Wednesday 28 June 2017

Cookbook of the Month June 2017: Fresh India.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

This book has been such an inspiration for me.
It's a vegetarian cookbook by Meera Sodha called Fresh India and has made me realise how many different things you can do with vegetables. The best thing is that everything is spiced really well so none of the carnivores in the house felt like all they were eating this month was boring vegetarian food.

Let me show you what I cooked from each chapter:

Starters + Snacks - Baked Onion Bhajis: The first recipe that popped out at me when first flicking through the book were baked onion bhajis. My family love the traditional fried version and I had always wondered whether we could bake them like we sometimes do with spring rolls. This recipe will have you cook onions until soft in a pan before stirring them in the usual spicy gram flour batter. They're then dolloped onto trays and baked until crisp. The bhajis weren't as crisp as their deep fried counterparts but I suppose that's to be expected although they were tasty and lighter than usual. 

Starters + Snacks - Leek, Pea and Mint Samosas: I couldn't resist making these samosas from the snack section too. We've always been chicken and lamb fans when it comes to samosas and spring rolls, so it was nice to have a vegetarian alternative. The filling was really fresh on it's own but I ended up running out and added in grated Cheddar to bulk it out. And, what a good idea the cheese was. It complimented the leek filling so well especially with the crispy pastry.
I used the ready-made spring roll pastry sheets as it was what I always have in the freezer.
And, these were deep fried for the perfect crunchy bite. I would say that these vegetarian spring rolls are much lighter than usual. We had them as snacks and they were perfect.

Roots, Squashes, Tubers + Other Things - Courgette Kofta in a Ginger and Tomato Sauce: This curry was so good! I would never have thought have using courgettes to make koftas but they worked so well. The koftas were baked off and then added to a simple spicy sauce.
I love how they kept their vibrant green colour. Perfect for summer!

Roots, Squashes, Tubers + Other Things - Okra and Potatoes with Toasted Sesame Seeds: This was another recipe that jumped out at me because the main ingredients are two things I love - okra and potatoes. Jersey Royals are in season at the moment and so I was able to use them as the recipe said.
Even more exciting was the fact that I finally got my hand on some fresh curry leaves. I've not been able to find them for ages and was really happy to find them. After a quick Google, I discovered that you can easily freeze fresh curry leaves. Happy days!

Gloriously Green - Hara Bara Kebabs with Burnt Lime Raita: We love kebabs and so I just had to give these green ones a go. Plus I was really intrigued by the raita which is what I made first.
It's a simple technique - lime wedges are fried in a little hot rapeseed oil until golden brown and soft. The jammy, zingy flesh is then squeezed into yoghurt and seasoned with honey and salt.
As for the kebabs, they were made with potatoes, fresh spinach and peas.
Along with a few spices, of course!
Because of the binding potato, the kebabs held their shape really well.
And, were cooked off in a little hot oil until crispy all over. They were delicious but I bet they would have made a great burger too!

Aubergines / Rice - Autumn Pilau with Aubergines, Tomatoes and Chickpeas: I'm not the biggest aubergine fan so wasn't too keen on most of the aubergine chapter. But, in the rice chapter, I found this pilau that used aubergine and gave it a go. It was so delicious and well flavoured with lots of cinnamon, cumin and cloves. The aubergine slices gave a real sweetness to the dish which I found worked well with all the spice.

Salads - Fresh Matar Paneer: There are lots of recipes in the book that use paneer which is something else that I'd never eaten or cooked with. When I saw the picture of this fresh matar paneer, I had to try it out. It just looked so green and vibrant.
This is the paneer that I used. It was a hard paneer even though it says soft on the packet.
The paneer was sliced up into cubes.

And, was browned off in rapeseed oil.

The vegetables in this simple curry were green beans, mangetout and peas. Oh, and some really ripe and amazing smelling summer tomatoes.

I love how the mangetout plumped up as it was quickly boiled. This dish was more of a stir fry than a full on curry. We ate it with crispy parathas. I'm still not too sure whether I like paneer or not. I have another block in the fridge and am going to try it out again soon.

Eggs + Cheese - Eggs Kejriwal: This recipe was so simple that I could not miss it out! 

Slices of really good toasted bread covered with mustard, mature Cheddar and thinly sliced green chillies. Once the cheese has melted under a hot grill, top with a fried egg and more green chillies, if you dare!

Pulses - Lentil Fritters with Yoghurt and Chutneys: How pretty and colourful, right? We made these fritters (dai wada or dai ballay) for Eid Al-Fitr.

The fritters were made with white lentils which I washed and left to soak overnight.

The lentils were blended up with ginger and green chillies among other things. They were scooped into hot oil with a mini ice cream scoop and fried until crispy.

These fritters are usually dipped in water and then squeezed. But I kept them crispy as the recipe said.

For the chutneys, I made a red pepper and tomato  one.

And, a sweet and sour chutney with dates and tamarind.

Finally, Greek yoghurt seasoned with sugar and salt.

Fritters and chutneys at the ready!

Everything was drizzled over and the fritters were finished with lots of ruby red pomegranate seeds and bright green fresh coriander. Perfect for the Eid table!

Pulses - Moong Daal with a Garlic and Cumin Tarka: I couldn't resist making this daal today. We had such heavy rain today and all everyone wanted was daal.

I've never put moong daal in a curry before but my word, it was so good.

Of course, with any good daal, the tarka is where it's at. This one was jam-packed with butter, green chillies and cumin. Even though I halved the actual daal recipe, I still added in the full amount of garlic (plus a sneaky extra clove) because we love a good garlicky daal. Oh, and I made do with red onions as I didn't have any shallots in.

Pure heaven - on it's own as a soupy soup or with hot, buttered roti.

Rice - Tomato and Green Bean Sevai: I came across this rice noodle recipe in the rice section and thought it would something a little different. We all really enjoyed the dish which was very simple to make but packed a tonne of flavour with garlic, ripe tomatoes and a hit of fresh lemon at the end.

Breads - Cauliflower Cheese and Chilli Stuffed Roti: Yes! Another recipe that I just had to give a go.

Even though I made the biggest mess whilst making the filling.

It was well worth it though as the grated cauliflower was cooked with ...
... onion, cumin, green chillies and Cheddar!

The roti dough was split up and each one was ...

... rolled, filled ...

... folded ...

... and toasted on a hot pan.

We sliced them up like quesadillas and ate them dunked into spicy cumin yoghurt.

Pickles, Chutneys + Raitas - Mysore Lemon Pickle: My first time making homemade spicy achar pickle!
The lemons were cut into wedges.
And, steamed until ...
... just soft.
A tarka was cooked and was well flavoured with ginger, garlic, green chillies, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds among other things.
The lemons were tossed through before being to left to cool.
The zingy and spicy pickle made the perfect accompaniment with the cauliflower stuffed rotis.

Puddings - Bengal Baked Curd with Tamarind Berries: For me, this was the most unusual dessert that jumped out at me from the pudding section. 
The actual baked curd was made with Greek yoghurt, condensed milk and double cream.
The three were simply whisked up in a bowl.
Once divided between two ramekins (I halved the recipe), they were baked in a water bath.
For the fruity topping, strawberries were cooked with water, sugar and tamarind until ...
... soft and jammy.
Once the curd had chilled completely, on went the strawberries and a simple almond crumble.
Guys, I did not know what to expect from this dessert but it was amazing! So creamy, sweet, tart and decadent. My favourite recipe from the book by far!

Drinks - Roadside Ginger Chai: With today's downpour of rain heavy on all the windows throughout the house, ginger chai was most definitely on the menu.
Spiced really well with fresh grated ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, the tea was made with half whole milk and half water. The perfect cup on a stormy summer day!

Cookbook of the Month, previously: Summers under the Tamarind Tree // Cooking for Jeffrey

I hope you enjoyed my cookbook of the month. Keep me in your duas please!

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Spice Enthusiast
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