ArchiveApril 2006

We always have a very Cosmopolitan Group

The students clapped and cheered – there were even a few wolf whistles Aliona Mc Kinnon from Ukraine, Bright (Yu Long Bao) from LiaoNing Province, China and Agnes Stawosz from Krakow, Poland had just finished a command performance at the cookery school. We always have a very cosmopolitan group, the January course was no exception. There were 7 nationalities so there was a lively interchange of culture and ideas. Some students are total beginners when they come to the school others already cook well and are particularly knowledgeable about their own cuisine but unfamiliar with ours.
When one is away from home for a period of time, one craves comforting familiar food. Our foreign students seek out ingredients from their homeland and cook us lots of delicious dishes. The other students are curious to learn their secrets.
So I asked them to demonstrate some of their specialities to the other students and teachers.
Aliona was born in Uzbekistan and later moved to the Ukraine so she has memories of both cuisines. She demonstrated a variety of family dishes from both countries and a delicious carrot salad which she learned from her Korean aunt when she was a child. 
Bright comes from China, he too is passionate about food and delighted his fellow students with his friendly banter as he cooked.
Agnes who comes from Poland is also a natural cook and teacher and her food too was utterly delicious. 
Its such a joy to see the students demonstrate confidently. – “By your pupils you’ll be taught” – and I greatly enjoyed it too.

Korean Carrot Salad

Aliona McKinnon inherited this recipe from her Aunt Svetlana.
Serves 6

5 medium carrots
1 large onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
3 teaspoons chopped coriander

Grate the carrots, slice the onion and chop the garlic and coriander finely. Fry the onion in olive oil in a large frying pan until golden. Add the carrot and stir. Put this mixture in a bowl with the remaining ingredients, mix everything together and add salt and pepper if required. Serve as a starter or as an accompaniment to the Plov.

Aliona’s Oliv’ie – Russian Salad

Serves 10-12
5 potatoes
2 carrots
100g (3½oz) bacon or any other meat
4 medium preserved cucumbers (salted and marinated)
400g (14oz) frozen peas or 1 x 400g tin of peas, boiled
4 eggs, hard boiled
250g (9oz) 1 small onion
250g mayonnaise, about 1 pint thinned to a coating consistency with water
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Boil the potatoes, carrots (unpeeled) until almost cooked. Boil the meat until cooked. Cut the potatoes, carrots and meat into ¼ inch (5mm) cubes. Chop the onion and egg finely and mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Add enough mayonnaise to coat the ingredients. Taste and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve as a starter or an accompaniment.

Aliona’s Plov

In Uzbekistan everyone has their own recipe. This is Aliona’s way of making Plov.
Serves 8-10 

1kg shoulder of lamb, cut into 2cm cubes
4-6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 large carrots, cut into 3cm sticks
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli powder
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
Lots of salt and pepper
1 level teaspoon turmeric
1 whole garlic bulb
3 ½ cups rice, washed

Fry the cubed meat until brown in the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and carrots. Add the spices and chopped garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add enough water to cover, bring to the boil and cook until the meat is tender – about 15/20 minutes approx. Add the washed rice and 200ml more water and boil rapidly until the water evaporates. Sprinkle turmeric over the top and place a whole bulb of garlic in the centre of the rice mixture. Cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low. Use a heat diffuser mat. Cook for 30/40 minutes, by which time the rice should have absorbed all the liquid. 

Serve with the Korean carrot salad and thinly sliced onion rings.

Ekra – Vegetable Stew

This recipe is from Uzbekistan. Aliona’s father gave her the recipe.
Serves 15-20

300g onion, chopped
1kg aubergine, cubed
300g carrots, grated
300g red pepper, cubed
300g tomatoes, grated and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 chilli peppers, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil

Fry the onion until golden then add the carrots, pepper, chilli, aubergine and tomatoes. Mix a little water with the tomato paste and a little salt and pepper and put in a saucepan with the vegetables. Place the pan on the heat, boil and simmer until the vegetables are cooked. Taste and add salt, pepper, water or paste if necessary.
Serve as salad or as an accompaniment. Keeps in a jar for months in the fridge. 

Aliona’s Ukranian Apple Cake

Serves 8
3 free range eggs
200g (7oz) sugar
3-4 apples
50g (2oz) butter
30g (1oz) sugar
160g (5½oz) plain flour
A few drops of pure vanilla extract
Cinnamon to taste

20-25cm deep pie dish

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas Mark 6)

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a mixer. Peel the apples and grate into slices (Aliona uses the side of a box grater). Brush the deep pie dish with butter and spread the apple on top. Dot with butter and sprinkle a little sugar over the apples with a little cinnamon. Add the flour to the egg and sugar and mix gently. Add the vanilla extract and pour the liquid over the apples. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon. Cook in the pie dish for 30-40 minutes approximately. Serve with softly whipped cream.

Bright’s Stir Fried Chicken with Wild Mushrooms and Oyster Sauce

Serves 6
200g (7oz) wild mushrooms
1 medium carrot, halved, thinly sliced
2 thin slices ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced at an angle
600ml (1 pint) water
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle
1 dessertspoon arrowroot in water to thicken the juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
salt, freshly ground pepper, sugar

Bring the water to the boil in a wide saucepan. Trim the mushrooms and scald in boiling water for a few seconds. Remove the mushrooms from the water with a Chinese sieve (Zhao Li) and put the mushrooms aside with a little of the water.

Heat a wok on the highest heat, add the olive oil (for a Chinese stir fry always add the oil to a very hot pan.) Stir fry the sliced carrots, ginger, chopped garlic and chicken for a few seconds and then add the water, Chinese five spice and oyster sauce. After 2 minutes, add the sliced mushrooms and the spring onion. Toss well. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and taste. This dish is a salty Chinese stir fry.
Add the arrowroot liquid into the juice. Don’t add it directly onto the hot pan or the arrowroot will burn immediately.) Mix the arrowroot through the dish, the juice should thicken quickly and coat all of the ingredients. Turn off the heat and sprinkle a little oil around the hot pan and turn over again. This step is to give Chinese dishes a fresh and light colour.

Remove to a hot plate and serve immediately.

Agnes’ Pierogi and Uszka

300g (11oz) strong white flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoons oil
1 level teaspoon salt

Sieve flour into a bowl, add salt. Boil the water. Let it cool down a little. Mix egg yolk into the flour. Add oil into the hot water and pour into the flour. Mix it until it comes together as a dough. Cover and leave to rest for 15mins. Meanwhile make the filling.

Meat filling
500g meat (chicken, lamb, pork)
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic 
2 tablesp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the meat until tender. Chop onion and garlic. Cook it in olive oil until coloured (don't cover). Whizz meat in a food processor, add the onion, season well with salt and freshly ground pepper, mix it well.

Mushroom and cabbage stuffing
1 jar sour cabbage (sour kraut)
50g (2oz) dried mushroom (you can use Chinese mushrooms), chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 table sp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak mushroom (few hours before cooking) in cold water. Chop the cabbage finely Rinse and cook until almost tender. Cook mushroom till tender. Chop onion and sweat in olive oil until golden. Drain the mushroom and chop finely. Mix mushroom, cabbage and onion together, season with salt and pepper.

Roll dough to a thickness of 5mm, stamp out circles with a glass or scone cutter (6 cm). Use a smaller cutter for uszka.

Put a little stuffing in the middle of each circle and seal the edges, you should get half moons).

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, cook the pierogi or uszka for few minutes till tender. Melt some butter on the pan and fry pierogi until golden on the both sides. 
Serve uszka in the Barszcz. No need to fry.

Agnes’ Barszcz

A delicious Borsch like soup, quick and easy to make
Serves 6 approx

750g (1½ lbs) beetroot, grated
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin or caraway seeds
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
850mls (1½ pints) chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sugar

Wash and peel the beetroot. Grate it on the largest part of the grater. Chop the onion and garlic. Mix with the beetroot, add the vinegar, sugar and cumin. Leave to marinate for at least half an hour.

Bring the stock to the boil, take off the heat and fold in beetroot mixture, leave for half an hour (minimum). Strain through a very fine sieve. Heat it, season with salt and pepper add more vinegar and sugar if necessary. 

VERY IMPORTANT: DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL, (it will spoil the colour). Serve with homemade uszka. 

Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Sernik – a (baked cheesecake)

Serves 10-12
110g (4ozs) sweet short crust pastry
1 kg white cottage cheese (available from Russian shops)
250g (9oz) unsalted butter
250g (9oz) castor suger
7 free range eggs (separated)
100g (3½oz) sultanas
candied peel (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cream flour

25cm square cake tin
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas Mark 4)
Line the tin with greaseproof paper and line with sweet short crust pastry. Put cheese into food processor till it is creamy. Cream butter with castor sugar. Then add cheese and egg yolks (one spoon of cheese one egg yolk). Add chopped candied peel, sultanas, vanilla extract. Next whisk in egg whites and fold into cheese mixture. Next stir in flour gently. Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake in the preheated oven for an hour. Leave to rest for at least half an hour before serving.

Fool-proof food

Bright’s Celery and Cashew Nut Salad

Serves 6
1 head of fresh celery
600ml (1 pint) water
3 teaspoons salt
200g (7oz) cashew nuts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of sugar

Slice the celery diagonally into pieces the size of a cashew nut. Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Salted water preserves the colour of the celery.

Add the celery to the boiling water and immediately turn off the heat. Leave the celery in the hot water for 3 minutes.

Drain off the water. The celery should still be crisp. Heat the oil in a frying pan and swirl to coat the base of the pan. Add the cashew nuts and stir constantly for 1 minute taking care not to burn the nuts. When the nuts are golden and smell toasted add the celery to the pan. Toss well and season with 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of sugar to taste.

Serve hot or cold. 

This very simple salad is a completely delicious, fresh tasting and crunchy. Eat on it’s own or as an accompaniment to cold meats or warm chicken.

Hot Tips

Wednesday 26th April 2006, 7.30 Gourmet Store, Schull
Denis Cotter, Chef of the Year 2006, from the famous Café Paradiso, Cork, will be Cooking for Slow Food Members at The Gourmet Sore, Schull to celebrate the relaunch of Desmond And Gabriel Cheese made by Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry

Opening talk by John Minihane author and photographer.
Booking essential – booking call: 028 27613

More information on Desmond and Gabriel Cheese
Call Bill: 028 28593
Slow Food Information: Giana: 028 28231

Cookery demonstration by Darina Allen at the Garryvoe Hotel on Monday May 8th at 8pm to raise money for the families of the ‘Maggie B’ Fishing Vessel Sea-Tragedy Fund. Tickets €20 each. For details telephone: Ballymaloe Cookery School 
021 4646785


Slow Food Festive Foods of Easter

Recently we celebrated the Festive Foods of Easter with a Slow Food event at the Cookery School.

To get us into the spirit, a few weeks ago we had put some eggs in the incubator. Low and behold 21 days later little chicks started to chip and peck their way through the shells – such excitement, the students were out of their minds with delight. Most had never before witnessed the minor miracle of a chick struggling and squawking its way out of a shell.

For extra pzazz Rosalie made several Easter Trees and arrangements, and Mary Jo McMillin from Ohio made Easter Bunny biscuits to hang on the trees. First she decorated them with glace icing and psychedelic dragees, and then threaded little ribbons through them to hang them on the branches.

Slow Food events are convivial affairs so people were greeted with a glass of mulled apple juice or homemade lemonade.

Rory O’Connell, Mary Jo and I demonstrated a variety of Easter dishes.

Sweet succulent Spring lamb is an absolute must for Easter so we made two racks of lamb into a Guard of Honour and served it with Gratin of Potato and Mushroom and three sauces – Fresh Mint Chutney, Red Currant Jelly and a Sauce Soubise. We also made my favourite Easter Sunday pud - new season’s Rhubarb Tart.

Mary Jo made a wonderful batch of Hot Cross Buns, the dough for these needs to be soft and sticky so its difficult to handle but the result is tender crumb speckled with juicy raisins and sultanas and candied peel.

Easter is so much about eggs, since ancient times they have been a symbol of Spring rebirth and resurrection.

We saved the onion peelings from the school for several days and then cooked hardboiled eggs in boiling water with onion peels in the time-honoured way. The shells became a beautiful brown. With vegetable dyes one can produce a variety of colours but we often resort to magic markers to decorate the eggs that are laid by the hens on Good Friday.

On Easter Sunday our hens lay gaily decorated eggs with the children’s and grandchildren’s names, so there’s wild excitement collecting the eggs for breakfast.

At the Slow Food Event we also made Easter Egg nests, so easy with melted chocolate and rice krispies and little chocolate speckled eggs

Mary Jo then made some more grown up Easter meringue nests and filled them with a bitter chocolate mousse.

We made lots of Penny’s Easter buns and iced them with a lemon icing. The kiddies ones had mini eggs on top and the grown up ones were decorated with handmade crystallized primroses and violets – how adorable is that.

Finally, the piece de resistance, a Simnel Cake. Our traditional Easter treat – a rich fruit cake with a thick layer of almond paste in the centre. The cake is also iced with almond paste and decorated with eleven balls of marzipan which represent the 11 apostles, Judas who betrayed Jesus is not represented on the cake.

The whole cake is then glazed with egg yolk and toasted. We ate it while it was still warm. Later we laid out all our festive foods on a long table in the conservatory and had a delicious afternoon tea.

Happy Easter.

For details of Slow Food Ireland – visit  or  

Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake is a traditional Easter cake. It has a layer of almond paste baked into the centre and a thick layer of almond icing on top. The 11 balls represent 11 of the 12 apostles - Judas is missing because he betrayed Jesus.
8 ozs (225g) butter
8 ozs (225g) pale, soft brown sugar
6 eggs, preferably free range
10 ozs (285g) white flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 ½ fl ozs (35ml) Irish whiskey
12 ozs (340g) best quality sultanas
12 ozs (340g) best quality currants
12 ozs (340g) best quality raisins
4 ozs (110g) cherries
4 ozs (110g) home made candied peel
2 ozs (55g) whole almonds
2 ozs (55g) ground almonds
Rind of 1 lemon
Rind of 1 orange
1 large or 2 small Bramley Seedling apples, grated

Almond Paste

1 lb (450g) ground almonds
1 lb (450g) castor sugar
2 small eggs
A drop of pure almond essence
2 tablesp. (50ml) Irish whiskey

Line the base and sides of a 9 inch (23cm) round, or a 8 inch (20.5cm) square tin with brown paper and greaseproof paper.

Wash the cherries and dry them. Cut in two or four as desired. Blanch the almonds in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, rub off the skins and chop them finely. Mix the dried fruit, nuts, ground almonds and grated orange and lemon rind. Add about half of the whiskey and leave for 1 hour to macerate.

Next make the almond paste.

Sieve the castor sugar and mix with the ground almonds. Beat the eggs, add the whiskey and 1 drop of pure almond essence, then add to the other ingredients and mix to a stiff paste. (You may not need all the egg). Sprinkle the work top with icing sugar, turn out the almond paste and work lightly until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4.

Cream the butter until very soft, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs and add in bit by bit, beating well between each addition so that the mixture doesn't curdle. Mix the spice with the flour and stir in gently. Add the grated apple to the fruit and mix in gently but thoroughly (don't beat the mixture again or you will toughen the cake).

Put half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin, roll about half of the almond paste into an 8½ inch (21.5cm) round. Place this on top of the cake mixture in the tin and cover with the remaining mixture. Make a slight hollow in the centre, dip you hand in water and pat it over the surface of the cake: this will ensure that the top is smooth when cooked. Cover the top with a single sheet of brown paper. 

Put into the preheated oven; reduce the heat to 160C/325F/regulo 3 after 1 hour. Bake until cooked, 3-3½ hours approx., test in the centre with a skewer - it should come out completely clean. Pour the rest of the whiskey over the cake and leave to cool in the tin. 

NOTE: When you are testing do so at an angle because the almond paste can give a false reading.

Next day remove the cake from the tin. Do not remove the lining paper but wrap in some extra greaseproof paper and tin foil until required.

When you wish to ice the cake, roll the remainder of the almond paste into a 9 inch (23cm) round. Brush the cake with a little lightly beaten egg white and top with the almond paste. Roll the remainder of the paste into 11 balls. Score the top of the cake in 1½ inch (4cm) squares or diamonds. Brush with beaten egg or egg yolk, stick the ‘apostles’ around the outer edge of the top, brush with beaten egg. Toast in a preheated oven 220C/425F/regulo 7, for 15-20 minutes or until slightly golden, Decorate with an Easter Chicken. Cut while warm or store for several weeks when cold.

NB: Almond paste may also be used to ice the side of the cake. You will need half the almond paste again.

This cake keeps for weeks or even months, but while still delicious it changes both in texture and flavour as it matures.

Mary Jo’s Meringue Nests with Dark Chocolate Mousse

4fl oz (125ml) egg whites (4 eggs)
6oz (175g) icing sugar
For 8 nests

Put the egg white and sieved icing sugar into the spotlessly clean dry bowl of a food mixer. Whisk for 6 to 8 minutes or to stiff peaks.

Line a baking tray with silicone paper (Bakewell) and divide meringue into 8 large blobs on lined tray. Pipe or shape into 4 inch (10cm) nests using back of a small spoon. Bake in a 150C/300F/gas 2 oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 100C/200F/gas ¼ and bake until crisp. Turn off heat and allow to cool in oven. Slip nests onto serving platter.

Chocolate Mousse

6oz (175g) dark chocolate
3fl oz (75ml) brewed coffee
1 tablespoon rum or other liqueur
6fl oz(160ml) heavy cream

Place chocolate, coffee and rum in a pyrex bowl and set over saucepan of simmering water. Turn off heat and allow chocolate to melt. Stir liquid into melted chocolate and remove bowl from saucepan. Allow to cool to room temperature. To hasten cooling, place bowl over basin of ice water.

Whip cream to soft peaks and fold into cooled liquid chocolate. Place rounded dollop of chocolate mousse in each nest. Shave a little dark chocolate over tops using a vegetable peeler and a block of chocolate.
Refrigerate overnight or for a few hours.

Before serving decorate each nest with a circle of whipped cream. Top with a tiny Easter fluffy chick if desired.

Pennys Easter Buns with Crystallised Primroses or Violets or Mini Eggs

If you have just one oven you may need to make the cupcakes in three separate batches. Depending on how the cup cakes are decorated, this can be any occasion, a wedding cake, christening, anniversary, children’s party, sports day celebration ….
Makes 36

1lb (450g) butter (at room temperature)
1lb (450g) caster sugar
1lb (450g)) self-raising flour
6 large eggs preferably free-range and organic
6 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.

Lemon Icing: (makes enough for 12 cupcakes)

4oz (110g) icing sugar
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 muffin trays lined with 12 muffin cases each.

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5.

Put all ingredients except milk into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Scrape down sides, then add milk and whizz again.
Divide mixture between the cases in the muffin tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 –20 minutes or until risen and golden. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

To finish:

Make the lemon icing:
Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon rind and enough lemon juice to make a softish icing.
Decorate the buns with lemon icing and crystallized flowers or mini eggs.
Arrange in a pyramid on 2 or 3 cup cake stands or on a perspex cake stand.

To make Crystallized Flowers

Use fairly strong textured leaves, the smaller the flowers the more attractive they are when crystallized eg. primroses, violets.

The castor sugar must be absolutely dry, one could dry it in a low oven for about 2 hour approx.

Break up the egg white slightly with a fork. Using a child's paint brush it very carefully over each petal and into every cervice. Pour the castor sugar over the flower with a teaspoon, arrange the flower carefully on bakewell paper so that it has a good shape. Allow to dry overnight in a warm dry place, e.g. close to an Aga or over a radiator. If properly crystallized these flowers will last for months, even years, provided they are kept dry. We store them in a pottery jar or a tin box.

When you are crystallizing flowers remember to do lots of leaves also so one can make attractive arrangements - e.g. mint, lemon balm, wild strawberry, salad burnet or marguerite daisy leaves etc. 

Foolproof Food

Easter Egg Nests

Makes 24
4ozs (110g) Rice krispies
6ozs (175g) dark Chocolate
72 mini eggs

cup cake papers or ring moulds
Put the chocolate in a pyrex bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Bring just to the boil, turn off the heat and allow to melt in the bowl. Stir in the rice krispies.

Spoon into cup cake cases. Flatten a little and make a well in the centre. Fill with three speckled chocolate mini eggs. Allow to set. 

Hot Tips

Tasty Tipp-

Fabulous Food Fair in Co Tipperary – TIPP FM Food Fair at Thurles Greyhound Stadium on Sunday 21st May. This is the third Tipp Fm Food Fair and is being organized in association with Tipperary Leader. The fair will feature a unique showcase of enterprising food producers from all over Tipperary and nationwide with a whole array of exotic tastes to experience. To book a stand at this event contact Pam at 067-44466 or Noreen 087-2795900 or Geraldine 087 2523215 immediately. 

Tipperary LEADER Group devised a competition to create awareness of local food produce available in the county, amongst the youth in the Tipperary LEADER group area and inform them of the health, economic, environmental and wider societal benefits of eating local produce. They held The Tipperary Schools Local Food Competition – South Tipperary IFA sponsored the prizes and the final was presented in the format of ‘The Restaurant’ Programme on RTE. Judging was a deliciously difficult process. As well as generous monetary prizes the finalists were offered the opportunity of undertaking paid work experience in a catering establishment in their own area.

All competitors had their entries included in the Tipperary Schools Local Food Cookery Book which will be distributed to secondary schools throughout the area. The super little book contains an outline of the benefits of local food based recipes and a countywide contact list of local food producers and markets in Tipperary. 

Other counties please copy!

Visiting Belfast ?

Check out James Street South Restaurant at 21 James St. within walking distance of Belfast City Centre and its attractions. Fresh simple cuisine using the best of local produce – Lunch Monday to Saturday 12.00-2.45, dinner Monday to Saturday 5.45 – 10.45 and Sunday 5.30-9.00 

Tel 02890 434310

Irish Cider Industry –

The majority of the employment within the Irish cider industry is in the South –East, over 500 people are employed in the industry. Over 25% of the entire apple harvest in Ireland is used in cider production. The industry absorbs the entire national crop of cull apples and actively promotes the development of apple orchards as a viable form of farm enterprise.

India’s Vegetarian Cooking by Monisha Bharadwaj

Every now and then I come across a food writer who really excites me. I have just discovered an Indian cook called Monisha Bharadwaj. I should have known about her earlier, because she has already written several award-winning, books ‘Indian in 6’, ‘Stylish Indian in Minutes’, ‘The Indian Kitchen’. By sheer coincidence there was a review copy of her new book ‘India’s Vegetarian Cooking’ on my desk on my return from India. I quickly flicked through the pages and was immediately gripped – its my kind of food. The majority of people in India are vegetarians and so India is blessed with the most imaginative and tasty vegetarian cuisines in the world, infinitely varied from region to region. Travelling around India as a child, Monisha was introduced to the staggering variety of Indian cuisine: aged six, she had sampled Gujarai thali in Rajkot, by eight she was familiar with the tandoori dishes of Amritsar and by twelve the family had covered most of South India with its hot Kanjeevaram idlis and chutneys. Growing up in cosmopolitan Mumbai, she had the opportunity to sample (and cook) food from all over India.

Buy this Book from Amazon

Monisha lovingly guides us through the subleties of regional Indian cuisine using simple, delectable vegetarian recipes. She illustrates the regional differences between the diverse corners of India and links the cultural, religious and horticultural detail to the recipes. There are notes on choosing chillies for heat and for flavour, on different varieties of rice or lentils, and on the spices used in quintessential Indian vegetarian cooking. 

Indian cuisine is one of the most popular forms of cooking in the world today but, as Monisha shows, the myriad regional varieties of healthy and exotic recipes have yet to be discovered by many Western kitchens. The history, tradition and ritual associated with food – all so essential a part of Indian life – come alive in the comprehensive celebration of India’s vegetarian fare. 

From the finest Gujarati thalis to the choicest tandoori-cooked foods in the north and the steaming hot idlis and chutneys of the south. From the west comes a stunning array of fresh vegetables and from the east delicious sweets good enough to tempt even the most ardent calorie counter.

Encompassing the entire range of Indian cooking, from Dal Bukhura (Black Beans Cooked in Butter and Cream) in the North, to Kirla Ghassi (Bamboo Shoots in Coconut Milk) in the South, via everything from chapattis to chutneys, this is an inexhaustible guide. Whether you want a snack, a quick lunch or a lavish meal this book will bring a sense of adventure to your kitchen.

Here are some recipes from India’s Vegetarian Cooking by Monisha Bharadwaj
Published by Kyle Cathie

Buy this Book from Amazon

Green Peas with Cumin and Ginger

- Vatana Bhaaji
This a fresh looking and great tasting stir-fry. You could fill into wraps, add a few sliced tomatoes and eat for lunch. Or sprinkle a bit of coconut on top for variety and also stir in a few spoonfuls of Greek yoghurt for an instant summer salad.
Serves 4

2 tablesp sunflower oil
½ teasp cumin seeds
300g (11oz) green peas
½ teasp. turmeric powder
2 fresh green chillies, slit down the middle but kept whole with the stalk
Pinch of sugar
2cm (¾ inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled

Heat the oil in a kadhai or saucepan and add the cumin seeds.
As they sizzle, add the green peas and stir. Sprinkle in the turmeric and add the green 
chillies. Stir for 1 minute.
Pour in a couple of tablespoons of water, add the sugar and salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook without a lid until the peas are soft and done.
Remove from the heat, grate the ginger on top and gently fold it in with a wooden spoon.
Serve warm.

Sweet Star Fruit Preserve – karambal ka murabba

Preserve and pickle-making are traditional skills passed down from mother to daughter. Monisha remembers her grandmother making a variety of mango preserves every summer – hot, sweet and salty. This star fruit preserve can be stored for about a month in the fridge.
Serves 4

2 large juicy star fruits (carambola), sliced
100g (3½ oz) sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of saffron strands

Put the star fruit with half the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan. Pour in 150ml (5fl.oz) water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the fruit is tender but holds its shape. Strain the fruit out of the syrup and reserve.

Add in the remaining sugar to the cooking liquor in the pan and cook until it becomes a syrup of single thread consistency. Test this by putting a drop of syrup on a plate and dabbing it with your finger – it should feel sticky and thick.

Add the lemon juice, saffron and cooked fruit to the syrup and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cool completely and store in a clean, airtight glass in the fridge.

French Beans with Mustard – farasbeechi bhaji
This stir-fry is from Maharashtra. The beans must be chopped quite finely to get the best flavour – you could use runner beans equally well. Cooking without a lid on the pan keeps the beans green and fresh looking.
Serves 4

2 tablesp. sunflower oil
1 teasp black mustard seeds
½ teasp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
300g (11oz) French beans, finely chopped
1 tablesp lemon juice
3 tablesp desiccated coconut

Heat the oil and add in the mustard seeds. As they pop, add the cumin and onion. Stir and fry until the onion is soft. 
Add the French beans and salt. Pour in a few tablespoons of water and cook uncovered until the beans are tender.
Take off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and serve hot, sprinkled with the coconut.

Salted lassi with ginger – adrak ki lassi

This is a wonderful drink in the summer. Ayurveda, the Indian system of holistic health, suggests that ginger is good for stimulating the appetite. It is also called ‘maha aushadhi’ or great medicine because it has so many health properties. It is best to peel ginger lightly: the essential oil to which it owes its efficacy lies just beneath the skin.
Serves 4

1 teasp cumin seeds, dry toasted and crushed in a mortar
300ml (10 fl.oz) cold water
200g (7oz) natural yoghurt
1 teasp finely grated fresh ginger

Combine all the ingredients, whisk well and serve chilled.

Indian Rice Pudding – chaaval ki kheer

Kheer is a generic term given to puddings that resemble creams. They can be made with nuts or fruit and always have a milk component. They are considered food for the gods. Rice kheer is made all over India and this is the northern version. In the south, cooks add slivers of coconut. Broken basmati rice is available commercially.
Serves 4

150g (5oz) broken basmati rice (this gives a better, sticky texture to the pudding)
600ml (1 pint) full fat milk
4 tablesp ground almonds
150ml (5fl.oz) evaporated milk
Sugar to taste
2 tablesp chopped pistachio nuts
½ teasp powdered cardamom

Bring the rice to the boil with the milk in a heavy pan, then allow to simmer for 1 hour or until mushy. Mash the rice roughly with a whisk while still on the heat.
Blend the ground almonds into the evaporated milk and add to the rice. Stir until thick and creamy.
Add the sugar and pistachios. Sprinkle over the cardamom powder and stir well. Serve chilled or warm, depending on the weather; delicious warm on a winter’s evening.

Spiced Turnips – shalgam masala

Turnips are commonly used in the north, either in stir-fries or pickles.
Serves 4

2 tablesp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teasp ginger-garlic paste, see below
2 fresh green chillies, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 teasp cumin powder
1 teasp coriander powder
½ teasp turmeric powder
300g (11oz) turnips, peeled and diced
1 teasp jaggery or brown sugar

Finely chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Heat the oil in a kadhai or heavy-bottomed pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the ginger-garlic paste and the chillies.
Add the tomatoes, the spice powders and salt. Stir until well blended.
Mix in the turnips. Add about 150ml (5fl.oz) hot water and stir well.
Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for about 20 minutes until the turnips are cooked.
Stir in the jaggery or sugar, lightly mashing the turnips as you go.
Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve the turnips piping hot.

Ginger-garlic paste
These are almost always used together in Indian cooking. 
Take equal quantities of each and whiz in a blender until smooth. 
You could make a big batch and freeze in thin sheets between layers of plastic, but make sure to put in containers away from other food in your freezer. Then break off a piece when you need it and add straight to the pan.

Cauliflower and Potatoes in spices – aloo gobi

This combination of cauliflower and potato is common all over India but in the Punjab, it is quite a speciality, served with a roti and a lentil dish.
Serves 4

3 tablesp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, sliced
½ teasp ginger-garlic paste (see Spiced Turnip recipe)
2 fresh green chillies, chopped
150g (5oz) potatoes, peeled and cubed
100g (3½ oz) fresh tomatoes, chopped
150g (5oz) cauliflower, washed and cut into florettes
½ teasp turmeric powder
1 teasp garam masala powder

Heat the oil in a kadhai or heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onion and fry until soft. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a few seconds.

Add the chillies and the potatoes. Fry for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking. Add the tomatoes and allow them to soften.
Tip in the cauliflower, turmeric, garam masala powder and salt. Mix well. Reduce the heat and cook, adding a few spoonfuls of water if it begins to stick to the pan. When the vegetables are completely done, in about 20 minutes, remove from the heat and serve.

Note: You could cook the vegetables for a little less time and have them hold their shape if you prefer

Foolproof Food

Cucumber and Yogurt Raita

This cooling relish is good served with spicy food.
¼ medium sized cucumber
½ tablesp. onion, finely chopped 
½ rounded teasp. salt
½-1 ripe tomato, diced
1 tablesp. chopped coriander leaves, or ½ tablesp. parsley and ½ tablesp. mint 
¼ pint (150ml) plain yogurt
½ teasp. ground cumin seed

Peel the cucumber if you prefer, cut in half and remove the seeds then cut into ¼ inch (5mm) dice. Put this into a bowl with the onion, sprinkle with salt and allow to degorge for 5-10 minutes. Drain, add the diced tomato the chopped coriander or parsley and mint to the yogurt. Heat the cumin seeds, crush lightly and add to the raita, taste and correct seasoning. Chill before serving.

Hot Tips 

Ballincollig Farmers Market – every Wednesday in the Village Shopping Centre Ballincollig from 10-2.30

Euro-Toques Small Food Initiative-
Over the past two years Euro-Toques Ireland have coordinated the Small Food Initiative; a project which aimed to bring small food producers and chefs from the border and cross border region together in the hope that they would establish contact and potentially supply links. The project is funded by the Irish Cross Border Area Interreg through the Interreg 111A Programme Ireland/Northern Ireland -  

Café Now open at Stephen Pearce Gallery, Shanagarry, Co Cork
10-5 Monday to Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday – serving morning coffee, lunches, afternoon tea– delicious home baking. 021-4646807

Inn by the Harbour, Ballycotton, Co Cork – chef Eugene Bellard is doing Pub food with a twist – all home cooked using local produce including fresh fish from the harbour – daily specials – lunch 12.30-3.30 Monday – Saturday, Dinner 6.30-9.00 Thursday, Friday and Saturday – open Sunday 12.30-6.30 - booking advisable. Tel 021-4646768
Bed and breakfast also available.

Ryans on the Mall, Riverside Way, Midleton– open 8.30-6 Monday to 
Saturday – breakfast, lunch, snacks…Tel 021-4639960


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