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? 🙂

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 Home Made Christmas

I have a tiny flat. No room for anything superfluous, including Christmas decorations. I like them, but after using them for a month where would I put them? And I don’t want to buy them and throw them away each year. That’d be expensive, and wasteful.

So this year I decided to make my own tree! After wrapping all my presents I had lots of wrapping paper left over, so I got out the scissors and the blu-tack and did a bit of ‘cut and stick’.

merry christmas

Nothing more Christmassy than hanging decorations and watching Lord of the Rings, don’t you think? 😉

kiki's christmas tree

I topped it with a cupcake bauble my friend gave me. It’s very cute. Maybe one day I’ll have a proper tree to put it on.

Nice huh? Quite pleased with how it came out. Now all I need is some presents to put under it.

🙂

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. 🙂