Vegetable Dopiaza

I used to love the dopiaza at my local curry house (before I went vegan and before it closed down) so I thought it was high time I made my own.

But, doing a little research online I found that ‘dopiaza’ doesn’t mean a certain type of flavour (ie: mix of spices) but rather ‘twice onions’, so was more a way of preparing the food as opposed to a list of ingredients. Well, that to me was license to do pretty much whatever I wanted; so away I went!

This is a surprisingly sweet yet mildly spicy recipe which I think you’ll enjoy. I’ve tried several spice mixes with different types of vegetable and I’ve found that the carrot and tomato with just a hint of after heat works best. See what you think.

vegetable dopiaza

(ingredients are listed in order of use, more or less)

1 onion, 1/2 chopped, 1/2 sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed/chopped
1″ of fresh ginger, skin off, chopped fine
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground fenugreek
1/4 tsp dried chillies, chopped fine
1 heaped tsp of tomato puree
2 carrots, skin on, cut lengthways and chopped into 1/2 moons
100g button mushrooms, washed and cut in half
1/2 a bell pepper, sliced and chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sultanas
1/2 tsp salt
5-6 spring of fresh coriander, washed and chopped (no stalks)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 a cup of water
oil for frying

Prepare the vegetables before beginning, putting each in a bowl ready to use. It’ll save some faffing about later.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large, deep frying pan, over a medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes until the onions soften. Stir often to avoid burning the garlic and ginger.

While that’s cooking measure the ground cumin, coriander, fenugreek, chillies, and turmeric into a small bowl.

Once onions are cooked add the cherry tomatoes and fry for another minute or two until they too start to soften. You don’t have to cook them completely, just get them started.

Add the spice mix and tomato puree, and a splash of water (as required), and mix to make a paste. Add the carrots, turn the heat down a little to medium, and cover with a lid/plate to allow the carrots to cook – 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, and remaining water. Cover and cook on a simmer heat (medium low) for a further 10 minutes.

NB: You want enough water so that the veggies won’t burn, but not so much that they are drowning. Simmering them with a lid on will prevent most of the moisture escaping so take it easy with the water. You can always add more if need be. What’s left of the 1/2 a cup after you used some to make the paste should be about right. If you add too much just remove the lid and let it reduce a little.

Whilst that is cooking heat a little oil in a small pan on a high heat and fry off the sliced onions until they caramelise, turning a nice golden brown.

After the 10 minutes is up check to see how the veggies are doing. The carrots should be pretty much ready to eat. Add the garam masala, cinnamon, salt, sultanas, chopped coriander (you can get these ingredients ready in the same bowl you used for the spices if you want to save time) and lemon juice, and mix until well combined. Spread the caramelised onions out on top of the dopiaza, cover, and simmer one final time for a few minutes to let the flavours come together.

Serve hot with some rice or a vegan naan bread.

Eat and enjoy. 🙂

I’m quite proud of this recipe. I think it works really nicely. The surprise for me was the sweetness. I originally made it with swede as the root vegetable (as pictured above), but that took too long to cook properly. So I tried carrots, and I found that they, along with the bell pepper and sultanas, gave it an unexpected tangy sweetness that was very tasty indeed.

dopiaza, in the pan

But it’s the spiciness that really finishes it off nicely. I tried it both ways, with lots of chilli and pepper, with none, and I think a quarter teaspoon of dried chillies is just enough to give it a kick without being overwhelming. Of course each to their own, so if you find it too much just reduce it to a pinch. But try to keep some in there, it really does add to the experience.

Kidgeree

Remember back in the day when I used to post recipes on here? I know, right! I mean, seriously, what happened to that? I can’t remember the last time I stuck up something new to eat (I just checked, it was January 12th!). I’m telling you, for someone who wants to start a dedicated food blog it’s a pretty poor show and no mistake.

I mean it’s not like I haven’t been cooking, I’ve just been cooking the same ol’ same ol’ all the time, so I haven’t had anything new to share with everyone. But today when I went in the kitchen for something snacky the choice was simple; fruit, cornflakes, something involving bread, or else I had to get creative. And since fruit just wouldn’t do the trick, I had cornflakes for breakfast, and I’ve been eating far too much bread recently, I figured it was time to roll my sleeves up and try something new.

This dish is very popular among the yogis at the yoga centre (often eaten as breakfast in lieu of the ubiquitous porridge) as it’s a complete meal in and of itself. If you’re on a detox you can eat this quite happily for a few days and it should give you everything you need to survive. So I’ve been told anyway. It’s certainly full of good stuff that your body needs, and it’s pretty darn tasty to boot.

kidgeree

1 carrot, diced

1/3 cup rice, washed

1/3 cup yellow mung dahl, washed

1 & 1/3 cups water

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground coriander

a splash of oil

pinch of salt
 

Wash the rice and dahl together and put to one side.

Heat oil in a pan on medium/high heat until on the verge of smoking. You need it good and hot to fry the seeds. If it starts smoking just lift off the heat for a few seconds until it calms down again.

Fry the cumin and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds start to pop. Cover with the pan lid to stop bits flying everywhere.

Add the ground coriander and turmeric and stir together. Immediately toss in carrots, which should be diced very small so that they cook quickly. Stir until carrots are covered in spicy oil mix (just a few seconds).

Add the washed rice and dahl and stir until they too are well mixed with the spice and carrots. Add water.

Bring to boil and then simmer on a medium/low heat with lid on until all the water has been absorbed (basically cook as you would basmati rice). After an initial stir resist the temptation to stir again until the end. Too much agitation makes it go all mushy (see above, lol).

Once water has been absorbed add a generous pinch of salt, stir in/fluff up with a fork, then leave it to one side for a minute or so to let it all settle. This just allows the flavours to bed in and any remaining water to be absorbed.

And that’s it, you’re good to go!
 

This recipe makes enough for one person, or two if you have something else with it. You can also add more vegetables to it too along with the carrot. It works great with some finely diced courgette. I only had a carrot available so I just went with that. Also, a sprig on chopped fresh coriander doesn’t hurt either (in which case you’d cut down on the ground coriander).
 
🙂

Courgette and Spinach Soup

The great thing about cooking at the yoga centre is that I get to experiment once more. It’s been a while. So check this out, the first of many new recipes I hope.

courgette and spinach soup

1 leek
2 courgette
1/2 a bag of spinach (approx 100g)
1 inch of fresh ginger
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
olive oil
3 cups of boiling water

In a large pan fry the fennel and cumin seeds in hot oil for 1-2 minutes. Add the turmeric and black pepper, and mix.

Add the chopped leek and fry for a few minutes until soft.

Scrape the skin off the ginger and chop as small as possible. Add to leek and fry for another minute or two.

Add the courgette, cut length ways and chopped into half moon slices, and fry for a further 3 minutes until softened a bit.

Add the boiling water, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until vegetables are cooked.

Add the spinach, washed and roughly chopped, and the lemon juice and salt. Cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend until smooth (mash roughly if you don’t have a blender). Do final seasoning then serve.

The lemon juice really gives this soup the kick of flavour it needs. And the fennel seeds add a welcome random element to the taste when eating, as you bite into them only occasionally, getting an aniseedy taste you’re not expecting.

I’m quite proud of this concoction, and I urge you to give it a go. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

Ever Tried Black Garlic?

You know you’ve got a cooking problem when you see some new random ingredient in the supermarket and you just have to have it!

black garlic and mini chillies

I came across this the other day whilst looking for fennel seeds (keep an eye out for an excellent soup recipe coming soon) and I just couldn’t resist. It’s garlic that’s been aged, meaning the harsh flavours have mellowed leaving you with a sweet bulb of balsamicy, squishy goodness.

Seriously, this stuff is so nice I kept just biting bits off to chew. It’s just that morish. I decided to cook it with some chillies from the plant my friend gave me as a thank you for providing her with Spanish lessons (on CD that is. Me no hablo… or something like that), and I’m glad I did. The spiciness complimented the sweetness very well, though admittedly next time I’d use a few less chillies; Phew!

sweet and spicy pasta

I just fried some chopped onion, added the garlic and chillies (also chopped), chucked in a couple of sliced chestnut mushrooms, two diced tomatoes (some tomato puree) and a sprinkling of oregano – pausing between steps to let the previous ingredients cook – and that was it, job done. Simple huh?

Chuck that in with some al dente pasta et voila, there you have it, a bowl of nice simple flavours that compliment each other really well. If you get a chance to have a go with black garlic I highly recommend it. It has a unique taste that your palate will thank you for trying at least once.

A New Life In 30 Days?

I once heard somewhere that if you wanted to make a change in your life it took 30 repetitions – turning down 30 cigarettes, exercising 30 days in a row – for that change to stick.

Now I actually don’t believe that – I managed to give up smoking overnight, and I’ve had long standing exercise routines go by the wayside – but! it is true to say, I think, that if you do something for 30 days and you’re not interested in carrying it on then it’s definitely not for you.

I’ve enjoyed the few 30 Day Challenges I’ve done on this blog – from the original 30 Day challenge, to the moustache for cash, to the 30 Haiku in 30 Days thing I just completed – I think it’s true to say that 30 days is a good period of time to try something out.

So with that in mind I announce my next 30 day challenge, and it’s a bit of a doozie (for me, anyway). Starting on the 12th I’m going to do 30 minutes of meditation and a full yoga routine every morning for 30 days.

ohmmm...

Might not sound like much, but it’s quite an undertaking for me. I include days I’m working in this, and I’ve worked out that along with getting a shower and having breakfast the whole thing is going to take me at least 3 hours. That means when I’m on a mid shift getting up at 7:30am so I can make it to work for 11am. And on nights going to bed at 7:30am to get up at 3:30pm to get in for 7pm. Thankfully I’ve no earlies to deal with (up at 3:30am? no thanks!).

The idea is to take me up to the start of the one week meditation course I’ll be doing in November, giving me a full 30 days of practice to build on when I go there, rather than nothing, which is what I’ve got at the moment.

Hopefully all this will mean the practice of regular meditation will stick. And if not, well… I’ll just have to try again. I know meditation is important for me to do, and I know it will become a permanent feature in my life eventually, I just need to find a way to kick start it that’s all.

I’ll be blogging the results every day as a sort of spiritual diary. Check back to see how it’s going, to see what revelations come about, and to see just how mindful my mindfulness gets (in just 30 days, lol).

Chocolate Banana Brownies

This is it for me, a whole new level in my vegan cooking experience.

These little beauties are so good, so moist, and so damn ‘fudgey’ I couldn’t be more pleased with them if I tried. Seriously, they are the culmination of my cooking abilities to date, and I am very alright with that. 🙂

banana brownies

1 1/4 cups of plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup corn oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C.

Sift the flour and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the baking soda and salt.

In a smaller bowl mash both bananas until good and gooey. Add the maple syrup, corn oil, water and vanilla essence and mix together.

Add the wet mix to the dry and stir together until just mixed. Add the chocolate chips and stir in.

Pour batter into a greased medium sized baking tray, spreading it out level. Sprinkle with a few more chocolate chips for good luck.

Bake at 180C for 25-30 minutes until a knife dipped in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

And there you have it, my finest achievement in the kitchen, ever! (that involves cooking, anyway ;)). These are the best brownies I’ve ever made, and some of the best I’ve ever tasted if I do say so myself. Solid without being too heavy, chocolatey without being too rich, if you give them a try please let me know how you get on.

With the completion of this recipe I now have the six cakes and cookies I’m going to use for the recipe postcards I’ll be producing shortly. Might be a few weeks before they’re done, but I’ll let you know when they’re available to buy online. It’ll be a new chapter in Kiki’s Kitchen, and one I’m very much looking forward to. 🙂