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.

Something Old, Something New

Now before those who know me start getting all excited by the title of this post, calm yourselves! I’m not getting married all of a sudden or anything like that. It just accurately reflects how things are for me right now.

I was going to call it “Same Old Same Old” but that would have been misleading. Much more accurate to point out that, as some things change, so others stay the same. There’s quite a bit of upheaval in process at the moment, what with me quitting my job and going to move out of the flat at the end of August, so it’s nice to do something familiar every now and then to keep things on an even keel.

So I’ve been working on my swiss roll recipe. Here’s how it looks so far.

chocolate swiss roll no.5

What do you think? It’s really starting to get there. I just need to get the amounts right, and maybe try and take out the egg replacer in lieu of something more natural, but apart from that it’s pretty much good to go.

And I’ve been to do Go Ape again, which would be my fourth time. Guess you could say I’m a bit of a fan. 🙂

aping about

It was a great day out, with some very, very lovely company. 😉 And even though the drizzle afterwards meant we couldn’t do the barbecue I still had the best time, and can’t wait to hang out again as soon as possible (in the trees, and on terra firma).

And so what if the best pic of me also has my belly sticking out, lol. That’s just God’s way of telling me, “You need to cut down on the pies mate!” ..hehehe..

golden brown, texture like sun

But seriously, I do need to do something about the ol’ muffin top though. It’s starting to get in the way of my forward bends. So I’ve taken advice from my friend in Oz who’s a personal trainer, and I’m going to alter my diet to see if that helps.

So from now on it’s no bread, no crisps, no sugar, no pre-made foods. Just lots of veggies and fruit, soups in the evening, and all home made, organic and lovely. Hopefully that, smaller portion sizes, and a bit more exercise, and I’ll be fit and flexible in no time.

Let’s see how I get on eh? 🙂

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).
 
🙂

Where To’s That Then?

(brace yourselves, this is a long ‘un – oo-err missus! :P)

Oh Spring, where have you been? Away for so long, I thought you’d never get here!

tree flower

But now finally the equinox has come and gone, the days are longer, the nights shorter, the sun is out, and we’re about to go into summer time for 2012. Oh yes, things are looking up! That’s up as far as the weather is concerned anyway. Elsewhere the forecast is not so bright.

Work are humming and harring a little about giving me a sabbatical. They’ve sent me a list of questions, the general gist of which is “How will this effect the company?” and “What’s in it for us?” Now of course I’ll answer their questions in detail, but I just get the feeling they’re gearing themselves up to say no.

If they do though I’m pretty sure I’m going to take some time off work anyway (ie: hand in my notice). I mean if it’s a choice between that and my gravestone reading:

Here’s Lies Keith Dickinson
He Kept His Job

I know which one I’d prefer!
 
it's boring waiting for the sun to come out
 
Ok, so never mind spring, where the hell have I been? 2 weeks it’s been since my last post. I feel bad for neglecting my blog like that (don’t take it personally, it’s taking me a week just to respond to personal e-mails at the moment). I’ve just been working constantly, trying to make a bit of money to help pay for future shenanigans.

I have been doing other stuff too though, things more in line with My Brand New Life!

For one thing I met up with a friend of many years, Rakka, who I’ve actually never met before in real life. She’s a Flickr Friend, someone I’ve followed for 44 months (literally the third person I started following on there), and a very creative artist and photographer. It was her ‘My Name Is…’ Diego Montoya that caught my attention, and I’ve been an avid fan ever since.

She comes over to the UK once a year or so to get her fix of Britishness (a wee bit of an anglophile she is) and so we reckoned it was high time we met up. Actually we tried to meet last year but she was so ill we had to call it off.

Anyway, we met up in Islington where she and the guy she came over with, Leff, were going to be meeting a famous cat (?). Hey, who am I to judge, lol.

I took my friend Amanda along coz she works in the area and she was highly amused by the idea of meeting up with someone you only know through the online world. Rakka also invited along another online friend of hers, Nathalie, to meet for the first time, as well as another guy they know from the States, Chris, who just happened to be over here, so all told it was a pretty mixed bunch!

I have to say I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Who knows how you’ll get along when you know someone one way and then meet them in an entirely different context. But I needn’t have been worried. She’s lovely, her friends were lovely, my friend got on with her and her friends, and all in all we managed to prove that the world is indeed just a great big onion, lol.

We had a right laugh once we were comfortably ensconced in the pub (alcohol helps in these kinds of situations, though I’m glad to say the fact that I don’t drink anymore didn’t prove to be a hindrance). Topics of conversation included (but weren’t limited to):

* Which parts of the UK are like which parts of America? – The North of England is like the Deep South (apparently, though I contest this a little), London and Edinburgh are like New York and L.A., and Leicestershire is like Ohio (ie: boring, hehehe ;))

* Icelandic Emo Ponies (or Ice Po’s, as we called them) – check out this link if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

* Portlandia – “It’s true. It’s all true!! They think they’re making a joke but they’re not, that’s what it’s like!!!

And…

* Sexy Neaderthals – Which is just so (unintentionally) hilarious! You’ve got to check it out. Just be sure to stick with it to the end.


 
As you can tell, we had fun. It was so great meeting up with everyone, I’m so glad we did it, and it just goes to prove the old adage –

‘There’s no such thing as strangers, just friends you’ve not yet met.’

 
So, apart from that, what else is going on? I’ve been writing a bit, which is nice. Actually coming up with some good stuff at the moment. The hard part is finding the time to write. For example I haven’t had time to do anything yet today, it’s nearly midnight, and I’ve got work tomorrow. Not conducive to good output. But that’s just an excuse. I need to make the time, and come Monday I will! It’s all good. 🙂

I’ve got a 10 day residential meditation course coming up which I’m really looking forward to. It should be amazing. Very intensive, quite hardcore (up at 4:30am!), but definitely worth it. Can’t wait to see what I learn from it.

Between now and then it’s just work work work. Might get some cooking done, in fact I better! I’ve bought the domain name http://www.myveganlife.co.uk (which you can type into your browser but it just leads you back here at the moment, lol) and I’m going to start an all vegan blog which I’ll be launching in a month or two (haven’t even started building it yet!). It’ll be the public face for all my cooking shenanigans.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep this little baby going. This is where I come to share silly things, make dick jokes, and talk about all the weird stuff I got going on. I just need somewhere I can build into a ‘proper’ foody site that people can really enjoy (and that might lead somewhere in the future). Coz that’s the one thing all this faffing about with work has taught me, that not only does no one get rich working for other people, and if you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you’ve already got, but if you don’t do it now, then when?

So it’s time to crack on! Who’s with me??? 🙂

Show The Folks What He’s Won!

Check out the vast array of ‘meats and ‘cheese’ I got today from the Redwood Co., thanks to the fuckyeahveganpizza competition.

a vast array of 'meats' and 'cheeses'

Now that’s what I call a veritable cornucopia of faux meats and cheese! Now, what the hell to do with it all?!?!

Most of it has gone in the freezer. The majority of meat slices will do for sandwiches to take to work. I’ve kept some cheese, some chorizo pieces, and the pack of chicken bits out to play with.

I’m thinking half the chorizo in a Shepherd’s Pie maybe, should make for an interesting meal, with the other half plus some cheese topping a pizza. Then maybe a bake with the rest of the cheese, or something pastaey with mushroom and cashews. I’ll figure it out. Whatever I decide I’ll be eating good for the next few weeks that’s for sure!

Thanks Redwood Co for the generous prize, and thanks FuckYeahVeganPizza for making it all happen. You are both, respectively, stars! 🙂

NB: This is my 300th post! What a nice way to celebrate getting to 300, eh? 😉