Archive for November, 2014

With the onset of cooler nights I want my dinners to pack warmth.  The best and most effective way to add warmth to your dinner is by adding spice.  There are so many different types of spice to add warmth to a meal that you can pretty much tailor make the flavours to suit you. Creating an Curry from scratch is actually quite simple and is a great way of creating food with spice.

There are times when I use holy the trinity of aromatic spices: ground cumin, ground coriander and turmeric to create a taste of the ancient world in a beef tagine or Garam masala chicken dish.  If I want something to have a bright, chilli-citrus hit then it will be a Thai prawn curry with chilli, lemongrass and lime.  But there are times when only the South Asian flavours which combine the taste of the aromatic spices with the rounded warmth of ground ginger, the pungent heat of mustard seeds and cayenne pepper are sometimes the flavours I want in a beef or chicken curry.  These spice blends don’t always have to be made from scratch – shop around and find one that works for you.

To create a Meat-free Monday dish, substitute the beef of chicken for aubergine chunks.  The aubergine when cooked in large chunks holds its own without becoming mushy; it retains a meaty-kind of texture and does not disappoint.

The lemon pickle can sound frivolous but makes the world of difference to this dish and is super easy to create.

Aubergine Curry with Cardamom Rice and lemon pickle

Ingredients:

1 Aubergine per person

1 large onion

2 large tomatoes

1 tblspn tomato paste

2 cloves of garlic

1 tblspn curry powder of choice

 

3 cardamom pods

Basmati rice

For the lemon pickle:

1 lemon

1 tspn of mustard seeds

1 tspn of turmeric

Glug of vegetable oil

 

Natural yoghurt

 

01a995efcf64056fc02386cfcb101fa257cf2210a5Aubergine Curry

1st: Cut the aubergine into large chunks and drizzle in olive oil.  Either griddle or fry the aubergine chunks.

2nd: Slice the onions and fry until soft and add chopped garlic.  Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan along with the tomato paste.  Let this simmer for 5 mins before adding the aubergine.

3rd: Add the tblspn of curry powder to the saucepan and mix well.  Allow to simmer gently for a few minutes before sprinkling coriander over and serving.

 

Basmati Rice

I prepare my rice via the absorption method usually adding a few pressed cardamom pods and or cinnamon stick to the pan.

Lemon Pickle

Slice a whole lemon down its length and cut each half into quarters.  Cut the lemon into small, thin pieces.  Remove any seeds.

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds.  Once the mustard seeds start popping add the turmeric and turn in the lemon pieces.

 

Serve with a generous dollop of yoghurt.

 

The weather seems to have finally cooled down.  And as the nights draw in, the food I want to cook and eat celebrates the mid-autumn vegetable haul: plump pumpkins, purple plums, gorgeous gourds and the last of the summery fruits.

With pumpkins hogging the limelight in October and being resigned to be carved into jack-o-lanterns or used to flavour and thicken soups (puchero) I prefer to turn my attentions to other gourds and the most valued player of the gourd world is the butternut squash.

Their golden orange hue reminding you that they’ve been soaking up the summer sun readying themselves for the autumn harvest.    

The butternut is a truly versatile vegetable.  You can puree it, roast it, steam it, mash it, grill it – great in soups but also works as a vegetable side dish, or even as a main-course ingredient.

In the past I have given recipes for Roast Garlic and Butternut Squash soup and Butternut Squash Risotto.  I have also included a photo of a Roast butternut squash and lentil salad with chilli and rocket leaves from a cookery weekend at Food at 52 in London.  However, today I have discovered the wonders of Moroccon spices with roasted squashes.

roasted butternut squash

Moroccan Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash

1st: Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.

2nd: Cut the squash into quarters (so that they cook quicker) and place them cut-side up into an ovenproof dish.  Dot with butter and season well.

3rd: Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, cumin seeds and sprinkle with dried chilli flakes.  Use paprika or chilli powder as an alternative.  Roast in the oven for 45mins at 210˚C.

4th: After 30mins, take them out and add a good sprinkling of sultanas and cook for a further 15mins.

I served my roasted squash with roasted chicken thighs that were cooked together with the squash in the same oven dish until their skins were brown and crisp.  Served immediately with some of the pan juices spooned over.

A juicy and fragrant Lamb or beef tagine served with the roasted squash must be delicious.

 Definitely one to try again!