Since I last posted a lot of things have happened in my life. The first and most important one was my recent move from Porto to Glasgow. Between preparing and planning all the stuff that involves moving into a different country, I barely had time to cook, let alone blog. However, and now that I’ve been here for a month and got (almost) everything sorted out (housing, burocracy and the likes), I´m happy to resume blogging and do the very best I can to bring you my favourite vegan recipes.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how things will naturally change around here (in terms of photography and recipe content as well) since I’m not in my own kitchen and do not have all the kitchen tools I’m used to. This will naturally affect the kind of recipes I’ll be posting from now on – they will be simpler, and since I do not own a food scale, lack the accuracy I’d like them to have. However, I do prefer to face this as a challenge (and one that I’m happy to take) rather than a limitation. I came to Glasgow with a 20 kg suitcase. I brought mostly clothes, one book, my laptop and my camera. I left in Porto all my cookbooks and the boards, plates and cutlery that have helped me build this blog’s photography identity over time. I’m already missing my bedroom’s blue wall, the wall that was the background of most of the food pictures I posted here for the last 5 years. But I’m also a firm believer that things happen for a reason. I was probably getting too comfortable with my own style of doing things, and this an opportunity to question that and try new and fresh approaches.
So, let’s talk curry today. I didn’t bring any of my cookbooks with me, but if I could only bring one, I’d definitely go with The Millenium Cookbook. Most of the recipes I cooked from this book were outstanding, and a great number of them have become part of my cooking repertoire. That’s the case with this curry. The original recipe is more labour intensive, and in order to make it simpler and faster I omitted some steps, trying not to compromise too much on the flavour. The recipe might still seem a bit of a project though, but I can guarantee you it’s worth making your own curry “base” from scratch, blending the sauce, and so on. In the end, you’ll have a fantastic curry that feeds a crowd and is definitely a crowd pleaser too. If you can’t come across butternut squash this time of the year, use carrots instead (4 or 5 large ones will do) – I’ve done it before and it works just as well. Also feel free to play around with the vegetables – in the past I’ve tried green beans, broccoli and asparagus and all of them have worked nicely. Hope you enjoy the curry and I’ll be back soon! In the meantime, check my instagram feed for food-related pictures and some suburb memorabilia from Glasgow.
My favourite Thai-inspired Vegetable Curry
Recipe inspired by The Millenium Cookbook
(serves 6, as a main)
*note: I usually use two green chillies with seeds, but I can handle quite a lot of heat. If you’re less tolerable than me, use only one.
For the curry sauce:
2 medium sized onions, chopped
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 piece of ginger the size of your thumb, peeled and grated
1 small bunch of coriander
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
zest of 2 limes
juice of 2 ½ limes
2 green chillies, finely chopped* (see note above)
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into cubes
1 can / 400 ml full fat coconut milk
For the curry:
1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 large carrot, peepled and chopped into cubes
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into medium-sized florets
1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed, bruised in a mortar and pestle (optional)
1 cup / 250 ml water
250 g / 1 package smoked tofu, cubed
3-4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 handful of peanuts, toasted
extra coriander, finely chopped
1-2 limes, cut into quarters
For the curry sauce: In a double boiler, steam about ¾ of the butternut squash for 5 to 8 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked. In a high speed blender combine the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, fresh coriander, spices (coriander, cumin and turmeric powders), salt, lime zest and juice, chilies and the coconut milk and blitz until you have a smooth sauce. Working in batches, add the cooked butternut squash to the mixture and blitz until creamy.
For the curry: In a large pot over medium heat, add the coconut oil, the carrot, sweet potato and the remaining ¼ of butternut squash. Sautée for a few minutes or until the vegetables are golden brown. Add the curry sauce followed by the bruised lemongrass stalk (if using) and 1 cup / 250 ml of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat to low-medium and simmer for 10 minutes. After that time, add the cauliflower, cabbage and smoked tofu and simmer for 5 minutes longer. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit more water to thin it out to the consistency you like (I like mine to resemble a smooth blended soup). Season with extra salt and serve with the chopped peanuts, scallions, coriander and a good squeeze of lime juice.
As I’ve mentioned here countless times, autumn is my favourite season. Unlike most people, I like cold weather and absolutely love one-pot and soul warming stews and soups. This stew in particular is the kind of dish I often cook when colder days arrive, as it’s quick to make and I most likely already have all the ingredients I need for it in the pantry.
It’s also very versatile: sometimes I use zucchini in place of the cauliflower and, even though I prefer the latter, it tastes lovely too. Other times, I substitute the water for coconut milk (or half of the amount of water) for a richer, creamier version. As with most curries and stews, this one tastes better the day after it’s made. The recipe below makes plenty of food, so I’m sure you’ll end up with leftovers for the next meal. I also really like to serve this dish with steamed brown rice (to soak up the sauce) and plenty of toasted cashews on top.
Red Lentil and Cauliflower Stew
(serves 4 to 6)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
210 g / 1 cup red lentils
375 ml / 1 ½ cups chopped canned tomatoes
500 ml / 2 cups water
175 g / 3 medium carrots, cubed
350 g / 1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
salt and black pepper to taste
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the seeds for 5-6 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and mash them until they’re finely ground.
In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, chilli, spices and carrots and fry for 1 minute or 2. Now add the lentils, canned tomatoes, water and cauliflower and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low-medium, cover the pan and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. At the last minute of cooking, add the salt (start with ½ teaspoon, taste, and increase if you need) and black pepper.
I’m not sure why, having already tried some recipes from Plenty, I haven’t wrote about the book in here before. Plenty is strictly vegetarian (no meat, no fish) but, on the other hand, isn’t particularly vegan-friendly (a large number of the recipes call for dairy and eggs). Anyway, that isn’t really a disavantadge, as I usually find a lot of inspiration in dishes that aren’t vegan already, as part of the fun is to actually try to veganize them – that both mental and practical exercise on how to substitute non-vegan ingredients for plant-based ones, is one of the things I enjoy the most about the process of recreating recipes.
Back to the book: it is filled with amazing dishes from cover to cover (the photography is also great, and there’s an image for every single recipe on the book too) – next on the list, is the Soba noodles with aubergine and mango, already mentioned here – but this one in particular – saffron cauliflower – not only is really tasty, but also couldn’t be simpler (and require fewer ingredients) to make.
I’ve already shared with you my love for cauliflower – one of the vegetables I like the most to work with – and with this recipe on hand, I assure you, there’s no reason why not to eat it more often. I also haven’t modified the recipe that much, so my version only includes some minor tweaks: I ommited the bay leaves the original recipe called for (actually because I forgot them on the counter and only realized that a few minutes before the cauliflower was done roasting), subbed saffron strands for the powdered version (as it was what I had on hand), and added ¾ teaspoon of sea salt. Although the book features a very slightly different version of this dish, you can find its first version online, published on The Guardian’s column the new vegetarian.For a tasty, unusual, side dish, this is it.