‘Indian food touches your soul before it touches your taste buds’
My wonderful husband Mr B, recently booked a tasting menu at a restaurant in New York for our anniversary. When I got there we realized that the vegetarian menu had a lot of dairy in it, which I don’t eat and so they offered me the ‘off the menu’ vegan option. This ‘off the books’ menu was out of this world and Mr. B said better than his non-vegan menu. The layering of flavors was profoundly deep, it tasted smoky, rich and complex. Like a really good Burgundy wine.
As with every amazing dish we discover, I decided that I would make it at home the next day. Mr. B says that is the advantage of having a wife whose favorite room is the kitchen. I decided to put my own spin on this dish and create a culture clash by placing it in a Chinese steamed bun and serving it with pea shoots and pickled chili.
Try it with rice, roti, as a canape, on top of a chickpea pancake or in a bao bun.
- 5 cup mushrooms sliced
- ½ onion, cubed
- ½ cup tomatoes, cubed
- ½ inch ginger, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 10 cashew nuts
- 5 tbsp. oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 inch cinnamon
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ cup coconut milk
- Heat oil in a pan, add the cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf and let infuse
- Blend the tomato, ginger, garlic, onion and cashew to make the masala
- Add the masala to the pan and cook down, add the garam masala, salt and smoked paprika
- Add the mushrooms and mix in, cook for 5-7 minutes
- If the mixture gets to thick add half a cup of water
- Add coconut milk
- Serve hot
‘I’ve always loved how food can preserve a memory’
My family loves a good Chinese meal, which we would gravitate towards for birthdays and celebrations. My grandma, mum and I would love eating spring rolls, no one else really did, so we would basically get the whole portion to ourselves. We don’t eat so many Chinese meals these days, nor spring rolls, but I do gravitate towards them when I am feeling home sick and so decided to make a healthier version, baked not fried and full of tasty vegetables.
This is actually really easy, as it is a quick stir-fry of pretty much any vegetable you have in the fridge, wrapped in phyllo pastry. Mr. B won’t eat Spring Rolls in a restaurant but ate 3 out of the 4 I made, so this is a Mr. B approved recipe.
- ½ cabbage, shredded
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce, tamari
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 6 sheets, phyllo pastry, thawed
- Stir fry the cabbage, carrot, spring onions in a little oil, adding the pepper and tamari, leave to cool
- Roll out one of the phyllo sheets, spread oil over both sides
- Add 2 tbsp. filling into one of the sides and fold up into a spring roll
- Bake in a preheated oven (350f) until golden brown
- Serve with sweet chilli sauce
‘I’d rather have a cupboard full of herbs than a closet full of heals’
This is a beautiful dish using vibrant herbs to bring the dish to life. It is an old levantine dish, native to the middle east but widely eaten all over the world. I substituted the bulgar wheat here for quinoa on my husbands suggestion (Mr B also known as the reluctant foodie, is reluctant no more…)
Apart from cooking the quinoa, the rest of the prep is just chopping the vegetables and herbs. An easy quick after work recipe, good as lunch, dinner or a side to a summer BBQ.
- ½ cup quinoa
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ tsp. salt and pepper
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- ½ cup mint, chopped
- ½ cup coriander, chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 English cucumber, diced
- Bring one cup of water to the boil
- Meanwhile toast quinoa dry in a frying pan, till it gives off a toasty aroma
- Once toasted, pour the quinoa in the boiling water
- Turn down the heat and simmer until the water is absorbed
- Remove from heat and allow to cool
- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper
- Combine the herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and quinoa, mix and add dressing
These are boiled nuts…But look closer….and a little closer still and you’ll find a hidden treasure trove of travel and childhood memories
These boiled nuts are a snack that my grandma used to make in Africa, the recipe and tradition of which she brought to the UK (some say the nuts too). I have only ever heard this dish being called Balala, which after some research (thanks google) I derided must come from a child’s interpretation of Bambara, which is what these nuts are called
This dish is originally from West Africa and so has made it’s way all over the world through the immigrant families of colonized nations who made there way through Africa to other far flung destinations and of course the recipe also travelled with the slave trade and so can still be found in may homes and restaurants in the southern united states
The process of soaking and boiling takes a while, but the result is a childhood memory and of a loved one no longer with us
So I’ll take this opportunity to say once more, thank you Bigmama for your love, caring, your warm embrace may no longer be available to hold us close but your recipes show us your journey, your strength and your eternal love. Happy 95th Birthday
- 1 1/2 cups salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 2 pounds raw peanuts in the shell
- Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 2 gallons water in a 3-gallon stockpot; add peanuts. (Weigh down peanuts, if desired, with a large plate or lid to ensure they’re fully submerged.) Soak 8 hours or overnight
- Drain water; refill pot with 2 gallons water and remaining 1 cup salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 5 to 8 hours or until peanuts are tender, adding water as needed to keep peanuts covered; stir occasionally. (South Carolina-style peanuts are very soft, but some cooks prefer them al dente.) When the peanuts have boiled 3 hours, check for texture and saltiness. If the peanuts are not salty enough, add salt in 1/4-cup increments, turn off heat, and let soak 1 hour. Check peanuts for seasoning every hour.
- Remove from heat, and cool 1 hour.
- Drain and eat immediately or store (in the shell) in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. Boiled peanuts will keep 7 days in the refrigerator, several months in the freezer.
‘Work hard is silence and let success make the noise’
This is a quick stir fry recipe, but the mustard, curry leaves and turmeric give the depth of a dish that has been cooked for days. This was one of my grandma’s side dishes, so humble and inconspicuous on the table, but so wholesome and tasty. I like it as a main. My grandma was similar to this, she was humble and tried to fade into the background, but was the centre of our world, giving advice, keeping us fed, happy and cared for.
- 1 small green cabbage
- 1-3 chilies (to taste), finely chopped
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
- ½ tsp. mustard seeds
- 7-8 curry leaves
- 1 tsp. mustard powder
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 -2 tsp. salt
- 3 tsp. lemon juice
- Shred the cabbage, place in a bowl and add the chilies
- Put the oil in a wok over a low heat, add the mustard seeds, when they pop, add the curry leaves (be careful as they will splutter)
- Add the cabbage, stir fry until it has wilted, 2-3 minutes
- Add the turmeric and mustard powder
- Add salt and lemon juice, stir and serve
‘Winter is a season of recovery and preparation’.
Stroganoff is an old classic Russian recipe from the 18th century, that has become popular around the world. You can imagine people eating this dish on a cold snowy day, which is why it has become so popular as a warming winter dish in other places and the USA is no exception.
I took this particular recipe from Healthy Living James as featured in Vegan Food and Living. It is rich from the coconut milk, substituting for the cream and has deep flavors from the smoked paprika, dijon mustard and garlic. You can use it for canapés, eat it on toast for breakfast or with rice for dinner and it only takes 30 minutes to make.
- 1kg mushrooms, sliced
- 2 red onions, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tins of unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Large handful of parsley
- 3 tbsp. coconut oil
- Salt and pepper
- Heat a large pot with oil, adding the garlic, onions and mushrooms with a large pinch of salt and pepper
- Cook for 5 minutes, stirring as you go along
- Once the mushrooms are soft, add the coconut milk, paprika, mustard and lemon juice and stir well
- Cook on a high heat to allow the sauce to thicken, cook for 20-25 minutes of until thick and reduced, keeping stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick
- Finally add freshly chopped parsley
‘Food has a story, a history, relationships’
I adapted this recipe from Season by Nik Sharma, using Quorn to make it vegetarian.
Kebabs have a long and interesting history, and mostly trace their origin to the influence of Mughlai cuisine. This cuisine is strongly influenced by the cuisine of Central Asia, the region where the early Turko-Mongol Mughal Emperors originally hailed from in the 16th century. The deep spices and meat where seen as luxurious foods and used for royal dinners and celebrations. In our family, meat was also seen like that as my grandma was vegetarian and so it wasn’t an every day occurrence.
This is an easy recipe, it’s just a mix and fry. You can bake them too, but they tend to dry out a little due to their being little fat in the mixture.
- 1lb vegetarian mince
- 1 cup finely diced onion
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- 2 chilis, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp. fresh lime
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. coriander powder
- 1tsp dried mint
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. dried sage
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- Oil for frying
- In a large bowl, mix the mince, onion, egg, chickpea flour, chilies, garlic, ginger, lime juice, cayenne, coriander, mint, cinnamon, sage and salt
- Mix thoroughly
- Divide into 10 portions
- Heat 2 tbsp. oil and fry the kebabs in batches, adding more oil as needed until golden brown, 3-5 minutes each side
- Drain on paper towels
- Serve with chutney, on their own or with naan