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Mighty spicy recipes

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Vibrant spices add extra warmth to winter comfort foods, and we love these three easy, tasty recipes.

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Indian Spinach Cutlets with Raita.

Credit: From the Mighty Spice Cookbook, Commissioned Photography by William Lingwood/Duncan Baird Publishers 2012

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Gobi Masala Indian Stir-Fried Cauliflower

Credit: From the Mighty Spice Cookbook, Commissioned Photography by William Lingwood/Duncan Baird Publishers 2012

Lebanese Lemon and Vanilla Cake

Lebanese Lemon and Vanilla Cake

Credit: From the Mighty Spice Cookbook, Commissioned Photography by William Lingwood/Duncan Baird Publishers 2012

mighty-spice

Mighty Spice Cookbook, by John Gregory Smith, Duncan Baird Publishers 2012, $29.99.

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Indian Spinach Cutlets with Raita

Serves 4
200g/7oz potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
400g/14oz spinach, washed
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2.5cm/1in piece root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp plain flour
2 large handfuls dried breadcrumbs

For the raita
250ml/9fl oz/1 cup natural yogurt
½ cucumber, deseeded and very finely chopped
juice of ½ lemon
1 small handful mint leaves
ground cumin, to serve
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan of water. Place over a high heat, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 15–20 minutes until tender. While the potatoes are cooking, place the spinach in a colander on top to steam for 8–10 minutes until completely wilted.

2. Drain the potatoes and mash until smooth. Once the spinach has cooled, squeeze out the excess moisture with your hands. This will stop the cutlets from being soggy.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then stir-fry the onion, ginger and green chilli for 4–5 minutes until soft. Chuck in the pepper, garam masala and salt and cook for a further minute, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

4. Meanwhile, mix the raita ingredients together in a bowl, season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

5. Once everything has cooled to room temperature, put the mashed potato, spinach, onion mixture and flour in a bowl, mix well, cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

6. Divide the mixture into four parts and shape each one into a flattened cutlet. Spread the breadcrumbs out on a plate and gently press a cutlet into the breadcrumbs until coated on all sides. Repeat with the remaining cutlets.

7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then fry the cutlets for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy. Serve immediately with the raita, sprinkled with ground cumin.

Gobi Masala Indian Stir-Fried Cauliflower

The reason this cauliflower dish works so well is because it relies only on a few simple ingredients. The onion, tomato and ginger provide the base for the whole dish and the cauliflower the main flavour. A little chilli powder and garam masala is all it takes to give a lovely, spicy taste, while the fresh coriander livens things up at the end. Gobi Masala is delicious on its own as well as part of a larger meal with lots of other amazing dishes.

Serves 4
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2.5cm /2in piece root ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
450g/1lb cauliflower florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sea salt
1 large handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
naan bread, to serve

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 3–4 minutes until golden, then add the ginger and tomatoes and stir-fry for a further 1 minute.

2. Add the cauliflower, chilli powder, garam masala, salt and 100ml/3½fl oz/1⁄3 cup hot water and mix well. Bring to the boil then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20–25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender but still has a little bite. Throw in the coriander, mix well and serve immediately with naan bread.

Lebanese Lemon and Vanilla Cake

serves 8–10
5 unwaxed lemons
300g/10½oz/scant 11/3 cups caster sugar
200g/7oz unsalted butter
1 vanilla pod
3 eggs
150g/5½oz/1¼ cups plain flour
crème fraîche, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4. Cut 3 of the lemons into thin slices and remove any pips. Zest 1 of the remaining 2 lemons, and then squeeze the juice from both of them.

2. Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat, then sprinkle 125g/4½oz/heaped ½ cup of the caster sugar over the bottom in an even layer. After a few moments the edges of the sugar should start to melt, at which time give the pan a good shake, then leave it until half of the sugar has turned to liquid. Stir the sugar with a wooden spoon until all the sugar is completely caramelized and clear. Carefully pour the caramel into a 20cm/8in non-stick cake tin, covering the bottom completely. Lay the lemon slices on top of the caramel, starting around the edges and working toward the centre.

3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, then set aside to cool slightly.

4. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla pod in half and then scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds in a food processor with the eggs and the remaining caster sugar. Blend for 10–12 minutes on a high setting, or until the mixture has doubled in volume and is very light in colour. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and fold in the melted butter, lemon zest and juice with a metal spoon. Sieve in the flour in small batches, folding it in as you go. Once the mixture is completely blended and smooth, pour it into the cake tin over the lemons.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the cake has risen and is soft enough to leave a fingerprint on the top. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.

6. Remove from the oven, place a serving plate on top and confidently flip it over. Give the bottom of the cake tin a few knocks with a heavy spoon, then gently lift it up to reveal the cake and the lovely caramel. Leave the cake to cool for at least 1 hour and then serve with the creme fraiche.

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Recipes taken from the Mighty Spice Cookbook, by John Gregory Smith, Duncan Baird Publishers 2012, $29.99.