Saturday, 28 January 2012

Whole Sesame Hummus

Yummy with olives and salad!

I'd like to pretend that the inspiration for this hummus came from the desire to create something with a less mushy texture than regular hummus, but no, it didn't! - It came, quite simply, from the fact that I was low on tahini for making my regular kala chana hummus
As it's a bit more solid and drier, it does need a little more water and a small well of olive oil in the centre also helps. I don't know if this qualifies as a " hummus made with anything but chickpeas" that is supposed to be a trend over the coming year but it's certainly different enough to warrant a mention here.
To make the hummus, just follow my recipe (see link above) but substitute 1/2 - 2/3 of the tahini for whole sesame seeds. You could toast them for a slightly different and stronger flavour. I'm also wondering what it would be like with ground linseeds (flax) : earthy but super-healthy? Do use the comments facility below to let me know what it's like if you try this out.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Sabji, rice, dal etc... but vegan!

Thakuraji's offering plate
It's been a long time since I last cooked at my local temple: nowadays I'm so busy that I end up baking a cake or cookies at home and taking them along. So tonight (Tuesday) I felt like having a go at home just to keep my hand in. My husband, an accomplished cook of all things Indian, pronounced this meal a success so I'm feeling quite pleased with myself, even though it took me way longer than it should have- about 2 1/4 hours to produce a meal for 7 people! The following are notes on what I did. Everything came from my store cupboard apart from the fresh veg, and it's all vegan too.

Pictured from the bottom left are:
  • Pakoras and chutney:  The chutney is actually very similar to the one I link to here, but with ginger and toasted mustard seeds instead of the herbs. This time the pakoras were made with half white self-raising flour and half chickpea flour, which gave a very crisp result. Added to the flours was 1 tsp hing, some powdered red chilli, seasalt and turmeric (haldi). I made the batter quite thick and pre-cooked broccoli and potato slices to dip in it, then used sunflower oil for deep-frying.
  • Chana Dal: I added a can of tomatoes to the cooked chana, plenty of seasalt and haldi, then toasted musrtard seeds in a little olive oil, to which I added hing and a generous handful of powdered coriander seed just before adding to the dal, Simple and tasty!
  • Sabji: I used olive oil again to gently fry cumin seeds and grated fresh ginger along with a little haldi and a selection of vegetables such as cabbage and green beans. After adding chopped fresh tomatoes and salt, I put the lid on the pot and turned the heat right down to gently sweat the sabji in its own juices- it comes out moist without getting watery. I kept the chilli out of this one as the chutney and pakoras were quite hot.
  • Chapattis: Cooked on a tava and made of 1/2 white flour and half wholemeal flour. I made sure the dough was not too dry so as to get a soft result. (Tip: I use my bread machine on dough cycle to mix and knead the chapatti dough for me while I get on with other stuff.)
  • Rice: A very simple pulao of white basmati rice, peas and toasted cashews. I added the nuts at the last minute to keep their crispness.
This is a simple, economical and nutritious meal, made healthier by the fact that there are no animal fats involved, but then maybe spoilt by the fact that there is deep-frying involved... but once in a while is okay, I feel!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Winter fruit Salad- no added sugar

A warming yet light start to the day

I love light and fruity Summer breakfasts like smoothies, fresh juice and fresh fruit salads but my body just won't let me have them in Winter; I end up feeling cold, sluggish and hungry all morning! I know that all you raw foodists out there will be holding up your hands in horror that I could dare to heat-treat my precious fruit, so let me tell you that I do eat my fruit raw at all other times- just not at 7:00am in Winter! I don't cook it for very long; just enough time to let it get soft and bring the juices out so I'm sure there are still some nutrients left. For maximum nutrient-retention leave the fruit in large pieces to cook it and chop it smaller afterwards. On the plus side, the cooking really brings out the fruit's natural sweetness and you won't need any type of sugar.
The following serves one large portion or you can use it for 2 people as an accompaniment:

2 slices of fresh pineapple, peeled and cubed
1 ripe kiwi, peeled and quartered
1 banana, quartered
a small handful of dried cranberries
5 prunes, halved
3 dried apricots
a little water
  • Prepare the fruit and put into an oven-proof dish
  • Add a minimal amount of water, to help rehydrate the dried fruit
  • Bake at 200C in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until softened and juicy
  • Serve in a bowl with your favourite topping. I  just drizzle on a bit of tahini, but you could have yoghurt, cream, almond or cashew cream, flaked almonds or seeds... just use your imagination! Dressed up, this dish is the basis of a great light dessert.
  • Variations on the theme: You can also use plums, peaches or nectarines, mango, dessert pears or any fruit that takes your fancy. You could place a small cinnamon stick in the dish during cooking or sprinkle with mixed spice for an extra-Wintery flavour.