Friday, 7 February 2014

Faradi/ Farali Chevda

Chevda makes a delicious and satisfying snack!
Farali or faradi means without grains, and this is a typical Gujarati dish to make on fasting days like Ekadasi when grains/ beans are prohibited. Since this time of year for practitioners of Bhakti Yogi (Gaudiya Vaisnavas) includes some special days when Ekadasi rules are observed we thought it might be useful to post this. For your information, the days coming up soon are the Appearance of Lord Nityananda, Sivaratri and Gaura Purnima-  dates vary from country to country so please check here if you want to celebrate them.
My husband made this; it's his recipe, which he developed as a result of years of eating the house chevda from various takeaways in Birmingham.  He has made this 5-10kg at a time on occasion. Having watched him do it, I can vouch for the fact that as long as you follow these instructions and tips it's a fairly simple process. Prepping time can be greatly reduced by using a food processor to grate the potatoes.The quantities in this recipe made enough chevda for 6 of us to munch on over a couple of meals. You don't need much at a time because it is deep fried after all, and quite a rich food. (And we all know how "naughty" deep fried food is, don't we?) I'm not sure how long it would keep, as every time we make a jar full it disappears after a couple of days!

500g grated potato
150g peanuts
150g almonds
150g sultanas (make sure they are not coated in a grain-based oil)
seasalt and black pepper to taste
oil for deep frying- we use organic sunflower oil- you could also use peanut oil. (If you are making this dish for Ekadasi, be careful not to use an oil which is grain-based, such as corn or rice bran oil.)
  • Soak the grated potato in cold water for an hour, then drain in a sieve, squeeze out any excess moisture and pat dry with a paper towel. This part is really important to get rid of excess starch because otherwise, when you fry them, the potato shreds will all stick together.
  • Briefly deep fry the peanuts and almonds, taking care not to burn them.
  • Deep fry the potatoes, a small amount at a time. Ensure the oil is hot (but not smoking), at about the same temperature as you'd have it for frying chips/ French fries. By cooking them in small batches, the temperature of the oil will be maintained and they will come out nice and crisp and not too oily. too many in the pan at once will cause the oil temperature to drop.
  • Scoop out the potatoes once they are cooked and put them in a fine-meshed sieve (lined with kitchen paper if you like) to drain and cool.
  • Mix with the nuts and sultanas and season to taste.
  • Store in an airtight container; a glass jar with a screw-on lid is ideal.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Smoky Chilli Casserole- vegan

Vegetables and beans cooked long and slow in the oven take on a soft, almost buttery consistency and seem to absorb the flavours of the liquid around them much better than if cooked on the stove top. I had been thinking about making a chilli cooked as a casserole for a few weeks, and finally, one depressingly gloomy and wet Friday evening, I did. This recipe is very simple, and I served the casserole paired with fluffy quinoa. (Although I have seen versions which are topped with cornbread or tortilla chips, or even mixed with noodles, that look delicious). You can make it as spicy or as mild as you like. Either way, the addition of cacao (use cocoa powder if you can't get cacao) gives the casserole a subtle richness of flavour, and the smoked paprika lends an interesting overtone.

(Serves 6-8)
800g diced vegetables (potato, sweet potato, bell peppers, celery, white cabbage, sweetcorn, courgette etc.)
550g cooked beans- I used red kidney beans but you could also use pinto beans, black eyed beans or a combination
7 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tab sweet smoked paprika
1 heaped tab tomato puree
minced fresh chilli- as much or as little as you like
1/2 tsp compound hing
2 tsps ground cumin
2 tsps ground coriander
1 tab dried oregano
2 tsps cacao powder (or cocoa)
2 tsps seasalt
2 cups water (1 cup = 250ml)

  • Prepare the veggies and put them and the beans in a large deep roasting dish or casserole.
  • Mix the stock ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Pour the liquid over the veg and beans, cover (use foil if you haven't got a lid for your dish)  and cook in an oven preheated to 200C for at least an hour, until really tender.
  • Serve with bread, rice or quinoa.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Roast Pumpkin and Parsnip Soup with rosemary- vegan

Subtly sweet and smoky flavours combined with a velvety texture make this soup real Winter comfort food!
Yes, I know we've posted lots of soups and smoothies lately, but that's what we've been making for ourselves. Besides, this soup just had to be shared; it's sweet and delicate and creamy and such a pretty orange colour. It is a thick, smooth soup, so if you serve it as a starter don't pair it with anything too filling. As our UK Winter -so far-  has been unseasonably mild, there was plenty of healthy foliage on our rosemary bush to pick. (I usually feel like I shouldn't take any leaves off the rosemary in Winter even though it's evergreen, for fear of weakening it: weird or sensible??) If you haven't got fresh, then dried rosemary would do just fine. This recipe serves 4 or 5 medium-sized bowls. (Recipe below the picture.)

400g pumpkin, cut into chunks. (A dry, orange-fleshed kabocha type is what we used. Maybe butternut squash would also work well.) 
a little cold pressed sunflower/ olive oil for roasting
450g fresh parsnip, diced
1l water
4 or 5x 2" sprigs of fresh rosemary
200ml coconut milk (we used the thick kind from a can)
2 tsps seasalt
1 tab soy sauce
1 tab sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp compound hing
a pinch of black pepper
  • Roast the pumpkin at 200C until browned at the edges. Add the rosemary sprigs for the last few minutes, but not so that they get brown and crispy.
  • Meanwhile, cook the parsnip in the water and salt, simmering it with the lid on until soft.
  • By this time the pumpkin should be ready, so take off the rosemary and set it aside Add the pumpkin to the pan.
  • Stir in the soy sauce, hing, black pepper and smoked paprika with the coconut milk. Make sure the heat is low; boiling soup at this stage can destroy some of the flavours.
  • Use a hand blender (less mess!) to break it down into a thick, smooth and creamy soup. 
  • Strip the leaves off the rosemary sprigs and add them to the pan. As I don't like the chewy/ woody texture of whole rosemary leaves I whizzed them to a coarse powder in a spice grinder before I put them in.