curry

All posts tagged curry

Partying with Paneer: fragrant Indian Green Beans and Lentil Curry with Fried Paneer Gems

Published February 13, 2015 by The Feminist

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Julia Child once said that “a party without cake is just a meeting”. To my mind, the same kind of metaphorical analogy can be made about the wonderful South Asian cheese paneer :an Indian dinner without paneer is just bad takeaway. (Ha! Put that on a bumper sticker!)

Just like the better-known (at least to us, Westerners) halloumi cheese, paneer is a firm cheese, ideal for frying, because it marvelously holds its shape. Unlike halloumi, which has a rather pungent, salty flavour (some pussies would say too salty), paneer is subtler and creamier in flavour and therefore balances perfectly with the strong and spicy flavours of a wonderful Indian curry, for it slightly mellows the fiery blow.

The vegetarian curry I decided to pair with the seared paneer is one containing a very comforting mix of green beans, lentils, bell peppers and lots of ground spices. To make the curry truly stand out, I added a fruity touch to the mixture… yes, I added a heaped tablespoon of apricot jam with chili flakes. I recently bought this very delicious jar of jam and was so delighted by its flavour, that I decided to throw it in savory dishes as well. The fruity jam is a great alternative to palm sugar, which is traditionally used in Asian dishes. The jam will not only slightly sweeten the curry and balance all those spices, but it will also add that heavenly fruity touch of apricot… Sigh. Sometimes, I really am … good.

So here it is: the perfect Indian meal! Rejoice!

Green Bean and Lentil Curry with Fried Paneer

Please don’t be scared by the long list of ingredients! It’s mainly all spices, and you cannot make a good curry without the appropriate load of spices.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 250gr paneer cheese, cut into cubes
  • 80gr dried lentils
  • 350gr green beans, cut into chunks
  • 1 orange bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500ml tomato passata
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander stalks, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp asafetida
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 heaped tbsp. apricot jam (with chili flakes, if you want the truly fancy stuff)
  • Fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and add onion, garlic, coriander stalks and all the spices (apart from the garam masala). Sauté on a medium heat until the spices start to smell incredibly aromatic.
  2. Add the lentils and stir in the tomato passata and coconut milk. Add a teaspoon of salt and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chunks of pepper and the apricot jam and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Finally, add the green beans and the garam masala and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and the beans tender.
  5. Taste the curry. Season with salt and a bit more chili if necessary.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a pan on maximum heat and add the chunks of paneer. There is absolutely no need to add oil to the pan, the paneer will fry beautifully on its own!
  7. Serve the curry and paneer in cute bowls and sprinkle with coriander.

Spicy Food: Because Everyone Could Use Some Vavavoom in the Kitchen

Published January 24, 2015 by The Feminist

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I know it has been a while since my last post, but I’ve got a really good excuse for this minor absence on the world wide web.

No, sorry, that’s a lie. I was just lazy.

But here I am, dear readers. Back with an incredibly yummy post (Because how else would I make up for an entire week of blogging silence?)

This post is all about – you’ve guessed it!- spices.

I know I’ve said this plenty of times before, but I won’t stop repeating myself until every freaking home cook on this planet has an entire spice cupboard in his or her kitchen: spices are the source of life. No matter how tasty your other ingredients may be, if you forget to add some spice, the end-result will be dull, flavourless and downright disappointing.

Many (inexperienced) cooks only think about spices sporadically –that is, if they think about spices at all!- as if spices were some long lost acquaintances you never really got to know when you were little.

They only add spices right at the end of a recipe, or just throw in the tiniest little pinch, because they don’t really understand the purpose of this strange looking and pungently powerful acquaintance.

Basically, most of us are too scared. We would rather live a plain, boring and dull life that is safe of risks, than try and take the spicy road.

Making a close friend out of an acquaintance is indeed a work-in-progress. You will stumble, you will fall, but once you’ve got the doses right, it will feel as if your heart has finally caught fire. You will feel alive.

That’s what spices can do for you. Not only will they add some vavavoom to your daily meals, but they will also –and more importantly- warm your heart.

So make spices your best friend and you will never be cold again.

Vegetarian Chilli Sin Carne with a Coffee and Spice Blend

For this naughty little vegetarian chilli, I decided to make my very own spice blend. Believe me, there is nothing more therapeutic than grinding some spices together in a pestle-and-mortar and making the aromas spread through your kitchen.

To make this spicy dish even more special, I added some instant coffee granules to my spice mix. This will add another dimension of bittersweet intensity.

Last but not least, right near the end, I dropped a tiny piece of dark chocolate in the sauce. You won’t be able to taste the chocolate per se, but it will give the already fabulous sauce even more depth and richness.

chilli

Ingredients (serves 4):

For the Coffee and Spice Blend:

  • ½ tbsp. instant coffee granules
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the Chilli:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 courgette, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 400gr or 1 tin of red kidney beans
  • 400gr or 1 tin of cannellini beans
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 5gr of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
  • Fresh coriander, leaves and stalks

To serve:

  • Sour cream
  • Homemade guacamole
  • lime
  • Any type of flat bread

Method:

  1. Make the spice blend by grinding all the spices and coffee together in a pestle-and-mortar or a large and heavy bowl. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Take 1 tsp of the spice mix and add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Mix until you get a nice paste. Brush the chunks of sweet potato with it and put them in the oven on some baking parchment and bake for 15 minutes. Once these beauties are roasted and are slightly turning black on the edges, take them out of the oven and set aside. The roasted potatoes will add an extra smokey flavour and will give the chilli an indulgent texture.
  3. In a large pan, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and add the onion, garlic, a tablespoon of finely chopped coriander stalks and the spice blend. Stir for one minute and now add the peppers and courgette. Let it fry for 3 minutes or so before adding the tinned tomatoes. Stir well and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and give it a quick taste. You will probably need to add more salt.
  5. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes before adding the roasted potatoes. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes to enhance all the flavours. Just before serving stir in the chocolate and let it dissolve.
  6. Sprinkle on some fresh coriander and serve it with a good dollop of sour cream, guacamole, a squeeze of lime juice and a slice of bread.

White Bean Curry With Rum-Flambéed Pineapple

This is an incredibly easy curry. Beans. Coconut. Spices. That’s all you need. Add to that some marvelous pineapple slices flambéed with rum and you will be dancing around your tiny kitchen like a Disney Baboon on steroids.

pineapple

Ingredients (serves 1):

For the flambéed pineapple:

  • 3 thick slices of fresh pineapple (Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use tinned pineapple!)
  • 2 tbsp Rum
  • Zest of ½ lime
  • Pinch of chilli flakes

For the white beans curry:

  • 200gr or 1 small can of white beans (but you could also use chickbeans, flageolet, black-eyed peas,…)
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3cm piece of ginger, grated
  • Fresh coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Juice of ½ lime

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil or ghee in a small pan and add the ginger, garlic and all the spices (apart from the garam masala). Let it fry on a low heat for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the beans and stir.
  3. Add the coconut milk and season with salt. Let it simmer away for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garam masala, the desiccated coconut and the lime juice.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a knob of butter in a pan and fry the pineapple slices until they start to caramelize. Sprinkle on the chilli and lime zest.
  6. Finally, flambé the pineapple with the rum. Be careful. You don’t want to lose all your hair.
  7. Serve the curry with the pineapple slices and sprinkle on some fresh coriander.

Plus None: Amazing Dishes Just For You and Only You

Published August 17, 2014 by The Feminist

plus

It will probably come as no surprise that I know my way around romantic comedies and fluffy television series. And if there is anything that I have learnt from watching the Zoe Harts, Carrie Bradshaws and basically all the movie characters Katherine Heigl has ever played, is that it is one of the most awkward and embarrassing moments in your entire life to show up at an event without a so-called “plus one”. Fancy gallery openings, grand weddings and even stupid office parties: no one wants to go to these things alone.

I can’t blame them, though. Even I – as a non-fictitious person – would never want to end up at the singles’ table at my cousin’s wedding, forced to make friendly conversations with Garry, the crazy uncle with the often acute viscous coughing fits, and funny Margret, who believes that wearing corduroy pants is the prerogative of chemistry students. *

However, apart from these horrid events, there are moments when I think that not having a “plus one” is actually pretty awesome: when you are cooking.

Without a plus one, you can cook whatever you like. You can empty your entire pantry, throw in your whole spice cupboard, without having to worry about the dish being too spicy or too “all over the place”.

More importantly, without a plus one, you don’t need to share.

So yes, having a “plus one” can indeed be wonderful, comforting, loving and all that fuzzy, heartwarming jazz. But when it comes to food, I like being selfish.

 I am a greedy chef.

And I am guessing there are some greedy foodies among you – my dearest readers – too.

So how about we start our own new movement? Instead of promoting “plus one”, let us advocate “plus none” instead.

Who is with me?

*note: the people in this fragment are purely fictitious, so any resemblance to actual people is nothing but a funny coincidence.

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Fragrant Mango Curry

Your entire spice cupboard in one dish: Fresh, fragrant, healthy and 100% vegan

Ingredients (serves 1 greedy chef):

  • ½ mango, diced
  • 70gr white beans (cooked)
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 red chili, sliced
  • 1cm piece of fresh ginger
  • ½ red pepper, cut into thin stripes
  • Handful of bean sprouts
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • Fresh coriander
  • Fresh Thai basil
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp asafetida
  • ¼ tsp nigella seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 125ml coconut milk
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • fish sauce

 

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and add all the spices, together with the shallot, red chili and ginger. Let it sauté for a couple of minutes on a low heat until all the fragrances of the spices transform your kitchen into an oriental bazar.
  2. Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the flavours have multiplied. Now toss in the red pepper, white beans and mango and let it simmer for a further 5 minutes until everything is heated through.
  3. Finally, stir through the beans sprouts, spring onions, the juice of half a lime and the fresh coriander and Thai basil. Season with a splash of fish sauce.

Moroccan-style fried eggs with sumac and spicy tomato sauce

The definition of comfort food. Delicious fried eggs seasoned with tangy sumac, served on top of a bed of steamy tomato sauce with carrots, onions and peppers. The soothing comfort of the tomato sauce and the runny egg yolks works wonders with the freshness of some mint and coriander.

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Ingredients (serves 1 greedy chef) :

  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of sumac
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 carrots, finely diced
  • ½ red pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp za’atar
  • Drop of rose water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • Fresh mint and coriander

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in pan and add the vegetables and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Add the can of tomatoes and honey and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is fragrant. Just before serving, add a drop of rose water and stir in some chopped mint and coriander
  2. Fry the eggs in a pan and season with salt, pepper and sumac.
  3. Serve the eggs on top of the tomato sauce and finish with some extra mint and coriander.

 

Campaigning With Curry: Easy Peasy Vegetable and Lentil Curry

Published May 17, 2014 by The Feminist

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It’s that time of the year again: When wannabe politicians harass you in the streets, when numerous pamphlets swamp your mailbox and when every television channel is airing some sort of heated debate about job creation, the economy or child benefits.

Yes, I’m talking about elections. If you live in Europe, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you live in Belgium, you definitely know what I am talking about. On 25 May we will all be going to the polls and it seems as if teeny weeny Belgium is sweating with election fever. It is everywhere and it is starting to drive me mad.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually love the excitement of it all, I love watching those political debates and I consider myself one of those awful people who has an opinion about everything. However, what I do hate are those people who go from door to door, trying to convince you to vote for them and their party.

Here is the thing, door-to-door peeps. I already know who I am going to vote for so sod off! And take your flyers with you.

I always think that there simply must be a better to way to convince people to vote for you than by ringing people out of their sofas on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I think every campaign advisor would agree with me, no?

week-in-review-darren-criss-gifs-confused

Okay, maybe not.

But consider this: would you rather vote for someone who hands you a flyer while stating his ideas and plans, or would you vote for someone who states his ideas and plans while he hands you a steaming bowl of vegetable curry?

what

Ha!

See!

A curry can convince even the most reluctant voters and can cheer up the grumpiest people. It is full of flavour, full of vitamins and…. this one in particular is 100% vegan.

Now that is what gets me excited!

So dear politicians: forget those boring flyers, try campaigning with curry. Victory will be yours, I promise 😉

Ps: this may seem like a long ingredient list but most of the items are spices you already should have in your cupboard…

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (400gr)
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp tandoori powder
  • 2 cans of red lentils (you can use fresh lentils, but I just did not have the time)
  • 250gr green beans, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 150gr sugar snaps
  • 1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 courgette, cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Fresh coriander

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot. Stir in the onions, garlic and all the dry spices except the tandoori and garam masala. Fry for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Stir in the vegetables (except the lentils) and the palm sugar and let it simmer for half an hour. Season with salt and pepper, the tandoori powder and garam masala.
  4. Stir in the lentils and let it simmer for a further 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle on some chopped coriander before serving.
  5. Serve with rice or naan bread.

Cheers For Chapati: Lime and Chili Chapatis With Vegetable Curry

Published March 5, 2014 by The Feminist

chapati

I still have to meet the first person who doesn’t like chapatis. I mean, what’s not to like? The soft gooey texture is insanely satisfying and it is the perfect edible utensil to sop up all those delicious curry flavours.

99% of the people on this planet -too consumed with social networking and making a career- just microwave a store-bought packet of chapatis or order some Indian take-away. There is nothing wrong with that –I mean, you have the right to have a life!- and those vacuumed chapatis will still give you that satisfying indulgence of sopping up gravy…

But dear readers and fellow food lovers, if you ever want to experience the full chapati experience, you have to make them yourself! And before you start screaming in total fear of the daunting process of having to transform your kitchen into a flour-exploded palace, remember this: making chapatis is dead easy. And it does not make a mess at all!

Making your own chapatis is not only incredibly gratifying, it also gives you the opportunity to experiment and add flavours to the dough that you normally wouldn’t find in a store-bought stodgy packet of chapatis. (At least not in my supermarket.) I added some finely chopped chillies and lime zest to give the already splendid chapatis a zingy and spicy dimension. But other great flavour combinations would be: coriander and mint, turmeric and nigella seeds, desiccated coconut and green chillies,… The possibilities are endless so have fun with it!

When you make chapatis, you of course need something to sop them in: a good curry. This vegetarian curry was the best I ever made. Even my brother, who normally hates all things meat-free, loved it! What makes this curry so special is the truffle potatoes, which have an exuberantly purple colour. It is absolutely fine to use regular potatoes are sweet potatoes, but I saw these purple beauties in my supermarket and I just had to buy them! Other ingredients in this curry are chickpeas, Chinese cabbage and red pepper. And loads of spices of course.

Lime and Chili Chapatis

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Ingredients (makes 6):

  • 250gr strong white flour
  • 160ml water
  • 20ml olive oil
  • 5gr salt
  • 2 chillies, finely chopped
  • Zest of one lime

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until combined. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth.
  2. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into  equal pieces. Roll each one into a thin disc, about 20cm in diameter.
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. When the pan is hotter than hot, cook the chapatis, one at a time, for 1-2 minutes on each side until browned and somewhat bubbly.

Vegetable curry

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For the curry paste:

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 large chillies
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

For the vegetables:

  • Approx. 5 truffel potatoes (or regular potatoes or 3 sweet potatoes), diced
  • ½ Chinese cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 500ml tomato passata
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 2 heaped tbsp. of garam massala
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice of a lime
  • Lots of fresh coriander

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the curry paste together in a blender. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil or ghee in a large pot and sauté the paste until it starts to smell heavenly.
  2. Add the diced potatoes and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato passata and coconut milk and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage, peppers, garam masala and fish sauce and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes until everything is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Stir in the chickpeas and finish with some lime juice.
  5. Sprinkle on some fresh coriander.
  6. Sop away with your chapati!

Asian Dinner, Always A Winner!

Published February 10, 2014 by The Feminist

asian

After spending an entire week in the Austrian Mountains and enjoying regional delicacies, I was severely craving some honest Asian food when I got back home. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Austrian food- it definitely deserves much more praise than it’s getting- but there is only so much Mohntorte, Strudel, Knödel and Spätzle one can take before literally exploding out of one’s jeans.

So back in my humble kitchen I was convinced that the fragrant and spicy flavours of Asian cuisine would bring back some balance into my diet and I secretly hoped  that the large amounts of chili would speed up my metabolism.

But aside from my oh-my-God-I-can-no-longer-fit-into-my-jeans hysteria,  there was another reason for wanting to eat some Asian food…

Because it’s damn good.

And that is by far the most important thing!

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Stir-fried vegetables with marinated King Oyster (Eryngii) Mushrooms

In terms of originality, I believe this dish deserves a culinary high five. The flavours are bold, the presentation is great, but most of all, these King Oyster mushrooms are to die for. This is by far one of the best vegetarian meals I have ever cooked, and coming out of my mouth, that certainly says a lot.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the stir fry:

  • 1 pak choi, cut into rough chunks
  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • 200gr beans sprouts
  • 1 red pepper, cut into slices
  • 2 onions, cut into slices
  • 3cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1tbsp fish sauce
  • Corn flour and water mixture (optional)

For the Eryngii mushrooms:

  • 10-12 King Oyster mushrooms, cut in half
  • 4 tbsp curry ketchup (sounds tacky, but it works!)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice

Method:

  1. For the mushroom marinade, mix together the ketchup, spices and soy sauce. Spread the paste onto the mushrooms and grill them on a hot griddle pan for 1-2 minutes on each side. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and put in the oven at 180°C for 10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and beautifully caramelized.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large wok and add the broccoli. Stir-fry for three minutes and then add the pak choi. Stir-fry for another three minutes and then add the garlic, ginger, chili, red pepper and onion slices. Keep on stirring.
  3. Mix the soy sauce, honey, mirin and fish sauce together in a bowl and add to the vegetables. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. If there isn’t enough liquid, add a little bit of water mixed with corn flour to give your vegetables a glossy look.
  4. Finally, stir in the bean sprouts.
  5. Serve hot with some steamed rice.

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Seriously Good Salmon Curry

A One-Pot Wonder. That is the best way to describe this heartwarming curry. Miraculously rich in flavour, magically packed full of spices and wizardly soothing with heavenly salmon and potatoes.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 salmon fillets, cut into large chunks
  • 400gr potatoes (preferably those cute small ones), blached
  • 1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 200gr butternut, cut into 1cm chunks
  • 400gr/ 1 can of tomatoes
  • 250gr Greek yoghurt
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion,
  • 3cm piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsp tandoori powder
  • 1 tbsp garam massala
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • Fresh coriander

Method:

  1. Mix together the ginger, onion and garlic in a food processor until you get a smooth paste. Stir this paste into the yoghurt, together with the tandoori powder.
  2. Put the salmon chunks into a large bowl and cover with the tandoori-spiced yoghurt. Put in the fridge and marinade for at least half an hour.
  3. Cut your cute potatoes in half. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot and add the potatoes, butternut and peppers. Fry for a couple of minutes. Add the can of tomatoes, turmeric and garam massala. Let it simmer on a low heat until the vegetables are just tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the salmon chunks to your curry together with the yummy yoghurt marinade. Stir carefully and let it simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until your salmon is cooked.
  5. Finish with a generous sprinkling of fresh coriander.

Me, Walter Mitty and some Fab Curry Noodles

Published December 30, 2013 by The Feminist

mitty2

“Stop Dreaming. Start living.” When I came across an advertisement for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in my local newspaper, it felt as if the movie’s motto was directly aimed at me. You see, dear readers, I am a daydreamer. I dream about romantic rendezvous with handsome strangers,  about shouting very eloquent yet insulting stuff at my professor, about dancing the samba in the middle of the school corridor, about being a guest on the Graham Norton Show and sitting next to Miranda Hart…

Oh yes. I dream. I dream BIG.

Normally I would say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with dreams. Dreams are the epitome of your heart’s desires and hopes. It is the dream that keeps us going; what gives us the energy to wake up every morning and say to ourselves: Yes, let’s do this!

However, for many people- and I count myself among them- dreams just remain dreams. We don’t act on them. And that is where the problem lies.

What’s the point of dreaming BIG, when you’re living small? It seems as if dreaming- daydreaming in this case- prevents us from seeing the truly magical that is happening right under our nose. Why do we keep living in a world full of fantasy, so unachievable and out of reach? Hell, chances are small that I will ever sit on Graham Norton’s red couch, so why do I keep wasting my time with this silly fantasy? I am now starting to realize that daydreaming leaves us numb to the world around us. To all the things that actually are possible.

So when I saw the poster of Ben Stiller’s movie, I thought to myself: “This is a sign that I need to start living. No more silly daydreams. But real and honest living in the moment”

Live a little.

Consequently, whether you like it or not, this also involves taking risks once and a while. So last week, I did something I never thought I would dare to do. (I won’t elaborate on this, since this is not a diary -and who knows what kind of creeps are reading this blog!-but let’s just say it involved a handsome stranger 😉 )

Unfortunately for me, my leap into the unknown ended up being a bit like the season finale of Homeland: full of disillusion and anticlimax.

Still.

I am so proud of myself. Because in order to fly high you sometimes need to fall flat on your face. The fall might hurt, but in the end we will come out stronger than ever! Like a phoenix rising from the ashes! (God, I totally sound like a fortune cookie writer right now! )

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Anyway, you get my point. Life is for the living. So live it, dear readers!

Ps: After a week of taking risks, I decided it was time to actually go and see the movie that inspired me to act. I have to admit that I normally avoid Ben Stiller movies because they are most of the time immature and badly written, but this movie is different. It is funny, it is inspiring, it makes you think and it gives you hope. And guess what? Ben Stiller for once isn’t totally annoying!

PPS: After my leap into the unknown failed miserably, I really needed some comfort food. And nothing screams comfort like a pot full of noodles in a creamy coconut curry sauce. Add to that some spice from the chili, some zing from the lime and some crunch from the vegetables and I was –again!- completely worry-free! Ready to go on yet another adventure!

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Sweet coconut curry noodles with shrimps

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 250gr udon noodles
  • 40 shrimps
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • Mix of vegetables (I used ½ green pepper, ½ red pepper, 1 leek, handful of beansprouts and ½ courgette. All finely sliced in thin strips.)
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • 3cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red chili, finely sliced
  • Fresh coriander
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp garam massala
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • Lime

Method:

  1. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
  2. Using a blender, mix together the onion, garlic, ginger, one granny smith apple, the chili pepper and all the spices until you get a smooth paste. (The apple in the curry paste will gave the sauce a lovely sweet and sour kick)
  3. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok and fry the fragrant paste for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk and fish sauce and let it simmer for 10 minutes to intensify the flavours.
  4. Add the vegetables, shrimps  and the other apple (finely sliced) and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cooked noodles and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  6. Sprinkle on some freshly chopped coriander and finish with a good splash of lime juice.

Italy vs. India: a Foodie’s Dilemma

Published December 4, 2013 by The Feminist

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“What would you order for your last supper?”

As a foodie, I often contemplate about this- albeit hypothetical-  question and the truth is that I don’t know the answer to it yet. I love food so much it is practically impossible to choose one ultimate favourite.

A couple of days ago I had a “sushi moment”. For those who aren’t acquainted with the term, here is a brief definition:

“A sushi moment is a period of time- usually somewhere around 5 pm – in which you start craving sushi. For a couple of minutes  people in the streets will turn into chop sticks, street lanterns will look like wasabi and the cobblestones will turn into a plate of your favourite types of sushi. (from yummy Futomaki to delicious Dragon Rolls) This moment will make you very hungry but you should be aware that what you see is just a hallucination. (So don’t go licking the cobblestones)”

Needless to say that after my “sushi moment” I was convinced that sushi would be my last supper. But then, only a few minutes later, I walked past a high quality Belgian chocolate shop.

Chocolate.

I think you get my point. It is impossible to choose only one. So here is what I suggest: when facing imminent death, stop worrying about calories, large portions and fat content. Eat whatever you want. You only die once. (Unless you’re a Vampire Diaries character)

My last meal wouldn’t be complete, however, without some Italian and Indian food. They are so different from one another and yet they both speak to my inner peace. Both cuisines have a spiritual capacity that can turn me from a stressed-out bitch into a Zen-like hippie.  They are the epitome of comfort food and they always make me feel loved. The spices, the colours, the soothing textures, the aromas… they all blend together to form the ultimate cuisines. They are simply the best. (And I think Tina Turner would agree.)

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Turkey Osso buco and linguini with rocket-almond pesto

Now, I normally try to eat as much vegetarian as I possibly can, but there is just something about Osso Buco that makes me incredibly happy. Stews in general tend to make me happy, but this marriage of Mediterranean ingredients makes me believe there is a heaven. A heaven of Osso Buco.

And what a beautiful heaven it is…

Anyway, the linguini accompanying this very scrummy stew is a true flavour bomb. I made this pesto with rocket and almonds, which creates an interesting flavour palate and is less expensive than a basil and pine nut version. (Seriously, every time I see the price of pine nuts I think I’m going to get a heart attack!)

Ps: Normally Osso Buco is made with veal shanks but since I made this dish the day after Thanksgiving, I thought it was only appropriate to use turkey instead. Absolutely delicious!

Ingredients(serves 4)

For the Osso Buco:

  • 4-6  large turkey shanks
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 carrots, finely chopped
  • ½ red pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ yellow pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can (400gr) chopped tomatoes
  • 3dl chicken stock
  • 2dl white wine
  • 1 bay leaf

For the pasta:

  • 375gr linguini
  • 300gr rocket lettuce
  • 100gr almonds
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 30gr parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 200gr cherry tomatoes

Method:

  1. For the Osso Buco: Brown the meat in olive oil. Remove from the large pot and sauté the onions, garlic, carrots and peppers in that same pot.  Return the browned shanks to the pot.
  2. Add the wine and let it simmer for a couple of minutes until the wine has reduced by half. Add the stock, canned tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Add all the spices and the honey and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cover the pan and let it simmer for at least 1 hour until the meat starts to fall of the bone.
  4. Cook your linguini according to packet instructions.
  5. For the pesto: put all the ingredients (except the tomatoes of course)in a blender until you get a lovely paste. Add three tablespoons of olive oil and some extra pasta water (this will give the pesto a glossy shine).
  6. When your pasta is cooked, stir the pesto through the pasta and add the chopped cherry tomatoes.DSCN3440

Indian Vegetable Curry

This may seem like a very long ingredient list, but two thirds of this very alluring list are spices you should all have in your magic spice box. If you don’t have a spice box yet:

First of all : shame on you!

And secondly: Get one.

You have no idea how many wonderful dishes you can conjure up just by having the right spices in your cupboard. This curry is one of those wonderful dishes. It is an homage to the delirious aromas of Indian food: the richness… the heat… the fragrance… the depth… it’s all there.

This is –without a single doubt- the best vegetarian curry on the planet.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 3 carrots, cut into cubes
  • ½ yellow pepper, roughly chopped
  • ½ red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 200gr frozen peas
  • Fresh coriander
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (400gr)
  • 5dl coconut milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ – 1 tsp chili powder (depends on how spicy you want your curry)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp garam massala
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot. Add  the onion, garlic and all the spices and fry them until your kitchen starts to smell like an Indian Spice Bazaar.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, palm sugar and coconut milk. Stir and let it come to a simmer.
  3. Add the vegetables (except the peas) and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Taste and add salt and pepper. Stir in the frozen peas and let it simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  5. At the end, sprinkle some fresh coriander over the top and serve with rice or naan. (Or both 😉 )

I’m off to Rome! The Pope better be warned.

Published September 7, 2013 by The Feminist

Remember when I told you a couple of months ago that I had booked a trip to Rome? (For those of you who suffer from early Alzheimer’s or just have a really short-term memory: read it again here)

Well, it’s all happening tomorrow morning. Finally. My suitcase is packed (I’ve left some room for “new acquisitions”)and my stomach is empty (I’ve left some room for the delicious Roman food).

I’m so nervous and excited I think I’m about to explode!

Here is a short summary of all the things I want to do/ will probably end up doing:

Sightseeing (duh, I’m in Rome!)

roman city

Eating gelato (duh, I’m in Rome!)

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Dancing with handsome Italian strangers (duh, I’m in Rome!)

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Making indecent proposals (du… I’m sure you get it by now!)

roman holiday undressed

Of course that means you will have to miss me for a couple of days…

the horror

I know, I’m so sorry.

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But please don’t let my absence get you down! You will survive!

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Still worried? Here’s a little something that will cheer you up and bring comfort in times of sorrow: A garam massala roasted butternut squash stuffed with spicy, velvety dal! This dish doesn’t just look really cool, it’s also the ultimate me-time-deserving form of deliciousness! And you know what’s so special about the dal? It was made with pumpkin soup! Yes, you’ve read that correctly, pumpkin soup! Tell me something: what’ s the best thing about a dal? The velvety texture. What’s the best thing about pumpkin soup? The velvety texture. So putting these things together creates the most mouth-wateringly, mind-blowingly extravagant array of velvetiness!

You’re welcome 😉

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Ingredients
• One butternut squash (cut off the bottom part, since this will make the “bowl” for the dal. Peel it and hollow it out. Use the remaining top part of the butternut for the soup, see below)
• 65gr yellow lentils
• 1 tsp garam massala
• ¼ tsp mustard seeds
• ¼ tsp fenugreek
• ½ tsp cumin seeds
• 2cm piece fresh ginger, grated
• 1 clove of garlic, grated
• 1 large chilli pepper, finely chopped
• 1 tsp turmeric

For the butternut soup (I’ve made an incredibly spicy and fragrant soup from the remaining butternut squash and used some of the soup as the base for my dal and the rest can be kept in the fridge and eaten some other time 😉 )

• 1 large onion, roughly chopped
• ½ red pepper, roughly chopped
• 1 tbsp turmeric
• ½ tsp chilli powder
• 1 tbsp garam massala
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• 1l vegetable stock

Method:
1. Make the soup. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot and sautee the onion with the spices. Add the chopped butternut squash and red pepper.
2. Add the vegetable stock to the pan and bring to the boil.
3. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender.
4. Mix everything together until you get a smooth slightly thick and velvety texture. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Rub the bottom part of the butternut with the garam massala and some oil. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for about 20-30 minutes until the butternut is cooked through and soft.
6. Add a tablespoon of oil in sauce pan and add the spices. Fry until the spices become fragrant. Stir in the garlic and chilli.
7. Add the lentils and 200ml of the butternut soup. Bring to the boil and let is simmer on a low heat for 30-40 minutes. Add a bit more soup (or a splash of water) along the way if necessary.
8. Spoon the dal inside the butternut bowl and top with freshly chopped spring onion and nigella seeds.

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Good, Better, Me : A Week of Culinary Wizardry

Published June 20, 2013 by The Feminist

William Shakespeare once said: “Who knows himself a braggart, let him fear this, for it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass.” So in light of this very thoughtful quote, I would like to add that the title of this post was merely chosen as a creative expression of my wandering mind and is supposed to be interpreted with a great deal of irony. 😉

Believe me, I know better than anyone else on this planet that I am not the BEST thing this earth has ever seen. I’m not a brave humanitarian risking my life for others. I haven’t got the voice of an angel, nor do I look like one. And I haven’t won a Nobel prize…yet.

But I can cook. And not just a little. Of course I’m not as brilliant a cook as Jamie Oliver, Yotam Ottolenghi or Nigella Lawson, but sometimes you do need to give yourself credit for the things you can do! Being proud of all the things you have accomplished shouldn’t be seen as bragging, it’s merely stating the facts.

So at the risk of portraying myself as an incredibly Shakespearean ass: I truly surpassed myself this week! Moreover, the following dishes didn’t just taste and look scrumptious, they are also the perfect representation of me as a culinary wizard’s apprentice. These dishes are easy, full of flavour and –as always- not just a copy of recipe in a cookbook.

Udon noodle salad with marinated chicken skewers

“The best chicken I’ve ever tasted” ~ My Dad. That says it all, doesn’t it?

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Ingredients(serves 4)

For the marinated chicken:
• 4 chicken breast, cut into fine strips
• 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
• 2 tbsp honey
• 1 large chilli, finely sliced
• 4 tbsp soy sauce
• 2 tbsp fish sauce
• ½ tsp Chinese five spice
• 8 Wooden skewers
For the noodle salad
• 250gr udon noodles
• 2 spring onion, roughly chopped
• Half a cucumber, cut into half-moon slices
• 1 yellow pepper, cut into fine strips
• ½ red pepper, cut into fine strips
• 1 large red chilli, finely sliced
• 1 tbsp honey
• Zest and juice of a lime
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and grated
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 2 tbsp fish sauce
• Chopped coriander
• Roughly chopped roasted cashew nuts

Method:
1. Combine the marinade ingredients and add the chicken, mixing to coat well. Cover and set aside for at least 2 hours or place in the fridge overnight.
2. Thread the chicken strips onto the skewers. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the skewers on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side until the skewers get a lovely sticky caramel colour.
3. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain and refresh under ice-cold water. Toss the vegetables and the noodles together.
4. In a jug, mix together the soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, sesame oil, lime juice, garlic and chilli and pour over the noodle mixture. Scatter some fresh coriander and roasted cashew nuts over the top.

Couscous stuffed Portobello mushrooms with tahini sauce

The oriental flavours of this dish will turn any boring supper into a fiesta of the foodie’s palate!

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Ingredients (serves 1-2)
• 2 large Portobello mushrooms
• 125gr couscous
• ½ red pepper, finely chopped
• 5 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
• 2 spring onions, finely chopped
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp harissa
• 1 tsp falafel herbs
• ½ tsp fenugreek

For the tahini sauce
• 50gr tahini
• 75gr natural yoghurt
• Fresh parsley
• ½ tsp ground cumin

Method:

1. For the sauce, mix all the ingredients together until you get a smooth consistency. Set aside
2. Preheat the oven to 220°C and bake the Portobello mushrooms in the oven for 10 minutes until almost cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, cook the couscous according to packet instruction.
4. Fry the red pepper in some olive oil and add the spices. Stir through the spring onions and sundried tomatoes. Add the cooked couscous and 1 tablespoon of passion fruit vinegar.
5. Stuff the mushrooms with the couscous mixture and sprinkle some chopped nuts on top. Bake in the oven for a further 3-5 minutes.

Red peanut butter turkey curry

This is comfort food at its best! Or as Nigella would say: “Eating it is like being wrapped in a warm cosy blanket.”

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Ingredients (serves 4)

• 600gr cubed stewing turkey
• 1 broccoli, cut into small florets
• 1 pak choi , roughly chopped
• 1 yellow pepper
• 3 tbsp peanut butter
• 400gr can of chopped tomatoes
• 400ml can of coconut milk
• 1 tbsp brown sugar
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 5cm piece of fresh ginger
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 red onion
• 1 large red chilli
• 2 tbsp garam massala
• Fresh coriander

Method

1. Brown the meat in a large pan. Remove from the pan and set aside. Blend the chilli, garlic, onion, ginger and garam massala together in a blender until you get a smooth paste.
2. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in the pan you used to brown the turkey and add the fresh curry paste. Return the meat to the pan and stir for 30 seconds until the meat is coated in the curry paste. Add the soy sauce, sugar and peanut butter. Stir well.
3. Add the canned tomatoes and coconut milk. Put a lid on and leave to simmer for about an hour.
4. After an hour, stir in the broccoli, pak choi and yellow pepper and let it simmer for another 20-30 minutes.
5. Stir in the fresh coriander and serve with some jasmine rice.

Antipasti Pasta

I am pretty proud of this recipe, I have to say. It’s a pasta dish but with all the ingredients I usually like on a plate of antipasti: sundried tomatoes, cheese, sweet melon, parma ham, artichokes, olives,… You name it! Choose any type of antipasti you like, because they will all go beautifully with the garlic and rocket “sauce”.

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Ingredients:
• 350gr small pasta
• 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• ½ large red chilli, finely chopped
• 250gr rocket salad, minced in a blender
• Selection of antipasti: melon balls, parma ham, feta, mozzarella, olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes,…

Method:

1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Save some of the starchy cooking water for later.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and chilli and cook on a low heat.
3. Drain the pasta and tip into the garlic pan. Add the finely minced pocket and a bit of cooking water from the pasta to create a “saucy” tecture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Now it’s up to you: scatter some of your favorite antipasti ingredients over the lovely pasta and dig in!