Lentil and Aubergine Curry (Indian #7)

While I love meat and I could never be vegetarian, there is really no need to make vegetarian dishes bland and boring. Lentils are full of flavour (and iron, so no need for that steak) and aubergines are the meatiest vegetable out there. Both make a healthy alternative to meaty dishes and, combined with some Indian spices, you have the perfect winter warmer.

This started as a lentil and carrot soup, until I realised I had no carrots and had to improvise. So please don’t judge me on the authenticity of the dish. It’s yummy.

Lentil and Aubergine Curry

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely or grated
2 dried birds eye chillies, chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
olive oil

1 aubergine
200gr lentils (I used green, but red perhaps will be more authentic)
2 tbsp tomato paste, diluted in some water
1 tsp garam masala
salt, to taste

200gr Total Greek Yoghurt, to serve

Fry the onions and the garlic in the olive oil together with the spices (chillies, turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, chilli powder) over low-medium heat, until soft. Add the aubergines and fry them a little longer, until they start to soften.

Add the lentils and the tomato paste and let it simmer over low heat. You might need to add more water as this is cooking since the lentils will absorb quite a bit. When the lentils are soft (about 40 minutes later), add the garam masala and season with salt.

Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and some warm pita bread.

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
King Prawn Puri 
Saffron Yoghurt with Fennel Seed Biscuits
Aubergine in Yoghurt
Heston’s Chicken Tikka Masala
Lamb and Spinach Curry
Red Onion and Pomegranate Salad

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Cherry and Yoghurt Cake

There’s been a serious amount of baking on this blog and in my house recently, but this weather is begging for a slice of cake and a cup of tea to get through the afternoons.

Recently, I was given a very generous amount of Total yoghurt to sample and I tried to think of different ways of using it up. It is lovely by itself drizzled with some honey and I’ve been having a dollop of it on top of a lentil curry (recipe coming) for the last couple of days, so now I thought I’d bake something with it. I’ve used yogurt instead of sour cream in Nigella’s Guinness cake before, but the chocolate and stout are quite overpowering and I wanted something simple to let the yoghurt come through.

I slightly adapted a recipe for a Gâteau au Citron from Orangette, leaving out the lemon zest and juice. I had a jar of some brilliant Greek sour cherries in syrup (spoon sweets we call them in Greece) and thought I could pour some of the fruit and juice at the bottom of my tray and cook the cake on top of it, flipping it over when cooked for a lovely caramelised topping. Instead of the spoon sweet you can just use whatever fruit in syrup you fancy, either homemade or from a can.

Cherry and Yoghurt Cake

Ingredients

1/2 cup Greek yoghurt (I used full fat Total, but 2% will do too)
1 cup caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup ground almond
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sunflower oil

3-4 Tbsp sour cherries in syrup (or other fruit you like)

Whisk the yoghurt, eggs and sugar together until smooth. Add the flour, almond and baking powder and combine. Finally, mix in the oil and vanilla extract and give it a bit of a whisk until smooth.

In a round pyrex dish, spread the syrupy fruit and add the cake mix on the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes to an hour (the original recipe said 30-35 min but both times I made it it was way too liquid after half an hour), until a knife comes out clean.

When it’s out of the oven, cover the dish with a plate and quickly flip the cake over. The top should be sticky and caramelised and the cake will have a lovely soft and pale crumb. Enjoy!

Burger Cupcakes

Cupcakes are awesome. And the only way to make them even better, is to do something silly with them. It’s been too long to remember where I first saw a picture of a burger cupcake (which, admittedly, looked much more real than mine do), but I absolutely loved the idea. And since I was invited to a kids’ themed (2)6th birthday party recently, I thought it would only be appropriate to make some.

Burger Cupcakes

For the buns:

Ingredients (makes 12 buns)

100 gr butter
100 gr caster sugar
100 gr flour
2 eggs*
1/4 tsp baking powder
a drop of vanilla essence

*2 medium eggs are roughly 100 gr – when I want to be accurate, I crack my eggs, weigh them, and then add the same amount of sugar, butter and flour.

This is just the standard cupcake recipe so proceed in your favourite way! I cream butter and sugar, and then add everything else and mix using a whisk, until the mix is homogeneous. If you’re using cupcake cases for these, you want some with smooth sides. Or just butter and flour the cupcake tin and forget about the cases. Bake in a preheated (180 degree) oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the burgers:

Ingredients (makes 12 burgers)

120 gr dark chocolate
90 gr butter
90 gr caster sugar
a splash of whiskey (or other booze you fancy)
3 eggs
60 gr ground almonds
2 tbsp flour

Melt the chocolate and butter in a pan, add the sugar and alcohol and mix. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and add them to the chocolate mix. Finally, incorporate the ground almond and flour. Spoon the mix into a buttered and floured cupcake tin (for 12 cupcakes). Bake in a preheated (180 degree oven) for about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. They will look tiny. They’re supposed to look tiny.

For the cheese slices:

Take a sheet of golden (yellow) marzipan, dust it with icing sugar and roll it out as thin as you can without breaking it. Cut 12 squares.

For the ketchup:

Ingredients

100 gr butter, softened
icing sugar, to taste
red food colouring

Whisk the butter with the sugar until smooth and soft. Remember that the marzipan will be quite sweet, so you might want a bit less sugar in your icing than usual. Add enough food colouring to make it look like ketchup.

To assemble:

Cut the (cooled down) buns in two. Pop a burger on the bottom half of the bun. Top with a cheese slice and spread with ketchup. Stay away from ex-McDonald’s workers who might have strong opinions about the correct procedure of burger-making. Enjoy!

On another subject, I have finally bought my own domain, so now you can find my blog at www.kitchen22.co.uk, if you don’t fancy typing that extra blogspot bit. Old links should hopefully redirect fine – please let me know if you notice something wrong!

Chilli Cool, Bloomsbury

Saying that Chilli Cool has been reviewed by many before is certainly an understatement. I was already well informed about what to order from this and this and this post. And I knew I would love it.

This is the kind of place you want to go with sharers. There are so many lovely dishes and you really don’t want to be stuck eating just one of them while staring at other people’s food!

The starters were cold, which was maybe a little surprising, but the Szechuan Chicken was very tender.

Even better was the Pork Belly in Garlic Sauce which was so thinly sliced and silky that it actually took me a while to figure out what I was eating. And somehow I mean this as a compliment!

The beans were brilliant, crunchy, charred, salty, with porky bits to add flavour. As an added bonus, you felt you were almost being healthy eating them.

I can’t actually find a picture of a dish I loved, the shredded pork. Maybe because I was too busy stuffing my face with it. But above is my real favourite, as expected, the Sea Spicy Aubergine. This was so awesome that I am still dreaming about it, a few weeks later. It was silky, sweet, spicy and resulted in a certain male companion sheepishly admitting it was his favourite dish. He seemed relieved when we told him there was pork in there too and tried to pretend he knew all along, but that’s high praise coming from him thinking it was a vegetarian dish!

High point: The aubergines.

Low point: Not many. When I ate a chilli?

The money: £12 with tea and tip, and we ate until we ached. Bargain.

Go with: Friends who like to share. Bonus points for liking tripe.