Thanks to Facebook I recently met up again with two friends from University who I hadn’t seen for years. Rachel and I shared a house and a filthy kitchen. Even back then we were both interested in food and cooking though we tended to skimp on ingredients and save our student grants for bottles of gin. We’d cook huge pans of pasta with a few olives, tonnes of garlic and a bit of courgette. Times have changed but we both still love cooking even though we spend more money and take a bit more care about it now. We’ve both got shelves full of cookbooks and cupboards full of weird ingredients. The only difference is that Rachel is a confirmed meat and fish eater who has never even thought about what vegans eat let alone cooked a vegan meal!
So when Graham (the other friend, and a vegetarian) arrived at her house for a short trip and a brillian reminisce, I was intrigued to see what she’d cook. I needn’t have worried. Not only was there soya milk and vegan marge in the fridge, but she’d cooked a great meal that the most experiened vegan would be proud of. We had carrot and coconut dhal, aubergine curry with tomatoes, ginger and fennel seeds, spicy potatoes, rice and chapatis. And all of it tasted wonderful. The carrots had been roasted so they provided a lovely sweet undertone to the dhal and a nice contrast to the gingery aubergine. There was even vegan chocolate ice-cream for dessert! Thanks Rachel, for making an effort, moving out of your comfort zone and giving us a great meal. I’m already nervous about the return trip!
I managed to get two of the recipes out of her, too!
10 carrots peeled and halved lengthways (I chopped them finer as I had BIG carrots)
2tbsp sunflower oil
1tbsp cumin seeds
2tsp coriander seeds
1 crushed garlic clove
2.5cm piece root ginger peeled and grated
400ml can coconut milk
25g coriander chopped.
Boil peas as per instructions. Roast carrots with 1tbsp oil in oven at 190degs c. Dry fry seeds for 2 mins then crush. Heat rest of oil, add spices, ginger, garlic, cook for 2 mins. Add all but about 2tbsp the coconut milk and 150ml water. Bring to a simmer, add peas and simmer for 10 mins. Top with carrots, rest of milk and coriander.
Aubergine curry with tomatoes, ginger and fennel seeds
150ml veg oil
40g ginger chopped
40g garlic chopped
2 green chillies finely chopped
2tsp fennel seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
1tbsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
400g can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1tbsp each fresh coriander and mint
Slice aubergines lengthways, salt and leave for 10 mins. Brush with oil and fry for 3 to 4 mins each side until nice and golden. Use a food processor to whizz up the garlic, ginger and chilli with a couple of tbsp water to make a paste. Put 2tbsp oil in the pan and add seeds, then the paste and fry for 2-3 mins. Add the turmeric, fry for 1 min then add toms, black pepper, 3tbsp water and half a tsp salt. Cover and simmer for 10 mins then add the aubergines and simmer for 5 more mins. Add the fresh herbs at the end.