Mexican Mushroom Chilli

White button mushrooms

Serves 3

This recipe gives vegetarians and vegans a delicious, fresh and spicy Mexican chilli that’s full of flavour. It’s easy and quick to prepare and it can be made ahead and stored in the fridge or freezer until needed. It has quite strong flavours so I like to serve it with plain white rice.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Mexican chilli seasoning mix made up of: 1 tsp ancho chilli powder, 1 tsp chipotle chilli powder, 1 tsp mulato chilli powder, 1 tsp pasilla chilli powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, ½ tsp ground black pepper and ½ tsp salt
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (use Mutti tomato pulp if you can get it)
150ml stock made with vegan stock powder
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
10 to 12 quite large white button mushrooms, stalks removed, wiped clean and cut into bite sized pieces
1 red or green pepper, deseeded and cut into bite sized pieces
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and sauté the onion until softened and starting to brown at the edges. This will take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a further minute. Add the Mexican chilli seasoning mix and stir fry for 1 minute. Add a splash of stock if it starts to catch.

Add the tinned tomatoes, stock and vinegar, stir to mix well and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Add the peppers and kidney beans, cover and continue to cook for a final 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needs be.

The dish can now be cooled and stored in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen until needed. To serve, return to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Beetroot Bourguignon

Beetroot bourguignon lr

Serves 4

“Bourguignon” is normally a beef dish. But it doesn’t have to be. The rich flavours of wine, mushrooms, onions, garlic and thyme work wonderfully well with the muskiness of beetroot to give an earthy flavour that even meat eaters rave about.

This dish is vegan heaven, and I defy anyone not to love it! It is quite rich so needs a carbohydrate to go with it. Virtually any sort of potatoes work well but I particularly like it with puff pastry, to make a deconstructed pie.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 rounded tablespoons flour
½ bottle (375 ml) vegan red wine
400 ml vegan stock
60ml balsamic
1 rounded tablespoon tomato puree
1 rounded tsp Marmite
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
Salt to taste
1 rounded tsp dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 beetroots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
5 to 6 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
5 to 6 celery sticks, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
12 or so quite large white button mushrooms, stalks removed, wiped clean and cut into bite sized pieces

Heat the oil and butter in a large pan and add the onions and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to colour at the edges. That will take about 15 minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine a splash at a time, making sure the mixture stays at a simmer. Stir in the stock, balsamic, tomato puree and Marmite and return everything to a gentle simmer. Leave to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. This helps to cook off the alcohol.

Add all of the other ingredients, bring to a simmer, cover and cook in the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the vegetables are softened. Check the pan from time to time. The sauce shouldn’t be too loose but add a splash or two of boiling water if it looks like it’s getting too thick. At the end of the cooking time check the seasoning.

At this stage the dish can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed.

When you are ready to serve, reheat gently in a pan on the hob.

Vegetable Curry in a Slow Cooker

Curry powder

Serves 4

This dish is fab! It’s simple to make, full of goodness and tastes divine. It is vegetarian and vegan too if you make sure the coconut milk and stock are vegan. Why eat meat when vegetables taste this good?

For the spice blend…
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cayenne
2 tsp garam masala
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods crushed in a pestle and mortar

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
2 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp chopped garlic
Spice blend (as above)
2 vegetable stock cubes or stock pots dissolved in a little boiling water
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of reduced fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt
3 peppers – 1 each of red, yellow and green – deseeded and cut into bite sized chunks
2 large courgettes cut into bite sized chunks
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
5 large celery sticks trimmed cut into bite sized chunks
1 small purple turnip peeled and cut into dice

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion until softened and well browned. This will take 20 to 30 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the spice blend and stir-fry for a further minute, adding a splash of stock if it starts to catch. Add the stock, tomatoes, coconut milk, vinegar and salt and bring to a simmer.

Add all of the vegetables and bring to a good simmer.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

The vegetables may throw off a lot of liquid. After the 5 hours are up, if there is too much liquid, ladle it off into a small saucepan and boil it uncovered to reduce its volume, then return the thickened liquid to the slow cooker. Cover and bring the curry back to a gentle simmer before serving with plain white boiled rice.

Puy Lentil Curry

Puy lentil curry lr

Serves 4 as part of an Indian meal

If you are pushed for time and you want to cook a delicious curry, look no further. What’s more, this is a vegan and vegetarian recipe that even carnivores will love.

For the spice mix…
1 ½ tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground ginger, garam masala, fenugreek and turmeric
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
12 cardamom pods, crushed in a pestle and mortar

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
250g Puy lentils, rinsed under running water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 portion of spice mix, as above
250ml vegan stock
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Optional – a pinch of cayenne and/or a pinch of sugar

Place the lentils in a large pan of unsalted water. Cover and simmer until just cooked, approx. 35 to 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a wide based pan and sauté the onions until softened and well coloured, approx. 15 to 20 minutes. Add the garlic and chillies and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for a further minute, adding a splash of stock if it starts to catch. Add the stock, tomatoes and red wine vinegar and simmer, covered for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt, cayenne and/or a pinch of sugar if needs be.

Stir the cooked lentils into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning again; lentils gobble up salt!

Spiced Chickpeas

Spiced Chickpeas lr

Serves 4

This is a delicious and wholesome vegan dish. It’s quick to prepare too, which is always a bonus.

Serve the chickpeas with vegetables, leaves or roasted potatoes, whatever takes your fancy.

For the spice mix…
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1 portion of spice mix, as above
125 ml water
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Splash of vinegar (optional)
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed under cold running water
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

Sauté the onions in the oil until softened and slightly coloured, approx. 15 minutes. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for 1 minute, adding a splash of water if the mixture starts to catch. Add the water and tomatoes, bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need to add a pinch of sugar or a splash of vinegar, depending on the sharpness of the tomatoes.

Add the chickpeas and mint and gently simmer, covered, for a further 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning again if needs be.

Long Grain White Rice

Long grain white rice

Serves 4

A lot of people seem to have problems cooking rice. They even resort to buying over-priced pouches of pre-cooked rice. You don’t need to do that! It’s actually dead easy to get perfect results every time.

I allow 2 ½ tablespoons of uncooked rice per person, so this recipe serves 4.

Salt
10 tablespoons of long grain white rice

Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the rice and return to a simmer. Briefly stir gently to make sure the grains aren’t sticking to the base of the pan.

Simmer for 19 minutes. During this time white foam will rise to the surface. This is starch and you should skim it off a couple of times. At the same time give the rice a quick, gentle stir.

After the 19 minutes is up, strain the rice into a strainer and wash it under cold running water until cold. This will stop the cooking process. Place the strainer over a bowl and leave it to drain at room temperature for 1 hour. After that, tip the rice into a bowl, cover in cling film and sore in the fridge until needed.

To reheat, peel back the cling film and fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains. Leave the cling film loosely in place and heat in a microwave on full power for 4 to 5 minutes. The exact time will depend on the power of your microwave. And voila. As promised you will have perfectly cooked rice.

Sweet Yellow Rice

basmati-rice-lr

Serves 4

This is a wonderful, rich rice dish that is subtly flavoured. Its sweetness makes it a perfect accompaniment to spicy Indian dishes, such as my Indian Baked Chicken. It is started off on the hob and then baked in the oven at a low heat to give perfect results every time.

The recipe assumes you are using salted butter. If you are using unsalted butter or ghee, increase the salt to ½ teaspoon. If you replace the butter with oil the dish is vegan and still very good.

Basmati rice measured to the 375ml (12 fl oz) level in a measuring jug
75g (3 oz) butter
12 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
9cm (3 ½ inch) cinnamon stick
450ml (15 fl oz) water
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
¼ tsp salt
80g (3 oz) sugar
30g (1 oz) flaked almonds
2 tablespoons sultanas

It is important to prepare the rice properly before you start cooking. Wash the rice in several changes of water to remove some of its starch content. Leave it to soak in a large bowl of water for 30 minutes, then drain it for 20 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Melt the butter in a wide, heavy flameproof pan and, when hot, add the cardamom and cinnamon. Stir them for a few seconds and add the rice. Stir and sauté the rice gently for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat down slightly if it begins to catch. Add the water, turmeric and salt. Stir gently until all of the water has been absorbed – the rice should be just simmering, not boiling. Add the sugar, almonds and sultanas and stir to mix. Cover the pan tightly and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

When the time is up, tip the rice into a serving dish. Fluff it up with a fork, remove the cinnamon and it is ready to serve.

This rice dish reheats very well. It can be cooked well ahead of time and stored in a refrigerator for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve, simply reheat it in a microwave for 5 to 7 minutes.

Puy Lentils with Indian Spices

puy-lentils

Serves 4

Continuing my Indian theme, these spiced lentils are fantastic as part of any Indian meal. And any leftover lentils are excellent eaten cold for lunch the next day.

For the Fragrant Stock…

500ml water
12 green cardamoms, crushed
8 cloves
6 bay leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pinch sugar

Simmer, uncovered, all of the ingredients together for 40 minutes. Strain to remove the solids and add enough water to make up to 500ml.

For the finished dish…

250g Puy lentils
4 tbs vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 level tsp ground coriander
1 level tsp ground cumin
1 level tsp ground ginger
1 generous pinch cayenne
1 ½ tbs tomato ketchup
1 to 2 tsp garam masala (depending on its strength)
30 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
Water (or any remaining liquid from the cooked lentils)
2 tbs fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 tbs mint leaves, finely chopped
1 level tsp salt
Juice of ½ a small lemon

Wash the lentils thoroughly and add them to the boiling stock. Simmer until cooked, approx 30 – 40 minutes. When ready, drain if needs be to remove any excess moisture but reserve the liquid.

Heat the oil in a wok until hot. Stir fry the onion until softened and browning then add the garlic and stir fry for a further 30 seconds. Add the coriander, cumin, ginger and cayenne and stir fry for another 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato ketchup then add the garam masala and tomatoes and stir in enough water (or lentils cooking liquid) to make things mobile. Add the coriander, mint and salt and stir to heat through. Add the lentils and stir to mix thoroughly. Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, then season to taste with salt, lemon juice, cayenne and sugar.

Courgette Curry

chopped-courgettes-lr

Serves 4 as part of an Indian meal

This dish has a mild heat. It is vegetarian and vegan.

Vegetable oil
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 large or 4 medium courgettes cut into bite sized pieces
Large bunch of finely chopped fresh coriander
1 green or red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp of turmeric
1 ½ tsp of ground cumin
¼ tsp of cayenne
1 small can of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp of finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Salt to taste

Heat the oil and fry the garlic until medium-brown. Add all of the other ingredients, season with salt, cover and simmer until the courgettes are tender (about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the heat and size of the courgette pieces). There shouldn’t be much liquid in this dish, so uncover and simmer away the liquid at the end, if necessary.

As with most Indian recipes, this dish likes to be made ahead and reheated when needed.

Pineapple Curry

pineapple-low-res

Serves 6 as part of an Indian menu

I’ve cooked this dish for a lot of people over the years and they all rave about it. Most ask for the recipe!

This dish is vegetarian and vegan.

For the marinade…
½ tsp mustard powder
½ tsp turmeric
2 tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 large pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed (approx 800g cut weight)

For the finished dish…
2/3 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
½ tsp mustard powder
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
½ tsp salt
100 ml water
3 tbs vegetable oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
3 bay leaves
3 dried red chillies
150ml coconut milk
Fresh coriander, chopped

Mix all of the marinade ingredients except the pineapple into a paste with a little water. Stir in the pineapple and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

Blend the desiccated coconut, mustard, chillies, salt and water to a puree in a blender.

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds until they start to pop. Add the bay leaves followed by the dried red chillies. Stir fry for 1 minute. Add the pineapple and gently stir fry for approx 10 minutes. Don’t let the pineapple over-soften.

Add the coconut puree and coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Check the seasoning.

At this stage the curry can be cooled and stored in a fridge until needed.

Reheat the dish gently and garnish with the chopped coriander just before serving.