Recipe book review: Saffron Soul

I love trying out new dishes in the kitchen and what better place to get inspiration than from a beautiful recipe book. I often sit on the floor surrounded by cookbooks trying to decide what to cook for dinner. Seriously, I can while away hours in a little food recipe world.

So I’m always delighted when I have a new book to try. I recently went to the launch of Saffron Soul by Mira Manek and was treated to some of her delightful dishes for breakfast. Most notably, the amazing tofu scramble with numeric and spices, topped with pink peppercorns and served with peppered sweet potato wedges and cumin tossed kale. Never has tofu tasted so good, like a spicy version of scrambled egg!

Mira’s quest in this book is to show us how Indian food can be healthy and delicious at the same time. Her range of vegetarian recipes are inventive, tasty and easy to make once you have all the relevant spices. She explains the importance and health-giving values of the main spices used in Indian cooking. For example, turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, cumin is good for digestion and fenugreek may help control blood sugar levels and cholesterol. And of course they make dishes taste fabulous, too.

I cooked several recipes including the amazing spinach parathas. A recent love of mine – I’d never cooked parathas and was surprised at how well they came out! The cauliflower and pea curry was crunchy and packed with flavour. But my absolute favourite of the dishes I’ve cooked so far is the Gujarati dal, an amazing dish made with yellow split peas and an orchestra of spices.

How to make Gujarati dal

Here’s Mira’s amazing dal recipe. You will note that she says some of the spices are optional – I would advise that you put absolutely everything on the list in as they produce an amazing depth of flavour.

I used yellow split peas which I bought from my local supermarket.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

The ingredients

200g toor dal, yellow split dal or pigeon peas

1.2 litres boiling water

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

Half tsp fenugreek seeds, optional

1-2 dried red chillis, slit lengthways

2 cinnamon sticks, optional

2 cloves, optional

On quarter tsp asafoetida

10-15 fresh curry leaves

5 fresh tomatoes, chopped or 5 tbsps tinned tomatoes

Half tsp ground tumeric

Half to 1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1.5 tsp sea salt

3 tbsps brown sugar

Handful of coriander leaves, chopped

Juice of 2 fresh limes

The instructions

Rinse the split peas in a sieve under running water until the water is clear, then tip into a saucepan.

Add the measured boiling water and boil for 1 hour on a medium-low heat until the dal is a porridge-like consistency.

With a hand-held electric whisk, whisk the dal so that it becomes completely smooth or blend it in a blender until smooth.

In a large, non-stick saucepan melt the coconut oil, then add the cumin and mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. When the mustard seeds have popped, add the dried red chillies, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add the asafoetida and curry leaves, then the tomatoes and stir for a minute.

Add the ground turmeric, red chilli powder, grated ginger, salt, sugar and coriander to the tomato mixture and stir.

Pour in the blended dal, squeeze the lime in and leave to simmer on a low heat for 10-15 mins until it turns orange-brown.

Taste the dal and add more lime or sugar, as required.

My copy of Saffron Soul is bookmarked with several slips of paper, ready for my next Indian vegetarian feast. This is a book I know I am going to be returning to frequently. And here’s how to win one of your own.

Reader giveaway

The prize

One copy of Saffron Soul by Mira Manek worth £13.20.

How to enter

Tell me what your favourite Indian spice is in the comment section of this post.

Terms and conditions

Competition only for residents of the UK.

Closing date for entry will be Sunday 28 May 2017 at midnight.

The winner will be chosen at random after the closing date.

The winner will be notified by email.

No cash alternatives to the prize will be offered. The prize is not transferable.

The editor’s decision is final.

Saffron Soul by Mira Manek is published by Jacqui Small, an imprint of The Quarto Group. Out now.

Available from all good retailers. Photography credit:  © Jacqui Small

To find out more, visit www.miramanek.com

Recipe: Quick and simple star anise carrot puree

I learnt how to make this delicious star anise carrot puree on my lamb cookery course in Malton last year. It’s simple to make and tastes absolutely delicious with any meat. I even made it on Christmas day and it was perfect with turkey.

The star anise gives the simple puree a real exotic flavour. You can also add cream to the mix for an even more indulgent vegetable treat.

Star Anise Carrot Puree

Serves 4

1kg of carrots, peeled and chopped

Milk to cover the carrots in the pan

3 pieces of star anise

Two knobs of butter

Star anise carrot puree

Serving up the vibrant carrot puree

How to do it

Place all the carrots in a pan and cover them with milk.

Add the three pieces of star anise.

Bring to the boil and cook on simmer until soft, about 15 minutes – check they are soft before you blend.

Remove the star anise

Add in the butter and use a hand blender to blend the carrots to a puree.

You can make your puree well in advance and simply heat it over a low heat when you are ready to eat.

Star anise carrot puree

The star anise makes the carrots delightfully aromatic

My beautiful little bunny plate is from Ceramix who do a fabulous range of largely animal-inspired ceramics that come in many different shapes and sizes. I love this one for serving up vegetables and snacks. Find out more at www.ceramix.co.za

Star Anise Carrot Puree

The freshest of vibrant carrots bursting with flavour

I bought my beautiful carrots from the Oranjezicht City Farm Market. You can read all about my visits there by clicking here. It’s open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm at Granger Bay Boulevard, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.

You can also read more about  my lovely trip to Malton in Yorkshire last year where I had the privilege of doing a lamb butchery and cookery course. Simply click here.

 

Recipe: Cheesy roasted vegetable bake

While I do love my meat and could never imagine giving it up, I am also a huge fan of vegetables and love coming up with different dishes.

So today instead of simply roasting a fresh selection I decided to try roasting and then baking with a cheese and tomato sauce. The result is a delicious and healthy dish – an easy way of getting in your five a day.

The dish is good served with any type of meat or fish, I dished up fishcakes and cod goujons. Or it makes a great dinner all on its own, too. Give it at try and let me know what you think.

Do you have a favourite vegetable dish you’d like to share. I’d love to hear about it, so do get in touch.

MY CHEESY ROAST VEGETABLE BAKE

Serves 8 as a side dish

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Spinach and goats cheese on top of the roast veg

1 small marrow, chopped

2 aubergines, thinly sliced

1 red onion, chopped

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 orange pepper, deseeded and chopped

4 tbsps olive oil

100g baby spinach

50g fresh basil, leaves torn off stems

150g goats cheese

125g buffalo mozzarella

2 handfuls of parmesan

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My colourful selection ready for chopping

Lay the aubergine slices on a roasting tray and coat well in 2 tbsps of olive oil. Roast at 180C for about 30 minutes, turning regularly, until they are slightly blackened. Remove and set aside.

Add the onion, peppers and marrow to the  roasting tray. Pour over the rest of the olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes until softened and slightly blackened. Remove and set aside.

Start layering the vegetables in an oven-proof dish. First, half of the ones you’ve roasted. Then top with a layer of baby spinach, half the basil and half the mozzarella and goats cheese. Season with half a tsp of salt and pour over half the passata.

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Layering the roast veg and basil

Repeat the process until all the vegetables are in the dish. Top with the Parmesan. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes until well heated through and the cheese has melted.

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A vegetable medley topped with Parmesan ready for the oven

Serve hot from the oven with your choice of fish or meat.

A roast vegetable bake means a lot of chopping to start off your dish. So it’s really important to have a good set of knives to make the job as hassle-free as possible.

This fabulous set is from KitchenAid and comes in a shiny red block. They truly make any chopping a pleasure. Find out more about the range at kitchenaid.co.uk

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The sharpest of knives from KitchenAid makes chopping so much easier

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The glossy red knife block makes for a stylish display

Top tips

You can use a wide range of vegetables in this dish – try out all your favourites. Courgettes, pumpkin, butternut or carrots would also work well. I chose my selection for their different colours.

The same applies to the cheese, you could try cheddar, gruyere or even mascarpone.

 

Recipe: Tomato, watermelon and peach salsa

Could summer be here at last? The sun is out and I am happy, gotta love that blue sky. So here’s something light and refreshing to try, a zesty mix of fruit and tomato with a hint of mint.

This sweet and tangy salsa is great served alongside spicy dishes like curries, with grilled pork or chicken or for something different as a vegetarian starter that will get your taste buds tingling.

salsa

A summery dish that looks and tastes beautiful

Makes a decent portion to share between two.

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 peaches, destoned and chopped into bite-size pieces

A large slice of watermelon, enough for about 12 bite-size pieces

A handful of fresh mint

Mix all the ingredients together and allow to stand for at least an hour before eating.

logoFind out more at  www.britishtomatoes.co.uk

Recipes: The best roast cherry tomatoes

Roasting sweet cherry tomatoes intensifies their sweetness and flavour and you can keep them in the fridge for up to a week. Spread on sandwiches, toss in salads, add to stews or even snack on straight from the fridge. Yum!

I cook them on a low temperature for about an hour, you can also do it overnight, like my friend Candy does. Here are two roads to fabulous roast cherry tomatoes.

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Bring on the cherry tomatoes

600g cherry tomatoes, halved

4 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled

2 tsps dried thyme

1 tsp white sugar

4 tbsps olive oil

Heat the oven to 140C.

Place the tomatoes and garlic in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the sugar and thyme and pour over the olive oil.

Roast for about an hour (keeping an eye on them), until they are shrivelled but not dried out.

Eat immediately or allow to cool and store in the fridge for later.

cherrytoms

Chopped and sprinkled with olive oil and thyme

The overnight method

This way you can wake up to beautiful roast tomatoes!

Preheat the oven to 240C.

Place all the ingredients on a baking sheet and place it in the oven.

Turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes in overnight (approximately 8 hours).

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Sweet and juicy and ready to eat

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Find out more at www.britishtomatoes.co.uk

Recipe: Easy three cheese and spring onion tart

I love a good cheese tart, so today when I realised I had extra cheese in the fridge, I had to tranform it into a tart. This recipe is really simple, especially if you buy the pastry case ready made, which I recommend. And the cheesy smells that swirl around the house while it’s cooking are delectable.

It’s enough for four healthy portions, or good served (in small pieces) as snacks at a party.

A yummy three-cheese tart to indulge in

A yummy three-cheese tart to indulge in

1 tbsp olive oil

2 bunches of spring onions, trimmed and chopped

2 large eggs

150ml whole milk

25g mature cheddar, grated

50 parmesan, grated

A few sprigs of thyme, leaves only

1 x 230g Jus-rol shortcrust pastry case

150 goat’s cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 180C and put a baking tray in to heat.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the spring onions until they are soft.

Beat the eggs in a bowl, then whisk in the milk. Tip in the spring onions, cheddar and parmesan and stir together with the thyme.

Pour the mixture into the pastry case in its foil container and scatter the goat’s cheese over the top.

Cook for 40-45 minutes or until set and golden.