My daughter has been staying, and she and her boyfriend cooked me this dish. I didn’t really see what they put in it, but I did some research afterwards. I was sort of watching, and then I looked up some more information about the recipe.
First off, think of guacamole, an avocado dish. The last part of that word, that is how you pronounce mole, it means a sauce, and there are many kinds. The type of mole that was prepared for me was an especially complicated one, to celebrate the fact that we were all together for Easter.
This recipe is based on a celebratory dish that is prepared usually for the Mexican day of the dead. The spice mix is usually prepared in a spice mill, and can contain thirty or more ingredients, including several types of chillies, chocolate, nuts, sesame seeds and dried fruit. The resulting sauce is dark, unctuous and rich, fruity and spicy.
We used a small mechanical spice grinder to mix and grind the dried ingredients, and then used a soup wand to make sure the sauce was rich and smooth before adding the black beans.
- 25g Pumpkin seeds
- 25g Pecan nuts
- 25g Almonds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 8 cloves
- 50g Sesame seeds for a garnish at the end
- Peanut or sunflower oil
- A mixture of dried chillies (the suggested trio is mulato, ancho and morita, I used paprika, cayenne, birdseye and chipotle) – to taste.
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes or 8 whole tomatoes
- 700ml vegetable stock
- 2 tsp oregano (more authentic would be Mexican Oregano)
- 2 tsp thyme (more authentic would be Epazote)
- A pinch of anise powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Dried white bread, or panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1-2 tsp date syrup, to taste and add a fruity flavour
- 25g dark unsweetened chocolate, the expensive stuff
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 to 3 tins of black beans, drained
- Chopped coriander leaves
Most of the herbs and spices are available from Seasoned Pioneers – but you’d have to be really keen to get to grips with Mexican cookery, or like a very cluttered spice shelf.
- In a large dry pan, over a low to medium heat, toast all of the nuts, pumpkin seeds and whole spices for around five minutes. Stir all the time, and don’t take your eye off them, so they don’t burn. Set aside. Grind the toasted dried ingredients in the spice mill once they have cooled.
- In the same pan, toast the sesame seeds the same way, and set aside.
- Wipe the pan clean, and cook the peppers in oil for around three minutes, until they are beginning to char, around three minutes.
- Add the whole garlic cloves for the last thirty seconds and continue to cook. When done, set aside.
- In the same pan, add a little more oil. Gently fry the chopped red onion until it is beginning to brown
- Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, you could also add soaked dried apricots or sultanas at this stage
- Set aside the toasted sesame seeds to garnish at the end. To the pan, add in the rest toasted ingredients, herbs, cinnamon and anise powder, the dried bread crumbs, peanut butter, tahini and the stock, and blend with a soup blender.
- Make sure the sauce is really smooth, you may want to put it through a coarse strainer or fine mouli, just to get it smooth enough.
- Once the sauce is smooth enough and any stray seeds have been sieved out, bring it back to a simmer for around five minutes to cook the flavours together. Season with salt to taste.
- Melt the chocolate into the sauce. Adjust the sweetness and fruitiness with the date syrup. Here is the point when you can start testing the sauce and add ingredients to get it just right.
- Drain the beans, and add to the smooth sauce. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped coriander.
Serve with lime wedges to add some sourness, and some plain boiled rice. You could also serve guacamole as a side dish, but buying avocadoes in the local shops can be a bit of a gamble. For a less vegetarian version, you could use fried fish cakes or broiled chicken instead of the black beans.
This is an unusual combination, very tasty and relatively simple and quick to make, especially if you use tinned beans.
- 225g Black eyed beans (or 2 cans of black eyed beans)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 125g walnuts (you could add or substitute almonds)
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
- a teaspoon of date molasses or sugar
- Soak the beans overnight, and then simmer in plenty of fresh water for 30 to 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- If you are using walnuts bought in the UK, they are probably quite bitter. Soak them overnight in cold water as well, and drain.
- In a food processer, chop the notes roughly
- Use a large pan. Heat the olive oil over a low heat, and cook the onion slowly for ten minutes.
- Add the garlic, tomaotes and tomato puree and continue to cook for a further ten minutes.
- Add the nuts, parsley and beans, mashing them together slightly.
- Season with salt and pepper, and a little date molasses. Continue to cook, stirring, for another ten minutes.
For a variation, add a pinch of mild chilli flakes, such as Pul Biber, when adding the garlic.
We served this with brocolli and greek flatbreads and feta cheese.
This recipe first appeared in the Guardian in 2017, and has become one of my daughter’s go-to recipes. It is quite quick and easy, and delicious. I don’t worry about salting the aubergines that are in the shops just now, they don’t have many seeds and they are young and tender.
- 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 400g tinned tomatoes
- 1 1/4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, or any other regular mild to moderate chilli powder
- 3/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 slightly heaped tsp salt
- around 3 aubergines, cut in half lengthways and then into 1cm thick slices
- 300g dried black-eyed beans (or two cans of cooked beans)
- 40g fresh dill
- greek yoghurt, salted and whipped with dill and mint.
- Rinse the black-eyed beans and put them in a lot of cold water on the hob, bring to the boil and simmer while you chop and cook the rest of the ingredients. Top up with water so they don’t boil dry.
- Heat the oil over a medium heat, and then add the chopped garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to colour, and then lob in the tomatoes, turn the heat down and simmer until the mixture is soft. You should do this for tinned tomatoes as well, as it will lessen the tinny taste.
- Add the chilli, turmeric and salt and cook for a couple of minutes before adding in the aubergine. Stir, cover and cook over a low heat for at least 20 minutes, until the aubergines are tender.
- Stir in the beans, bring back to a simmer, and adjust the seasoning.
- Just before serving, add the chopped dill.
This is good with plain boiled rice, yoghurt and flat-breads, and possibly a side salad. For a vegan version, use a vegan yoghurt.
My sister Louise made this for one of the meals at Christmas. It doesn’t cost much, can be used with tinned ingredients, and it is vegan and delicious. It also freezes well. There are various substitutions and variations that can be made, depending on what you have in the kitchen. As you vary the ingredients, you may find that the fluid quantities need adjusting, so keep an eye on it as it cooks and top up as required.
- Vegetable oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3 cm of ginger root, peeled and finely chopped – vary quantity to taste
- 1 tbsp chilli flakes, for example, pul biber – pick your favourite for heat, or add sriracha chilli sauce
- 1 tsp cumin (ground, or whole seeds bashed in a pestle and mortar)
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 3 tins of tomatoes, chopped for preference
- 300g green lentils, presoaked
- 200g of starch grain, such as bulgar wheat, pearl barley, brown rice or buckwheat. Not couscous
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder, or 100g dark chocolate
- 400g tin of beans, such as haricot beans, cannelini beans, navy beans, black-eyed beans. Alternatively, soak 300g dried beans overnight, and simmer for 45 minutes to cook.
- 1 to 2 litres of marigold stock or other stock
- salt and pepper
- Use a very large pan. Heat the vegetable oil over a low heat, and cook the onion, garlic and ginger for ten minutes, until it is soft.
- Add the chilli, cumin and paprika, and cook for a further two minutes.
- Add 1 litre of stock and all of the other ingredients, and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, topping up with stock as required. Stop when the lentils and grains are cooked.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Tortillas or wraps, with yoghurt
- Spooned over corn chips, topped with grated cheese and grilled, served with guacamole and salsa
- In a taco with all of the extra bits
- In a sandwich with grated cheese, possibly toasted
- With brown rice, sour cream and chopped tomatoes or a side serving of green vegetables. (which is what we had with Lou)
I made this to go with the lamb rib dish that I discovered. It is nutritious enough in itself not to need any meat, and it is filling. It makes a good base for adding other ingredients. Try serving it with kale seasoned with za’atar spice blend and lime juice.
- 100g green lentils
- 150g coarse bulgar wheat
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced in half and then finely sliced into half-rings
- 350ml water or stock
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ground pepper
- Rinse the lentils and soak the bulgar wheat in cold water
- Boil the lentils in plenty of unsalted water for around 15 minutes, then drain them and set them aside
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, and cook the onions over a low heat for around 15 minutes, until they are caramelised.
- Drain the bulgar wheat and add to the saucepan as soon as the onions are cooked to your liking. Stir, add the lentils and stock or water. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil.
- Cover and simmer for around 15 minutes, then turn the heat off, wrap the lid in a teatowel and replace onto the pan, and let it rest for around ten minutes before serving.
If you are going to make this to serve with the lamb ribs, you should start making the pilau before you sort out the ribs.
This is very filling, we got six portions from this easily. It is more of a stew than a soup, really.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp chopped ginger
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 250g puy lentils or similar brown lentils
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- a bunch of Kale leaves, ribs removed and chopped
- 1 litre vegetable stock, such as Marigold
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pan, and fry the onion gently with the garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli flakes and cinnamon, until soft.
- Add the sweet potatoes, carrots, and tomato puree, and stir.
- Add the stock and lentils and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes with the pan covered, until the lentils are softening.
- Add the chopped kale, check and add water if required, and bring to a simmer again for 10 minutes.
- Check and season with salt and pepper.
This soup is quite hot and spicy, but you can cut down on the chilli if you wish. The main flavours come from the use of Tunisian Tabil spice mix and from cumin seed. I got the spices from Seasoned Pioneers. There are a few variations that could be used. It could be vegan, you could add a seaweed stock instead of vegetable stock. If you stir in yoghurt, then it is still vegetarian, but not vegan. It is also good with a chicken stock. It also uses a lot of carrots, which is just as well, because I have grown very many.
- 600g carrots, grated
- 150g red lentils
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- a large thumb-sized nodule of ginger, chopped
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp tabil spice blend
- 2 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 -3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 litre of vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Use a large saucepan. Heat the olive oil and cook the onions over a low to medium heat, stirring, until the onions start to turn translucent, around five minutes.
- Add the ginger, garlic and spices, stir together and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.
- Add the carrots and lentils, mix in well, and then add a litre of stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for around seven minutes
- Use a soup wand or blender to blitz the soup until it is smooth.
We served this with bread and yoghurt.
This year has been a bit slow for growing vegetables, the lack of sun has not helped at all. I have now got a lot of carrots, some broad beans, we’ve had a couple of crops of mange tout peas as well. I headed up to Tagsa Community Gardens to get some chard to cook with the beans, and ended up coming away with a couple of delicious courgettes.
I made this recipe from ‘Dear Francesca‘, a book of Italian recipes, along with stories of the family that runs Valvona and Crolla. They used double these quantities; this made a good meal for the two of us.
- 2-3 courgettes
- 3 tbsp good olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- a sprig of fresh rosemary
- 180g spaghetti or similar pasta
- salt and pepper
- Put a large pan of salted water on to boil, and then cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the courgettes.
- Clean the courgettes, trip off the top and tail, and grate with a coarse grater
- Warm the olive oil, and add the garlic, fry it gently until it just starts to colour brown, and then add the courgettes. Turn the heat up a little and stir, cooking until the courgettes are beginning to brown a little at the edges. Add the rosemary and season with salt, and then cover, and turn the heat off.
- Drain the cooked pasta, and add to the frying pan with the courgettes, toss and mix everything together, and serve with black pepper.
The pea season is coming. The mange tout are already ready, and some of the peas are podding up nicely. I did a massive pick-through of the peas at Tagsa Horticulture, and made this curry based on one in ‘Curry Easy’ by Madhur Jaffrey.
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1/2 small onion, chopped finely
- half a can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 punnets of chestnut mushrooms, around 400 to 500g, chopped into chunks.
- 300g peas, could be frozen, or mange tout, freshly picked and halved
- Combine the dry spices in a bowl and add around 1 1/2 tbsp water to make a paste
- Pour the oil into a medium pan, and heat to medium hot. Add the onion and start to stir and fry, until the onion is becoming a little browned at the edges.
- Add the spice paste, cook for a minute and then add the tomato, mixing and stirring.
- After about five minutes, when the tomato is hot and beginning to cook down, add 450ml boiling water and the salt. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes
- Add the chunks of mushroom, bring back to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add the peas, bring back to a simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes.
This was best served warm, rather than hot, with a flat bread such as a nan.
This is a delicious vegetarian stew, it reheats well, and is very forgiving with variations on the vegetables.
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled and crushed
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 4cm cubes
- 1 pack of green beans, sliced into 4cm lengths
- 2 carrots, cut into 4cm batons
- 1 punnet of mushrooms, cut into 4cm chunks (or whole if you picked the right size at the shop)
- 4 tbsp dark soy sauce (Chinese Soy Sauce)
- 4 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp dry sherry or shaohsing wine
- Heat the oil in a large pan, medium to high heat, and when it is hot, add the ginger and garlic, fry for around 15 seconds.
- Add the potatoes, beans and carrots, and stir for another minute.
- Add the mushrooms, and fry for another minute.
- Add around 500m boiling water, the soy sauce, sugar and wine, and bring back to the boil. Cover, turn the heat down low and simmer for around twenty minutes.
- Remove the cover and turn the heat up, boiling the sauce down, stirring gently as you go. You are aiming to get down to a thick gravy-like sauce which coats the vegetables.
- If you want to prep ahead and reheat for after work, leave a little more sauce, so that this boils down as you reheat it.