Vegan, Vegetarian

Khoresh Bademjan (vegan)

Trying out new recipes was not top of my list during recent months. Work and keeping us all sane was the priority. Yesterday, while sporting my ‘Lockdown Grey’ hair, I decided to make something new. To draw from the selection of spices I have but not produce another dish with chili or curry as the dominant taste.

2While I haven’t that much knowledge of it, I have really enjoyed the Persian food I have had. I decided to put together a vegan version of Khoresh Bademjan. I substituted yellow split peas for the meat and it turned out quite delicious. I served it with plain Basmati rice but it would be equally nice served simply with flat breads.

My stash of Sumac was gone (now there’s something I never thought I would run out of!) so I used orange and lemon instead. It worked well and there are lovely citrus-y, garlic-y, flavours to this dish.

Serves 4-6

1lb aubergines, chopped into bite size pieces
Olive oil
Table salt
2 medium sized onions, chopped finely
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped finely (adjusted according to taste)
1 medium sized orange
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Saffron threads soaked in 3 tsp water
1 cup dried split yellow peas, rinsed with cold water
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato puree
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season

1. Place chopped aubergines in a colander and sprinkle liberally with table salt
2. Leave aside for 20-30 minutes
3. Zest and juice the orange. Place the zest in the juice and set aside
4. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C
5. Rinse the salt off the aubergines and dry the pieces
6. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes
7. While the aubergines are roasting, heat about three tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan
8. Add the onions, cover and cook gently for 6-8 minutes until soft
9. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes
10. Add the cumin, paprika and cinnamon, cook for 1-2 minutes
11. Add the lemon and orange juices (including the orange zest) and combine with the onion mix
12. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, saffron (with water), the yellow split peas and a good grind of black pepper
13. Simmer for 10 minutes
14. Add the roasted aubergines and simmer gently for 30 minutes (stir occasionally and gently so that the aubergines stay in pieces)
15. Add salt to taste
16. Serve with plain Basmati rice or flat breads

Vegan, Vegetarian

Chana Masala with Roasted Pepper

We’re at that time of the week when the fridge is bare! Time to conjure up something with the softening red pepper and larder staples of onions, garlic and chilli. In the press are tins of tomatoes, chickpeas and my collection of spices. I decide to put that pepper spicesout of its misery by roasting it in the oven to bring out its sweetness and to give it a slightly charred taste. And with the tomatoes and chickpeas, I make my version of Chana Masala. I add mango powder to the spice mix – yes, it does make a difference but it can be left out. I have to admit that I only bought it at the Asian Market as I was curious and then had to go looking for recipes to use it in!

It’s not traditional as I have no tamarind to add to the mix but the Teen declares it to be ‘unreal’ so that is praise enough for me!

Serves 4

1 red pepper, whole
3 tbsp, sunflower oil
I medium onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, chopped chilli from jar or 2-3 fresh chilis, chopped finely
1 tsp, ground cumin
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, mango powder (optional)
1 tsp, garam masala
1 tsp, turmeric
¼ – ½ tsp, salt
2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
6 dried curry leaves
1 tbsp, lemon juice

1. Heat the oven to 200 C degrees
2. Place red pepper on the rack and roast for 20-25 minutes, turning twice through the roasting process
3. While the pepper is roasting, heat the oil in a large saucepan
4. Fry cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes
5. Add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes until soft
6. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
7. Add the chilli and ginger and cook for a further 2 minutes
8. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, mango powder, garam masala, turmeric, salt and combine thoroughly with the onion mix
9. Add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, curry leaves and lemon juice
10. Slice the roasted pepper into thin strips and add to the mix
11. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes
12. Serve with flat breads or rice

Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

‘Masak Merah’ Vegetables

I promised I’d cook the Teen something spicy for dinner. When I looked at my recipes and on line, I knew I wanted to try something different – not the usual coriander-cumin mix or something with coconut milk. After much searching, I came up with a veganpic version of ‘Ayam Masak Merah’ – without the Ayam! Quite simply, it is a recipe with roasted vegetables served with a spiced tomato sauce from Malaysia.

This recipe is a milder version than the traditional ones. It is still not for the faint hearted! I decided to make the sauce in advance and let it stand so that the spice could cook out and come through more evenly. In keeping with the style of cooking the original chicken component, I roasted the vegetables before adding to the sauce. All of this was served up with boiled Jasmine rice.

I used whatever vegetables I found in the fridge and larder. I cut them into sizes so they would cook at the same time. Putting them in a large bowl, I drizzled them in enough sunflower to coat them lightly and seasoned with sea salt. Placing them on a pre-heated baking tray, I roasted them in an oven pre-heated to 180c for about 20 minutes. I give the selection I used plus I threw in some spinach at the end of the cooking time.

Serves 4

1 stick lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 bulb garlic, chopped
3 hot chillies, chopped (with seeds in)
1½ inch, ginger, chopped finely
3 star anise
½ tsp, black cardamon seeds

3 tbsp., sunflower or vegetable oil
1 stick, cinnamon
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tsp, fennel seeds
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tube, tomato puree
½ cup, tomato ketchup
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
6 kaffir leaves
1 tsp, sugar
1 tbsp., lime juice
Sea salt

Sunflower oil

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size cubes
2 large carrots, cut into batons
2 bell peppers
2 large handfuls of spinach (added 5 minutes before the end of cooking)

1. With a pestle and mortar, crush the star anise with the cardamon seeds
2. Put in the blender with the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, onion and chillies
3. Blitz into a rough paste
4. Heat the oil and fry the paste for 2-3 minutes
5. Add the cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, coriander and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes
6. Add in the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, tomato ketchup, sugar, kaffir leaves and lime juice
7. Bring to the boil and simmer at a low heat for 30 minutes
8. Season with salt to taste
9. Add the roasted vegetables, coat in the sauce and cook for another 15 minutes




This was an experiment! I knew what I wanted to make but I was shaky on the steps tospices get there! I should not have worried as it turned out very nicely. As a former colleague would say: “Tasty business. Very tasty indeed!”

The Teen was hankering after Korma. Being vegan, that is not readily available. Looking at a range of recipes, I wondered ‘What if I leave out the desiccated coconut and single cream and use coconut milk? And if I do this, how much would I use as a substitute?’ I added a bit, tasted. Then another bit. Tasted. Eventually, I chucked the whole tin in and it seemed I had thinned it out. I need not have worried. As it simmered, the taste deepened. Phew!

What vegetables did I use? Anything I found in the fridge and vegetable trays!

Substituting ingredients from traditional Kormas means that this can never be taken as authentic but in our opinion, it comes quite close in tastiness.

This took some time to make because I made the curry paste first but we think it was worth it. Due to the fact that there is a high concentration of onions, garlic and ginger in the paste, I did not add any into the Korma

2 tbsp, sunflower oil
Selection of vegetables, cut into pieces to cook at similar times
1/3 of homemade curry paste
1 heaped tbsp, tomato puree
1 tsp, sugar
1 tin, coconut milk
Black pepper and sea salt
Toasted blanched almonds to serve

1. Heat the oil in a medium sized pan
2. Fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes
3. Add in the tomato puree, sugar, curry paste and cook for a couple of minutes to ensure all the vegetables are covered
4. Add in the coconut milk and season with salt and ground pepper
5. Simmer gently for thirty minutes
6. Serve with boiled basmati rice or naan bread

Gigantes, Vegan

Gigantes (or Posh Beans on Toast!)

There isn’t a cuisine we’ve encountered that we haven’t liked but we do have our favourites. The food of mediterranean countries would be one of them – bold flavours, fresh vegetables and delicious tastes. Another bonus is that such cuisine can often be made using cupboard staples.

On Sunday, we ate lunch at a local Greek Cypriot restaurant. And it was perfect. Oodles of garlic and totally yum. The Teen couldn’t finish hers so took the leftovers in a Doggy Bag.

I wanted to make something tasty for the Apres Teen to go with the leftovers. Something tasty, hearty and vegan. Based on what I had in the cupboard, I opted for Gigantes. These I served to her with slices of toasted sour dough bread drizzled with olive oil. Basically, a posh version of beans on toast!

½ lb, dry butter beans (soaked overnight)*
Olive oil
Vegetable stock cube
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½-¾ tsp, sweet paprika**
½-¾ tsp, ground cinnamon**
2 tbsp, tomato puree
1 tbsp, dried parsley
1/2 tsp, dried oregano (optional)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)
Sea salt and black pepper

1. Cover the pre-soaked butter beans with water, crumble in the stock cube and boil gently for 50 minutes
2. While the beans are boiling, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan
3. Add the chopped onions, cover so they soften rather than brown and cook for 6-8 minutes
4. Add chopped garlic and cook for a further two minutes
5. Add the paprika, cinnamon, tomato puree, dried parsley, oregano (optional) and tinned tomatoes
6. Season with salt and a good grind of black pepper
7. Drain the beans and add the sauce
8. Simmer for 40-50 minutes until the tomato sauce is semi absorbed***
9. To serve, drizzle a little olive oil over the top

*Can use two tins of butter beans instead of the dry variety
**We like more rather than less spice. You may, however, like to start at 1/2 teaspoon of each. This can be increased once the sauce is made and tasted.
***Reduce cooking time if using canned beans (30 minutes)


Spiced roast potatoes with chickpeas

I’m always buying bags of baby potatoes and coming up with different ways to use them beyond steaming and boiling. It can bepotatoes roasting them with garlic, rosemary, sea salt and olive oil – in their skins until golden brown – or steaming them to use cold in a chunky potato salad (made with any one of four mayonnaises: ordinary, garlic, ordinary mixed with chive or curried).

In the winter, the Teen likes one bowl dinners that can be eaten without cooking anything else like rice or vegetables to accompany them. With a bag of baby roasters available, I decided to make a hearty spiced potato and chickpea dish. I roasted the potatoes separately – in their skins – and added in at the end just before serving. It turned out to be rather delicious and a welcome change from older potatoes as these small ones retained their sweet taste.

1lb, baby roaster potatoes cut into chunks
Sunflower oil
Sea salt
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp, grated fresh ginger
1 chilli, chopped finely
1 tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, ground cumin
½ tsp, turmeric
½ tsp, garam masala
½ tsp, mango powder
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
1 tin, chick peas, drained
½ cup water

1. Pre-heat fan oven to 200C degrees
2. Rinse the starch off the potatoes, dry, put into a bowl adding just enough sunflower oil to coat them and a sprinkling of sea salt
3. Heat a baking tray in the oven and when hot, tip the potatoes on to roast for 15-20 minutes until golden brown
4. While the potatoes are roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan
5. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes until soft
6. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
7. Add the ginger and cook for minute
8. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a minute
9. Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, mango powder, garam masala and turmeric until combined with the onion mix
10. Add the tomatoes, water and chickpeas
11. Simmer over a gentle heat for 15 minutes
12. Using a slotted spoon, add the roast potatoes to the mix
13. Serve immediately*

* Although this is a vegan recipe, I enjoyed a dollop of greek yoghurt on the top of mine


Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Saag Aloo

Spinach arrived late into my life. I think I was in my early twenties before I tasted fresh spinach. Instantly, I knew what all the fuss was about and it has been a firm favouritespinach ever since – cooked or raw. Up until then, the only spinach I knew came in a tin or a frozen block – neither of which I found particularly palatable.

Saag Aloo is made regularly in this home. This is not my recipe, however, so thanks is due to another. I only which I knew who! It is yet another list of ingredients scribbled on a scrap of paper wedged in a cookery book. To whoever came up with it, we thank-you as we have enjoyed eating this many, many, many times!

This can be served as a side dish or as a main dish with naan bread or rice.

2 medium onions, chopped
3 tbsp, sunflower oil
½ tsp, coriander seeds
½ tsp, cumin seeds
¼ tsp, cayenne pepper
½ tsp, ground coriander
2lb, spinach, washed and roughly shredded
1lb potatoes, peeled and cute into bite size cubes
½ tsp, salt
2 tsp,  ground fenugreek
Tin, chopped tomatoes

1. Parboil the potatoes
2. Heat the oil and gently fry the onions for about 8 minutes until soft
3. Add the cumin seeds and coriander seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes
4. Add the potatoes, cayenne pepper, coriander power, salt, fenugreek and tomatoes
5. Cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked
6. Add the spinach, cover and allow stand for 5 minutes until the spinach has wilted


Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian

Celtic Onion Soup

Recently, the now-turned vegan teen had a hankering for French Onion Soup. A challenge is a challenge so I set out to make it. Without a hearty beef stock and cheesy bread floating on top, this could never be an authentic alternative to French Onion Soup but it was still worth a try. It turned out, however, to be a very tasty vegan version which I served with the Hairy Bikers’ recipe for Kartoffelbrot.

As with its’ French cousin, the taste and depth comes from slow-cooking the onions untilonion they are caramelised. It takes a while but is so worth it (or so the Teen says!).

Due to its rather pale complexion, we decided to name it ‘Celtic Onion Soup!’

Serves 4

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1½ lb white onions, sliced thinly in rounds
4 fluid ounces, white wine
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp, dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 ½ -2 pints, good quality vegetable stock*

1. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan
2. Add the onions and cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes or until soft
3. Add the sugar, salt and pepper and continue cooking until the onions turn a caramel colour
4. Scoop the onions to the sides of the pan and deglaze with white wine, stirring back in the onions and adding the garlic
5. Cook for a further few minutes until the garlic is the same colour as the onions
6. Add the thyme and bay leaf
7. Add the stock and simmer for a further 30-40 minutes

* I used a mix of homemade vegetable stock and commercial. I made the stock using some carrots, cabbage and a stalk of broccoli and covered this with about 1 pint of water. I added a tablespoon of dried parsley, a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs and a small bay leaf and left this to simmer while cooking the onions. I strained the vegetables and added a commercial stock cube to give the stock the depth it requires for this recipe. I added ½ pint of water also to this mix.

Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Roasted Cauliflower Curry

Fresh cauliflower in the supermarket makes me love when vegetables are in season.  With the Teen working flat out at the moment, I promised her something tasty for dinner. With the cauliflower, I thought I’d make my usual Aloo Gobi but when I went to prepare it, I decided I wanted to do something new. So off I searched for a new recipe. As always, I came across a lot I liked but none I loved. Time to mix and match.

I love the idea of roasting vegetables instead of cooking them simply in the sauce. While this can all be cooked at the same time, I decided to cook it in stages. This was partly due to the way my day was structured and partly because I wanted the sauce to be as deepcauliflower and as rich as it could be. So I made the sauce and left it aside for a few hours and I prepped the vegetables so it could all be put together later. I also combined the vegetables with the spices rather than simply sprinkling over and left to stand while the oven was heating. This worked very well as the flavour was even throughout.

And it all worked so well. Hands up, I am not too keen on Aloo Gobi as I find the cauliflower can often be bitter but with this recipe, it tasted delicious. We ate it with homemade flatbread and it was ‘a hug in a bowl’ as the cliché goes. This will be the recipe I use going forward as a main meal or as a side dish.

Makes 4 servings

I small cauliflower
1/2 lb potatoes, peeled
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 chilli, chopped finely
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 lemon, juiced
6 dried curry leaves
4 tbsp, sunflower oil
1 dessertspoon cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar

1. Cut potatoes into chunks and break cauliflower into small florets
2. Crush the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds together with a pestle and mortar if possible
3. Add these to the other spices and combine with half the oil
4. Coat the potatoes and cauliflower completely in this spice mix and leave to stand while the oven heats to 180c (fan)
5. Heat the other half of the oil in a pan
6. Cook the onions until soft
7. Add garlic, chilli and curry leaves and cook for another two minutes
8. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, sugar and tomato puree and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes
9. While this is cooking, heat a tray in the oven
10. Place the spiced vegetables on the tray and cook for 30-40 minutes
11. Combine with tomato mix
12. Serve with flatbread or rice

Vegan, Vegetarian

Teen’s Favourite Daal

chilli picI used make this Daal all the time. I stopped, forgot how to and kept trying out different recipes. They were never the same as this one. It is both simple and tasty.

Then last week, a scrap of paper fell out of another cookery book. I know I tweaked the original but I have no idea where I found it nor where credit is due. So whoever came up with the basis from which this recipe grew, we thank-you!


4 ounces, red lentils
4 ounces, yellow or green lentils
1½ pints, water
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tbsp, grated ginger
1 heaped tsp, garlic finely chopped
2 tbsps, sunflower oil
½ tsp, mustard seeds
1 green chilli, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, sliced

1. Place lentils, 1 pint of water, turmeric, ginger and garlic in a saucepan and bring to the boil
2. Reduce the heat and cook for about 20 minutes until the lentils are soft (add more water if the mixture becomes too thick)
3. Using a potato masher, gently mash the mix so that the lentils are broken up a bit but not a puree
4. Heat the oil in a frying pan
5. Add the mustard seeds and stir for about 1 minute
6. Add the sliced onion and chilli and cook until soft (5-10 minutes)
7. Add the tomato and cook until soft
8. Add this to the lentil mix
9. Serve this as a side dish or in a bowl with naan bread