This is a new one for me, despite having enjoyed it in restaurants for years. It's actually quite simple, but can be a bit fiddly if you want to do it right.
A slab of paneer
1 large onion - diced
5 cloves of garlic - obliterated
1½ in chunk of ginger, shredded
3 green chillies - sliced or chopped
assorted chopped capsicum peppers - green and yellow are the preferred in restaurants, but red works equally well.
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour
1 cup of water
½ stalk of celery - chopped very finely
A good handful of coriander leaf
3 green finger chillies
Cube your paneer, then fry it gently in some butter until golden on all sides. Then drain and put in a bowl and cover with warm water.
In a pan, add your ginger, chillies and fry for about a minute - hot pan. Add you onion, peppers and eventually your garlic. Fry but don't overcook. When you're happy that everything is getting cooked, but still has some crunch, add your tomato puree and soy sauce, mix together until you have a thick coated mess in the bottom of your pan. Mix cornflour with a cup of water and chuck it into your mixture, stirring all the time until it starts to thicken. If it gets too thick add some more water, or a squirt of lemon juice.
Cook for a further minute or so, to cook out the cornflour, then add chopped coriander, thinly sliced spring onions and celery, stir together and turn out onto plates.
Goes exceptionally well with mogo chips - deep fried cassava chips - and/or chapatis or unleavened bread. Also goes very well in pitta breads with a bit of crispy green salad.
Lentil & Vegetable 'Lasagne'
Another recipe the wife road-tested and I... perfected.
This is a weird one because it really depends on what you have in your store cupboard and what's seasonal. There appears to be summer and winter variations on this and to be honest whatever you have in the fridge can work with this. But here's the one I did a week ago.
6 oz lentils - preferably brown or puy
Boil these in 10 fl oz of water with two bay leaves and a clove of garlic cut in half - discard these when the water is all but gone.
3 cloves of garlic
1 carrot - sliced then quartered
½ stick of celery - chopped finely
9 medium sized mushrooms (I used wild ones recently, but bog standard ones will do) - chopped but not too big
1 pepper - red or green depending on your tastes - chopped evenly, but bigger than your mushrooms.
1 courgette (I chopped this into slices and then quartered them and stuck them in with the mixture just before
1 tin of tomatoes, or a carton of pollpa (finely chopped toms from Sainsbury's), or, if you want to be clever, get about 6 large, ripe tomatoes, stick in a dish, splash some olive oil and black pepper on them and shove in a hot oven for about 40 minutes, until they are nothing like they went in. Shove these in a blender with some torn fresh basil or a teaspoon of dried, placed in an egg cup of hot water to sort of reconstitute, and then blitzed. Add a touch of tomato puree if the colour is a bit anaemic.
1 good sized glug of red wine (if you have it, don't open one just for this; some stock - vegetable - will do at a pinch)
1 slab of pizza mozzarella or a nice fat chunk of buffalo mozzarella and some gruyere - grated
Fry onions, garlic, carrots, celery in some oil until tender, add mushrooms, peppers and fry some more, then add the lentils, the tomatoes, and the courgettes and cook until it starts to look as though it's blending together. Season if required and add more fresh basil it's lacking.
Get a nice high sided lasagne dish, put a layer of the cooled mixture on the bottom, spread out, put sheets of lasagne over and repeat until you nearly reach the top of the dish. Then cover with your sliced mozzarella and throw some grated gruyere (or mature cheddar) over the top. Shove in a hot oven, at the top so the cheese gets a nice crust on it and serve with a green salad or a jacket potato.
Pan-fried gnocchi with spicy tomato sauce & mozzarella
Essentially, I found gnocchi dull and boring; then I bought some again for the first time in years and thought I'd do something different with it.
If I make my own gnocchi, I start by taking about 2lbs of floury potatoes and sticking them in an oven ala jacket spuds. When they are done, I split them in half and spoon out the cooked potatoes, then mash this up with some butter, pepper (white this time) and salt. I then add an egg and beat that in, then about 300g of flour. Sieve it in and mix gradually to avoid floury lumps. Then, make it into a dough and make your gnocchi shapes. I, however, sometimes add some dried herbs or some spinach puree or even some chopped up oven roasted red peppers; just to give it something else. Boil in water for about 3 minutes and then drain and leave on the side to cool off and dry.
You can either blitz a tin of plum toms or roast a half dozen vine ripened ones in them oven for about 30 minutes - 200 degrees - with a little olive oil and seasoning. Once blitzed, add to a pan where you have been sauteeing:
1 small onion or shallot
½ dozen chopped mushrooms
1 diced courgette
1 red pepper, cut into strips.
Add some torn up basil and cook for about 2 mins on a medium heat - until its bubbling away.
Get a nice big ball of buffalo mozzarella or a nice fat chunk of any cheap soft mozzarella and slice up into rounds. Place these at intervals around the pan and then remove from the heat and shove under a hot grill until the cheese has melted and it's starting to go crispy on top.
Serve with fresh bread and some chilled rosé.
Next time: a bitching vegetable dahl, a cottage pie for lazy veggies (ish) and a samosa pie!