I was in the Brownies when I was a kid and one of my favourite activities was when we did some baking. Although we had our pack meetings in the local cavernous, cold village hall we did our baking at our Brown Owl’s house which was terribly convenient for me because the Brown Owl in question happened to be my Mum.
Emma Hatcher, the author of the awesome low FODMAP cookbook The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen Cookbook, has a recipe for a dahl that’s made with just three tins and some spices. It’s a lovely dahl, but as an Indian food aficionado I prefer my curries to have a lot more flavour in them so although I make this quick cook dahl with the three tins Emma suggests, I also add a lot more spices to it which, in my humble opinion, makes the dahl more complex and tastier.
I normally make my dahls with dry red lentils, but tinned green lentils work very well in this curry because they keep their shape even after they’ve been cooked which helps to add texture to the curry. Also, the beauty of using tinned lentils is that the tinning process helps to reduce their FODMAP content, so you’re much less likely to have problems digesting them. (This would be the perfect opportunity to use a flatulence joke, but I’m much classier than that. Honest.)
This quick cook dahl can easily be made in a slow cooker if you’d like a meal ready to come home to after work, simply requiring you to throw the ingredients into the slow cooker and give it a stir before leaving the house, but it only takes about half an hour to make on the stove top too so it’s a great option for dinner if you don’t want to be standing cooking for ages when you get home.
This recipe makes a lovely creamy, substantial dahl that’s well-spiced, but not hot, and is packed full of flavour. It’s the perfect quick-to-cook, comforting vegetarian curry that’s just waiting to be topped with freshly chopped coriander leaves and served to accompany soft, fluffy boiled rice and crispy shards of poppadums. My own mouth is watering just thinking about it!
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsps ground coriander
1 tsp asafoetida powder
A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (minced)
60g shredded green leek tips (only the green tips are low FODMAP)
1 tin of green lentils (drained and rinsed well)
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
400g tinned coconut milk
30g chopped fresh coriander
If you’re using the slow cooker then just add everything into the slow cooker, stir well and then leave to cook throughout the day before serving with freshly cooked rice.
If you’re cooking this on the hob though, put the oil in a saucepan and then add the spices and cook them for a couple of minutes to release their flavours.
Drain and rinse the lentils and add them to the pot along with the coconut milk and chopped tomatoes.
Leave to simmer for 10-15 mins until hot and cook your rice during this time.
Stir two-thirds of the chopped fresh coriander through the dahl and then serve with soft, fluffy rice and rest of the fresh coriander.
Sometimes I bake cakes purely because a pretty cupcake case has caught my eye that begs to be filled with something delicious. This was the case (excuse the pun) when I saw some beautiful, bright, sunshine-coloured cupcake cases in Flying Tiger the other day. (I tried to find a link to their website so you could buy them yourself, but they don’t have them listed on their site unfortunately.)
Ordinarily I’m a real chocolate cake fan, loving the deep, moist fudginess that is inherent within all decent chocolate cakes, but I recognise that sometimes there’s nothing nicer than a light fruit-flavoured cake and these cupcake cases were ideal for making gluten-free citrus cupcakes in.
As the days are getting sunnier and warmer it’s nice to move away from the heavy puddings and crumbles of winter and embrace lighter flavours, such as those found in citrus fruits. Although I made my citrus cupcakes flavoured with lemon and orange you could choose to flavour them with lime or even grapefruit if you had a mind to. All you’re looking for are the strong oils in the fruit’s zest to impart a citrus note into the cake’s sponge.
These citrus cupcakes are light, but moist (even though they’re made with gluten-free flour) and keep for a good few days in an airtight tin. Although if your family’s anything like mine it’s highly unlikely that these delicious bakes will last that long. I might need to make another batch…
Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.
Lay out your cupcake cases onto a flat baking tray.
Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.
Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.
Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into each of the cupcake cases, lay them on the baking trays and bake in the oven for around 25 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)
Leave to cool on a cooling rack.
Make the buttercream icing by placing all of the buttercream ingredients into a jug and whisking until a smooth icing is produced.
Once the citrus cupcakes are cool, decorate them with the buttercream icing.
When I was at work yesterday I found myself pondering over what I was going to make for dinner. I knew I had a pack of chicken breasts in the fridge, but I was a bit fed up of making the same chicken dishes over and over again. However, I remembered that I had a thick chunk of fresh root ginger in the fridge as well as a jar of minced lemongrass in the cupboard, so I found myself thinking about making a Thai curry.
I’ve never made a Thai green curry from scratch before because I’ve always thought that they require ridiculous amounts of individual ingredients and, let’s be honest here, sometimes after a long day at work you can’t be bothered with all of that faff-on, can you? However, after a brief mootch in the Thai cookbook section at work (one of the benefits of working in a bookshop!) I actually realised that it doesn’t really take that much to make a Thai green curry after all and that, with the exception of having to buy fish sauce and a packet of mangetout on my way home, I was all set.
Now, I’m going to offer a word of advice here and I really hope you take it. I’ve never cooked with fish sauce before so I added it after sweating off my spices, ginger and lemongrass, but this was a huge mistake. IT FREAKIN’ STINKS!!! I’m not kidding, this was an ‘open all of the doors and windows’ job. This was a ‘thank God the living room door was closed so the smell didn’t meander up into any of the bedrooms’ jobs. It was horrific. So my advice is: only add the fish sauce after you’ve already added the coconut milk so that it blends into the curry sauce without releasing its infernal pungent aroma into your kitchen.
After I’d added the coconut milk and allowed my nasal passages to dissipate the strong stench of the fish sauce I steeled myself and tasted the curry sauce and… it was delicious. You couldn’t taste any aspect of the fish sauce whatsoever, but it had definitely added a richness to the Thai green curry that it would have sorely lacked had I omitted it. Please trust me and use the fish sauce, just don’t smell it. Ever.
I loved this Thai green curry and so did my family. It’s rich, multi-flavoured and very satisfying and it makes a nice change from the usual Indian curries I tend to make a lot. Its coconut milk base carries the delicate notes of root ginger and lemongrass without overpowering the chicken and making it taste too sweet. I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m making this for dinner again, but you can be damn sure I’ll be adding the fish sauce AFTER I’ve added the coconut milk. I won’t make that mistake again!
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsps minced fresh root ginger
1 tbsp minced lemongrass (or 2 crushed lemongrass stalks)
1 mild red chilli (finely chopped)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp asafoetida
1/2 a bunch of fresh coriander (chopped)
1/2 a bunch of basil (chopped)
2 tbsps fish sauce
2 tbsps lime juice (or the juice of 2 limes)
400g of tinned coconut milk
80g desiccated coconut
6 chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
60g mangetout (cut into bite-sized pieces)
In a large saucepan heat the sesame oil and once hot add the ginger, lemongrass, chopped chilli, cumin and asafoetida.
Add the chicken pieces, tin of coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce and leave to simmer for 10-15 mins.
Start your rice cooking.
Add the mangetout, basil, coriander and coconut cream and cook for another couple of minutes.
Drain your rice.
If you used whole lemongrass stalks then just before serving remove them from the Thai green curry.
Serve on top of the rice with fresh basil (and a bit more chopped chilli if you like).