Lime, coriander and mint paneer with spiced chickpeas

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When the mood strikes, there is nothing quite like a hearty curry, but, with the weather hopefully on the up, sometimes you want a lighter version of your favourites so if this is the case then this is the dish for you. The idea behind this is that the chickpeas are coated in a sauce that doesn’t weigh it down so you can taste and appreciate all the ingredients. Paneer lends itself to pairing with a range of Indian flavours and I have kept this paneer fresh with herbs and the zing of lime.

If you can’t find garlic and ginger paste then substitute it with a garlic clove and a freshly grated piece of ginger. The paste is available in all good Asian supermarkets and is well worth buying if you come across it as it can be used in a wide range of recipes and takes the time out of having to make your own. There will be leftover toasted lentils but fear not; they are delicious sprinkled over salads or as a snack by themselves and will keep for several days if covered over.

Ingredients- serves 4
For the paneer
Block of paneer- cut into bite sized cubes
1 tbsp cornflour
1 small bunch of fresh coriander- finely chopped
1 small bunch of fresh mint- finely chopped
60ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
1 tsp salt

For the chickpeas and curry
1 red onion- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 red bell pepper- chopped
1 yellow bell pepper- chopped
1 small aubergine- chopped
1 sweet potato- peeled and chopped
1 can of chickpeas- drained and rinsed well
2 tbsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
1 1/2 tbsp chilli powder or to taste
1 tbsp fenugreek
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
Salt to taste

For the crunchy lentils
Can of green lentils in water- drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
Crushed chilli flakes- to taste

1.I started by toasting the lentils and chickpeas first so I could then concentrate on the other elements of the recipe. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan; pat the lentils as dry as you can after draining them, place them on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Add the salt, garlic powder and chilli flakes and toss to coat the lentils. Place in the oven and cook for around 15 minutes or until crunchy; you can move them around on the baking tray halfway during cooking if needed to ensure they are evenly toasted.

2. As the lentils are cooking, place the chickpeas in a deep roasting tray and add half of each of the spiced listed apart from the garam masala. Toss to combine and roast in the oven for 15 minutes at the same time as the lentils until they have started to gain some colour. Remove the chickpeas and lentils from the oven when they are ready and set aside.

3. To make the curry base, add a glug of olive oil a wide bottomed pan that is large enough to hold the curry in its entirety. Over a low heat, gently cook the red onion until softened and starting to turn golden; add the tomato puree and cook this out for another minute. Add the remaining spices apart from the garam masala and the ginger and garlic paste as well as approx. 200mls of water; stir to form a paste. Add in the vegetables and chickpeas and simmer until the sauce lightly coats them; if it gets a little too dry then add another splash of water or two.

4. For the paneer, mix together all the ingredients listed under the paneer section of the ingredients list; taste and adjust seasoning and/ or the lime juice to taste if needed. Toss the paneer cubes in a tablespoon of cornflour. Add a good glug of oil to a non- stick frying pan and add the paneer; fry over a medium heat until the cubes are golden and crunchy. Remove using a slotted spoon and blot any excess oil using kitchen paper. Add the paneer cubes into the mint, coriander and lime dressing and toss well to coat.

5. To assemble the final dish simple choose a large serving dish and spoon the chickpea curry onto it. Top this with the herby paneer and finish with a liberal sprinkling of the crunchy lentils. Add extra fresh mint and coriander if you like and serve.

Lime, coriander and mint paneer and spiced chickpeas- a lighter take on a curry for the summer!

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Squash and kale daal

With autumn upon us it sees the return of squash and kale in my kitchen on a regular (and borderline obsessive!) basis. Squash and kale daal is not exactly an authentic Indian recipe however it is absolutely delicious.The combination of the two adds sweetness, earthiness and even more vibrance to the daal. Spinach is often an addition to daal but this is my autumnal twist on it. The base of the daal is very simple and the spice mix is added later on in the cooking process so the ingredients come alive. I have kept the spices whole to add bursts of flavour however you can lightly bash them with a pestle and mortar before frying if you prefer.

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Ingredients- serves 4
400g red split lentils
Vegetable oil or ghee
4 garlic cloves- crushed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- quartered
1 tbsp turmeric
1 small butternut squash
200g black kale
2 shallots
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tbsp ajwan seeds
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2-3 dried Kashmiri chillies- roughly chopped
Freshly chopped coriander for serving- optional

1 Kick off by rinsing the lentils in cold water. Place on the hob in a large pan and cover the lentils with water. Bring the water to the boil before lowering to a simmer. Skim off any scum that forms on the surface of the water. Add in the garlic, ginger and turmeric. Simmer the lentils for 1- 1 1/2 hours until the lentils have softened.

2. When the lentils are about 20 minutes away from being tender and creamy, peel and chop the butternut squash into small chunks. Wash and roughly chop the kale and add, along with the squash, into the pan.

3. In a separate pan, heat the oil or melt the ghee, depending on which you prefer. Slice the shallots and fry until turning golden. Pop in all the other spices and whole chillies; fry until colouring and releasing their flavours. Tip the spice mixture into the lentils and stir through. You may also like to hold a little back to use as a topping. Serve the daal in warmed bowls and sprinkle over some freshly chopped coriander if you like. Also serve with chapattis on the side.

Squash and kale daal- a hearty, vibrant dish for a chilly autumn day!

 

 

Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup

At this time of year minds turn to soup as warming, comforting lunch or dinner. Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup hits all the right notes on the flavour front to give a satisfying meal that you will definitely want more of! If you like a hit of chilli then you can also add this to add some warmth but the flavours of the soup are just as lovely without.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Knob of unsalted butter
1 large red onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- chopped
1 large red pepper- cut into chunks
1 large sweet potato- peeled and cut into inch chunks
200g red lentils- washed and drained
600ml hot vegetable stock
30ml milk (optional)
Salt and pepper

1. Start off by making sure that all the vegetables are chopped and ready to go. Heat the knob of butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic and red pepper and cook until the onion and pepper has softened.

2. Next up goes the potato chunks and stir to make sure they get a buttery coating. Cook until the potato is catching a little colour on the outside before adding the lentils and stock. Bring the stock to a boil before lowering to a simmer; cover the pan and simmer until the potato is softened and the lentils are tender. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending with a hand blender; you can make this as chunky or as smooth as you like. At this point you can add a little milk if you would like a creamier finish but it was delicious without too! Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup- autumn in a bowl!

Venison sausage and lentil stew

Who doesn’t love a hearty sausage stew? This marries the delicate but rich game flavour of venison with earthy lentils which make for a simple dinner. If you’re not sure about game then this is a great way to start eating it.  I use white wine to lighten the stew however red wine would also work if you prefer a richer finish.

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Ingredients: Serves 4
1 tbsp vegetable oil
8 venison sausages
1 small onion or shallot- finely chopped
1 garlic clove- crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 carrot- finely chopped
2 celery sticks- finely chopped
100g cubed pancetta (optional)
120ml white wine
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
600ml vegetable stock
200g green or puy lentils
Sprig of thyme
Handful chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to season

1. Take a heavy bottomed casserole pot and heat the oil over a medium/ high heat and cook the sausages until golden all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Use some of the fat from the sausages to cook the onion and garlic until softened. Next up goes the tomato puree which needs to be cooked out for a couple of minutes. Pop in the carrot, celery and pancetta and cook for a further couple of minutes until the vegetables are softened and the pancetta starts to crisp up.

3. Add in the white wine and reduce by half before adding the stock, tomatoes, thyme and seasoning. The lentils then need to be added along with the venison sausages and bring to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the lentils and until tender; if needed you can to up with a little extra stock as you go. Finish with the parsley and check the seasoning before serving with crusty bread.

Venison sausage and green lentil stew- a perfect introduction to game!