving you four different curry recipes 🙂

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Red Kidney Beans Curry (Bhanda)

As I was growing up most of our Sunday meals was having “bhanda and bhat” – Kidney beans curry and rice (In Malawi, Bhanda is the chichewa word for kidney beans). This would sometimes be accompanied with fresh white bread or thepla (a spicy chapatti/roti). The most comforting of meals and satisfyingly filling. There are many nutritional benefits to these beans, they are excellent in folic acid, iron, protein, thiamine, potassium and B vitamin to name but a few.  It is the traditional  staple food of the people of Malawi, they would have it with a cornmeal mash and not so spicy beans, to make a complete meal. This is one of the few foods that I miss if I do not have it over a long period of time. It is also eaten in Northern India where it is know as Rajma, not to mention it is used in Mexican and Cajun food also.

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Onion & Tomato Curry

Another very simple and tasty curry, it is just amazing how any kind of vegetable can be made into a curry. Just by adding the basic spice mix to the vegetables and letting them cook to absorb the flavours it turns into a magical meal. This curry goes well as a extra curry to a large meal or makes a quick and simple meal in a few minutes. I think it takes more time to prepare for this curry then it takes for it to be cooked.

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