Chickpea and mushroom curry & cauliflower and pea side dish

chickpea and mushroom curry with cauliflower sideThere was too much food on my plate and there is too much food in my belly, but when it tastes this good, you can’t blame me, surely?!

There are two dishes here, a chickpea and mushroom based curry, which I made up, and a cauliflower and pea side dish, the recipe for which I took from Meena Pathak’s “Flavours of India” cookbook (which has mostly meat based recipes).  The chickpea and mushroom curry is delicious and I’ll give you a basic ingredients list, but there are some optional extras that turn many curries from something ordinary into something much more special: Go to the end of the recipe to read more about these.

Chickpea curry
Ingredients – serves approx 2
1tsp vegetable oil
1tsp cumin seeds (optional)
pinch of asafoetida (hing) (optional)
1 Onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
1 red chilli, chopped (optional)
1tsp ginger (I used some from a jar – much quicker!) (optional)
2-3tbsp curry paste of your choice (I used Patak’s Rogan Josh)
diced red/yellow pepper (1/3 of each)
large handful of chopped mushrooms
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 tin tomatoes
2 tsbp lemon (optional)
1/3 pot dairy free yoghurt (optional)

Method (basic version)
1. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, and when hot, add onions and cook until soft.
2. Add your curry paste and cook for 1-2 mins
3. Add peppers and fry for 2 mins.
4. Add mushrooms and fry for 2 more mins.
5. Add chickpeas and tin of tomatoes, stir and cook until the peppers are softish and the sauce has thickened to your liking.  (10mins should do – but this curry keeps warm on a low ring whilst cooking the rice and your side dish). Serve.

Longer (& tastier) method
1. Heat oil, then add 1tsp cumin seeds and a pinch of hing (asafeotida). Fry for 30 seconds (do not allow to burn), then add onion.  Cook until onion is at least soft, but the Indians like their onion to be browner, I’m told.
2. Add ginger, garlic and chilli and fry for 30 seconds.
2. Add curry paste and fry for 1-2 mins.
3. 3. Add peppers and fry for 2 mins.
4. Add mushrooms and fry for 2 more mins.
5. Add chickpeas and tin of tomatoes, stir and cook until the peppers are softish and the sauce has thickened to your liking.  (10mins should do – but this curry keeps warm on a low ring whilst cooking the rice and your side dish).
6. Stir in lemon juicee.
7. Add dairy free yoghurt and stir.
8. Serve onto plates.
9. Garnish with a generous sprinkle of garam masala (see below) and some fried onion salad topping.

Curry tips:
1. Squeeze lemon juice into your curry at the end of cooking.  This will lift your curry and give it a subtle freshness and make it more aromatic.
2. Keep some garam masala power to sprinkle onto your curry almost like seasoning after you’ve served it on the plate.  I make my own powder by buying ready mixed whole garam masala mix (ie unground, so there are whole seeds and bits of bay and cinammon in it), dry fry it in a pan until it smells nice, then pop it into my coffee/spice grinder (you can also pestle and mortar it, of course, but more patience is required).  I keep it in an airtight container ready for days like today!
3. Some curries, like this one, work really well with crispy friend onions sprinkled ontop – in fact, this can be amazing: it also makes my nase gorengs deee-lish.  You can buy these at the supermarket – so far the best ones I have had are by Go-tan, but they’re pretty hard to find (http://www.raanthai.co.uk/retail/info_4484.html) so just look in the salad section at the supermarket, where you might find them next to dried bacon sprinkles…. awesome!
4.Dairy free yoghurt – this is also a good way of add a lovely, tangy, rounded flavour to a tomato based curry.
5. Coriander – I would have added fresh coriander to this recipe, but I forgot to buy it!  This dish was complete without it, however, and it can be tempting to put coriander into every Indian and Oriental dish you cook, so it’s nice to have a break!
I probably went overboard with some of the flavours, but me and my hubby thoroughly enjoyed this curry.  I think the thing is, to experiment with these flavours and see what you like best: see what you have and haven’t got in your cupboards – this can either limit or inspire your creativity when it comes to pulling together curried anything!

Curried Cauliflower and Peas
Ingredients – serves approx 2
Vegetable oil for frying
Half a head of cauliflower
Big handful of frozen peas, defrosted
1 chilli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp minced ginger
1 generous tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
pinch of salt
garam masala

Method
1. Heat small amount of oil in pan and add ginger, chilli and garlic. Fry for 30 seconds
2. Add turmeric and cumin – stir and fry for a few seconds.
3. Add cauliflower, peas, a sprinkle of water and a pinch of salt.
4. Stir well, cover with a tight fitting-lid: the cauliflower cooks through steaming. You’ll need to check regularly and add a little more water if it starts to dry out too much. (but this is a dry curry- this is just to prevent the contents of the pan burning and sticking).
Then serve and sprinkle with garam masala.
(note – this recipe calls for fresh coriander to be stirred in just before serving – I recommend it this time!)

I served this meal with plain boiled basmatic rice and a peshwari naan bread (cooked in the toaster!).
The leftovers made a very substantial lunch for the next day – along with the spare naan bread….

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Quick stir fry with tofu and black bean sauce

Okay, so I had a half hour slot in which to prepare and pretty much eat dinner, this evening, so I went the ‘convenience’ route.  I had the following ready next to my wok:

1 pack of marinated tofu (ginger and garlic)
1 slightly posh pack of stir fried veg (hence the pretentious carrot curls!)
3 noodle nests
one packet of black bean sauce

I cooked the noodles as per instructions for stir frying (ie less than if just eating straight away).  Meanwhile I heated my wok until smoking, added some nut oil, added the tofu and the larger veg pieces and stirred like crazy.  (Quickly drained the noodles and asked my hubby to open the sauce packet). Chucked in the rest of the stir fry veg (leaves and spring onion ‘curls’), stirred, chucked on the sauce, stirred, chucked in the noodles, stirred, took a photo:wok with noodlesthen served:noodles on plates

In the final analysis…. this dish was filling, had nice textures, but was a little bland.  Here’s what I might do differently:
1. More black bean sauce
2. No black bean sauce – I think I would prefer a sweeter sauce with this.  Or I would do the following:
Fry garlic, chilli and ginger, cook all the other ingredients then add some honey, lemon and light soy sauce for flavouring.  I think this would have made a more interesting dish. Maybe add some fresh coriander?  Or even a sweet chilli sauce?  Lots of things you can do with stir fry, and the best way to find out what you like is to experiment!  Let me know your favourite (veggie!) ways to flavour a stir fry….