So I cooked up a vegan storm last night and am feeling a touch smug this morning. I should mention ahead of my smug gloating that I am not a good cook. I can’t make anything without a recipe and nothing I make ever looks like the picture and most times that I do go to great lengths to make something entirely from scratch I end up wondering why I didn’t just call on Lloyd Grossman or his brethren for a far less stressful, quicker, cheaper and tastier cooking experience!
Anyway, this was a rare occasion where I did everything from scratch and it was totally worth it – knocked the socks of Mr Grossman and I danced around the kitchen dreaming of my own vegan cooking series… ‘Tasty Tempeh’ or ‘Hemp Happiness’ perhaps…? Hmmm… can work on the title – meanwhile back to what I actually cooked:
So we started with a fiery guacamole and toasted pitta – dead easy, dead delish. Then sat down for the most creamy and delicious Malai Kofta with brown basmati rice:
The sauce was thick and creamy, the dumplings were zingy and tasty and even held their shape (a revelation!), the rice was soft and fluffy (never get brown rice right usually) and it even looked delicious on the plate with a flourish of coriander from the garden – oh stop it now you’re showing off! Plates were licked clean, seconds were proffered and taken and pleasant noises were murmured all round. Success!
Then we had the Pièce de résistance –
This chocolate and pecan tart. Homina homina homina. And so easy to make that even I couldn’t f*** it up! Bloody ruddy yummy.
Gogo was most helpful…
Recipes for you here:
Chandra malai kofta
For the kofta:
½ x 425g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup slivered almonds
1½ tsp cumin seeds
225g courgette, shredded
¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1¼ cups Panko breadcrumbs
For the sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp refined coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, very finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 400g tin lite coconut milk
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 cup frozen peas
For everything else:
Refined coconut oil, for frying (2 tbsp or so)
Cooked basmati rice, for serving
Fresh coriander, for garnish (optional)
Prepare the kofta mixture
In a medium bowl, mash the chickpeas until they are mushy but not quite pureed.
Preheat a large, heavy pan over a medium heat. Toast the almonds for about 7 minutes, tossing frequently, until they are golden and browned in some spots. Transfer immediately to the bowl containing the chickpeas. Next, toast the cumin seeds for 3 minutes or so, until fragrant and a shade or two darker. Transfer those to the bowl as well.
Add the courgette, coriander, ginger, garlic, salt, and black pepper, and mix well.
Now add the breadcrumbs and use your hands to mix and mush until it holds together. Cover with plastic wrap (or a plate) and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the sauce
Drain the cashews and add to a blender along with the broth. Blend until very smooth. This could take from 1-5 minutes depending on the strength of your machine, so give your blender a break every minute or so and test the sauce for smoothness. It should be very smooth, with only a slight graininess. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure you get everything.
Preheat a pan over a medium heat and add the coconut oil. Saute the onion in the oil for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook just until fragrant, 15 seconds or so. Add the curry powder, garam masala, and cumin and toss for a minute or so, just to toast the spices a bit.
Add the coconut milk, tomato paste, blended cashews and salt. Bring to a low simmer and let cook for 15 minutes or so. It should thicken up nicely. Add the peas and let them warm through. Taste for seasonings, then turn off the heat and cover until ready to serve.
Cook the kofta
Preheat a large cast-iron pan (or any pan that is nonstick and good for frying)over a medium heat. Line the counter with some parchment paper to keep the formed kofta from sticking. Scoop up a scant ¼ cup of the mixture. Roll between your hands to pack it well, and then roll into a football shape. Set on the parchment and continue to form all 12 kofta.
When the pan is hot enough, add some coconut oil and make sure it coats the bottom of the pan. Now add the kofta, rolling each one around in the pan when you add it, making sure to coat all sides. Use a little extra oil, if needed.
Fry them for about 7 minutes, rolling them around in the pan to get them browned on all sides. They don’t have to be uniformly browned; just do your best. Once browned, turn off the heat.
Scoop some rice on to each plate, place 3 koftas on top of the rice, and cover with sauce. Garnish with coriander, if you like, and serve.
• This recipe is taken from Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, published by Sphere, price £20.
Chocolate and pecan tart (from Jordan Bourke, jordanbourke.com)
The rich fruitiness (and extra vitamins) provided by the avocados, dates and coconut oil here add hidden depth to this chocolate tart. Best served from the fridge, within two days of making it.
150g pecans, plus extra for decorating
10 dried pitted dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted
3 tsp cocoa powder
Pinch of sea salt
For the filling
3 large ripe avocados, peeled and destoned
6 tbsp pure maple syrup
3 tbsp date syrup (or more maple syrup)
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
5 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted
100g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and roast the pecans for about 4 minutes, or until they are a shade darker and aromatic – watch them carefully as they burn very quickly. Leave to cool completely.
2 In a food processor, blitz the dates for a few seconds, then add the rest of the ingredients for the base and blitz until everything is very finely chopped and sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Very firmly press the mixture into a 20cm-diameter springform tin, so that you have an even, smooth and compacted base for the tart. Place in the freezer to set for 15-20 minutes.
3 For the filling, place all the ingredients into a food processor, apart from the coconut oil and dark chocolate, then blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go. This could take a few minutes, depending on the strength of your machine.
4 With the processor still running, pour in the melted coconut oil until just combined. Pour the mixture on to the set base and smooth out the top. Place in a fridge to set for at least 4-5 hours.
5 When ready to serve, remove the tart from the springform tin and place it on a large white plate. Liberally grate the chocolate over the tart and scatter with extra pecans.