Vibrant Root Veg Curry With Turmeric Rice & Cooling raita

The colours in this dish are quite lurid. Thanks, mainly, to the turmeric, which, I feel, always lends an air of Technicolor to food. Plus a whole heap of health benefits.  So it’s turmeric all the way, in the curry and in the rice too. 

Of course, the beetroot is no shrinking violet when it comes to colour.  There are sweet potatoes and potatoes in here but beetroot barges in and tinges the whole lot with its deep pinkish purple tones. Glorious!

This healthy bowl of tantalising curry is topped off with a generous dollop of onion and cucumber raita, which adds a perfect crunch and a welcome cooling effect.

Vibrant Root Veg Curry with Turmeric Rice & Cooling Raita

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the rice

  • 250g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • Sea salt to taste

For the curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A couple of medium sized potatoes, chopped into approx 2cm cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato (or 2 smaller ones), peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
  • A couple of largish beetroots (or 4 smaller ones), peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • About 200ml of water

For the raita

  • 450ml plain Greek yoghurt
  • 90ml milk
  • About an 8 cm chunk of cucumber
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • A good grinding of black pepper

Method

  • Before you do anything, put your rice in a saucepan, cover with water and leave it to soak while you get the curry bubbling away.
  • Heat your oil in a large pan and add the cumin seeds and black mustard seeds, frying for just a few seconds.
  • Add the vegetables along with the rest of the spices and stir, cooking for about 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and water, stir again, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the veg is tender.
  • While the curry is simmering away, get on with the rice. Rinse it well after its soaking and then drain.
  • Heat the oil in a pan, which will hold your rice and when hot add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Then tip in the rice (be careful as the oil may splutter). Stir in the turmeric, chilli, salt and puree. Pour over enough water to cover the rice by about 1.5cm. Bring to the boil then simmer very gently, with a lid on, for about 10 minutes.
  • Once the rice has absorbed the water, turn the heat out and leave the rice to sit for a while. If it still looks really waterlogged but the rice is cooked, just drape a clean tea towel over the pan and leave for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Finally for the raita: Chop your chunk of cucumber in half and scoop out the seedy, watery middle. Chop the cucumber into small pieces, then mix all of the raita ingredients together.

Protein Packed Coconut Cod & Lentil Curry

If you need a protein fix, you need this fish curry… today. It delivers a triple whammy protein punch from the white fish, red lentils and vibrant green peas. So this would be your perfect post workout dinner.

The lentils are a really great way of thickening a sauce. I often use frozen fish in a coconut curry and the sauce inevitably ends up a bit too ‘liquidy’. The addition of red lentils sorts out that problem and adds more nutritious goodness to your meal.

If you don’t have curry paste handy then just use a tablespoon of top notch curry powder. I just happened to have green curry paste in the fridge but use whatever you have to hand.


Protein Packed Coconut Cod & Lentil Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • A bunch of spring onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely grated or minced
  • 3cm fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons red lentils
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 4 cod fillets
  • A couple of big handfuls of chopped spinach
  • A couple of handfuls of peas
  • 250g basmati rice
  • Juice of half a lime

Method

  • Before you do anything, soak your rice in cold water and leave it until the sauce is merrily bubbling away.
  • Scoop a tablespoon of the solid coconut from the tin of coconut milk and melt in a large pan. Add the spring onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Stir in the curry paste, then pour over the chicken stock, the rest of the coconut milk and the lentils. Simmer gently for about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add the cod to the pan and bring back to a simmer then add the peas and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. I like to break the fish up a little but big chunks are fabulous in this dish.
  • Meanwhile, rinse your rice well and cook until perfectly fluffy.
  • Just before you’re ready to serve, add the spinach and allow to wilt. As a final flourish, spritz over the lime juice and if you’re in the mood for a cheeky spice hit, add some finely sliced chilli.

Exquisite Asian Spiced Lentil Soup

This soup is a stunning bowl of healthy deliciousness. And a sparky change to a classic lentil soup. What’s more, it’s a doddle to make : just roughly chop your veg and fling your ingredients into a pan. No precision chopping required and no need to fry before bubbling away.

This would work beautifully with any root veg, I just happened to have a fat sweet potato and a rather pitiful, past it’s best, parsnip in the fridge. Well let me tell you I did that ancient parsnip proud with this smooth, exquisitely spiced soup.

I should say that the flavours here are merely a nod to Asia and by no means is this an authentic Asian soup. Just my humble hankering for something a little different for lunch.

Asian Spiced Lentil Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • About 4cm of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 parsnip, roughly chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, roughly chopped
  • A couple of sticks of lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 2 handfuls of red lentils (about a cup)
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 400ml can of coconut milk
  • Juice of one lemon

Method

  • Chuck everything, apart from the coconut milk and lemon, into a pan. Pop a lid on, bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Once the veg and lentils are tender pour in the coconut milk and simmer really gently for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  • Remove your lemongrass sticks. Now just blend your soup and get ready to delight your taste buds.

Veggie Burger Sky Scraper

Veggie Burger Sky Scraper

When presented with tall food, like this sky scraper burger, there are 2 types of people: Those who see all their dreams come true between 2 halves of a bread roll and those who think blimey how on earth am I going to fit that in my dainty mouth without dislocating my jaw. I’m a bit of both, initially delighted and then slightly concerned.

But the bonus about a burger like this, especially if you serve your stack in a brioche bun, is that once you’ve picked it up and taken your first bite it usually squishes down to become a much more manageable girth. And this beauty is rammed with so many healthy and delicious trimmings, it would be to your healthy detriment not to add them. Healthy greed, just the way I like it.

Use any kind of burger whether is be homemade, veggie, or slices of halloumi (and the general idea obviously works for chicken or beef burgers too).

Veggie Burger Skyscaper

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • Veggie burger or halloumi slice
  • Burger bun (brioche or sesame buns are perfect)
  • Houmous, a massive dollop
  • Tomato, sliced
  • Rocket, a big handful
  • Onion, a few rings
  • Cheese, a couple of slices (not too thick or they won’t melt)
  • Ketchup, or any sauce you fancy
  • Coleslaw, if you have it

Method

  • Cook your burger or halloumi according to the packet instructions.
  • Meanwhile slice open your bun and lightly toast the insides.
  • When the burger is almost ready, top with the cheese slices and return to the heat to allow a bit of melting.
  • Then just start construction of your delicious skyscraper stack: I put a large dollop of houmous on the base, followed by onion slices, tomatoes and a bit of rocket. Next comes the burger with its blanket of melting cheese. And finally, ketchup, a little squirt of sriracha and more rocket. Put the lid on the bun and squash it down slightly so that the whole thing doesn’t fall over on the way to the dining table.

Winter Warmer Apple, Date & Almond Porridge

It’s blooming freezing outside but joy of joys it’s been snowing. So before heading out into the winter wonderland a warming, hearty breakfast is a must.

This porridge is a triumph. Apple cubes partner perfectly with earthy, warming cinnamon. And all topped off with chopped nuts and deep amber maple syrup. Heaven.

This will have you warmed through and ready to face the chilliest of days.

Winter Warmer Porridge

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • A big cup of porridge oats
  • Milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 6-8 dates, chopped
  • A big handful of almonds, chopped
  • Maple syrup

Method

  • Pop your oats into a pan and pour over enough milk to cover them. Cook over a medium heat, stirring every now and then. Add more milk if it’s getting too thick.
  • Meanwhile chop your apple and pop them, along with the dates, into the pan so that they warm through with the porridge.
  • Once everything is nicely cooked, pour or dollop into bowls, sprinkle with the chopped nuts and drizzle with maple syrup.
  • Feel the warmth radiate.

Easy Breezy Salsa Verde

I’ve always relished a bit of Salsa Verde on a nice piece of grilled fish, especially fresh tuna or a perfectly cooked chunky white fish. Salsa Verde is outrageously flavoursome and has the added bonus of being a raw sauce / dressing, which means it’s quick and easy to prepare. You can even make this in advance of the meal you’re planning to serve it with to remove a little meal assembly stress.

This can easily become vegetarian by omitting the anchovies, but you’ll probably want to add in a pinch of sea salt to pack in the salty punch the anchovies usually bring to the party.

I have recently discovered that the anchovy-free version is rather delicious with scrambled eggs. I don’t know about you but I can sometimes tire of my usual brekky repertoire so a little va va voom from this saucy accompaniment was a welcome change.

Now you can of course pop all of the ingredients in a mini processor and whizz this up in a mere moment. But there are times when I’m right up for a bit of manual labour and at those times I like to plonk the herbs, capers, garlic and anchovies on a board, grab a sharp knife and chop chop chop until I have a chunky green salsa which can easily be mixed in a bowl with the oil and lemon juice.

My final note on this is that you’d normally see an astonishing volume of oil in a salse verde recipe, anything from 100ml upwards. My recipe, on the other hand, uses as little as I can get away with. For me that’s usually a good glug, or between 1 – 2 tablespoons. I advise starting with a glug or 2 then drizzling more in a little at a time until you have the right consistency for you.

If you have any left you can store it, covered, in the fridge.

Easy Breezy Salsa Verde

Ingredients

  • A small bunch of parsley, leaves picked
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint (about a tablespoon)
  • A couple of tablespoons of capers, drained
  • 1 plump clove of garlic
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained (leave these out for a veggie version)
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Olive oil, depending how oily you like things use anything from 2 tablespoons to 100ml+

Method

  • On a decent sized chopping board, chop the herbs, capers, garlic and anchovies until you have a coarsely textured pile
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice, mustard and olive oil

OR

  • Blitz everything in a food processor

Marvellous Ways With Salsa Verde

  • Spooned over cooked fish
  • Spread generously in a tasty sandwich or wrap
  • Drizzled over scrambled eggs or a nice cheesy omelette
  • Swirled with a flourish through soup
  • Also divine with a simple roasted chicken breast but I’d go for the anchovy free version here