Paneer, chickpeas and sweet pointed peppers shak

This is one of those cupboard-raiding recipes that ends up being bloody delicious! It’s a variation of the Paneer Jalfrezi for people who don’t have enough peppers. I wasn’t sure that the chickpeas would work with the paneer as they are both rather subtle in flavour but the pepper really lifts the dish and the roasted cashews add a nice crunchy surprise.

Ingredients:

  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 tbs ground nut oil
  • 1 large bayleaf
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion diced finely
  • 2 tbs ginger – garlic paste (made with 2 inches grated ginger and 4 cloves garlic minced then mixed together to form a paste)
  • 1 large green chili chopped finely
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin coriander powder
  • 400g organic chickpeas – drain water and rinse
  • 2 organic sweet pointed peppers – cut off stalk, remove seeds and slice into thin julienne strips
  • 1 block paneer cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 3 tomatoes diced finely
  • 1 tbs tomato puree
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • Handful of cashew nuts – dry roasted in a pan before hand to make them slightly crunchy
  • Juice of half lemon

Cooking:

  • Put a large sauce pan or frying pan on medium heat and dry roast the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom until they start to smoke slightly. Remove and set aside for later
  • Add oil to the pan, once it is heated add the bay leaf and cumin seeds
  • When seeds start to sizzle add onions and cook until they start to brown, stir frequently to prevent sticking
  • Spoon in the ginger/garlic paste, chili, cloves, cinnamon and cardamoms – stir for a minute or so until the ginger/garlic starts to go a light brown
  • Now add the chili powder, cumin/coriander, turmeric and sugar. Keep stirring and cook for a minute or so until the mix is all well combined
  • Add the chickpeas and peppers stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Stir frequently.

  • Add the paneer, tomatoes, tomato puree and curry leaves. Mix thoroughly. Turn heat down to low – medium and cook for 5-8 minutes. Check every few minutes and stir.
  • It is ready for salt and lemon when the tomatoes are mushy. Add salt and lemon to taste.
  • Throw in the cashew nuts, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Serve with basmati rice and nice glass of wine. Yum, yum,  yum!!
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Tomatoes, fried rice, noodle soup and banana bread

Not all in the same dish but all scoffed today. I’ve been stuck at home waiting for a delivery. Apart for moaning rather loudly, I used the time to do home food. We picked two very red tomatoes off my daughter’s tomato plant. She was given the plant as a tiny thing from Greenslade nursery and over summer we have watched it grow. It survived the move to Scotland and has in fact flourished with many new tomatoes appearing on the plant even though I’ve not been feeding it. The tomatoes at the bottom appeared rather early but took forever to turn red – mainly as I had them indoors and didn’t know they need to be out in the fresh air and sun to redden.

Anyway, here we are – a tomato salad according to my daughter consists of errr, ummmm, tomatoes!

She nibbled one before reminding us that she in fact, did not eat tomatoes (unbeknownst to her she does as mummy hides tomatoes in sauces). So hubby and I ate the “salad” with a sprinkling of sea salt. Not the tastiest tomatoes we have ever had but easily the best if you know what I mean.

Next step was egg fried mushroom rice and tofu for daughter’s dinner – so yum that I had to have a small bowl too. A good way to use day old rice. Easily made by frying spring onion and ginger in a large frying pan, adding mushrooms and cooking until they reduce, add the rice and stir carefully to prevent it all sticking together but to make sure all the rice is covered with the mushroom mixture . Push mixture to the side and add in the beaten egg mixed with a little toasted sesame oil, scramble it then combine with rice mixture and cook for a few minutes more. I added a little dash of dark soy to improve the taste and colour. She scoffed a lot with a side dish of fried tofu.

Dinner for hubby and I was a noodle soup. It’s an impromptu dish I’ve made a couple of times with what was available in the fridge. Today we had spring onions and ginger fried, added a thinly sliced orange pepper, some pak choy, sweetcorn (kernels not baby sweetcorn as i find that tasteless) and mange tout. The soup was made with a big glug of Gourmet Garden Thai Fresh Blends mix and about a cup of water. I cooked this for about 5 minutes on medium heat then added in fried tofu, and some thick straight to wok udon noodles and dark soy sauce. Cooked until the pak choy had wilted. At first I didn’t really like the Gourmet Garden taste – it was too bland especially compared to the  Schwartz Lemon Grass, Ginger and Coconut tube I’ve used before. However, as it cooled, and with a dash of light soy sauce, it improved.

We would have had a lot more tofu for the soup but my little one loves the stuff straight out of the packet and just as much fried. She thought it was hilarious to sneak past me all afternoon nicking bits and stuffing them in her mouth.

The Gourmet Garden sent me hurtling back to my youth – while I was trying to google whether it is vegetarian, a restaurant came up called the Gourmet Garden in Hendon. I grew up in a flat that was directly opposite the restaurant and could see it and a lot more of the high street from my window. Silly things like this always bring a soppy tear to the eye.

This is turning out to be a long post and it’s not over yet. I’ve been promising to make banana bread for a few days. A lot of stay at home mums I know make banana bread and as long as you don’t have it every week, it’s bloody tasty. I’ve already scoffed a fifth of it – so a huge thankyou to my friend J.R. as she sent me her version of a Delia recipe. It’s fantastic. I’m going to have to work extra hard in the Zumba class tomorrow night!!

Plum and rhubarb crumble

In the past I have made Louise Pickford’s Rhubarb, Apple and Double Ginger crumble (in the Hamlyn’s Vegetarian Cooking book) with mixed results. I think the problem is that I use a smaller pie dish than the recipe calls for so it always feels like I have too much crumble topping. I also find the amount of ginger a bit heavy. So today I amended the recipe, making less crumble and adding some plums to the mix. Again the results were mixed. It was still very ginger-y and the plums got lost in the flavours of that and the tart rhubarb. But with a bit of custard, it was very tasty indeed and perfect for the kind of autumnal day we had today in Central Scotland.

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 400g rhubarb trimmed and cut into 2inch pieces
  • 1tbs chopped preserved stem ginger (was very strong, next time will use 1/2 tbs)
  • 40g golden caster sugar
  • 6tbs water
  • 300g plums – stone and sliced

Crumble

  • 100g plain flour
  • 40g ginger biscuits – crushed
  • 20g Scottish porridge oat
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tablespoons Demerara sugar

To make the filling

  • Discard rhubarb leaves, wash the stems and cut them into 2inch pieces and place in a large pan
  • Chop the stem ginger into tiny pieces (believe me you need them small as getting a chunk of ginger is not pleasant). Add to the pan
  • Wash then stone the plums. Chop up the flesh (with skin on….oooh that sounds so gruesome!) and put into the pan with the rhubarb, ginger, sugar and water
  • Simmer for 10 minutes
  • Once cooked placed in a greased oven-proof dish.

Making the crumble

  • Put flour in a medium-sized bowl, and stir in the crushed ginger biscuits and oats.
  • Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs
  • Stir in sugar and combine well

Putting it all together

  • Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees
  • Spread half of the crumble mixture onto the stewed fruits and cook in the oven for 10 minutes
  • Spread rest of crumble mixture onto the crumble/fruit and cook until the mixture is bubble and the topping is golden. About 40 minutes

Serve warm with custard, vanilla ice-cream or a spoonful of single cream

Pickled chilies

Don’t these look lovely. So shiny and big. Each chili is about 4 inches long. Dad brought a large bag of them from London last week as I haven’t been able to find any decided bullet chilies up here. Unfortunately, they have been sat in the fridge waiting for transformation. Last night, one went into our spicy pasta. Today, I’m going to attempt to work with the rest. I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep them – a couple have gone into the freezer. And I decided to pickle these 4 using a very simple Pickled Green Chilies recipe.

I used Mizkans rice vinegar from the local Asda which is just over 1 cup full. Plus, I used brown sugar. It was all very easy to do – apart from the bottle sterilising…the first bottle was too small. In future, I’ll put the mixture into a glass pyrex jug as it was a bummer to pour out the mixture into the bottle.


So far the chilies haven’t lost their green colour but lets see what they look like tomorrow morning. I’m looking forward to trying these out on a margarita pizza!

UPDATE 16/9/11

Well these were a huge disappointment – the vinegar was so strong that it overwhelmed the flavour of the chilies. I was expecting something along the lines of pickled silverskin onions. So the hunt is on for a better pickling medium.