Smoked paprika and rose petal curry

Spanish Smoked Paprika has a unique flavour – think “more smoke” and “less paprika”. The VegHead has no recollection how, where, when, or even why a tin of this first came into the larder, but ever since it did it’s been in regular use. Get a tin. You cannot replicate the flavour by using standard paprika and just nipping outside for a quick puff. There are other brands than “La Chinata”, however this happens to be one that we used first and have continued using ever since. It is widely available both online and in most supermarkets, and wherever good smoked paprika is sold.

This pinto bean curry is flavoursome, but not too hot. If you wish to add heat, add 1/2 a teaspoon of your favourite dried chilli powder, or one chopped fresh chilli. Serve with a grain like quinoa, millet, couscous, or barley couscous, or even a side of wok seared spinach and ginger.

Needing:

  • 1 can of cooked pinto beans (yes – it was canned beans night in The VegHead’s larder)
  • 1/2 a small celeriac, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • a few slices of onion
  • a clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of rose petals
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • olive oil

To do:

  • saute and onion and garlic
  • add the celeriac, pepper and paprika. Cook over a low heat until celeriac is medium soft.
  • Add the beans and tomato. Stir to ensure everything is evenly covered in spices
  • Once the tomato has softened, add the rose petals and cook for a further 5 minutes on low

Thai Curry Fried Rice

Somewhere deep in The VegHead’s brain is a powerful cluster of synapses that take control every time I think of the words “fried” and “rice” used in that order. Despite anything I might try to do, into my mind pops the words “Flied Lice” instead, said in a fake Asian accent. “Fried ice-cream” remains fried , “rice pudding” remains rice . Put the two words together and the “r” regresses seven letters back. What event seared this neural connection into my the structure of my brain I cannot say – the crushing disappointment of finding that the last slice of cake has been licked by the cat. Don’t know. Too late for therapy. Time to just cook…

This is a very simple fried rice; before getting to the ingredients list let me just say a few words on how much curry paste you’ll need. The answer is “it depends” – on how hot your curry paste is and how hot you like your food. So here’s my best advice. Imagine you were cooking a Thai curry for dinner. However much paste you’d use in that curry (for the same number of people you’re cooking for) then use one sixth of the paste in this dish. You’ll need much less as the heat of the paste isn’t tempered with the coconut milk.

Ingredients (enough for two people and probably a little leftovers in the fridge afterwards):

  • 1 cup (dry) of brown Thai rice
  • 3/4 cup of corn kernels (either boil fresh sweetcorn and cut off the cob, or use frozen)
  • 3/4 cup of peas
  • Yellow (or red) Thai curry paste
  • 1/3 cup of macadamia nuts – roughly chopped. Substitute with cashews if you need.
  • Peanut oil

To make:

  • Cook the rice using the boil/absorption method, along with the curry paste. If you’re unfamiliar with this method – in a saucepan, cover the rice with about 1″ (2.5 cms) of water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the water has almost entirely been absorbed. Then turn off the heat and leave covered in the saucepan for 10 minutes more.
  • Meanwhile, lightly stir fry the corn and peas in a heavy pan.
  • Once the rice is fully cooked it will have taken on a pleasant orange colour from the curry paste. Add it to the peas and corn. Mix thoroughly and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick too much.
  • Stir the nuts through and serve immediately, perhaps with a simple stir fry of vegetables.

Its a hing thing

Hing is the Indian name for asofetida, which together with a big, fat, grated root of fresh turmeric is the spice that gives the most to the flavour of this chick pea curry. Many recipes have asofetida thrown in to the hot oil at the beginning of cooking, together with the other dried spices and chillies. However The VegHead finds that its flavour is overcome and lost if this is done, and prefers instead to sprinkle a little in once most of the cooking has been done.

Friday’s are the principal shopping day for the VegHead larder, and so Thursday nights tend to be “whatever is left” night. A shiny black-skinned aubergine begged to be eaten, and a pile of orange sweet potatoes just cried out to be culled somewhat. These, together with the big jar of chick peas in the fridge formed the basis for dinner.

The Thursday night larder:

  • 1 medium aubergine – cubed
  • 1 medium sweet potato – cubed
  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas
  • 1 small onion – diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes – chopped
  • 1 chilli – chopped
  • 1 thumb sized turmeric root (substitute 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder if unavailable)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • small pinch of fenugreek seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon of asofetida powder
  • 1 tablespoon of miso (or substitute vegetable stock)
  • sunflower oil
  • water
  • corn flour (or other thickening agent)

To do:

  • dry roast the spice seeds for 10 minutes or so, then grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle
  • roughly mash the chick peas with a “potato masher”
  • fry the dried spices, chilli, onion and garlic over a low heat for a few minutes (if using powdered turmeric add at this stage too)
  • add the chick peas, sweet potato, and aubergine. Mix thoroughly and cook covered over a low heat for several minutes
  • add the tomato and miso, and enough water to cover. Bring to a steady, low simmer and maintain until the sweet potato and aubergine are tender but not mushy
  • if using fresh turmeric root, grate and add now (best to only grate fresh turmeric root just before using or it browns quickly through oxidisation). Also add the asofetida powder. Simmer for another few minutes.
  • thicken the sauce. The easiest way to do this is to scoop out the vegetables into a bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving just the sauce in the pan (off the heat). Then spoon out a little of the sauce into a small bowl, add a little corn flour, and mix all the lumps out with a fork. Then add the corn flour mix back into the rest of the sauce in the pan, and mix through thoroughly over a low heat. Then add the vegetables back in. This might sound fussy but it ensures a lump-free thickening experience at the expense of two extra bowls and a slotted spoon in the washing up.
  • bring the saucepan back to a low simmer
  • serve with rice or idli

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?

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)