Here you have a super speedy, easy and more importantly, delicious dip that can be spread on toast, be an accompanyment to a meal, eaten with nachos or provide a lovely filling for pitta breads.
I made my own pitta chips by baking some cut up pitta breads in the oven for a crunchy snack to take on the soft, salty feta and sweet peppers.
1 red pepper
100g feta cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
balsamic vinegar, a splash
On the oven hob, blister and burn the skin of the pepper completely. Turn with tongs to avoid burning yourself. Once the skin is completely black, place in a bowl and cover with cling film for 10 minutes to allow to steam.
Once it is cool enough, scrape the black skin from the pepper. De-seed the pepper and very finely chop.
Mix the pepper in a bowl with the crumbled feta, seasoning, oregano and a little balsamic vinegar.
This isn’t really a recipe but is really lovely served as a fresh and vibrant side for any curry. It’s great slathered on poppadoms as a starter or a snack and provides a welcome break from the rich heaviness of many curries.
1 tomato, diced
½ red onion, diced
3 thick slices of cucumber, diced
Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
A few mint leaves, chopped
A pinch of cumin and chilli powder
A squeeze of lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste.
Tip: Season with salt when ready to serve as the salt will draw the moisture from the chopped veggies.
Saag paneer is a classic Indian dish of cooked spinach studded with cubes of fried paneer cheese. Thickened with cream, yoghurt or coconut milk, it’s a hearty and filling vegetarian meal.
Serves 2 as a main -4 as a side
8oz fresh spinach leaves, washed
1 inch piece ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
7fl oz water
1 Tbsp oil
2 bay leaves
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds, ground
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chilli powder
3 Tbsp natural yoghurt
200g paneer, cut into cubes
Cook the wet spinach leaves in a tightly covered pan for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and roughly chop the spinach. Add the chopped spinach, ginger, garlic and chilli with a little of the measured water into a bowl and mix. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan, add the bay leaves and pepper and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the onion and fry for 6-8 minutes or until the onion has browned.
Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the curry powder, methi seeds, salt and chilli powder. Cook for 2 minutes over a medium heat, stirring a couple of times. Add the Spinach mix and the remaining water. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the yoghurt a tablespoon at a time and simmer for 5 minutes more.
Add the paneer to a frying pan over medium heat and cook until beginning to brown then turn the cheese cubes and repeat on all or most sides. Add the browned paneer to the sauce and stir to coat. Serve with chapatti or paratha to dunk into the lovely sauce.
To skin the tomatoes, score a cross in the tops, place in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave this for about 5 minutes, drain and the skins will be easy to peel away. You can leave them on but the sauce will have hard chewy strands in it and this step is definitely worthwhile for a velvet smooth sauce.
These vegetarian samosas are a great way to get 3 of the 5-a-day into your family as well as a huge burst of flavours. They’re also rich in fibre, folate, vitamin C, calcium and iron. They are not fried like traditional samosas but baked in the oven with minimal oil.
You can play around with whatever you like in the filling. Spinach is fantastic in these but at the time of making, I didn’t have any or I would have added it instead of peas.
They are great served hot and crispy from the oven but can also be eaten warm or cold as a snack for the next day – if they last that long.
Makes 6 large samosas.
2 large sweet potatoes (about 500g), peeled and cut into small pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
1 red onion, chopped
thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp each medium curry powder, garam masala, turmeric
small bunch coriander or mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp curry paste (I used madras)
1 tsp black onion (nigella) seeds
200g frozen peas
270g pack filo pastry (6 sheets)
Put the sweet potatoes in a large bowl, cover with cling film and microwave on full power for 5-8 minutes or until soft.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan, add the chopped onion and cook for a few mins to soften. Stir in the ginger, garlic and coriander/mint, stirring for a couple of minutes more until fragrant. Add the curry paste, spices and the black onion seeds to the pan, stir for 30 seconds or so until fragrant then add the frozen peas. Season well and mash everything together with the back of a spoon, leaving some chunky bits of potato. Leave to cool completely.
Unroll the pastry and pull out two sheets to work with – keep the rest covered with a tea towel to prevent it from drying out. Brush both sheets with a little oil. Put the other sheet on top. With the shortest side facing you, cut down the centre to make two long strips. Scoop a sixth of the sweet potato mixture onto the top right-hand corner of the filo in a rough triangle shape. Fold the pastry over on an angle, continuing down the length of the pastry until you reach the bottom and have a neat triangle encasing the filling. Trim off any excess pastry with a knife. Repeat to make six samosas. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan.
Put the samosas on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Brush with a little more oil and sprinkle over some extra black onion seeds or cumin seeds if desired. Bake for 20-30 mins or until deep golden brown. Cover with foil if the corners begin to burn before the base is browned.