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
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
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.
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