Falafels with home-made hot sauce

This is a mixed post – part ready mix and part home made. Today we went all Mid-Eastern and had pitta pockets full of falafels, coleslaw, tomatoes, pickled cabbage, humous, tahini and home made hot sauce. I’m sorry for the rather blurred quality of the pictures …I really need to take more time with the photography but was busy eating.

Falafels:

  

I’ve had this box in the cupboard for a few months. It was the easiest thing in the world to make – so yep, you guessed it, I got the little one to do some of the work. A bit of mathematics as she mixed the right quantity of water into the mix. A scientific lesson in the different states of objects as the dry mix went from almost solid (too little water) to being a runny mess (too much water). Next time, I’ll get her to put in slightly less water. A torturous lesson in patience as we waited for 2-3 minutes as per box instructions followed by a lesson in H&S when I burnt myself during the frying stage as she distracted me by dropping tic-tacs on the floor. At this stage, tot was banned from the kitchen until all frying was done. The falafels were lovely and crispy on the outside but I think that the outer cooked too quickly as the inner was not really cooked through – so next time I’ll turn down the oil a bit. In reality I would have preferred to bake them in the oven but not sure the mix would work out right.

Hot sauce:

Have you ever had Belazu rose harissa – it is a simply delicious mix of 40 spices which includes rose petals and is undoubtedly manna from the God of chillies. Unfortunately, the supermarket didn’t have any so I decided to make my own. Googling left me all goggly (it’s a real word!) as there is a multitude of recipes for harissa. The basic ingredients seem to be dried red chillies, garlic, caraway and cumin seeds, cumin and coriander powders, olive oil and lemon juice. I used far less of the former and substituted rose essence for the latter. Though my result wasn’t bad, I shan’t be putting Belazu out of business quite yet methinks…hubby disagreed as he gobbled up loads of the sauce with the falafels.

  

Ingredients

  • 2 red chillies (sorry no idea what type. Came as part of a mixed bag of chillies) – de-seeded, vein cut out and chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped roughly
  • 1/2 red pepper grilled until skin charred. Removed skin and chopped flesh
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds lightly pan roasted
  • 1 tsp cumin / coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4-5 drops rose essence
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs tomato puree
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh coriander
  • Hearty squeeze lemon juice

Put all the ingredients in a blender and whizzed away adding ingredients in bits until I got to a happy place. Store in a sterilised bottle with a layer of olive oil on top. When you use some, make sure the remainder is covered with oil to preserve it for longer.

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Spicy chickpeas with savoy cabbage

This is not a new recipe. It’s the same recipe as the Kala Chana  with a few substitutions. I used 560g of the more familiar white chickpeas instead of black, used a white onion, 3 diced Maris Piper potatoes and also added 9 savoy cabbage leaves shredded very finely. I added the cabbage at the same time as the chickpeas and potatoes but in future, I’ll add it nearer the end of cooking so it retains some crunch. I removed the main vein in each leaf too as that can be chewy.

Truthfully, the cabbage didn’t add tremendously to the flavour. I did it as I’m trying to eat more brassicas for health reasons. So if you don’t have any, or don’t fancy it, thinks it’s a dumb idea then just omit it.

Today I served the shak with brown basmati rice. I love white basmati rice so much and think it has a lot more flavour. But again, for the old health, I tried brown. And you know what, though this dish looked too much like something a sock wearing sandaled hippie vegie would eat, it tasted pretty good.

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!!

Very spicy kala chana

Kala chana means black chickpeas. These are smaller and harder than the well-known white chickpeas.  In india, the kala chana are used to make gram flour. Also eaten by diabetics as they have a GI rating.

The flavour is more intense than white chickpeas, especially when cooked with spices. Tonight I may have overdone the spices as hubby was having a hard time eating it. We both had to add copious amounts of yoghurt (my favourite is Yeo Valley full fat yoghurt) but if you are daring then try it out.

I’ve put Gujarati words in brackets to help track down uncommon ingredients.

It is possible to buy dried kala chana which you would need to soak in plenty of water the night before. However, I’ve always found tinned versions give a good result so use these to save yourself some hassle and time.

1 can black chickpeas (kala chana) – rinse out any water/salt

1 medium white onion – dice roughly

1 small red onion – dice roughly

2 teaspoons grated ginger

2 large cloves garlic

2 fresh green chillies – roughly chopped

2 tbs groundnut oil

1 large dried red chili (optional. Gives a different heat flavour. Dad swears by them)

1 large dry bayleaf

1 tsp cumin

Small pinch of asafoetida

5 green cardamom pods

5 cloves

1 large cinnamon stick

1 tsp turmeric (hurder/haldi)

1 tsp chili powder (or to taste)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jeeru)

2 large ripe red tomatoes – diced very small

6 curry leaves

1 dried mangosteen flower (kokum)

1 cup water

2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp jaggery (ghaur)

Lemon juice (to taste)

Coriander to garnish

Preparation

  • Put the onions, garlic, ginger and chilies in a blender and make a paste. If you do not have a blender, you can just chop everything finely. If you have a pestle and mortar, you can bash them in there to create the paste.
  • An optional step but does help bring out the flavour of the spices. On a hot dry pan or tawa heat the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon until you see a thin smoke come off them. This helps release their flavours. Be careful that they do not burn as they will become bitter.

Cooking

  • In a large heavy based pan, heat oil over a medium heat
  • Add bayleaf and chili. Watch for them to start to sizzle at edges. Try to ensure bayleaf does not go brown. The red chili, if you are using it, will go black as it cooks.
  • Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle
  • Add small pinch of hing if using. This stops the spices from getting over cooked.
  • Throw in onion/garlic/ginger/chili paste and cook for 5 minutes turning often to prevent sticking
  • Add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Stir.
  • Add spices and then the tomatoes and curry leaves. Keep stirring slowly to create a nice sauce
  • Add the gaur or sugar.
  • Add the chickpeas and mix all very well.
  • Add water, mix, bring to a boil  then reduce to a simmer.
  • Let this cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Once cooked, add lemon juice to taste. I find about 1/2 tbs to be more than sufficient.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with naan, rotli or rice.

Serve with plain yoghurt or cucumber raita. This helps take the heat off. As I said above, tonight we needed quite a lot of yoghurt as the dish was spicy. You can always reduce the amount of chilis and chili powder used to make it less so and I think next time, I certainly will.