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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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).
 
๐Ÿ™‚

Week 13: Exercise and egos (& Suzette Rice)

Right, I’m well late for this ‘report’ but that’s ok, coz I’m going to chill out a bit about this whole blogging thing (hence the fact that it’s not a report anymore).

Last week I was too busy with cat sitting, work, and everything else to even get online, never mind do things, so I haven’t ‘achieved’ very much, though that depends on your point of view.

I did exercise every day, which is a first. I went to see a physio and he told me that my tight leg muscles were making me walk funny and causing the pain in my foot and back. Unfortunately he wanted over ยฃ228 for the privilege of sorting it out for me, and that’s far more than I can afford (or am willing to pay for a bit of leg stretches if I’m honest) so I’m just exercising at home with techniques I’ve got from friends of mine – lots of yoga/sports type stuff – and it’s working out ok. Definitely feel looser, and it can only get better.

katie goes ape

Bank Holiday Monday I did Go Ape again with the very lovely Katie (above). It was great fun, and it made me want to get out more, do more physical stuff. Y’know, the other day I did a quick list ofย Things I’d Like To Be If Time, Money And Effort Were Not An Issue and this is what I came up with:

1. Turntablist
2. Parkour Expert
3. Zen Gardener
4. Surfer
5. Buddhist Monk

Notice how they’re all physical (with the possible exception of Buddhist Monk, though it could be argued that the practice of mindfulness is the most physical activity of all). That’s what I should be doing with my life, something physical, not spending most of it in front of a computer. That’s why my legs are messed up, because I don’t get enough exercise. So, with that in mind, I’ve looked into doing a climbing course at the Westway Centre. They’re farily cheap for a taster session, and it looks like fun. I’ve always enjoyed climbing stuff, just never done it in any professional capacity. Well, now’s my chance. Just got to wait for pay day to roll around now.

Suzette Rice (or, la riz Suzette)

My recipe this week was going to be a dahl type thing, but I’m still working on it, so here’s a little something I made up whilst cat sitting, named in honour of my friend whose house I was staying at.

suzette rice

1 cup Basmati Rice
1 Onion, chopped
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
1 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
1 Bay Leaf
Olive Oil
2 1/4 cups of Water

In a pan on medium high heat fry the onion, and garlic for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. Add the mustard seed and fry until seeds start to pop.

Add the rice, water and bay leaf, stir, then leave to simmer until all the water has gone.

Remove from heat, remove bay leaf, fluff up with a fork, then cover pan and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

It’s not a complicated recipe but it does make plain rice a little more interesting, both taste wise and visually too. And the first bite is with the eye after all, eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Week 8’s recipes – Jerk Tofu & Carrot and Coriander soup

Jamaican Jerk Tofu

Another old recipe from my college days, this time with tofu instead of chicken.

200g Firm tofu, cut diagonally

4-5 tsp of Jerk seasoning (powdered)

2 tbsp Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup Boiling water

Mix the jerk seasoning with 1 tbsp of the olive oil to make a marinade (if you can’t get the lovely sticky stuff that is) then coat your tofu wedges in the spicy goo and leave to marinate for half an hour to an hour.

To cook, heat the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan on a fairly high heat. Place the tofu in the pan and sear one side for 7 minutes (or until brown). Turn over and sear the other side for 7 minutes also, adding the onion around the tofu for the last 5 minutes or so. Take care not to burn the onion.

Once both sides are cooked add the boiling water and turn down to a low heat. Cover with a lid (or plate) and simmer for another 7 minutes or until most of the water has gone. If you put the rice on before you start cooking it should be done by now. Serve on a bed of rice covered with the spicy onions as pictured above.

Carrot and Coriander soup

A classic soup, and stupidly easy to make.

5-6 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

1 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 pints of vegetable stock

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Fry the onion and carrots in a medium pan on a medium high heat for 5 minutes until soft. Add 1 tsp of ground coriander and fry for another minute.

Add the vegetable stock and salt, bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots have gone soft. Take off heat and blend until fairly smooth. Add the fresh coriander, stir and serve.

Report 4 – I’m late, I’m late!! (Lentil dahl & Student pasta sauce)

Ok, first an apology (to my almost entirely absent readership). I’m a bit late with my report. No excuse really, I was just in a fowl mood (not just angry, but chicken angry, grrr-cluck-cluck!) last week and I just couldn’t be arsed. Was actually quite unusual for me. I was in such an almighty blue funk, and I couldn’t figure out why? Best guess it was a combination of early starts at work – I do TV transmission which is a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year job, so as well as working all night sometimes; this week I’m gettin up at 5am to get to work for 7, which basically sucks ass! – a severe lack of proper sunlight (B12/B6/Bmybaby) and bad nutrition (work means lots of packed lunches, braised tofu rolls, and crisps. Anyway, that was then, and this is now. Down to business.

Lentil dahl

No picture for this as they all came out blurry (will try to do one later, as I have some frozen) but basically imagine something gloppy and yellowey.

1 cup red lentils

2-3 cups of boiling water

a splash of oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp black mustard seeds

4 curry leaves

1 tbsp of chopped coriander

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp salt

Rinse the lentils thoroughly. Warm oil in a pan on medium heat, then sweat the onions until tender. Add the mustard seeds and cumin. When seeds start to pop add the garlic. Stir to prevent garlic browning. Add the curry leaves, coriander, turmeric and garam masala and stir. Add the lentils and water and bring to boil. Add salt, then simmer until lentils are soft (approximately 12-15 minutes at least). Water should cover lentils easily. Add more or less water depending on how thick you want your dahl (2 cups minimum). Serve on a bed of brown basmati rice. Can also be enjoyed as a soup with some naan bread by adding a lot more water.

Student pasta sauce

This is a vegan adaptation of the recipe that got me thorough college. What used to be tuna is now braised tofu, but apart from that it’s all the same.

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

splash olive oil

1 can braised tofu

1 heaped tbsp sweet corn

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tsp tomato puree, heaped

1/4 tsp basil

salt & pepper

Heat oil on medium heat in a frying pan. Sweat the onions and garlic until soft. Add the braised tofu and sweet corn and heat through. Add tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, basil, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer on a low heat whilst you cook the pasta. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

If you’re a proper student this one can be done without the basil and tomato puree. Just use mixed herbs instead (you should always have some mixed herbs knocking about the place) and be sure to reduce the sauce a bit more to intensify the flavour. It’s quick, easy, cheap, and you can make whilst drunk/stoned. What more could you want?

Apart from the cooking, here’s what else I’ve been up to:

Recipes done: Lentil dahl & Student pasta sauce

Script pages done: None, of course. Have you not spotted the pattern by now?

New thing done: Booked tickets to a West End show. Never been to a proper West End show, so going to go see Legally Blonde for my birthday. Really looking forward to it actually. No idea what to expect. Something amazing I hope.

On a further note, I’m trying to pin down what a ‘new thing’ should constitute. Whether it should be something I’ve never ever ever done before (which could be hard as I’ve done some stuff), or if it should be something new for me now? I mean, just because I’ve tried something before doesn’t mean it can’t open up a new chapter for me now, does it? It’s a tough one. I’m going to play with it for a while, see what comes up; though for the moment I’m leaning towards the entirely new. It seems a bit more challenging.

TTFN y’awl.