Archive for the ‘vegan cookery’ Category

Sweet Tatty Soup Packs a Punch

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I first came across the hierarchy of sweet potatoes outside a greengrocer’s in Tooting Broadway some years ago, in the look of disgust on an old woman’s face when she realised they didn’t have any Jamaican sweet potatoes in, just the Egyptian kind.

But I don’t think I ever actually tried the Jamaican variety until this evening. I always assumed Jamaican sweet potatoes were the pink ones, and the paler looking ones were Egyptian, but it’s the other way round. And they’re twice the price. The Sherwood greengrocer I visited yesterday kindly warned me that the two sweet potatoes I was about to buy cost almost £5, which turned out to be more than half the price of my shop. But I persevered with my purchase anyhow.

The Jamaican sweet potatoes, it turns out, are white inside, like yams. And they’re rather peculiar. The peeled vegetable starts to go a nasty grey in places on exposure to the air, and it seems to corrode the skin, leaving it dry and rough, though not as bad as butternut squashes.

The texture when cooked is like taro—soft but firm at the same time, and crushes with a delicious sensation when you bite on it. I could well imagine it as the sweet filling inside some Taiwanese pastry.

But it’s the heavily perfumed flavour that really astonished me. It was a particularly fragrant soup—I’d used ginger and chilli, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamon—but I don’t think any of those can have accounted for the distinct whiff of rosewater (yes, the stuff they put in Turkish delight) I got with several mouthfuls. Well, it could conceivably have been the cardamon, but I’m siding with the sweet potato for the time being.

how to make a really nice curry

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Yes, it’s cookery school time! What could go wrong? – You could burn the garlic, overdose on asafoetida, get bits of coriander seed stuck in your teeth, and end up chewing on a raw potato…or you might find yourself marvelling at something approaching the golden yellow, crispy, succulent, sweet fragrant dish I discovered I’d made earlier. I’m told it had a hint of currywurst, but without the wurst, and suitable for vegans. You can serve it with rice, but maybe just a bowl on the side because it really doesn’t need much. Probably feeds four.

The Materials
2 onions, chopped into eighths
10 small (but not tiny) red potatoes, peeled
the larger half of a cauliflower
1 green pepper, cut into strips
6 cloves of garlic, maybe more
light olive oil
1/2 tin of coconut milk

ground turmeric
ground hot paprika
ground asafoetida
black peppercorns
cardamon pods
coriander seeds
fenugreek seeds

The Method
There are four things to do here, and they all need doing at the same time, so don’t do one after the other, do them all at once – be a whirlwind of culinary activity, impress your friends, post the pictures to facebook, show the world that you have produced something. Now, back to the recipe.

  1. we’re going to par-boil the potatoes and cauliflower here, before we roast them – that way the potatoes don’t take ages to roast while everything else burns, and the delicate cauliflower gets less rough handling; give the potatoes 10 minutes, then the cauliflower 7; when they’re done, cut the potatoes into roasting-size chunks (quarters or fifths), and cut the cauliflower into florets or attractive-looking chunks
  2. meanwhile, set the oven to 220C and get the other vegetables roasting; the onions and green peppers probably need a 10-minutes headstart, then add the potatoes, then the garlic (at least 5-7 mins later), and then the cauliflower – make sure the onion is properly cooked before adding the cauliflower, as the increased bulk will reduce the cooking speed; give the vegetables a stir every 5-7 mins so everything gets a little bit of oil and radiant heat (and add more oil if necessary), but always return the dish to the oven as quick as you can so it doesn’t lose heat and momentum
  3. meanwhile again, while the vegetables are roasting, get your spices ready: toast the coriander, fenugreek, and black pepper in a dry pan on a medium-high heat till they start to release their aroma and begin to turn golden – take care not to burn them; crack open the cardamon pods and mix the seeds in a mortar with the toasted spices and grind them, then add the other spices; sprinkle the spice mix over the vegetables, stir, and return to oven – I did this after having added the cauliflower, but you could do it earlier…probably not before the potatoes are in though, because you don’t want the spices to burn
  4. meanwhile again again, cook the rice; you could use the water the potatoes and cauliflower were cooked in for extra flavour and goodness
  5. finally, when the spices and everything are in and definitely cooked, chuck in the coconut milk, stir, and give it a few more minutes; that way you get a bit of sauce to go with your crunch