Faux-prawns in a Coconut Cream Sauce

Yesterday, I was tidying up my Indian recipes on my computer. All of a sudden it occurred to me that I haven’t done much Indian cooking recently. I was especially missing my Aloo Matar (potatoes and peas) and it seemed like I may have cooked it a million and a half years ago. I quickly checked the radiation levels in my fridge and for that I mean ingredients. Eventually decided to make my aloo matar and something else. That something else is below…

prawns

My Faux-prawns in a Coconut Cream Sauce recipe was inspired by Meena Pathak’s Chingri malai curry from her book; Flavours of India.

Faux-prawns in a Coconut Cream Sauce

Meena Pathak says that the dish is from the east coast of India. Of course, it uses real prawns but I substituted them with vegan/vegetarian prawns. The recipe also calls for bay leaves but I didn’t have any. So, I left it out completely.
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 vegan/vegetarian king prawns, thawed and cut into 2
½ cup frozen baby green beans
5 baby corns, chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic
1 piece ginger (about an inch)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves
2 green cardamom pods
2.5 cm (1 in) piece of cinnamon stick, broken into 3 (I used a very thin one)
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon plain natural yogurt
270 ml coconut milk
Salt to taste

Method:
• Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and add vegetarian prawns, green beans, baby corn and turmeric. Fry them on high heat until they are crispy. Remove and set aside.
• Place the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender and process to a fine paste.
• Wipe the pan with paper towel. Add the remaining oil to the pan (1 tablespoon) and add the cloves, green cardamom and cinnamon.
• Reduce the heat, and add the onion, garlic and ginger paste to the pan. Stir-fry over a medium heat for 2 minutes.
• Add 1 teaspoon turmeric and red chilli powder. Sprinkle with a little water and stir well.
• Add the yogurt and mix well. Pour in the coconut milk and return the vegetarian prawns, green beans and baby corn to the pan. Cook over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes until the sauce thickens.
• Serve with plain boiled rice.

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhaava! (Bon Appetit!)

Recipe: Aloo Matar (Potatoes and Peas)

Aloo Matar

Aloo Matar (Potatoes with Peas) is one of my favourite vegetarian Indian dishes of all time. Partly because it was the first Indian dish I ever learnt to cook.

Aloo means potato and matar means peas, by the way. It is a dry style Indian dish which can be added to other dishes like a daal or another main dish. I found the recipe in Shehzah Husain’s Vegetarian Indian cookbook many years ago. I make changes all the time like (you know me) but I have the original recipe here for you. Enjoy!

Aloo Matar (Potatoes and Peas)
Ingredients:
Tomato puree (1 large tomato)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon garlic pulp
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons corn oil
2 onions, diced
125 g (4 oz) peas (I use baby peas because they cook faster)
300 ml (1/2 pint) corn oil
3 potatoes, roughly diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
½ green pepper, deseeded and sliced
½ red pepper, deseeded and sliced

Method:
• Mix the tomato puree, ground coriander, chilli powder, garam masala, garlic, turmeric, salt and lemon juice together in a bowl and set aside.
• Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Pour the tomato puree and spice mixture into pan, lower the heat and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Stir in peas and set aside.
• Heat the remaining corn oil in a karahi or deep frying pan to 180C, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds, add the potatoes and fry them until they have golden edges and are cooked through. Remove the potatoes dice from the pan and add to the peas and spice mixture.
• Finally, add the fresh coriander and sliced green and red peppers and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes. Serve the dish hot.

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhaava! (Bon Appetit!)

Jazar Bil Kamoun Wal Toum (Moroccan Carrot Salad)

I hope you guys all had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was fun and it lasted (the fun bit) until we were finally exhausted. Exhausted from eating and drinking but that’s what you do at this time of the year, right?

As promised… this is the salad we had for Christmas as a side to the main and a couscous dish. I thought it would be a good idea to keep all three Moroccan. I remember considering this particular salad for Vegan MoFo a few years ago when I had the Mediterranean theme for the whole month but never got around to it.

Recipe Notes: You might like to play around with the spices. I personally LOVE cumin and hot chilli so I use a lot more than specified in the recipes and even add more later on—which is true for cumin every time.

Jazar Bil Kamoun Wal Toum (Moroccan Carrot Salad)

Jazar Bil Kamoun Wal Toum (Moroccan Carrot Salad)
Ingredients:

5 medium sized carrots (I must admit, Olly ate some while I was preparing. So, I can’t guarantee the exact amount 🙂 )
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chilli
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
juice of ½ lemon, freshly squeezed
A few black olives, pitted and halved ( used 6 olives)

Method:
• Cut the carrots into four lengthwise, then into sticks. Steam until al dente. Drain well and set aside.
• Heat the oil in a large frying pan (I used a non-stick, stone pan which is big enough for the job).
• Add the carrot sticks and sauté on a medium heat for a few minutes, until carrots are covered in oil evenly.
• Add the crushed garlic, cumin, chilli, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and sauté until the garlic is aromatic and slightly golden.
• Drizzle the salad with lemon juice and decorate with olives. Serve cold.

Çılbır or Turkish Poached Eggs with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter Dressing

Turkish Poached Eggs with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter Dressing or Çılbır
Traditionally, Çılbır (pronounced “chilber”) is a starter. It is the harmony of simple ingredients like poached eggs, garlic yoghurt, butter, ground sweet paprika and dried mint. My husband thinks the garlic yoghurt in Çılbır takes away the heaviness of egg yolks. For me, it’s an absolute comfort dish –starter of otherwise.

I believe Çılbır dates back to Ottoman palace kitchen. I remember our cook at one of those hotels I used to manage making Çılbır for our hotel guests. It was always a crowd pleaser. My recipe below is based on his recipe. Only with a twist.

ÇılbırTurkish Poached Eggs with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter Dressing or Çılbır
Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 fresh free-range eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

For Garlic Yoghurt:
1 cup plain yoghurt, preferably Greek style (unsweetened)
1 clove garlic, crushed

For Burnt Butter Dressing:
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
1 teaspoon or maybe a bit more dried mint

Method:
• Fill a wide saucepan with water until approximately 5cm deep. Add vinegar and bring to a boil.
• Meanwhile, crush the garlic and mix with yoghurt. If the yoghurt is too thick, thin it down with a little bit of water. Garlic yoghurt needs to be a bit runny to make it easy to spread over eggs.
• Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it starts foaming, add the paprika and dried mint. Swirl it around and remove from the heat.
• Crack eggs individually into a ramekin or a small bowl. You could process two eggs together if you want to. When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat down to medium. Water should be just simmering. Slowly, tip the eggs into water. Poach the eggs for 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Divide the eggs between plates.
• Return the burnt butter to the heat and heat it up a little. Top the eggs up with garlic yoghurt first and then drizzle with burnt butter. Serve Çılbır immediately.

Recipe Notes:
• Mop Çılbır up with some Turkish bread.
• Most people back in Turkey has Çılbır with Turkish chilli flakes. So, there’s a thought.

Na’ama’s Fattoush recipe from Jerusalem

Fattoush

This is a fabulous fattoush recipe from a fabulous book: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I own a signed copy of it –signed by both authors. It is a beautiful book with a cloth cover and full of childhood memories around food, tradition, history and the city itself.

My fascination with Jewish food started with Marlena Spieler’s cookbook called Jewish Cooking and later on continued with Yotam Ottolenghi. None of these cookbooks are vegetarian. Nevertheless, they are great source of inspiration for me.

Back to the recipe… I have the original recipe here for you. However, I had to adjust a few things while I was making my own fattoush. For example, I reduced the measurements because it’s just the two of us. And, I used Afghan bread instead of Turkish flatbread or naan. As I always say: my kitchen is my queendom and I rule! 🙂

Na’ama’s Fattoush

SERVES 6

200 g Greek yoghurt and 200ml full-fat milk or 400mI of buttermilk (replacing both yoghurt
and milk)
2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan (250g in total)
3 large tomatoes (380g in total), cut into 1.5cm dice
100 g radishes, thinly sliced
1 Lebanese or mini cucumbers (250g in total), peeled and chopped into 1.5cm dice
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
15 g mint
25 g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dried mint
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp lemon juice
60 ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
¾ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sumac or more according to taste, to garnish

Method:
• If using yoghurt and milk, start at least three hours and up to a day in advance by placing both in a bowl. Whisk well and leave in a cool place or in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface. What you get is a kind of home-made buttermilk, but less sour.

• Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add your fermented yoghurt mixture or commercial buttermilk, followed by the rest of the ingredients, mix well and leave for 10 minutes for all the flavours to combine.

• Spoon the fattoush into serving bowls, drizzle with some olive oil and garnish generously with sumac.

Fattoush

Spinach with Eggs or Yumurtalı Ispanak

I have recently introduced my husband to this fantastic Turkish dish called Yumurtalı Ispanak (Spinach with Eggs). Now he keeps asking for it. Yes, I know; I created this monster. Anyway, this is a good example of Turkish comfort food and I sometimes crave it myself too.

The day I made the decision to make Spinach and Eggs, though, I didn’t have any spinach in my fridge –neither did onion. So, on my way back from my singing lesson the other day, I popped in to our local supermarket and grabbed some spinach and onion.

spinach eggs

There are a few different varieties of this dish back home. One of them uses mincemeat which can be substituted with vegetarian mince easily. Some people love it with chilli flakes and cumin and sometimes it is eaten with garlic yogurt, too. What I have here, however, just plain Spinach and Eggs.

Spinach with Eggs or Yumurtalı Ispanak
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 bunches English spinach
1 medium brown onion, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Method:
• Wash the spinach in cold water a few times until all the dirt is washed away. Discard the stems and chop roughly.
• Peel the onion and chop.
• Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable of in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until the onion is completely soft. Add the spinach and cook until it starts to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.
• Create two holes for eggs and break them into the holes. I usually try and spread the egg white as it binds the spinach nicely. And when it is time to serve the dish it is a lot easier to lift it with a spatula like a galette or omelette. Put the lid on and cook until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still soft.
• Sprinkle with extra black pepper and serve immediately.

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini or Kabak Dolması

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini or Kabak Dolması

I order our fruits and vegetables –along with some other pantry items –through Harris Farm to be delivered to my door every week. They now have this “imperfect picks” option. Basically, your usual fruits and vegetables that don’t look good on the outside. The ugly guys, so to speak. However, they taste good and are cheaper as well.

We’re having friends over for dinner on Friday night. So I put together a menu after I talked to them if they were allergic to anything or if there’s anything they don’t like –standard dinner party procedure. Based on what I’ll be cooking for them and our weekly menu items, I put my order in. Luckily, the ugly zucchinis I ordered happened to have large bottoms! That means, they are large enough to stuff!

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini Kabak Dolması

A note on vegetarian mince: I used Quorn vegetarian mince in this recipe because I can’t get Linda McCartney’s mince anymore in Australia and I really don’t like Sanitarium’s mince. The other alternative to vegetarian mince is The Redwood VegiDeli Gourmet Meat Free Mince but I find it quite expensive and not so easy to get. Quorn mince, on the other hand, can be purchased from Woolworths or Coles, depending on the branch.

A note on an absent ingredient: The traditional Kabak Dolması has rice in the stuffing mix and we have it with plain buttered pasta as a side dish –very German/Austrian, I know. I didn’t use rice this time because I was planning on making a rice pilaf as a side dish and didn’t want things too rice-y. Well, I didn’t make the rice pilaf in the end but dolmas were already cooking when I made that decision. Let’s not talk about it, shall we?

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini or Kabak Dolması

Ingredients:
4 large pieces zucchini

For the Stuffing Mixture:
4 tablespoons Quorn vegetarian mince, thawed (see note above)
½ small brown onion, chopped finely
1 small tomato, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon Turkish pepper paste (hot)
A drizzle vegetable oil
A large pinch Turkish dried mint
Salt to taste
A pinch ground sweet paprika

For Garlic Yoghurt:
4 tablespoons Greek style plain yoghurt
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 twig fresh dill, chopped

Method:
• Peel and carve out the fleshy part of zucchinis.
• Mix together the vegetarian mince, chopped onion, chopped tomato, Turkish hot pepper paste, vegetable oil, chopped dill, dried mint, salt, black pepper and ground paprika.
• Fill the hollow parts of zucchinis with the stuffing mixture. You will have some extra stuffing mixture.
• Place the extra stuffing mixture in a saucepan and lightly cook. Carefully transfer the stuffed zucchinis into the saucepan and fill up the gaps between dolmas with boiled water. Put the lid on and once it starts to boil, reduce the heat.
• Meanwhile, prepare the garlic yoghurt by mixing together yoghurt, crushed garlic and fresh dill weeds. If it’s too thick, add a few drops of water until you reach the right consistency –it should be a little runny. Set aside.
• When stuffed zucchinis are fully cooked, serve immediately with garlic yoghurt. Afiyet olsun!

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini Kabak Dolması

A Middle Eastern Classic: Babaganoush

A Middle Eastern Classic BabaganoushA Middle Eastern Classic: Babaganoush

Babaganoush is a Middle Eastern classic and it is one of those mezes I learnt from a neighbour back in Turkey. Thank you Asiye Teyze!

Babaganoush showcases smoking eggplant (aubergine) over flame and this is where that distinctive smoky flavour is coming from. However, you could do the same thing with barbeque. The recipe below covers both cooking methods.

A Middle Eastern Classic: Babaganoush

Ingredients:
1 round eggplant (aubergine)
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons tahini paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
Ground sweet paprika, to decorate
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling (optional)
Pitta bread, to serve

Method:

To smoke eggplant (aubergine): Prick eggplants a few times with a fork or tip of a knife. Over a gas flame, evenly char the skin of eggplant, turning regularly. Transfer to a plate and when cool enough to handle, peel the skin. Drop the eggplant into a bowl filled with cold water. Wait for a few minutes and then squeeze out excess water with your hand.
• Chop smoked eggplant finely and transfer into a bowl. Add lemon juice, tahini paste, crushed garlic, cumin and salt. Stir until smooth and well combined. If the mixture is too thick gradually add a little water. Drizzle with olive oil if you like and serve with pitta bread.

How to Barbeque Eggplant (Aubergine)
The rules are the same as smoking eggplant: Prick the eggplant a few times with a fork or tip of a knife. Place the eggplant directly over the flame and barbeque, turning to char on all sides until the skin blisters and the eggplant is completely soft. Remove from the heat with a pair of tongs. Allow to cool and peel off the blackened skin. After this stage, follow the recipe.

Stir-Fried Vegetables with Ginger and Cashew Nuts

Stir-Fried Vegetables Ginger Cashew NutsStir-Fried Vegetables with Ginger and Cashew Nuts

My husband and I decided to have a whole Thai week; cooking our favourite Thai dishes for the entire week. He made his famous Pad Thai and Thai Green Curry and I made Roasted Faux-Duck Curry and Stir-Fried Vegetables with Ginger and Cashew Nuts –the subject of this post.

The recipe comes from a vegetarian cooking class we did together in Bangkok. This one was one those dishes we actually cooked during the class taught by May Kaidee. It took me quite a long time to make another attempt outside Thailand but when I did, it turned out to be quite something.

Stir-Fried Vegetables with Ginger and Cashew Nuts

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 pack prepared tofu
1 small carrot, chopped
½ onion, coarsely chopped
1 small tomato, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped
¼ broccoli, broken into florets
¼ cauliflower, broken into florets
8 pieces woodear mushrooms, torn into small pieces
12 tbsp water
2 tsp vegan fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
4 tbsp Lamyong Mushroom (Oyster) Sauce
4 tbsp grated ginger
4 tbsp dry-toasted cashews

Method:
• To prepare the tofu, drain the whole pack and pat dry. Place the tofu on a plate with two layers of paper towel on and wrap the tofu up with the paper towel for better absorption. Put another plate on top (upside down) and stack up a few heavy books. Change the paper towel about an hour later and repeat the process until the tofu is dry. Then cut the tofu into small squares. Heat 1 cup of oil in a wok and fry the tofu until golden brown. Drain and set aside. Discard the oil and wipe the wok with a paper towel, getting it ready for the vegetables.
• Heat the oil in the wok and add carrots, onion, tomato, garlic, chilli and prepared tofu. When they are cooked thoroughly, add woodear mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower and water. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
• Add vegan fish sauce, sugar and mushroom sauce. Once the mushroom sauce starts to dissolve, add ginger and cashews. Carefully stir all the ingredients and serve immediately.

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme
Many of us don’t have the luxury and convenience of having gas cooking facility in our kitchens. And that on its own, makes things a little complicated because if you don’t have gas then you don’t have total heat control which is really important in cooking. I mean, ask any chef; they all prefer gas.

The other problem with not having gas is no gas, no smoked eggplant –also known as aubergine. So how are we going to make babaganoush or any other meze which uses smoked eggplant then? Maybe on a barbeque? Still, you may not have the weather to go outside and smoke your eggplant (aubergine), come back inside and carry on cooking. Well, if that’s your reality like it is mine then I have the second best thing to smoked eggplant (aubergine) for you.

Recipe Notes:
• Eggplant (aubergine) is an interesting vegetable: you cannot boil it or steam it; it gets mushy. However, it responds well to baking, stewing, smoking and deep frying. Since smoking is out of the question for me and baking is a drier method which doesn’t work in a meze situation—neither does stewing here—I’ll take deep frying method, thank you very much.
• Eggplant can be very bitter. To get rid of its bitterness, soak the eggplant chunks in salted water for at least 30 minutes—the longer the better. Salt will draw out the bitter juice.
• You will also need to be careful with deep frying eggplant as it transforms itself into an oil-loving sponge if you’re not careful. To avoid that, sprinkle the eggplants with salt just before deep frying. This’ll stop them from drinking all your frying oil.

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme
Ingredients:

1 large round eggplant
1 tablespoon Greek style plain yoghurt
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Method:
• Peel the eggplant and cut into small pieces. Soak them in generously salted water for at least half an hour with a plate on top –this’ll stop them from floating above the water.
• Rinse the eggplant well under running water and dry the pieces carefully. Heat the oil in a deep fryer and fry the eggplant until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
• Place the yoghurt and eggplant in a small food processor with garlic and whizz it up until it is dip like, scraping the sides every now and then to achieve more even texture.
• Place processed eggplant in a bowl. Combine with crushed garlic, lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
• Serve with crusty bread.