Tarka Dhal & Homemade Vegan Naan

Lentil Dhal

Lentil Dhal, the perfect, protein packed winter meal! It’s getting a lot colder now, so warm and hearty comfort food is in order. Thursday is my night to cook so, naturally it’s going to be vegan. The only issue is finding something that the rest of my meat eating family won’t turn their noes up at. We are all big fans of Indian food so I thought I’d give lentil dhal a crack. Now it may look like something your cat has thrown up but I promise, it tastes amazing- even my anti-vegan little sister was won over.

Ingredients:

For the Dhal:

  • 500g of red split lentils
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp of ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp of turmeric
  • 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 2tsp of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 2 pints of water (you may need to add more)
  • 2 tbsp vegan vegetable stock powder
  • 4 bayleaves
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes
  • The juice of 1 lemon

For the Naan

  • 450g strong bread flour
  • 7g fast acting yeast
  • 300ml of lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2tbsp coconut oil
  • A sprinkle of nigella (black onion) seeds

Method

  1. First you need to make the dough for the naan bread. I like to do this in an electric mixer because it’s not so messy but you can always do it by hand
  2. Sift the flour sugar and salt into a bowl
  3. Add the yeast and then the water
  4. Mix until the the dough is shiny and not too sticky
  5. Now you need to leave the dough to prove for 30 minutes minimum (an hour is best)- I normally leave it on top of a radiator or the tumble dryer to keep it warm. This will allow the yeast to act quickly.

 

  1. While you are letting the dough to prove you can get started on the dhal. First, roughly chop the garlic and onions and sweat them in a large pan with the coconut oil. I prefer to use as little oil as possible when cooking so, if the pan starts to stick add a little water.
  2. Once the onions and garlic are soft, add all the spices apart from the vegan stock powder. You may need to add a little more water here as it can make the onions and garlic quite dry.
  3. Once the spices are all mixed in add the first pint of water with the vegan stock powder and stir.
  4. Now add the lentils and the second pint of water and the lemon juice so that they are completely covered.
  5. Leave to simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes uncovered. Remember to keep stirring every now and again so that the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  6. After 10 minutes some of the water should have been reduced, so you can now cover the pan, leaving a little gap at the side to let the side and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  7. Every five minutes or so, go back and check that the lentils are not too dry- you can always add more water.
  8. When you can no longer distinguish each individual lentil, the dhal should be ready- give it a taste and add more seasoning if you need to before serving.

 

  1. Once the dhal is cooked it’s time to bake the naan!
  2. Turn on the grill to a high-medium setting and heat the coconut oil in a pan.
  3. Once the oil is melted pour most of it into a bowl and leave it to one side.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll into a rough circle.
  5. Fry each piece (but only on one side) until it is golden brown on the bottom. You should see little air bubbles popping up, if you don’t that means you pan is not hot enough.
  6. Now, brush the top side of your bread with a little coconut oil and sprinkle the nigella seeds on top.
  7. Once the bottom of your bread is golden, put the frying pan under the grill and toast the bread until the top is brown. You should see more bubbles popping up.
  8. Repeat this step until all the dough is cooked. You can keep the bread in the oven on a low temperature while you cook the rest.
  9. Top the dhal with some fresh coriander and fresh chilli to serve!

The great thing about this meal is that it actually contained a lot more nutrients- especially protein than a piece of meat (no surprises to us vegans there!) But, if you are cooking for some non-vegan friends of family and they are worried about ‘not getting enough protein’ then this is the perfect meal to cook for them. Take a look at this comparison:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/advantages-lentils-over-beef-4364.html

 

Mushroom Risotto

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Yes I know I know, mushroom risotto is such a typical vegetarian option, but it is honestly one of my favourite things. Plus I only found out recently that you could get the same creamy texture without cheese! I’ve put a little twist on this by adding a few finely chopped tomatoes and red wine instead of white.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large portabello mushrooms
  • 1 large handful of dried porcini mushrooms plus stock
  • 1 cup of risotto rice
  • 4-6 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 tomatoes
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 2 small red onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Parsley to top
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft. While they are cooking re-hydrate the porcini mushrooms.
  2. Chop the portabello mushrooms into small chunks and stir into the onions and garlic with the rice, salt and pepper.
  3. Add the porcini mushrooms, their stock and a splash of red wine, then stir the rice until all the water has evaporated.
  4. Repeat this process, adding one cup of water at a time until the rice is creamy.
  5. Serve with some salt, pepper and roughly chopped parsley.

Alberto’s Potatoes

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I’m not going to pretend that transitioning to eating a vegan diet will be easy, particularly if your family eats meat, dairy and eggs. So I have created a simple meal, which will make you feel included in one of Britain’s longest traditions— Sunday Roast! The key to this meal is ‘Alberto’s Potatoes’. Alberto is the Italian chef my Mum met on her travels, and he taught her how to make easy but delicious roast potatoes… and you don’t even need goose fat! Serve them with traditional Sunday Roast veg and a grilled aubergine.

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Potatoes:

  • 5kg potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 red onions
  • 2-3 sprigs of rosemary
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste
  • Good glug of olive oil

For the Aubergine: (For 1 vegan)

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1tsp of dried oregano
  • Olive oil to taste
  • Steamed vegetables, as you would do for a usual Sunday Roast… just don’t eat the cauliflower cheese!

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Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 200°C
  2. Chop the potatoes and carrots, into small chunks, and the onions into slightly larger chunks. You don’t want to chop the onion too small because it will cook too quickly and burn to a crisp!
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and whole sprigs of rosemary (no need to chop it up)!
  4. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minuets or until the potatoes are golden brown and the carrots are soft.
  5. Around 10 minuets before the potatoes and the rest of the lunch is ready, slice an aubergine lengthways into about 4 chunks.
  6. Coat with finely chopped garlic, oregano and olive oil and place under the grill or on the barbeque for 10 minuets. Make sure you flip the aubergine steaks over after 5 minuets.
  7. The aubergine should be soft and translucent, (so there are no hard white bits left in the middle). Aubergine will taste bitter if it is not cooked for long enough!
  8. After the aubergine is cooked, wrap in tin foil to keep it warm and cook the veg.
  9. Once the veg is cooked, you are now ready to serve and eat! The only thing you are not eating on the table is meat; this should make you feel more included in the family tradition!

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Chocolate and Banana Muffins

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I’ve been in a baking mood recently, and I have got lots of ripe bananas, so I thought I’d have a go at making one of my favourite childhood recipes: chocolate and banana muffins. This time, I went with the same theory as keeping the fat equal to the flour, sugar and eggs (well I used bananas as an egg replacer) and it works if you add a little more flour because the bananas make the cake quite sticky. These muffins turned out super moist and even my little sister who isn’t a very big fan of me going vegan said she couldn’t tell the difference!

Ingredients: (Makes 16)

  • 170g coconut oil
  • 180g self raising flour
  • 170g brown or coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 100g chopped up dark chocolate (make sure it is over 75% cocoa)
  • 4 bananas mashed
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with cake cases.
  2. Beat the coconut oil and sugar together until it is pale and creamy
  3. Add the mashed bananas, vinegar and vanilla extract and continue beating until the mixture is fully combined and not curdling.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the bowl.
  5. Add the chopped chocolate and fold all the dry ingredients into the wet with a large metal spoon.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the cake cases around ¾ full and bake in the oven until golden brown, this should take around 12-15 minuets.

Banana Pancakes

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These banana pancakes are the perfect Sunday treat, plus the benefits of removing the milk and eggs make them completely fat free! If you think about it, they are basically flour and water! It kinda goes against the whole idea of pancakes (using all the luxury ingredients up before lent) but hey ho, now you can have pancakes during lent! I find the best way to serve these is with lots of chopped up berries, more bananas and maple syrup!

Ingredients:

  • 3 bananas mashed into a puree. They should be really ripe and spotty!
  • 200g plain four
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 200ml almond milk
  • 100ml (or more) of water
  • 1 table spoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method:

  • Mash the bananas with a fork and leave to onside.
  • Sift the flours and baking powder into a bowl.
  • Add the almond milk, bananas, water and vanilla extract and mix. The batter should be quite thick, but not as thick as cake batter. If you find your batter is too thick, just add more water.
  • Heat a non-stick pan on the hob and add a ladle of pancake batter.
  • Try to cook them on a medium head, and do not flip them until you can see little bubbles on the uncooked side of the pancake.
  • Flip over and cook until both sides are golden. Serve with lots of fresh berries and maple syrup!