The Huge Vine Leaf Pakora | Angoor Patta Pakora

Fresh grape vine leaves are a rarity, unless you have a vine in your yard, or are surrounded by vineyards, or live in an Italian neighbourhood. If you can, grab some fresh ones (more than you need and freeze the rest). We have quite a number of recipes for them. If you can’t find them locally, you can purchase them preserved in water, salt and citric acid. They are available at most gourmet stores or Greek groceries.

In this recipe, the leaves are blanched, drained, finely shredded and folded into a spiced chickpea flour batter. The mixture is then poured into a sauté pan and shallow-fried into a large round cake that is golden brown, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It is like making one pakora from the batter. You could of course, make individual pakoras the usual way.

This recipe is adapted from Lord Krishna’s Kitchen, a beautiful book full of Vedic cooking.

Similar recipes include Eggplant and Kale Pakora, Malabar Spinach Pakora, and Crispy Battered Onion Rings.

Browse all of our Vine Leaf recipes and all of our Pakoras. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Grilled Goat’s Milk Feta Wrapped in Vine Leaves

There is so much to celebrate in Spring, so many Spring things that it is hard to keep up with them. One such abundant item in Spring is Grapevine Leaves. Of course you think of Dolmades, but there are also other ways to enjoy this green taste of spring. For example, Mushrooms Baked in Vine Leaves (delicious) and Grapevine Leaf Pecorino Parcels.

This recipe uses goat’s cheese – I love a goat’s milk feta especially – and wraps it in vine leaves before grilling. My preference is to make these when the BBQ is lit, perhaps to roast red peppers, and we make them as a snack with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Left over filling is wonderful in toasted sandwiches with tomatoes, or spread on crusty bread or crackers. Top the spread with thin slices of cucumber or tomatoes.

Similar recipes include Vine Leaves Stuffed with Goats Cheese and Pine Nuts.

Browse all of our Grapevine Leaf recipes, our Snacks, and all of our Greek dishes. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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A Spring Salad

Today is a delicious Spring salad of asparagus, French beans, Broad beans, Edamame, and spinach. It creates a wonderful array of green, and this can be changed to your liking. Try chard, rocket, watercress, for example! It is a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More.

We love dishes that feature the various shades of a single colour, it makes you stop to check what’s in there. Spring and Early Summer are the time to do this as there is artichoke, rocket, asparagus, broad beans, watercress, samphire, peas, cabbage, all kinds of lettuce, runner beans, broccoli, sprouting broccoli, spring onion, chard, spinach and many, many more to choose from. When you put a few of these in one bowl, you get the most glorious celebration of colour and Spring. Thanks Ottolenghi.

It you make a lot of Ottolenghi salads, you will know that some toasted nuts sprinkled over the top of a salad makes a world of difference to the salad, adding both visual impact and a textural element. Making a large batch of toasted seeds will save you time – keep them in an air tight container. In this dish he specified sesame seeds and kalonji. We actually used a mixture of nuts and seeds that were left over from a previous salad – slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and kalonji.

Similar recipes include Broad Bean and Tomato Salad, Glorious Five Bean Salad, Shaved Asparagus Salad, and Tawa Edamame.

Browse all of our Bean Salads, Broad Bean Salads and Asparagus Salads.

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Ridge Gourd Dal | Peerklankai Paruppu

Ridge Gourd is also known as Ribbed Gourd, and it makes a particularly lovely dal. It is a simple dal recipe that perfectly accompanies rice and roti. It is also very good with curd rice. This is a dish loved in Tamil Nadu.

The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal‘s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.

Similar dishes include Mango Kootu, Kerala Mung Dal, Ridge Gourd Masiyal,  and Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices.

Browse all of our Ridge Gourd dishes and all of our Dals. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Cluster Bean Dal Kootu | Kothavarangai Paruppu Kootu

Cluster Beans are similar to green beans except smaller, flatter, crunchier, tougher, and slightly but nicely bitter in taste. They have quite a distinctive taste. In Australia it is rare to find them fresh, even though they are grown here. They must all be exported. But frozen cluster beans are common in any Indian grocery.

Cluster beans are also known as Gawar Ki Phalli or Gaur in Hindi and Marathi, and Kothavarangai in Tamil.

The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.

Similar recipes include Ridge Gourd Dal, Sambar, and Aviyal.

Browse all of our Cluster Bean recipes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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Vendakkai Sambar | Okra Sambar

Okra is so very healthy for us, unbelievably so, so it is said that Okra Sambar is an instant pick-me-up. This sambar recipe is easily and quickly made – even more so if you have some cooked toor dal in the freezer (HINT). It will be all made in 12 – 15 minutes. Surely that is enough to pick you up!

Similar dishes include Whole Okra with Onions and Garlic, Okra with Onions, Whole Stuffed Okra, and Okra with Chilli Spice Paste.

Browse all of our Okra dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Spinach and Watercress Salad with Ricotta and Seeds

I have been growing watercress this year, as it is so expensive in the shops. The exercise has been somewhat successful but it seems I need a little more knowledge about growing watercress. Perhaps next year. I have taken an Ottolenghi Salad, an easy one, and made it with Baby Spinach, a little watercress and a lot of herbs. You could use rocket too, in place of or in addition to any of the ingredients..

The seeds sprinkled over this salad at the end give it a real boost in look, texture and flavour. I’d be tempted to make more of the mix than you need, and keep it in a jar ready for your next creation that’s missing a crunch.

This is another of Ottolenghi’s many herbal salads, like Ettie’s Salad, Celery and Lemon Salad. and Orange and Date Salad. They are so common in the countries from Afghanistan to Israel, across the Mediterranean and onto the coast of North Africa.

I have to mention how lucky I am to have a green grocer owned by a Middle Eastern family. They stock the best Dill that I have ever seen. Very thankful.

Similar recipes include Raw Beetroot and Herb Salad and Spicy, Crunchy Herby Salad.

Browse all of our Ottolenghi dishes, and all of our Salads. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Curry Leaves Tamarind Kuzhambu | Karuveppilai Kuzhambu

It is early Spring and I’ve pruned the curry leaf tree back, so to use some of the trimmed leaves we are making Curry Leaf Kuzhambu with Tamarind. It is another gorgeous kuzhambu, designed to be eaten like a gravy served over rice or other grains.

Similar recipes include Okra Kuzhambu, Coconut Milk Kuzhambu, and Green Chilli Kuzhambu.

Browse all of our Curry Leaf recipes and all of our Kuzhambus. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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Green or Broad Bean Salad with Asparagus, Olives and Black Garlic

It is nearly Spring, and salads are all the go for our daily menu. If you have been following our salads, you will know we are mainly doing very simple salads at the moment, as life is busy and wearying. Thank goodness for that mesclun that green grocers sell – by-the-kilo varietal mixes of green salad leaves. The base of any salad is so easy! They are available year round, and you can make this salad in a nest of salad greens in the centre of a big plate. We haven’t done that today, but often serve it that way.

The salad takes beans – green or broad beans, either one, or mix them – and tosses them with asparagus and olives. A little black garlic is broken into small pieces and added.

Are you after other Bean Salads? Try Italian Flat Bean Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnut Crumbs, Glorious Five Bean Salad, and Green Beans with Lentil Crumble.

You can browse all of our Bean Salads, and indeed, all of our many many Salad recipes. Or explore our Early Spring dishes.

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Rice, Wild Rice and Quinoa Salad With Nuts and Barberries

This is one of those recipes that gives Ottolenghi’s recipes a bad wrap – lots of ingredients, but even worse, SIX different cooking processes each with its own pots and pans and utensils to be washed, bench to be cleaned. It better be worth it, I thought. It is not a dish for weeknights. And I recommend washing up the pans as you go, even if you have a dishwasher.

First you cook the wild rice, then the basmati, then the quinoa. While they have to be cooked separately, it can be done simultaneously. Then the nuts are toasted and next the onions are sauteed. Finally, all ingredients come together and are dressed. Tarragon is far too expensive here to buy for one salad, so that is omitted.

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. I made a couple of changes to the recipe. Ottolenghi uses Sour Cherries, but they are difficult to find locally. I use Barberries, which are easily found in Middle Eastern and Afghani groceries. I also use lime or lemon, whichever is on the kitchen bench. Also, I will swap the herbs out for what is available at the time. I like to keep parsley, but sometimes the heat of Summer gets to the basil, so I might use Thai Basil or lemon balm, or other soft, leafy herb. And rocket will get subbed for baby spinach if that is what I have  – I may add a tart element to replace the bite of rocket (e.g. a little raw onion, spring onion, capers, or sour grapes).

Ottolenghi salad recipes are always huge, enough to serve an army. Making a third or half of the recipe is usually enough for four of us. Scale for your own numbers, size of serve, and appetite.  This salad is particularly large, even a half recipe will be great for a BBQ lunch for half an army.

So is this salad worth the work? I rarely say this about Ottolenghi’s dishes, but, no. It’s a good salad, even a great salad. But I prefer to make it when I want to use up left over rice, onions and/or quinoa. I sub the wild rice for chickpeas, as wild rice is a reasonably expensive ingredient. Having said that, it does work as is as a dish for a friend’s lunch or BBQ when you only want 1 large, visually pleasing  salad to accompany the main course.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Parsley and Pinenuts, Not Quite Fried Rice Salad, Sweet Pepper and Rice Salad, and Green Mango and Coconut Rice.

Browse all of our Rice Salads, and all of our Quinoa dishes. Our Ottolenghi recipes are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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