Super easy – yellow split pea Dal

 

I make a really easy (lazy) version of Dal. It hardly warrants and recipe it is so easy. If you have never made or eaten dal is it well worth trying. It is in my top 5 list of comfort foods. I make it as a side dish with curry, but it can be eaten as a main dish with extras thrown in. It is always good to have some for left overs as it is makes a really quick snack and would keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I made a big batch so use a whole bag of split peas (500gm) which would serve 4 as a main dish or 10 side portions. Ingredients in bold.

 

  • Follow the instructions on the packet, which is usually to wash the peas well in cold water.
  • Add to the pan and add water. I add enough water to cover the peas plus approx 1 inch
  • Add 1 level tablespoon of stock powder. I use ‘Organic Swiss Vegetable Vegan Bouillon Powder’. You can add more stock to taste later if needed.
  • Stir, cover and bring to the boil
  • Turn down to simmer, keep covered
  • Check after 15 mins and add more water to keep the peas cover as they swell
  • You can’t really go wrong, just make sure you don’t add too much water as they need to absorb it all. Likewise you don’t want them to dry out and stick
  • Total cook time for stage 1 is around 45 mins
  • Stage 2 you need to tend them a bit more, leave covered, check every 10-15 mins and add just enough water to stop it sticking. You are aiming them to all break down and turn into a paste. Achieve this be stirring well every check. This takes around 1 hr maybe longer – you can’t over cook them so don’t worry.
  • Once they have all broken down uncover and stir really well, work them into a paste. You can decide how thick you want it, just keep cooking it with the lift off until it has thickened. Tarka dal is traditionally quite wet but for a side I like it quite thick.
  • Add salt, pepper or more stock to taste. This helps gives it a deeper flavour.

I’ve made it sounds complicated but it really isn’t! Peas, water, stock, heat, stir. 500g pack cost around 60p, they are on offer in Waitrose this week at 44p! And the best bit split yellow peas are really good for you – 1.2% fat, carbohydrates 13% (0.1% sugar), fibre 8.2%, protein 8.9% a really well balanced whole food.

 

If you want to go wild and make more effort to serve as a main dish try this recipe:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tarkadal_90055

 

 

SaveSave

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

‘Truly yummy’ Thai curry – for everyone

Thai and Indian cuisine is the easiest way to cook plant based dishes that everyone will love. By plant based I mean with no animal produce and suitable for a vegan diet, but to reserve this for vegans only would be a crying shame. I can 100% guarantee there is 0% compromise in cooking this dish without a whiff of anything animal. We have dishes that are better with meat and dishes that aren’t and this is the latter.

As I’ve mentioned before, I struggle to write down recipes as I am a ‘chuck it together’ cook, so bear with me, if anything is unclear please message me and I’ll edit the post.

We love a rich, spicy Thai red or green curry so I’ve tried long and hard to replicate the taste and texture you get in a true Thai curry. Watching the chefs on the beach in Thailand chucking in handfuls of herbs and spices I realised our problem was the lack of ingredients, I have endeavoured to achieve similar depth of flavour from products that are available and affordable.

Ingredients marked in bold:

Serves 4:

  • Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat, add 1 medium onion – finely chopped
  • Add 1-2 fresh red or green chillies – chopped into four pieces ( I leave all seeds in but chop into large pieces so I can pick them out). 2 red chillies makes a fairly hot curry, so tune down to taste.
  • Add 3-4 garlic cloves – crushed and chopped
  • Cook until onion softened, watch that garlic doesn’t burn – add water if it dries too quickly.
  • Bart has been a huge help to me in this see – http://bart-ingredients.co.uk. In simple terms it is preserved versions of the freshly chopped ingredients. You can use fresh but I prefer to have things in store and use whenever I need them
  • Add 1.5 heaped teaspoons of each Bart Coriander, Galangal and Lemon grass paste
  • Add a splash of water if it is dry or sticking, basically just keep it wet
  • Add about a thumbs worth of peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • Add 4-5 Kaffir lime leaves – Don’t sweat if you don’t have these
  • Add 0.5 teaspoon of each ground Cumin and Cayenne pepper
  • * secret ingredient – add a teaspoon of syrup from stem ginger. I keep stem ginger in the fridge as it adds amazing flavour to dishes but if you don’t have stem ginger add a good pinch of sugar. Wherever there is spice, sweet gives perfect balance. Thai would use Palm sugar.
  • Add 1 medium/large sweet potato – peeled and chopped into approx 1cm2
  • Add 1.5 teaspoon of Bouillon vegetable vegan stock
  • I assume you’ve been stirring all of this as you’ve gone along!
  • Add enough water to nearly cover the mix 2/3. Enough to cook the sweet potato, not too wet
  • That is your curry base prepared
  • Taste it at this point – it should be hotter than you want, you’ll be adding coconut milk so this is the intense version. Just check it has deep but balanced flavour, add any flavour you think is missing. If you’ve added the above I doubt that will be the case.
  • Bring to the boil, turn down to simmer and cover for 15 mins ish – basically long enough until the potato has cooked and most of liquid has gone. You can’t really overcook, so go longer than less if you are not sure. Check occasionally, stir and add more water if needed
  • Get the rice on it takes around 15-25 mins. We love sticky rice so use Jasmine. Follow the instructions on the packet. I cook rice to absorbs water rather than having to drain water off, you can achieve this by adding water as it cooks, then when it is 7/8ths cooked take it off the heat and leave with the lid on so it continues to absorb and cook but doesn’t stick and burn.
  • With the rice cooking the last cooking job is the veg. I cook the main veg for the dish separately from the sauce. This prevents the veg going mushy and the sauce going runny.
  • You can put in whatever veg you like but our favourite for this dish is aubergine and mushroom. Cut 1 large aubergine into quarters longwise, cut approx 0.75 cm triangle slice from the middle (to remove bitter pips bit), cut each quarter into four long slices length wise, then cut sidewards into thirds. You can cut into any shape really but this works for me.
  • Cut loads of mushrooms, I used 6 medium closed cups into slices, again any shape works.
  • In a large bowl, add oil ( I use cold pressed Rapeseed) and seasoning – either salt and pepper, 7 Thai spice or Seasons all – whatever you have. Toss veg well until coated
  • Heat a pan on a high heat, I use an casted skillet for frying, add the veg in batches and fry quickly to cook it just enough to taste. (See pic 2)
  • I also serve green veg with the curry. Green beans work well, but broccoli is just as good or peas work. I never show green veg water. Again I get the skillet really hot, add finely chopped veg dry, just as they brown I add a tablespoon of apple juice and cover for 2-3 mins. Check, stir and remove when done. This is super secret trick, veg tastes amazing
  • So now you have your sauce prepared, your veg to add, greens ready and your rice cooked. Now bring it all together
  • If your curry sauce is still quite wet I would cook it with the lid off until more water has evaporated. It should be wet but not with excess liquid otherwise your curry will be too watery. (See pic 3)
  • Add the cooked aubergine and mushroom, stir well then add a 400ml can of coconut milk, give it a good stir and heat until ready to serve. I try not to boil coconut milk, just heat it to serve
  • Serve the rice, curry and greens on the side. Add fresh coriander if you are really keen but no one will notice otherwise ( See pic 4)
  • Watch the plates clear before your eyes (See pic 5)

*You could serve with fish if you have a mixed group for dinner, but I promise you won’t need to.


 

 

 

 

SaveSave

Better than dairy? – try simple cashew nut cream

Is there a good alternative to dairy cream? Simple answer is yes. As part of my research into making plant based, veggie or vegan versions our favourite dishes I wanted to find an alternative to cream and sour cream. I hit the jackpot and found cashew nut cream and I have never looked back. We use it in every instance we would have used dairy cream, in savoury and sweet dishes. It is delicious, super simple and healthier than dairy cream. It is also handy for lactose intolerant folk!

  • Double cream contains: 50% fat, 31% saturated and 1.5% protein.
  • Cashew cream contains: 33% fat, 6% saturated and 15% protein (based on equilivant thickness to double cream)

This is where I believe being open minded and looking at other approaches to food really gives us the best of both worlds. You don’t have to be a vegan to make use of vegan recipes. In fact why consider it vegan at all, it is simply a nut cream and can be part of any diet.

How to make it – Using plain, wholefood cashew nuts, not the salted or roasted version. I buy Tesco or Waitrose organic cashew nuts https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/266565966 but non organic works just as well https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/271666995 you can also use cashew pieces which are sometimes cheaper.

  1. The quantity of nuts depends how much cream you want to make. 50 grams of nuts makes around 75 grams of cream.
  2. Soak the nuts in cold water for around 2 hrs, (you can leave them for longer). Cover them in water plus some to allow for swelling. They are ready when they have swelled up. If you are in a hurry you can use very hot water and soak for around 30 mins.
  3. Once soaked drain the water and rinse.
  4. Add enough water to just cover the nuts. You can adjust the amount of water depending on the desired thickness of the cream. Remember you can add but you can’t take away.
  5. Add to a blender, the better the blades and power the smoother the cream. I use a Nutraninja  which is the best kitchen gadget we own.
  6. Blend until it is smooth and creamy. 1-2mins. It should not have any bits however small, if it does just keep blending. If it doesn’t go smooth it is because you didn’t soak the nuts for long enough, you added too much water initially or your processor blades are not sharp enough.
  7. Use straight away or store is an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you find it has thickened in the fridge just stir in more water before serving.

We use it in Mexican dishes, to thicken soup, to make a lovely cream curry, instead of yogurt or cream in desserts. I use it just as it comes but you can add flavours if you want to go wild:

Optional savory flavorings:
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Dash paprika
  • Dash onion powder
Optional sweet flavorings:
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons minced, fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom

Needing to gain weight is not a problem that most of us have but if that is the case, especially for someone convalescing, it is packed with calories, good fats and protein and can be easily added to smoothies and soaps to increase the calorie count.

You can use raw, shelled sunflower seeds in place of the cashews for a nut-free version. Pine nuts, macadamia nuts, and almonds will all work with the same amount of soaking time.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Love veg

It is official, vegetables are amazing! We used to eat peas or broccoli with dinner, the odd carrot, a salad on a hot day. I would add veg as a side dish as an obligation to my ‘5 a day’ and had very little regard for vegetables in their own right.

Now I find veg exciting and I am proud to make them the main event. Swiss chard, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, artichokes, spring greens, beetroot, spinach, pak choi, courgette, leeks, brussels sprouts, fennel, rhubarb, chives flowers, the list go on and on.

Buy fresh and buy ‘real’ varieties, try things you’ve never tried before. We started growing our own veg and as ‘really’ lazy gardeners we found it very easy, you can grow veg in containers or in beds, throw some seeds in or buy some 50p plants from the market and see what takes. The photo below is veg I picked from the garden tonight, picked, chopped, oven roasted for 6 mins, delicious.

How you cook veg is important. I hardly ever use water and my favourite is roasting or dry frying. Try roasting curly kale, it is amazing. Take a bag of chopped curly kale, put in a roasting tray in an oven on about 180C, after 6-8 mins check and toss, it is done when the edges as crispy. Roast a tray of green veg, broccoli, sprouts, leeks, kale, stir spinach in at the end, you will be amazed by the flavours. The great thing is about veg is that you can’t under cook it, the majority of veg can be eaten raw so you are free to play. Pick, chop, cook, serve.

#10adayfeelingsmug

The EOr

SaveSave

SaveSave

Knock out roast dinner alternative

I made this as a Christmas dinner alternative to the amazing free range goose we had from http://www.goodmansgeese.co.uk

It was truly knockout. Great hot and great cold the next day. I served with roasties, braised red cabbage, roasted brussel sprouts and fig and plum sauce. Really easy to make. I used Jus-rol shortcrust pastry (which out of interest is suitable for vegans)

https://www.bosh.tv/recipes/portobello-mushroom-wellington the website is also very cool as it shows a video for each step which I found really helpful.

I would eat this any time of the year, it was a smash success!!!

SaveSave