Saturday, 27 April 2013

Asparagus and Mushrooms

When we were growing up in India, Asparagus is something we had only read in western novels as a vegetable eaten at the smart restaurants in Europe. Of course, now with Indian’s traveling widely, experimenting and experiencing all kinds of world food, one has started to see asparagus on the vegetable stalls in India. In fact even in the UK, it has only become a common sight on the dinning tables relatively recently. In the beginning it was seen in smart restaurants, then the TV chefs started showing off using all kinds of not so popular vegetables. However, now it is readily available almost all year round in the local supermarkets. 
It is one of those vegetables which I call delicate as it needs the briefest time to cook. Chinese and French in my experience do not over cook any of their foods and I believe they present the best way to cook asparagus.  This recipe is my own version. I have mixed some of the Indian spices to cook a combination of asparagus and mushrooms. It is quick and very tasty dish. Certainly worth trying!

  • Asparagus spears 100 gms cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Mushrooms 6 medium chopped
  • 1/2 tsf Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 inch Ginger sliced
  • 1/2 tsf Salt (to taste)
  • 1/8 tsf Chilli powder 
  • 2 tbsf Oil

  1. Heat the oil in a small wok or a frying pan.
  2. When the oil is hot add mustard seeds, which should start to sizzle straight away.
  3. Add the sliced ginger and very lightly brown it (1-2 minutes only).
  4. Add the chopped asparagus and sliced mushrooms and stir on medium heat.
  5. Add salt and chilli powder. The asparagus and mushrooms gets cooked very quickly usually 5 minutes. The asparagus should still be crunchy.
Serve hot. I would suggest make this dish just before serving as reheating it overcooks the mushrooms and the asparagus and spoils it for me!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Left-over Vegetable Kofta Curry

(Vegetable balls in curry sauce)

When we were young I remember that often the day after a dinner party at our home our mother would make vegetable Kofta. These if my memory serves me right never tasted the same, which was a surprise to most of us. Whenever, people asked her which vegetables did she make the koftas with, she would never give a straight answer. It was not till we were much older that she disclosed to us that whatever, vegetables and dals were left over the night before, she would convert them into koftas, hence we started calling these ‘left-over kofta’. This was when we didn’t have any refrigerators and left over food was given away to poor people, you will note not all went to the poor in our house!

This particular recipe has been given to me by my sister. Of course, with the availability of refrigerators in India one doesn't need to make it from left overs. I have opted to use the left overs from the large pot of Cabbage and peas that I made and couldn’t possibly finish. These days we do have the refrigerators, but don’t have poor people asking for left overs in the UK!! So the choice is keep eating Bandh Gobi for several days or convert it into even better. I have used the left overs for my recipe as a mark of remembrance and tribute to my mother. She of course, would have really made it from left overs after a party, where as I would suggest that make the koftas for the party and have the Bandh Gobi a day before as a easy cooking day.

(For the Koftas)
Fried Koftas
  • 2 Cups of left over Bangh Gobi and Matar (Cabbage and Peas)
  • 2 Medium sized Onions sliced
  • 1 Cup Besan (Gram flour)
  • 1/2 tsf Salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsf Chilli Powder
  • 1/2 tsf Garam Masala
  • 1 Bunch chopped fresh Coriander
  • 2 tbsf Oil
  • Oil for deep frying
(for making Koftas)
  1. In a pan heat the oil. Now add sliced onions and fry lightly.
  2. Add Gram flour and slightly brown this too.
  3. Add the left over Bandh Gobi, salt, chilli powder, and garam masala. Mix well.
  4. Once the whole mix is slightly cooked usually 4-5 minutes add fresh coriander and mix well that as well.
  5. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool just enough for you to be able to handle the mix with your hand. 
  6. Using a bit of water to moisten your hand take small amount of the mix and make it into a ball (golf ball size). Use up all the mix making them into small balls.
  7. Heat the oil for deep frying. Once the oil is hot put few koftas to fry to a golden colour. Put aside. 
(For gravy)
  • 1 Medium sized Onion chopped finely
    Vegetable Kofta Curry
  • 1/2 tin of chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 tsf Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsf Ginger Paste
  • 1 tsf Salt
  • 1/4 tsf Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsf Jeera (Cumin) Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsf Dhania (Coriander) Powder
  • 1/2 tsf Garam Masala
  • 1/2 Haldi (Turmeric) Powder
  • 2 tbsf Yogurt
  • 3 tbsf Oil
(for making Gravy)
  1. Heat the oil in a pan with a lid.
  2. Put the onions and fry till these are caramelized to a lightly golden colour.
  3. Now add ginger and garlic paste and mix well for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and fry these as well till you see the oil has separated.
  5. Add rest of the spices and mix well. 
  6. Add yogurt spoonful at a time, continuing to mix it with the masala.
  7. Add 150 mls of water (or more if you like the gravy not to be thick) and mix well. Bring it to a boil and cover the pan then lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes.
  8. Add the koftas in the gravy before serving. (It is a good idea to add koftas just before serving as they tend to soften if left in the gravy for too long! 

Now wait for the praises from your guests who would just guess what are the ingredients of the koftas. Of course some would give suggestions of their own!

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Bandh Gobi and Matar

(Cabbage and Peas)

Bandh Gobi often is seen as a ‘also ran’ vegetable, however, not only it is a very nutritious but an extremely tasty and versatile vegetable in my view. This, I hope to demonstrate in the next two entries. In North India we tend to see only one variety of Bandh Gobi, but in Britain we do see several, thanks I presume to the global vegetable and fruit travel! It is grown quite easily in the UK. The vegetable grower friends of mine tell me, not only do they love the Cabbage, but so do the slugs and other earthly creepy crawlies, so if you grow your own, you will need some slug repellants, I am not the best person for such advice as despite all my clever tricks most of my cabbage is eaten by the slugs . Bandh Gobi, looks like the leafy salad plants, but it is truly nearer to Broccoli and Cauliflower.  

The recipe for this dish is one of the quickies which could enter Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute cook book. For this particular dish I will use the whole cabbage, even though it may seem quite a lot. Don’t worry, as I intend to use the leftover for another recipe which will follow this one. Rest assured, you would be more than pleased with the second recipe, and  wonder ‘why cant we buy one and the second for half the price’ with everything else we cook. My mum would have said “you can” as she could convert virtually all left overs into something even better! I believe this was 1950’s austerity!!

  • One medium sized Bandh Gobi (cabbage)
  • 200 gms frozen Peas
  • 2 tsf whole Cumin seeds
  • 1 Tej Patta (dried Bay leaf)
  • 1/4 tsf Haldi powder (turmeric)
  • 1/4 tsf Chilli powder
  • 1 tsf Salt (to taste)
  • 2 finely chopped green Chillis
  • 1/2 tsf Sugar
  • 1/2 tsf Garam Masala
  • 5 tbsf Oil

  1. Chop the cabbage finely into long shreds.
  2. Defrost the peas by putting under running water.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok over medium high flame.
  4. When oil is hot put the cumin seeds and the Tej patta. Within a few seconds these will start to darken and splutter.
  5. Put the shredded cabbage, peas and chopped green chilli and mix well.
  6. Add chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and sugar. Give it a good mix.
  7. Cover the wok and lower the heat to low. Let the vegetable cook usually takes 5-10 minutes. In between stir so the vegetables don’t catch at the bottom.
  8. Sprinkle garam masala and gently stir and mix. Can remove the Tej patta before serving.