It’s that pumpkin time of year!

According to Pumpkin Rescue, 18000 tonnes of pumpkin are wasted in the UK each year – that’s quite a few meals.  So far this year, we’ve had at least six meals with our first pumpkin and there’s enough in the freezer for three or four more.  Most of these recipes will work with frozen pumpkin cubes, and they’re generally better in the sauce based dishes.

So – what have we had?

Pumpkin soup  – the old favourite.  Pumpkin, sauteed in a touch of oil with onions.  Add some Jamaican all purpose seasoning and allspice (if you wish) along withe some stock and milk and then blend when cooked.  Add a touch of creme fraiche and salt & pepper if needed.

White pumpkin chilli stew – a different take on a traditional chilli con carne.  Sautee some onions until soft but not brown.  Add cubed pumpkin and sautee for a few more minutes.  Now for the interesting bit – finely chop a chilli of your choice – I usually use a super-hot such as a Carolina Reaper or a Trinidad Scorpian.  Use as sparingly as you see fit.  Then, add some Jamaican all purpose seasoning, salt & pepper, milk and a little stock and cook until the pumpkin is done.  Add thyme and borlotti beans or sweetcorn (or both) and contintue cooking until they’re heated through.  Serve with rice.

Thai curry – choose your favourite Thai curry sauce, add thinly sliced chicken, pre-stirfried onions and pumpkin and peas.

Italian pumpkin pasta sauce – roast or sautee cubes of pumpkin until brown.  Add milk, cook until done and blend.  In a separate pan, sautee onions until brown, add Quorn mince until that starts to brown too then add smoked paprika, mace, salt and pepper and stir in the sauce.  Cook until the harshness of the mace is cooked out, add cooked pasta – tube types work best along with some peas (I like peas!), perhaps some creme fraiche and a touch of milk or water if it’s too thick, heat through and serve with a shaving of parmesan.

Pumpkin rice one pot – sautee pumpkin and carrot cubes, until starting to brown, add thinly sliced onions.  When they start to brown, add rice and continue to cook for a few minutes.  Add coriander, cumin, cinnamon and cook for another minute or so.  Add double the volume of stock to the rice, stir and add a few good handfuls of spinach or a few frozen spinach pellets.  Try not to stir too much but keep an eye so it doesn’t dry out too much.  Add peas at the end if desired.  You can also add diced chicken at the carrot stage, or a chick peas with the spinach.

Pumpkin risotto – bit of a theme here – sautee cubed pumpkin, add sliced onions, until just starting to turn brown, add the risotto rice, stir for a few minutes and add a ladle of stock each time the pan starts to go dry.  Stir all the time and finsih off with stirring in some parmesan (peas) and whatever herbs, fresh or dried that you fancy

What’s next?  We’ve not had an Indian style curry – these work well, but I’m really excited about trying pumpkin houmous.

Curry the wrong way round

This recipe is is adapted from one Rick Stein used when he visited the famous Karachi Restaurant in Bradford, one of Bradford’s oldest curry houses.

They don’t do the plethora of silly named curries (pathia, dopiaza…) but just plain ‘chicken curry’, ‘chicken and potatoes’, ‘lamb and spinach’ and so on…

Feel free to adapt it to your taste.  Have a few goes at making it until you find it to your taste.

Chop 3 large onions roughly and fry in ghee or oil.

When onions are softened and just turning golden, whizz in the pan with 6 cloves of garlic and 2 tsp chopped ginger, a tin of tomatoes and 3/4 tin of water.  When this is well and truly whizzed, add your choice of meat – lamb on the bone using small lamb chops is excellent – the insides of 6 cardamon pods and salt and cook for 30 mins or so.  You could also add potatoes at this point too.  If you are using chicken breast, add it after this 30 minutes cooking time.

When the half hour is up, add the dry spices – 2tsp each of cumin and coriander, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp turmeric, 2tsp chilli powder and a couple of roughly chopped tomatoes (quite big pieces)

After another 10 mins or so of cooking, or when the oil starts to show on top of the gravy (yes – that’s the correct name, not sauce) add a huge handful of fresh spinach or a few ‘pellets’ of frozen chopped spinach and some roughly chopped coriander.  When this is wilted and the frozen lumps defrosted and heated through, add 1tsp garam masala.  To lift the flavour even more, add some Mr Naga chilli pickle.  Mr Naga is hot – there’s no escaping this, but the flavour and aroma even half a teaspoon adds is amazing.

Beetroot and smoked Wensleydale risotto

I tried beetroot risotto back in the summer in Le Petit Bar, Monaco (pictures below). I liked it so have come up with an easy to cook version with a Yorkshire twist.

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Soften an onion in a touch of oil (I used rapeseed – olive will do) and a pinch of salt. When it starts to soften, add two grated beetroot and keep cooking until that softens too.

Add a knob of butter, wait for it to melt and then half a bag of risotto rice. Normally you’d cook until the rice starts to go see through, but the beetroot might stop that!20161008_161830

At that stage, a ladle of stock from a pan you have simmering – I used vegetable bouillon but you could use chicken. When the first ladle evaporates, add another and repeat until the rice is cooked, stirring frequently.

At the end, crumble in some Wensleydale (I used Tesco smoked for extra flavour) and keep stirring till it’s melted.

Serve with a few shavings of Parmesan or more Wensleydale crumbled over the top.

Curry in a hurry!

Curry in less than 20 minutes? Here’s how.

The recipe featured on Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Curry Nation’ and was cooked by Mumtaz Khan Akbar of Mumtaz restaurant fame.

No actual recipe was given, so the amounts are guess work

Place the following into a cold wok

– 2 chicken breasts diced or sliced. I often use 3 or 4 chicken thighs instead
– 1 large onion very finely chopped or ‘whizzed’ in a food processor, along with ginger and 4 or 5 garlic cloves and a chilli if you want it hot
– 1/2 a 500g carton of passata
– large pinch of salt
– yogurt – I don’t know how much – I just use a ‘blob’
– 1/2 tsp asafoetida (not essential)
– 1/2 mug cold water.

Turn the wok on, bring to the boil and cook for 5-7 mins on a high heat.

Reduce the heat and add the spices – he used about a dessert spoon – maybe a bit more of ‘basar’ – if you don’t have that then use a heaped teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, paprika and garam masala and about half a teaspoon each of turmeric, fenugreek and chilli. Feel free to add more to taste! Also add another ‘blob’ of yogurt and 2 chopped tomatoes. At this point he also added a ladle full of oil! I don’t and the curry’s still fine though probably doesn’t taste quite as good. Lower the heat, cook for another 5 mins and add some chopped coriander just before serving. Feel free to add frozen peas at the end, or frozen spinach or tinned chickpeas when you add the spices.

Note: The amounts of spice are to your personal taste – I often use more than what I’ve said here.

Basar (or Basaar) can be found in all good Indian shops – in Doncaster, the shop at the bottom of Chequer Road sells it, as does Pak supermarket in Rotherham.

An easy curry recipe…

Time for a curry recipe. There’s not really a ‘name’ for it.

Slice a couple of medium onions (use more if they’re smaller) thinly and fry in 2 tsp of oil and a good pinch of salt. I use a nonstick wok but any large pan will do. Before they begin to burn, add a splash of water and continue to cook. Keep adding water and cooking until they become soft and medium/dark brown. Add 2 or 3 tsp ginger garlic paste (or the equivalent fresh) and 1tsp of fennel seeds and carry on cooking.

Once the onions are rich and brown, add 2tsp coriander powder, 2tsp cumin powder, 1tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, 1tsp fenugreek powder, 1tsp garam masala, 1 tsp fenugreek powder, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1 tsp paprika* and some salt. The mixture will be quite dry so add enough water to form a thin paste and cook for a few minutes until the water evaporates. Add around 125ml plain yogurt (I use fat free), mix well and cook for a bit longer.

If adding meat or potatoes, add them now. cook for 5 mins or so and add water to make the gravy a curry like consistency. From now, the curry will need to be cooked for about another 20 mins, or it won’t hurt if you cook it longer. If adding pre cooked vegetables such as peas, kidney beans, chick peas etc, add them 10 mins before the end. Also add another 1tsp garam masala now too. Check the seasoning and serve.

I think chicken (thighs) work well with this, but white fish would work well do. Try it and see what you like!

* increase or decrease spices to taste, especially chilli powder.