Archive for the 'Vegan' Category

Pasta e ceci

April 7, 2010

I’m back from Edinburgh, where the weather was surprisingly nice, actually, and the food was a bit hit and miss, though we were staying on the same street as a cheese shop which went some way to remedying that. We ate the most amazing nutty goat’s cheese but carelessly forgot to remember what it was called, so all we know is that it comes in black wax and is a bit like gouda. Next to the cheese shop was a shop selling strange alcoholic substances in giant tanks and we went in and asked them to decant us some somerset pomona and an elderberry and port liqueur. “Is this a present for someone who likes cheese, by any chance?” the shop lady asked. Er, yes. Us.

I also got quite excited in a shop called ‘I Heart Candy’ which had an entire display table dedicated to licorice. And we managed to spend over £7 on four marinated artichoke hearts in the Valvona & Crolla deli. Over seven whole pounds. On a small part of a vegetable. We savoured them later in Carlisle train station’s waiting room as we waited for our second crowded railway service replacement bus.

So, I’m back, and I was meant to be meeting friends for dinner at Jamie’s Italian tonight, but it got cancelled so I didn’t get to eat my favourite thing from the menu, which is the slow braised balsamic chickpeas. Instead I made this, and it should really come as no surprise that I liked it a lot. It’s somewhere between a soup and a stew, thick and rustic, and it’s the kind of simple tasting thing that you feel like you could happily carry on eating until you’re very, very full. It feels quite fortifying, as if you should be eating it after a bracing walk or when recovering from illness.  Even in good health, I’d rather have eaten this than several of the overpriced restaurant meals I ate last week, and I’d still have money left over for artichokes.

Pasta e ceci (pasta with chickpeas)  Serves 2-4

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
a sprig of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped (I used thyme because I had it, but I love the combination of chickpeas and rosemary so can imagine it would be even better)
2 x 400g tins chickpeas
500ml chicken stock or vegetable stock
100g small pasta shapes (I used macaroni)
salt and pepper
small handful of basil or parsley, leaves picked and torn (optional)

Put the onion, celery, rosemary and garlic into a pan with a little olive oil over the lowest possible heat. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not coloured.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to the pan. Pour on the stock and cook gently, covered, for half an hour. Remove half the chickpeas with a slotted spoon and set aside while you puree the remaining soup with a hand blender (or in a food processor if you don’t have a hand blender). Add the reserved chickpeas back to the pan with the pasta, season, and simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Watch that the soup doesn’t start sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add water if necessary to get the desired consistency – I didn’t add much as I like soup to be thick. Check the seasoning.

Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with basil or parsley if you have it.

From Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’s Italy’.



March 30, 2010

This week’s book is my one and only Jamie Oliver, ‘Jamie’s Italy’. Well, actually it’s this week and next week’s book, as I’m off to Edinburgh for a wee break so it will be split across two weeks.

So here’s the first taste: caponata is a Sicilian aubergine stew with a sweet-sour taste. The sourness comes from the addition of vinegar, the sweetness is sometimes enhanced by raisins (although not in Jamie’s version). It’s simple and very good: the aubergines become deliciously soft and creamy, the almonds (sometimes pine nuts are used) add crunch, there are little sweet tomatoes and salty capers, and it all combines into something perfectly well-rounded. I had this for dinner with some couscous, followed up by these kale chips and a glass of sherry. Oh yeah, I know how to live, me.

Caponata  Serves 1 as a main course, 2 as a side

1 large aubergine
olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 onion (preferably red, but I only had brown), chopped
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp herb vinegar (I used plain red wine vinegar)
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used about 15 teeny plum tomatoes)
small handful parsley, stalks and leaves separated and each chopped
1 tbsp slivered toasted almonds

Chop the aubergine into chunks. Heat a couple of glugs of olive oil in a large pan over a high heat (there should be room for the aubergine in more or less one layer) and fry the aubergine chunks with the oregano and a grinding of salt for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the aubergine is golden. Add more oil as needed if it starts to catch on the bottom of the pan.

Add the onion, garlic and parsley stalks and fry for another couple of minutes. Pour in the vinegar and, when it has evaporated, add the tomatoes. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley leaves and almonds.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’s Italy’.

Gujarati dal

March 15, 2010

I realise that I have already probably far exceeded the normal quota of bean recipes in the short time that this blog’s been running, but I haven’t actually written up a straightforward dal. And this seems to me like an oversight. Dal is so good – just a big plateful on its own is a fantastic cheap dinner, with chappatis or rice, sometimes hard-boiled eggs, sometimes just yoghurt – but it’s also one of the best side dishes ever. Knowing that I have a tupperware of dal tucked away in the fridge makes me look forward to mealtimes more. I actually made this recipe twice this week, and apparently it serves 6-8 people, so that’s a potential 16 helpings of dal in total. And I only live with one other person (and a cat, but he prefers fish-shaped biscuits).

I would normally fall back on Madhur Jaffrey for a recipe like this, and initially this dal seemed a little fussy with its giant list of ingredients (although it’s still essentially just boiling lentils and adding spices so it’s not exactly back-breaking work.)  Strangely, the first time I made it I used mung dal and thought it was okay, but the second time I was out of mung dal so I used toor dal and thought it was brilliant. I’m not sure if there was some magic scientific ratio of surface lentil size to spice absorption going on, or if it was just coincidence, but I thought I should pass it on.

Gujarati dal  Serves 6-8, or 3-4 if you eat it in the quantities I do

I halved the quantities of water asked for as I like my dal like I like my porridge: wallpaper paste thick. Add more if you prefer a soupy dal.

350g mung dal or toor dal
675ml water
1 tbsp sunflower oil or ghee
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp hing (asafoetida)
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp brown rice syrup
1 1/2 tsp lime or lemon juice
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp curry powder
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

The book asks you to soak your mung for 2 hours, but I didn’t bother.

Heat the oil or ghee in a large saucepan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the dal, water and all of the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and cook until the dal is soft and the liquid has reduced to the consistency you like – from around half an hour to an hour.

*Note: fine for all doshas.

Adapted from Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai’s ‘The Ayurvedic Cookbook’.

Leon flatbread

February 22, 2010

I know I’ve written about flatbread before, but when a friend who had borrowed Leon returned it I remembered that this was the flatbread recipe I always used, the one that never failed. It’s super-easy, which is generally what I like about flatbread anyway, but this one you could probably (except that I obviously didn’t) remember off by heart once you’d done it a few times. The ingredients are as follows: 500g of flour of your choice, 250ml of warm water, a sachet of yeast and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. You mix it all up and give it a quick in-bowl knead – no scraping dough bits off your worksurface! – then there’s just one proving stage and the breads cook in minutes. It’s completely non-daunting to the extent that, if you have friends coming round later, you might think, “oh, I’ll just whip up a batch of flatbread for us to eat warm from the griddle with some hummus”. Honestly, I know because I did last week, pre-pancakes. Then I made some more yesterday for lunch.

This makes quite a bready flatbread, if that makes sense. Although flat, it’s a relatively airy dough, like a bread duvet. You can’t wrap anything with it, but it’s a good solid dipping bread. The sprinkle of za’atar on top is a nice addition: I wrote about za’tar here, but if you don’t have any use herbs, spices or seeds of your choice, or just sea salt.

Flatbread  Makes 6

I generally use half white and half wholemeal flour for these – plain is fine, you don’t need bread flour. Yesterday I made them with half spelt flour, which was nice enough, but you couldn’t really tell so I think I’ll try upping the proportion next time.

500g flour
250ml warm water (hand-hot)
1 sachet instant active yeast
4 tbsp olive oil
sea salt
za’atar (optional, to sprinkle)

Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast. (If you have the kind of yeast you need to activate first, do that in the warm water beforehand.) Make a well in the flour and tip in the warm water and olive oil. Mix with one hand until it comes together into a ball of dough and then knead roughly with the heel of your hand until it’s smooth and well-behaved, adding more flour if necessary. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it to stand for an hour or two until well risen. It shouldn’t come to much harm if you leave it longer than that.

To cook the dough, you can either use a griddle pan or the oven. I always used the oven until last week, when having something else in there I was forced down the griddle route. Now I think I might prefer it: not only do you get the pretty stripes, but there’s less chance of forgetting about it. The downside is, you can cook more bread at once in the oven. OK, so, either heat your griddle pan or heat your oven to 220c and put it a couple of baking trays.

Take out the dough and shape it into 6 rounds. Roll each one out into a long pitta-shape, about half a centimetre thick. You may need to lightly flour your work surface. Sprinkle your desired toppings onto the shaped loaves and give them each another roll so the spices stick. Proceed by either cooking on the hot griddle pan for 3 minutes a side, or placing on  the preheated baking trays, lightly oiled, and cooking for the same amount of time in the oven.

Adapted from Allegra McEvedy’s ‘Leon’.


January 27, 2010

Please excuse me, I haven’t introduced this week’s book yet. It’s not much of a looker, with its hideous seventies photography and odd choice of cover image, but I took pity on it in a book shop in Hay-on-Wye last year, because I was in a good mood and because middle eastern food is my favourite, so how exactly was I meant to resist a book called ‘The Complete Middle East Cookbook’? And it’s nothing if not ambitious, covering Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudia Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel and the Gulf States (that’s Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, thanks Wikipedia).

I started the week by making a huge batch of rice and lentils (a bit like this, but without the pasta). Then today, I made falafel, because I didn’t really feel like branching out into uncharted middle eastern food territory when I’m already pretty certain that falafel are one of the best culinary creations of all time. Of the several recipes for falafel (turns out a lot of those countries actually have quite similar diets) I went with the one from Israel, because it seemed the simplest. I had to adapt it to omit the bulgur wheat, because apparently I’d run out, but I can’t say I missed it. I also baked the falafel instead of deep frying them, because I don’t go in for unnecessary deep frying as a rule. It makes them a bit less authentic, but they get a nice crisp crust which I like.

Served with rice and lentils from one of the Gulf States, yoghurt with cucumber and sultanas from Iran, and tahini sauce from Lebanon/Syria/Jordan. A Middle East feast.

Falafel  Makes about 14

One tin of chickpeas, or equivalent weight soaked and cooked dried chickpeas
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
black pepper

Heat the oven to 180c.

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix until combined into a rough paste. Add a little water, just until the mixture is soft enough to be squeezed into a ball. Check the seasoning. Shape the mix into small balls each about the size of a walnut and place them on a baking tray drizzled with oil. Trickle a little more oil over the top and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. That’s it!

Adapted from Tess Mallos’ ‘The Complete Middle East Cookbook’ (that’s not the version I have, by the way, the photo on that cover is almost nice).

Corn, bean and pumpkin stew

January 20, 2010

This week, our featured book is ‘The Greens Cook Book’. Greens is a legendary (in the US, at least) vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco and one of the first things I noticed about the book, published in 1987, is that it really has dated extremely well. OK, there is one chapter on timbales. But apart from that, it heavily features pasta, pizza, mexican flavours, imaginative soups; there’s a lot of advice on vegetarian menu planning and matching wine with vegetarian food, hinting at a time when vegetarianism was still new and exciting, but none of the recipes would look out of place if the book were to be published today. It makes you wonder why mushroom risotto and goat’s cheese salad are still the default vegetarian options at many restaurants over 20 years later.

I once visited Greens. I was in San Francisco for work, and so my visit was somewhat hampered by the awkwardness of dining alone, but I do remember walking a really long way and eating the most heavenly vegan chocolate cake. It definitely involved caramel, or coconut, or both, but either way it’s not in the book.

So, in the absence of chocolate caramel coconut cake, I present you with this stew. Not quite the same, but it is probably much better for you. It’s big and hearty and designed for eating from large bowls, a cross between a soup and a stew. It’s almost sweet, a little bit spicy, a hearteningly colourful slurp of warmth. The first time, I ate it with a generous scattering of coriander, but for lunch today I stirred in a spoonful of babaghanoush, on a whim, and that really worked. Smokiness is good here. Next time, I’m looking forward to crumbling over some goat’s cheese feta I have in the fridge.

Corn, bean and pumpkin stew  Serves 4-6

I made this with one chilli and added in a bit of merken, which is a smoky, spicey mix I picked up in Chile. If you want the heat to be a bit more pronounced, use more chillies and/or add in cayenne pepper with the spices.

1 tin pinto beans (other beans would be fine: black-eyed, kidney, black beans etc.)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
300g frozen sweetcorn, defrosted, or 1 tin sweetcorn (or 3 ears fresh corn)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp oregano
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp paprika (I used regular, but I now think smoked would be good here)
500ml vegetable stock
1 winter squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (I have no idea what sort of squash mine was, but it weighed just over 1kg when peeled and deseeded)
1-2 chillies, seeded and finely chopped
coriander or parsley, for garnish

Toast the cumin seeds in a hot frying pan until they smell fragrant – watch to make sure they don’t burn. Add the oregano, stir for 5 seconds and transfer the spices to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add the cloves and grind to a powder.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion over a high heat for 1 minute. Lower the heat, add the garlic, spices, paprika, cinnamon stick and salt. Here’s where you might want to add in your own choice of extra spices. Stir well to combine, then add 1/4 of the stock and cook until the onion is soft. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the squash and most of the rest of the stock. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is softened but not quite done.

Add the corn, beans and fresh chillies, and thin with more stock if necessary. Cook until the squash is tender. Mine was already falling apart at this point, so I left it there. Check the seasonings and serve with your choice of garnish.

Adapted from Deborah Madison’s ‘The Greens Cook Book: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine’.

Braised shitake mushrooms with soba noodles

January 6, 2010

I know nobody cares what I had for dinner today, because outside is a wondrous, fairytale snowland that, if you’re lucky, means you didn’t have to go to work and you could spend the day making snowmen and taking pictures of improbably snowy things. Or just watching it snow. I don’t know about you, but I find that snow never gets boring. Between watching it snow and speculating about how long it might snow and what the implications of that might be, you’ve got a whole day’s entertainment figured out.

Anyway, if you did happen to be snowed in and were completely unable to get to the shops, this is the kind of thing you might want to make yourself to eat from the ingredients of your store cupboard. See the tenuous link I clawed in there? And if you don’t have these things in your store cupboard, you might want to stock up now, just in case. It’s almost difficult to believe that something so satisfying can be made from so few ingredients in such little time, but trust me, I’ve made it twice and it is. It’s always worth having one of those packets of dried mushrooms around as they lend an intense flavour that elevates many a dish; when matched with the density of soy and buckwheat you have something toothsome and pure-feeling – bolstering, Nigella calls it.

Braised shitake mushrooms with soba noodles  Serves 1

This isn’t a huge portion, so if you’re not eating it with other things you could increase the weight of noodles and just reduce the sauce slightly less.

8 or more dried shitake mushrooms (probably about 10-15g)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sake
3 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
80g soba noodles
few drops toasted sesame oil
fresh coriander (optional)

Soak the mushrooms in hot water for about 30 minutes, then squeeze and drain, reserving around 100ml of the soaking water.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan and stir fry the mushrooms for 2 minutes. Mix the sake, mirin, and 2 tbsp of the soy sauce with the mushroom-soaking water and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for around 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated to give a concentrated sauce. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to packet instructions (probably about 4 minutes), drain and rinse in cold water to stop them sticking. Drain again and toss with the remaining soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil. Put in a noodle bowl and pour over the mushrooms. You can add a drop more sesame oil and some fresh coriander if liked.

From Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food’.

Vegetable soup

January 4, 2010

Happy new year! Well, that’s another Christmas over with. And, undeniably nice though it is to be eating delicious rich meals that have been cooked for you every day, with a choice of puddings, and booze, and maybe one or two Thornton’s to ward off the appearance of so much as a whisker of hunger, when I got back home I really just wanted a plate of beans on toast. With marmite on the toast, naturally. And then I wanted some vegetable soup.

99.9% of the year, I would have passed over this recipe. We are talking about Mollie Katzen’s ‘The Enchanted Broccoli Forest’ – there are plenty more interesting/odd sounding things (including an actual recipe for an actual broccoli forest. I may find her unremitting tweeness endearing, but even I draw the line at making woodland scenes from vegetables). I mean, vegetable soup just makes me think of the yellow goop you get from Heinz tins, replete with tinny tasting potatoes and tinny tasting carrots. I was almost surprised by how nice this turned out – I really just wanted something plain, with vegetables in it, that wouldn’t make my overloaded tummy hate me even more. But this was herby, and brothy in a clean tasting way, but with pleasing nourishing chunky bits. It’s really the large quantities of mushrooms, I think, that make it – Tom said it tasted ‘meaty’. So you could think of it as mushroom soup, with extras, if vegetable soup sounds too dull.

Vegetable soup  Serves 4-6

In the book, this soup is really a base from which you can add – put in different cooked vegetables, beans and grains, serve with cheese toasts or poached eggs, add tofu – there’s even a recipe for alphabet soup! Yay! I really should have made it. Except I didn’t want alphabetti spaghetti in my soup.

1 large potato, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups water or stock
a pinch of salt (I suggest you leave this out if your stock is quite salty)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
250g mushrooms, chopped quite small
1/2 tsp each thyme, dill, marjoram and basil (I used a couple of sprigs each of lemon thyme and rosemary, as that was what I had fresh)
black pepper
200ml dry white wine (or use vermouth)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup frozen peas (not sure what the non-US cup measurement equivalent is – a couple of large handfuls I’d say)
1 spring onion, finely sliced (for garnish)

Boil the potato in the stock or water until the potato is just tender. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and salt. Saute over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring regularly, for about 8 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft and tender. Then tip the contents of the frying pan into the stock pan. Add the wine or vermouth, soy sauce and peas and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of spring onion on top of each serving.

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s ‘The Enchanted Broccoli Forest: And Other Timeless Delicacies’.

Baked beans with Nigerian seasonings

December 16, 2009

I finish work on Friday, and I’m counting down to the hour, if not the minute, the second, the millisecond. Anyone would think I wasn’t coming back again two weeks later – from where I stand, January is a foreign country. And I have now officially eaten my first turkey of the year, in the form of bacon-wrapped turkey escalopes at our annual Christmas lunch in the canteen today, so let the festivities begin! However, exciting as this all may be, a girl can’t eat party food all the time. And what’s less party like, in the nicest sense, than baked beans?

There are three recipes for baked beans in ‘World Vegetarian’: two Greek in origin, and this one, which I like because it has peanut butter in it.  Although I think I’ve probably made them all at one time or another, because you can’t go wrong with baked beans. Of course, this is not a substitute for opening a tin of beans for beans on toast (I like the Whole Earth ones for that), it’s an entirely different beast – not to say that you couldn’t pile these on toast. It will take several hours of your time, but it’s not actually very labour intensive, you just have to be around. It will make your kitchen nice and warm for you and you can potter off and do some yoga, or prepare nibbles for people coming over for Christmas drinks, or crack on with that Christmas baking.

Baked beans with Nigerian seasonings  Serves 4, with sides

I picked up a handy tip in the section of this book entitled ‘dried beans, dried peas, lentils and nuts’. That is, if you forget to soak your dried beans overnight, you can use the quick-soak method: put the beans in a pan, cover them with cold water (it should be 13cm deep if you want to be precise) and bring to the boil. Boil for two minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit for at least an hour, or as long as you have. You can then proceed with the recipe.

190g dried cannellini or haricot beans, or any other medium-sized white beans, soaked overnight or using the quick-soak method above
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, halved and finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp curry powder (any one you like)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
1 1/4 tsp salt
black pepper

Put the soaked beans in a pan with 1 1/2 pints water and bring to the boil. Partly cover, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are just tender.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a casserole dish – one that can go on the hob and in the oven – over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the curry powder. Now add the tomatoes and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Take off the heat until the beans are ready.

Preheat the oven to 170c.

When the beans are done, remove about 6 tbsp of their cooking liquid and mix it with the peanut butter in a small cup or bowl. Empty this into the casserole with the beans and any remaining cooking liquid. Stir in the salt and lots of black pepper. Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours – the recipe tells you to leave it uncovered, but mine dried out a bit, so bear this in mind depending on how much liquid was left in your beans.

Serve with bread, salads and cheese.

Adapted from ‘Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian’.

Easy kidney bean curry

December 13, 2009

When I opened this book, I was hoping for a particular recipe. My dad has been making a Madhur Jaffrey kidney bean curry for years which I love – he usually serves it alongside her lamb rogan josh and maybe an aubergine dish, with naan bread and poppadoms. We had it for boxing day lunch last year and it was just the thing, after a brisk morning walk, to feel your tastebuds come around from too much turkey and chocolate the day before. I’m not sure of the ingredients, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lot of butter that gives it its soothing, healing feel. Which means I was pretty certain, when I found the one kidney bean curry listed in the Curry Bible, that it wasn’t it. I almost passed over it, thinking there were plenty more new things I wanted to try.

Then, one lunchtime, I was home with an old can of kidney beans in the cupboard and not much else. I cast my eye over the recipe and it looked pretty straightforward – with not much chopping, food could be on the table in half an hour. And, while it may not be The One, this is surprisingly pleasing – of course, it’s a bean curry, it’s not going to be wildy exciting, but there are enough spices in there to make you take notice, mentally add another couple of cans of kidney beans to your shopping list, and carry on with your lunch.

Easy kidney bean curry  Serves 3 as a side, 1-2 if that’s all there is

I’m calling this ‘easy’ because I used a can, rather than the soaked dried beans the recipe calls for. I never use dried beans as much as I’d like. In lieu of simmering liquid, I simply tipped the contents of the bean can into the pan, brine and all. I know this is a bit icky, but it reduces down to a sauce pretty nicely and you’ll forget where it came from.

There are quite a few spices in here, but if you like to cook Indian food with any regularity you’ll probably have most of them in your cupboard already. You could probably leave out one or two things if you’re lacking them, without any great detriment to the recipe. The idea is that it’s convenient.

1 can red kidney beans
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
a generous pinch asafetida
5 dried curry leaves (or 10 fresh, if you happen to have them)
1-2 medium tomatoes, grated, or half a tin of chopped tomatoes
a pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 green chilli, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Pour the oil into a pan and set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafetida. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, which should be almost immediately, add the curry leaves and tomatoes. Stir once, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin, chilli, garlic, ginger, sugar and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Tip in the beans, liquid and all. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Ultimate Curry Bible’.