Quick potato curry

Any mixture of vegetables could be used in place of cabbage and broccoli here. If you want to add meat, it’s best to cook it through first, then remove it from the pan to make up the rest of the curry, adding the meat back in at the very end – this helps to avoid having under or overcooked meat. Vary the amount and strength of the curry powder to your personal taste.

Fry 1/2 onion, diced, and 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced, in a little oil until golden brown. Add 1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, a handful of red cabbage, finely sliced, and a handful of purple sprouting broccoli, roughly chopped along the stem; fry over a medium heat until the broccoli leaves have wilted. Coat in 1/2 tsp coriander seed (ground or whole), 1/2 tsp cumin seed (ground or whole), 1 heaped tsp curry powder, then add 2 heaped tbsp gram (chickpea) flour and 2 heaped tbsp peanut butter. Fry for a few minutes, then slowly add approx. 1 cup of water, stirring into the mixture as you go, until the potato cubes are covered by liquid. Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through and the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce. Serves 1 alone or 2 with naan.

Chinese style fried cabbage

Adapted from an old book of Chinese recipes a friend found for me in a charity shop. Any kind of cabbage can be used; I’d recommend at least two types for the variety. Hard cabbage like white or red should be added with the onion; soft leaves such as savoy, Chinese leaves or pak choi should be added later. Like a lot of hot-and-fast cooking, this can get smoky, so open a window or turn on the extractor fan if you have one.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp soy sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Finely slice 1 onion, 1/2 small red cabbage and 1/2 small savoy cabbage. Heat a spoonful of oil in a non-stick pan over a high heat until a haze develops over the oil. Add the onion and red cabbage to the pan and fry, stirring continuously, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the savoy cabbage and fry for 2-3 minutes, again stirring continuously, until the savoy cabbage begins to brown. Stir in the sauce mixture, stir to coat, and take off the heat. Serve with rice and a protein component of your choice.

Serves 2 generously.

Poached Asian Pear

In a saucepan, mix together 1 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp lemon or lime juice, 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger), 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 5 cardamom pods. Bring to the boil and add 1 Asian pear, halved, cored and cut into ~2 mm thick slices. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the pear slices have softened. Strain and serve alone or with ice cream.

This recipe could easily be used for ordinary apples or pears – apples will need a little longer to cook, pears will need a little less time. Two apples or pears would probably be equivalent to one Asian pear in size.

Mushroom “stroganoff”

Probably a stroganoff by name only; adapted from an old recipe card that I think came out of a magazine. I wanted to make a creamy dish without actually using cream, because I can never get through an entire carton before it goes off.

Boil 1/3 cup bulgar wheat in ample water with a pinch of salt for 10 minutes, or until light and fluffy, then drain. Meanwhile, sauté 1/2 an onion, finely diced, and 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly, in about 1 tbsp oil until translucent. Add 6 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced, and 1/3 cup frozen or canned sweetcorn. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until the mushroom is beginning to brown, stir in 1 tbsp plain flour, then add 1/3 cup strong vegetable stock and 1/2 tbsp light tahini. Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer until the sauce is thick (this shouldn’t take more than 2-3 minutes). Season with generous black pepper and serve over the bulgar wheat.

Serves 1

 

Shakshouka

Adapted from a Riverford Farms recipe; the dish itself is of North African origin. Serves one, but is easily scaled; if you’re cooking for more than one person make a well for each egg (you’ll need to use a steep sided frying pan or a large saucepan). From start to finish, this recipe for shouldn’t take more than half an hour for one person.

In a small saucepan, fry in oil or butter over a high heat 1/2 onion, thickly sliced, for about five minutes or until softened. Then add 2/3 red bell pepper, thinly sliced and 1/2 plantain, cubed and 1 clove garlic, sliced and continue to fry until the pepper is soft. Add 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes (about 1/3 of a 400g tin), 1/4 teaspoon each of ground coriander and cumin, and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Add a little brown sugar if it is still sharp. Make a well in the vegetable mixture and crack an egg into it. Cover and simmer for five minutes, or until the egg has set. Season with black pepper before serving.

 

Ploughman’s Style Couscous Salad

I’m eating this as I type – for something I just threw together it turned out surprisingly well!

Cover 1/4 cup couscous with 1/2 cup boiling water, add a pinch of salt or stock powder, cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Finely dice 1/2 apple, 1-2 inches of plantain and 1-2 inches of courgette, and shred a handful of spinach. Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the vegetables, 1 tbsp sweet pickle or chutney, a pinch of sage, a pinch of thyme and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle over a small handful of grated cheese.

Serves 1

Variations:

  • Omit the cheese for vegan
  • I haven’t tried this but it should go well with thinly sliced cooked ham or pork
  • Mixed herbs can be used instead of the sage and thyme if you don’t have them to hand
  • Spinach should be substitutable with other robust salad leaves.

Vegetable Ramen

Adapted from a Wagamama recipe.

In generous amounts of oil, fry 2 inches aubergine, thinly sliced; equal volume sweet potato, thinly sliced; 1/4 yellow pepper, thinly sliced; 1/3 green pepper, thinly sliced; 2 florets broccoli, thinly sliced. Once softened, take off heat, add 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, a pinch of chilli flakes and set aside to marinate. Cover 1 portion udon noodles in boiling water and cook at a rolling boil for 6-7 minutes or until soft to the bite. In a bowl mix 1 tsp miso paste and 1/2 tsp vegetable stock with a little boiling water. Fill the bowl half full, making sure the paste is well mixed. Add the noodles to the broth, followed by the vegetables.

Serves 1 – vegetables can be doubled up and the spare portion kept in the fridge for a few days

Variations:

  • Really any vegetables can be used for this. The harder the vegetable, the thinner it will need to be sliced and the longer it will take to cook.
  • Will also work with instant noodles