Bhindi Bhaji – Okra Curry

Okra or “ladies fingers” as it is also known is commonly used in Indian, Asian and African cooking. Although okra is typically grown in tropical or warmer climates, we are able to grow it here in the summer at 1,300 metres above sea level. By picking the pods when they are tender and not cooking it for too long, it is possible to avoid the slimy texture that many people associate with okra and find off-putting.

 

Bhindi Bhaji


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 bowl of okra, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • a splash of water

METHOD

  1. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and then add the chopped tomatoes.
  2. Fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the spices and heat for another minute or so.
  4. Add the okra and coat well in the spice mixture.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook for 10.15 minutes on a low heat, adding a splash of water as necessary to prevent the mixture drying out.

Onion Bhajis

Friday 13th March was the day that we escaped back to the cortijo from the coast. Little did we know then that a state of alarm would be declared the next day forbidding the movement of people and only allowing food shops and pharmacies to open. We had suspected that it might happen and so had already stocked up on some basic staples.

Normally, we would have volunteers to come and stay to hep us with the planting, harvesting, etc. but out of necessity, we’ve decided to go more self-sufficient.

On Tuesday 16th March, I harvested the remaining onions and prepared them for the freezer or fridge. There were white and red onions, of all different shapes and sizes. I thinly sliced some and used them for these onion bhajis.

Onion Bhajis
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Ingredients
  1. onions, thinly sliced
  2. 150g gram flour
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  5. 1/2 teaspoon chill powder
  6. 1 teaspoon cumin
  7. 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
  8. water
Instructions
  1. Combine the onions, gram flour and spices in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add enough water to form a moist batter, using your hands to bring the mixture together.
  3. Heat some sunflower oil in a wok or pan.
  4. Using a couple of dessert spoons, shape the onion mix into balls.
  5. Slide the balls into the oil.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes on both sides until lightly golden.
  7. Transfer to a plate with some kitchen paper.
  8. Turn up the heat under the oil until quite hot.
  9. Refry the onion bhajis for 30 seconds on each side.
  10. Serve.
Notes
  1. This recipe was made slightly more complicated by the fact that we didn't have any gram flour. There was nothing for it but to make our own. We found the best way was to first smash the dried chickpeas with a mallet before grinding in a spice grinder. We then sieved them to remove the coarser particles and reground these.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Italian-style Grilled Vegetables

Italian-style Grilled Vegetables


Previously, I had only ever thought of grilling courgettes, but thanks to Manuela (a professional cook who was recently staying with us), I have learned a whole lot more about how to grill vegetables and the flavourings and flavours that can go with them. We have experimented with vegetables such as butternut squashes and aubergines, things that I would never thought of grilling before. The secret is to thinly slice the vegetables lengthways and then sear in the flavour with a griddle pan before adding flavours such as garlic, chilli, lemon or vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

This page includes recipes for three grilled vegetable dishes: aubergine, courgette and butternut squash.

It has sparked a whole new interest in grilling things, and in the future I want to experiment not just with other vegetables but also seafood and shellfish. In preparation, we have resurrected an old griddle pan which had gone completely rusty. Here it is after the restoration work:

For all of the three recipes, you need to thinly slice the vegetables lengthways. It is then important to get the griddle pan really hot before adding the sliced vegetables. Cook for 3 minutes before turning. Then turn again, rotating through 90ยบ so that the grilled lines cross and then flip and cook for another 3 minutes (12 minutes in total).

Once the sliced vegetables have cooked, transfer them to a flat serving dish and sprinkle with salt.

Here are some suggestions for how to dress the vegetables:

You can make up some chilli-garlic olive oil in a small container: add a couple of cloves of garlic, some sliced chilli and olive oil and blend well with a stick blender. Brush the sliced vegetable with the oil mixture and keep it in the fridge until you next need it.

PUMPKIN: finely chop some garlic cloves and parsley and sprinkle over the vegetables. Mix together some balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar and olive oil and dress the vegetables.

AUBERGINE: finely chop some garlic cloves, chilli and oregano or mint and sprinkle over the vegetables. Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

COURGETTES: finely chop some garlic cloves and sprinkle over the vegetables. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice.

Vegan Kale and Chickpea Curry

Winter at the Cortijo: Vegan food for the olive harvest

At certain times of the year when there’s not much growing except kale and cabbage, it’s good to have some different recipes for what to do with kale.

For a good part of the year, we have volunteers coming to stay with us to help us with the farm and most of them come through Workaway. Our first ever workawayer was Tiffany from New Zealand. This recipe for a vegan kale and chickpea curry popped up on her Facebook feed the other day – I think it was posted by her mum.

The original recipe is taken from the Cooking Light website with a few modifications: as I was cooking for 6 people, and we’ve got masses of kale, I used a large bowl of chopped kale (almost an entire colander), more chickpeas and different spices.

Vegan Kale and Chickpea Curry
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large bowl of chopped kale
  2. 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  3. 1 large red pepper, roughly chopped
  4. 2 x 400g jars cooked chickpeas
  5. 1 can coconut milk
  6. 3 heaped tablespoon smooth peanut butter
  7. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  8. 2 teaspoons curry powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon chill powder
  10. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  11. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  12. 1 teaspoon ground cardamon
  13. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  14. 1 lemon, juiced
  15. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions until soft.
  2. Add the red pepper and continue to fry for a further couple of minutes before adding the garlic and ginger.
  3. Sprinkle over the spices and heat for another 30 seconds or so.
  4. Add in the kale and mix well.
  5. Cover the pan and let the kale wilt down.
  6. Stir in the peanut butter.
  7. Add the chickpeas and coconut milk and heat to a gentle simmer.
  8. Cover and leave for about 15 minutes.
  9. Squeeze over the lemon juice.
Notes
  1. Serve with brown basmati rice.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/