Sri Lanka cuisine includes beautiful curries cooked in coconut milk, showing off the abundance of coconuts on this beautiful isle. This is another version of the Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry, and in this one the flavours of coconut are layered with both roasted coconut and coconut milk. The recipe is adapted from Flavours of Sri Lanka.
Thani Kootu is a popular Thanjavur recipe traditionally prepared for Sumangali Prarthanai, Sankaranthi and other festivals. In this dish, 5 different vegetables are prepared in separate jaggery kootus – a delicious and tangy South Indian base for the vegetables which is made with tamarind, freshly ground spices and jaggery. Jaggery brings out the tanginess of the tamarind in a surprising way.
Thani means stand alone in Tamil, and this indicates how the vegetables are made into separate dishes rather than mixed together. The different Thani Kootu dishes are generally serve with plain steamed rice. The base can also be served on its own without any vegetable added. It is pretty delicious!
To make it easy to prepare these dishes we make a large pot of the base Kootu, then divide it into five. The vegetables are cooked separately, and then added to the bases. It is common today to combine the vegetables in one dish, but traditionally, five different ones were made.
By the way, Sumangali Prarthanai is a thanksgiving religious function to honour our female ancestors.
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.
Spinach is often paired with butternut pumpkin and it is a perfect match. We’ve been cooking this recipe for ages. Over time it has changed, simplified, adapted to the food fashions of the time. But the main ingredients have stayed the same – spinach or similar greens, butternut or jap pumpkin, mushrooms and a couple of spices. In this recipe, any greens that cook up like spinach or chard and can handle spices can be used – try some of the Asian greens and Indian greens also.
At our place we often need a quick way to use up greens from the garden – spinach, bok choy, chard, silver beet and others. Our garden can get over-run with these! This is a great dish to use them up.
The butternut pumpkin is sauteed until almost cooked before the greens are added, and the finished dish is topped with roasted or sautéed mushrooms and some roasted garlic. Delicious.
This is a thick, creamy curry from Sri Lanka made from beautiful pumpkin cooked in coconut milk. It is tempered with spices and onions, adding an amazing aromatic and flavoursome note to the creamy curry.
The coconut milk base of the curry is flavoured with the Asian tropical flavours of pandan, chilli, curry leaves, Asian shallots and kaffir lime leaves. The Sri Lankan curry powder, Badapu Thuna Paha, is used too, but use a roasted curry powder if you don’t have this or don’t have time to make it. Simply roast your curry powder in a dry pan until it is aromatic and a darker colour but not burnt.
Flavours are layered so well in this curry, with unroasted chilli powder layered with the roasted Sri Lankan curry powder. (BTW, if you don’t have unroasted chilli powder, grind some Indian dried red chillies, or just use the chilli powder that you have.)
Today’s recipe is another Pumpkin Soup. This one is Italian in origin, with potatoes and cannellini beans. It is a beautiful and velvety soup.
Actually, I am famous amongst my friends and family for Soupe au Potiron and it remains my favourite Pumpkin Soup! However, I also love a little variety. Make today’s recipe in very cold weather, and enjoy it with crisp crunchy bread! This recipe has been around in our Winter kitchen for many, many years, and the original inspiration came from the River Cafe Cookbook.
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can find other recipes from that blog in our Retro Recipes series.
If you are a reader of our Winter posts you know that we love to use the oven at any time of the day. It warms the kitchen, living areas and us. Plus it fills the space with the most delicious of aromas.
This is a great dish to throw into the oven on those cold days to warm the space and provide great food. Use the roasted vegetables as a side dish, or as a hot or room temperature Winter salad with a yoghurt and cumin seed dressing.
The recipe needs enough small-diced vegetables to pile into your baking dish to a depth of 5 cm, so I use a small baking dish for this one. And we are going to slow bake them for a couple of hours, so leave yourself enough time. We often make it first thing in the morning for lunch time salads.
Similar recipes include Sautéed Butternut and Spinach with Roasted Mushrooms and Roasted Garlic, Turnip and Swede Gratin, Butter Braised Turnips, Vegetables with Indian Flavours, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Figs, Baked Parsnips with Parmesan.
Pakora are a favourite street food in India, and one that can easily be made at home. Recipes use a chickpea flour batter into which vegetables are dipped and then deep fried. I like to serve these Pakora with sea salt and lemon juice only, but they are commonly eaten with Indian sauces and chutneys. One word describes them. Delicious. Incredibly delicious. Have a glass of chai with them – I also love them with a small cup of spicy rasam.
In frying the pakora (also called pakoda, bhajji and bhajiya) the aim is to cook the vegetable in the same amount of time that the batter takes to become crispy. It is about temperature, so it is a good idea to test-fry a few pieces before cooking the whole batch.
The types of vegetables that can be used include potatoes, onion rings, eggplant, sweet potatoes, softer pumpkins, lotus root, cauliflower and greens such as spinach, kale and amaranth leaves. Make sure that any greens are really dry before using.
Another cold winter morning, another zero degree morning, and another excuse to turn the oven on and get the butternut pumpkin out. We classify butternut as a pumpkin although elsewhere it may be called a squash.
Simply made, this is an easy recipe – the butternut is roasted and some pumpkin seeds are toasted in the residual heat of the oven. Yoghurt is mixed with chilli sauce and some coriander is whizzed with oil – both are drizzled over the cooked pumpkin. Quick and easy. It can be made early in the morning while the coffee is brewing the porridge bubbling on the stove, and then left until lunch time.
The toasted pumpkin seeds (the green inner ones, not the hard shelled, large pumpkin seeds) are wonderful – crispy and light. Make more of them and keep some for snacking during the day.
A dish to celebrate two of Turkish cuisine’s great gifts to the world, yoghurt and chilli.
By the way, the Chilli Yoghurt Sauce in this recipe is a winner. It is simply chilli sauce mixed with yoghurt (I used one of my slow cooked chilli jams). The truth be told, I could not stop eating the left overs. It was stirred into rice, dolloped on soup, and drizzled over steamed vegetables. The last spoonful was smeared on buttery bread and eaten with delight. I really advise you to make double recipe, and keep the remainder in the fridge.
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.
In fact 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.
Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
Roasted pumpkin is a must-have dish in Winter, and we use butternut pretty much in our kitchen. Jap is another pumpkin we like, but its availability has decreased over the last few years. Red pumpkin used to be available from a few specialty shops but sadly those have closed now.
Roasting or baking vegetables with spices always attracts our attention – we tend to do the same thing. So when Ottolenghi includes cardamom and one of his favourite seeds/spices, Nigella, we are captured. The recipe is easy and no-fuss, compared to many of his other recipes, so this is perfect for a pretty lazy Saturday morning at our place. Mid winter, the weather is sunny, but we don’t feel like rousing ourselves too much today, instead, laying around reading and listening to music. Lazily, I turn the oven on and bake the pumpkin.
Millet at last is getting the recognition that it deserves, its wonderful healthy properties exposed for all to see. Mind you, most natural foods are super foods in their own right – our current fascination with super foods is simply because the particular trend of the moment is to discover a new’ish ingredient from another cuisine and recognise its health properties. Turmeric. Moringa. Goji berries. Cranberries. And now, millet. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we also discovered the health benefits of, say, turnips, parsley and pepper – those things that are right here under our noses and on our kitchen benches. I love how we widen our choice of kitchen staples through learning about the essentials of other cuisines – but I do get a bit tired of food fashions. Sigh. But back to millet…
There are lots of different millet varieties, but the common one, Pearl Millet is the one that is used in this dish. Certainly, try it with others – foxtail millet, barnyard millet, finger millet. The result will be different, as they cook up differently, but just might be wonderful too. Do try it and let me know. Pearl Millet has different names in the different areas of India: Kambu (Tamil), Bajra (Hindi, Bengali, Odia and Punjabi), Sajje (Kannada), Bajri (Gujarati and Marathi) and Sajja (Telugu). This dish has Japanese style flavourings, but imagine one that subs out those flavours for Indian flavours. Stay tuned, I may just do that.
Brown rice and other whole grains such as millet, barley, oats, quinoa, spelt, rye, and teff are considered by macrobiotics to be the foods in which yin and yang are closest to being in balance, and many macrobiotic dishes are built around these grains.
This recipe has its genesis in the macrobiotic movement. Macrobiotics is not as popular any more, and its yin/yang approach to food is avoided by the mainstream cooks – they are also packed full of less common ingredients such as Chinese toasted sesame oil, seaweeds, umeboshi and tamari. But I love them – they are rustic and homely in style with flavours that are sort of Japanese, but not quite. It is a recipe that comes via a scribbled note in my pile of collected recipes.
Do try this recipe – like tray-baked meals, this one cooks away in a low oven for an hour and a half, without you having to lift a finger. Pure heaven. You don’t have to be on a macrobiotic diet to enjoy it. The millet is cooked with the mentioned macrobiotic flavours, and with daikon (white radish) and pumpkin. I always use Butternut or Jap pumpkin – they are our favourites – but any pumpkin and most squashes will work.
Similar recipes include Daikon Miso Pickles, Salad of Butternut Tataki with Udon Noodles, Barnyard Millet Kitchari, Barnyard Millet with Yoghurt, Escarole Salad with Millet, and Daikon and Pumpkin Curry.