Archive for the 'Vegetarian' Category

Chickpeas and spinach with honeyed sweet potato

April 15, 2010


I imagine if someone ever decided to conduct a scientific study into recipe reading habits, I would make a good subject. I’m sure that there are areas of my brain that light up when I come across certain words. If there was a graph of my brainwaves, there would be peaks whenever I register them, a conditioned response, and the words would most definitely include ‘chickpeas’, ‘honey’ and the combination of ‘sweet’ and ‘potato’. It’s probable that reading three of more of these words in one recipe title sets off some unconscious brain trigger that makes it impossible for me not to make said item.

So, yes, I couldn’t resist this. The first sentence of its introduction in the book is “Don’t be put of by what may seem like a carbohydrate overkill”. As if! I think I may also have a Pavlovian response to excessive carbohydrate, because I ate this with bread.

Chickpeas and spinach with honeyed sweet potato  Serves 2-4

Despite referring to it as a vegetarian main course, the original recipe states that it serves 6-8, which is clearly madness. I’d say it serves two if that’s all there is, or 4 as a side dish.

200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked for about 1 hour (or use a standard 400g tin)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
100g baby spinach leaves (or use 200g frozen leaf spinach, defrosted)
10g coriander leaves, for garnish
salt and pepper

For the sweet potato:
500g sweet potatoes (about 2 medium-large)
700ml water
50g unsalted butter
4 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt

For the yoghurt sauce:
100g Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mint

Slice the sweet potatoes into 2.5cm pieces. You can peel them first, but I didn’t bother. Put them in a saucepan with the remaining sweet potato ingredients. Don’t worry if it seems like a lot of butter, as most of it will stay in the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed, though I found I had quite a lot left. You can add some into the tomato sauce if you like.

While the sweet potatoes are simmering, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato puree, cook for a minute, stirring, then add the tin of tomatoes, the ground cumin and the sugar. You may want to add half the sugar at first and taste – I think mine was a little too sweet with the full teaspoon. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes over a medium heat and then season to taste.

Stir the spinach and chickpeas (drained and rinsed if you used a tin) into the tomato sauce. Cook for a further 5 minutes and check the seasoning again.

Make the yoghurt sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients and seasoning with salt and pepper. Use as much olive oil as you think it needs – I didn’t go for the full 3 tbsp and I also held back on the lemon a bit.

To serve, spoon the warm chickpeas into a serving dish, arrange the sweet potato slices on top and garnish with the coriander leaves. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top or serve on the side. You may be able to spot my mistakes from the photo – sweet potato on the bottom and I left my yoghurt in the fridge and completely forgot to serve it at all. Don’t do this.

From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.


Almond and orange florentines

April 14, 2010

I’m currently enjoying a week of unemployment as I take a break between leaving work and starting my course. In between running around on minor errands that have suddenly grown in importance now I know I only have a week to do them – must return library books! and go to the post office! and get my hair cut! – I’m occupying myself in the obvious way, that is, cooking elaborate meals and snacks.

I also have a deep-seated fear of waste which means that any extended period away from home is preceded by a desperate attempt to use everything in the fridge. Even though Tom will still be here, and presumably eating, I don’t really trust him not to recklessly forget to use up that half-empty tub of cream cheese and, god forbid, throw it away. I’m going to have to try not to think about it.

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while because there’s something about florentines; they just seem so elegant for a biscuit, and you don’t come across one often so they have an elusive, special occasion quality. When I realised I could also neatly use up the two egg whites left over from macaroon making, it was a sure thing. These aren’t actually a traditional florentine, which usually includes nuts and dried fruit, but a very simple, crisp biscuit showcasing the dainty flavour of the almonds. You can also brush one side with chocolate, which is good too. I like the idea of using them as a sort of ice-cream wafer, but so far haven’t got beyond eating them with an afternoon cup of coffee in my new charity shop teacups.

Almond and orange florentines  Makes 16-20

vegetable oil for brushing
2 free-range egg whites (about 60g)
100g icing sugar
260g flaked almonds
grated zest of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 150c. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and brush with vegetable oil. I bought a silicone baking sheet after Christmas and I can’t recommend it highly enough – no need for oil, and there’s never any stickage. You cut it to fit your trays, and afterwards you wash it and it’s ready to go again. Anyway, I used this for two of my trays but had to use the greaseproof paper on the final tray, and I did find myself peeling tiny bits of paper off those. So I guess I’d say be quite generous with the oil.

Have a bowl of cold water and a fork at hand. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Sift over the icing sugar and add the flaked almonds and orange zest. Mix gently together. Now, dip your hand in the water and pick up small handfuls of the mix, making little mounds on the baking tray. Dip the fork in the water and flatten each mound into a thin biscuit – they should be about 8cm in diameter but you don’t want too many gaps between the almond flakes. Continue until all the mixture has been used up.

Place the baking tray/s in the oven and bake until the florentines are golden. The recipe says 12 minutes, but mine took closer to 20.

Allow to cool in the trays and then remove and store in an airtight container – be careful, as they’re liable to break. They should keep for 4-5 days.

From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.

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’.

Bread pudding

March 29, 2010

Not to be confused with bread and butter pudding, although it does contain bread and indeed butter. The main difference here is that, instead of the bread being baked in a custard, after being soaked in milk it’s mushed together and baked in a tray so that you get something altogether more solid and with a crusty sugary top.

You can serve this warm with custard, in which case it’s slightly softer but still dense, almost the consistency of a thick porridge or a really stodgy crumble, but when cool its density makes it quite cake-like, so any leftovers are good in slices at room-temperature with a cup of tea. I think you could easily get away with eating it for breakfast, even if the idea of cake for breakfast usually seems alarmingly hedonistic (it does to me).

Having eaten my first bread and butter pudding shockingly recently (custard was something I had textural issues with as a child and it’s taken me a while to get over) I like to think I’m making up for lost time in the world of sweetened stale bread. I now love bread and butter pudding, and although this is quite different, I like it a lot too.

Bread pudding  Serves 4 or more

8 slices of stale bread (I used sourdough)
300ml milk
200g dried fruit (I used sultanas, which are probably obligatory, plus cranberries and figs because they’re my favourite)
zest of 1 orange, grated
100g dark brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice (whoops! forgot to put this in)
50g butter, melted
2 tbsp caster sugar

Cut the crusts off the bread and soak the slices in milk for 30 minutes. Drain and squeeze out any excess liquid (the recipe suggests putting the bread in a colander with something heavy on top for a few minutes). Heat the oven to 180c.

Move the bread to a bowl and mush it up with a fork until it breaks down into a soft, even consistency. Chop up any large pieces of dried fruit and mix all of the fruit into the bread mix with the orange zest, brown sugar, mixed spice and butter. Mix well.

Grease a 20cm x 20cm baking tray and scoop in the mixture. Roughly level the top and sprinkle with the caster sugar. Now, the recipe says to bake the pudding for an hour and a half. I trustingly left it in the oven while I got on with eating some beef stew and dumplings, but it ended up a bit charred around the edges and the raisins on top were cindered. It was fine, but quite chewy. I think check after 45 minutes and perhaps about an hour would do it. Leave in the tin for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Adapted from Tom Norrington-Davies’ ‘Just Like Mother Used To Make’.

Sussex pie

March 26, 2010

Sussex pie – which I’ll admit I’d never heard of – is a variant of shepherd’s pie where the meat is bulked out with lentils, but this is a vegetarian all-lentil version. In our house we had shepherd’s pie on a regular basis to use up the lamb after a roast, as is traditional. And while I do enjoy good shepherd’s pie once in a while, in order to really spend a week eating all of the things I used to eat when I was younger, I would have had to have eaten a lot of meat, and that’s just not how I roll these days. So, a compromise. This is super cheap, filling, and also pretty good for you. It’s not the most photogenic meal, but when spring gives you thunder and lightning storms you can be glad you’ve got a pie in the oven.

A further bonus is that this pie uses a small amount of beer, so you will be obliged to finish the rest of the can/bottle, which gives you something to do while it’s in the oven.

Sussex pie  Serves 2

If you’re not vegetarian, feel free to add any leftover meat to the recipe.

1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sticks celery, finely sliced (too much, I’d say use 1 stick)
1 carrot, diced
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped (I used a thyme sprig)
100g lentils (the basic green ones are good for this)
500ml vegetable stock
150ml beer (preferably bitter)
350g potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed with a little milk and butter

Heat the oil in a large pan. If you have a casserole dish that goes in the oven and on the hob, use that. Gently fry the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and thyme or rosemary until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the lentils and stir to mix. Pour in the stock and beer and leave at a low simmer for about 30 minutes. The lentils should be done, but if they’re not, you can always add a little more water. Season.

Arrange the mashed potato over the lentil mixture, transferring everything to an oven-proof dish if you need to. It’s good to use a fork for this, so you get those little fork-tine marks that go all crusty. If your mashed potato is recently made and still hot, you can just put the whole lot under the grill to brown the potato and eat straight away, otherwise heat the oven fairly hot, about 220c, and put the pie in until the top turns brown – about 20 minutes.

From Tom Norrington-Davies’ ‘Just Like Mother Used To Make’.

Macaroni cheese

March 25, 2010

I was quite excited by the prospect of spending a week cooking from a book of traditional British childhood favourites. So many of the things in this book I remember well, the fond glow of nostalgia illuminating their former unremarkableness: corned beef hash (although it should not contain tomatoes!), liver and bacon, shepherd’s pie. I never eat these things anymore, and it suddenly occurred to me that I wanted to. Although there are a few things I never liked and still can’t stomach (gammon and cod and parsley sauce, bleugh). There are also a couple of glaring omissions, to my mind: where is the steak and kidney pie recipe? Chicken and mushroom pie, even? There are no pie recipes with pastry at all. And I would have liked a sausage casserole, but maybe that’s just me.

Macaroni cheese was the staple fallback meal of my childhood. Whenever my parents wanted to eat something that my brother and I would have shunned with our unsophisticated palates (or they just didn’t want to share with us) or time was short, macaroni cheese it would be. It was the only thing I really knew how to cook when I went to university, and I probably haven’t eaten it in ten years. Well, I’m not going to wait that long again. I felt comforted just looking at it coming out of the oven, all browned and crusty on top. With the first forkful I fell happily silent. Macaroni cheese is like the hot bath of foodstuffs – it’s impossible for it not to make you feel better.

The recipe below is for macaroni cheese as I remember it – no fussy additions, no breadcrumbs on top, just cheese sauce and pasta. As Norrington-Davies says, “Nothing should leap out at you except a clumsy, gooey richness.” Oh, there are a few tomatoes, which were never a feature when I was a child, but I thought I’d add them now I’m an adult and voluntarily eat vegetables. You could leave them out. Also, this is a mild-tasting sauce, not aggressively cheesy, which is right, I think, but you could of course use more cheese.

Macaroni cheese  Serves 2

200g macaroni
25g butter
25g plain flour
25g mature cheddar, grated
400ml whole milk
handful of cherry tomatoes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to its highest setting, or if you have a grill in your oven turn that on high.

Put on a large pan of boiling, salted water and cook the macaroni according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, melt the butter over a medium heat in a saucepan big enough to hold all the milk. When it has melted and is bubbling, stir in the flour. Leave to cook for a minute. Pour in a third of the milk and stir – you may need to switch to a whisk here to stop lumps forming. Then pour in the rest of the milk and cook for a few minutes, continuing to whisk, until the sauce thickens. Stir in two thirds of the cheese, season and turn off the heat. If the pasta is not ready yet, put a lid on the pan to keep the sauce warm.

When the pasta is cooked (it should be quite tender, not al dente), drain it and stir it through the sauce. Pile into a casserole dish and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Dot with the cherry tomatoes, if using, and give the top a final sprinkle of black pepper.

Put the macaroni cheese into the oven until the top is browned and crusty.

From Tom Norrington-Davies’ ‘Just Like Mother Used To Make’.

Mini banoffee pots

March 24, 2010

After making my millionaire’s shortbread, I had half a tin of condensed milk left over. I also had half a pot of cream in the fridge from a toffee sauce I’d made at the weekend to pour over sticky date cakes. There were bananas in the fruit bowl and there were biscuits in the cupboard. If I believed in a god, it would be the god of kitchen synchronicity, and he was clearly telling me something: child, go forth and make banoffee pie.

Now, generally I am not in favour of daintying up puddings into dining table desserts. The banoffee pie is resplendent in its tackiness, and that’s how it should stay. However, I only had the ingredients for half the quantity of a full-sized pie, and while I own much marginally useful kitchen equipment, I do not own a very small tart tin. Out of such adversity an idea was borne: why not construct the layers into ramekins, creating individual sized banoffees?

Actually, I was quite pleased with the result. They’re pretty cute, as mini things generally are, and are highly edible, rich and satisfying while feeling almost restrained – perfect for a mid-week pudding.

Mini banoffee pots  Makes about 4 ramekins, depending on the size of yours

For the base:
125g biscuits (I used a combination of ginger nuts and plain chocolate digestives, which worked fine)
25g butter

For the toffee:
65g butter
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tin condensed milk (about 200g)

For the rest:
1 – 1/2 ripe bananas
125ml double cream
1/2 tsp honey
cocoa for dusting

Crush your biscuits into crumbs – I used the time-honoured and highly satisfying method of putting them in a plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin. Melt your butter and stir in the biscuit crumbs thoroughly. Press the biscuit mixture into the base of 4 ramekins or other individual sized pots, glasses etc.

For the toffee, melt the butter and sugar together over a gentle heat. When the sugar has dissolved, stir in the syrup and condensed milk. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until it turns the colour of toffee. This took about 10 minutes for me (I don’t know what I did wrong last time). Pour the toffee over the biscuit bases and leave to chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

When the toffee is set, slice the banana/s and layer them over the top. Whip the cream with the honey (apparently this makes it impossible to overwhip) until thick and spread roughly on top of the bananas. Finish with a sieving of cocoa powder.

Adapted from Tom Norrington-Davies’ ‘Just Like Mother Used To Make’.

Millionaire’s shortbread

March 24, 2010

This week’s book is ‘Just Like Mother Used To Make’ by Tom Norrington-Davies, and I don’t know what it was about the full page photo of Millionaire’s Shortbread on page 71, but it was calling to me. I had to make it. It’s not something I associate in any way with my mother or my childhood – jam tarts, peppermint creams and gingerbread men, yes, sticky layers of biscuit-toffee-chocolate, no. It might be a caramel thing. Ever since I discovered salted caramel and obssessed over the Ottolenghi caramel macadamia cheesecake until finally making it at Christmas, I’ve been a little bit crazy about caramel, and I could see a thick, amber layer of it gleaming sweetly at me from between two slabs of chocolate and shortbread.

Luckily, I had the perfect excuse in the form of a work birthday which I’d been tasked with making cakes for. The person in question had told me quite specifically that she liked fruit-based cakes best, but I brushed that little detail aside. Fruit, schmuit. I was almost certain that this would probably be her second choice, if she had one.

Not everything went exactly to plan – I thought I’d make them in advance on Sunday to give me plenty of time to, you know, check they tasted alright (don’t worry, this recipe makes a lot of shortbread). This is not a quick afternoon tea treat – there are several stages of cooling involved, and if you’re me, an extra trip to the shop when you overheat the chocolate and it goes grainy and you have to buy more. Although, if you do do this, know that you can bake the overheated chocolate into brownies and it will be fine and no-one will be any the wiser (um, unless they’re reading this). Also, my caramel took much longer than the 3 minutes specified in the recipe (I might have been a bit over-generous with the condensed milk in my excitement.)

Don’t let any of this put you off – I may have had to take my first bite after dinner, several hours after the caramel craving first hit, but it was worth the wait. Oh yeah, they went down pretty well at work too.

Millionaire shortbread  Fills a 20cm x 40cm tray

A couple of notes: first, I would advise cutting these into small squares. That way, you can have one and not feel too bad when you have another one later. My first wedge was a bit hefty and I almost struggled to finish it.

Secondly, the recipe asks for milk chocolate, which I thought would be a bit sickly, so I used Bourneville as a compromise. In retrospect, I can see milk chocolate working, so I think go with whatever chocolate you like best. Also, Tom felt that there was not enough chocolate. I think he’s wrong, but have duly noted his comments.

For the shortbread:
125g butter (salted is best)
50g caster sugar
175g plain flour

For the caramel:
125g butter
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tin condensed milk (about 200g)

For the topping:
200g chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 20 x 40cm baking tray with baking parchment.

Rub all of the shortbread ingredients together with your fingertips as if you were making crumble or pastry, but keep going until a dough starts to form. This might seem at first like it’s never going to happen, but it will. You’ll know you’re there when you can squeeze it into a ball and it holds together. Press it evenly into the base of the tray. Now, it may look as if it won’t cover the base of the tray, but it will honestly turn out quite thick, so just keep squidging it in. Bake it for about 20 minutes and then leave to cool – it should still be pale.

For the caramel, heat the butter and sugar in a saucepan. When the sugar has dissolved add the syrup and condensed milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring it constantly, until it thickens and turns a toffee colour. For me this took more like 30 minutes – just remember to keep stirring and don’t let it get too hot. It firms up a lot as it cools, so don’t worry if it seems a little runny. When it reaches the desired colour, pour it over the shortbread. Put the whole lot in the fridge to set for an hour.

Now for the chocolate. Norrington-Davies melts the chocolate with 4 tablespoons of water to make it easier to pour and so the topping is smooth and doesn’t set completely hard. Having done this, I realised that I prefer my chocolate toppings to be hard and shattery rather than soft and smooth, so I would leave out the water next time. Whichever path you take, break the chocolate into pieces and melt it either over a pan of hot water or in the microwave (carefully!) Pour it over the toffee and biscuit and smooth it out. Put it back in the fridge for at least an hour before you go at it with a knife.

It will last in the fridge for about a week.

Adapted from Tom Norrington-Davies’ ‘Just Like Mother Used To Make’.

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’.