Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Let's talk tofu

I think tofu makes an interesting substitute for paneer. It is not the same texture, but it absorbs flavour well. I like to use a tofu press to get the excess water out.

This is a variation of a recipe in Madhu Gadia's The Indian Vegan Kitchen. The more I cook from this book the more I like it. No photographs, but Madhu describes the recipes in detail and they are tasty.

I made a few substitutes to the sauce recipe and was very pleased with the result. How to get that creamy texture? No vegan cream or yoghurt used here. My choice is tahini, the runny sesame seed paste you find in middle eastern shops not the worthy thick stuff from wholefood shops. I don't know why tahini is not a more common ingredient in Indian cooking.  I love tahini dressings as alternatives to dairy yoghurt.

One large white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
A knob of ginger, or to taste
2 green chillis, or to taste
Half a 400g can chopped tomatoes, a decent brand
3 tsp roasted dhana jeera
2-3 tbs tahini
1 tbs white poppy seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric

Whiz it all up in a liquidiser ( may need a little added water) then add to pan and cook to drive off the water. Add 2 tbs rapeseed oil and continue to cook until looks darker and shiny and starts to pull away from the edge of the pan. Then add water to the required consistency.
Season to taste.

I tend to fry my tofu to brown it a little but this is not necessary. Simple dish, very tasty. I started making my own dhana jeera as a result of my ground cumin and coriander starting to taste indistinct and bland.

This is my entry to My Legume Love affair #110

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Vegan masala omelette

VeganEgg Part 2. I went for an omelette recipe following the Follow Your Heart guidance to the letter. Taking a Meera Sodha recipe as inspiration. I flavoured the egg with a finely sliced spring onions, coriander leaf and green chilli, with a pinch of chilli powder, turmeric and salt.

The omelette takes longer to cook but in the pan it does look like an omelette. Meera suggests serving between buttered toast with tomato ketchup. I used a sourdough roll which I toasted.

It looked good. I bit into it and it tasted better than the scrambled egg I previously made, but, oh you knew there would be a but, the texture is not quite right. With the toast it's okay, by itself though I am not sure. Worth trying, may be its just me, but I used to enjoy eggs so I am afraid it's another disappointing vegan cheese moment.

Maybe if the omelette was thinner? Part 3 to come.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Tomato curry

Finally got around to doing one of Meera Sodha's recipes from her new Guardian column. It was a tomato curry. Followed the recipe but just used vine tomatoes I had bought from Chesterfield market. If I were to try it again I would make half the quantities and use other varieties of tomato. I think it took longer than the suggested time to reduce down the coconut milk to a sticky messy. The resultant dish was very rich but I paired it with plain basmati and a seasonal stir fry of UK corn and sugar snap beans spiced with panch phoran. Sue loved this combo which we ate two nights in a row.

When I started this blog my main aim was encouraging myself to try different recipes and enjoy cooking in the evening. In that regard it has been a success. Tried lots of new recipes this month and hopefully will post a few more in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Everyday meals

Thursday nights I often fend for myself as Sue works late and can get a meal at work. This was my meal this week and illustrates how i tend to cook. Wednesday I made and standard chana dal dish from 2 tins of chickpeas. You need to find a brand you trust as some brands can be hard and chalky. I like the jars you can get from Middle Eastern shops which taste great and are economical. The bread is shop brought. I found a brand, Clay Oven Bakery in my local supermarket that make lovely naan, soft and pillowy, unlike the usual shop-bought which are so stiff you could play table tennis with. Often I will substitute my own sourdough loaf. I am still learning to make roti and ave been experimenting with millet and spelt flours.

The accompaniments above are my masala kraut - very pleased with this - want to try it with chinese leaf next time. Thee is also a raita. I keep it simple. A few spoons of coconut yoghurt, pinch of salt, some leftover pomegranate seeds, and then roasted ground cumin and kashmiri chilli powder sprinkled over the top.

So the main dish here that needed cooking afresh was the green bean and potato sabzi. Maddhur Jaffrey was the inspiration though I already had some cooked potatoes in the fridge (from our organic veg box we get fortnighty - these made a lovely potato salad the night before.)

Recipe involves adding hing, cumin and nigella seeds to the heated oil followed by ginger and chopped green chillis. Stir fry for a minute and then add tomato puree and cook until it thickens a darkens. Add beans, water and salt and cook for 20 mins. I added the potatoes 5 mins from the end. Finish with garam masala.

My entry for #EatYourGreens

Some nights its even simpler. Dal and rice or bread. Add a vegetable dish the next day. Chutneys, raitas, salads as and when I have more time. Simple.

Scrambled VeganEgg

We are not averse to an occasional vegan fry up on a lazy Sunday morning. The vegan beer festival was sponsored by Follow Your Heart, makers of The VeganEgg, a product that seems to get rave reviews and is cannily marketed in an eggbox-shaped packaging. They were giving boxes away at the festival so Sue and I got a box each and then picked up another when encouraged by the organiser. These retail at £6.99 a pop so this was a pleasant surprise from the day. Follow Your Heart make the best mayo substitute I have tried so I was hopeful about this product but had my reservations as I have yet to find a vegan cheese I like and was dubious as to how scrambled eggs could be replicated. And at that price I wasn't likely to experiment because there are plenty of alternatives for eggs as binding agents or in baking.

One box is equivalent to 10-12 eggs. On opening the box you find a tiny package of yellow powder. The instructions are clear. Two main points. Its much easier to mix up in a blender than se a whisk. Secondly, They take longer to cook so it is imperative to follow the suggested cooking time.

I have a number of Indian recipes for scrambles and omelettes and Sue likes Mexican wraps so we were intrigued as to how they would turn out.

I made a portion for our fry up. Cooked simply would be the acid test. Upon opening the packet you get the eggy sulpherous aroma from the black salt but it gets cooked off and not really detectable in the final dish.

The eggs scramble. They taste very bland and need a lot of seasoning, The texture is not quite right, its in the ball park but a forkful alone is not especially pleasant.

I will give it another go - probably an Indian omelette served in a crusty roll or between toast. The extra spicing and added texture may work. We will see. Fun to play with though the cost would still be prohibitive and the excessive packaging, though cute, is wasteful.