Tag Archives: Indian

Aeroplane food – Victories of the vegetarian traveller

18 Jan

Man and Woman apologise for their blogging absence, we’ve been blog-free in Sydney and Melbourne over the past month. Ah. Tough. Life. Eh.

As a result, our first post back is related to aviationary food. Really, a revelation regarding food in-flight.

It takes four separate, ten-hour long flights to get from London to Sydney and back. Given the frequency with which airlines tend to feed (read ‘stupefy’) their passengers, that equates to about 426 meals. That’s 426 episodes of disappointment and confusion. This is one of the reasons Woman had not been back to Sydney in three years (sorry Sydney).

The one sliver of silver lining in the cloud as a vegetarian passenger, is that you get to be served first, feel all special and then wonder what’s not vegetarian about the chocolate cake the other omnivorous passengers get to consume.

We’d booked our stock standard lacto-ovo meals for the Korean Air trip, resulting in one meal which appeared to be anemic polenta coupled with potatoes and off-white broccoli and another which was pasta, full stop. So, with not a little trepidation, at Sydney airport last Friday we requested Asian vegetarian for our meals on our fourth and final leg. The theory being, of course, that we should help the Koreans play to their strengths, being Asian themselves.

As it turns out, ‘Asian’ for Korean Airlines is used in much the way ‘Asian’ is used by the British – that is to mean, the Sub-Continent. And Man Woman are not going to argue about definitions, particularly when Asians themselves choose to use this definition of Asian. And particularly not when the result was a triumph in airplane cuisine. Yes, dear readers, a triumph.

Why all airplane food is not Indian curries, little sachets of mixed pickle and warmed chappatis we do not know. All we do know is that we must have pissed off every single passenger around us with our vocal surprise and delight and what might only be called tastiness of the food in our plastic and tin foil boxes.

Is this really a review of airline food? I’m afraid yes it is, a little bit. But more it is a word of advice, even for meat eaters: Go Asian. Go Asian all the way. You’ll thank us.

All in! Bombay [potatoes] Express

23 Nov

Normally Man Woman don’t buy potatoes. So ignorant is Man Woman of potato culture, that we had to buy one of the pre-packaged 1kg bags of potatoes from the supermarket which has the ‘good for…’ list on it because we were too ashamed to ask our local green grocer which potatoes we need for what (incidentally, we needed potatoes that wouldn’t go floury or crumble).

As a result, we had a lot more potatoes than we two people would normally know what to do with. Man suggested a Bombay Potatoes, and as Woman googled what this actually was, we decided that the flavouring was too good to leave to potatoes alone. All in!

All in Bombay Express! (serves 4)

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 – 4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground chili
  • 1 cm piece of ginger finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced
  • 3 – 4 mid-sized potatoes (already par-boiled)
  • 1/2 C lentils, soaked and cooked
  • 4 leaves of rainbow Swiss chard (does Swiss chard need capital ‘S’?)
  • 1/2 C peas
  • 4-5 medium very ripe tomatoes
  • plentiful salt

Prior to everything else, par or totally boil the potatoes. Prepare and cook lentils.

Heat oil (about a tablespoon or two) in a large pan. When hot, add mustard seeds, then other spices, ginger and garlic. Add potatoes, lentils and peas. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes cooking until they reduce down slightly. Finally add swiss chard (or other greens) about 2 minutes before serving.

Keep tasting to adjust spices to own peculiar tastes.

Top with chopped coriander and yoghurt if so desired. Can serve alone or with naan or rice.

Estimated cost: £1.50 (got some really cheap tomatoes)

Musical accompaniment:  Afrocubism

Chai – or a great big hug from the Indian nanna you never had

4 Nov

Chai always reminds Man Woman of Sydney cafes, complaining about the poor quality, inevitably-dripping pots that chai would invariably be served in and comparing the various different versions of the Indian tea served in different cafes across the thin sliver of the inner west where we used to hang out.

Because chai is so uncommon in England – or if somewhere serves it, it’s often from a syrup or some such travesty – I’ve particularly enjoyed making it at home, especially as the weather gets cooler.

And, in the absence of a big fat Indian nanna to hug me during these darker months, I have chai.

Chai

  • 1 bag/tsp of black or rooibos tea
  • 1 cardamon pod, shelled
  • 3-4 black pepper corns
  • 1 -2 cloves
  • 3 small slices of ginger
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Milk

Cheats version

Put cloves, cardamon and peppercorns into a tea strainer, with either bag or spoonful of tea. Throw in cinnamon, ginger and honey. Add hot water and milk.

Proper stuff

Bring water to boil with the spices and tea to infuse. Reduce heat. Add milk, bring to boil again.

Pour into mug with honey.

Estimated cost: pennies.

The three-day curry

1 Nov

Lentil curry. Lentil. Curry. Well, it is a vegetarian recipe blog after all.

And Man Woman can’t apologise with sincerity. Curry is good. And this curry is like Jesus and the couple of loaves and fishes it can feed many and for a long time. Man Woman are a lot like Jesus.

As with curries, this is best left overnight to do it’s thing. Handy for weeknights, ’cause it’s basically like a readymeal when you get home. It lasted us two dinners and two lunches, but just to keep things interesing, we added different veg on the second day – also to make sure there’s still a lot of vitamins and crunch and to mask the fact that we’d just eaten the same meal for four consecutive meals.

The three-day curry (serves 6 -8, more with rice)

Spice mix

  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground asofetida
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 C dried lentils
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 cans of tinned, whole tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 head of broccoli (for the second incarnation)

Soak lentils for at least an hour. Half-cook in boiling water. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in large pot. Add spices to oil, stir for a little while, then add onion and garlic. When the spices begin to pop, add vegetables and tinned tomatoes. Bring to boil, then reduce and cook for another 30 minutes.

Leave overnight in fridge. Next day, either have as is or add coconut milk. Or you can always have it one day without coconut milk and eat it the next day with coconut milk. Coconut milk is the spice of life. We also added some fresh brocoli on the second day, but you don’t have to.

Estimated cost:£4

Musical accompaniment: A local reggae community radio programme which featured the DJ singing along to the songs at key moments

Aromatic coconut lentils in yellow squash with coriander yoghurt

7 Oct

I’ve been looking at those cute yellow squash in the grocer for a while with something of a longing. It truly is a cool vegetable and also, critically, a change from the zucchini and eggplant-heavy diet Man Woman normally enjoys.

But I’ve not cooked one before and, even though I suspect it’s much like it’s zucchini brother, I knew not what to do with it. So I turned to my longstanding food mantra: when it doubt, stuff it.

This coconut lentil dish is way too big to stuff into even two of these yellow squash though. So it’s a good dish to reinvent a couple of ways. Tonight it was stuffed into a squash. Tomorrow, reincarnated with a serve of quinoa for lunches.

Curry coconut lentils

  • 1 C soaked and cooked brown lentils
  • 1/2 C sweet corn
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black onion (nigella) seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 TBSP dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes

2 squat yellow squash.

Coriander yoghurt

  • 1/2 C plain yoghurt
  • 1/3 C chopped coriander
  • Salt, lemon and pepper to taste.

Heat oil in small pan. Once hot, add the curry seeds and cook over medium heat until they pop. Add lentils and dessicated coconut. Add corn and then the tomatoes. Cook for about 5 – 10 minutes, adding salt to taste, to make sure the veg have absorbed the light curry flavour.

Slice a bit off the base of the squash so that it can sit flat, then cut a slice  off the top. Hollow out the squash, leaving around a 1cm thickness of squash flesh all ’round and cook in an oven at 180C for about 15-20 minutes, until soft and has no bitterness.

Stuff the lentils into the squash shell, and return to oven for another 5 minutes.

Estimated cost:£2.45

Musical accompaniment: Classical music on BBC3.

Tandoori tofu, herby couscous and super-quick raita

3 Aug

Had very big plans of doing tandoori on the barbeque for Sunday dinner, but hanging out in a 16th Century beer garden (for real) meant we had little time or inclination to fire up the barbie for four squares of tofu each.  Couldn’t waste the briquettes.

Tandoori chicken is one of the things I have most nostalgia for. My parents and their friends discovered it circa 1996 (thanks Pataks), and it was thenceforth a staple at any family barbeque.  Ever since I gave up the bird, around 10 years ago, I lamented my lifelong loss of delicious tandoori. How cruel vegetarianism can be sometimes.

But lo, how wrong I was. Tandoori chicken thy have met thine match and it is called tandoori tofu.

Tandoori tofu

  • Block of tofu, cut into rectangles (around 1.5cm thick), then cut into squares (or whatever you want)
  • 4 TSBP Tandoori spice mix
  • dash oil (we used olive, but only because we don’t have anything else)
  • TBSP lemon

Herby couscous

  • Cup of couscous (we used organic spelt couscous – really yum)
  • Veggie stock
  • Spring onions
  • Herbs of choice – we had parsley and lemon basil in da house

Super-quick raita

  • Good few tablespoons of thick Greek yoghurt
  • Half a small cucumber, dicely finely
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Press the tofu – this basically involves putting the tofu on kitchen paper or towels and leaving a plate on the top for  a while (give it 10 mins at least). It removes the water and makes it less crumbly – particularly if you’re barbeque-ing.

Mix the tandoori spices, yoghurt, lemon and oil – tasting as you go. Smother the paste over the tandoori and leave it for a couple of hours.

Grill on the barbie or under the grill (broiler) for a couple minutes each side, while it’s cooking you can make the herby couscous.

Pour boiling water and stock over couscous, covering it and leave for up to 10 mins, until cooked. Essentially it’s like a foodie’s Maggi Noodles.

Mix the chopped herbs and spring onions into the cooked couscous. A bit of olive oil won’t hurt it either.

Et voila! Done. So quick and yet so fancy-tasting.

Estimated cost: £2.05

Musical accompaniment: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

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