Channa Dal with Brinjal | Eggplant Channa Dal

Today our dal is made with split Channa, small chickpeas that have been hulled and split into two. Usually we make dal from mung dal, mung beans, urad dal or toor dal, so it is unusual for us to make it with channa.

In this dal, we have used eggplants. Cut into wedges, they float beautifully in the spicy channa gravy.

Similar recipes are Dal Makhani, and Tomato and Channa Dal Rasam. And try Eggplant dishes such as Poritha KuzhambuBrinjal Tamarind Kothsu, and Sampangi Pitlai.

Browse all of our Dal recipes and all of our Eggplant dishes. Our Indian recipes are here. Or take some time to enjoy our Mid Winter posts.

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Toasted Pearl Barley with Pistachios and Raisins

Such a wintery dish – beautiful Barley mixed with dried fruit and nuts, with a yoghurt-tahini and mint dressing, making a perfect salad, or an accompaniment for roasted winter vegetables. My house is a cold old house in the depths of winter, and there is nothing better than having vegetables roasting and barley bubbling on a cold evening. It fogs the windows and makes us and the kitchen toasty warm.

This Barley almost-pilaf-style dish is wonderful served with all sorts of roasted winter vegetables – Pumpkin, Jerusalem Artichokes, Fennel, Parsnips, Carrots etc. But don’t let that limit you. The Barley makes an excellent salad or side dish with the dressing just drizzled over the top.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Barley and Red Kidney Beans, Parsley and Barley Salad, and Mediterranean Barley with Crispy Tofu.

Or browse all of our Barley dishes, and all of our Middle Eastern recipes. And explore our Mid Winter dishes.

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Lentil, Barley and Vegetable Soup

Soup Mix is a packet mix of barley, dried peas and various lentils that is easily available in supermarkets. It it not something I would normally buy, but my Father had a couple of bags in his pantry and I inherited them.

During a particularly cold snap, they were used to make a hearty and creamy vegetable soup. It is a soup that is warming and delicious. It also freezes very well.

The soup’s secrets are – the inclusion of fennel with leeks, onions and celery. Fennel is rarely included in soups yet it goes so well with lentils and beans. We have an extraordinary Dried Fava Soup that uses fennel in its base. The second secret is that half of the lentil-barley mix is cooked separately and blended to a puree before including in the soup. This gives the soup a beautiful creamy texture.

Healthy and utterly delicious, this soup is beautiful on a cold Wintery evening. Pair it with Parmesan Toasts if you wish, or with Polenta Crisps.

Similar recipes include Du Puy Lentil Soup, Red Lentil and Garlic Soup, and Vegetable and Barley Soup.

Browse all of our Soups and all of our Lentils Soups. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Spicy Rice and Fermented Black Bean Salad with Zucchini

Here we go, the last of the 101 Salads of Bittman. Thank you to Mark B. for such a wonderful journey.

This salad takes some short grain rice and mixes it with a wild collection of ingredients, which somehow work together. Often when making Bittman’s salads, I have imagined him at his kitchen bench, going, “right, what is in the fridge today, what is in the pantry, what is left over from last night?”. And somehow and amazing salad comes into being.

For his rice salads, I use an Indian rice – idli rice, in fact. It is a hard rice and needs more water and longer cooking than other rices, but I love that this short grain rice retains its integrity when cooked. It doesn’t collapse or become mushy. I generally have this rice in my pantry – but no need to buy it specially – use the short grained rice that you have on hand.

Are you after similar recipes? Try Carrot Rice, Zucchini Rice, and Coconut Rice.

Or you can browse all of our Rice Salads, and in fact all of our Rice dishes. All of our Bittman recipes are here. Or take some time to explore our Early Winter dishes.

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Polenta Crisps with Avocado and Yoghurt

Polenta crisps and polenta chips are the modern way to cook polenta, and both are jolly good. The polenta is cooked to a thick mass which is spread out on trays to firm up. It is then cut to shape and fried. I can’t tell you how moreish they are, totally addictive. And when used to scoop up an avocado, yoghurt and lime dip they are even more so.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Plenty More. In the scheme of Ottolenghi recipes, it is relatively easy, just needing time to let the polenta cool. We are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area, but the only change we have made to this recipe is to add some chopped curry leaves into the polenta. You can leave them out if you wish.

Not using polenta very much? Grab that packet from the back of the cupboard; these polenta crisps should do the trick: they’re very easy to make and even easier to eat.

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 Butternut with Buckwheat Polenta, Peter’s Wet Polenta and Tomatoes, and Pea and Mint Croquettes.

Browse our Polenta dishes, our Dips, and our Avocado recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.

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Brussels Sprout Risotto with Blue Cheese

A sprout risotto? You’d better believe it. Brussels Sprout are such a controversial vegetable – you either love them or hate them. We grew up with overcooked and soggy sprouts that had the colour and natural sweetness leached out of them and left the kitchen with a cabbage-y sprouts aroma. So in our kitchen they are either eaten raw, roasted, fried, or sauteed with a little garlic.

Unusual pairings with sprouts include pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses or maple syrup. Salty, sweet and sour flavours are great – try lemon juice and lime juice, preserved lemon, capers, parmesan, chilli, almonds, barberries, pistachios, even tiny toasted croutons, all work very very well.

Today’s recipe uses Brussels Sprouts in a risotto. It is an unusual recipe but you will love it. It is an Ottolenghi recipe from Plenty More. It combines shredded sprouts and fried sprouts in the risotto with lemon, parmesan and the bite of Blue Cheese. How exciting! It is lemony, herby, cheesy, and of course, with the flavour of delicious sprouts.

In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include Brussels Sprouts Salad, Gentle Vegetables cooked in Wine, Three Cheese Risotto, and Asparagus Risotto.

Browse all of our Risotto recipes and Brussels Sprouts recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice

Another dish from Ottolenghi, this one was inspired by one of his trips to Malaysia. It is a loose take on Nasi Lemak, definitely the country’s most popular breakfast. But be warned: it is quite spicy. You can make the spice paste with far fewer chillies than Ottolenghi prescribes – feel free to just use half a fresh chilli and half a dried chilli if that is to your taste. In actual fact, we make this recipe with the sambals and sambal style chilli mixes that we have on hand (quite a few) rather than make his, and I have included both his recipe and links to our other pastes, purees and sambals that are suitable.

We like this variation on typical okra recipes. In this one the okra is simmered for a few moments only and then served mixed with the chilli-onion sambal on coconut rice. Use the freshest and best quality okra, because it is cooked so briefly.

Don’t omit the crispy fried shallots (available from Indian and Asian grocers) or the coriander. They add some texture and flavour to the dish that is essential to the overall impact.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Malaysian Lemak Style VegetablesSri Lankan Okra Curry, and Goan Okra with Chilli-Spice Paste.

Try these different Coconut Rice recipes too. South Indian Coconut Rice, and Balinese Coconut Rice.

Or browse all of our Okra dishes, and all of our Malaysian recipes. All of our Ottolenghi recipes are here. Or take some time and browse our Early Winter dishes.

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Mushrooms with Black Glutinous Rice

Black glutinous rice, available from Asian groceries, is actually a very deep burgundy colour. It is gloriously nutty in taste, beautiful to look at and has a soft, starchy texture that is slightly al dente, because each grain retains its integrity when cooked. Like brown rice, black rice is unmilled, and it is the dark outer husk that makes it so nutty and chewy. It’s also why it takes longer to cook than many other rices, and needs to be soaked before cooking.

Black glutinous rice works in both savoury and sweet dishes. It’s a popular pudding rice in South-East Asia where it is cooked with water, coconut milk and pandan. It is best known for this delicious dessert. However it can be used in savoury ways too, particularly as a striking alternative to other short-grain rices.

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Quinoa Salad with Apricots and Pecans

This is a lovely quinoa salad with apricots and nuts. You can make it with fresh fruit in summer or beautiful dried fruit (soaked) in Autumn and Winter. It is pretty glorious even if I do say so myself.

Finally, we are on the last leg of a three year journey to cook all of the 101 Salads of Mark Bittman. Just a couple more to go, less than I can count on 2 fingers. The first of the salads was posted in 2015, and first made perhaps 12 months before that, and it has taken all of this time to make, write up and then schedule, each recipe for posting. It took around 3 years of focused salad making to complete.

The first Summer, we probably made around 20 or 25 of the recipes, the second Summer, perhaps another 20. But the difference in the third Summer was twofold – I fell in love with this routine of salad making, and, well, I didn’t want to spend another 2 years on this project. So a very focused effort began in Autumn of 2017.

The funny thing was, making a salad almost every day – around 5 salads a week – changed food in our kitchen. We now look for our daily salad. We think about it and plan it. We enjoy our salad at different times of the day too – sometimes it makes a great snack mid morning or mid afternoon, sometimes it *is* lunch, sometimes a part of our dinner. Leftovers are eaten for supper, or packed for lunch the next day, or eaten for breakfast even (they are that delicious).

We are completing the 101 Salads in at the end of Early Winter of 2017, even though as you are reading this, it is probably well past that date. The salad posts have been scheduled over time so as not to overwhelm our feed with only salads. We were lucky, taking the salads through Autumn into Winter, as Bittman finishes his list with salads that are based on grains – quinoa, barley, couscous, wheat, rice. We loved these grainy ones in the colder weather of Winter.

We made every salad that we could, and converted many others. There were a few that we could not make – once the non-vegetarian items were removed, there was nothing left to make a salad from. Other salads featuring non-veg items, well, we just stripped them out and made the bones of the salad. We thought about tarting them up by substituting other ingredients, but actually we enjoyed the really pared down salads with killer dressings. We did. Simple is good. (Over the top complex is good too, hey Ottolenghi?)

Some salads we changed a little, due to availability of local ingredients, some we added a couple of items – white pepper, for example, to Asian style salads (my absolute love), or something we might have sitting on our kitchen bench that made a good addition. Pickled cumquats made it into a tart quinoa salad, and were divine. Some pickled jicama topped another salad, adding that delightful apple-flavoured crunch. But mostly, we left the original version alone.

And there you have it. Our long, multi-year journey of Salads with Bittman. I hope you like this one, #99 on his list. Please enjoy! Then browse all of our others.

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Congee Bowls

I love congee made in a Chinese clay cooking pot in the middle of winter, cooked on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A large batch is sometimes cooked and stored in the fridge. In this way it is available night and day, for late night suppers or early morning breakfast. Congee was once a very popular dish but it has fallen out of fashion. We have been making it since 2003, and thankfully it has not fallen out of fashion in our household.

There are lots of congee recipes around – almost every Asian cookbook you pick up has one in it. I first cooked it at home  as I loved the late night congee in Sydney’s China Town. So good. Short grain rice is best. One cup of rice made a huge amount – enough for 4 – 6 bowls of it. So be careful the first time that you make it to ensure that you are not making enough for your whole suburb!!! Congee can be eaten at any time of the day – it has become a popular breakfast food for Southern Chinese and midnight snacks for Singaporeans & Malaysians. So eat it first thing, last thing, or anywhere in between.

Congee Bowls, in our household, are bowls of congee topped with a range of delicious accompaniments – herbs, tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, crispy onions and garlic, steamed beans, mushrooms, Asian greens – the list is endless and any combination can be used, depending on the season, the weather, your mood, the time of day and the available ingredients. Congee flavour is always up to you!

Congee is eaten throughout Asia, from Japan right down to Indonesia. Each one varies a little from the others, but all are made with boiled rice, lentils or beans. However, the name for this dish originated in India – from the Tamil kanji. Perhaps also from the Telugu and Kannada gañji, the Malayalam kanni and the Urdu ganji. All meaning, more or less, boiling. The earliest reference can be traced back to the Zhou dynasty (circa 1000BC). It is also mentioned in the Chinese Record of Rites (1st century AD) and noted in Pliny’s account of India circa AD77.

Similar recipes include Red Rice with Adzuki Beans Congee, Cracked Wheat and Mung Dal Kitchari, and Quinoa Porridge.

You might like to browse our Rice recipes, and Porridge recipes. Or check out our easy Mid Winter recipes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can explore more of the Retro Recipes series, our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.

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