Archive for the 'indian' Category

South Indian cabbage with yoghurt

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

It’s November, and I think this year I must have eaten close to 50 meals of dal. Curried pulses, how I love you. I often make a giant pot on a Sunday and freeze portions to take for lunches, and it also gets eaten now and then for dinner too. I think of it as lazy-girl dal – lazy because I end up eating the same thing for lunch 3+ days a week; lazy because it means I don’t have to plan dinners with leftovers in mind; lazy because I can rarely be bothered cooking a second curry to get my veggie quota so always just chuck loads of vegetables (sweet potato, spinach and zucchini in the most recent pot) into the dal.

This, however, could be a game-changing vegetable curry. It’s easy and quick, but very tasty and hits my palate’s current (and recurrent) obsessions of cabbage, yoghurt and spice. The cabbage is cooked till it’s just tender, but still has a bit of crispness to the tooth. It’s sweated down in a flavourful mix of spices and onions, then dressed with coconut and the slight sourness of yoghurt. (Don’t, despite what Marth Rose Shulman says in the original recipe, use low-fat yoghurt for this – apart from the fact that you’d just be eating a bunch of stabilisers, low-fat is much more likely to curdle in the heat.)

This quantity is supposed to serve 6 just with rice, but it was so good that I ate about a quarter of  it with both a little brown rice and a serving of that lazy-girl dal. I think I have found a perfect lunchtime match.

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3-4 tablespoons grated coconut (fresh or dried)
peanut oil
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons urad dal
1 teaspoon ground or flaked chili
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium onion, halved and very finely sliced
1 small cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 cup plain yoghurt, at room temperature

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds lightly, then grind them with a mortar and pestle.

If you are using dried coconut, put it in a little bowl covered with warm water to rehydrate.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil in a large saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and urad dal. As soon as you hear a few pops from the mustard seeds, add the ground cumin and coriander, the chili and the turmeric. Stir together then add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring, until it is softening. Add the cabbage and a good teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring, for another minute until it begins to wilt and everything is well mixed. You can deglaze the pan with a tiny dash of water at this stage if necessary.

Cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and cook for about 8 minutes, until the cabbage is just tender. Drain the coconut and stir through the cabbage. Taste for seasoning. Remove from heat.

Stir the yoghurt through the cabbage. Serve warm.

Hell yes, madam (spring onion, coriander and besan flour fritters)

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Who’s our first elected female prime minister? Julia Gillard, that’s who. Hell yes, madam.

Anyway, celebration in this household took the form of fried food and beer for dinner. I have complete blindness for recipes that call for deep-frying – it simply doesn’t occur to me that I could do it. So I am extremely grateful to Tiny Banquet Committee for posting about their fritterized, shallow-fried version of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s deep-fried spring onion bhajis. Deep-fried spheres, eh, whatever. But greens-packed, besan flour fritters: intriguing.

Despite my intention of fritterizing the results, I followed Hugh FW’s recipe to the dot up to the cooking stage. Mysteriously this produced not the “smoothish batter” promised, but instead a bowl full of chopped up spring onions lightly and unevenly coated with faint smears of batter. Seriously, it looked like there was about 5% batter to 95% onions by volume. I’m not sure if I used the wrong kind or quantity of spring onions (I used one full bunch of the long green onions sold as shallots in Australia), or perhaps cut them wrongly (into 1 cm rounds), or what. But there wasn’t quite enough batter to even stick the onions together for any kind of frying. So I dumped in another couple of tablespoons of besan flour, followed by another slosh of beer, and miraculously things came together.

My fritters were much more greens-heavy and therefore raggedy-looking than the ones on Tiny Banquet Committee, but man they tasted good. The besan flour gives a great savoury flavour, the spices perk things up just enough, and the fritters were crisp on the outside, and soft and green-oniony on the inside. The raita adds an essential sharp/sour/creamy complement – I made it with goats curd and yoghurt a la HFW, but tasted very little of the goatiness. You could probably up the goat cheese for more of a hit, or just use all Greek yoghurt instead if you want to keep things simple.

Cheers Julia! I raise my beer (and a fritter) to you.


For the raita
100 g fresh radishes, trimmed and washed
50 g soft goats cheese
150 ml whole milk yoghurt
3 teaspoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 pinch salt

Slice the radishes very thinly (1 mm). Beat together the cheese and the yoghurt until smooth, then add the radishes, mint and salt and stir to combine.


For the fritters
90 g chickpea (a.k.a. gram or besan) flour
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large pinch cayenne pepper
1 large pinch black nigella seeds
4 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
180 g spring onions, trimmed, cut into 1cm slices
100-120 ml beer or water
peanut oil

Sieve the besan flour, plain flour, coriander, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper into a bow. Add the onion seeds, coriander leaves and spring onions, and whisk together. Gradually add the beer or water, continually stirring, until you have a batter. If you find that this is not enough batter to hold things together, add a bit more besan flour and beer until it is. Mine was still very much spring onions only just held together with batter, and that worked great.

Heat a frypan over medium heat and add a slick of oil. Make each fritter by scooping up about a dessert-spoon of the mixture, dropping it into the pan, and pressing down with the back of the spoon to make a flattish circle (about 1.5 cm thick). Fry for a few minutes, until the bottom is browned. Flip and cook another couple of minutes until the other side is also browned and the middle is cooked. Drain on kitchen paper, repeat with the rest of the mixture. Eat hot, with raita and beer. Makes about 10 fritters.

Pumpkin and [spinach|silverbeet] curry

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

I’ve got no idea if this is an authentic curry from any location at all other than suburban Australian kitchens, but it is delicious.  It’s very slightly adapted from the recipe here, where they say that the fenugreek seeds are optional. I’d argue that the fenugreek is one of the essential flavours here, along with the curry leaves and lime juice.  I used silverbeet rather than spinach and it works fine – just chop it well.

Leftovers of this (together with a panch dal) are going to be lunch for  me for several days this week. Can’t wait!

oil or ghee
1 heaped teaspoon brown mustard seeds
3 green chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced (or equivalent dried chilli flakes)
12 fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 onions, finely chopped
425 g can tomatoes
200 ml coconut milk
300 ml water
500g  pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 cm chunks
1 bunch spinach or silverbeet, chopped
1 lime, juiced

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the mustard seeds and cook for a minute, until they start to pop.  Add the chillies, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds and turmeric, and cook another couple of minutes until they are aromatic. Add the onions and a pinch or two of salt, and cook for 5 minutes, or until they’re soft. Now add the tomatoes (break them up with the spoon if they’re whole), coconut milk, water and pumpkin, and simmer, partly covered, for 15 minutes or until the pumpkin is a few minutes away from done. Add the spinach or silverbeet, stir it in, and cook until wilted. Sqeeze in the juice of half the lime. Taste the sauce and add more lime juice if needed.