Sunday, 29 June 2014

Revival bread

In Andrew Whitely's  Do Sourdough he describes the seven days of bread -

Day 1 - Fresh
Day 2 - Sandwich
Day 3 - Toast
Day 4 - Bruschetta
Day 5 - Crisp breads
Day 6 - Croutons
Day 7 - Breadcrumbs

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Muttar Paneer

Cheese 'n' peas. What's not to like. This is one of my store cupboard staples, a dish that can be knocked out in under 30 minutes and one that meets the criteria for the eat your greens challenge. 

Occasionally you can find muttar paneer on takeaway menus, usually with a creamy sauce. This is a more austere version and better for it too, in my opinion. It is very simple to make and my version is heavily indebted to Monisha Bharadwaj's India's vegetarian cooking,  a beautifully illustrated collection of regional Indian cooking. I have cooked dozens of her recipes and never been let down. 


2 tbs sunflower oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
I large green chilli, sliced
250g frozen peas
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder 
Heaped tsp chickpea flour (optional)
100-200 ml water
100g paneer
Lemon or lime juice
Coriander leaf, chopped

Fry the cumin seeds in the oil until slightly darkened then add the fenugreek. Stir in the chilli and peas, then the spices and salt and sugar. I use approx 1/2 tsp of the latter but add to your own taste and palate. I then add the chickpea flour and stir for 30 seconds. This is not in the original recipe but I like the flavour it adds and when the 200ml water is added it helps thicken the sauce without resorting to the addition of cream. Cook for 10 mins. Finally add the chopped paneer and garnish with coriander and lime juice. If I have bought firm shop bought paneer I tend to fry it in ghee first, but if I make this with home-made paneer I like to simply crumble it into the peas. 

This quantity makes enough for 2 main meals. It is good with rice but here I have served it with marmite sourdough and it was delicious. 

This is my first entry into Shaheen's eat your greens challenge

Marmite bread - love it or hate it?

Marmite bread. Last time I tried to make this bread the cooker element died and I was without sourdough bread for several months whilst the engineer tried to locate the missing part. Still, I won't hold that against it as it is a lovely bread. The recipe comes from Brilliant Bread by British  Bake Off runner-up James Morton. This is far more than a TV spin-off and Jame's passion for bread making shines through. He does a lot  to demystify the process of making bread especially sourdough and for that alone it is a good read. I have not baked extensively from it more because I have been quite conservative in my choices of bread this past year but the marmite bread and IPA with cardamom have stood our and I am hoping to do a frugal loaf using a soaker (bits of stale bread soaked in water overnight)  soon. Good book choice for a present for someone just starting in bread making (though I would have been pleased to receive it too).

Monday, 23 June 2014

Eat Your Greens

Shaheen, a food blogger friend and supporter for many years has just started a monthly challenge - Eat Your Greens - which I am hoping to be a regular contributor.  For many people in the UK, Indian food is not synonymous with healthy eating. Yet there are so many ways one can cook seasonal vegetables with simple spicing to provide healthy main and side dishes. I am looking forward to this. Do you fancy the challenge?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Weekly sourdough update

Well it is over a year since I posted anything on sourdough bread making. Back then I had just acquired a shiny red cast iron enamel casserole pot I n which to bake my bread after reading Ken Forkish's excellent book. One year on I have stayed true to this method which gives dependable results, a good rise and crust. My repertoire of breads has become somewhat narrow, something I hope to address in the coming months. My favourite recipes are Dan Lepard's Mill loaf, consisting 60% white, 30% whole meal and 10% rye, or a malted loaf using A Dove Farm flour. Occasionally I will bake a 100% white or whole meal loaf.

I recently picked up Andrew Whitely's Do Sourdough book which I think is an excellent no- nonsense  introduction into the art of making sourdough bread.

Many many untried recipes to explore plus I would like to revisit some that are already to be found on this blog. I would also like to try some Indian breads. My flat breads have been a little hit and miss. There does not seem to be a history of sourdough in India, perhaps due to the flour quality, temperature and humidity - but on the web it seems the Indian diaspora across the world and especially in the US have experimented adapting traditional recipes using sourdough techniques. I hope to join in this exploration.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Not just a load of old lentils.

When I became a vegetarian in the eighties my family were concerned. Would I get enough protein? What on earth would I eat? It may seem odd to us now where vegetarianism has become so common place to speak of a time where being vegetarian was seen as a little odd. One of the first meals I cooked my parents was a simple red lentil dish flavoured with onions, tinned tomatoes, dried mixed herbs and grated cheddar cheese. "Spanish lentils" it was called, though I am not sure what was Spanish about it. It was like a sloppy version of that wholefood stalwart, the cheese and lentil wedge. But, hey, cheese, lentils, what's not to like? Over the years I would visit my parents and whilst there cook a meal for them. They were always complimentary and my mother appreciated some one else cooking for the night but I never convinced them of the merits of vegetarian cooking. Except this one dish. I remember phoning my parents one evening and my mum asking what I was having for tea ( as mum's do) before telling me they were having "that lentil dish you do" . Apparently my father liked it a lot but had added a kick of chilli to make it his own. 

Friday, 20 June 2014

No otters were harmed....

"I think I've been cooking it wrong for years. You're telling me that tarka dal doesn't have any otters in it? At all?" A reply to How to cook perfect dal
I was brought up in a provincial town in the north of England during the seventies. Food was of the meat and two veg kind, where the veg was usually out of tins. Food was bland; take away food consisted of fish and chips, or more likely, meat and potato pie. Curries were exotic. We would have a Vesta beef curry occasionally, the meat in the middle surrounded by a ring of over cooked rice. My dad used to like Heinz mulligatawny soup, a sweet, peppery,hot beef soup. We went out for a family meal to an Indian restaurant just once. I do not remember too much detail about the  food other than it being too hot for my palate and the rice being multi-coloured and the excitement as the dishes sizzled as they were brought to the table and the smells of the spices and the pillowy naan bread.