Spicy Chickpea Pancakes (Besan ka Puda)

Today is Shrove Tuesday – the day before Ash Wednesday and is chiefly celebrated by feasting on pancakes. Lots of them. My kind of celebration.

As a kid I used to enjoy the English crepe style pancakes topped with lemon and sugar. Simple, satisfying and delish. When I lived in the States whilst at uni, I was introduced to the American style pancakes. Soft and fluffy (with ridiculous toppings). Also delish.

There is another type of pancake that I also enjoy and that’s the Punjabi one – Besan Ka Puda. Made from gram flour, spices, coriander & red onions – it’s spicy, crispy and soft all at the same time. And yes you guessed it – it also gets FULL MARKS on the delish scale. Served with a dollop of yoghurt alongside your favourite pickle and washed down with a cup of hot milky tea, it’s a real crowd and stomach pleaser. Want to know how to make it? Course you do! Scroll on down for the recipe. Ps. This pancake is accidentally gluten free & vegan (without tasting like it). Win win I say.

Spicy Chickpea Pancakes (Besan ka Puda)

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (180g) gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp mango powder (amchur)
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing) optional
  • 2 cups water (same cups used to measure flour)
  • oil

Instructions

  • Add 1 tsp of oil in the non stick frying pan and spread over using a kitchen paper. Heat the frying pan on a medium/high heat setting. 
  • Place all ingredients apart from the oil into a large bowl. Whisk well for 1-2 minutes until ingredients have combined together to create a thin batter. Taste for salt and chilli before cooking and adjust accordingly.
  • Pour in 1 ladle of batter and tilt the pan so that the batter spreads all over the base. Reduce heat to low/medium then cook for 2 to 3minutes, or until it starts to come away from the sides. Brush the pancake with a little oil.
  • Once golden underneath, flip the pancake over and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • The pancake should be slightly crispy on the edges and golden brown all over. Remove and serve with greek yoghurt and your favourite Indian pickles/chutneys. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Vegan Chicken PEAlau Rice

My Vegan Chicken PEAlau has been a mega hit at home. Even my mother-in-law wants the recipe…which is a first. All the depth and meatiness without the meat! As you’ve guessed by the name of the dish, I have replaced the chicken I usually use to make my pilau with the surprisingly meaty textured plant based Lazy Vegan Pulled Pea Chunks from Sainsbury’s. I cooked the pea chunks with caramelised onions, ginger, whole spices & basmati rice to create a super flavourful one pot dish. It will help turn Veganuary into Vegebruary!

Vegan Chicken PEAlau Rice

Servings: 3 people

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cardamoms
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 ginger grated
  • 2 cloves garlic grated (I combined the ginger & garlic & blitzed in a processor)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp tomato pasata
  • 2 green chillies very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • handful fresh coriander
  • 2 handfuls peas I used frozen
  • 180 g Lazy Vegan Natural Chunky Pulled Peaz available in frozen section in Sainsburys
  • 1 cup/180g Basmati rice I used a measuring cup, washed well
  • 2 cups water Again using same measuring cup used for rice

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the cumin, cloves, bay leaves and cardamoms. Once the spices sizzle and splatter, add the onions and 1 tsp salt.
  • Cook the onions for 3-5 minutes until translucent. Then add the ginger and garlic. Cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes until everything is completely soft and golden brown.
  • Now add the tomato puree, pasata and chilli. Mix well then reduce the heat and add the remaining 1 tsp salt as well as all of the dry spice powders. Cook for 20 seconds on a medium heat.
  • Add the fresh coriander, frozen peas as well as the pulled pea chunks and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Taste for salt and chilli at this point and adjust accordingly.
  • Now add the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add the washed rice. Bring to a boil once again.
  • Now reduce to a simmer and place a lid on top. Cook on a low/medium heat. Keep an eye on the pan and when you see that the water has completely evaporated, turn the heat off. (Place the wooden spoon into the rice and also check to make sure there is no water at the bottom of the pan).
  • Place the lid back on the pan and allow the rice to finish off cooking in its own heat for a further 25 minutes. (Don’t remove the lid before then!).
  • Fork and mix the rice and before serving. Garnish with fresh chillies and coriander. Serve with fresh lime and your favourite yoghurt raita! 

Notes

The wider the pan you use, the better! This will ensure the rice has enough space to cook, yielding perfectly cooked individual grains!

Tandoori Paneer Masala

I love having paneer in the fridge. It’s a goodun’ to just always have in. Home from work, don’t know what to make? Get on that paneer. Paneer is an Indian cheese that’s made from cows milk and is rather excellent at absorbing flavours. It has a wonderful almost meaty texture which makes it perfect for cooking it in curries (obvs), as a stuffing (paneer parathas anyone?) or even as a salad topping (toast paneer cubes in a dry pan until golden & crisp & pop on top of your next salad – you’re welcome). In addition, it’s packed full of protein and surprisingly quick to make. But enough of the paneer ad campaign, let’s get onto the good stuff. 

Today’s recipe is one that transforms this humble cheese into a luxurious, stand out dish. Mopped up with crispy, butter laden naans (I mean if you’re going to do it, do it right), it will not disappoint. This is also a fabulous one to whip out at a dinner party or pot luck. Enjoy. 

For Paneer Marination:
225g paneer, cut into cubes
1 red or green bell pepper, cut into 1cm squares
1 onion, cut into 1 cm squares
4 garlic cloves, grated or minced
2” ginger, grated
½ tsp salt or according to taste
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp lemon/lime juice
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp gram flour/chickpea flour (optional)
2 tsp sunflower/vegetable oil
For Masala:
4 tbsp oil
2” cinnamon stick
2 black cardamoms (optional), crushed open in a pestle & mortar
3 green cardamoms, crushed open in a pestle & mortar
5 cloves
4 tbsp tomato passata
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp double concentrate tomato purée
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp salt, or according to taste
3/4 tsp cumin powder
3 tsp kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
4 tbsp cream cheese
Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped

How to:
1) Line a baking tray and pre-heat grill at highest temperature setting. Place all “paneer marination” ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
2) Tip the marinated paneer into the baking tray and spread all over. Cook in grill for 5 minutes until slightly charred. Remove from heat and turn off grill.
3) Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add the cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves and cook for 10 seconds.
4) Now add the tomato passata, purée, ketchup and green chillies and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining spices and cook for 1 minute. Now add the cream cheese a little at a time, mixing continuously until it is completely blended in.
5) Now add the grilled paneer as well as the fresh coriander.
6) Add one cup of water and bring to boil. Place lid on the pan and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Check the salt and chilli adjust to your taste. Enjoy with naan or chapatis.