Posted on August 19, 2019

Meat free Mondays Recipe

Curries/ Meat Free Meals (Mondays!)

Masala fried Daal (Gram Lentils)

Now we know I advocate pre-cooking lentils that take a while to cook before hand and freezing them. Primarily because when its a weeknight and you want to cook something in a hurry you haven’t got time to bring out the big guns (pressure cooker) and work quicker.

This is one of my favourite lentil recipes that packs a full punch of awesome flavour. I have used pre-cooked and frozen gram lentils here. If you wish to substitute them with non-pre cooked lentils you need to factor in cooking and pre-soaking time. For convience I do the whole cook once and freeze business.

Gram lentils are basically black chick peas that have had the outer shell removed, and the inner ‘pea’ has been split to create this rich, earthy lentil. I love chickpeas and love gram flour (basan) too. After all who doesn’t like a crispy, onion and spinach Pakora right?

Masala fried daal is one of those daals you find on restaurant menus around the world and find no two (in my opinion) taste the same. Some cooks use more hotness, some use more ginger. Some opt for sourness, some add shredded mint. It really is a recipe with room for personalisation to cater for your own needs.

I do serve my daal with plain boiled rice or naans. You can select what works for you.

To serve four you will need:

225 grams pre-cooked gram lentils (or raw lentils, washed and soaked in BOILING water for 1 hour prior to cooking).

1 heaped TBSP garlic paste (or 4 cloves of fresh garlic; crushed)

4 TBSP pre-fried onions soaked in water and drained (or 1 medium onion; peeled and finely sliced)

3 TBSP oil

150 ML of passata (or half a tin of tomatoes; chopped)

750 ML (0.75 litre) water

1 small piece of ginger-sliced (you could use half a TSP of ginger powder if you wish. I generally fish out the ginger before serving)

4 TBSP fresh coriander (including stalks) finely chopped

Cooking salt-to your taste

1 heap TSP turmeric

1 heap TSP chili powder

4 green chilies (prickled all over with a fork)

Optional extras to serve:

Fresh onions (sliced)
Lemon wedge
Fried onions
Shredded mint
Fresh sliced green chili
Fresh coriander leaves
Yogurt-for children in particular is the daal is on the spicier side.

Please note: the measurements given are in line with what I like. Please feel free to adjust according to your own needs. I avoid telling people how much salt to add as it really is down to your own daily consumption and needs.

1) Pre-heat the oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onions and fry for 30 seconds. If the onions stick stir and add a little water if needed (I TBSP at a time). If you are using fresh onions fry until lightly golden.

2) Add the garlic and ginger. Fry for 1 minutes stirring well.

3) Now add the salt, turmeric and chili powder. Stir well. Fry for around 1 minute to cook the spices through. Add a TBSP of water is the mixture sticks.

4) Add the green chilies and stir in. Fry for 1 minute.

5) Add the passata. Stir well for around 5 minutes. This step creates the masala for the daal.

6) Add the lentils and coriander and stir to cover the lentils in the sauce. It will look dry but don’t worry. Now add the water and bring to the boil.

7) Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender. Now if you used pre-cooked lentils it takes around 25 minutes for this to happen. But it can take longer or less time depending on your lentils and how much you cooked them in the first place.
If you are using non-pre cooked lentils I find it takes over 2 hours to become tender and I don’t have the patience for this! What you can do is if you have a Slow Cooker you could transfer the daal at this point to the cooker and let it simmer away. I’ve done this a few times and find it works well. But ask me to keep an eye on lentils for hours on a stove and I will literally cry.

Remove the ginger pieces (if you used slices).

8) Garnish as you wish or serve as is. You Masala Daal is ready to eat.

Posted on August 12, 2019

Pimped up Rice…(Meat Free Monday).

30 minute meals/ Food/ Meat Free Meals (Mondays!)

Meat free Monday

My pimped up leftover Rice (using store cupboard ingredients)

Double carbs; everyone loves them but boy are they hard to get ‘rid’ of when it comes to excess weight.

I use rice quite a bit….and can sometimes cook too much rice. Well apart from serving it with daals or using them in a rice bowl or salad what else can I do with it?

A few days ago I had a bit of a ‘OMG that will work’ moment. As a rule I don’t serve double carbs (but remember from my childhood being served Mashed Potatoes and Chips in the same meal) however in this recipe it works! Just trust me.

So when you have leftover rice, a tin of potatoes, some cumin seeds and a pack of fried onions you end up with this recipe (which also works well with a fried egg on top if you have any around).

This recipe in my opinion can be served for a Brunch, Lunch or even Supper. It’s quick and easy and uses up leftover rice. And with a dollop of yogurt or a fried egg it’s got a big personality in a bowl.

To make two big bowls of my Pimped up double carbs sorry-not-sorry Rice you will need:

2 bowls pre-cooked Rice (mine were Basmati)
2 TBSP oil
2 heaped TBSP fried onions soaked in water and drained
1 heaped TBSP garlic paste
1 TBSP cumin seeds (whole)
1 heaped TBSP ground coriander seeds
1/2 TSP chili powder (for a spicier rice go up to 1 TSP)
Cooking salt-to your own requirements

Additional stuff:
2 eggs-fried
Additonal fried onions (not soaked)
1 lemon cut in half
Chili sauce-to drizzle over

1) Heat the oil in a large wok or similar pan on a medium heat.
2) Add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter.
3) Add the onions and fry for 1 minute. Keep stirring to avoid sticking/burning them.
4) Add the garlic paste and fry for 30 seconds.
5) Add the potatoes and fry for 3 minutes stirring so things don’t burn.
6) Add the salt and spices and fry for one minute.
7) Add the rice and stir/turn the rice to coat it in the spicy onion mix.
8) Tip into two bowls and serve.

Additional ingredients are a suggestion only.
Apply to face/stuff your face and enjoy.

Posted on August 9, 2019

Easy Pac Man Biscuit Favours

Baking/ Food/ Parties

These biscuits were easy to make and ice. I used a short cut and iced these biscuits with ready made fondant. But of course you could ice them with Royal Icing if you felt inclined to do so.

We placed these yummy biscuits into cellophane bags and used gold twisty ties to finish them off.

These guys were so yummy we have no leftovers.

We used a Pac Man cookie cutter which makes these so easy to do. We used the cutter on the icing too! Result.

I made a huge batch as I gave them to the adults too. Feel free to halve the recipe if you need to.

To make 48 Pac Mans you will need:

410 grams Butter (softened)
410 grams Castor Sugar
1 TBSP Vanilla or Salted Caramel flavouring
2 egg yolks
820 grams Plain Flour-sifted plus extra to roll out

To decorate:

2 x bags of yellow fondant
Black writing icing OR a pack of black fondant (you will have loads left over)
Water-to help fondant stick
Icing sugar-to help rolling

1) Cream together the butter and sugar. This can be done in a Mixer or by hand.
2) And the egg and vanilla/caramel and beat the mixture. Do this slowly.
3) Now add scoops of flour and keep mixing to encorporate all ingredients.
4) Scoop the mixture into a ball and cling film it. Place in the fridge for 2 hours (or overnight really. I prefer overnight).

NOTE: To bake the cookies you will need flat baking sheets that have been lined with greaseproof paper.

Pre-heat the oven to 160 (oven), 325F, Gas Mark 3 or 170C (non fan).

5) Remove the dough from the Fridge. Place any dough you are not using back in the Fridge. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to a £1.00 coin thickness.
6) Using the cookie cutter punch out your Pac Mans. Carefully place the Pac Mans onto the baking sheets and give the biscuits space to expand. Mine didn’t expand too much so yours should either.

6) Place the biscuits in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden colour. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely before icing.

To ice the Pac Mans:

1) Sprinkle a bit of icing sugar on a clean surface (I used my glass pastry board) and roll out the yellow fondant to the thickness of a £1.00 coin. Using your Pac Man cutter cut out Pac Mans and place onto the cooled cookies. I used my finger as a paintbrush and applied a bit of water to the fondant before applying it to the biscuit and it worked. The fondant stuck to the biscuit like magic.
2) Now either draw on the eye with the icing or take a small piece of black icing roll it up and apply that to the biscuit. Hey presto! You have a Pac Man iced Biscuit favour.
3) We allowed the biscuits to set and then placed them in the cellophane bags and then secured them with twisty foil fasteners.

Job done.

Notes: you can make up the biscuits up to 72 hours in advance and keep them in an airtight container.
You can also bake the biscuits in advance and keep them in an airtight container prior to icing them if you wish too.

Posted on August 8, 2019

Quick and easy desi style fried eggs

Curries/ Family/ Food

Eggs must be the original fast food. They cook quickly, are an affordable protein and eaten as part of a healthy diet will not cause too many problems in the fat department. Yet as a nation we notice periods of TV campaigns to get us enjoying eggs (remember the Mummmmmmm there’s nothing to eat in the Fridge adverts) and the Lion Eggs adverts. It seems we have a lot of negative press one year and good the next.

I love eggs. I enjoy them in salads, with Turkey Bacon (have you tried smoked Turkey Bacon), in crustless quiches and on and on.

But this recipe is more of a hommage to my heritage as a desi person.

These eggs are tangy, spicy and hit the spot for Breakfast, Brunch or even a late Supper. Enjoy on buttered toast or even as a Breakfast Burrito filling.

To serve one person here’s what you will need:

2 large eggs beaten
4 TBSP chopped tinned tomatoes
1 small onion diced finely
1 TSBP oil
Cooking salt-to your own requirement
1/2 TSP ground coriander powder
1/2 TSP ground cumin powder
Freshly ground black pepper (to your taste)
1 TBSP fresh coriander leaves chopped finely
1 fresh green chili finely chopped (optional if you want extra heat)

1) Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
2) Add the onions and fry until the onions soften (not brown). Add the green chili if you are using it.
3) Add the salt and spices and fry for about 30 seconds (generally we do this to cook out the spices. Raw spices taste bitter and well harsh on the tongue).
4) Add the tomatoes and fry for one minute.
5) Add the coriander and stir well.
6) Now pour in the eggs. Do not start stirring straight away. Wait about 15 seconds and then gently stir it. The aim is to product ‘clumps’ of fluffy egg.
7) Keep an eye on the heat and stir the egg. It will soon be clumpy. Cook for 2/3 minutes.
8) And voila your eggs are ready. If you have some lemons or lime on hand (or in the fridge looking sorry for itself) give it a squeeze over the eggs. Lemon does something awesome to tomatoes which makes it taste even more amazing.


Note: you could make this recipe with just egg whites too. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Posted on August 5, 2019

Meat Free Monday

30 minute meals/ Curries/ Food/ Meat Free Meals (Mondays!)

Easy Aubergine Curry

I recall my Nan cooking Aubergines (aka eggplants) in an old fashioned clay Tandoor. She used to make a dish called ‘Bartha’ which was a smoky curry made with baked versions that are scooped out.

I love these deep purple gems.

In this curry you’ll notice there’s no tomatoes or onions. It’s a simple straight forward curry flavoured with lemon and dill. It’s a delicious combination.

To make two portions (or possibly 3 depending on how big you have your portions) you will need:

3 large cloves of garlic-minced
2 TBSP oil
2 large aubergines cut into strips
Salt-to your own requirement
1 TBSP coriander powder
1 TBSP cumin powder
1 TSP chili powder
1 TSP turmeric
Juice of two lemons.
1 heaped TBSP chopped dill

1) Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium heat.
2) Add the garlic and fry for one minute.
3) Add the spices and salt and fry for 30 seconds.
4) Add the aubergine strips and stir the aubergines until they are all covered in the spicy oil.
5) Keep frying the aubergines and stirring them for 4/5 minutes.
6) Now add 4 TBSP water and the dill. Stir well. Lower the heat and simmer until the aubergines are soft.
7) Drizzle over the lemon juice. Your aubergines are ready to serve.

Enjoy with Naans or plain rice.

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