Smoky vegetable kebabs

barbecued vegetables

Made with my favourite marinade, these vegetable kebabs are quick, easy and perfect for barbecues and campfire cooking. You can add or swap the veg for any others you have handy, like aubergine or mushrooms.

I’ve also used the same marinade for fish (I’ve tried it on mackerel and bream, but others would work too) and chicken (for this, I replaced the dried oregano with fresh rosemary). If you haven’t got a barbecue or a fire on the go, you can also cook these under the grill.

When camping, I always take some store cupboard herbs and spices and these include dried oregano, cumin and smoked paprika, making kebabs like these easy to throw together. 

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 courgettes, cut in thick slices

2 red peppers, cut into large dice

1 large onion, cut in quarters lengthways and then each quarter halved

Marinade

100 ml olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

3 cloves of garlic, crushed to a paste with salt

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp of dried oregano

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

pinch of salt

4 wooden skewers

Method

Soak the wooden skewers in water.

Mix the marinade ingredients thoroughly. If you have a jar with a lid, then you can shake it up in this, otherwise just mix it in a mug with a fork.

Cut the courgette into thick slices and the pepper into fat squares. For the onion, halve it lengthways then cut in half widthways, so you end up with large rough squares.

In a large bowl, tip the vegetables in and mix thoroughly with the marinade. Leave to infuse while you light the barbecue or heat the grill.

Thread the vegetables onto the skewers.

Cook until the vegetables are just tender and slightly charred. 

Pour over any leftover marinade before serving. 

barbecued vegetable kebabs

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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.

Okra curry

Okra curry with chutney and raita

I fully got into the curry vibe during a weekend visit to Easton, Bristol, this weekend, with an evening at the wonderful Thali Café and a shop at the Sweet Mart.

I stocked up on okra, because as I live in the wilds of Somerset, even in a town like Frome, this vegetable is something of an exotic novelty for me these days. I love their impossibly funky bike wheel pattern when they’re sliced open, and their weird and unique ooziness.

This recipe is adapted from one I learnt at Little Cove Yoga Retreat in Goa. Don’t be deterred by the long list of ingredients; like many curry recipes, there’s really not that much to it once you get started, as most items listed below are spices you can just throw in.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tsp sunflower oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

3 medium-sized onions, finely chopped

5 cm piece of ginger, peeled, grated and finely chopped

2 green chillies, deseeded depending on heat preferred

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

300g okra, washed, topped and tailed

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

1 tsp garam masala

½ tsp salt

25 g fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Heat the oil on a medium-high heat and cook the mustard, coriander and fennel seeds for a few minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop.

Turn the heat down to medium low and add the onions, ginger and chillies, cooking for 10 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, slice the okra into pieces about 0.5cm thick.

Chopped okra

After the onion has cooked for 10 minutes, add the garlic, turmeric, cumin seeds, garam masala and salt. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add the okra and 50ml of water and cook, covered, on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the coriander and cook for another 5 minutes.

Okra curry

Pisto (Spanish ratatouille)

Pisto (Spanish ratatouille)

We are busy preparing for our annual pop-up tapas bar at the Silk Mill in Frome. Unfortunately, I can’t do all the cooking this year due to recent back sugery – which has also meant less blogging in recent weeks, although I’m now on the mend – but I can still experiment with new dishes for our menu.

I thought I’d try making a pisto because after our tapas bar last year people suggested we add more vegetarian dishes. We were trying to be authentically Spanish as possible in our bar – Spain is a particularly keen meat-eating nation – so subconsciously probably didn’t offer a huge range of vegetarian dishes. 

Pisto is a summer classic and a Spanish version of ratatouille. It’s a great recipe to use up a glut of aubergines, courgettes and peppers. Roasting most of the veg in the oven as I’ve done here makes it far easier than frying all the individual vegetables separately. It also uses less oil, making it cheaper and healthier too. I’ve added cumin seeds to this for a Moorish flavour, along with the more conventional dried oregano.

Pisto is good served at room temperature as part of a tapas spread, or hot with an fried egg on top for brunch. Either way, make sure you have some robust sourdough with which to mop up those lovely oily juices. It’s also great with the deliciously salty mojama, dried tuna which is made in Cádiz province, or a few slices of Manchego, washed down with a chilled manzanilla (my current favourite is La Gitana).

Serves 6 as a tapa

Ingredients

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 aubergines, diced

2 courgettes, thickly sliced

2 large red peppers, diced

2 large onions, sliced

6 cloves of garlic, skin on, lightly smashed with the side of a large knife

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp of dried oregano

1 tsp of coarse sea salt

400g ripe tomatoes, scalded in hot water for 1 minute, then skinned and roughly grated

¼ tsp sherry vinegar (optional)

chopped parsley to serve

Spanish pisto

Method

Heat the oven to 200°C fan (220°C, gas mark 7). Place the oil (reserving 1 tsp), aubergines, courgettes, peppers, onions and garlic in a few large trays, making sure the vegetables are in a single layer otherwise they’ll just go soggy. Sprinkle with the cumin, oregano and salt and mix well. Put in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring once, until just starting to caramelise.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tsp of oil in a saucepan on a medium-high heat and add the grated tomatoes. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until broken down into a sauce.

Mix the roasted veg with the tomatoes and adjust the seasoning. Leave to cool and serve at room temperature.

If you double the recipe, you can use half the roasted veg for a pisto and goat’s cheese tart. Use a sheet of ready rolled puff pastry, spreading sundried tomato pesto on top, followed by the pisto. Dot with some goat’s cheese (I used about 100g of cheese here) and some halved cherry tomatoes. Bake it for about 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 180°C fan (200°C, gas mark 6) and sprinkle some basil on after you take it out.

Ratatouille and goat's cheese tart

As this dish is made with seasonal veg, I’m entering it for the Simple and in Season June Challenge, hosted by Ren Behan.

Because this pisto recipe is packed with veg, I’m also entering it for June’s Extra Veg hosted by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy.

Extra Veg Badge-003

Easy masala dosa

Masala dosa

I love masala dosa but an authentic recipe takes some preparation, involving soaking urad dal and rice over night, grinding them the next day and then leaving them to ferment. So when I saw a bag of dosa flour at Bristol’s Sweet Mart I realised I could make reasonable dosas without much hassle at all. The flour and water batter does need leaving overnight, but it’s easy to prepare. Our children love pancakes, so this recipe has the added bonus of being a real crowd pleaser for a family meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Dosas

Sunflower oil for frying

200g dosa flour (I used Jalpur Dhosa Mix Flour)

Enough warm water to make a thin batter, about 500-600 ml

1 tsp salt

Potato masala

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

12 curry leaves

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 green chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

800g cooked potatoes

2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

2 tsp crushed coriander seeds, lightly crushed

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chat masala (optional)

Chat masala salad

3 tomatoes, third of a cucumber, diced

half a tin of chickpeas

2 spring onions, finely sliced, or a handful of chives, snipped

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)

Pinch of chat masala (optional) and salt

Raita

250g natural yoghurt

half a garlic clove, crushed

small handful of mint, chopped

pinch of salt

Method

Dosa batter

Mix the dosa ingredients together and leave overnight.

Masala potatoes

Heat the oil on a medium-high heat.

Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to pop, add the curry leaves and stir for 30 seconds.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the onions. Cook for 5-10 mins until soft.

Add the cumin and coriander seeds, garam masala and chat masala and cook for 2 minutes, before adding the cooked potato. Heat through and keep in a warm oven.

Dosas and potato filling

Dosas

Traditionally dosas are cooked in a flat tawa pan but you can also use a crepe pan, or non-stick frying pan. Heat ½ tsp of oil on a medium-high heat and when it’s hot, add a ladleful of batter (I made a rough spiral to cover the pan as thinly as possible).

Gently flip with a spatula when one side is done, after a few minutes. Keep the dosas warm in the oven while you cook the rest.

To assemble, put a few dessert spoons of potato mix on a dosa and fold over. Serve with the chat masala salad and raita, along with lime pickle and mango chutney.

Chutney and dips

Baked wild garlic falafel

wild garlic falafelI recently tried making some baked falafel, using a brilliant recipe by Jessy Ellenburger at Instructables. Continuing my wild garlic fetish, which seems to be my theme of April, I decided to make a similar recipe, replacing the usual falafel herb ingredients of parsley and coriander with yep, you’ve guessed, wild garlic. Baking means that this is a healthy and super-easy falafel recipe.

I love a good sauce with my falafel and so whisked up an easy tahini sauce (see below) to go with them, along with the Israeli zhoug, an easy recipe for green chilli sauce shared with me by my friend Marie. To finish it off, I made a simple tomato salad sprinkled with finely shredded wild garlic. I added more wild garlic to the salad leaves that went in the pitta, for a real wild garlic extravaganza!

easy tomato salad with wild garlic

Ingredients

2 tins of chickpeas, drained

50g wild garlic, roughly chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

½ tsp salt

Pitta breads, extra wild garlic, salad leaves, tomatoes and tahini sauce (see below) to serve

Serves 4

Method

Heat the oven to 180°C. Whizz the chickpeas and wild garlic in a food processor until mixed but not blended to a paste.

Add the onion, spices and salt.

Form into small walnut-sized balls and flatten slightly.

uncooked wild garlic falafel

Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through.

Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce by whisking together 4 tbsp of light tahini, 3 tbsp water and juice of a lemon, plus a crushed garlic clove and a pinch of salt.

You could also make some zhoug at this point – see my recipe for this here.

Serve the falafel stuffed in pitta with salad, drizzled with the tahini sauce and zhoug, alongside a tomato salad (see above.)

wild garlic falafel in pitta breadI’m entering this seasonal dish in Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season, hosted this month by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

Easy chana masala (chickpea curry) with wild garlic

easy chickpea curry with wild garlic

The season for wild garlic is so unfairly short (from around mid-March to late April, depending on where you live) that I can’t help but shoehorn this pungent plant into as many dishes as possible this time of year. But wild garlic is optional in this recipe, being easily replaced with spinach or chard or left out altogether.

Chana masala is a brilliant budget dish,and even better value when you use a foraged ingredient. It’s also quick, vegan and easily thrown together with store cupboard ingredients, assuming you have a few basic spices to hand. Having said that, chole masala is a spice mix that may be hard to find (where I live anyway) but is worth the effort to track down.

Chana masala is delicious on its own, or served with rice or chapatis and yoghurt with chopped fresh coriander.

I’m entering this for Karen’s April Cooking with Herbs challenge over at Lavender and Lovage. Because this is an ultra-thrifty dish, I’m also adding it to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food, along with Camilla at FabFood 4 All  and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Ingredients

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled, grated and finely chopped

1 green or red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2-3 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chole masala

tin of chickpeas

2 handfuls of wild garlic, washed and shredded

Salt to taste

Rice or chapatis to serve

Serves 4

Method

Heat the oil and fry the onion for 10 minutes on a low heat until translucent.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes.

Add the spices and cook for a few more minutes before adding the tomatoes and a mug of water.

Simmer for 15 minutes, add the chickpeas and heat through for 5 minutes.

(If using spinach, throw it in during the last five minutes of cooking time; chard will need shredding and adding a bit earlier, or rinse it and wilt it first in a separate pan for 5 minutes before adding to the chana masala.)

Add the wild garlic and stir through until wilted and season.

chana masala with wild garlic

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