Technically, a ‘balti’ means a bucket. But this recipe uses four spices to create an exotic twist to a store cupboard favourite. It makes a change to traditional beans on toast and also makes a great breakfast accompaniment to eggs. Serves 2 1 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil a pinch of asafoetida (optional) 1 small onion, chopped ¼ tsp ground cumin ¼ tsp ground coriander A pinch of chilli powder or 1 green chilli, finely chopped 200g can baked beans Heat the oil on a medium heat in a frying pan or small saucepan, then tip in the asafoetida, if using. When it crackles, put in the onion. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Tip in the cumin, coriander and chilli powder and fry for another minute. Add the beans, reduce the heat and cook for 1 more minute. Serve hot with toast, wholemeal pittas or on jacket potatoes.
Muhammara is a dip from Aleppo in Syria made from fresh or dried peppers, chilli peppers, breadcrumbs, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. the pomegranate molasses brings both tartness and sweetness to the relish. Muhammara is eaten as a dip with bread, as a spread for toast, and as a sauce for kebabs, grilled meats, and fish. Serves 6 3 red peppers or a jar of red peppers 50g fresh breadcrumbs ½ tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses 1½ tsp ground cumin 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed 50g walnuts, finely chopped by hand 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish If using fresh peppers, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Put the peppers on a tray and roast for 30-35 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are cooked and the skin is blackened. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling-film and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and seeds. Pat the peppers dry, and place in a mortar or a blender or food processor. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice, molasses, cumin, chilli and garlic. Work this with a pestle until well combined, but not so much that the peppers no longer have a noticeable texture. Stir through the walnuts and the olive oil. Add more pomegranate molasses and salt to taste the flavours will be quite intense and concentrated. Spoon the dip into a shallow bowl, using the back of a spoon to give it a wavy texture, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve at room temperature.
Dhoklas are steamed savoury snacks from Gujarat in western India. They are made from fermented gram flour or besan which is available these days from most supermarkets. Serves 2-3 350g gram flour (besan) 250g yogurt, whipped 1 tsp salt 1 tsp peeled and grated root ginger or ginger paste 2 green chillies, very finely chopped or minced 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp groundnut or sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing 1 tsp lemon juice To serve 2 tsp groundnut or sunflower oil 1 tsp brown or black mustard seeds A few curry leaves (optional) A few coriander leaves, chopped 2-3 green chillies, slit lengthways In a bowl, whisk the gram flour and yogurt together to make a smooth thick batter. You can add a little water if the batter is too thick. Mix in the salt and set aside for 4 hours covered with a lid. Using a pestle and a mortar, crush the ginger and green chilies together into a coarse paste. Add this to the batter together with the turmeric and mix well. Mix the bicarbonate of soda, oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add this to the batter and combine well. Take a square baking dish (10x10x5cm or 4x4x2 inches) that will fit into a steamer or a pressure cooker and grease with a little oil. Pour the batter into the greased dish and steam for 15-20 minutes or until firm and spongy. Allow to cool. Carefully remove the cooked batter from the pan and cut into 5cm (2 inch) cubes or pieces. Place on a serving plate. To serve, heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, if using, and heat until the seeds splutter. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the dhokla. Garnish with the coriander and green chillies. They can be served hot or cold with coconut chutney.
1x 400g can of chickpeas 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tbsp tahini 1 garlic clove, crushed 4 tbsp olive oil juice of 1 lemon 2 tbsp orange juice 2-4 tbsp chickpea water 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper ¼ tsp paprika ½ tsp chilli powder (optional) Garnish: black olives, paprika, 1 tbsp olive oil Drain the chick peas and reserve the liquid. Blend or mash the chick peas with the garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, chickpea water, ground cumin and chilli powder with the salt, if using. Add about 1-2 tbsp or enough of the reserved liquid to give a soft dropping consistency, not too runny. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika, significantly placed black olives and the drizzling of olive oil. TIP: You could use freshly ground cumin if you like (toasting the lightly in a dry pan before grinding will help to bring out the aroma).
Serves 4 250g fine or medium semolina 2 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil 1/4 tsp brown or black mustard seeds 4-6 curry leaves (optional) 1 onion, sliced 2 green chillies, finely chopped 60g petit pois or peas, defrosted if frozen 1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp lemon juice 1 tomato, washed and chopped 1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional) A few washed and chopped coriander leaves Heat a saucepan and put in the semolina. Stir well for about 5 minutes to roast it, But don’t let it burn. Its colour should darken only a little. Take it off the heat and set it aside. In another saucepan, heat the oil and add a few of the mustard seeds. If they start to crackle, the oil is hot enough so add the remaining seeds. Tip in the curry leaves if using and stir to combine. Add the onion and the chillies and sauté for about 4-5 minutes. Add the peas and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes. Mix in the salt. Then add 500ml of water to the mixture and then tip in the semolina and cook for a further 5 minutes. Mix in the lemon juice, tomato and the desiccated coconut, if using. and sprinkle over the coriander leaves. Serve with lime pickle.
Although edible olives are not indigenous to the Indian sub-continent, they are increasingly becoming popular in restaurants and shops in major cities of India. Serves 2-3 300g cauliflower florets, cut into 4cm pieces 5 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 2 green chillies, finely chopped 2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tsp turmeric ½ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground coriander ¼ tsp salt ¼ tsp garam masala 2 tomatoes, blended 1 tsp peeled and finely grated root ginger 10-12 black pitted olives Wash the cauliflower well in salted cold water. Heat the oil in a frying pan and lightly saute the cauliflower florets for 5-6 minutes until they are slightly browned. Remove from the pan and then add the onion, chillies and garlic, and fry for 7 minutes or until the onion is deep yellow and translucent. Add the cauliflower and fry for a further 3 minutes until light brown. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, and garam masala, stir and fry gently for 5 minutes. Tip in the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add 5 tbsp cold water, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and the olives. Serve hot.
Pakoras, sometimes called bhajis or bhajias, are batter-fried snacks usually eaten as a starter. The batter is made of spiced chickpea or gram flour that is gluten free. This flour is used to coat vegetables or fish to create a variety of fritters. This recipe is taken from the Easy Indian Cookbook. Makes about 24 200g/2 cups gram flour or besan 3 onions, sliced A handful of washed and chopped coriander leaves (optional) 1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed 1 green chilli, chopped or 1/4 tsp chilli powder 1/2 tsp salt oil for deep-frying, (I use sunflower oil) Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the onions, coriander leaves, if using, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, chilli powder and salt. Stir together, then make a well in the centre. Add 4 tablespoons water to the well, then mix with a fork until the mixture forms a thick stiff batter. If it appears runny, add extra flour. Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a heavy-based saucepan over a high heat or in a deep-fat fryer to 190C/375F, or until a small drop of the batter sizzles fiercely in the oil. Drop 1 tablespoon of the batter into the oil and fry for about 1 minute, or until it turns golden brown. Remove the fritter from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Taste the fritter and adjust the seasoning of the batter, adding more chilli powder, if necessary. Fry the remaining fritters, working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, if necessary. Remove any pieces of fried batter from the oil and return the oil to the correct temperature before adding each new batch. These fritters can be fried in advance and reheated in an oven at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot.