vegan Indian food

Kidney Bean and Coconut Curry

I have fond memories of our time in India a few years back, sitting in little huts half way up mountains eating kidney bean curry (rajma). Despite being absolutely delicious, they did come with a slight risk, as Gabriella discovered when she picked a metal screw out of her meal half through eating it. Apparently it had fallen from the ceiling into the big pot. Not so nice! We decided against including screws in our recipe... 

This recipe uses garam masala, and as mentioned before it does taste so much better if your spice mixes are home made and freshly ground. Having said that, we don't always have time for that! So if you're using a shop bought mix that's maybe been in your cupboard a few weeks, just double the quantity.

kidney bean curry.jpg

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

350g dried kidney beans
1 tin of coconut milk (or 350ml home made)
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 large onions thinly sliced
2-3 inches fresh ginger root
1tsp garam masala (2 tsp shop bought)
1tsp sweet paprika
3-4 kashmiri dried chillis (substitute with 1 tsp red chilli flakes)
Large handful fresh coriander
1 lemon or 2 small limes

Method
1. Soak the kidney beans in plenty of water overnight, the next day rinse and drain thoroughly.

2. In a large pot cover the beans by about an inch of water and cook for 1.5-2.5 hours until completely soft and liquid is beginning to thicken. The cooking time will vary depending on your beans and you may need to add a little more water as you go.

3. In another large pan heat the coconut oil and fry the onions on a medium-low heat for around 15-20 minutes, until soft and caramelised.

4. To the onions add the ginger, garam masala and paprika to the onions with a tiny splash of water and cook for about a minute. 

5. Using a slotted spoon transfer the beans into the pan with the onions and enough of the cooking water to just cover the beans. If you add too much you will end up with a more watery curry. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and meanwhile mash the beans with a wooden spoon to thicken the sauce. alternatively you can use an immersion blender and just give it a couple of small whizzes, but you want to leave plenty of whole beans for texture.

6. Add the coconut milk, stir well and turn off the heat.

7. Finish with plenty of chopped fresh coriander and the juice of 1 lemon or 2 small limes.

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Yellow Dal with Curry Leaves

The scent of spices cooking in the kitchen always gives me a sweet nostalgia for our days in India. It spins me off into long daydreams about our adventures. Using our hands to scoop up dal and rice. The sweet, comforting smell of chai dancing through the train carriage. Thick clouds of steam drifting off our plates of biriyani.

Yellow Dal with Curry Leaves

Being the foodies that we are, we talk about these moments (and food in general) a lot. But we also love spending time trying to recreate these special flavours at home. We make this Yellow Dal nearly every week, as we love it so much! It’s simple to prepare, has incredible flavour and is perfectly comforting without being too rich. Our Millet Flatbreads are an amazing side to this, or else it's really delicious served with short grain brown rice. 

Fresh curry leaves are the star of this dal. Tempered with spices and coconut oil, then added to the dal at the end, they add such an aromatic, tasty flavour to the whole dish. They also have some incredible health benefits - including anti-oxidant properties. Some studies have even found that the chemical constituents in curry leaves are helpful in fighting cancer! You can find fresh curry leaves in an Asian supermarket, avoid the dried ones, as they don't have any flavour.

Even if you haven’t been to India, we hope the scents and flavours of this dish transport you to some place warm and special …

Ingredients (Serves 4-6 with rice or breads)
for the dal:
2 cups split red lentils or tur lentils, well rinsed and drained
1/3 cup tomato pasata or 2 medium tomatoes
1 large onion, finely sliced (half for the dal, half for the tadka)
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
25 fresh curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder or grated fresh turmeric
2 green chillies (optional) 
2/3 tsp salt

For the tadka: 
2 tblsp coconut oil
1.5 tsp black mustard seeds
15 fresh curry leaves
1 dried kasmiri chilli (optional)

Method:
Put the rinsed lentils into a large pan and cover with water by 4-5 cm. Add in all of the remaining dal ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for around 30 minutes (45-60 with tur dal). The lentils should be very soft, use a potato masher or a wooden spoon to mash them into a creamy texture. You can add more water or simmer for longer depending on the consistency you like. We like ours like a thick soup. 

For the tadka, heat the coconut oil in a small non stick or small heavy bottomed pan. Then add the mustard seeds and cook for around 20-40 seconds until they are all popping. Then add the remaining half of sliced onion, the curry leaves and the chilli if using. Stir fry on a medium to high heat for 5 or so minutes until the onions just start to brown, then add the whole mixture into the lentil pan. Mix very well and then leave covered for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to infuse before eating. 

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Wishing everyone an incredible New Year! 

Spiced Butternut Squash Mash

As the days begin to get a lot colder and darker in the UK, I definitely find myself daydreaming about white beaches, lush rice fields & warmer climes. Looking through all our travel photos from India doesn't exactly help with the winter blues, but it is an amazing way to find meal inspiration...

One of the dishes we remember fondly from our travels was this spicy pumpkin or squash mash, which was often served as part of a lunchtime thali with other curries & pickles. As squash is in season here at the moment, we decided to make our own version of this delicious, satisfying dish. The whole spices in this meal bring a lot of flavour to the mash, as well having a lot of healing properties that help warm the body up during these colder months!

Butternut Squash Mash with Spices
Butternut Squash mash with spices.

Ingredients
1 large butternut squash (approx 1 kg)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 dried red chili (optional)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
large handful of coriander, chopped finely

Method
-First, peel and cut the squash into chunks and remove the seeds. Then roast in a hot oven for 40-60 minutes, until well cooked and beginning to colour. 
-Once roasted, remove from the over and roughly mash the squash on the tray using the back of a fork. 
-In a pan, heat the coconut oil, then add all of the spices and  the chili and stir fry for 30-60 seconds, until the mustard seeds begin to crackle. This is important for bringing the flavour out of the spices and into the oil!
-As soon as they begin to crackle, add the onions and fry on a medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until they start to turn golden. 
-Once the onions are golden, add the mashed squash to the pan. Mix well and fry for 1-2 more minutes, then turn of the heat.
-Mix in the fresh coriander and lemon juice. Enjoy! 

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What delicious meals have you had when travelling?