Thick Thick Yoghurt with Zaatar, Walnuts and Olive Oil | Labneh with Walnuts and Zaatar

While others may call drained yoghurt as Labneh, I have always made it myself and began calling it Thick Thick Yoghurt all those years ago, before I had ever heard of Labneh and before labneh became trendy.

It is a versatile product that can be used in a multitude of savoury and sweet ways. Salt it and add spices to use as a spread, dip, dressing or filling. Serve with wedges of toasted pita bread. Sweeten it a little (or not) and use it with fruits, jam, on scones, on toast and jam and it is a great alternative to cream.

Countries from India through the Middle East and into the Mediterranean make and use thick thick yoghurt. This dish is one that uses golpar, that tangy, slightly tart powder made from Persian hogweed. Speaking in terms of traditional medicine, the use of golpar with yoghurt counteracts the cold property of yoghurt. You can buy it from Middle Eastern, Afghan and some Asian groceries. You can substitute some grated lemon rind – it is a different flavour but will still be very very good.

Use this as a mezze dish, a dip, with tomatoes and cucumbers (and radishes), a spread in a sandwich or wrap, slavered over baked vegetables, in place of sour cream.

To get you started, this is how you make Thick Thick Yoghurt. And read more about Golpar.

Similar dishes include Ways to Use Thick Thick Yoghurt, Salty, Garlicky Thick Thick Yoghurt, and Blueberry Shrikand.

Browse all Thick Thick Yoghurt dishes and our Dips and Spreads. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Fancy Pants Coleslaw

If you are of a certain age in Australia, you grew up with Coleslaw, a creamy dressed salad of shredded cabbage. Well, Ottolenghi has taken Coleslaw to the next level, of course he has, with this Fancy Coleslaw. It shreds carrots, fennel, cabbage, red capsicum and radicchio for a very special salad.

After all of that shredding and chopping, you’ll have a huge bowlful of fresh and refreshing vegetables – the ideal antidote to all the fats, carbs and general debauchery of the holiday season. It is a healthy and nourishing salad, but also over-the-top delicious.

The creamy dressing for this salad is made with mayo and yoghurt. NOTE that I make an Eggless Mayo which is already mustardy and sweet, so I adjust Ottolenghi’s dressing accordingly (less or no extra mustard and only a little honey).

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest round of posts featuring 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.

Similar recipes include Waldorf Salad, Wombok and Radish Salad, and Chilli Cabbage.

Browse all of our Cabbage Salads, and all of our Salads. Our Ottolenghi dishes are here. Or browse our Mid Summer dishes.

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Peas with Purslane (or Sorrel) and Mustard

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. It is a Pea dish today.

There is an ode to peas (especially frozen peas) in the Guardian as it introduces this dish from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. It goes something like this (with minor alterations):

“Is there a safer bet in the kitchen than that there will be a bag of peas in the freezer? Peas are unlikely to surprise or shock in any way, but they are delightfully reassuring. They will somehow always be there, and always taste as they have and should.

Sure, freshly podded peas have about them a certain romance  – they have, for example, that beautiful texture when thrown raw into a crunchy spring salad. But who has access to fresh peas that haven’t been sitting for far too long on the green grocer’s shelves? No wonder, frozen peas sit comfortably in almost all home freezers.

Peas are incredibly relaxed about whom they sit next to at dinner. Salty and tangy feta or parmesan, creamy yoghurt, nutty potatoes, sweet fresh mint, peppery watercress or bitter leaves: sweet peas will always bring out the best in their companion. Needing little more than a minute’s blanching to cook, followed by a brief drenching in cold water, peas are low-maintenance and offer instant gratification. They are hugely versatile in use, as good at being mashed, pureed, lightly stewed or blitzed as they are left whole and mixed through a salad or pasta, stirred through a risotto, or gently stuffed inside artichoke hearts ready for braising.”

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Pepper, Chilli, Cumin Seed Rasam

I had been making Vada for a snack and wanted a rasam to have with them, so we grabbed Meenakshi Ammal’s books Cook and See to make the next rasam in the Rasam chapter of Vol. 1. The flavouring of this rasam is chilli and pepper (sautéed and ground to powder), with untoasted cumin seeds and fresh curry leaves (also ground to a powder). These spice combinations are combined with a tamarind base.

We are about half way through our project of making all of the classic Rasam recipes from Volume 1 of Meenakshi Ammal’s books Cook and See. We are loving this project, and adore her books. It would be the only book that I have come across that walks you through how the flavour of recipes change with minor adjustments to the ingredients or method. Cooking through a chapter of her books is like receiving personal tuition in the very basics of South Indian (TamBram) food. These books would be my most treasured cookbooks.

This rasam is flavoured with cumin seeds, chilli and pepper. It is made without Rasam Powder, and grinds the spices as you go. But it is easy to make and very very delicious. It is spicy, peppery, hot, tangy, and so very good.

Are you interested in other Rasams? Try Tomato Indian Rasam Style, Kottu Rasam, and Garlic Rasam.

You might also be interested in the following articles:

Our simply explore all of our Rasam recipes. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or take some time to browse our Late Spring recipes.

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Herb and Garlic Marinated Zucchini Gratin

As I write this we have had a long weekend of record breaking temperatures in the 40C’s, maxing out at 44C. Then this week we are experiencing record breaking low temperatures for January. It’s the weather that demands turning the oven on and baking something.

This year the zucchini crop has done much better, fruiting constantly. How gorgeous they are, direct from the bush – tiny, tender, with flavours of summer. But today, in this cold weather, I am regressing to the 1970’s by marinating the zucchini in herbs and garlic, smothering them with cheese and baking them like a gratin. Perfect for very cool Summer weather.

Similar recipes include Potato Cheese Gratin, Gratin of Potatoes and Zucchini, and Marinated Zucchini with Bocconcini.

Browse all of our Zucchini dishes and our Gratin dishes. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Saag Aloo | Spinach with Potatoes

A classic Indian Dish, one you will see everywhere. It is a surprising dish really – take some spinach, a few potatoes, and a few spices and the result is a dish that is easy to make and amazingly delicious.

There are two ways of making saag aloo one is a dry saag aloo – and the other has the potato coated in a wet, smooth spinach gravy. Today’s recipe is the dry version – potatoes are mixed with sautéed spinach and spices.

Sauce-free Indian curries like these are really just slightly-more-elaborate vegetable sautés—toast spices in some oil, add in your vegetables, and finish with salt and sometimes a touch of sugar to season the simple, healthful spicy glaze that coats the vegetables. Simple, but deceivingly flavour-packed and delicious.

Also check Aloo Palak Subzi, a version of this dish without the tomatoes and with fried potatoes.

You might also like Mint Paneer, Makhana Palak (Lotus Seeds in Spinach Gravy), Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Spinach Dry Curry and Palak Pachadi (Spinach and Yoghurt).

Browse other Spinach Recipes here and here and other Potato Recipes here and here. Other Indian recipes are here and here, or find inspiration in our Mid Spring recipes.

Never a pretty dish, the dry version of Aloo Saag is always packed full of flavour. I made this dish with mixed greens including some reddish ones, which darkened the spinach base a little.

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Purslane Salad with Burrata

This is a herby salad with the tang of purslane, the bite of spinach, the crunch of nuts and the creaminess of burrata.

I have used Purslane, as we grow it exceptionally well in Summer. Rather than weed out all of this plant, I leave a little patch and water it well. It grows lusciously with long branches lifting up from the soil. It is easy to pick, and more important, easy to clean by rinsing a couple of times. The tart tang of purslane adds a lovely lift to salads. It is very easy to grow, and you may find it occasionally at your green grocers. You can always forage it, it is everywhere, but make sure it IS purslane and that it has not been sprayed.

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. I need to mention that the inspiration for this recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More but we evolved the recipe over the years to use our common ingredients and make it egg-free. It is like a third cousin twice removed.

Similar recipes include Raw Beetroot and Herb Salad and Mustardy Peas with Purslane.

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

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Aromatic Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice

This rice dish, very delicious I must say, is cooked in the oven. This method is  very handy if you are cooking a large meal and want to leave the stove top for other dishes. The general method can be used without the addition of the aromatics. Ottolenghi has this recipe in his book Plenty More but I have tarted it up just a little. As much as I love Yotham and crew, they need to get a better handle on Indian ingredients (IMO), so I have added or changed out a couple of things in this dish.

Try to get hold of fresh curry leaves on the stem for this dish – they freeze or dry well, so don’t worry if you end up with a big bunch. One of the ways in which curry leaf flavour is layered into a dish is to use them in several different ways in the same dish. Flavour a broth with them, as Ottolenghi does, saute/fry them in ghee or some other oil because the flavour is most easily transported by oils, and add crushed leaves to the final dish. I have used the last two methods in my version of this dish.

Serve the dish with an Indian pickle and a vegetable or lentil curry.

We have several ways of cooking rice, and this oven method is one more. Also try Oven Finished Rice, Buttery Steamed Rice, and The Absorption Method.

Similar recipes include Turmeric Rice, Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, Carrot Rice, and Lemon Rice.

Browse all of our Rice dishes, and our Indian Recipes. Our Indian Essentials are here. All of the Ottolenghi dishes we have made are here. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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Chilli Soy Sauce and Dipping Sauce

Our garden features several well-bearing chilli bushes, and we do a number of things with them. Firstly, we freeze some, whole, for use during winter. We use them in our cooking of course, especially Indian dishes. Some red ones are dried for use as dried chillies in Indian food during the year. Chilli jams, sauces and pastes are made. And we pretty much use them in everything else.

Today’s recipe is a very simple, Asian condiment, which soaks fresh chillies in soy sauce, to be drizzled over, well, pretty much everything. I love a good stirfry and rice, and with abundant amounts of this condiment to drizzle and to dip. Imagine dipping some deep fried tofu in this sauce! Also good over noodle dishes and vegetables. Try it with samosas, or Chinese Scallion Pancakes.

Similar recipes include Preserved Sweet Chillies, Balinese Sambal Iris, Tomato and Chilli Jam, and Chilli Pastes. Also try Onion Jam, and Zhug.

Browse all of our Chilli dishes and all of our Sauces and Condiments. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Celery Salad with Sour Grapes and Burrata

They say that Burrata is the best thing since sliced bread. And certainly it is very very good. A delicious mozzarella shell filled with thick cream. Has your mind gone to heaven? Indeed. It is simply the dreamiest. Creamy, luscious – burrata is Italian for butter, if that gives you any clues on how beautiful it can be.

Burrata is quite difficult to find here, in our little outback town of Adelaide. Not so in other cities, where it perches on the shelves of every supermarket. I had to search hard to find it within reasonable driving distance of my home. It took some time – distributors and cheese makers were not willing to help – I contacted several – but persistence paid and I found a reliable source not far from my work. That is Adelaide for you.

One of the great things about Burrata is that it is perfect for replacing coddled or poached eggs in salads. Thus for those who, like me, avoid cooking with eggs, the creaminess of the interior with the soft mozzarella coating brings that something that soft cooked eggs give to salads and baked dishes.

Celery salads are so rare, but I love one particular recipe, it is my favourite use of celery. I have modified it here to include the burrata. I hope you enjoy it. The origin is an Ottolenghi salad but the recipe keeps morphing into a dish that is appearing more and more often on our table.

Oh, and the other ingredient that is introduced in this salad, is Sour Grapes. Yes, I know, you all know those who are always full of sour grapes. But, it is also an exciting ingredient. Preserved sour grapes can be found in jars in Middle Eastern and Afghani groceries. They taste sour and briney, and a little like capers and caper berries. They are great in salads and in dishes where a sour taste is called for to balance other flavours. Pick some up today (or use capers in place of the grapes).

Similar recipes include Purslane Salad with Herbs and Burrata, Celery Yoghurt Salad, Nashi Pear and Celery Salad, and some Simple Celery Salads.

Browse our Celery Salads and all of our Celery dishes. Our Burrata dishes are here.  Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Green Chilli and Coriander Paste | Chilli, Garlic and Coriander Chutney

This recipe is for a chilli, garlic and coriander paste that can be used as an accompaniment to dishes and full meals (like an Indian style chutney), and as a flavouring for food. Stir it into steamed rice, for example, or into any curry. It works particularly well with coconut milk based spicy dishes. Have it on the side of rice or curries, drizzle it into soups, spread a tiny amount on a sandwich, smear a little onto a snack.

Keep it handy too for spreading on your sandwiches and toast (try it with cheese!), and as a dip for snacks and finger food. It also goes well with idli, vada and other Indian snacks. We are claiming this as an Indian style chutney, although it does vary a little. Nevertheless, it is every bit as delicious as any Indian green chutney.

The paste keeps well in the fridge if tightly covered and avoid using a wet spoon when using the paste.

Similar recipes include Coriander Paste, Zhug, Chilli Jam, and Chilli Paste.

Browse all Chilli recipes, and all Pastes and Purees. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Mango and Pineapple Salad

In India, on one trip, a travelling companion remarked that India did not have dishes of fresh vegetables and greens, like salads and simply cooked vegetables. It was a surprising statement from a person who was not unused to India, but it does show that the most commonly publicised dishes are not the fresh, uncooked or quickly cooked dishes. I may have been more fortunate that that person, eating in the homes of friends in India and spending time in their kitchens. Salads are eaten all over India – they are different to Western tossed or composed salads, but they are fresh and beautiful.

An Indian salad will contain raw or briefly cooked vegetables, fruits, sprouted lentils, and spices. They can also contain grains such as puffed rice or poha (flattened rice). Cooked lentils and beans can be briefly stir fried with spices, coconut and herbs. Vegetables and fruits can be stirred into yoghurt and dressed with sautéed spices.

Salad dressings are not used per se, but flavours are balanced with spices and coconut.  When fruits are used, or vegetables like cucumber and jicama, it can be simply spiced by mixing with chaat masala, black pepper and some lime juice.

So today, a salad of fruits with spices and peanuts. It is gorgeous, spicy and with a tang of mustard. I came across the recipe somewhere some time ago, and make it when pineapples are sweet and mangoes are available. There are many different types of mangoes in India, pineapples too. Today, I have used a sweet, green mango, but others with firmer flesh and tarter flavour can also be used. It is a great salad to serve with fiery food, or as part of a Summer lunch outside under the gum trees.

Similar dishes include Black Gram Sprouts Sundal, Cucumber Pachadi, and Kachumber.

Browse all of our Indian Salads, and all of our Salads. Our Mango dishes are here, and our Pineapple dishes are here. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Creamy Salad Dressing | Eggless

My Mother would make two salad dressings – one an eggless, mustardy mayonnaise made with condensed milk (its a beauty) and today’s recipe, a creamy salad dressing that is also eggless. It is not that she was against using eggs (we had several dozen chooks),  but she had a number of things influencing her cooking – her experience in the tough times of  World War II as she was growing up, living in an isolated part of South Australia, her Germanic influences from her parents and grandparents, and a preference for things to be easy in the Kitchen as she didn’t really enjoy cooking.

I am glad that these things all came together to produce both of these dressings, because I keep my Kitchen meat-free and egg-free. So these two recipes are heaven-sent, ready to use whenever mayonnaise style dressings are required. The other one that is handy is this lemony yoghurt dressing.

This creamy dressing always appeared on my Mother’s tomato salads, and it well suits both tomatoes and cucumbers. Who thinks of putting mayo or a creamy dressing on tomato salads these days? My mother always did. And they were delicious, our favourite.

But it is also versatile, useful for all sorts of salads. It can be flavoured, eg with mustard or garlic or capers or spring onions, and this is done so easily. Try it on a raw vegetable salad, crunchy shredded root vegetables, a green lettuce based salad, over salad bowls, and with roast vegetable salads.

Similar recipes include Miso Sesame Dressing, Garlic Yoghurt Dressing, and Herby Mustard Dressing.

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

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Sticky Kaffir and Tamarind Tofu

Sadly, many people believe tofu is boring. Perhaps recipes like this one are secret, locked away from view unless you have the password or know the secret phrase to say. An easy dish to make, the tofu is marinated in tamarind, kaffir leaf and lemongrass with sweet soy sauce for half an hour, and then sauteed until it forms a crust on the outside. The marinade is reduced to a sticky sauce which coats the seared tofu.

Similar recipes include Black Pepper Tofu, Baked Marinated Tofu, and Deep Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce.

Browse all of our Tofu recipes and all of our Asian dishes. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Pineapple Pulissery with Green Peppercorns | Pineapple Curry with Green Peppercorns

In one episode of Master Chef last year, the contestants had a mystery box that contained pineapples and green peppercorns. We were yelling at the TV screen “Kerala Pineapple Curry!!!”. Sadly, they could not hear, and I don’t recall that anyone paired them together. Kerala uses pineapple a lot in savoury ways, and this is one of them. So, Master Chef contestants, here is how you enhance the flavour of pineapples with chillies, coconut and green peppercorns.

Similar recipes include Pineapple Pulissery, Kerala Cooking, and Green Mango in Coconut Milk.

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

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