The Festival Of Lights

21st October 2011

The most popular of all the festivals from South Asia, Diwali is a five day period that represents the Hindu New Year and marks the beginning of winter. It’s the Hindu, Sikh and Jain equivalent of Christmas and is popularly known as ‘the festival of lights’.

Diwali honours the victory of good over evil, of brightness over darkness and of knowledge over ignorance. Homes, shops and public places are decorated with lights, and fireworks illuminate the skies.

It is, naturally, a time of great feasting and joy… and so, to mark Diwali 2011, which runs from 24 to 28 October (with the main celebration taking place on the middle day), here are some tasty Indian-inspired recipes, using some fine English ingredients that combine effortlessly with spices such as cumin, coriander and turmeric to recreate the complex flavours of authentic Indian cuisine…

Tenderstem® Broccoli & Bengali Split Pea Curry with Caramelised Shallots

Serves 4

Prep: 15 mins • Cooking: 30-35 mins

Making a curry from scratch can seem daunting task, but this recipe is easy enough to make even on a weeknight without causing any stress! It’s also a really healthy option, too: full of protein from the split peas and packed with nutrients from the Tenderstem® broccoli.

1 large onion, roughly chopped • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced • 2 cm piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped • 2 tbsp vegetable oil • 200g yellow split peas • 200g Tenderstem®, sliced into 3cm pieces • Small bunch coriander, roughly chopped • Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt

For the spice mix:
2 tsp cumin seeds • 2 tsp fennel seeds • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds • 2 tsp mustard seeds • 2 tsp nigella seeds • 1-2tsp dried chili flakes, to taste

1. Make the spice mix by dry frying all the spices together for a minute or so. As soon as you smell their aroma wafting up strongly from the pan tip them into a pestle and mortar and roughly grind. Set aside.

2. Purée the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor until smooth, adding a tablespoon or so of cold water to help this process along if necessary.

3. Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger purée until soft and translucent. This should take around 10 minutes.

4. Add the ground spices and fry for a further couple of minutes before adding the split peas. Pour in enough boiling water to cover the peas by about 3cm and bring up to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes stirring from time to time. You may need to add a little more water towards the end if it is looking a little dry.

5. Whilst the curry is cooking, caramelise the shallots by stir frying with the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium high heat. Cook until golden and crisp, then drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.

6. Stir the Tenderstem® through the curry and continue to cook for around 5-8 minutes or until it is tender but with a little bite.

7. Serve the curry topped with the caramelised shallots and sprinkled with the coriander. Great served with plain rice or naan bread.

Manju Mahli’s Green Beans with Shallots and Fragrant Cumin Seeds

Serves 4

Prep: 5 mins • Cooking: 10 mins

The shallots add flavour to the beans and are perfectly balanced by the cumin and chilli. This is a refreshing and light dish which is delicious with chapatis or toasted wholemeal pitta breads.

2 tbsp sunflower oil • ½ tsp cumin seeds • 4-5 shallots, topped, tailed and cut into rings • 2 green chillies, finely chopped with the seeds • 400g green beans, topped and tailed • ¼ tsp salt • 1 tsp lemon juice

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds or until they splutter. Watch carefully and stir constantly so that they do not burn.

2. Tip in the shallots and fry for 2 minutes until they are glazed. Add the green chillies and fry for a further 2 minutes. Tip in the green beans and the salt and saute for 5 minutes.

3. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. Serve hot as an accompaniment.

Hot and Sweet Shallot Pickle with Mustard Seeds

Serves 4

Prep: 5 mins • Cooking: 15 mins

4 tbsp sunflower oil • ½ tsp brown or black mustard seeds • 10-12 shallots, topped and tailed and cut into quarters • ½ tsp turmeric • 1 tsp salt • ½ tsp chilli powder • juice of half a lemon • 2 tbsp demerara or brown muscavado sugar

1. Heat the oil in heavy based saucepan. Add a few mustard seeds to the oil. If they begin to sizzle, the oil is ready. Tip in the remaining mustard seeds and mix for 30 seconds. Make sure they do not burn.

2. Add the shallots and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add everything else and mix well. Cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat.

3. Cool and place into a non-metallic, airtight jar. Serve as a relish.

Indian Spiced Radishes & Pumpkin

Serves 4

Prep: 5 minutes • Cooking: 20 minutes

800g pumpkin or squash, cut into small chunks • 3 tbsp nut oil • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes • ½ tsp turmeric • ½ tsp cumin • ½ tsp mustard seeds • 2 curry leaves • 1 garlic clove, minced or finely grated • 1 onion, finely diced • 20 radishes, sliced into thick rounds • 2 tomatoes, chopped

1. Boil the pumpkin in water for 8-10 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large frying pan heat the oil and add the chilli, turmeric, cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook for a minute or two until they are fragrant but not burnt. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds.

3. Add the onions and sauté for a minute then add the radishes and finally the pumpkin.

4. Season with a good pinch of salt and cook until the vegetables are tender but start to crisp on the outside.

5. Stir through the chopped tomatoes and serve with chapattis.

Also great served with Dahl

Atul Kochhar’s Warm Salad of Tenderstem® Broccoli & Chickpeas

Serves 4

Preparation and cooking time: 5-10 mins

2 tbsp olive oil • 1 tsp cumin seeds • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced • 1-2 small red chillies, finely chopped • 200g Tenderstem® broccoli, cut into whole florets and slice the stems cut into diagonal spears • 200g chickpeas boiled/canned • 1 medium red onion, thickly sliced • 1 medium red pepper, cut into julienne • 2 tbsp lime juice • Sea salt & black pepper • A handful of chopped coriander

1. Heat oil in a non-stick wok, sauté cumin seeds and garlic to translucent.

2. Add red chilli and broccoli and sauté for 1 minute

3. Add chickpeas, onion and red peppers. Sauté for 30 seconds and remove from heat.

4. Add lime juice and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss through the coriander and serve immediately.

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