spices

All posts tagged spices

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

Published February 13, 2015 by The Feminist

pan

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

Published January 24, 2015 by The Feminist

spice

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.

Going Gourmet with a Can of White Beans

Published September 8, 2014 by The Feminist

bean

One ordinary can of beans.

It’s not exactly the most exciting, let alone foodie-approved ingredient. And yet, when used correctly, these dull-looking beans can taste bloody brilliant.

So forget about baked beans in tomato sauce! White beans can be so much more than the horror that is a full English breakfast (Apologies if I’m stepping on any British toes with this statement, but –come on!- it’s the truth).

Just be creative, think outside the box and add a large quantity of spices! The following two recipes are totally worth spilling the both figurative and literal beans about. They are both loaded with exotic, fragrant Middle Eastern spices and are dead simple to make. They are the ultimate proof that a can of beans – against all odds- can become quite the gourmet meal.

Saffron Parsnips with Moroccan-spiced beans

These saffron-scented parsnips not only look incredible, they also taste absolutely marvelous. These sweet jewels go perfectly with the spicy and aromatic bean mix!

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Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into strips
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Small can of white beans, drained
  • Chili flakes
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cumin )
  • 2 dried dates
  • 2 dried apricots
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • Fresh coraiander

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and fry the parsnip strips for a couple of minutes. Season with salt, a pinch of chili flakes and add the saffron and turmeric. Add a splash of water and let it simmer on a low heat until the parsnips are lovely and soft and gorgeously yellow.
  2. In a different pan, heat some olive oil and add all the other spices and the shallot. Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the beans and dried fruits.
  3. Let it heat through and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the spiced beans with the saffron parsnip and sprinkle a generous amount of coriander on top.

Aromatic Aubergine, Pepper and Feta Tart with Homemade Bessara

Bessara is traditional middle eastern dip similar to hummus but is made with white beans and is usually a bit runnier in consistency. However, since I wanted to spread a layer of this wonderful dip onto my puff pastry, I kept the consistency rather thick to avoid a soggy bottom. This harissa-flavoured bessara adds another tasty dimension to an already quite flavoursome tart. Trust me with this one, you would be a fool (moron! Idiot! Imbecile! Brainless guttersnipe! ) not to bake it!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, cut into large chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into large chunks
  • Handful of orange cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100gr feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nigella seeds
  • Sheet of puff pastry

For the bessara:

  • Can of white beans, drained
  • Coriander stalks
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the aubergine and peppers. Add the spices and season with salt and pepper. Fry for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
  3. Make the bessara by blending all the ingredients together until you get a smooth paste.
  4. Roll out the puff pastry and spread a layer of bessara over the pastry. Top with the aromatic vegetables. Add some cherry tomatoes and crumble on some feta cheese.
  5. Fold over the sides of the puff pastry to create a nice “ruffled” edge.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  7. 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.

DSCN4131

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.

 

March Madness, Falafel Folly and Carrot Craziness

Published March 23, 2014 by The Feminist

Image

That’s March for you. One week you’re enjoying the heat of the sun, eating ice cream and drinking cocktails. The next you’re wearing your winter coat and seeking shelter from the rain. But I will not let March’s fickle weather get to me. Because I have my falafel. And my Middle Eastern carrots. And with both of these beauties on my plate, I can handle anything!

Yes, even March weather madness.

These homemade falafels are dead-easy to make and super delicious. The key to making them shine is proper seasoning, so don’t be afraid with the salt and the tandoori spice!

These dainty patties were served with scrummy Middle Eastern carrots. The delicate spices, the sharp barberries and the sweetness of the honeyed carrots transport you to exotic places and the feta cheese crumbled on top will truly make your taste buds sing. It is a flavour sensation par excellence!

But this is not where this delicious story ends, for I made a zingy fragrant mint and coriander sauce and drizzled it all over the falafel, the carrots and the couscous.

The end result? A vegetarian dish that will blow your mind: sweet, savoury, spicy, fragrant, delicate, sharp,… This dish has everything to make you forget March Madness and succumb to some delicious Falafel Folly!

Ingredients:

Middle Eastern carrots:

  • 1kg carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Handful of dried barberries
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Falafels:

  • 400gr dried chickpeas,
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp tandoori powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp coriander stems

Mint and Coriander sauce:

  • Lots and lots of mint
  • Lots and lots of coriander
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice

To finish:

  • Couscous
  • 300gr Feta cheese

Method:

  1. Start one day ahead and put your dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave them to soak overnight.
  2. Drain the chickpeas and mix them together in an electric blender with all the other ingredients for the falafels. Season well with salt and pepper. Put the mixture in the fridge for half an hour to rest.
  3. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and form small patties from the chickpeas mixture. Cook them on each side for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Since you are using dried chickpeas, you need to cook them further in a preheated oven at 180°C for another 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile make your Moroccan carrots. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot or tagine and fry the carrots with the spices for a couple of minutes. Stir in the honey and barberries and add a little splash of water (approx. 100ml) to make sure your carrots don’t burn. Cover with a lid and let the carrots simmer for 15 minutes or until soft.
  5. Make your fragrant mint and coriander sauce by mixing the herbs and garlic together in a blender with approx. 4 tbsp olive oil and lemon juice. Put in the fridge so that the flavours can intensify.
  6. To serve, spoon a mountain of steamy couscous onto your plate ,followed by a generous serving of the sweet and sticky carrots. Add your falafels to the plate and crumble some feta cheese over the top. Finish by drizzling some of the mint and coriander sauce on top. Bon Appétit!

 

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.