Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Sabji for ekadasi- vegan

Shown here with buckwheat potato pakoras
As promised, here is the second of my ekadasi recipes from last week, all ready for Sivratri on the 20th! This recipe serves 4, or more if there are several other preparations to be served with it. Look here, here, here, here, here, here and here for more ekadasi recipe ideas for your feast...

5 medium-sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks/ diced
1 large wedge of yellow-fleshed pumpkin (or a similarly "wet" variety- just not one of the dry, floury ones), diced or chunked
a piece of  fresh ginger root about the size of the tip of your thumb, peeled and grated
1 tsp turmeric* (haldi) *if you are cooking this for ekadasi and using powdered, ensure it is not mixed with wheat flour
Salt and black pepper to taste 
a generous amount of of olive or sunflower oil for sweating
  • Prepare the vegetables and the ginger
  • Heat the oil in a pan/karhai and briefly stir in the haldi and ginger
  • Add the sweet potatoes and stir-fry for a couple of minutes, until they are starting to cook
  • Toss in the pumpkin, mix and turn down the heat with the lid on
  • Gently sweat the vegetables until they are soft, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. (You may need to add a little water if the sabji dries out.) The longer you cook it, the softer and crumblier it gets.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Buckwheat potato pakoras/ scallops for ekadasi- vegan, wheat and gluten-free

Last week we have observed ekadasi fasts no less than three times: last Monday was the appearance day of Advaita Acarya, Friday was Bhaimi Ekadasi and Sunday the appearance day of Lord Nityananda. So there was a lot of bean and grain- free cooking in our kitchen. A couple of dishes stood out so I photographed and posted them; watch out for the second one here soon.

This recipe serves about 4 people, with some batter to spare:
4 medium-large potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
300g buckwheat flour
1 large pinch seasalt
1 tsp turmeric* (haldi) *if this is for ekadasi, ensure it is not mixed with wheat flour, or grind your own
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
400ml (approx) warm water
sunflower oil for deep-frying

  • Slice the potatoes in rounds about 4mm thick
  • Steam them until soft, but not falling apart
  • Let them sit in a colander while you prepare the batter so that they dry out somewhat
  • Mix the dry batter ingredients together in a large bowl
  • Gradually add the water, using a balloon whisk to ensure you get a smooth, rather thick batter
  • Deep-fry in hot sunflower oil until crisp and deep reddish-brown
  • Drain well and serve hot with yogurt

Sunday, 5 February 2012

My top 10 essential kitchen tools

I like to think that the vast majority of my recipes can be made with very simple kitchen equipment, but it does make life a whole lot easier (and quicker too) if any equipment you do have is properly fit for purpose, as with any toolkit. Here's a shortlist of what I have in my kitchen, which I use regularly. Hope this is of use to those of you who are either new to cooking or want to try out my recipes.

  1. Good knives: A large, very sharp blade for chopping, and some smaller knives for peeling/ coring, paring etc. Keep knives sharp/ replace them when worn, as a blunt knife can be more dangerous than a sharp one; they easily can slip off the food you're cutting and into your fingers.
  2.  Y-shaped peeler: A very versatile tool, good for de-stringing tough celery and peeling without losing too much of the nutritious flesh of fruits and veggies from directly under their skin, as well as for making shavings of cheese or chocolate
  3. Colander: Makes short work of draining and rinsing without losing any food down the sink!
  4. Grater: As I don't have a food processor at the moment, I grate by hand. I prefer the metal box-type graters, but you do have to replace them regularly as they become blunt/ go rusty quite easily.
  5. Blender: I use this almost daily, for everything from whizzing up fresh tomatoes for a quick sauce, creaming soups, making quick white sauce to making hummus and pates. Blenders in our house last an average of 18 months before dying from exhaustion! (About time we bought a better quality one....?)
  6. Silicone cake moulds: So much easier than metal ones, as you don't have to grease and flour them and you don't tend to get cakes which are overcooked on the outside either.
  7. Spatula: Saves burnt fingers when turning chapattis, presses down flapjacks and vegeburgers during cooking, to encourage them to hole together, lifts bakes and cakes without breaking etc. ....
  8. Grinder: Another must-have for many of my recipes. I prefer to grind spices like cinnamon or black pepper myself rather than buying ready-ground, as the flavour is more intense. I also use ground almonds and seeds a lot, in both sweet and savoury dishes and certainly grinding your own nuts can keep expenses down.
  9. Juicer: Something I perhaps ought to use more often... it really came into its own last autumn when we had loads of apples that weren't quite good enough for the fruit bowl. Juicing their favourite fruits is also a fun and healthy activity for kids, if you make sure they actually drink what they've made and clear up properly afterwards!
  10. Dehydrator: Okay, so this isn't essential, but it is very versatile: some of my recipes such as chewy bars and mango coconut cookies call for one, and I have also made my own "sundried" tomatoes and apple rings from homegrown organic produce for a fraction of the price of shop-bought ones. My dehydrator is an "Excalibur" with 9 trays and 5 paraflexx sheets. One tip: make it worth the cost of the electricity it uses by filling your dehydrator as much as possible each time you use it. I try to time things so that I dehydrate several things at once, eg: apple rings, chewy bars and fruit leather.
So, what are your favourite and most-used kitchen tools/ gadgets? Please comment below.