Wednesday, 23 September 2015

20 minute vegan chilli

I've been experimenting with meat-free meals that can be pulled together quickly using store cupboard ingredients. The sort of thing that can be prepared at the end of a long day, or when you need to cook for unexpected guests and discover that they do not eat meat.

I am also looking at ways of deceasing the amount of gluten in my diet for health reasons. With that in mind I decided to make a revised version of one of my favourite chilli recipes. This one will serve four people, but can be scaled up or down accordingly. The spices I used were labelled as gluten free on the pack, it is always best to check however that the manufacturer has not added an anti-caking agent containing gluten.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 or 2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped depending on how hot you want it, seeds removed.
2 x 400g tins of lentils in water, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin of mixed beans in water, rinsed and drained
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of Hendersons Relish, or equivalent. If you use Lea and Perrins Worcester sauce it won't be either gluten free or vegan.
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan or saute pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for around five minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the tomato puree and cook for a 2-3 minutes followed by the cumin, coriander, paprika and chillies and cook for a further two minutes.

Next add the lentils, beans, tomatoes and Hendersons Relish (or Worcester Sauce). Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly. Season to taste and serve with plain boiled white rice.

If you have more time, this mixture also works well as a filling for enchiladas made with either gluten free or regular flour, or cooked for longer to thicken the sauce and used to stuff red peppers.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Masala mashed potatoes

Now that I have given up work full time and am doing my own thing, as well as pursuing my culinary passions, I have started to play around with new ideas for old favourites.

Mashed potato is, in my opinion, one of the ultimate comfort foods. Hot and steaming, with loads of butter and milk (or cream if you are feeling in need of some extra comfort), it is guaranteed to make you feel good. And of course you can make it even more comforting by mixing in some cheese or leeks like I do when I am using it as a cottage pie topping.

As delicious as it is however, it is not the healthiest of foods, especially if you are watching your weight or need to follow a low fat diet for health reasons. With that in mind, and some herbs and spices in the fridge which I needed to use up, I wondered if I could do something a little healthier.

I originally used this mix to stuff peppers as part of a vegan and gluten free dinner, but have since discovered that it goes equally as well with sausages, roast chicken or stuffed into flatbreads or dhosas and served with chutneys. It is also great served in a bowl on its' own!

The quantity below fills four peppers generously, but you can scale the quantities up if serving as part of a meal.

300g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
3tbsp sunflower oil or light olive oil
½tsp yellow or black mustard seeds
½tsp cumin seeds
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped. Take the seeds out if you prefer a milder chilli heat
½tsp ground turmeric
1tsp garam masala
50g raw peanuts or cashews, chopped
1tsp salt, or to taste
2tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1tbsp lemon juice

Place the potatoes in a pan with water, bring to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until soft. Drain and allow to cool slightly. When cool place in a bowl and mash roughly with a fork, what you want is a textured mash. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wide, shallow frying pan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds, place the lid on and allow the seeds to pop. Do not be tempted to lift the lid as the seeds will fly all over the place.

Next add the onion and chilli to the pan and fry for 10 minutes until soft. Then add the tumeric, garam masala and nuts and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, taking care not to burn the nuts.

Add the potato, salt, coriander and lemon juice to the pan and heat through before serving.