Chickpea Curry (Chana/Chole) Two Ways

Chickpeas are fantastic. They are a hugely versatile ingredient and are used in several different cuisines. With a 19% protein content, higher than most other legumes, no vegetarian, or anyone for that matter, should go without incorporating them into our diets. Another huge advantage of chickpeas is that they are so easy to use and they come in a tin, are widely available and are relatively cheap to buy. Here I’ve posted two traditional indian recipes that are both chickpea curries with very similar ingredients. The only really difference is in the thickness of the sauce, but this can make a lot of difference depending on what you would like to serve them with. The first kind, is the saucy-type, which has more tomato. The second type is known as suka chana or dry chickpeas, where the chickpeas are curried in all the same spices but with much less tomato, resulting in a thicker coating of sauce and a different texture for the dish. I find the saucy type goes really well with rice, as the sauce complements the dryness of the rice, or even with naan, as the thick bread can soak up the sauce and take on the flavour. However, the dry type, in my opinion, is really delicious on its own, or with greasier, thin breads such as parathas. I don’t actually make my own parathas, though this is something I hope to learn from grandmother, who is truly a culinary goddess. Until then, just buy these from the supermarket! These recipes are virtually identical (changes in ingredients are highlighted in bold) so choose which type you would like to make and make sure to read the correct instructions, as this will make all the difference to the type of curry you end up with!

Chickpea Curry (Saucy-type)

– with sauce (Serves 4 as the main dish, use half the recipe if serving alongside another curry!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tins (400g) chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large white onion chopped finely
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic/ garlic paste
  • 1 tsp grated ginger/ ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt (again!)
  • 2 tins of peeled tomatoes (crushed with a hand blender) – Side note – I prefer to use peeled tinned tomatoes rather than chopped as the tomatoes seem to take on a less metallic taste, however if you prefer to use chopped tomatoes these will work too! Just be prepared to add more spice to shadow the metallic taste!
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly

Method:

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly and place in a large bowl
  2. Add the bicarbonate of soda and the salt to the chickpeas and fill the bowl with warm (NOT HOT!) water and cover the chickpeas completely. Give a quick stir and allow to rest while completing the remaining steps. – Side note – this step softens the chickpeas so that they soak up the sauce more readily.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  4. Add the onion and sauté until golden
  5. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes
  6. Add the chilli, turmeric, garam masala and salt, and stir until fragrant
  7. Add the tomatoes and cover. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes
  8. Add the sugar – Side note – this reduces the tartness of the tomatoes
  9. Lower the heat and add the chickpeas
  10. Set on medium to low heat and stir occasionally – about 15 minutes.
  11. Add fresh coriander and serve!

Sneaky addition! – I add a tablespoon of yoghurt sometimes if I still feel the sauce is sour or metallic tasting from the tinned tomatoes. This neutralises this sharp flavour and actually disappears into the sauce.

Dry Chickpea Curry – (Serves 4-6 as a main course, but again use half the recipe as a side dish)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tins (600g) chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large white onion chopped finely
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic/ garlic paste
  • 1 tsp grated ginger/ ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt (again!)
  • 1 tin of peeled tomatoes (crushed VERY GENTLY with a hand blender) – Side note – the same applies as before I prefer to use peeled tinned tomatoes rather than chopped as the tomatoes seem to take on a less metallic taste, however if you prefer to use chopped tomatoes these will work too! Just be prepared to add more spice to shadow the metallic taste! HOWEVER, we dont want the tomatoes to be a smooth liquid this time so only blend them lightly so some small lumps remains.
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly and place in a large bowl
  2. Add the bicarbonate of soda and the salt to the chickpeas and fill the bowl with warm (NOT HOT!) water and cover the chickpeas completely. Give a quick stir and allow to rest while completing the remaining steps. – Side note – this step softens the chickpeas so that they soak up the sauce more readily.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  4. Add the onion and sauté until golden
  5. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes
  6. Add the chilli, turmeric, garam masala and salt, and stir until fragrant
  7. Add the tomatoes and cover. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes
  8. Add the sugar
  9. Lower the heat and add the chickpeas and lemon juice
  10. Turn up the heat and allow the whole mixture to reduce – about 15 minutes.
  11. Add fresh coriander and serve!

Sneaky addition! – I add a tablespoon of yoghurt sometimes if I still feel the sauce is sour or metallic tasting from the tinned tomatoes. This neutralises this sharp flavour and actually disappears into the sauce.

Irene’s Pourgouri with Greek Salad (Bulgur wheat in a rich tomato sauce)

 

This is a fantastic greek cypriot recipe I was given by my beautiful friend Irene. Her wonderful family invited me to stay with them in Paphos in Summer 2015 and her mum, Aunty Athena made this dish for us one night as a light dinner. Since then I was craving it and asked her for the recipe, and its amazing how something so delicious can be so quick and easy to cook! Irene usually serves this with a cypriot hard cheese called anari but its very difficult to find in the UK, so I cheated and used parmigiano reggiano instead. My flatmate, Emma has gone vegan for lent and I’m trying to think of things we can eat together without having to commit to veganism myself… So a great feature of this dish is that you could actually skip the cheese completely and make it vegan, and the same goes for the salad part by skipping the feta. Irene’s original recipe doesn’t have spinach but I fancied something green so threw it in at the last minute.

The Pourgouri

Ingredients:

  • 1 large white onion chopped finely
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 300 g passata (sieved tomatoes)
  • 225 g (1 cup) Bulgur Wheat
  • 1 vegetable stock pot made up in 500 ml (2 cups) of water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cubes frozen spinach (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  2. Add the onion and sauté until golden
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute
  4. Add the bulgur wheat and stir for another minute
  5.  Add the passata, salt and pepper and about half of vegetable stock. (Side note – if you are using tinned tomatoes and sieving them yourself or prefer a less sour tomato taste just add 1/2 tsp of sugar)
  6. Add the spinach if you’re adding it.
  7. Let it reduce for a while and add the rest of the stock.
  8. Set on medium to low heat and stir occasionally until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is cooked – about 15 minutes.
  9. Once all the water is absorbed taste a little of the bulgur, if it still has some crunch, you may need to add a little more hot water (about 1/2 cup) and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Sneaky addition! – I added a sprinkle of cayenne pepper at the last minute to give it some kick

Simple Greek Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cup of olives (I use mixed green and black)
  • 200 g of feta
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Chop the onion into medium size cubes
  2. Steep the onions in the olive oil, salt, sugar and oregano while you prepare the rest of the ingredients – I do this step to reduce the sharpness of the onions
  3. Chop the cucumber into small cubes and add to the onion mix
  4. Repeat this with the tomatoes (you can remove the seeds if you like but it’s also fine to leave them in)
  5. Chop the feta into small cubes and add to the mix
  6. Add the olives
  7. Add black pepper and toss gently – be careful not to break up the feta too much

Spoon the pourgouri onto a plate, top with hard cheese and serve with the salad on the side. Enjoy!

 

Creamy Mushroom Tagliatelle/Linguine (with Quorn Fillets)

 

This pasta and sauce has always been a big favourite with my family, it is super easy, and very rich! I’ve recently been experimenting with it and found that this is so versatile, if you don’t like onions swap them out for any vegetable you like, same goes for the spinach and even the mushrooms. You can even switch-up the pasta, I prefer to use tagliatelle or linguine (this is what’s in the photo) but spaghetti or bucatini would probably work too. I usually make this without Quorn and serve it with garlic bread, but recently I’ve been trying to increase the amount of protein I eat so the Quorn fillets were a nice addition. If you try it out please post on here or on Facebook and let me know how it turns out!

Serves 4

The Pasta and Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 10 large mushrooms, sliced thick (I like baby portabella but chestnut work well too)
  • 1/2 bag of ready-to-eat baby leaf spinach
  • 50g butter
  • 600 ml double cream
  • 150 g grated Parmesan
  • Handful of fresh Thyme (dried will work fine, but you might need to add quite a lot to get the flavour to come through)
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 10 “knots” of tagliatelle (comes dry in a bag in the pasta isle) or 500 g linguine

Method:

  1. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil
  2. Add the the onions and allow them cook until slightly golden
  3. Add the garlic and toss the onions
  4. Add the mushrooms and allow them to cook until soft and brown, take off the heat
  5. In a saucepan melt the butter on low heat
  6. Add the cream and cover, allow to simmer for 10 minutes
  7. Add the Parmesan and garlic salt
  8. Put the frying pan back on the heat and add the thyme and the spinach. Toss until spinach softens and take off the heat
  9. Add the mushroom, spinach, onion mix to the sauce in the saucepan, cover and leave on low heat for 10 minutes
  10. At this point you can add salt/pepper to taste
  11. Cook the tagliatelle according to the instructions on the packet (salt and oil the water to prevent it getting sticky)
  12. Add a spoonful of pasta to a deep plate and spoon the sauce on top

The Quorn

Quorn is so easy to work with, I usually buy the Quorn fillets from the frozen section in the supermarket in a packet of 6 (http://www.quorn.co.uk/food/cook-from-scratch/chicken-style-fillets/). Usually one fillet per person is enough due to the richness of the pasta but as you can see, sometimes I have 2! Cook as follows:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (I make this myself by add the scraps of garlic left from crushing to a jar of oil and leaving it about a week, but this is easy to find in supermarkets too)
  • Quorn meat-free chicken fillets
  • 300 ml vegetable stock

Methods:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan
  2. Place the fillets curved-side up and heat for 8 minutes
  3. Turn the fillets and cook for a further 8 minutes
  4. Add the stock and simmer, open, on low heat for 10 minutes. If the top of the fillets are still exposed just ladle the stock over the top every few minutes.
  5. Place on top of the pasta, add some more parmesan, serve and enjoy!

 

Coconut Cake (Eggless)

So to start off my blog I thought I would share a great recipe for a delicious eggless coconut cake. I adapted this recipe from a Coconut Cream Polenta Cake recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website when I wanted to make a cake as surprise for my grandmother who doesn’t eat eggs. Eggless cakes can be extremely difficult to make especially for beginner bakers like myself. Without eggs it can be a struggle to get a moist texture and sometimes to even get a cake to rise. Furthermore ingredients such as egg-substitute powders and polenta aren’t exactly easy to find in most British supermarkets. My first attempt at this cake (using semolina instead of polenta) was far too dry, the second too rich and after some research and amendments to the recipe the third attempt turned out just right. See the recipe below the photograph!

Coconut Cake (Eggless)

Ingredients:

  • 140g butter at room temperature
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 160 ml can of coconut cream
  • 140g plain flour
  • 25g desiccated coconut
  • 85g fine semolina
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (with seeds if possible)
  • juice of 1 lemon

For the topping:

  • 5 heaped tbsp icing sugar
  • 150ml Water (Room temperature)
  • Vanilla extract

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 170°C/gas 3/ 325°F. Grease and line a 20cm round spring-form cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fairly light and fluffy – I prefer to do all of this in a stand mixer but I’m sure an electric hand mixer would be sufficient, it might just take a little longer to get to the right texture.
  3. Add the coconut cream and beat again for a minute or two.
  4. Add the remaining dry cake ingredients (the order isn’t too important but I always add the semolina last).
  5. Add the vanilla extract and ALL the juice of the lemon (remember to squeeze out the juice in a separate bowl and remove the seeds- you don’t want seeds in your cake mix!)
  6. Beat this mixture for 3-4 minutes at a slow to medium speed, this should give you a thick slightly wet mixture
  7. Spoon the ingredients into the tin and bake for 50 minutes – I usually stop and check it half way through and gently turn the cake around to ensure it cooks evenly but my oven is temperamental so this may not be necessary!
  8. Once the top of the cake is golden, remove the cake and check that it is cooked throughout by inserting a skewer/long thin knife and make sure it comes out clean. If not, return it to the oven for a couple more minutes but be sure to watch it or you can risk burning the top of the cake.
  9. Remove from the oven allow the cake to cool in the tin.
  10. Once the cake is cool, remove it from the tin, hold it upside down with your hand spread and carefully peel away the paper on the bottom (if it was well greased it should come off easily) and transfer the cake to a plate.
  11. Mix together the icing sugar and vanilla extract and slowly add room temperature water little by little until you achieve a runny, gooey, thick liquid texture – you might need more than 150ml but just make sure its runny.
  12. Now this is the unusual step, but it definitely works (trust me!). Pierce holes in the cake all throughout the top with a normal dinner knife, and pour the runny icing mix all over the top of the cake, letting it drip down into the holes. Allow this to sit for a minimum of 15 minutes before serving the cake. This step add a little moisture to the cake and stops its crumbling too much when cutting and serving.
  13. Dust with icing sugar (not necessary but it looks pretty!)
  14. Serve with plain white ice-cream and enjoy!

By Jamie, adapted from BBC Good Food