Vegan Kadai Tofu & Vegetables

I get such a sense of satisfaction from emptying the fridge of the last of the vegetables. Knowing we’ve used up every last bit of fresh food without throwing anything out fills me with all the good feelings. A rogue carrot, a handful of mushrooms and a glut of peppers bought two weeks ago, they all have their uses.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Food waste is such a huge problem today and it makes no sense because there are also so many people struggling to feed themselves and their families. Along with supermarkets and food manufacturers, we’re all responsible for ensuring we do what we can to cut down on the amount of food we toss in the bin just because it’s a few days past the date printed on the packet. Tesco have recently announced they will stop printing Best Before dates on some fruit and veg products which is a great start. Having worked on a number of food TV shows in the past, I’ve seen an immense amount of (perfectly good) food being thrown in the bin for the sake of time and storage and it’s just a very sad thing to see.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Along with Pau Bhaji and Biryani, my other raid-the-fridge dinnertime favourite is this Kadai Tofu and Vegetables. You can make it with pretty much any veggies you have leftover in the fridge and it tastes like a restaurant-quality Kadai dish. All the flavour comes from the coriander seed, fennel seed and black peppercorn Kadai masala which is the star of the show. I raided the fridge and found tofu, mixed peppers, mushrooms, spring onions and red onions so that’s what I used but you could also use squash, cauliflower, potatoes, asparagus or mixed root vegetables if you like.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

For a vegetarian but non-vegan option, you could swap the tofu for paneer or even halloumi if that’s what you have. It will work with any non-melting cheese. I’ve also tried it with soya chunks and it turned out great. Adding all the veggies at the same time and cooking them very briefly on a high heat ensures they stay deliciously crunchy but with that smoky, charred flavour you’d expect from a restaurant-style Kadai dish. If you prefer your veggies tender, you can cook them a little longer. I add my chillies whole so I can pop them in my plate but the rest of the family can avoid them if they don’t want theirs too hot.

Serve this dish hot with soft chapattis/phulkas, jalebi paratha or simply with jeera rice, salad and a cooling cucumber raita.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Vegan Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

The Indian restaurant favourite, Kadai Paneer gets a vegan makeover with this smokey and fragrant tofu and vegetable version. Leave the veggies crunchy for a burst of freshness. Serve with hot chapattis or paratha.

For the kadai masala:

  • 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi

For the curry:

  • 300 g firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole green chillies
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2 large red onions, cut into wedges
  • 3 peppers, cut into wedges
  • 5 spring onions, trimmed and quartered
  • 100 g button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint, to garnish
  1. To make the kadai masala, toast all the whole spices in a dry pan. Once they’re very light brown and aromatic, transfer to a pestle and mortar and coarsely grind. Set aside.

  2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick pan. Toss the tofu cubes in the cornflour and add them to the hot oil. Cook on all sides until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

  3. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil in the same pan used to cook the tofu and add the cumin seeds. Allow the cumin to sizzle and then add the ginger and chillies. Cook for 30 seconds and then add all the vegetables, 3/4 of the kadai masala, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Cook on a very high heat for 5 minutes, allowing some of the veggies to scorch.

  4. Add the tofu and give it a mix, taking care not to break up the tofu pieces. Cook for a further 3 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkling over the remaining kadai masala and mint sprigs.

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Kadai Tofu and Vegetables




Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

I will always order Palak Paneer if it’s on the menu in a restaurant. It’s the law. I could forgo rice and bread and quite simply eat a bowl of Palak Paneer with a spoon.

You can tell a good Indian restaurant from a bad one by the quality of their Palak Paneer. Have they bothered to blend the sauce for a rich, luxurious finish? If it’s left chunky with tomatoes, lots of turmeric and far too many spices, it’s probably the base for another dish on the menu doubled up to be used for Palak Paneer too. It also shouldn’t be labelled Saag Paneer on the menu. Saag Paneer is an entirely different dish made with delicious, peppery mustard greens and shouldn’t be confused with the milder-tasting Palak Paneer made with spinach.

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

It’s delightful when restaurant Palak Paneer turns out to have a smooth and creamy blended spinach sauce with a bright green colour. You can tell it’s been made with care and attention. simple flavoured sauce paired with a big, bold and spicy tadka on top (but using very few ingredients). You have to be able to taste the ginger, garlic and green chillies; they can’t just be part of the background flavour. Bonus points for a little splash of cream on top to temper the heat of the green chillies.

Palak Paneer is a stick-to-your-ribs North Indian treasure that was made to be a filling vegetarian option so please don’t cut out the butter. You can however, veganise this Palak Paneer easily by switching the paneer for pan-fried firm tofu, using a flavourless oil in place of ghee and butter and topping it off with a splash of coconut milk instead of cream. For a true restaurant-style finish, I have some simple tips to share. These will ensure you have a smooth, bright green sauce, melt-in-the-mouth paneer chunks and a luscious tempering of garlic and chilli on top.

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

The trick to a super green sauce is to cook the spinach as little as possible. Just apply enough heat to wilt it at the beginning and heat the finished sauce just to warm all the ingredients through. Soak the paneer in slightly-salted boiling water to soften it up and give it a bright white colour. You only need to do this if you’re using shop-bought paneer. Fresh paneer will already be tender.

I like to finish Palak Paneer off with a buttery garlic and chilli tadka. Only cook it up until the point that the garlic is blonde and crispy. Nobody likes the bitter taste of burnt garlic. Ensure the chillies are slit so that they don’t burst in the oil.

If there’s excess water in your wilted spinach, use a slotted spoon to drain as much as you can from it before you blend the leaves. Leave the cooking liquor in the pan and reduce it down to around 2 tbsp. This is full of flavour and goodness so you don’t want to throw it away but you also don’t want excess water blended into the sauce. This will ensure you don’t need to evaporate the water by simmering the finished sauce too long, preserving that lovely green colour and the spinach flavours.

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

A simple take on the rich and delicious North Indian treasure. Silky smooth spinach with juicy chunks of paneer and a tempering of crispy garlic and spicy green chillies.

For the Palak Paneer:

  • 900 g spinach leaves ((washed and squeezed of excess water))
  • 450 g paneer ((cubed))
  • 5 cloves garlic ((peeled and chopped))
  • 2-inch piece ginger ((grated))
  • 2-3 green chillies ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 50 g salted butter
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp double cream ((optional))

For the crispy garlic tempering (tadka):

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 50 g salted butter
  • 2-4 green chillies ((slit lengthways))
  • 3 large cloves garlic ((finely sliced))
  1. If you’re using shop-bought paneer, place the cubes in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. You can add a pinch of salt to this if you like. This will soften them up and give them a beautiful white colour. Allow this to soak.

  2. Place the ghee in a large pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle for a moment before adding the ginger, garlic and chilli. Sauté for a minute or two before adding the spinach. Cover and allow the spinach to wilt, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  3. Transfer the spinach to a blender, along with the butter. If there’s a lot of excess water in the pan (this depends on the spinach), remove as much of the spinach as you can and leave the water in the pan. Blend the spinach until totally smooth and creamy. The butter will help to emulsify the spinach and give the sauce a rich, silky finish. I use a Nutribullet to do this.

  4. Simmer the excess water down over a medium heat until reduced to about 2 tbsp. This is full of flavour and you don’t want to waste a drop.

  5. Drain the paneer cubes of their soaking liquid.

  6. Pour the sauce back into the pan and add the garam masala and salt. Stir to combine. Fold in the paneer pieces and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. You want to cook this as little as possible to retain that beautiful green colour.

For the crispy garlic and tadka:

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a small pan. Add the slit chillies and garlic slices. Sauté over a medium-low heat until lightly golden and crispy. Pour this over the Palak Paneer immediately and garnish with the optional cream.

Serve with paratha or naan. Or if you’re anything like me, eat it straight up with a spoon.

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Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

A simple take on the rich and delicious North Indian treasure. Silky smooth spinach with juicy chunks of paneer and a tempering of crispy garlic and spicy green chillies.




Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk with Bean Fritters)

What are your favourite food smells? For me, you can’t get any better than veggies roasting over an open fire. The flavours of corn, aubergines, peppers and okra and onions are all heightened when you introduce them to flames. I have such precious memories of holidaying in Mombasa, melting away in the smell of fire-roasted maize on the cob, mohogo and sweet potatoes. These, combined with the lingering smell of hot coals, gasoline and frying potatoes in the salty, coastal air transports me to a happy place that’s almost as comforting as the welcoming warmth of my bed at home.

Makai Paka & Maraghwe Bhajiya

I’m lucky enough to have grown up with three cultures; British, Indian and Kenyan. I grew up in the 90s, lived in an all-white area and was forever told that my house/packed lunch/hair always “smells like curry” by my peers. If that wasn’t odd enough, I was also the only vegetarian at school (remember this was before “plant-based” and “vegan” diets were mainstream and instafamous). When my lunches weren’t cucumber sandwiches and crisps, they were eyeballed with a mixture of curiosity and fear. Ghee-cooked thepla, bateta nu shaak, dahi and samosas. Those lunches were always the most delicious. By the time I got to 15, I stopped giving a toss about what others thought, cooked shaak-rotli in my home ec classes and often came home empty handed because my friends had eaten it all. My parents were flabbergasted.

The self-conscious episodes of my youth have made me incredibly proud of my triple-cultured upbringing. Being a British Indian with East African roots is what’s made me who I am today. We ate the best, most varied meals and connected over food in the most wonderful way. Each meal was a talking point; it had a story and there were facts, techniques and anecdotes behind it. Even now, we talk about our favourite family dishes daily.

Makai Paka & Maraghwe Bhajiya

British sweetcorn is abundant at this time of year and we’ve eaten it in so many different ways over the past two weeks. Now although I could snaffle an entire cob of buttery, roasted corn every evening, I wanted to share something special with you.

My Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya is a stew-like dish of sweetcorn cooked in coconut milk with crispy, spicy kidney bean fritters on top. The bhajiya soak up some of the coconut milk like dumplings, yet still have a crispy, cragginess I adore. If you like Gujarati-style Kidney Beans & Sweetcorn nu Shaak, you will love this dish.

Makai Paka is a Kenyan speciality, most popular amongst the South Asian community but enjoyed by families all over and in restaurants. Other non-vegetarian varieties exist in the form of Kuku Paka (chicken) and Machli Paka (fish). The Makai Paka is vegan and usually incorporates large pieces of corn on the cob simmered in coconut milk but I wanted to create a version you need only a bowl and spoon to enjoy. Also, stripping the corn kernels off the cob after its been roasted is such a satisfying process.

The spices in this dish are simple, as with all East African dishes. Traditionally, you should let the ingredients do the talking and use spices sparingly to enhance them. The only rule is to balance sweet, salty, hot and sour, as is also the case with traditional Gujarati cooking.

Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk Topped with Crispy Bean Fritters)

Makai Paka is a Kenyan speciality, most popular amongst the South Asian community but enjoyed by families all over. Other non-vegetarian varieties exist in the form of Kuku Paka (chicken) and Machli Paka (fish). My Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya is a stew-like dish of sweetcorn cooked in coconut milk with crispy, spicy kidney bean fritters on top.

For the Makai Paka:

  • 3 large whole sweetcorn ((you can also use 600g tinned or frozen corn))
  • 1 medium potato ((cubed into 1cm pieces))
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 green chillies ((chopped))
  • 2 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 350 ml water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt ((or to taste))

For the Maharaghwe Bhajiya:

  • 400 g cooked kidney beans, drained and washed ((I use tinned))
  • 140 g chickpea flour
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 green chilli ((chopped))
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder ((optional))
  • 2 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep frying

For the Makai Paka:

  1. Roast the sweetcorn over a flame on your gas cooker. You can also place it under the grill or on a barbecue until it has black spots all over. If you’re using tinned or frozen corn, dry roast them in a smoking-hot non-stick pan. Allow to cool.
  2. Strip the kernels from the cob and set aside.
  3. In a large pan, add the water, coconut milk, chillies, garlic, turmeric and salt. Bring to a boil and add the potatoes and corn. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and coriander and remove from the heat.

For the Maharaghwe Bhajiya:

  1. Heat a wok or deep pan with oil to 160°C/320°F. Use a teaspoon to carefully drop small portions of the batter into the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden and crispy.
  2. Serve the Makai Paka in bowls and top with the Maharagwe Bhajiya.

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Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk Topped with Crispy Bean Fritters)




Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen that I’ve recently been posting about the joys of my pregnancy so far. We’ve managed to finish up the nursery, pack the hospital bags (so they’re ready to go when we need to) and found out that the baby is measuring up well. She or he (we are keeping the gender a surprise for all our friends and family) is a proper night owl, spinning, hiccuping and fidgeting at the most unsociable hours. Sounds a lot like my Mr if you ask me…

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

Three weeks ago I also found out that I have gestational diabetes (GD). Sitting in that hospital for over 2 hours for my glucose tolerance test, I had a feeling deep down that it wouldn’t go so well. We have a family history of type 2 diabetes and being Asian meant I ticked two of the three boxes on the high risk checklist. Still, that didn’t mean that the news wasn’t a shock. I was at work when I found out and I had an absolute meltdown. I was devastated because I thought I had brought it on myself – that it was because of something that I had done. And that made me feel like a failure.

For those of you who don’t know, GD is a fairly common issue with pregnancy which usually disappears after the baby is born but once detected, it is to be taken very seriously and treated appropriately. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail here, but this is what the NHS website says about it if you’d like to know more.

Ultimately, it means that I must check my blood sugar levels 4 times per day and ensure they are not too high. In order to control them, I need to balance everything I eat for the next 9 weeks or so. The basic premise is to treat it like a sugar and carbohydrate intolerance. That’s not to say that all carbs are off limits – we all need carbohydrates to stay fit and healthy. Cutting them out completely is a bad move. Having said this, it’s low GI carbs you need, and less of them than I would normally eat at a single meal. Now, each meal consists of a slow release carb such as brown basmati, wholemeal pasta or wholegrain bread, LOTS of protein like tofu, paneer and soy-based products, good fats like natural yoghurt, nuts and seeds and as many leafy green veggies as I like. Together, they are the perfect balance of goodness for me and for baby. It’s a good job we ADORE vegetables.

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

I’ve been doing this diet for almost a month and now that I’ve done my reading and am informed, it’s not so scary anymore. After I found out, my midwife said to me that knowledge is power and she’s absolutely right. I no longer feel like it’s my fault because it absolutely isn’t. The same goes for millions of other women who get diagnosed with GD every day. Knowing that it’s there and being informed of the risks allows us to adapt our lifestyles for our little ones and gives them the best start in life.

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

For the next few weeks and beyond, I’ll be sharing some of the recipes I’ve been cooking on this diet – they’re delicious everyday meals that are full of goodness and you can enjoy them whether you’re on a GD diet or not. I must say that we’re all different in the way our bodies process different foods so please check your tolerance to different things and find a balance that works for YOU. What keeps one person’s sugar levels stable can make another person’s rocket. For anyone who has GD, know that you are amazing, your body is busy creating a little miracle and it’s all going to be worth it in the end!

Baby K.O is a massive fan of this one. It is loaded with green goodness, golden paneer kofta and with a salad of fresh cucumber slices, red onions, mint and coriander, it’s the ultimate veggie curry. Enjoy it with brown basmati rice, straight from a bowl to save on washing up.

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

A fresh, nourishing bowl of greens for when you’re craving comfort food.

For the paneer kofta:

  • 225 g paneer
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 small red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Oil for coating the kofta

For the curry:

  • 1 head savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • 75 g frozen peas
  • 200 g broccoli, broken into small florets
  • 150 g fresh baby spinach
  • 6 spring onions, quartered
  • 12 fresh curry leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 thin green chillies
  • 10 skinless almonds, blanched
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

To garnish:

  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F.

  2. Place all the ingredients for the kofta in a blender and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball.

  3. Divide the paneer into 15 small balls, rolling between your hands to ensure there are as few cracks as possible. Place onto a lined baking tray, coat each one in a little oil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden on the outside. Remove from the oven and set aside.

  4. Place the cabbage, broccoli and spring onions in a large roasting tray, season with 1/2 tsp salt and bake in the oven, around 15 minutes. The edges of the broccoli and onions should brown a little and the cabbage should crisp up.

  5. To make the curry, blend together the curry leaves, almonds (along with 60ml of the soaking water), garlic and chillies, along with a handful of the spinach leaves until you have a smooth, green paste. Add extra water if needed.

  6. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Pour in the green paste and cook for 10 minutes until the oil separates from the paste and leaves the sides of the pan. Next, stir in the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then add the roasted veggies, frozen peas, remaining spinach and golden paneer kofta. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

  7. Garnish with fresh coriander, mint and chillies (optional).

Serve with brown rice, onions and cucumber.

 
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Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

Love Sanjana + baby K.O (any gender guesses from you? Let me know!)




Palak Paneer Snails

Palak Paneer SnailsOur favourite paneer dish has just undergone an epic makeover. Don’t freak out. The snails in the pastry refer to their shape rather than the contents. These filo coils are packed with the Indian restaurant favourite, Palak Paneer. Fresh, green spinach with creamy paneer, ginger, chillies and garlic is a combo I’d eat every day if I could get away with it.

To demonstrate how easy this is, I’ve pulled together a short video where you can see how it’s rolled and coiled for that awesome shape. As much as I love this, it wouldn’t be half as amazing to eat if it wasn’t for the epic Carrot and Cucumber Mustard Salad. It’s loaded with hot and sour flavours which cuts right through the richness of the pie.

Palak Paneer Snails

I glazed these pies with a combination of melted butter and turmeric for as a cheeky replacement for egg wash. Nobody will ever know.

Palak Paneer Snails 2

This is perfect for serving up when you have friends over for dinner, taking along to picnics and stowing away in the freezer prior to baking for a quick meal.

Watch the video, read the recipe, make it for your friends and family and let me know how it goes. I love seeing the pictures of what you create at home so keep ‘em coming. BTW, I get to say hello to you again today!

Palak Paneer Snails
Serves 6

Ingredients 

700g leaf spinach
250g paneer, crumbled into large pieces
250g ricotta
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp coarse semolina
1 medium red onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp garam masala
4 green chillies, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
16 sheets filo pastry (approx. 12″ x 22″)
200g butter, melted
Pinch or turmeric
Sesame and nigella seeds

For the Cucumber and Carrot Mustard Salad

2 large cucumbers
5 carrots
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp English mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Juice 2 lemons
Fried green chillies (optional)

Method

1. To make the pies, heat the sunflower oil in a pan and add the cumin. Allow to sizzle before adding the red onions. Sauté for a moment and add the ginger, garlic, chillies, garam masala and salt. Cook for 5 minutes and set aside.

2. Place the spinach in a colander (you might have to do it in batches) and pour boiling water from the kettle on top. Rinse with cold water and squeeze out all the excess water. Repeat for all the spinach.

3. Pile the spinach into a large bowl, add the paneer, onion mixture, ground fennel seeds, semolina and ricotta. Combine thoroughly.

4. To assemble, place one sheet of filo pastry on a work surface. Brush it generously with butter before adding your next sheet. Repeat the layering process until you have 4 filo layers.

5. Along the longest edge of the pastry, make a line of filling. Roll it up as tightly as you can without breaking it. Roll it 1 ½ times over itself. If you have excess pastry, trim it with a pizza cutter.

6. Once you have a pastry snake, brush it with more butter, and then take one edge to start rolling it into a coil shape.

7. Take some additional butter and mix it with the turmeric. Brush this all over the top of the coil. Sprinkle with nigella and sesame seeds.

8. Repeat for the next three snails.

9. Place your four palak paneer snails onto a baking tray and wrap with cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake for 45 minutes at 160C.

Palak Paneer Snails

To make the Cucumber and Carrot Mustard Salad

1. Make the salad a couple of hours before for best results. Chop one of the carrots with a crinkle cutter or slice them thinly. Using a peeler, ribbon the other cucumber all the way around. Don’t include too many of the seeds as they’ll make the salad watery. Save them for a snack later. Ribbon the carrots in the same ways as the cucumber.

2. To make the dressing, heat the oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Wait for the mustard seeds to pop and crackle, and then add the mustard, lemon juice, salt and the optional sugar. Mix this all together and then turn off the heat. Pour the dressing over the cucumber and carrot and mix together. Allow it to stand for around 30 minutes. Lots of water will come out of the salad. With clean hands, squeeze the salad removing excess water. You’ll be left with firm vegetables and slightly pickled flavour. So good.

Cucumber Carrot and Mustard Salad

Love Sanjana




Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Okra

One of my favourite weeknight dinners is stir-fried tofu with colourful veggies, noodles and heaps of chilli. This is a twist on Chilli Paneer – that Indian vegetarian restaurant favourite that has found its way onto wedding menus and dinner tables at home. As much as I love paneer, I find it a little too heavy to have with noodles or rice – this is where tofu noodle bowls come to the rescue.

They might look quite ordinary but the sauce packs a real punch, seasoning the golden tofu and noodles perfectly. It’s made using large red chillies, garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, star anise and brown sugar. A combo of ingredients I always have in the house. I throw in any vegetables I have in the fridge – usually a mix of broccoli, mushrooms, beansprouts, mange tout or French beans.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

My special touch to these is to add crispy okra strips and fried Thai basil leaves. They add the most beautiful crunch and are a delicious way of getting your okra fix as part of a dish that’s not curry. To make them, slice okra into long, thin strips, toss in a little cornflour and allow to sit for five minutes. Plunge them into hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until crispy and slightly golden. Try not to move them too much in the first minute to give the cornflour time to set on the okra.

To achieve a pretty red colour, I add in a couple of tablespoons of Sriracha (Thai chilli sauce made with dried red chillies and garlic). If you haven’t tried it before – where have you been? It’s the ultimate intense chilli sauce for adding instant flavour. I add it to mac and cheese, toasties, masala chips and even potato curry. It’s almost like Gujarati lasan vari chutney but in sauce form; A squidge of it in plain natural yoghurt will give you the fastest ever sauce for bhajia and samosa chaat. You can buy it in the Asian section of most supermarkets now. Look for the squeezy bottle with a rooster on the front. Even my parents, who are life-long advocates of Tabasco now prefer it.

I used Shanghai noodles here but you could just as easily use rice noodles, udon or even fresh ramen noodles. If noodles aren’t your thing, skip them and serve the stir-fried tofu and veggies with steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with the fried okra and Thai basil, then devour.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Okra

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the chilli paste:
1 large red chilli
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
3 large spring onions, trimmed and quartered
3 tbsp Sriracha
2 tbsp brown sugar
Juice and zest 1 lime

For the stir fry:
1 tbsp oil
1 star anise
100g broccoli florets
Handful mushrooms, sliced
40g mange tout
50g beansprouts
1 large red chilli
4 tbsp light soy sauce
200g golden tofu puffs
3 tbsp Sriracha
200g cooked noodles
Salt to taste

10-15 Thai basil leaves

For the crispy okra:
100g okra, sliced into long thin strips
1 tsp cornflour

Method

1. First make the crispy okra and thai basil. Cut the okra into long, thing strips, place onto a plate and dust over the cornflour. Stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Once hot, turn the heat down and very carefully add in the Thai basil. It will crackle and spit in the first 30 seconds so stand right back. Be super careful even once it stops crackling. Fry until deep green and crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place onto a place lined with kitchen paper.

3. Next, turn the heat up on the oil again and add in the okra. Don’t move them around in the first minute in order to let the cornflour set. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove and place onto the kitchen paper with the Thai basil. Set aside.

4. Blend together all the ingredients for the chilli paste.

5. Heat the oil in the wok, add the chilli paste and star anise. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring all the time.

6. Add in the broccoli, soy sauce and extra Sriracha. Next, add the rest of the vegetables except the beansprouts and chilli. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes on a high heat. Add the tofu puffs and sauté for another few minutes, adding a little water if it seems dry.

7. Add the cooked noodles, beansprouts and chilli, stirring to combine. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes and remove from the heat.

8. Serve immediately, topped with crispy okra and Thai basil.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

Love Sanjana




Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers

One of my favourite classic comfort foods has to be cauliflower cheese. A chilly autumnal weeknight calls for nothing more than simple oven-baked cauliflower cheese, sometimes with a tumble of broccoli florets added in, other times with belly-pleasing macaroni. One thing they all have in common is delicious, sharp Cheddar and a crunchy golden top.

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers

Here, I’ve combined all those glorious elements into another comfort food favourite – the pithivier. These traditional French pies are usually made with a frangipane filling but can also be savoury. I’ve opted to fill my discs of puff pastry with cauliflower cheese, butternut squash and a delicious blend of spices. In place of egg wash, they’re glazed with a thyme and honey brown butter which provides a gorgeously-golden finish.

The combination of butternut squash and a homemade gratin spice blend will give you all the autumnal feels you crave after a long day at work. If you don’t have butternut, you can use pumpkin or acorn squash instead. The gratin spice blend is unbelievable in everything from dauphinoise potatoes to mac and cheese. Make a big batch and stow it away in an airtight jar to give your oven-baked dinners an instant flavour boost.

These pithiviers can be made with puff or rough puff pastry, either homemade or shop-bought. If you’re in a hurry, shop-bought puff pastry is ideal.

The most important element here is to ensure the filling is completely cold before you encase it in the pastry. This will ensure the pastry bottom stays crispy. You can even assemble these a day ahead, cover in cling film and refrigerate – or freeze for another time.

Serve with a leafy green salad and follow up with a hot chocolate pudding.

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers 3

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers
Makes 6

Ingredients

700g puff pastry – shop bought or homemade

For the filling:
320g butternut squash, diced (2cm squares), cooked
300g cauliflower florets, chopped finely, cooked but not completely
1 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
50g flour
320ml whole milk
1 1/2 tsp gratin spice mix
120g sharp Cheddar, grated
1/2 tsp dried English mustard
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 green chillies, finely sliced
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 sprigs of thyme, stripped

For the thyme and honey brown butter glaze:
60g unsalted butter
3 sprigs of thyme, stripped
1 tbsp honey
Small pinch turmeric

For the gratin spice mix:
1 tbsp cloves
3 tbsp whole coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp mace
2 tbsp cardamom seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
4 dried red chillies
8 star anise

2 dried bay leaves

3-inch piece cinnamon, broken

Method

1. To make the spice blend: Toast the spices in a dry pan until aromatic. Allow to cool, then grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Pass through a fine-hold sieve and store in an airtight jar.

2. To make the filling: Melt the butter in a pan, add the olive oil and garlic. Next, add in the flour and stir to make a roux. Allow to cook gently, stirring all the time until very lightly golden. Whisk in the whole milk, a little at a time until fully incorporated. Add a little bit of the spice mix and keep whisking until hot but not boiling.

3. Next, add in the cheese, two kinds of mustard, chilli and keep whisking until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the thyme. Fold in the cooked squash and cauliflower. Set aside until cold.

4. To make the glaze: Melt the butter in a small saucepan and cook until very lightly golden brown. Add the thyme leaves and set aside to cool. When warm, stir in the honey.

5. Roll out just under half of the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick. Cut out six 12 inch-diameter rounds. Take remaining pastry and roll to 5mm thick. Cut out six 14 inch-diameter rounds. Divide cold filling mixture among half the 12-inch pastry rounds, mounding up in centre and leaving a 1 inch border. Brush the edges with water and top with the larger pastry rounds, removing any air around the mixture and pressing edges to seal – I used the back of a spoon to seal them up properly. Brush tops with the glaze and score a scalloped pattern on the top of each with the back of a knife. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Bake the pithiviers for 25-30 minutes until completely puffed up and golden all over.

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers

Serve with a leafy green salad, then go make yourself a hot chocolate before bed.




Spaghetti with Nigella-Roasted Onions, Herbed Breadcrumbs and Burrata

I fell in love with the creamy, stringy deliciousness of Burrata ever since I had my first bite of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Burrata with Clementines and Coriander Seeds at Nopi in Soho, London. With just a hint of orange blossom water, this dish was sweet, fresh and beyond perfection. You could say it hit the spot but if I’m honest, it hit spots I didn’t even know existed.

As a lover of fresh buffalo mozzarella, I wondered how it was possible that I’d been missing out on burrata my whole life. All of a sudden I had Boyz II Men’s Pass You By on repeat ringing in my flippin’ ears. Damn. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of sinking your teeth in to burrata, let me paint you a little picture… A lip-smacking mozzarella with a soft centre of hand-torn mozzarella and cream called stracciatella (“a little shred” in Italian). Cut it open and a river of the most unctuous cream filling you’ve ever seen oozes out like a molten lake of happiness. It’s an unbelievably satisfying moment.

Spaghetti with Nigella-Roasted Onions Herbed Breadcrumbs and BurrataI picked up a couple of burrata in erm… Harrods (disclaimer: I’m not one to casually saunter in to Harrods on a Saturday afternoon and spend an hour in the Food Hall). This was actually only the second time I’d been there and a first for the man in my life. So you can imagine the mini heart attack I had when the lady at the cheese counter told me my burrata came to £33.30. I shit you not.

Of course, this cheese was the only thing we bought and we made a pact not to return for another year unless we got lucky on the Lotto.

Spaghetti with Saffron-Roasted Cauliflower, Burrata and Chilli Breadcrumbs -  IPhone pic from earlier this week - excuse the lighting

Spaghetti with Saffron-Roasted Cauliflower, Burrata and Chilli Breadcrumbs – iPhone pic from earlier this week – excuse the rubbish lighting but just to show you another way to do this

I’m not going to lie, it was SO worth it when it came to this spaghetti, so much so that I made it from scratch two days in a row. Once with Saffron-Roasted Cauliflower and the second time with these Nigella-Roasted Onions. Both were awesome so I leave it up to you to pick your roasted veggies.

Although the burrata is shining star of this spaghetti dish, the breadcrumbs will leave a lasting impact. With every bite of spaghetti and creamy cheese, you get the glorious crunch of herby, garlicky breadcrumbs with just a touch of roasted hazelnuts. Another brilliant creation from beautiful Italy, Pangrattato (basically grated breadcrumbs) are a simple way of adding ridiculous stand-out texture to pasta and risotto. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to sprinkle it on everything.

The contrast between the sweet roasted onions, aromatic nigella seeds, crunchy herb-laced breadcrumbs, soft creamy burrata and perfectly-cooked spaghetti will give your taste buds a very welcome and loving hug. You’ll love it right back, I promise.

Spaghetti with Nigella-Roasted Onions Herbed Breadcrumbs and Burrata

Spaghetti with Nigella-Roasted Onions, Herbed Breadcrumbs and Burrata
(Serves 6)

Ingredients

400g dried spaghetti
5 large red onions
6 large spring onions, trimmed
1 tbsp nigella seeds
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
3 fresh burrata or good-quality buffalo mozzarella if you can’t find burrata

For the Herbed Breadcrumbs (Pangrattato):

80g stale sourdough loaf, cubed
10 whole roasted hazelnuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
4 tbsp fresh basil
Zest of one lemon (unwaxed)
Pinch of salt

Method

1. Pre heat the oven to 200C.

2. Trim both ends of the red onions, slice down the middle and peel each half. Separate the layers out and place in a large roasting tray. Repeat for all the red onions. Trim the spring onion roots and slice those down the middles, lengthways. Add to the roasting tray along with the olive oil, lemon juice, nigella seeds and salt. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, shaking at the halfway point.

3. To make the herby breadcrumbs, whizz up all the ingredients in a food processor until fine. They should be a gorgeous green colour. Pour them in to a dry pan and cook on a medium heat, moving around constantly to ensure they don’t catch on the bottom of the pan and burn, about 4 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy. Set aside.

4. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions in plenty of salted boiling water.

5. Remove the onions from the oven, drain the pasta and add to the roasting tray. Toss until every strand of spaghetti is well coated with olive oil. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary.

6. Pile the spaghetti on to a large serving platter and scatter over the breadcrumbs. Tear the burrata over the top, letting it ooze around the spaghetti and sprinkle with chilli flakes.

7. Serve immediately. As if you could wait anyway… 😉

Love Sanjana




Stuffed and Baked Baby Kolhapuri Aubergines

If you’re a fan of vegetarian Indian main courses that pack enough punch to trounce any meaty curry, look no further. These gorgeous aubergines might be small but the smooth-as-velvet sauce and filling make it an unforgettable veggie curry you’ll want to make over and over again.

Toasted Coconut and Pistachio

Stuffed with rich coconut, pistachios and paneer before being baked in a tomato masala containing no fewer than eleven incredible spices (important: in small amounts) to create a beautifully balanced, aromatic aubergine experience.

Stuffed and Baked Baby Kolhapuri Aubergines

You’ve probably worked out by now that I’m a total aubergine fiend, always thinking about where my next fix is coming from. Whether it’s Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani or the love of my life, Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry, I’m obsessed.

Pistachio Masala Stuffed Baby Aubergines

Kolhapuri Vegetables and Kolhapuri Chicken are popular dishes from, you guessed it, Kolhapur, Maharashtra in India. These curries are notoriously spicy and almost always contain a killer combo of crimson Kashmiri chillies, black pepper and poppy seeds.

Stuffed and Baked Baby Kolhapuri Aubergines Masala Plate

I’ve played about with the masala recipe to come up with my own blend, which I think lends the ultimate kick to vegetarian dishes. Meat eaters won’t even complain. The masala recipe makes double the amount you’ll need for this recipe but I like to keep some in an airtight container in the fridge for later. It’s amazing sprinkled into pasta sauce, over crispy fries and in spicy soups.

Skillet-Baked Kohlapuri Aubergines Masala

If you don’t have baby aubergines, you can omit the stuffing part and roast regular, cubed aubergines before adding to the sauce and simmering for 20 minutes. The sauce base is also delicious with regular white chickpeas (serve with Masala Poori), potatoes or mixed mushrooms and sweetcorn.

Be creative and play around with it until you find your favourite combinations. This one is mine.

Pistachio-Stuffed Baby Aubergines

Stuffed and Baked Baby Kolhapuri Aubergines
(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients

16 long baby aubergines, washed and dried

For the Kolhapuri masala:

3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 tsp red Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tbsp white poppy seeds or sesame seeds
4 curry leaves
1 tbsp fennel seeds
½ tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp salt

For the Pistachio and Coconut filling:

100g unsweetened desiccated coconut
30g unsalted pistachios
100g paneer, grated (replace with an additional 70g unsweetened desiccated coconut and 30g unsalted pistachios if vegan)
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)
1 tsp white pepper
¼ tsp salt

For the Sauce:

2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 large onions, finely sliced
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp Kolhapuri masala
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar

400ml water

Fresh coriander and sliced red chillies, to garnish
Paratha and optional plain yoghurt to serve

Method

1. Begin by making the filling. Toast the pistachios and desiccated coconut in a dry non-stick pan until golden and aromatic. Transfer to a food processor and pulse to a crumb-like texture. Transfer to a bowl and add the grated paneer, amchur, white pepper and salt. Stir to combine well. Set aside.

2. To make the Kolhapuri masala, blend all of the ingredients together in a coffee grinder or food processor until fine. Set aside. This will make twice as much masala as you’ll need for this recipe but I love to stash it away in the fridge in a sealed container to sprinkle over fries (guilty pleasure alert!)

3. Next, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and add the sliced onions. Allow to soften, about 8 minutes. Don’t let them get too brown. Add the tomatoes, 4 tablespoons of Kolhapuri masala, water, salt and sugar. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on a low heat for 20-30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, slit the aubergines lengthways not slicing all the way through. Stuff each aubergine with the pistachio and coconut masala.

5. Make yourself a cup of tea and pre-heat the oven to 190C.

6. Take four cast iron skillets or any deep, large baking dish and pour in the sauce. Arrange the aubergines on top of the sauce and bake for 60 minutes until the aubgerines are tender all the way through.

7. Serve with flaky paratha, a bowl of cold natural yoghurt and nothing more.

Stuffed and Baked Baby Kolhapuri Aubergines

Love Sanjana




Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani

Beautiful, butter-soft aubergines simmered in a rich makhani sauce for three hours are what you’ll be dreaming about tonight. It’s velvety smooth and perfect with basmati rice and fluffy Garlic and Coriander Naan.

I’ve recently fallen in love with my slow cooker and have been batch cooking soya mince and black bean chilli, spicy coconut daal and this delicious Aubergine Makhani. The basis my sauce is an irresistible combo of butter (it’s not a makhani without butter!), tomatoes, selective spicing and a touch of cream to finish. It makes for a perfectly-balanced sauce to coat juicy aubergine pieces.

Slow cooking is a great way of making sure your aubergines remain chunky and don’t fall apart. If you’re looking for an equally delicious aubergine recipe where they are first blackened, then mashed, head this way.

Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani

One of my favourite dishes to eat in Indian restaurants is Paneer Makhani or Paneer Butter Masala. If it’s on the menu, there’s a 99% chance I’ll be all over it. After trying it in a number of different restaurants, I soon discovered what I liked about my favourites and disliked about the others and got to work perfecting a recipe of my own. It’s the combination of ground coriander, cardamom, kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and creamy and tangy tomato sauce which really makes it so satisfying. Season liberally with salt and sugar too – you need to balance the intense spices and sour tomatoes.

If you’re not a fan of aubergines, this easy vegetarian makhani sauce recipe is also amazing with chickpeas, tofu, paneer, potatoes, cauliflower… or whatever else you fancy. I add a pinch of chai masala for a deeper heat but this is totally optional. If you don’t have any, leave it out.

It’s so easy to make in a slow cooker – there’s no separate cooking, it all goes in at once and is finished with a touch of cream, kasoori methi, flaked almonds and fresh coriander.

Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani

Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani
Serves 6

Ingredients

3 large aubergines, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 x 500g bottles passata (sieved tomato pulp)
2 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp coriander seeds, finely ground
2 tsp garam masala
Seeds of 6 cardamom pods, finely ground
¼ tsp fennel seeds, finely ground
3 small red chillies, chopped finely
¼ tsp chai masala (optional)
50g butter, melted
1 ½ tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
100ml double cream, to finish
1 tsp kasoori methi, to finish
Toasted flaked almonds, to garnish
Chopped coriander, to garnish
Red onions, to garnish

Method

1. Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker apart from the aubergines, cream and kasoori methi. Give it a good whisk.

2. Fold in the aubergines and make sure they’re well coated. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on the high setting for 3 hours.

3. Don’t stir the curry too much – you want your aubergine to remain chunky so try to leave it to do its thing.

4. After around 3 hours, the aubergine should be beautifully soft. Remove the lid and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

5. Finally, rub the kasoori methi between your palms and add to the curry. Finish with the cream, mixing thoroughly for a delicious creamy finish.

6. Garnish with flaked almonds, red onions and chopped coriander.

Serve with basmati rice and/or Garlic and Coriander Naan. Probably best to have both, though. Obvs.

Love Sanjana




Baked Buttered Vegetable Pilaf

One of the many great pleasures in the kitchen comes from not only the dishes that can be prepared in a flash, but from those that have steps, processes and a beautiful end result. From lasagne to Kashmini Dum Aloo, and layer cakes to biryani, the meals that beg for a little more love and attention than your 10-minute post-work salad are sometimes what you need to appreciate truly great food.

This pilaf is one of those recipes.

Baked Buttered Vegetable Pilaf Recipe It takes 90 minutes to prepare, 35 minutes to bake and probably just 10 minutes to devour. Like any Indian rice dish, it requires a dash of spice and a whole load of TLC. The end result is a buttery platter of golden rice and crisp-tender vegetables that pair perfectly with any curry or simply with a bowl of lime and coriander yoghurt.

The idea is to partially cook each component of the dish before arranging it in a buttered roasting tin, covering with damp greaseproof paper (cartouche) and foil, and then baking until the rice is steamed to fluffy perfection. It’s a foolproof way to ensure your rice is spot on every time. The best bits the golden brown edges but don’t tell anyone I told you that.

I love to ribbon vegetables; whether they’re for a salad, pasta or rice, they look so beautiful and are quick to cook. The ones I find work best are all used in this recipe – carrots, courgettes and asparagus. However, you can use any veggies you like. I also added baby pearl potatoes, paneer (of course, don’t you know me at all?), petit pois, cashews and echalions (banana shallots). Be experimental and add whatever you fancy.

Baked Buttered Vegetable Pilaf Recipe

I’ve intentionally kept the spicing mellow in this pilaf. There’s nothing worse than killing the flavour of fresh vegetables and golden rice with OTT spicing. It happens all the time in restaurants and makes me sad. When cooking rice, you’ve got to remember that it will take on every flavour you add and this is particularly important in things like baked rice and biryanis because of the slow cooking. It has lots of time to infuse with the spices so it’s very easy to go overboard. Don’t fall into this trap.

I’ve added black cumin and black cardamom for a smoky flavour, saffron and green cardamom. They are perfectly balanced against all the sweet, buttery vegetables.

This recipe makes enough for eight hungry people because it was simply made for sharing. The leftovers are delicious the next day and even the day after that.

Baked Buttered Vegetable Pilaf lg

Baked Buttered Vegetable Pilaf
Serves 8

Ingredients

550g golden Sela rice
500g baby pearl potatoes, parboiled
400g carrots, peeled and ribboned
150g asparagus, ribboned
450g courgette, ribboned
225g paneer, cut into rectangles and grilled
5 banana shallots, peeled and sliced in half – root trimmed but left on
100g cashew nuts
150g petits pois

Hot water to boil the rice
Salt, to taste

100g butter
2 tbsp oil
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 black cardamom pod, whole
2 inch cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 tsp black cumin
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 whole green chillies
150ml water
Large pinch saffron

Fresh coriander, to garnish

Method

1. Wash the rice and soak the rice in cold water for an hour.

2. In a large pan, melt the butter and add the oil. Add in the cardamom pods, black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black cumin, ginger, cashews and chillies. Saute for a few moments before adding the potatoes. Allow the sizzle on a low heat for 5 minutes.

3. Add the shallots and paneer and keep on a low heat, trying not to break the shallots. Once everything s lightly golden, season with salt, add the saffron and 150ml water, then switch off the heat and set aside.

4. Drain the soaking liquid from the rice. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the rice. Boil it until it’s 50% cooked, just as you would boil pasta. Drain and set aside.

5. Grease a large roasting tray with butter and add the drained rice. Pile on the potato mixture, plus all of the ribboned vegetables and give it a very gentle mix. Try not to break up the vegetables.

6. Take a piece of greaseproof paper and scrunch it up under the tap, squeezing out any excess water. Place this directly on top of the rice and vegetables. Cover the tray with foil, leaving room for it to rise up as the rice steams.

7. Bake in a pre-heated oven t 180C for 35 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and allow to sit, covered for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and paper and fluff up the rice with a fork. Arrange on a platter or into bowls. Garnish with fresh coriander.

Baked Buttered Vegetable Pilaf 4

Serve with your favourite curries or like I have it… with plain Greek yoghurt and nothing more.

Love Sanjana




Vegan Cauliflower and Broccoli Bhajiya Tacos

Vegan Masala Cauliflower and Broccoli Tacos 2I love sitting at the table and enjoying a meal that was created for sharing. Whether it’s a one-pot curry or daal, a hearty salad with warm bread, or these cauliflower and broccoli tacos. With all of the fillings served at the table, this vegan dinner is perfect for assembling as you eat. That way, you can add more or less of whatever you like. The only problem you might have is fitting it all into the one wrap. I’ve made that mistake way more than I care to remember – especially when there’s avocado and coriander sauce involved.

The batter is puffy, light and packed with spices reminiscent of bhajia – a super popular Indian starter. Like fish tacos, the bite-sized vegetables are coated and fried until golden and crispy. It’s best to do this right before serving so they’re hot and delicious for your vegan tacos.Vegan Masala Cauliflower and Broccoli Tacos 2Packed with lime, garlic and yoghurt, the creamy sauce is perfectly balanced to douse any heat from the fried green chillies. It’s so tempting to eat it right from the blender with a spoon or maybe some tortilla chips. A crunchy salad of radish, red onion, lime and a few spices tops these tacos off beautifully. The contrast of the hearty fried veggies and fresh salad, lettuce, fruity pineapple chutney and crunchy toasted cashews is so dreamy. Even non-vegans will feel like they’ve eaten a filling meal.

The pineapple chutney is a lovely way to round off the sharp flavours in the dish. It’s quick, easy and perfect not only with these tacos, but also with Jalebi Paratha. Don’t be alarmed by the long list of ingedients here. Most of the prep is super simple and just assembling or blending. The only actual cooking is of the cauliflower and broccoli. The chutney can even be made up to a week in advance. Just store it in the fridge.So this year, take some time to sit around the table with your family and friends and enjoy a meal that was made for sharing.  This one certainly was. Vegan Masala Cauliflower and Broccoli Tacos 2Vegan Masala Cauliflower and Broccoli Tacos With Avocado and Coriander Sauce

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

500g mixed cauliflower and broccoli, broken into small florets
10 small green chillies, pierced (these will be fried too)
12 mini corn or wheat flour tortillas
Shredded lettuce, to serve
Toasted cashew nuts, to serve
Oil for deep frying

For the Batter:

100g chickpea flour
100g plain flour
2 tsp coarse semolina
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
240ml ice-cold sparkling water
1 tsp finely-chopped ginger

For the Avocado and Coriander Sauce:

2 large ripe avocados
2 tbsp non-dairy plain yoghurt or regular plain yoghurt if you’re not vegan
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 medium clove garlic
¼ tsp salt
Juice of 1 lime

For the Radish and Red Onion Salad:

1 medium red onion, sliced finely
200g radishes, sliced finely
Handful chopped coriander
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp toasted nigella (kalonji seeds)

For the Pineapple Chutney:

500g pineapple (fresh, canned or frozen)
1 large onion, chopped finely
100g sugar
Juice of 2 limes
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly-ground mace
1 star anise
1 tsp nigella (kalonji seeds)

Method

1. To make the avocado and coriander sauce, blend all the ingredients together until super-smooth and creamy. Set aside.

2. To make the pineapple chutney, coarsely-blend the pineapple. Place into a large, non-stick pan with the sugar, lime juice, salt and onion. Cook on a medium heat, stirring frequently until thick and all the water has evaporated. This can take up to 40 minutes. Finally, add the mace, kalonji and star anise. Fill into a sterilized jar and set aside.

3. To make the radish and red onion salad, toss all the ingredients together and set aside.

4. To make the fried cauliflower and broccoli, place the vegetables in a microwave-safe plate with a splash of water and cook on high power for 3 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.

5. To make the batter, mix together all the ingredients and whisk until you get a not-too-thick batter. If it’s too thick, add a little more sparkling water.

6. Heat around 4 inches of oil in a tall pan or wok. Let it reach 180 degrees C. Place all of the vegetables and the chillies in the batter and mix until coated. One by one, tap off any excess batter and carefully drop into the hot oil. Fry the vegetables in small batches until they’re golden. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

7. Warm up your tortillas, pile all of the fillings into bowls and plates and serve everything separate at the table for everyone to build their own tacos.Vegan Masala Cauliflower and Broccoli Tacos 2Love Sanjana