Mung bean curry

Mung bean dalA change in the weather and the beginnings of an autumnal cold has made me crave warming, nourishing curries this week. I also like to cook a big pot of soup or curry to have for lunch during the week.

This easy mung bean curry recipe is also cheap and very satisfying, either served simply with plain boiled basmati or as part of a thali spread, with lime pickle and yoghurt.

I would like to serve this with chapati too, but since going gluten-free have yet to find a decent recipe. I tried a 100% gram flour one to go with this curry, but the dough was too hard to work with. So please let me know if you’ve got any easy gluten-free chapati recipes!

I made this curry quite dry, but if you’re in a soupy mood, then feel free to add more of the reserved stock to make it more liquid.

Serves 4

Ingredients

200g whole green mung (or moong) beans, soaked overnight

2 tbsp sunflower oil

6 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 green chillis, finely chopped and deseeded depending on heat required

2 tbsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp tumeric

4 tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

small handful fresh coriander, stalk finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped

small handful (10-15 leaves) curry leaves

Method

Put the mung beans in boiling water in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until just soft. Drain, and reserve the cooking liquid.

Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan.

Fry the garlic, chillis and spices on a medium-low heat, without letting the garlic colour, for five minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the tomatoes and salt, cooking for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.

Add the coriander stalks, curry leaves and mung beans, putting in about a wine glass of the drained mung bean cooking water, or as much as required.

Simmer the curry for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Serve with basmati rice or chapati.

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Minestrone soup with nettle and smoked cheese pesto

Easy minestrone soupI find that not having a fridge and cupboards constantly stocked means that you can set yourself a creative challenge to cook something delicious out of frugal ingredients. Whilst not everyone will have some smoked cheese lurking at the back of the fridge as I was surprised to find in mine today, you may have a small unkempt patch of nettles in the garden to forage and a lump of cheddar in the fridge. If you live near Frome and you like smoked cheese, the Wiltshire Smokehouse produce a really good one, which they sell locally and at Frome Farmers’ Market.

This easy soup recipe has been a family favourite for years now and is versatile with endless permutations, depending on which storecupboard ingredients you have. Add 50g of chopped pancetta or bacon with the onions, substitute the chickpeas for cannellini or flageolet beans, the spaghetti for whichever pasta you have to hand, the onions for leeks, carrots and peppers for French beans, broad beans or potatoes. The same goes for the pesto; you can also check out my recipes for wild garlic pesto or basil pesto. Or omit the pesto altogether and just add some finely grated parmesan or similar cheese at the end.

Serve with sourdough toast rubbed with a garlic clove and drizzled with olive oil and a green salad.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Minestrone

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 carrots, diced

1 red pepper, diced

Tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1½ pints of stock (I used Marigold bouillion)

Tin of chickpeas

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

25g spaghetti, roughly broken, or macaroni

Nettle pesto

100g nettle tops, picked with rubber gloves and rinsed

50g finely grated smoked cheese

50g walnuts, roughly chopped

1 clove of garlic, crushed

250 ml olive oil

Method

Heat the oil and fry the onion, carrot and pepper for 10 minutes on a medium-low heat.

Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.

Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, smoked paprika and herbs, cook for 5 minutes before adding the stock, chickpeas, sugar and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the nettle and smoked cheese pesto. Blanch the nettle tops for 1 minute in boiling water and then cool by running cold water over them. Squeeze out the moisture and roughly chop the nettles. Blitz the walnuts in a food processor or in a jug using a stick blender, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend to a paste.

nettle pesto

Add the pasta to the soup and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Serve the bowls of soup with a dollop of pesto on each.

minestrone and nettle pesto

Children love the novelty factor of eating nettles and because this is a family-friendly meal and inspired by Italy, I’m entering this for the Family Foodies Italian challenge, hosted by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash, along with Louisa at Eat Your Veg.

As this soup is packed full with vegetables, I’m also entering it for this month’s Extra Veg challenge, hosted by Jo from Jo’s Kitchen, along with Michelle at Utterly Scrummy and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

Extra-Veg-Badge-003

Red lentil dahl

Red lentil dahl recipeBeing lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Goa in February, I embarked on a culinary odyssey, consuming nothing but Indian fare for two weeks, sampling as many new dishes as I could and watching people cook wherever possible. So be warned! Over the next few weeks I’ll be featuring Indian recipes galore, as I try my best to recreate the gorgeous Goa deliciousness.

I learnt the most watching Sooni, the talented cook at Little Cove yoga retreat where I stayed, who created the most delectable vegetarian thalis every day. I also had a brilliant cooking class with Ahmet in Arambol, who shows his students how to make 10 separate dishes in a morning.

This dahl recipe is an adaptation from these experiences.

Dahl in South India is served with the consistency of a thin soup. I’m normally a die-hard brown rice fan, but dahl cooked like this is begging for a pile of fluffy white basmati to soak up those lovely yellow juices.

The main ingredients are readily at any supermarket, but if you can get hold of the optional extras, they’re worth adding, to take your dahl to another level.

Ingredients

250g red split lentils

1tsp tumeric

1tsp salt

3 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp black mustard seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 heaped tbsp curry leaves, fresh or dried

1 bulb of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

½-1 red or green chilli, deseeded (depending on heat required) and finely chopped

2 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tbsp freshly ground coriander or coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala (see my recipe to make your own)

Small bunch of fresh coriander (about 25g), chopped

Optional:

1 tsp mango powder

1 tsp chat masala

1 heaped tsp fenugreek leaf

Serves 4

Method

Rinse the lentils and cover them with a litre of cold water, then add turmeric and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, heat the oil on a medium-high heat and when it’s hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, turn the heat down to medium and add the chopped garlic and chilli, stirring for a few minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes.

Cook for 5 minutes. Add the coriander and garam masala, along with the mango powder, chat masala and fenugreek leaf, if using. Stir for a few minutes then add a bit of water to make a thick paste and stop the spices from sticking.

Add the cooked lentils and their water, adding an extra 100ml if you want a thinner soupy consistency. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, before adding the fresh coriander.

I serve this with some jeera rice (fry 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds for a few minutes, then add basmati rice for four people and fry, before adding enough water to cover, and simmering until done), but chapatis are equally good, especially if you’re serving it as a soup.