Saturday 22 December 2012

Passion Thriller

From Miracle Juices, Charmaine Yabsley and Amanda Cross, Hamlyn, 2001.

The name of this drink certainly didn’t inspire me to make it; rather it turned me away. However when I read the ingredients (melon, cucumber, avocado and dried apricots) it sounded interesting enough to try.

Half a honeydew melon and one large cucumber were juiced. A small avocado was added with 100g dried apricots soaked for 10 minutes. A tablespoon wheat bran was added (though wheat germ was called for). This all went into the blender to get a churn or two.

The mixture became very thick so I juiced some more of the melon and added this. It was still too thick to drink and had to be spooned instead.

The ‘drink’ was rich in vitamin E, zinc and iron so you could almost feel it doing you good. It was flavoursome and not too sweet, while the dried apricots added a little texture to the mixture.

This is another book dredged up from the unused section of the bookshelf. It was obviously one of those titles bought in a rush of enthusiasm and then not really used. Now that the effort has been made I shall probably use it a little more often.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Thursday 20 December 2012

Banana Cake

From Hands Across the Kitchen, Hands Across the Water, 2012.

I began looking through this book at the recipes but found that I became far more caught up with the story of the work done by the Hands Across the Water, a charity group that helps Thai orphans and their communities. It was begun after the 2004 tsunami to assist those that the disaster had affected.

The book is a collection of recipes of top celebrity chefs’ favourite childhood foods. They come with recollections of their childhood. I guess that since they are recipes of childhood favourites they are not the chefs’ recipes but those of the people who made them for them. And I think it is true that foods that you particularly enjoyed as children stay with you as adults as favourites. If you see the book try and get hold of one, though as it was pre-sold before printing to ensure that there was no loss made for the orphans, it may be difficult to get hold on one.

I chose to cook the banana cake that was a favourite of Daniel Vaughan and that was cooked by his mother. It was a very easy recipe. All of the ingredients were basically put into the KitchenAid and beaten for a couple of minutes.

There was ¼ cupof milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice. Two bananas were mashed and put in with a cup of sugar and 2 cups of self-raising flour. Two eggs were beaten lightly and added as well as 60g softened butter. Easy measurements and just a few ingredients.

After beating, the mixture went into a small-sized greased loaf tin and then into the oven to cook for about an hour.

Banana cakes are always winners and this one, because of its easy making, is certainly worth trying. It’ll probably be the recipe I turn to whenever there’s a spare couple of bananas waiting to be used.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Pad Thai

From Make It Tonight: Vegetarian Stir-Fries, The Australian Women’s Weekly, ACP Publishing, 2002.

I must make more Asian-based meals because I need to master the ingredients that I am still not overly familiar with.

For the Pad Thai, which was probably not truly authentic, I first cut 150g tempeh into bite-sized pieces and fried them in the wok until they were brown. They were put aside.

In the same wok I now fried a thin omelette of 2 beaten eggs. When it was done I rolled it up and put it aside.

Next a thinly sliced onion and two chopped garlic cloves went into the wok which I turned to a low heat to let them cook slowly while I went on with some other preparation.

I poured boiling water over 300g fresh rice noodles and let them rest for a minute or two before draining them and teasing apart the noodles. I washed a cup of bean sprouts. I broke half a cup of peanuts into small pieces in a mortar and pestle. I measured out the sauces: a tablespoon of brown sugar, a tablespoon of light soy sauce, a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce and a tablespoon of tomato sauce.

The onions were now done so the heat was turned up and I added all the ingredients, though only half of the peanuts. They were stir-fried until they were heated through. When they were served the remainder of the peanuts were sprinkled over and some coriander added.

I was pleased with the result. For my taste it seemed to have close to the right flavour mix.

The recipe came from one of those small 64-page books you often find at newsagents. It has a great variety of quick stir-fries from a range of cuisines and coming from The Australian Women’s Weekly the recipes are usually ones that work well.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Goat’s Cheese Soufflés with Vanilla-Poached Peach

From Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2010.

Peaches are in season again so it was time to try out this recipe that has been on my to-do list for some time.

The peaches were first peeled then placed in a mixture of 150ml of water, 150ml white wine and 150g sugar. To this I added a few black peppercorns and half a teaspoon of vanilla paste. They were brought to the boil and then simmered for 15 minutes. The heat was turned off and they were left to cool in the liquid.

I put some hazelnuts in the mortar and pestle and pounded them to small pieces. Two ramekins were buttered and the hazelnut pieces were sprinkled around the base and sides of the ramekins.

150ml milk was brought to the boil with a bay leaf and a piece of onion and some cloves. It was then left while butter was melted in a pot and plain flour added to make a roux. This was stirred for a couple of minutes and the milk (minus the bay leaf, onion and cloves) was whisked in and cooked until it had thickened. It was then taken off the heat

A little more than 100g of firm goat’s cheese was crumbled and added to the milk with two egg yolks and some salt. Now three egg whites were beaten until stiff and folded into the mixture. It all went into the ramekins.

The oven had been previously heated to 190ªC and a baking dish with boiling water added. The ramekins went into the bath and cooked for about 15 minutes. A few slices of peach were placed on top and a small amount of the liquid. They were ready to eat.

While I had some doubts about eating peaches with soufflés this worked extremely well. The slight amount of sweetness complimented the salty cheese flavour. I never seem to be disappointed with the recipes of Ottolenghi.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Monday 17 December 2012

Soy Milk Pudding with Tomato Sauce and Mushrooms

From Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook, Nobu Matsuhisa, Pie Books, 2011.

According to the introduction to this recipe the ingredients of soy milk, mushrooms and tomatoes were all high on the list of umami contenders. So this should clearly be a savoury pudding.

I began by making yuba which is the skin that forms over slowly heated soy milk. I placed some milk in a frying pan and turned up the stove top to its lowest heat and let the yuba gradually form on the surface of the milk. It was then gently lifted off and the milk left to form another layer of yuba. As they were taken off they were placed in the small containers I was using for the puddings.

I then fried a few pieces of mushroom and also placed them in the bottom of the containers.

Now I placed 400ml of soy milk in a saucepan. I was making two puddings. Into the milk I poured 2 tablespoons light soy sauce and 2 tablespoons mirin. The mixture was brought to just under simmer level and 3 teaspoons agar powder were added and dissolved. The liquid was now strained and poured over the yuba and mushrooms in the bowls.

Two tomatoes were now peeled and the seeds removed. They went into the blender to be pureed. Then they went into a saucepan with a little salt and a little sugar. It was simmered until it had thickened slightly and was then taken off the heat and left to cool.

When the puddings were ready to be served some tomato sauce was poured over the top and some sundried tomatoes, finely sliced, were added. The recipe called for some truffle slices but I did without them.

The puddings turned out to be much firmer than I had imagined. I had never used agar powder before so had carefully measured it out but it seemed to me to be too much. I found that the texture of the pudding was not totally appealing to me. The contrast of the rich sauce against the milder pudding worked well and there were the occasional bites of mushroom. The yuba, for me, did not do much to the overall taste. Oddly there was something about this blend and the texture that I found somewhat difficult to stomach. I definitely had difficulty getting the whole dish down. While I enjoyed the exercise of making this dish, it’s not one I would make again.

Taste: ✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Sunday 16 December 2012

Capsicum Casserole with Zucchini and Beans

From Healthy Eating: Vegetarian, The Australian Women’s Weekly, ACP Publishing, 1998.

I put a can of chopped tomatoes in a saucepan with a dessertspoon of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt and let it cook gently until it had thickened a little—only a little.

A red capsicum was cut in half, seeded and membranes removed. Into this went a mixture of cooked borlotti beans and chickpeas, a chopped zucchini, a few green beans topped and tailed and cut into halves, and a chopped spring onion. The filled capsicums were placed into a baking dish and any of the vegetables mixture that wouldn’t fit into the capsicum halves was spread around them. The tomato sauce was now poured over and around the capsicums. The baking dish was covered and went into a 180ªC oven for an hour. The cover was now removed and the dish went back into the oven for another quarter of an hour.

When it came out some shaved parmesan slices were placed on top.

This was a quite acceptable casserole, not a world beater but a pleasing meal.

The recipe came from a small-sized paperback of 64 pages that I have obviously held onto for some time now. Each page contains a new recipe together with a coloured photograph. There appears to be a wide variety of different meals to try.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Saturday 15 December 2012

Avocado Soup

From All Colour Vegetarian Cookery, Ruth Kimber, The Warwick Press, 1978.

Food is so at the mercy of fads and fashionable trends that I find myself wanting to retreat from falling in with the trending mob and returning to my older cookbooks to see what they have to offer. And I am totally enjoying investigating past favourites.

Flipping through the pages of this well worn book revealed many treasures that would pass easily today, though they lack some of the currently favoured ingredients.

This soup was such a simple one to put together I am surprised that it is not more popular. 250ml of stock was placed on the stove to heat up and into it went 1½ avocados cut into pieces. I then added about ¼ cup of cream, ½ cup of yoghurt and ¼ cup of white wine. Salt and white pepper were added and a stick blender was used to puree it all.

The recipe did not state whether the soup was to be eaten cold or hot. I went part way and just warmed it up a little. The remaining avocado was sliced and added to the soup when it was served.

The soup was rich and thick. A little went a long way. I think it could easily have been thinned a little but I left it as it was. The real test for soup, of course, is to eat it the next day—which I did and had it with a sourdough bread. It passed the test perfectly.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔✔

Fried Chickpeas

From Gourmet Vegetarian, Jane Price, Murdoch Books, 2007.

I was soaking some chickpeas for a recipe so decided to put in a few extra and try to make these nibbles.

After the chickpeas had soaked overnight they were deep fried for 3 minutes, taken out and placed for a minute or two on kitchen paper to drain. The oil was then reheated and the chickpeas went back in for another 3 minutes. They were then drained and sprinkled with a mixture of paprika, cayenne and salt.

Oddly some turned out crisp while others were soft. I had fried them in two batches so perhaps one of the batches was not cooked long enough.

As a nibble they went all right though weren’t really extra special. I don’t think I’ll go to the trouble of making them again.

Taste: ✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Friday 14 December 2012

Carpaccio di Rapa Rossa (Beetroot Carpaccio)

From The Vegeterranean, Malu Simões and Alberto Musacchio, Simon & Schuster, 2008.

I have tried raw beetroot carpaccio before and don’t really go for it very much. This recipe asked for the beetroot to be parboiled. I fully boiled it and then put it through the mandolin to slice it finely.

The beetroot was laid out carefully on a plate. Lemon juice was sprinkled over it. The chopped walnuts were added together with salt and pepper and a small amount of chopped parsley. Then on went some rocket leaves and crumbled goat’s cheese. Extra virgin olive oil was dribbled over the salad and it was ready.

This was a delicious salad. The thinly cut beetroot seemed to have developed its sweetness and with the slightly bitter walnuts and the peppery rocket made a great mix. I think this is one to be repeated.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Crespelle Farcite con Frutta e Miele (Pancakes with Fruit and Honey)

From The Vegeterranean, Malu Simões and Alberto Musacchio, Simon & Schuster, 2008.

I set out with high hopes for this recipe but it turned out to be a complete failure for me. I measured the ingredients with care, gave them a waiting time, and then tried to fry the pancakes. They just would not work. They stuck, they didn’t spread, they either burnt or didn’t cook through, they were impossible to turn. What a waste of some cognac.

I checked and rechecked the recipe. I can’t see that I did anything wrong but it certainly didn’t work for me. I won’t try it again.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Broad Bean Casserole

From The Very Best of Vegetarian Cooking, ed Janet Hunt, Thorsons, 1991.

This recipe was listed as a family favourite so should have been a tasty dish but as I made it I had more and more doubts. These, however, were dispelled when it was eaten.

A little over 500g of broad beans was placed in a salted boiling pot of water and cooked until done. The recipe did not call for the tougher outer skin of the beans to be removed so it was left on. This was my first concern.

A green capsicum, a couple of celery sticks and two carrots were chopped finely and sautéed in a pan while the beans were cooking.

The beans and the sautéed vegetables were mixed together and a little less than 300ml of stock added. This was my second concern as it seemed far too much liquid. A teaspoon of mixed dried herbs was stirred in with salt and freshly ground black pepper. About 80g of grated cheddar cheese was also added. The lot now went into a casserole and into a 200ºC oven for half an hour. The recipe called for a 20 minute cooking time but when I tasted it the bean skins needed a bit longer.

It now had about 30g grated cheddar sprinkled on top and it went back into the oven for anther 10 minutes.

This actually turned out to be quite a tasty dish. It was still very watery, rather like vegetables in broth. It won’t become a family favourite but it was pleasant for a change.

The recipe comes from a compilation book. Recipes from The Best of Vegetarian Cooking series had been culled and brought together in this book so they come from a variety of chefs. Each recipe, unusually, has the ingredients list in two columns, one English and the other American. When you first look at the recipe you think it has a large list of ingredients until you realise you have two lists. I have not used it much before but must investigate further. Flipping through the pages I came across what appears to be a recipe of cultural clash: Chow Mein with Ratatouille Sauce. That could be more confusion than fusion.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Potato, Garlic Chives, Feta and Pine Nut Tart

From Wild Garlic, Gooseberries . . . and Me, Denis Cotter, Collins, 2007.

This recipe calls for wild garlic rather than garlic chives. Cotter, in this book, tells about the wild foods he likes and discusses the problem of wild garlic in that there are many items throughout Europe, North America and Africa that are called wild garlic. He settles for a couple that he knows in Britain. I wondered about the wild garlic and considered that garlic chives here in Australia may perhaps be one of the wild garlics and so decided to try his recipe but using garlic chives.

Firstly I had to make the pastry for the tart case. This was a simple flour and butter mix with a touch of cold water. While it was serving its half hour in the refrigerator I got onto dealing with the vegetables.

I got out the mandolin and sliced 500g potatoes. They went into salted boiling water for about 3 minutes, then a cold bath to cool them. They were then dried.

The garlic chives (about 150g) went into salted boiling water for 30 seconds. They were then cold bathed and squeezed to rid them of any surplus water. The chives were chopped roughly. They were mixed with 200g crumbled feta and 2 tablespoons pine nuts that had been lightly roasted.

The pastry case was part cooked until it was lightly brown. A layer of the chives mix now went in and was covered by a layer of potatoes. This was repeated twice more. Four eggs were beaten with 150ml cream and carefully poured into the tart, letting it seep through the potatoes. It looked as though it would not all fit but adding it slowly and giving it time to disperse though the filling it all did go in.

It was baked in a 180ºC oven for half an hour.

The result was a reasonably tasty potato pie. The garlic chives did not seem to be noticeable more than possibly an added savouriness. The grassiness of the raw chives had dissipated in the cooking. I’m not sure that there was any real benefit from using the chives and if I make this again I would substitute another ingredient, possibly spinach or just cooked onions.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Sunday 9 December 2012

Apple Muffins

From Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection: Muffins, Murdoch Books, 2007.

When I consider cake-like foods I think I prefer muffins to cakes. I guess it’s because they are generally less sweet.

These muffins had a mix of flours to begin: 225g self-raising, 150g plain, with a teaspoon and a half of baking powder. I measured them all and then added 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 3 tablespoons caster sugar. The lot was then sifted.

I beat 2 eggs into 170ml milk. I stirred 3 tablespoons honey with 155g butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until they were combined.

I peeled, cored and then chopped 4 granny smith apples (they were quite small).

All was now ready for the big combine. Into the flour went all of these ingredients, all at once, and then they were stirred until just combined. They went into a previously oiled 12-hole muffin tin. I sprinkled a mix of caster of sugar and ground cinnamon over the top. Twenty minutes in a 200ªC oven saw them cooked.

Muffins always go down well and these were especially good with pieces of juicy apple, still with the slightest bite in them. I think I’ll go and have another one right now as it’s afternoon tea time.

The book was a gift a few years back and has seen a bit of wear since then as the recipes are all well worthwhile making.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Saturday 8 December 2012

Spring Vegetable Tarte Fine

From The Meat Free Monday Cookbook, Kyle Books, 2011.

It looked like I was set for a green meal. I had made a basil soup and now set to work to make a tarte fine that was entirely of green vegetables.

Firstly I made the base that was of three filo pastry sheets laid on top of one another with melted butter as the sealant. The sheets were now cut into four and placed on an oven tray with another tray placed on top to weigh the pastry down. It went into a 180º oven for 15 minutes and it was done.

This was one of those recipes where you cooked all of the vegetables one after another. Some asparagus stalks were sliced finely on the diagonal and paced into boiling salted water for 10 seconds then into an iced water bath to prevent them continuing to cook. A zucchini was treated the same way. Then some peas were cooked for a couple of minutes and iced water bathed. These vegetables were all drained and dried.

Tablespoons of chopped chervil and chopped parsley were blended with about 50g of crème fraîche and two egg yolks. 30g of Gruyère cheese was grated and added to this.

Three spring onions were chopped and fried in a little butter. When cool this was added to the egg mixture.

Now the tartes were put together. The egg mixture was spread on first. Then some baby spinach leaves were placed over this. The vegetables went on next. Now some more Gruyère was grated and sprinkled over the top. It now went into a 160ª oven for about 10 minutes and it was ready.

This turned out to be a pleasing light meal. It looked healthy and appetising though was not always easy to eat as the pastry being light and flaky shattered into pieces on the plate. That aside, it all went down satisfactorily, even to the extent of eating two of the tartes.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Friday 7 December 2012

Early Summer Basil Soup

From Vegetarian Cookbook, Paul Gayler, Dorling Kindersley, 2000.

Well, third day of summer so thought I’d try this early summer soup.

A leek was chopped roughly as well as two celery stalks. They went into a saucepan with 50g of butter. The lid was put on and on a low heat they were steamed for about seven minutes. A litre of stock was now added with the zest and juice of half a lemon. The mixture was brought to the boil and simmered for 15 minutes.

The pot was taken off the heat and the leaves of a bunch of basil were added. The soup was now blended until it had become reasonably smooth. It was left to cool and then went into the refrigerator for an hour.

Before serving six tablespoons of cream were stirred in and it was tasted for seasoning.

This was a light, flavoursome soup. I had cut back slightly on the amount of basil but it still came through strongly. The lemon added just the right hint of additional flavour.

I’ve made several meals lately from Paul Gayler’s books and they have been proving to be very acceptable.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Thursday 6 December 2012

Aunt Nellie’s Tomato Pie

From Mrs Harvey’s Sister-in-Law and other Tasty Dishes, Margaret Dunn, Murdoch Books, 2007.

I always enjoy making recipes from this book with the fascinating title. It is a collection of family and friends’ recipes and they have the feeling that they are the result of a loving collection that must work.

For this easy dish three medium-sized tomatoes were skinned, chopped roughly and placed in a saucepan on a low heat for half an hour. I added a little salt. At the end of this time a cup of soft bread crumbs was added and the mixture left to cool.

Two eggs were beaten with a cup of milk, some salt and pepper, and added to the tomato mixture. They were placed in a pie dish and put in a low oven for an hour. That was it.

The result turned out to be more like a set tomato custard than a pie. It was tasty but had the texture of a savoury custard. It was better cold than it was hot. While I didn’t mind it I think I would let Aunt Nellie keep this recipe.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Arab-style Rice with Vermicelli and Chickpeas

From Quick Vegetarian Dishes, Kurma Dasa, Chakra Press, 2000.

I usually cook rice in a rice cooker but, for a change, I thought I would follow this recipe. The variation sounded interesting.

Some water with salt in it was put on and brought to the boil and kept on a simmer to be ready.

A little olive oil and the same amount of butter was placed in a pan. About ¾ cup of vermicelli was broken into small pieces and fried until it had coloured. Half a teaspoon of asafoetida was added and ¾ cup of rice (half the quantity of rice to the amount of water) and it was all stirred around until it was fully covered in the oil. Then the water was added, it was brought to the boil again, the pan was covered and the heat turned to low.

Ten minutes later ¾ cup of cooked chickpeas was added and the lid placed on again for another 10 minutes. The water had now all been absorbed so the heat was turned off, the rice was fluffed up with a fork and it was ready to be served.

This method cooked the rice really well and the addition of vermicelli and chickpeas gave a little more flavour, as did the little touch of asafoetida. This is a welcome change, especially if you have some cooked chickpeas waiting to be used.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Terry’s Peperonata

From Smart Food, Gabriel Gaté, Anne O’Donovan Pty Ltd, 1992.

I had not used Gabriel Gaté’s book before though it seems as though I’ve had it for some time. I’m going through a spell of getting back into some lesser-used books that have been sitting patiently waiting to be picked up again. This one was an Anti-Cancer Council cookbook and, though it is not a vegetarian book, it has a reasonable number of recipes that are worthwhile. I settled on trying this peperonata.

From the ingredients list it appeared to be very similar to a ratatouille—and so it proved to be.

Firstly an onion was cut into slices along with a green and a red capsicum. They were fried gently in a little olive oil until they had softened. Then two sliced zucchini, half an eggplant quartered and sliced and two large tomatoes cut into eighths were added along with half a teaspoon of dried oregano. I had run out of garlic so instead of adding a clove I tossed in a teaspoon of garlic powder. A large grinding of black pepper was added with a few pinches of salt (though salt was not called for). The ingredients were stirred to mix them well and then they went on a low heat until cooked.

Like its cousin the ratatouille this had plenty of flavour and a rich sauce from the vegetable juices as no water was added at all. An easily made, reasonably quick one to prepare as you just cut up the vegetables and put them into the pot.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔✔

Apple and Walnut Ice Cream

From Ice Cream, Hilary Walden, Golden Press, 1985.

Generally I don’t get into making desserts though sometimes I am hit with a sudden inclination to make one. This was one such occasion.

Two eating apples were peeled, cored and thinly sliced then put into a saucepan with 50g butter and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. They were cooked until soft when about 25g of caster sugar was added and the mixture stirred until pulped.

Two egg yolks were beaten and then added to the apple mixture and cooked on a very low heat until it had thickened a little. It was then left to cool.

A 300ml carton of cream was beaten until stiff and added to the cooled apples with 50g of chopped walnuts. It was then placed in the freezer until partly frozen. This took about 1½ hours.

Two egg whites were beaten until stiff. The half frozen mixture was taken from the freezer and tipped into a bowl and the egg whites folded in.

As you can tell from the publication date this book has sat sad and unused on the shelf. It felt like time to take it out and have another look at it. It’s a large size book, rather annoying as it doesn’t fit readily on the normal bookshelf. Nevertheless it’s packed with recipes for a huge variety of frozen desserts. The contents are arranged in alphabetical order so you move from a double page on Almonds and variations, through to Apple, on to Apricot and ending with Wines and Liqueurs. There are then sections on recipes for special occasions and creating desserts.

I’m afraid I couldn’t wait long enough to fully freeze and had to get into the ice cream before it was fully set. It still tasted reasonably good with some fruit salad, but I’ll have to wait until later to try it completely set.

There’s uncertainty here whether you could really call this ‘ice cream’ or ‘frozen fruit dessert’. It does seem more appropriate to call it the latter. Whatever, it’s still acceptable.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Monday 3 December 2012

Sweet Peppers stuffed with Cheese and Spring Onions in Sauce Afghan

From Classic Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Julie Sahni, Doubleday, 1987.

The last element of my Indian meal needed 2 capsicums (peppers) to be cut in half and the seeds and the membranes taken out.

There were two fillings to be made. There was a mixture of paneer crumbled, finely chopped spring onions, a red chilli finely chopped, some chopped coriander and a tablespoon of flour. These were well mixed and they were ready.

The second filling was made from mashed potato. A pinch of cumin seeds was fried for a few seconds in hot fat and then some grated ginger was added for a short time before the mashed potato was added and stirred in. This was fried until it started to become brown. The heat was turned off and a squeeze of lemon juice was added with some salt. The mixture was left to cool.

To stuff the capsicums, firstly the cheese mixture was placed into the halves. This was then topped with the potato which was tightly packed in and then smoothed over.

A pan had some oil heated in it and the capsicums were placed in it potato side down. These were fried until the potato had browned. They were then turned over and cooked for a few minutes more on the other side. When the capsicums seemed cooked but were still retaining a bit of crunch they were ready. They were served with Sauce Afghan.

This was made by frying chopped onion in a saucepan until it had softened. I then added a chopped red chilli, a chopped garlic clove, 2 chopped tomatoes, ½ teaspoon of ground cumin and the same amount of ground fennel, 5 tablespoons of yoghurt and salt to taste. This was cooked gently for about half an hour. It needed watching to make sure it did not burn and occasionally some water was added to stop it sticking to the pan. When it was ready a little more water was added to bring it up to 300ml.

I quite enjoyed this. With the courgette koftas and the cucumber and paneer salad it made a nicely balanced spicy meal.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

As some of these books may be out of print if anyone would like a particular recipe, email me ( and I’ll send a version. Of course, the whole book would be better; it’s loaded with other goodies.