You can’t cycle to the Indian Grocery and then have pizza for dinner

The happy occurrence of the presence in the larder of fresh turmeric root, as well as methi leaves means that it was Indian on the menu last night in The VegHead’s kitchen.

Chick pea and brinjal to the left, and Methi Shaak Potatoes to the right. Kept from fighting with each other by a few Idli, each topped with a dop of (soy) yoghurt.

Not a great photo – but who takes a SLR to the dinner table every night?

Chick Pea and Brinjal with tumeric and methi leaves

This recipe relies pretty heavily on you having some fresh Turmeric Root. Though turmeric root is the source of the more common dried turmeric powder, it has a subtly different flavour. Turmeric root should is best grated on a ceramic ginger grater, just before you need to add it to the dish – it oxidises very quickly and then the bright orange turns a rusty brown.

The act of grating turmeric root is also recommended for anyone who wishes to go to an X-Files themed fancy dress party as The Cancer Man. It is incredibly staining, and even if you immediately wash your hands your finger tips will be left with an orange tinge reminiscent of a 2 pack a day habit for a day or so. It is quite a cheerful colour actually and will serve as a happy remembrance of a lovely meal even as you sit the next day in yet another interminable business meeting getting a numb arse, and an earache from all the corporate nonspeak.

Ingredients:

  • a small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 baby brinjal (aubergine), cut into thin wedges. It is best not to cut the brinjal until just before you need it, as the cut flesh quickly oxidises and turns brown.
  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of dried black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 3 cardamom (seed) pods
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 6-7cm (approx) long turmeric root, grated
  • 1 cm (approx) of ginger root, grated
  • tablespoon of light miso paste (or similar vegetable stock source)
  • 1 cup (approx) of methi leaves
  • (up to) 1 cup of water
  • vegetable oil

Zee making:

  • de-pod the cardamom seeds from the pods, and then dry roast together with all the other dried spice seeds for 5-10 minutes. Then grind to a course powder in a mortar and pestle.
  • saute the spices, together with the onion
  • add the chickpeas, tomatoes, miso paste, garlic, grated ginger and water and simmer for ten minutes on a low flame
  • add the brinjal and the grated turmeric root continue to simmer for a minute or two. The brinjal should best be still a little crunchy. Simmer longer however if that is not to your taste.
  • stir through the methi leaves and serve

* Image of turmeric root sourced gratefully from www.food-info.net

Methi Shaak Potato


Yesterday afternoon was clear and brisk. Ideal weather for slipping the iPod into the top pocket and donning the thickly knitted Moroccan skullcap hat that keeps The VegHead’s VegHead warm. Fortified by an earful of Michael Franti it is a ten mile or so cycle to the Indian grocery store. Driving to a place is travel, cycling is immersion. It also allows The VegHead to indulge in a wider range of food shopping choices while keeping the emissions down (notwithstanding the potential food miles of the purchased produce).

Methi leaves are one of those staples of Indian cooking that you would go to your grave ignorant of if you draw your view of the foodstuffs of the world from the shelves of the average big-chain supermarket. They are the leaves of the Fenugreek plant, the same plant that gives us the dried fenugreek spice (which is the ground, dried seeds). If you’ve ever been served a dish in an Indian restaurant that has spinach leaves in it, it probably is really meant to have methi leaves in it instead. Spinach is the Westernised version.

This Methi Potato dish has been adapted by SheWhoMustBeFed from a Shaak Potato recipe, which came into our kitchen from dour, plain, paperback sized Indian recipe book called “The Vegetarian Curry”.

Needing…

  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into thick “chip” shapes
  • 1 cup of methi leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder (or if available, about 4cms of grated fresh turmeric root)
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of palm sugar
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • handful of chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Doing…

  • In a large pan (The VegHead uses the trusty wok) lightly saute the mustard and cumin seeds until they pop
  • Add everything else save the methi and fresh coriander. Add extra oil if needed. Fry until the potatoes are cooked, stirring to ensure even cooking and coating with the spice mix
  • Just before serving, add the methi leaves and stir through
  • On serving; garnish with the coriander leaves

Tomato and Chickpea soup, with pesto

A blogger’s tasks are never done. Having spent a morning catching up on posts the laptop had been put down to suckle on the electricity and lunchtime had arrived. SheWhoMustBeFed has gone to pick up the Larger Loinfruit from her morning of Being Improved in a Dance and Drama Way.

Cold out….so I made this soup ready for SheWhoMustBeFed’s return and then woke up the laptop to quickly write it up before they arrived.

In…

  • 1 thin slice of onion, finely chopped
  • half of a large Jack Hawkin’s style tomato. Chopped.
  • 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas
  • pinch of black pepper
  • splash of tamari
  • desertspoon of pesto (oh…how handy I happen to have a jar in the fridge)
  • a teaspoon of tomato paste
  • water
  • olive oil

Doing…

  • lightly saute the onion and pepper
  • add the tomatoes and chickpeas and simmer covered
  • once the tomatoes have softened, lightly mash everything
  • add all remaining ingredients, along with some water
  • simmer for a few minutes
  • serve with a slice of toast

Oh…look….here they are arriving home now.

A superior Morrocan Hommous

Subtle variety is the reason that the masses trawl happily up and down the aisles of the supermarket, dazzled by the almost endless variations of milk, bread, snacks. This then is “Superior Moroccan Hommous” – as opposed to “Lesser Not-Moroccan Hommous”.

Bushra tells it like it is, “Hommous should not be made with tahini. All these people, they put tahini in their hommous. Is no good. Makes you feel urgh-agh-ugh-ugh [for full effect, clutch your stomach and try to look as bloated as possible at this point]. These Greek people, these Lebanese, these whatever, they don’t know that they are doing. Not like that in Morocco. We make the best hommous. No tahini. Chick peas….yes. Olive oil…yes. Garlic…yes.A pinch of cumin…yes. And it must be Morrocan cumin, not tthat terrible Indian cumin! A pinch of salt. Lemon juice. Blend and blend until smooth. More olive oil if you need, more lemon juice if you need.”

Bushra might just be ever so slightly opinionated on this topic. She is however right that this variation makes for a lighter hommous.

Beetroot and Aubergine Sri Lankan curry


The World Food Cafe cookbook rightfully deserves credit for this dish, though the recipe here is slightly different.

This is one intense flavour experience, and is colourful the following day too. Serve with Quinoa, and with some additional coconut milk to hand. In the absence of Quinoa, lash yourself firmly with a bunch of celery in penance, and substitute a lesser grain of your pitiful choosing.

Needing to have in the larder:

  • 2 medium cooked beetroots – not preserved in vinegar. Lucky for The VegHead beetroot cooking day was yesterday and a big batch of cooked whole beetroot was in the fridge, soaking in its cooking water and a little salt. Actually…it wasn’t that lucky as I had planned it that way.
  • 1 medium purple aubergine – cut into large cubes
  • 1 cup of cookd haricot beans
  • 1 small onion – halved and thickly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass – chopped and ground in a mortar an pestle
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of light miso paste
  • coconut milk
  • sunflower oil or similar
  • 1/2 cup of crushed, roasted cashews

Oh…you’re making that all up…

  • dryroast the spice seeds in a hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Then crush to a powder with a mortar and pestle.
  • fry the spices and the onion
  • add the aubergine and fry until cooked but still firm. Add more oil if necessary, by jitherers those eggplants have a thirst for the stuff don’t they?
  • add the beetroot, beans, lemongrass, miso and a little water. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes allow the flavours to mix and mature
  • stir through about 1/4 cup of coconut milk. Allow the saucepan to come back to a simmer and then immediately serve
  • liberally sprinkle with cashew nuts

And here is one that I cooked earlier (before it was eaten)