Posts Tagged With: indian

Parsnip and Millet Soup with Mustard Seed Oil


Parsnip and Millet Soup

Parsnip and Millet Soup

A simple and hearty soup to get this year of the B.H.K kicked off in substantial style. Sweet, nutty, with a good mustard poke in the oil.  Jane is inexplicably, sunning herself on the beaches of Spain (she’s back now actually) and has left me her to hold the windswept fort. Granted, in her last email she did seem apologetic. I realise I live the life of riley, but Jane is at least matching me with her Spanish countryside retreats. My Dad has popped over from Durham to make sure that I am behaving myself and filling me in on all the woes of Sunderland AFC this season (this is a pathetic football team that is constantly flirting with relegation and spends vast sums of money on very pants players) and the combined and glaring failures of England Rugby and Cricket. Sport is so dramatic! At least it is in our family.

Wales has welcomed me back into its arms with plenty of rugged weather, but it’s been lovely to have walks again though in the hills and catch up with some of our wonderful friends. North Wales in an amazing place to be, but it seems that winter is still very much here and making its icy presence felt. Snow is predicted over Easter (!?) It was 5oC this morning in the garden, with a cross wind biting my bones. I am now unable to cope with this kind of glacial behaviour. I have just landed from the downtown 35occ heat of Delhi. It’s quite a shock to the system. Still the fire is blazing away and there’s soup on the hob to thaw me out. Life is grand. Summer is coming…………..(or just a sight of the sun would be more enough!)

Some proper British veg

Some proper British veg.  We’ve missed a bit of parsnip

Anyway, enough of the engrossing weather update, let’s move onto the more weighty issue of thick soups that warm things up from the inside out. Soup that coats the ribs and tickles the taste buds. This is a bowl of hearty sup which only has a few ingredients and an interesting combo of flavours going on. With the millet and parsnips, there is plenty of carbs there to get things motoring. Dad and I had this for dinner with some toasted flat breads and it was nicely filling. We eat like horses, so there will be plenty for leaftovers.

Black Mustard Seeds - small, but packed with flavour

Black Mustard Seeds – they may look small, but packed with flavour

WE (heart) MILLET (muchly)
When are they going to start making keyboards with the heart symbol on them? Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing, a huge, evolutionary leap forward. The ability to spread loving symbols at the push of a button.

They love millet in India, it used to be more popular than rice and has been eaten in many tribal areas for millennia. There are so many types over there; red, blue, white, big, small and slightly green-ish, they seem to change constantly from region to region (I show a keen interest in subtleties of millet variation when on holiday such is my dedication to the BHK cause!!!!!) Millet is superbly nutritious and naturally gluten-free. It also grows well in most places in the world and is cheap as chips to buy. We like to use it as a replacement for things like cous cous or bulghur wheat. More and more people are realising their intolerance to gluten and millet is a great replacement for other gluten-y grains. Millet is now getting wide spread support in India and is being planted instead of rice in many areas, which is good news, as rice is very thirsty and uses loads of water, plus the tastiest rotis (flatbreads) on the subcontinent are made with majority millet flour. I’ve tried black roti’s (see below) and recently had a deeply ochre puri (fried flatbread) that blew my marbles. Very different flavour and texture.  Like a dark and delicious frisbee.

Delhi 30-odd degrees, whizzing around in a Rickshaw with Dad and Jane, April '15 (A long way from he Beach House!)

Delhi 30-odd degrees, whizzing around in a Rickshaw with Dad and Jane, April ’15 (A long way from he Beach House!)

NAVDANYA
There is a fine lady name Vendana Shiva who we became aware of this trip in India, a fabulous environmental activist who travels the world and pioneers many new and visionary approaches to saving our poor Mother Earth. Vendana set up Navdanya an environmental education centre and farm which promotes the movement for biodiversity and organic farming methods. This is only one of the projects that the incredibly industrious Vendana has started, she is a real force of nature! We visited her restaurant in Dilli Hart, a market in South Delhi. The food is all organic and it acts as a huge store for organic seeds, pulses and spices. We brought a load of spices back to play with, many of them seeds so they last alot longer in the cupboard. Vendana is also very active in global seed harvesting which is becoming hugely important in many parts of the world in order to protect the diversity of crops and guard against the spread of GMO’s.  Read more about it here. This will increasingly become a major issue as indigenous species of plants all over the world are wiped out by unnatural GMO varieties, sold by multi national corporations, that are actually barren and wholly alien to nature. These GMO seeds work in tandem with poisonous pesticides and fertiliser tailored to enhance the growth of these specific seeds only and do not enhance the soil or local ecosystem in anyway. This is a hugely narrow minded approach to farming and nature in general. Nature is a vastly complex system of tiny systems working together in harmonious fashion, or it should be without our interference. GMO’s are a huge threat to the future of food and nature in general.  See Vendana Shiva talk more about this topic below and Navdanya’s hopes for 2015:

Back to soup-ville……I don’t feel the need for stock in this soup, cauliflower, millet and especially parsnip are packed with sweet flavours. The stock they make is seriously nutty and flavoursome, a little seasoning goes a long way.  Parsnips can be a little tricky to store, they have a habit of going slimy. I’d recommend sticking them in the fridge in a plastic bag.

Potatoes would be nice in this soup, but cauliflower is much lighter

Potatoes would be nice in this soup, but cauliflower is much lighter

Buster Watch – no sign of the little guy yet, a friend was feeding him in our shed a.k.a ‘The Buster Suite’. He has obviously found a better deal, but when he smells the kitchen kicking out curried aromas and clouds of fresh bread wafts, he’ll know we’re back. (PS – If you are new to the B.H.K, Buster is a semi-wild, punk of a cat that occasionally lives with us and brings us too many joyous cat based shenanigans). We hope he says ‘hello’ very soon. Little grey furball that he is.

I don’t know when we stopped putting music on the B.H.K, but we’d like to start again. Below is a tune that sums up the feeling up in our little windswept village, Carmel, at the moment. ‘Ghost Town’. One of Dad’s favourites by ‘The Specials’.

So we are back (well one of us is anyway) and the Beach House Kitchen in back in the flow and ready to bash some pots and pans together, make up some interesting food shapes with strange, fresh and appetising angles. I hope you all had a magical winter, I’ll be posting some pictures of our trip around Turkey, Spain and India soon. I’m off for a cup of Brickie’s tea with soya milk in it, a supreme luxury that I have deeply missed.

I think this summer is going to be rosy!

The Bits – For 4-6 Bowls

3 tbs cooking oil

100g millet

2 small onions (finely sliced)

2 medium sized parsnips (finely chopped)

½ medium sized cauliflower – roughly 250 grams (finely chopped)

2 teas Dijon mustard

2 teas black mustard seeds

1.5 ltr veg stock/ water

Sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Do It
In a large frying pan, a 1 tbs of your oil and when warm, add the onions. Fry for 5-7 minutes on a medium heat until they begin to caramelise, then add the parsnips and fry for another 5 minutes. Now for the cauliflower, add to the pan, stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the millet, Dijon mustard and stock/ water. Stir, pop a lid on and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the millet is cooked.

In a small frying pan, warm 2 tbs of cooking oil (rapeseed oil is nice) and add the mustard seeds, toss the seeds in the oil and fry gently for a minute, until they are popping. Set the oil aside.

Blend the soup in a food processor or use a trusty stick blender. Blend until smooth.

Parsnip and Millet Soup

Parsnip and Millet Soup with Mustard Oil- sorry about the naff photos, they will hopefully improve 

Serve
Serve piping hot, spoon over the mustard oil and serve with lashings of smiles.

Foodie Fact

Parsnips are actually indigenous to the Mediterranean and are normally harvested after the first frost.  It is a funny time of year in Britain, there is not much available from the land, so I have no idea how these parsnips came to be.  Soon the local organic farms will be back in bloom and fruit and we will be rich in delightful veggies.  For now, we scrape by.

Parnsips are high in sugar, up there with bananas and grapes.  They do however have great levels of dietary fibre, which lowers GI and are packed with anti-oxidants (poly-acetylene).   Parsnips are also rich in vitamin B’s, K and E, as well as minerals like iron, copper and potassium.

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

North Indian Feast – Baingan Bhantha and Gobi Tikka

Our first cooked meal in what seems like and age, for no other reason than Ravi Shankar and memories of warm chapattis in Varanasi. Thats all we need and we’re back in the land of spice and wonder. Mother India, her food tantalises our palates and senses.

I was spending some time with brother Justin over at ‘The Lotus and Artichoke‘ blog.  He is a man I trust highly with India food. He lives and breathes (and no doubt dreams) food and travel, a man after our own hearts. He has a book for sale and its awesome, we don’t have it, but one day we will. This is a man who has learnt to cook in real kitchens, real houses with real families, the proper way to go about understanding different cultures foods.  These recipes are influenced by his and our shared love for India grub.

We dusted the pans off and said goodbye to our raw food time in style, what better way than a North Indian Banquet to remember.  North Indian food is generally richer than food from the south, which is more coconut based.  I like both, they are so different and suit their climates and geography perfectly.  India is such a vast and diverse land, but these curries use spice mixtures that you will find all over and like all masalas (spice mixes), the balance is essential to the authenticity.

These two curry recipes are straight forward, but very rewarding.  I became semi-addicted/ partially obsessed with Baingan (Bengan) Bhartha in Laos of all places!  I was missing Indian food on my travels and I found a Gujarati fellow tucked away in Luang Prabang who made a mean curry, it did take well over an hour to arrive, but when it was well worth the wait. I loved the place, when we order beers and curries, one of his kids would jump on a scooter and buy the ingredients from the market.  It was super fresh veg and herbs!!!!!  And warm beer unfortunately.

Baingan Bhartha is normally a puree like curry/ dip served with chapatti, but I love it with rice also.  Its actually a little like an Indian Babaganoush.  I like to keep the aubergine in pieces and pan fry them until golden and just about falling apart.  Traditionally I believe they are oven baked whole and the insides sccoped out or flame charred over an open flame.  It all sounds good to me.

RAW EARTH MONTH – THE CLOSING CEREMONY

So we didn’t end it all in a tidal wave of cava or a wave of espresso’s, this month’s (six weeks actually) raw adventure came to an end with a curry and plenty of rooibos chai.

Raw Earth Month has actually been really enjoyable, all of the ‘sacrifices’ we’ve made have turned into enjoyable routines and good lessons.  We certainly appreciate things more; lights at night, a washing machine, the joys of good chocolate.

We are not rushing back into anything and getting our bodies adjusted slowly.  After the meal last night, we admit to feeling a little full and lethargic.  We did eat alot, but cooked food definitely sits on the stomach.  As we always say, it doesn’t really matter what you’re eating, as long as its cooked and eaten with love and last night was a lovely occasion.

So coffee and wine are back on the menu, wahee!!!!!  The strange things is that we don’t really feel like either at the minute.  After being raw vegan for four months, we both feel bright as buttons and our cravings have flown out of the window.  We will no doubt encounter our little food vices again shortly, but at the minute, that morning beetroot juice is looking pretty damn good!

A WORD ON ONIONS

Curries rely heavy on onions.  We are lucky to get ours from an organic farm at the minute and they are a completely different beast to those frequenting the fluorescent shelves of the supermarkets.  Onions should be firm and easy to cut, most should make you cry like a big baby.  If they are not fresh, they are really no good.  This goes for garlic also.  Onions and garlic suffer from being good agers, they last longer than most vegetables and therefore can be abused due to poor rotation.  Buying smaller quantities of these staples works.  Onions are such a wonderful ingredients, you can use them in so many different ways and with curries, they are the root of the flavour; the stage for the spices to do their merry dance.  Good onions matter!

A WORD ON SPICES

Spices also matter!  Big time!  Freshly roasted spices are the best by far.  If you have a pack of ancient turmeric lingering in the cupboard, please get rid of it and buy some more.  I know its a waste, but old spices are pointless and lead to insipid curries.  The beauty of Indian cooking is primarily found in the freshness of the spices used.  If your using spices, keep them in an airtight container, in a dark place.  We cherish our spices and generally use freshly roast spices, ground in a pestle and mortar.  If you’re going to make a curry, you might as well make it spectacular!

The teaspoons below are all pretty level or one heaped half teaspoon.

Serves two curry fiends:

Bengan Bhartha

The Bits

2 aubergines (cut into chunky batons), 3 medium tomatoes (roughly diced) or 1 punnet  of cherry tomatoes, 4 cloves garlic, 2 cm ginger (finely chopped), 1 medium onion (finely sliced), 1 teas mustard seeds, 1 teas ground cumin, 1 teas ground coriander, 1 teas turmeric, 1/2 tsp sweet paprika, 1 chilli (finely diced), 1/2 teas asafoetida, 1 teas sea salt, 3 tbl oil, 2 tbl filtered water, fresh coriander (for garnish)

Do It

(We are adverse to turning our oven on for one little thing, so we roast our tomatoes and aubergine in pans.)

On a medium heat, add your cumin and coriander seeds to the pan.  Roast for a few minutes, until fragrant and slightly brown.  Bash up well in pestle and mortar.

Roast your aubergine in 2 tbl of oil on a high heat, tossing regularly.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, until nicely soft and well caramelised.  YUM.  Set aside and cover with a plate.  No roast your tomatoes in the left over oil on a very high heat, a little dark colour is good here, for around 5 minutes.  Set aside and cover.

In the same pan, add 1 tbl of oil and saute your mustard seeds for 30 seconds, they will pop a little, then add your onions and lower heat slightly.  Cook the onions until they are becoming golden, then add your garlic and ginger, cookf for three minutes, then your spices hit the pan, stir them well, not allowing the spices to stick to the bottom, add a little water if this happens.  Saute for a few minutes and then add your tomatoes, aubergine and water (if needed, check consistency).  Cover and warm through for 5 minutes.

GOBI TIKKA

The Bits

1 small cauliflower (cut into big florets), 2cm cube fresh ginger (finely diced), 1 tomato (roughly chopped), 3 garlic cloves (finely diced), 1/2 lemon juice and zest, 1 tbs tamarind pulp/ paste, 1 teas turmeric, cumin, paprika and coriander, 1/2 teas mango powder, sea salt and black pepper, 2 dates (finely chopped), fresh coriander (for garnish), 1 tbs oil, rainbow chard (an extra that we added from the garden, couldn’t resist but not traditional in any way)

Do It

(If you feel like roasting this in an oven, please do, we used the hob.)

On a high heat, add the oil and roast the cauliflower for 5 minutes, until it becomes brown and slightly charred.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well (be gentle with the cauliflower).  Cook for 10 minutes on a gentle simmer, then place a lid on the pan and leave to infuse for a further 10 minutes.

Serve 

With mango pickle or your favourite Indian condiments.  Our pickle actually comes from Pakistan and is really, really potent.  We also had a little organic soya yoghurt.  All scattered liberally with freshly chopped coriander and some nutty brown basmati.

We Love It!

For me, this is the ultimate meal.  We are missing a few warm chapattis, but this is my idea of food heaven (for today anyway!)  A selection of curries with all the accompaniments has long been my favourite meal, I was raised in the Philippines and every Friday night we had something like this for dinner.  Mango chutney may be nice, oh, mango chutney, so sweet.

Foodie Fact 

Asafoetida is a funny one, not just because if its tongue twisting name.  It is the root of a herb and is also known as devils dung or stinking gum!  It has a pungent aroma and some amazing medicinal properties, added to food it has a smooth flavour, similar to that of leeks.

Asafoetida aids digestion, it has been used to treat hysteria, respiratory problems,  painful menstruation, it has even been said to cure impotence!  It is a sedative and has been used to treat opium addicts, it has been used as a natural pesticide and has anti-biotic properties.

An Indian Cafe Menu - Gangotri, Himalayas

An Indian Cafe Menu – Gangotri, Himalayas

Categories: Curries, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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