Char Grilled Butternut with Labneh and Walnut Salsa

Sometimes the simplest of dishes are just as impactful as the more complex, time consuming ones. Ottolenghi has a reputation for complex dishes with many processes and even more ingredients. That’s true, indeed, and there are some very complex dishes in his book Plenty More, the one I am cooking from at the moment. But there are others (thank goodness) that are *relatively* simple. Rather than flavours layered over and over and over in a dish, the simple contrasts and textures are enough to provide just as much impact, but in a different way.

This recipe recommends pickled walnuts, but they are difficult to find here. So we make a salsa with freshly shelled walnuts, and that is paired with the labneh and butternut pumpkin. It is a delicious combination.

As mentioned, 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.

Char-grilled squash with labneh and pickled walnut salsa: A riot of colour and flavour alike. Buy labneh, which is thick, strained yoghurt, from a providore or a Middle Eastern grocer, though it’s quite easy to make your own. Just hang natural yoghurt in muslin for a couple of days. Or use goat’s curd or a very fresh goat’s cheese instead.

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.

Similar recipes include Caramelised Roasted Pumpkin, Butternut Pumpkin Cooked with Lashings of Butter, and BBQ’d Butternut.

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.

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Vegetables with Indian Flavours

How quirky the British can be at times, especially when it comes to all things Indian. British Indian cuisine is a food genre all to itself, with little relationship to the food of India. The famous Chicken Tikka Masala, for example, is British, not Indian. Vindaloo is a term used for any hot curry in England, not the specific and terrifyingly hot pork curry of Goa on the coast of West India, with its roots in the Portuguese occupation.

And there is another dish – Indian Ratatouille. Yes, my friends, it is a thing. Throw a few spices at a ratatouille and you have Indian Ratatouille. The French food masters must be turning in their graves.

And then Ottolenghi takes this (perhaps somewhat arrogant) British invention and makes it even more Indian – throwing out some of the the traditional vegetables, adding potatoes and okra, beans and tomatoes, and incorporating Bengali spices, tamarind and curry leaves. Has he insulted the French, the Indians and the British? Probably not, because the result is divine – let the food speak for itself, despite its name.

“A great ratatouille is one in which the vegetables interact with each other, but are still discernible from each other. The trick is to cook them just right: not over, not under.”

I cannot bring myself to call this dish Indian Ratatouille, so for me it is Vegetables with Indian Flavours. Panch Phoran is an Indian whole seed mix – it is available at Indian groceries, or you can make it yourself by mixing equal amounts of fenugreek, fennel, black mustard, nigella and cumin.

This Ottolenghi dish is 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.

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 Caponata and Chargrilled Pumpkin Salad with Labneh and Walnut Salsa.

All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes. Browse all of our Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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

Continue reading “Vegetables with Indian Flavours”

Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices

Here is another Poritha Kootu – Mung Dal with vegetables – for a quick and delicious meal. This version is not spicy, very little spice is added, just chillies and cumin with coconut. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetables.

Sometimes Poritha Kootu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. It is a reasonable description, as it is thicker than Poritha Kuzhambu, and contains multiple vegetables rather than just one.

Are you after other Kootu recipes? Try Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind, Poritha Kootu without Tamarind, and Poritha Kootu with Sambar Spices.

Or perhaps you prefer Mung Dal recipes. We recommend Amaranth Leaves Masiyal, Mung Dal with Cumin and Spinach, Gentle Mung Soup, and Mung Soup with Amaranth Greens.

You can find all of our Kootu recipes here, all of the Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes here, and all of our Mung recipes here. Our Indian Dishes are all here. Or simply explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Poritha Kootu

We have been posting some Poritha Kootu recipes recently and (at least for a while) this is our last recipe for a Poritha Kootu that does not include tamarind. In the future we will post a few recipes that do contain tamarind, but for now our focus has been with those that don’t, as it is the most common way to make this dish.

This version uses toor dal for a change. Our previous recipes have used mung dal, but Meenakshi Ammal recommends toor dal for this one as it is a better fit for the flavours used.

Are you after other Kootu recipes? Try Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices, Poritha Kootu without Tamarind, Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices and Poritha Kootu with Sambar Spices.

Are you after Sambar and Kuzhamu recipes? Try Moar Kuzhambu (with yoghurt), Fenugreek Kuzhambu, and Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu (Lentil Balls in Spicy Gravy). Try these Sambar recipes: Classic Seasoned Sambar Version 1, Version 2, Version 3 and Version 4. You can also try a Buttermilk/Yoghurt Sambar.

Browse all of our Kootu recipes, all of the Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes, and all of our Toor Dal recipes. Our Indian Dishes are all here and our Indian Essentials are here. Or simply explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Poritha Kootu | Recipe Without Tamarind

Mung dal has that immediate effect of making you feel good – supported, nourished, loved. Because of this quality – Miso Soup has it as well – dishes with Mung dal have become our go-to recipes after late nights and missed sleep, when work is far too busy and when there is disruption in our lives. Often it is a simple Mung Soup or Mung Dal, or Kitchari, all made in under 30 minutes, but today we make Poritha Kootu.

Kootu (Koottu, Kothsu) is a type of Kuzhambu, and is any vegetable combination with Mung Dal and freshly ground mild spices (but usually without sambar powder). Occasionally Toor Dal is used. Cumin is considered the defining spice for Kootu. Sometimes black pepper is used, but it seems fenugreek is never used. Kootu is a thicker dish than Sambar or Kuzhambu. You could say that Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu are very similar, except that Poritha Kootu is made with Mung Dal, has more vegetables and is much thicker.

Many kootus are spiced with a coconut, cumin and green chillies paste but this recipe, from Meenakshi Ammal, uses red chillies in the paste. As usual, her recipe takes some unpicking as it a little maze-like. It always takes a bit of a detective work to unravel some of her recipes in Vol 1 of Cook and See. I feel like a sleuth as I work my way through her complex instructions.

Recipes for Kootu vary from region to region, town to town, household to household. Some places define Poritha Kootu by the inclusion of pepper and urad dal in its seasoning, which makes it a variation of Kootu. This is at odds with the way Meenakshi Ammal makes Poritha Kootu – her recipe does not include pepper.

I have used zucchini with other vegetables in this dish – zucchini is still a slightly exotic vegetable in India where it was only recently introduced. I have paired it with potatoes and drumstick. It’s kinda special, as the zucchini and drumsticks are home grown.

Similar recipes include Poritha Kootu with Coconut Chilli Paste and Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind.

Or perhaps you prefer Mung Dal recipes. We recommend Mung Dal with Cumin and Spinach, Gentle Mung Soup, and Mung Soup with Amaranth Greens.

You can find all of our Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes here, and all of our Mung recipes here. Our Indian Dishes are all here. Or simply explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Yellow Pumpkin Soup | South Indian Pumpkin Soup

Today, although it is Mid Summer, it is cooler and wet. It seems right to make soup, although Pumpkin Soup is usually reserved for Winter. This is a South Indian Soup, and the lightness of it suits our Summery wet weather.

Although the South Indian soups are not well known or recognised, I have a love of them which started when they were served each day for 2 weeks in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Home made and delicious, it was instant love. Luckily the Cook and See series of books has a chapter on Indian Soups in Part 4 by Priya Ramkumar.

This soup is a little thinner than what you might expect from a European Pumpkin Soup, but has a creamy texture because the milk is condensed slightly by simmering for 10 mins. It is peppery indeed, but not as peppery as you might think from the amount in the soup. It also has a little sweetness from the pumpkin and from condensing the milk – that sweetens it a little. I love the soup garnished with coriander leaves.

You might like to have a look at other Indian soups. We have South Indian Cauliflower Soup, South Indian Beetroot Soup, and Tomato and Potato Soup. There is also a wonderful Indian Vegetable Stock to use as a base for soups or to slurp on its own. All of our Indian Soups are here.

Other similar recipes include Turnip Soup with Yoghurt and Coriander-Walnut Paste, Pumpkin Soup with Red Peppers, Adzuki Bean, Barley and Pumpkin Soup with Miso and Parsley, and Cream of Pumpkin Soup.

See other Pumpkin Soup recipes here. All of our Indian Soups are here for you to browse, and our whole range of Soups here. Other Indian dishes are here.  Or take some time and explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Miso Sesame Dressing – with Roast Pumpkin

Miso is an underused ingredient. These days mostly relegated to Japanese cuisine, it was a darling of the macro-biotic movement of last century. You still find the odd recipe that uses it and the occasional blogger who is confident enough to use it often (have a look through Lucy Nourish Me’s recipes).

It was nice to find it mentioned in Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries – such an English approach to food he has, that the incorporation of miso was a surprise. A minor mention indeed, but a mention nevertheless.

This is a fairly standard miso dressing, but Nigel credits Nigella with its creation. No matter the origin, it is a cracker. Use it with Roast Pumpkin, green beans that have been quickly sauteed, steamed or boiled, or Japanese noodles (as Nigel does). It can be used as a dipping sauce.

You might like to try our Miso Soup, a nourishing, comforting, beautiful dish, and our Miso Soup with Wakame. Or perhaps you might like our Roast Pumpkin Salad with Chilli Jam.

Similar recipes include Miso and Tahini Sauce, Spread and DressingChilli Soy Sauce, and Broth and Dipping Sauce for Noodles and Tofu. Try Chargrilled Pumpkin Salad with Labneh and Walnut Salsa too.

Explore our other Miso recipes here and have a look at our Salad Dressings. We have some other Dipping Sauces too. Browse our Japanese recipes and our simple, Early Summer dishes.

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Poritha Koottu with Sambar Powder

Kootu (Koottu) is a type of Kuzhambu, and contains a combination of vegetable combined with Mung Dal and freshly ground mild spices. Varieties of Kootu include Poritha Kootu and Kothsu (Gothsu).

Sometimes Kootu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. It certainly is thicker than Poritha Kuzhambu, with more vegetables. It is generally eaten with rice, without any need for an accompanying vegetable dish. You could say that Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu are very similar, except that Poritha Kootu is made with Mung Dal rather than Toor Dal, has more vegetables and is much thicker than Kuzhambu.

This Kootu is slightly unusual. It uses a little Sambar Powder which is rarely used in Kootu. And although some Kootu recipes contain tamarind, this one does not.

Cumin is considered the defining spice for Kootu. Sometimes pepper is used. Many kootus are spiced with a coconut, cumin and green chillies paste but this recipe, from Meenakshi Ammal, varies that by using red chillies.

The dish is not spicy – very little spice is used. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetables. You will enjoy it. You can purchase your Sambar Powder at an Indian grocery, or better still, make your own.

As usual, Meenakshi Ammal’s recipe takes some unpicking as it does contradict itself. It always takes a bit of a detective work to unravel the recipes in Vol 1 of her 4 volume set of Cook and See.

Are you after similar recipes? Try Poritha KootuPoritha Kootu with Simple Spices, Drumsrick Leaves Sambar, Poritha Kootu without Tamarind, Brinjal Chidambaram Kothsu, and Pitlai.

Are you after Kuzhamu recipes? Try Moar Kuzhambu (with yoghurt), Fenugreek Kuzhambu, and Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu (Lentil Balls in Spicy Gravy).

Or perhaps you prefer Mung Dal recipes. We recommend Mung Dal with Cumin and Spinach, Gentle Mung Soup, and Mung Soup with Amaranth Greens.

Or browse all of our Kootu, our Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes, and all of our Mung recipes. Our Indian Dishes are all here and our Indian Essentials here. Or simply explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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A Special Pumpkin Soup

A soup for when winter goes on and on and on ….

You can never have too many pumpkin soup recipes. They abound, to be sure. But, comforting and nourishing, they are frequently on the menu at our place. Also, they are perfect dinner items from Autumn through Winter and into Spring, which means they are very versatile. We always make a large pot, and then vary the soup each meal by adding chilli or pesto, tomato paste or milk/cream and adding different herbs – basil, parsley, coriander (cilantro).

This pumpkin soup has a tang to it with the addition of sweet sherry! An old ingredient indeed, but that does not mean that it doesn’t have the occasional place in the modern kitchen.

This is a great dish for Thanksgiving, if you celebrate that US festival. Other Thanksgiving recipes are here.

Similar recipes include South Indian Pumpkin Soup, Cream of Roasted Swede SoupFrench Cream of Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Soup with Red Peppers, and Pumpkin Cooked with Lashings of Butter.

You might like to browse other Pumpkin Soup recipes, and all of our Pumpkin recipes. Try other Soup recipes too. Or simply explore our easy Mid Winter recipes.

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Butternut Pumpkin Cooked with Lashings of Butter and Black Pepper

Such soft buttery butternut, perfect for late Autumn

Vegetables like potatoes and pumpkin can be slow cooked very successfully. It works best with lots of butter, and of course that adds to the flavour A LOT. In this recipe, the butter helps to produce meltingly soft Butternut Pumpkin.

We began making this dish a long time ago, and it is a recipe from our Retro Recipe series – vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006. It began as a quick, no fuss way to cook pumpkin while we were doing other things in and out of the kitchen, an a great vegetable to serve for Sunday lunches and winter BBQs. It has now come into its own, and we love it at any time.

Are you after spectacular mashes? You might also want to try Garlicky Potato Mash, Broad Bean and Butter Bean Mash, and Carrot and Parsnip Mash. And try these Potato Mashes – English, French, and Indian.

Are you looking for Pumpkin recipes? Try French Cream of Pumpkin SoupRoast Pumpkin Couscous Salad, Lasagne with Spinach, Ricotta and Pumpkin, and Roasted Pumpkin Risotto.

You might also like to check out all of our Pumpkin recipes. Or browse Slow Cooked recipes. Take some time to explore our collection of easy Mid Winter recipes.

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Soupe au Potiron | Our Family’s Favourite Cream of Pumpkin Soup

A French Soup so good that your friends will request the recipe

In the days when my kids were growing up, I really was famous for this soup. People would request it if they were coming over for a meal. I would keep copies of the recipe handy for people. We make it still today, and it is still just as good.

I love the way that the colour of this soup mirrors that of the falling autumn leaves at my house.

This is a great dish for Thanksgiving, if you celebrate that US festival. Other Thanksgiving recipes are here.

Are you looking for Pumpkin Soups? Try these: South Indian Pumpkin SoupAdzuki Bean, Barley and Pumpkin Soup, Italian Pumpkin Soup, Special Pumpkin Soup, and Pumpkin Soup with Red Peppers.

Or try some other Pumpkin recipes, like Pumpkin Couscous Salad, Caramelised Roast Pumpkin, and Pumpkin Cooked in a Covered BBQ.

Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series – vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006. You might also like our Pumpkin recipes here and here. Or you might like to browse Soup recipes here and here. Check out our easy Winter recipes here and here.

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How to Cook Vegetables for Sambar

Removing the confusion around cooking vegetables for Sambar

Once you are experienced at cooking sambar, it is quite easy. However, while mastering the skill it can be confusing. Here is some advice on making sambar, and particularly on cooking the vegetables for sambar.

The advice is based on my experience and the writings of S. Meenakshi Ammal who wrote the Cook and See series of books on traditional South Indian cooking.

Browse all of our sambar recipes here. and Meenakshi Ammal’s recipes here.

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Roast Pumpkin Couscous Salad with Chilli Jam

When Autumn takes hold and Winter is just around the corner, salads become heartier.

As the weather gets colder in the transitional months after Summer, Autumnal and Wintery colours are introduced into the kitchen. Pumpkins, polenta, couscous. Pomegranate. Quince, Pears. Apples.

This morning – it is so much cooler in the pre-dawn mornings – pumpkin is roasted until utterly caramelised. Couscous is cooked. And a salad comes together.

Similar dishes include Chargrilled Pumpkin Salad with Labneh and Walnut Salsa, and Couscous with Pinenuts and Sultanas.

You might like to browse our Pumpkin Salad recipes, all of the Pumpkin recipes, and our Couscous recipes. Be inspired by a range of Early Winter dishes.

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Avial | Aviyal | Vegetables in a Coconut and Yoghurt Sauce | From Kerala, India

Avial is a gentle dish from Kerala, made with vegetables and coconut.

Avial is a gentle dish from Kerala. It is a thick mixture of vegetables and coconut, seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. In essence, the vegetables are boiled or steamed and then dressed with the coconut-cumin-yoghurt sauce. Each family’s sauce is different from the next family’s. In our recipe today we are using cumin in the sauce.

Avial is considered an essential part of the Sadya, the Keralite vegetarian feast. It is commonly made with elephant yam, plantain, pumpkin, carrots, beans, Eggplant, cucumber, drumsticks and snake gourd. Carrots and beans are recent but delicious introduction. Bitter gourd can be included in some regions also.

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Indian Style Slightly Sweet and Sour Pumpkin and Sweet Potato | Kaddu ki Sabzi | Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Subzi

A great use for left over pumpkin. Or cook from scratch.

The challenge of every xmas – and Thanksgiving, for that matter – is how to use the left over roasted pumpkin. I have found the solution.

Inspired by The Back Yard Lemon Tree, I took the Delhi Style Sweet and Sour Pumpkin and mixed it up a little to use up several different xmas leftovers. It was delicious. Do read the original recipe – it is from Madhur Jaffrey.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Pumpkin Curry, Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Risotto. And try these Sweet Potato dishes: Sweet Potato Subzi with Yoghurt, and Potato and Sweet Potato Spicy Curry.

Try other Subzis – Kohlrabi Subzi, Carrots and Green Peas Subzi, and Potato and Spinach Subzi.

You might also like to explore all of our Subzi recipes, all of our Pumpkin recipes and all of our Sweet Potato dishes.  Have a look at all of our Indian Vegetable Curries, and all of our Indian recipes. Or simply explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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