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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Seasonal treat: Jerusalem artichoke soup with lemon zest and parmesan

Just a recipe today for this seasonal treat: Jerusalem artichoke soup with lemon zest and parmesan. I kept it simple. Clean tasting and light, with a gentle Jerusalem artichoke flavour, heightened with a touch of lemon, and rounded off with some parmesan. Enjoy.       DSC_0155

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Jerusalem artichoke soup with

.

lemon zest and parmesan

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SOURCE:  My own recipe

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 20 – 30 min

CUISINE: Modern European

SERVES: 2

.

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely

2 small cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1 – 2 tbsp light olive oil, or vegetable oil

10 cm celery stick, halved and sliced thinly

250 g Jerusalem artichokes, diced into small cubes or sliced

Warm water

1/2 – 1 dl milk (optional)

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp lemon zest

a small squeeze of lemon juice

1 dsp parmesan

.

METHOD:

1. Heat the oil in a medium pan, and add the garlic and onion. Sauté for a few minutes on medium low heat.

2. Add the celery and sauté for a couple of more minutes.

3. In go the artichokes! Stir the vegetables, and cover the pan with a lid, leaving it to sweat together until the artichokes are beginning to soften (about 5 – 10 min).

4. Add enough warm water to cover the vegetables, and cook for a few minutes more, until the vegetables are completely softened. (But please don’t overcook them.)

5. Transfer the veg into a food processor, and blend with the milk if you’re using it into a smooth puree. Or just mash them if you’re not using a food processor/blender.

6. Season well with salt and pepper, to taste.

7. Finish off with lemon juice and zest. It’s important not to overpower the flavour of the artichokes, so start by adding only a little lemon, and check the taste and fragrance before adding any more.

8. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with some nice bread. Enjoy!

 

Andrea’s Gorgeous Tarka Dhal – The Recipe

Andrea has got a great blog, and what’s more, she’s a great girl! If you can read Croatian, do head over to her blog Voce & povrce and start reading now! If not, well heck, how about learning Croatian? 🙂

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This is the her dhal that I raved about in my previous post. It’s not just that I’ve never met a red lentil dish I didn’t like. It’s not that I’m being subjective here. Oh no! This is really and truly delicious! I love the double dose of cumin in the tarka, seeds and powder, the scent of turmeric, and the lusciousness of the tomato and onion sauce. I love how well it goes with the lentils, and oh the simplicity of it all! It doesn’t take too long to cook, either. Red lentils take about 30 – 35 min (OK, longer if they’re older! like any lentils really), and during that time, you can prep and cook the tarka.

I stuck pretty much to Andrea’s recipe, making minor changes: using ghee instead of oil and black instead of yellow mustard seeds. I also changed the cooking method slightly, in that I cooked my onions until golden, and my tarka for a bit longer, because this is the way a Punjabi friend taught me. 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarka Dhal

 

SOURCEAndrea

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 – 10 min

COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Indian

SERVES: 2

INGREDIENTS:

200 g split red lentils (masoor dhal)

600 ml water

1 large tomato (or 2 – 3 tinned plum tomatoes)

50 g onion

2 red chillies

1/2 tsp mustard seeds (I used black mustard seeds)

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp oil (or ghee)

salt to taste

METHOD:

1. Rinse the lentils a few times, until the rinsing water runs clear.

2. Transfer the lentils in a thick-bottomed pan, add the water and cookon medium to high heat until boiling.

3. Skim off the foam that gathers on top as the lentils start boiling, and then lower the heat and continue cooking until  the lentils soften. Stir occasionally.

4. While the lentils are cooking, start making the tarka. Chop the onions, tomatoes, and chillies (removing the seeds if you prefer less heat). I like a bit of texture in my dhal, so I simply sliced the chillies into rounds, and chopped the onions not too finely.

5. Heat the oil on medium to high heat in a small pan, and when bubbling, add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the cumin becomes fragrant, and the mustard seeds start popping, add the onion and chillies, and cook until the onions become golden.

6. Add the turmeric and cumin powder, and stir for a few seconds. Again, until the spices are fragrant. Not for too long, or else the spice might burn. Trust your nose. You’ll learn soon, if you haven’t already. (‘ve grown to love the smell of turmeric frying!)

7. In go the tomatoes! Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture gets glossy, which is a sign that the oil is starting to separate, and that your tarka is done! This will take about 10 minutes or more, depending on how watery your tomatoes are. You can, of course, cook it for less, but it tastes better, richer, this way.

8. Add you tarka into the lentils and stir through. It’s often nice to reserve a bit of tarka and use it as a topping when serving the dhal. Put in a pinch of salt or two, to taste. I like my dhal thick, but if you don’t add a bit more water. Likewise, if you find it too watery, simply boil the lentils for a bit longer with a lid of. I guess it’s better if you keep an eye on the lentils as they’re cooking, rather than having to do this at the end. I should have told you that earlier, sorry!

Serve with rice or bread (chappati, naan, or any bread really), or as a part of an Indian (or other) meal. Enjoy!

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More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of the recipe)

Punjabi Green Lentil Dhal

Sri Lankan Coconut Dhal

 

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

More Indian recipes

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I’m submitting this post to the February MLLA (My Legume Love Affair), hosted by Rachel, the Crispy Cook. The event was started by legume-loving Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.

Andrea’s Tarka Dhal

fbi rukavice

When I first started blogging, I didn’t know many blogs from former Yugoslavia. Now there are loads! FBI Rukavice stands for Food Blog Inspection, and ‘Rukavice’ (meaning ‘gloves’) is anagram of ‘kuvarice’ (or ‘cooks’). The event was started by mamajac, and it does exactly what it says ‘on the tin’ – it inspects, or investigates, one food blog a month! This month, Andrea’s beautiful blog Voće i povrće (or ‘Fruit and veg’) is under inspection! I had to take part! Andrea writes in Croatian, and I love her blog because of her recipes, photos and especially her writing. We share love of Indian cooking, so it was natural that I choose her Tarka Dhal as a first thing to try. I say first thing, as I’ve bookmarked many more!

I absolutely loved the dhal! It’s earthy flavours, it’s double dose of cumin (seeds and powder). Even the Great Carnivore (aka husband) adored it! Hvala Andrea! (Thank you!)

I’m going away for work and have to get up at 6 am tomorrow, so for now, here’s just the pic, and I’ll post the recipe in a few days in English.

 

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Punjabi green lentil dhal – incredibly easy and incredibly tasty

Spice box

About two years ago, or perhaps a bit less, when I first started cooking Indian food, a very kind and generous British lady of Punjabi origin invited me to her home for what she jokingly called ‘a curry lesson’. I watched wide-eyed and scared. In awe of all the spice jars and containers dancing in front of my very own eyes. At a time, I knew and recognised a lot of them and had them in my own kitchen, but had precious little clue on what to do with them, if truth be told. That day was a turning point in my cooking in general for several reasons. The first, and perhaps the most important lesson, was to relax. Before, I was confused with all these spices, and scared I’m doing things wrongly. Watching her cook was amazing. She was instinctive, creative, spontaneous. ‘Shall we add a bit of this?… And what do you think that will taste?… I think I’ll do this….’ I relaxed in my mind, and in my attitude towards Indian food; I wasn’t ‘scared’ anymore and started trying things out. This is when the second lesson kicked in: trying things out, and getting to know my ingredients. See how it goes, and learn. Smell and taste. Learn which flavours go together, experiment. Watch what is happening at every stage. Feel and touch. Get involved with your food. See what it feels like at each stage. (Of course, this works with certain foods only.) I truly learnt only by trying and following my instincts. And then remembering and/or writing down what I’d done. And than doing it again.

If you recognise yourself in any of the above, maybe I could help you see that cooking Indian food doesn’t have to be daunting and complicated. Let’s have a look at this very simple Punjabi dhal. Simple in flavour, and simple in technique, but uncompromisingly delicious. Green lentils are simply cooked with turmeric, and then seasoned with a tarka of cumin seeds,fried onions (until brown), ginger and garlic, and then finished off with some garam masala.

Tarka is an Indian technique of frying spices in ghee or oil, sometimes with the addition of some combination of onions, garlic and chillies. This is done either at the beginning of cooking, or at the end. For more information, see Barbara’s post Teaching Tarka. If lentils are its body, tarka is the life and soul of the dhal. The tarka as a final flavouring gives it a character that makes it different from any other of its kind made with same lentils. It defines its origin as Punjabi like this one (with ghee, cumin and onions), South Indian (flavoured with curry leaves, mustard seeds and red chillies) or Bengali (with panch phoron, the characteristically Bengali five spice mix.)

Turmeric

Do try and make this, and when you do, smell the turmeric cooking with the lentils. Take a bit of lentils with a spoon and feel them with your fingertips. See how they feel on your tongue, between your teeth. Follow how they change in texture and flavour. When you’re making the tarka, watch for the bubbles around your wooden spoon that will tell you when the oil or ghee are hot enough for the cumin seeds to go in. When the cumin is in, watch how it sizzles and changes colour. Smell it. Don’t let it burn – things happen quickly with some spices. Now the onions. Watch them loose liquid, and then change colour from translucent, to golden through to reddish and then brown. How sweet they smell, how moreish they become. (See my post ‘Cooking Indian: How to Fry Onions’.)

Green lentils b&w

I adapted this recipe from Vicky Bhogal’s book ‘Cooking Like Mummyji’. I added a teaspoon of cumin seed at the beginning of the onion tadka, upped the chilli and garlic, and reduced the amount of garam masala. The latter is up to you and your tastes, but for me the cumin makes all the difference, and I urge you to try it. I really love the warming aroma of cumin seeds popped in ghee or oil in this dhal. At a pinch, you can use ground cumin if you don’t have cumin seeds, but please add it after the onions are browned (and not at the beginning, before the onions, because it will burn). The flavour is slightly different, but it will add the important cumin note to the dish.

Another change, a little unorthodox for Punjabi cooking perhaps, is that I added a pinch of sugar to the cooked lentils, like they do in Bengal. I find that the sugar round off the flavours really nicely, and mellows the dish.

Vicky calls the recipe ‘whole lentils cooked in a pressure cooker’. I didn’t cook them like that, so that doesn’t apply to me. Plus I find this title a bit too generic, so I’m changing the name to ‘Punjabi green lentils with deep brown onions and garam masala’.

Green lentils

I’ve made this dish a few times, and it’s always been a hit with Someone I Know And Love.  It goes really well with a dollop of yoghurt, some kale aloo, and chapatti. I have just made Anita’s garam masala, and can’t wait to cook this dhal again with it!

Someone I Know And Love has gone off for two weeks and taken our camera with him. No photos, but I will try to get a friend to exchange her photographic skills for some nosh.

This post is going to the wonderful Lisa for the event No Croutons Required. This month, we’re focusing on Indian soups and salads. Right up my street! I can’t wait to see the round-up.

 

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Punjabi green lentils with deep

brown onions and garam masala

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SOURCE:  adapted from Vicky Bhogal’s ‘Cooking Like Mummyji’

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 40 min

CUISINE: Indian, Punjabi

SERVES: 4 as a side dish, or 2 – 3 as a main

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole green lentils

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

a small pinch of brown sugar (optional)

1 tbsp ghee / vegetable oil

1 heaped tsp of cumin seeds

1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly (or chopped finely, if you wish)

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 – 3 birds eye green chillies, sliced

1/4 tsp Punjabi garam masala

chopped coriander for garnish (optional)

METHOD:

1. Put the lentils into a pan with 2 cups of water (for now, you might need more later if you want it runnier). Let it boil, and skim the scum from the top. Now add turmeric, and continue cooking until soft. When the lentils are soft, add the salt. Add a pinch of sugar if you want now. Add some warm water if you like your lentils less thick or even soupy. (Vicky leaves her lentils whole, but I like to mash some of them up to make the dish creamier.)

2. To make the tarka, first pop the cumin seeds in some hot ghee. First, heat the ghee or oil (it’s hot enough when it starts sizzling when you insert a wooden spoon in it), and then add the cumin. Fry for a few seconds, until the cumin releases its fragrance (watch out, it burns quickly). Then, add the onion, sprinkle it with salt, and fry until golden brown. Now add the chillies, ginger and garlic, and fry for some more, until they soften and loose their raw flavour. If the ginger starts sticking to the pan, add a little water and scrape off. (I usually chop the onion first, then while they’re frying, prepare garlic, ginger and chillies, and add it as I go.)

3. Pour the onion mixture into the dhal and stir through, leaving some tarka on top. Now add the garam masala.

4. Garnish with coriander if using, and serve with some chapattis or rice.

Enjoy!  

More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of  recipe)

Sri Lankan Coconut Dhal

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

 

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