Friday Food: Zan’s Chickpea and spinach curry

Good morning readers! Today we’re welcoming Zan with a fabulous vegetarian recipe for Spinach and Chickpea Curry. I can’t wait to try this one as I’m a huge fan of curry and I think it would be a great addition to the table if you were having a large group of friends over for a curry night and needed a selection of dishes too…

This recipe is one of my staples and a variation on a chickpea curry recipe that an old friend of mine imparted to me while I was at university. It’s changed a bit over the years but it’s one of the few things I can cook entirely from memory and it’s brilliant for cooking in bulk and storing as it freezes really well. I’ve written the recipe for 4 servings but it’s really easy to halve for 2 or double up for lots!

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon each of mustard seeds & cumin seeds (optional)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
½ – 1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chilli powder (or less if you don’t want too much heat)
1 and ½ heaped teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon tomato puree
Lemon juice
Fresh or dried coriander
2-3 big handfuls of spinach leaves

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan and add the mustard and cumin seeds (if using). Once the seeds start to brown and the mustard seeds start popping (you’ll want to put a lid on the saucepan if you do use mustard seeds!) then add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is just starting to go a nice golden colour.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and the chickpeas. Mix these in well and then add the salt, garam masala, chilli and cumin. Leave to cook on a medium heat for a few minutes then taste to make sure you’re happy with the spices – add more if you want at this stage.
  • Next add the tomato puree and a few generous splashes of lemon juice. If using fresh coriander then rinse, chop or shred by hand and mix in at this stage. For dried coriander I would use about ¾ of a tablespoon.
  • When the spinach is added is really personal preference – I mix it in after the coriander as I like the spinach cooked into the curry. Alternative you can add it about 5 minutes before taking the curry off the heat so that it’s only just wilted.
  • Cook on a low to medium heat for about 30mins, stirring every 5-10mins. If the chickpeas start to stick to the bottom of the pan then add a few splashes of water. Once you can squash a chickpea relatively easily (using the back of a spoon against the side of the pan is my way of testing) then it’s ready.

I usually serve this with basmati rice and some natural yogurt, but naan or pitta bread works just as well. Or even just eating it straight out of a bowl with a spoon on some occasions!

So, are you a curry fan? Or vegetarian perhaps? Either way, I’d love to hear from you with your Friday Food recipes, sweet or savoury, small bites or baked goods. I warn you now, next weeks is a baker’s (and chocoholic’s,) dream….

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Friday Food: Ottolenghi Barley Risotto

Happy Friday everyone!

We’ve got vegetarians coming for dinner next Thursday, and in honour of them I will be making Yotam Ottolenghi barley, tomato and garlic risotto.  This recipe is one tracked down after Mr C-S and I had been out to dinner, to a lovely restaurant, with a big group of people. Some of the guests we knew, some we didn’t.  One woman we hadn’t met before (our friends are mostly used to us) ordered a barley risotto, and barely touched it.   There it sat, looking creamy and amazing.  Mr C-S nudged me in the ribs.  I nudged him back.  Say it! He said. You say it! I said.  Finally, a waitress came and cleared the table.  Was there something wrong with your risotto? She asked.  No, said the woman, it was gorgeous, I’m just not very hungry.  Mr C-S and I watched as the waitress took it back to the kitchen.  He sighed.  All you had to say to her, he said to me in mournful tones, all you had to say, and then I could have tried it, was ‘are you going to eat that?’

A quick google the following morning turned up the following recipe on the Guardian website.  Now that I’ve made it quite a few times, I add in two small onions and am generous with the lemon zest and chilli powder, but I’d suggest sticking pretty closely to the set quantities the first time around.


Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil, plus an extra trickle at the end
2 whole heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled and quartered
750g fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
200g passata
½ tsp smoky paprika
⅛ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp picked thyme
4 strips fresh lemon zest
1½ tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
270g pearl barley, well rinsed in cold water and drained
Roughly 200ml water
20g chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
Black pepper
200g feta, crumbled roughly

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan and sauté the garlic quarters for about two minutes, or until golden. Add the tomatoes, passata, paprika, chilli, thyme, lemon zest, sugar, salt, barley and a ladleful of water; stir and bring the mix to a simmer. Cook over minimal heat for 50-60 minutes, until the barley is tender but still firm to the bite. You’ll need to stir it from time to time, so it doesn’t stick to the pan, and add water occasionally, making sure there is always just enough liquid left in the pot to cook the barley. At the end of the cooking, the mix should be runny enough easily to spoon into bowls.

Once done, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the coriander and some freshly ground black pepper. Add most of the feta, stir gently so the cheese doesn’t break up too much and stays in largish chunks, taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Spoon into serving bowls, sprinkle with the reserved feta and coriander, and drizzle over a little olive oil.

I promise that this isn’t nearly as fiddly as it may seem, and it will satisfy even the most ardent of meat lovers.  Or risotto-made-from-rice lovers, come to that.  It’s become a real healthy comfort food in our house.  What’s your best comfort food recipe? Share it with us in the comments!

Love, Gemma C-S

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