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Posts Tagged ‘Meera Sodha’

It’s about this time of year when purple sprouting broccoli arrives and saves us from the monotony of root veg. We’ve yet to be rescued and therefore had to use some imported tenderstem instead, which was fine, but definitely inferior to the local purple variety.

Wine Suggestion: We think this goes really well with Viognier. A richer, more aromatic white with a bit of phenolic grip as opposed to acidity and compliments the richness and body of the food. This wouldn’t work if the acidity was too high. A good, well-priced suggestion is the Cline Cellars North Coast Viognier, from a selection of well sited organic vineyards on the Sonoma coast in California. Well judged and avoids some of the OTT characters other Californian wines can exhibit.

Peanut Butter and Broccoli Pad Thai – serves 4

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 6 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp runny honey
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice

FOR THE TOFU & BROCCOLI:

  • 450g purple sprouting broccoli or other long-stemmed broccoli, put the florets to one side and cut the stalks into 1cm pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1.5cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 225g firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 250g flat folded rice noodles
  • rapeseed oil
  • 6 scallions, finely chopped
  • a handful of sesame seeds
  • a handful of Thai basil leaves, shredded (use regular basil if you have to)
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves, shredded
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Make the sauce by mixing the peanut butter, tamarind paste and honey in a bowl, then slowly mix in the soy sauce, lime juice and 4 tbsp of water.

Cook the noodles according the instructions on the pack, then rinse under cold water, drain, and drizzle with a tbsp of rapeseed oil. Toss gently with your hands.

Heat 2tbsp of rapeseed oil, over a medium-high heat, in a large non-stick pan or wok with a lid. Fry the tofu for 5 minutes, turning every minute, until pale golden. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes, then add the broccoli stalks and 4 tbsp of water. Cover the pan and steam for 2 minutes or until the stalks are tender. Add the broccoli florets, the sauce and scallions (reserving a few to garnish), stir to combine, then cover again and leave for 2 minutes.

Turn the heat down to the lowest setting, then add the noodles a handful at a time, mixing them in gently to coat with the sauce, then turn off the heat.

Divide the noodles between 4 bowls, sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions, then drizzle over some sesame oil and scatter over the herbs. Add a generous squeeze of lime and serve.

(Original recipe from East by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree: Penguin Books, 2019.)

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Meera Sodha’s daily Dal that she inherited from her mother. Nothing complex but very satisfying and like so many dishes, tastes better the next day. We served with rice, naan bread from the takeaway, yoghurt and mango chutney.

Daily dal – serves 4

  • 225g red lentils
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 6cm ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g tin plum tomatoes

Rinse the lentils in a sieve until the water runs clear then put into a deep saucepan with a lid. Add 600ml of cold water, then bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Cover with the lid and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes without stirring, until tender.

Meanwhile, put the oil into another deep saucepan. When hot, add the peppercorns and cloves and stir-fry for a minute, or until fragrant, then add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes, until golden. 

Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for another 4 minutes before adding the chilli powder, coriander, turmeric and salt. Stir well, then add the tinned tomatoes, crushing them with your hand, then cover and simmer gently for about 8 minutes. 

The tomatoes should look paste-like now with only a little juice. Add the lentils using a draining spoon, then pour in any remaining water that they were boiling in, a little at a time, or until the consistency is good. 

Cover the pan again and cook on a low heat for a final 10 minutes. 

Taste and season with salt and more chilli if you like. 

(Original recipe from Made in India by Meera Sodha, Penguin: Fig Tree, 2014.)

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We made this on the first of January. We don’t do veggie January or veganuary but after all the rich food of November and December we were looking forward to some lighter dishes and this felt just right; both elegant and light, but full of lovely layers of flavour and textures.

Wine Suggestion: serve this with an umami rich red wine, but one that isn’t too fruity and rich either. If you can plump for an older, good Barolo lucky you, but tonight we were still lucky enough to have Domaine Jamet’s Côtes du Rhône: 100% northern Rhône Syrah with depth and personality, plums and brambles, peppery spice and savouriness.

Shiitake pho with crispy leeks – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for shallow-frying
  • 4 banana shallots, thinly sliced (just use an onion if you don’t have shallots)
  • 5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 leeks, 1 sliced the other shredded into long strips
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, very finely chopped
  • 375g fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 6 scallions, very finely sliced
  • 2 litres vegetable stock (vegan if you wish)
  • 200g flat rice noodles
  • a large handful of fresh coriander leaves, shredded
  • 1 lime, quartered

You need a very big pot for this, at least 3 litres.

Heat the oil in the large pot and fry the shallots for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick, then fry for another 5 minutes or until starting to colour and stick.

Add the finely sliced leek, chillies and mushrooms, and stir-fry for 8-10 minutes, until softened, then add the soy sauce, half the scallions and the stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down very low and leave to simmer. Season to taste with salt.

Meanwhile, fry the shredded leek. Pour enough oil into a frying pan to come up to 1cm up the sides, then heat over a medium flame until very hot. Fry the shredded leek in batches, until crispy and golden, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the pack and drain.

To serve, divide the noodles between 4 large bowls, then ladle the broth on top. Scatter with the coriander, the crispy leeks, scallions and a squeeze of lime.

(Original recipe from East by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2019.)

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We adore spinach and dishes that are full of it, like this spinach, tomato & chickpea curry. Great served with rice or naan breads and some yoghurt. Couldn’t be easier!

Wine Suggestion: A dish like this loves medium weight Grenache based wines like Roc des Anges, l’Effet de Papillon rouge. A velvety, juicy, damson and raspberry flavoured glass with hints of spice.

Chana Saag – Spinach, tomato & chickpea curry – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500g baby spinach, washed

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir for a minute, then add the chopped onions.

Fry for 10 to 12 minutes or until starting to caramelise, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes, crushing them with you hand as they go in. Fill the tin a third full with water and add to the pan.

Cook for 10 minutes or until quite dry and paste-like, then add the chickpeas. Warm through for a few minutes, then add the coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Stir well to combine, then add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Cook for about 5 minutes or until the spinach is cooked. Serve with naan bread or basmati rice and some yoghurt.

(Original recipe from Fresh India by Meeera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2016.)

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Paneer, Tomato and Kale Saag

This is from Meera Sodha’s amazing veggie book, East. We have Meera’s Indian recipe books and we often cook the recipes she writes for the Guardian. This book has an Eastern, but not exclusively Indian, influence and the recipes are mouthwateringly good. We’ve noticed people have mixed reactions towards kale, if you’re on the fence we reckon this is probably the best kale-based dish we’ve ever eaten. We served with naan bread from the local takeaway.

Panner, tomato & kale saag – serves 4

  • 500g kale, discard the stems and roughly chop the rest
  • rapeseed oil
  • 450g paneer, cut into 2cm dice (if you’re buying 200g packs just buy 2)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp brown rice syrup (we used runny honey)
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk

Blitz the kale in a food processor and chop it very finely. Unless your food processor is huge you will need to do a few batches.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan, that you have a lid for. Fry the cubes of paneer for a couple of minutes on each side or until they have taken on a nice golden colour. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat another 2 tbsp of oil in the same pan and cook the onions over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the tin of tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until reduced to a paste. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt and honey (or brown rice syrup) and mix in well.

Stir in a handful of kale at a time. It will seem like you have too much but it will wilt in perfectly. Stir in the coconut milk, then bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Add the paneer to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes with the lid on. Keep an eye that it doesn’t dry out and add a splash of water if necessary.

Taste to check that it has all come together and the kale is tender. Remove from the heat and serve with warm naan bread.

(Original recipe from East by Meera Sodha, Penguin Books, 2019.)

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