Dahl Curry, Basmati Rice with Cucumber and Mint Riata

A wonderfully spiced and authentic tasting lentil curry with carrot and potatoes. Served with Basmati rice and a delicious cucumber and mint riata.

Sorry I haven’t written many recipes lately as I have been extremely busy, however I think I have made up for the delay with this one. Tastes like it is straight from a very good Indian restaurant, and it is so easy to make!

I also served this with shop bough roti breads, these are entirely optional.

Serves two

Cooking time 45-50 minutes

Ingredients and Method

Broken down into three sections – curry, rice and riata. It is best to soak the rice before you start, add make the riata and finish the rice as the lentils simmer.

Dahl curry

100g red lentils – rinsed thoroughly

50g potato – peel, cut into 3-4cm cubes, pre cook in boiling water for 6-7 minutes

3 red onions – diced

1 carrot – thinly slice on diagonal

15g ginger – peel and grate

6 gloves garlic – crushed 

5 green cardamom pods

5 cloves

6 fresh curry leaves

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp ground fenugreek

1/4 tsp asafoetida

1 bay leaf

2 round tomatoes – cut into 1/8ths

2 sliced green chillies

1/2 tsp salt

water – approx. 500ml of water, enough to submerge lentils.

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

3tbs roughly chopped coriander leaf

Method: Start by heating the vegetable oil over a medium heat, once hot add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and the curry leaves. The leaves should sizzle and keep heating until the mustard seeds start to pop, a bit like popcorn.

Add the onion, chilli, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, cloves and cardamom pods then fry, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until onions soften and start to colour.

Add the lentils, turmeric, fenugreek and asafoetida then stir well until combined. Fry for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently.

Now add approx. 500ml of water (around the same volume as mixture in the pan, enough to submerge the lentils) and bring to the boil, stirring frequently so lentils don’t catch on the pan. Once boiled and add the pre cooked potatoes, carrot and salt then cover pan and simmer for around 35-40 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent lentils catching and burning.

You may want to adjust the seasoning or thickness of the sauce to your preference, either by adding more water or cooking uncovered for a few minutes to cook the liquid off. Before serving add the sliced tomatoes and coriander – cooking just long enough to warm the tomatoes through but not long enough to cook them (not long enough that skins start to peel).

Ladle into bowls or Balti dishes and enjoy!

Basmati rice

120g basmati rice – rinse well and soak in water for 30 minutes before cooking

Method: soak the rinsed rice in water for around 30 minutes, this plumps up the rice and makes a real difference.

Once soaked cook the rice in the same volume of water as the rice in a covered pan for 10-12 minutes or until rice absorbs all the water.

Fluff up the rice before serving.

 

Cucumber and Mint Riata

150g greek yogurt

1/4 lime – juice only

40g cucumber – peel, deseed, finely dice

5-6 mint leaves – bruise then chop

salt – just a pinch

Method: start by peeling, deseeding then finely dicing the cucumber. Many recipes will call for this to be grated, however I prefer the texture of the diced cucumber. Lay the diced cucumber on a clean kitchen towel or absorbent paper and the place more on top. Press gently and leave for 10-15 minutes to remove excess liquid.

In a bowl mix the yogurt, lime juice, cucumber, mint and a pinch of salt. Cover and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

This is best eaten the same day but will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days – any leftovers make a great dip for chips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomato Conchiglie with creamy béchamel and crispy cheese topping

Pasta shells cooked in a delicious tomato sauce, topped with béchamel sauce and cheddar cheese then finished under a hot grill.

 

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Serves two people

Preparation and cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients and method

200g dried Conchiglie – cooked to al dente as per packet instructions

150g mature cheddar cheese – grated 

75g butter

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 heaped dessert spoon plain flour

Approx. 500ml semi skimmed milk

Dried oregano – 1 tsp for tomato sauce, 1/3 tsp for béchamel 

1 tsp dried parsley

4 round tomatoes

4 cloves garlic

1 stick celery

1 red bell pepper

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp tomato puree

Black pepper for grinding

Sea salt – to taste

You need a food processor or mini chopper for the tomato sauce

 

To make the tomato sauce

In a large flat non stick frying pan dry fry over a medium heat, 4 tomatoes, 4 cloves garlic, 1 stick celery and 1 red bell pepper, turning occasionally until charred.

Remove from the pan and allow to cool on a chopping board. Then remove the garlic skins and the stalks/seeds from the bell pepper.

Transfer into a mini chopper along with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp brown sugar, 2 tsp tomato puree, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Blitz until a smooth sauce is formed, set aside ready to cook.

To make the béchamel sauce

Melt approx. 75g butter in a sauce pan then add 1 heaped dessert spoon of flour and stir into a paste.

Add a small volume of milk, 1/3 tsp dried oregano, 1 bay leaf, 4-5 turns of a pepper grinder and stir well until a smooth sauce is formed.

Increase heat slightly and add approx. 250ml of milk, stirring well to keep a smooth sauce (Tip: you can use a whisk or silicone spatula to help keep sauce smooth).

Keep stirring as the milk heats and the sauce thickens, once it becomes thick add another 150ml milk and keep stirring as sauce heats again. Bring the sauce to the boil, if the sauce is too thick add a little more milk, stir well and bring back to the boil then fish out the bay leaf and remove the pan from the heat – set aside ready to add to the dish.

With a béchamel you want to keep adding milk whilst heating the sauce until it no longer thickens as it reaches boiling point. I have listed the milk as 500ml, however you may need slightly less or more – cooking a béchamel is one of those things that it is difficult to list an exact quantity for.

 

Cooking the dish

Start by cooking the pasta to al dente as per packet instructions, then drain and set aside ready to add to the pan.

In a deep wide frying pan add the blended tomato sauce and gently heat through until it bubbles and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add the pasta to the tomato sauce, stir well and simmer the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes.

Pre heat your grill on a medium to hot setting (3/4 setting).

Give the pasta and tomato sauce another good stir then drizzle the béchamel sauce over the pasta, making sure the béchamel is distributed over the whole dish. Top with the grated mature cheddar.

Place under the hot grill and cook until the cheese melts and starts to colour, this should take 6-8 minutes depending on your grill. Once the cheese melts and colours like a pizza topping the dish is ready, remove from the grill and serve.

We had this dish with a leafy green side salad and some green beans, although it works just fine by itself – I hope you enjoy.

 

 

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Fantastic Tomato and Avocado Salsa

A great recipe for a fantastic, delicious and fresh salsa.

Works well as a side with any Mexican or Tex-Mex dish, or as a snack with some tortilla chips. For a list of my Mexican recipes please check out my Blog contents

The important thing with this dish is to use fresh, ripe, good quality ingredients to get the very best flavour. If you like it spicy, simply add some sliced or diced chilli.

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Serves 2-4 as a side dish

Ingredients and Method

4 large round ripe tomatoes – diced

1 medium size red onion – diced

1 large ripe avocado – diced

Juice of 1 and half limes

Generous handful of fresh coriander leaf and stalk – roughly chop

Generous amount of fresh ground black pepper

Sea salt – to taste, approx. 1/4 tsp

Sprinkle of brown sugar – to bring out flavours, approx.. 1/4 tsp

1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

Method: simply mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, adjust salt and sugar to taste, cover and leave at room temperature for at least 1hr for flavours to develop. Mix well again before serving.

Can be stored in an airtight refrigerated container for 1-2 days if you have any leftover.

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Carrot and Coriander Soup

Classic soup made from carrots, onions, celery, stock, ground coriander and coriander leaf.

Easy to prepare, and a joy to eat. This is one of my favourite soups and one I eat often. I have also done a bit of experimenting and came up with a recipe for carrot and coriander curry using leftover soup – a really amazing dish that I hope you will try.

You require a stick blender for this recipe.

Tip: thinly slicing the vegetables , although not necessary, helps cook them quicker.

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Carrot and Coriander Soup

4 Portions (2 large bowls plus leftovers for curry)

Preparation and cooking time 45 minutes

Ingredients and method

750g carrots – peel, trim ends and thinly slice

1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 bay leaf – remove before blending

3 white onions – peel, dice

3 sticks celery – trim, slice thinly

1.5 L vegetable stock

Handful of coriander leaf and stalks – keep a small amount for garnish and finely chop

1 heaped dessert spoon ground coriander

Salt and pepper – to taste

Method: Start by heating the oil in a deep soup/stock pot. Add the sliced carrot, onion, celery and bay leaf. Fry over medium heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes until the vegetables soften. You want to add a little colour for flavour but do not let the vegetables burn. Next add the heaped dessert spoon of ground coriander, plus a generous amount of ground black pepper and stir through the vegetables, fry for a further 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. It is vital not to burn the spice, if it catches on bottom of pan add a little water to loosen it.

Add the stock and the fresh coriander (retain a little for garnish), bring to the boil then place lid on pan and reduce to a simmer. Leave the soup to simmer for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the lid and stir well, make sure you scape any residue on sides of pan back into the soup – that’s where the flavour is!

Remove the bay leaf then use the stick blender to blitz the soup until smooth. Add the retained coriander (very finely chopped). Taste and add required salt (should not need much as salt in stock already). Serve in a bowls with some nice crusty bread.

Once cooled store any leftovers in the fridge, and use them the next day to make my carrot and coriander curry.

Scottish Parsnip Soup

A very easy recipe for fantastic tasting Scottish parsnip soup.

The inspiration for this soup comes from my Grandmother or Granny as we call them in Scotland. She made truly amazing soups and my aim is always to try to match hers. She is sadly no longer with us but I do think she would have liked this.

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Ingredients

500g parsnips – peel and thinly slice

100g carrots – peel and slice

1 medium sized leek – wash and slice

2 sticks celery – slice

75g garden peas

4 medium sized white onions – peel and slice

2 bay leaves

1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock

1.5 tbsp. rapeseed oil

Sea salt – for grinding

Black pepper – for grinding

Method: Add the rapeseed oil to a deep soup or stock pot and warm over a medium heat. Add the leeks, bay and onions and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrot, celery, peas and parsnips, stir well and fry for 5-7 minutes until the mixture softens.

Add the stock, stir well, increase heat to bring to the boil for 2 minutes then reduce to a simmer, cover and let it bubble away for 35-40 minutes.

Carefully remove the lid (watch for steam), fish out the bay leaves, then use a stick blender to blitz soup until smooth. Season with a little salt and black pepper to taste and stir well. Serve with rolls or crusty bread and enjoy!

The soup can be cooled then stored in a fridge overnight for the next day, when it tastes even better.

My Ultimate Tomato Soup

My ultimate tomato soup – oven roasted tomatoes, garlic, chillies, red onion and Romano peppers give this soup the deepest of flavours.

I wanted to make a tomato soup which tasted differently to my other versions, which are quite heavily spiced. With this soup I oven roasted the vegetables and added them to a soup base of fried celery and carrot along with some stock and herbs. The result was a true tomato soup with a real depth of tomato flavour.

To accompany the soup I made some simple croutons out of a couple of slices of sour dough bread – rubbing the cubes in the same tray as the roasted vegetables helped imprint the flavour into the croutons.

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Gives two large portions

Preparation and cooking time less than 1 hour

Ingredients and method

2 sticks celery – slice thinly

3 medium carrots – peel, slice thinly

1-2 tbsp. olive oil – plus a little extra to drizzle on croutons

6 round tomatoes

3 small red onions

1 Romano pepper – remove stalk and seeds before roasting

1 large red chilli – remove stalk and seeds before roasting

4 cloves garlic – keep in skin for roasting (prevents it burning)

1 litre stock – chicken or vegetable

2-3 tsp brown sugar

salt and pepper

2 slices of sourdough bread

4-6 basil leafs

1 tbps chopped parley

2 bay leafs

Method: start by preheating your oven to around 200°C, space out the tomatoes, onions, chillies, Romano peppers and garlic on a non stick backing tray then roast for 15-20 minutes then remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a deep stock/soup pot warm 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil over a medium heat then add the bay leafs, celery and carrot. Fry for around 5 minutes until the carrots and celery begin to soften then remove from the heat. Once the roasted vegetables are cooled remove the skins from the pepper, tomatoes and garlic then add (along with the chilli) into the soup pan and return to the heat. Fry for a further 5 minutes then add the stock followed by the herbs (basil and parsley), bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

As the soup simmers make the croutons – cut the sour dough into 2cm cubes then tip them on to the same baking tray used to roast the vegetables, rub the cubes of bread into the tray to absorb and juices or residue left from the roasted vegetables then drizzle with a little olive oil. Place in the oven at 200°C and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and crispy, remove from oven and set aside to cook.

Remove the bay leafs from the soup then use a stick blender to blitz the soup until smooth. Add 2 teaspoon of brown sugar, a generous amount of black pepper and season with a little salt. Taste test and adjust seasoning to taste. Heat the soup through then ladle into soup bowls, adding a generous handful of croutons just before serving. Enjoy.

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