Honey-roasted parsnips with red onion, panch phoron, chilli, garlic and parsley

Hot, sweet, garlicky and bright with parsley and lemon – the good old parsnip is far more interesting in this company. A real revelation, in fact. The whole winter I’ve been roasting it with honey, red onions and panch phoron. I add the chillies and garlic when the parsnips and onions are nearly done (so that they don’t burn). Sometimes I roast the chillies and garlic only briefly, and sometimes a little longer, depending on how strong I want these flavours to be. I finish off with a sprinkling of parsley, and a squeeze of lemon. Life is always brighter with lemon.

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Jenna’s glorious coconut dhal

Jenna was an East African Asian, of Indian descent, who moved to the UK from Uganda, fleeing the bloody dictatorship of the violent dictator Idi Amin. ‘Tender and feisty’ she was, says her daughter, lovingly. I wish I had known Jenna. I hadn’t, but I got to know her through her daughter’s book, her memoir in food.  In Settlers’ Cookbook, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown tells so wonderfully her mother’s story, intertwined with her own, and which forms a part of her people’s history.

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“Our family tree is puny, barren in large part. The roots don’t go down deep enough to produce a plenteous crop of ancestral stories or fruity relatives. The few memories hanging on are losing colour and juice, soon will wither and fall away.

The human urge to trace long, biological bloodlines is strong. But our far past was swept away by careless fate impetuously carrying off my folk across the seas, away, away to new beginnings. They took little and left behind even less. Like many other East African Asians whose forbears left India in the nineteenth century, I search endlessly for (and sometimes find) the remains of those days. Few maps mark routes of journeys undertaken by these migrants; hardly any books capture their spirit or tell the story. Then Africa disgorged us too, and here we are, people in motion, now in the West, the next stopover. There is no place on earth we can historically and unequivocally claim to be ours, and so we have become adept wayfarers who settle but cautiously, ready to move on if the winds change.”

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Every recipe in the book is interwoven in the fabric of Yasmin’s Jenna’s life, or the life of their people.

Jenna’s coconut dhal has become a favourite in my home.

This post has been long in making, I’m sorry to say. Hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do.

 

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This is one recipe where mise en place is not necessarily essential.

 Jenna's coconut dhal

 

Jenna’s Coconut Dhal

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SOURCE:  Adapted from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s ‘Settlers’ Cookbook’, her mother’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 min

COOKING TIME: 1 h 5 min

CUISINE: Indian (Ugandan Asian)

SERVES: A crowd!

 

 

2/3 mug channa dhal

2/3 mug red lentils (masoor dhal)

2/3 mug moong dhal (split and hulled)

water

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tbsp oil

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

8 green chillies, sliced (deseed if you wish, or reduce number of chillies)

1 1/2 tin tomatoes

1 tsp turmeric

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 handfuls of coriander leaves, chopped

Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

A pinch of jaggery (or brown sugar)

3/4 tin of good-quality coconut milk

 

 

METHOD:

1. Wash the channa dhal until the water runs clear. Then wash the mung and masoor dhals together.

2. Boil channa dhal for about 10 minutes, then add the mung and massor dhals, turmeric and more water, and continue cooking until the munch and masoor dhals are soft and mushy, and the channa dhal is soft. This will take about an hour in total.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan, then add the cumin seeds, garlic and green chillies and cook until the garlic turns golden. Then add the tomatoes, the remaining 1 tsp of turmeric salt, and sugar. Cook until the oil separates, and then add chopped coriander, and cook for another 5 – 10 min.

4. When the dhal is cooked, add coconut milk to it, cook for about 5 min, and then add the tomato mixture. Cook for another 5 min to combine, and then finish off with lime juice, a pinch more of sugar, and some more salt to taste. I like my dhal rather thick, but do add some water if you’d like it soupier.

 

Serve with rice, or bread, as a part of an Indian meal or for a simple lunch or dinner. It’s delicious either way.

Istanbul Yoghurt Treat

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There was always yoghurt, tahini and honeycomb, amongst many other things, in our hotel in Istanbul for breakfast. One morning, I had an idea to combine them, and so I did. It was delicious! I loved it, and had it with my breakfast every day while we were there.

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I am not claiming this is an authentic Istanbuli treat. I have no idea, and so I wouldn’t even try. But I do know it’s absolutely delicious. Do try it! The bitterness of tahini added interest and nuttiness to sweet honeycomb, which in turn provided an interesting texture to nibble on. All this enveloped in delicious creamy, Turkish yoghurt.

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It really makes a stunning treat. At home, I use honey, as I don’t usually have honeycomb, but it’s still delicious. Just take a bowl of yoghurt and swirl some honey and tahini over it, and there you go!

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Cuttlefish stew – Brudet od sipa

After my photographic distractions (which I very much enjoy, and I hope you like them, too), I’m continuing with my Croatian posts.

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Brudet is a fish stew of humble origins. Fishermen used to prepare it to use up left over catch that they didn’t manage to sell. So whatever didn’t go at the market, ended up in the pot.

One of my favourite brudets is my mum’s dark and rich, unctuous sauce you can see above. It’s made with cuttlefish, and served with warm polenta.

 

Cuttlefish Brudet

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SOURCE: My mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 10 – 15 min

COOKING TIME: 40 – 60 min

CUISINE: Croatian (Dalmatian)

SERVES: 6 – 8

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Ingredients

Vegetable/olive oil

6 medium yellow onions, chopped finely

2 large carrot, grated

1.5 kg cuttlefish, cut into pieces

Water

1/2 medium head of garlic, cloves chopped finely

a small handful of parsley, chopped finely

a bit of chopped celery leaf

1/2 tbsp tomato pure

2 dl white wine

5 – 6 bay leaves

salt, pepper

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Method

1. Fry the onions for a little in some vegetable or olive oil. Add grated carrots. Fry the carrot and onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it becomes soft, and the onions become slightly browned. Be patient, as this can take a while. Please don’t be tempted to do this quickly, this is important, and it will form the base of the stew, in which the onion acts as a thickening agent.

2. Now add the cuttlefish, and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cuttlefish is cooked, and the onions start melting into the sauce.  Add water if it starts sticking.

3.   Add the garlic and the herbs, some salt and pepper, and keep stirring.

4. When the onion is softened, and starts disintegrating into the sauce (or a little before that if you’re in a hurry), add a little more water,and when the water evaporates, and some more to form a thick sauce. The herb and the garlic will still taste a little raw. Continue cooking until the flavours deepen and mellow together. The cuttlefish will become soft, too.

5. Towards the end of cooking, add the white wine and the bay leaf, adjust the seasoning, and cook  for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Serve warm with polenta. Also good with crusty bread!

My dad likes a drizzle of olive oil over his brudet. Give it a go if you fancy it.

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Note: Squid also works in this recipe.

ps. Also try some warm polenta with yoghurt! I love it!

 

I’m submitting this to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted by Anna of Anna’s Cool Finds. This event, originally started by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, is organised by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything.

Spiced carrot and caramelised onions soup

Reminder: Birthday giveaway open until 19 May! Do join in!

 

This shouldn’t be soup-making time, but unfortunately it is, so let me share with you what has become my favourite way of making soup. The basic method comes from the 1977 edition of ‘Mousewood Cookbook’ via Slashfood, and I blogged about it before with my carrot and rose harissa soup. While the vegetables are cooking, you make a kind of tarka of caramelised onions, nuts and freshly grounded and roasted spices. Then you combine the two and blend to esired thickness. The possibilities are many! Pumpkin works well here, too. You can even use this method to make and flavour vegetable purees.

In this recipe, the nuts give the soup some body, the onions provide an earthy base, while the spices bring it into life. The result is a warming carrot soup fragrant with roasted cumin and coriander, with a hint of heat from the chillies. I love it!

This picture of spices from St George’s market in Breakfast always cheers me up.

Spices on sale in Belfast market

Spiced carrot and caramelised

onions soup

 

SOURCE: the basic carrot soup recipe is from ‘Mousewood Cookbook’ (1977), via Slashfood, adapted by me

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 20 – 30

CUISINE: ?

SERVES: 6

INGREDIENTS:

1 kg carrots, peeled and chopped

water or stock

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

3 dried red chillies (deseed them if you don’t like hot food)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp butter

1 large yellow onion

3 cloves of garlic

a handful of almonds, roughly shopped

salt and pepper

a handful of grated cheese (optional)

METHOD:

I. Cover the carrots with water and  stock and boil until tender.

II. Heat a pan over medium heat and add cumin, coriander seeds and chillies. Roast until lightly toasted and fragrant (about 1 min), and then put into a pestle & mortar/spice grinder and let cool. Grind into powder and set aside.

III. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan, then add the onion and cook until the onion starts going golden. Add chopped garlic and nuts and sauté until the onions are caramelised. Then, add roasted spices, stir and cook for a minute or two to give time to the spices to release their flavours.

III. Put the onion mixture and carrots into the food processor and blend until smooth. (It’s easier to blend if you retain some cooking water and add it to the soup later on as necessary.)

IV. Return the vegetable puree to the pan, and check for salt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add water to achieve desired consistency. Ladle into bowls or mugs ,and if you wish, sprinkle some cheese on top. Add another pinch of freshly ground black pepper and serve. Enjoy!

 

Scarf

 

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Other soups at Maninas:

Celeriac soup (V)

Creamy carrot soup with rose harissa (V)

Dalmatian fish soup

Fragrant and aromatic salmon soup with noodles

Jerusalem artichoke soup with lemon zest and parmesan (V)

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