Over the weekend I had two very good friends over for food and boardgames. Inspired by Glasgow’s current trend for Indian food served in “small plates”, I decided to create a similar experience at home. So I went about to preparing a menu where I wanted to feature authentic and tasty Indian food. The challenge was even bigger as one of my friends is, in fact, Indian and also has been vegetarian all of her life (until recently, anyway). So, here I was, cooking vegetarian Indian food for a semi-vegetarian Indian woman… How could that go wrong?!
Here is what our menu looked like: Squash curry; spiced paneer with dhal; carrot & ginger bhajis; M’s special Indian fried rice; and naan bread (sadly not homemade). I’m pleased to say that everything was delicious and I got the seal of approval for my Indian menu by everyone. Today, I’m uploading two of the recipes which really stood out: the spiced paneer with dhal and the carrot and ginger bhajis. The curry was also delicious, but I felt I had eaten better vegetarian curries which I would prefer to upload.
The bhajis, dhal and paneer would make a perfect accompaniment to any Indian menu, either as a side dish or a starter. I used the two recipes below for my menu which served 4 people comfortably, as part of a larger menu.
Spiced Paneer with Lentil Dhal
Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a side/starter; Time: 30 minutes | Easy | Vegetarian, Gluten Free
- 75g lentils (I used red, the original recipe called for green);
- 500 ml vegetable stock;
- 1 small onion, grated;
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped;
- 1/2 tsp turmeric, plus a pinch extra for the paneer;
- 1 tsp garam masala, plus a bit extra for the paneer;
- a small bunch coriander, chopped;
- 230-50g paneer, cut into wedges or cubes;
- groundnut or sunflower oil;
1. Make the dhal: Put the first 7 ingredients in a pan and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain any excess liquid, then stir in most of the coriander.
2. For the paneer: Toss the paneer with a little oil, seasoning and a little turmeric and garam masala. Fry in a non-stick pan until golden, turning frequently so it doesn’t burn. Spoon the lentils into a serving dish and top with the paneer. Serve with naan bread if eating as a main.
Recipe from olive magazine issue February 2016.
Carrot and Ginger Bhajis with coriander dip
This recipe uses gram flour, which is made of chickpeas. It is usually available in larger supermarkets in the ‘world’ aisle, or from specialist middle-eastern shops. If you prefer, you can use plain flour instead.
Note that it’s very important that you don’t add the carrots until the very last moment as they will make the batter too wet.
Makes: 12 bhajis | Time: 20 minutes | Easy | Vegetarian
- 2 medium eggs;
- 50g piece of fresh ginger, grated;
- 100g gram flour (see note above);
- 1/2 large red chilli, finely chopped;
- 1 tsp garam masala;
- 1 tsp turmeric;
- 1 tsp ground ginger;
- 1 lime, juiced;
- 1 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji);
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes;
- sunflower oil for deep frying;
- 300g carrots, grated.
For the dip:
- 150g yogurt;
- 2 limes, juiced;
- bunch fresh coriander, chopped.
1. Mix all the bhaji ingredients apart from the oil and the carrots to form a thick batter. Heat a pan with a 2cm layer of oil over a medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Mix the carrots in the batter until well combined, then press the mix in your hands to form 12 balls.
2. Lower the balls into the hot oil with a spoon and press down lightly with the back of the spoon into a patty. Fry in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon onto kitchen towel to drain off excess oil.
3. Meanwhile, mix the dip ingredients and season. Serve with the bhajis.
Recipe from Delicious magazine, issue January 2014.