Prashad Vegetable Handi

After the culinary delights in recent weeks of The Old Vicarge (Sheffield) & the ‘original’ Loch Fyne (…well you can guess where) it was back to the day job and my Veggie Indian exploration. My first three attempts, were by my reckoning a decent attempt but there were mistakes. Firstly, I failed to properly prep in advance……well I am a man. And secondly, I failed to read the Prashad recipe properly……like I said….I am a man. I decided on this latest attempt, to throw my manliness to the wind and do the job properly – just as Kaushy had gone to the trouble to explain

Some chill out music on (Karima Francis – The Remedy….in case you’re interested) and I prepped my ingredients ala Saturday Morning Kitchen (or Blue Peter if you’re of a certain age) see below…..A fairly therapeutic exercise, although i’m not sure it should take the 1 1/2 hours it actually took!!

Onto the cooking. A handi, I am reliably informed is a round, deep, thick-bottomed cooking pot, so why the wonderful wife said use a wok, I have yet to work out. The great thing about this particular dish is that after the prep, it all goes into the single handi (or wok….in my case) and there’s no multi tasking involved…phew. I caramelised onions after I had browned cumin seeds in oil. After this, I stirred in blended tomatoes, potato, carrot, some water (well 300ml to be precise) and left to simmer for 7-8 mins (why are these recipes so vague). I then added the now familiar masala paste (which I just adore – green chillies, garlic, root ginger & salt), turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin and fresh coriander. I stirred in red & green peppers, cauliflower and a bit more water (well 100ml exactly) and allowed some more simmering time……or as I have interpreted it….beer timeThe final element is to stir in the peas and after the cooking is complete stir in (Prashad) garam masala and leave to rest for 15 mins to allow the flavours to develop. Having tasted the curry both during cooking and after resting, I can report they really do…who’d have thought. The final result, by following the recipe and having everything properly prepped, was without doubt my biggest success to date and not by coincidence the tastiest curry I have made and eaten.

In recent weeks we have been enjoying these recipes with a nice bottle of the red stuff but the flavours are just too dominant to get the best from the wine, so this was washed down with my favourite Anchor Steam ale (San Francisco indy beer), which was altogether more complimentaryNext up…Ratalu (garlicky curried purple yam – whatever that is)….can’t wait…

Chole – Chickpea Curry

My first two dishes from the Prashad Cookbook were relatively simple affairs even for the novice cook that I admit to being. Wanting to push the boat out a little after my modest success, I was eager to cook Chole – a cinnamon spice chickpea curry that I had on my very first visit to their fab little restaurant in Bradford (& shortly Drighlington). This, of course, is the dish that propelled them into the homes of millions after Gordon Ramsay picked this one out as his personal favourite

The cookbook advises that the spice preparations make all the difference to the flavours of the finished dish. Having now made the dish I can report it also gives me an altogether different appreciation of eating it too. Coriander seeds, cinnamon, red chillies, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves & cumin seeds are all tossed in a pan & fried to create a garam masala for the upper flavour. Unfortunately, on my first attempt, I set the heat too high causing it to burn, having to re-prep & do it all again….not the best start on a tired Friday evening

Cumin seeds cooked with onion form a base note and these are fried separately (Note – 2 pans!) with tomatoes followed by ginger, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric and sugar. I thought this was a simple dish of essentially 3 tins of chickpeas & some other spicy stuff but it is a very sophisticated and complex dish, with layers of flavours

The chickpeas are boiled in a large pan (that’s 3!) & I think this is where my dish went slightly wrong. I added additional warm water (as instructed) to my boiled chickpeas that had been left in their cooking water when adding the garam masala and cumin/onion mix. Ultimately it left the dish overly wet despite the additional cooking time employed

The consistency of the dish failed to live up their restaurant standard but the taste sensation was most definitely on the money. A point worth mentioning here, is this is a super cheap meal to make. With tins of chickpeas 50p a pop or less, it is fantastic food for a low outlay. We also had half left over which we took ‘en-flask’ to our annual salmon jumping expedition the following day. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was 2nd time round, sitting by Stainforth Falls on a cold Saturday afternoon, with the chilli heat ‘warming me cockles’

Wahaca – Covent Garden

On a walk across London to collect our Paralympics Opening Ceremony tickets we, quite by chance, stumbled across a Wahaca. We had no plans for lunch, other than to try something new, so as soon as my son realised there were Churros on the menu we decided to give it a go. It was a bonus for us that they don’t take bookings as we were able to stroll straight in and were taken down to the brightly decorated basement seating area.

We have Thomasina Miers ‘Mexican Food – Made Simple’ Cookbook so I knew we were in for something spicy. The waiters were great at suggesting milder options for George though, or offering to put the spicy salsa on the side.

Because we wanted to make sure we tried lots of different things on our trip the Street Food part of the menu was ideal, allowing us to try several smaller plates of food, leaving room for something else later. I started with a beer and the boy had a freshly made lime and mint soda to wash down the tortilla chips with an excellent guacamole that we both loved. This must have been obvious to our waiter as he offered to refill our tortilla tin; we finished them off in seconds.

Next we had Cactus Tacos: Pretty damned spicy grilled cactus with courgette, topped with grilled cheese on soft corn tortillas. My favourites were the Chicken Guajillos and George loved the Taquitos, so much so that we had to try to recreate them at home. The boy got his Churros that came with a cup of strong dipping chocolate. I thought it was nice that the waiter said we were welcome to just come in for Churros anytime, no need to have a whole meal if that was all we fancied.

It’s a good place to stop off for something fresh and tasty for lunch and it seems that Wahaca’s are popping up all over the place as we saw one later at Westfield, just outside the Olympic Park. The Street Food dishes are all under £4 too, so it’s good value.

We’d definitely go again, not least because we didn’t take Ed, so he wants to join in on our next visit…perhaps then we can hit a few of the 100% Blue Agave Tequilas.