Gluten-free Amaranth Crackers

These pseudo-cheesy pseudocereal crackers with their crumbly texture and a delectable eathy-nutty flavour are surprisingly easy to make. Crackers strike me as the type of pantry project that is seemingly way more high-effort than it actually is. I suppose it’s because picking up a pack at the grocery store feels easier than everything else.

You will be able to make these with untroubled ease even if you’ve never baked anything in your life. Unlike other pastries, this one does not intimidate. The dough is mixed up in the processor and rolls effortlessly. And I re-squidge and re-roll to the bitter end. A fork can be used to make quaint dotted perforations on the crackers and very satisfying work it is, too. But should you want to skip it, they will turn out just as good.

What you will need – (for 24-26 crackers )
  • Amaranth flour – 120 g (1 cup)
  • Olive oil – 3 tablespoon (45 ml)
  • Baking powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon (or use 2-3 fresh cloves, grated)
  • Onion powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Fresh Rosemary – 2 sprigs (about 1 tablespoon leaves), roughly chopped
  • Fresh Thyme – 3-4 sprigs, picked
  • Salt – 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
  • Nutritional yeast – 1 tablespoon (optional)
  • Water – 3 tablespoon
Method –
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse to combine. The mix will be clumpy and will likely not come together into a ball. Take the mixture out and knead gently for 2-3 mins. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Add a little more flour if needed.
  3. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to roughly 0.5cm thick, use a sharp knife or a cookie cutter to cut out the crackers. This dough, unlike all other pastry doughs, does not change characteristics once rolled. So resquidge and re-roll till the wee end. Waste nothing.
  4. Prick lightly with a fork to prevent them from puffing up.
    (You might be able to tell from the photograph that I completely forgot to do this, but the puffy ones tasted just as good)
  5. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 12-14 mins or until lightly golden around the edges.
  6. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Storage notes –

Store in an airtight container for up to a week. (They’ll be eaten way before that)

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Vegan Mushroom & Rice Soup

This is a very laissez-faire recipe actually: the aromatic broth can be made days ahead and can be frozen too. Packed full of flavour, it offers a cornucopia of delectation and does so persuasively that I use it as the base for many recipes.

If you can’t get bok choy, don’t be put off making this; baby spinach, napa cabbage, red cabbage, celery, sorrel or mustard greens could be substituted. Similarly, replace rice with other cooked grain or millets. And this recipe is worth bearing in mind even when your starting point is not meat: if you were to bung in some prawns or leftover chicken at the end, this would make for a fabulous dinner for omnivores.

What you will need – (for 4 servings)

For the broth:

  1. Shiitake mushrooms – 6-7 dried (roughly 80g)
  2. Peanut oil – 2 tablespoon
  3. Red onion – 1 medium (roughly 60g), quartered
  4. Carrot – 2 medium (roughly 120g), chopped in large chunks
  5. Lemongrass stalks – 2, bashed with the back of a knife and trimmed to 1 inch pieces
  6. Galangal root – 2 inch, sliced thick
  7. Garlic cloves – 5-6, unpeeled, smashed
  8. Bird’s eye chillies – 3-4 (1 gram), slit
  9. Kaffir lime leaves – 4-5, torn
  10. Water – 5 cups or as needed
  11. Spring onion – 2 stalks, white parts removed
  12. Soy Sauce – 3 tablespoon
  13. Rice Wine Vinegar – 3 tablespoon
  14. Coconut Sugar – 1 tablespoon
  15. Black peppercorns – 6-7, roughly crushed
  16. Star anise – 3
  17. Sea Salt flakes – 1/2 teaspoon

For add on:

  1. Rice – 1/3 cup, uncooked (I use unpolished sonamasoori, but any brown rice should work just as well)
  2. White button mushrooms – 7-8, sliced (roughly 80 g)
  3. Shiitake mushroom tops – 6-7 (reserved from the broth)
  4. Carrot – 1 small, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  5. Baby Bok choy – 1, stems and leaves chopped into 1 inch chunks
  6. A few sprigs of fresh coriander and some chopped spring onion
  7. Chilli oil and toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Method –
  1. Soak Shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup hot water for atleast an hour. Once rehydrated, separate stalks from the tops and reserve everything, soaking liquid included.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy pan on medium heat and add quartered onions. Leave untouched for 2 mins or till the onions are lightly browned. This golden carapace helps build flavour, careful not to burn it to a blackened crisp.
  3. Now add garlic, lemongrass, galangal root and carrots. Sauté for 5 mins.
  4. Once the carrots have lightly brown edges, add in soaking liquid and stalks from the shiitake mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, chillies, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, coconut sugar, black peppercorns, star anise, spring onion and sea salt. Top with 5 cups water or more, enough to cover everything.
  5. Bring to a boil on medium high heat, then reduce to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the rice, sauté white button mushrooms and bok choy stems. Set aside.
  7. Once the broth is done, strain with a fine mesh strainer.
  8. Add to a bowl and top with add ons as desired. I prefer to add 1/4 cup cooked rice per serving and lots of bok choy.
  9. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, chilli oil and serve

Storage notes –

Broth can be made and kept for 4-5 days in the fridge or frozen for up to a month.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Afghan Borani Banjan

I love these meaty aubergine slices topped with a warmly-spiced pepper and tomato sauce, served with garlicky yoghurt. Every bite just belts out flavour! And it smells so wonderfully festive as it cooks.⁣

Though the traditional version requires deep frying the aubergines, I pore over this contemporary adaptation with undimmed enthusiasm. In fact, my appreciation is all the greater; it’s vibrant and true to the flavours and yet so utterly easy to execute. ⁣

What you will need – (for 4 servings)

For baked aubergines:

  • Aubergines⁣ – 2 large (approx 350-400 g each)
  • Olive oil⁣ – 1/4 cup
  • Garlic cloves ⁣- 7-8, finely chopped
  • Paprika⁣ – 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin⁣ – 2 teaspoon
  • Tomato sauce⁣ – 1 cup
  • Red bell pepper ⁣- 1 medium (approx 150-180 g), finely chopped
  • Chilli flakes⁣ – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt and Pepper⁣

For yogurt sauce:

  • Yogurt – 150 g
  • Fresh Dill – 2 tablespoon, finely chopped
  • Mint leaves – 8-10, finely chopped
  • Garlic clove – 1-2, grated
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

For Garnish (optional) :

  • A handful of pomegranate seeds and a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
Method –

✣ First slice the aubergines into discs, roughly 2 cm thick. Generously sprinkle salt on both sides and sit them on a rack or in a colander. Allow them to sweat for at least 40 mins to an hour. They might begin to brown a little bit, that’s okay.

✣ Then gently rinse them under water and pat each piece dry. ⁣Ensure you dry them well or there will be too much water once you begin to bake them.

✣ Preheat oven to 200°C.

✣ Meanwhile, heat a pan on medium flame, add oil, garlic, paprika and cumin. Once the spices bloom, add tomato sauce, peppers, chilli flakes, salt and chopped bell pepper. Lower the heat and cook for 10 mins. ⁣

✣ In a baking tray, layer the sauce and the eggplant slices like you would a lasagna. Bake covered for 30-35 mins or till the aubergines are cooked through. ⁣

✣ To make the sauce, add yogurt to a mixing bowl and whisk gently for 1 min. Now add grated garlic clove, finely chopped dill and mint. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. ⁣

✣ Drizzle all over baked aubergines and enjoy.

Storage notes –

Best eaten the same day.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Sweet Sunshine Soup

If you are looking for food to feel cheered, this would be the answer. And if the sprightly, mood-boosting yellowness of it is not enough of a clincher, it might help to know it’s a doddle to make. The silkiness comes from the pumpkin and carrots which are quickly blitzed in a hot oven, then blended with some coconut milk. There’s nothing more to it, given that you can excuse the tweeness of the title and it’s a soup to banish the blues.

I tend to always have a stash of roasted veggies in the fridge and that’s certainly a case of cracking convenience. But even if you were to roast the vegetables to order, you need to do nothing else while they’re in the oven, and not much after.

I like this velvety smooth with a scattering of seeds though you can make it as liquidized or as rough as you please. And if you’re poutily pursuing protein, you should obviously take the legume route.

What you will need – (for 4 servings)

  • Pumpkin – 100 g, seeds removed
  • Carrots – 600g (about 6 medium sized), slit in half lengthwise
  • Garlic cloves – 4-5 lightly bashed
  • Cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon 
  • Paprika/Chilli flakes – 1/2 teaspoon (adjust to taste)
  • Chilli powder – 1/4 teaspoon 
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Fresh thyme – 3-4 sprigs
  • Olive oil – 2 tablespoon
  • Coconut milk – 400 ml (approx 2 cups), or use veggie broth for a thinner consistency
  • For Garnish: Fresh herbs, microgreens, sundried tomatoes, nuts or seeds (optional)
Method –
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. In a small bowl mix together cumin, paprika, chilli powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Drizzle sliced pumpkin and carrots with olive oil (I leave the pumpkin skin on while roasting because I find it easier to remove once baked; if you want to peel it before, please do). Sprinkle the spice mix, bashed garlic cloves and thyme. Toss so everything is well coated. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast for 30-35 mins. The edges will have lightly browned. Once done, take the sheet out and allow to cool for 10 mins.
  4. Remove thyme sprigs and add the rest to a blender.
  5. Top with coconut milk and pulse to achieve a smooth consistency.
  6. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Garnish with microgreens or seeds and a little drizzle of coconut milk or olive oil and serve.

Storage notes –

Keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Passionfruit Curd

I thought I was going to exhaust the culinary possibilities of passion fruit but turns out I have great capacity for eating greedy, grateful spoonfuls of it; slurping away at the cuppy shells, sucking even the last droplet of juice left; I even licked a few of them if I may embarrassingly add.

The last few went into this gorgeous curd which is wonderful slathered on fresh bread (yes, even the ones with a hint of garlic). It is also exceptional dolloped over crumpets and pancakes or added to oat cups. The addition of brown sugar makes it duller in colour, but it is much more vibrant in flavour. If you want, by all mean, use caster sugar.

If you don’t have a passionfruit Santa in your life or can’t get hold of them, there’s nothing to stop you making this with grapefruit or lemon or orange.

What you will need – (for approx 300-350 ml curd)
  • Passionfruit – 10 + 1
  • Eggs – 2 large
  • Butter – 70 grams (cultured butter preferred)
  • Brown sugar – 60 grams (sub with caster sugar)
  • Cornstarch – 1.5 tablespoon (mix with 30 ml water)
Method –
  1. Add the pulp of 10 of the passionfruit into a processor and blitz for no more than 4-5 seconds, just enough to loosen the seeds. You don’t want to crazily blend them to mush. Strain into a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together.
  3. In a heavy pan, melt the butter over a low flame. When melted, stir in the sugar-egg mixture, the passionfruit juice and cornstarch slurry.
  4. Keep cooking gently; stirring constantly. Don’t be tempted to increase the heat unless you want sweet scrambled eggs. until thickened.
  5. In about 6-8 mins the mixture will thicken into a curd like consistency. When it does, off the heat, whisk in the pulp – seeds and all – of the remaining passionfruit.
  6. Let cool completely, pour into an airtight glass jar and refrigerate.

Storage notes –

Keeps in the fridge for a week.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Kidney Bean Burgers

This is possibly the easiest route to a quick, all-inclusive and yet proper and filling dinner. And if this isn’t enough of a come-on, think again. They’re bursting with herby flavours, hearty texture, and oodles of plant-based protein.

While these patties are good enough to be relished alone, I am mad for these sandwiched in pitas or chapatis, smeared with guacamole and a crunchy green salad. You could always add a little lemony-minty chutney if you’re in the mood.

I’ve used cilantro for the recipe but feel free to swap or supplement with sorrel, spinach or fenugreek leaves for fun variations.

What you will need – (for 4 burger sized patties)
  • Red kidney beans – 3 cups (approx 1 cup dry)
  • Cooked Foxtail millet – 1 cup (sub with equal quantity of cooked quinoa)
  • Flax seed – 2 tablespoon, powdered + 3 tablespoons water
  • Red onion – 1 medium, chopped (50g or 1/3 cup)
  • Garlic Powder – 2 teaspoon (sub with roughly 20 g freshly minced cloves)
  • Dried Oregano/Italian seasoning – 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon (adjust to your heat preference)
  • Nutritional yeast – 2 teaspoon (optional)
  • Cilantro – 1/4 cup, finely chopped
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for cooking – 3 tablespoon
Method –
  1. Combine flax seed powder with water and set aside for 10 mins.
  2. In a bowl, roughly crush kidney beans with a fork. Uniform mush is not what we’re after here, texture is key.
  3. Add all the other ingredients into the bowl and use a spoon to combine.
  4. Shape the mixture int 4 large burger patties or 6 small ones (or many smaller ones)
  5. Heat olive oil in a skillet or grill pan on medium heat. Gently fry each patty for 5 mins on each side or until lightly browned.
  6. Serve on burger buns toppings or add ons as desired – mine are cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and diced orange with home made purple cabbage sauerkraut and guacamole.

Storage notes –

The mixture can be prepared a day in advance, but once cooked, these are best eaten on the same day.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower

This whole roasted cauliflower is what you could term a Multi-Culti fusion of flavours and technique but with honourable intent, and to most pleasing effect. This recipe might take a little while to make, but each step is simple and the fork tender cauliflower is gorgeous to eat.

Before we get to the recipe, I must let you in on a little secret. I hated the putrid-pungent-sulphurous cauliflower smell so much that I refused to eat it for many years. When I did make it, I either cooked it beyond death with an awfully heavy-handed dusting of spices and seasoning or suffocated it under a blanket of cheese.⁣ But it turns out my choice of cooking method was the culprit: as the cauliflower cells break down during a long, slow cook, smelly compounds are unlocked and the vitamins that leach out tip it right over the edge. However, cooking it by a quicker, more intense method ensures the cells don’t break down enough to release that off-putting odour.

What you will need – (for 2-3 servings)
  • Cauliflower – 1 medium (roughly 800g)
  • Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Asafoetida powder (hing) – 1 pinch / 1/8 tsp (optional)
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Smoked Paprika – 1 teaspoon
  • Coconut sugar – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon or to taste
  • Garlic cloves – 8 – 10, minced
  • Lemon – 1 large, zest and juice
  • Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

For Sauce –

  • Garlic cloves – 2-3, grated or pressed
  • Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
  • Tahini – 1/4 cup
  • Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Pinch of cumin powder
  • Cold water – 3 tablespoons or as needed

For Garnish –

  • Almonds – 40 g chopped
  • Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
Method –
  1. Boil water in a large pot. Remove outer leaves of the cauliflower. Trim away the stalk so the cauliflower can sit flat. Add the cauliflower, stem side down into the boiling water. Allow to simmer for no more than 6-7 mins. Take it out and rest on a kitchen towel for excess water to drain.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  3. Toast coriander seeds on medium heat till fragrant, then add to a pestle and mortar with asafoetida, turmeric, paprika, coconut sugar and salt. Bash well to a rough powder, then muddle in olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest. Stir well to combine. This should have a paste-y consistency.
  4. Rub the spice paste all over the cauliflower with your fingers, don’t forget the underside.
  5. Place spice rubbed cauliflower in a heavy pan or casserole. Cover (with lid or aluminium foil) and pop in the hot oven for around 45 mins, or until tender, removing the lid for the final 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, toast the almonds in pan over a medium-low heat until golden, then leave to cool.
  7. For the sauce, add minced garlic to lemon juice for 10 mins. The acidity of the lemon juice prevents the garlic from becoming too harsh (here’s why). Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another medium bowl. Press the garlic solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the garlic. combine with tahini, cumin and salt. Add water just enough to achieve a smooth, slightly runny consistency.
  8. Once ready, take the cauliflower out of the oven. Drizzle the sauce, scrunch over the toasted almonds, then roughly chop and scatter the cilantro leaves on top.
  9. Carve up and serve with rice and steamed greens, or as part of a bigger spread.

Storage notes –

Best eaten the same day.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Thai inspired Fresh Corn Curry

It’s a good idea to have something up your sleeve that you can cook quickly, and simply, for a quick midweek supper: that’s instantly comforting but spirited enough to make one feel uplifted rather than stultified by eating it. This is that something.

Yes, you do need to hunt down the fabulously flavoured ingredients. But the good news is, most of them keep: kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chillies and lemongrass in the deep-freeze; corn and beans in the fridge; the coconut milk and jaggery in the cupboard. I always make a large batch of the paste since it freezes incredibly well.

Yes, the flavours are mostly Thai but if authenticity is your concern, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. And if these infractions do not offend, cook on.

What you will need – (for 2-3 servings)

For the curry paste –

  • Fresh Lemongrass – 1 stalk
  • Bird’s eye chillies – 3-5
  • Red onion – 1 medium, chopped
  • Garlic cloves – 7-8
  • Galangal – 1 large piece, about 2 inch, thinly sliced (or ginger)
  • Fresh Cilantro – 3/4 cup, roughly chopped
  • Lemon juice – 3 tablespoons
  • Kaffir Lime leaves – 2, stems removed
  • Jaggery Powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the curry –

  • Curry Paste (from above)
  • Peanut or vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Fresh Corn – 1 cup, cooked
  • Green Beans – 1 cup
  • Cherry Tomatoes – 15-20
  • Coconut Milk – 400 ml
  • Fresh Basil and Baked Lotus stem chips for garnish (optional)
Method –
  1. Bung all the curry paste ingredients into a blender and blitz to make a smooth paste.
  2. On medium flame, heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add in the curry paste, sauté for 3-4 mins. It should go from bright green to a dull dark green.
  3. Now pour in the coconut milk and stir well.
  4. Add in the vegetables and simmer for 10 mins. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve alongside steamed rice or cooked millets.

Storage notes –

Store covered in the fridge for 2 days. The curry gets thicker the longer it stays in the fridge.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Curry in a Hurry

I have a rather indelicate lack of faith in Indian food; I worry all too deftly whether it’s going to be too spicy, eye-wateringly so or too time-consuming. This, which I call my Curry in a Hurry, is the easiest thing to make; it’s warm and comforting especially when all I’ve done is a bit of chopping and some light stirring. And somehow, it always surprises me. Not in the cooking, so much as in the eating: I can’t believe how perfect a marriage of rich creaminess of the coconut and full-throttle sharpness of lemon this is. ⁣⁣

It’s also a great way of making sure the odd handful of beans or other vegetable fragments can be eaten up when none of them individually can offer a meal in themselves. You can vary the vegetables according to what you have or add chicken, prawns, or whatever else you like. Yes, I’ve been bold with the amount of lemon juice here but the curry really does need it. ⁣⁣

And for what it’s worth, I sometimes thin it down with a little bit of water; it really depends on whether I feel like eating out of a deep bowl, soupily, or a shallow one. ⁣

What you will need – (for 2-3 servings)
  • Vegetables of choice – 3 cups, chopped
  • Olive or vegetable oil – 2 tablespoon, divided
  • Black mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Fresh ginger – 1 large thumb, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp)
  • Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • Coconut milk – 400 ml
  • Lemon juice – 1/4 cup
  • Fresh green chilli – 2, slit lengthwise
  • Salt to taste
Method –
  1. On medium flame, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, lightly sauté the vegetables and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Then, in the same pan, add remaining oil, add the mustard and cumin seeds.
  3. When the mustard starts to splutter, add finely chopped ginger. Give it a stir to keep it from burning.
  4. Once it’s fragrant and the ginger begins to brown around the edges ever so slightly, throw in the curry leaves, turmeric and red chilli powder. Sauté for 1 minute for the turmeric powder to lose its raw smell.
  5. Now pour in the coconut milk and lemon juice, season with salt and add the slit green chillies.
  6. Bring it to a gentle boil. Stir in the sautéed vegetables and serve alongside rice or noodles or bread.

Storage notes –

Store covered in the fridge for 2-3 days. The curry gets thicker the longer it stays in the fridge.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Mushroom Pie with Cacao and Parsley

Much as chocolate makes the ‘power couple’ in desserts, when incorporated in small quantities, chocolate lends silkiness and complexity to a plethora of savoury dishes too. Originally, cocoa was consumed, crumbled, in some drinks which were anything but sweet, in fact, they were enriched with chilli pepper. ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
This mushroom pie features a complexity of flavours like no other. The crust is delectably flakey and crumbly while the filling is the perfect mingling of umami notes from the mushrooms and bitter flavours of cacao.

I really do hope you will try this recipe and it will prod you further in the direction of culinary experimentation.

What you will need – (for a 9 inch pie)

For the stock –

  • Olive oil – 3 tbsp
  • Onions – 2 large, sliced 1 cm thick
  • Coconut sugar – 1 tsp
  • Carrot – 1 large, roughly chopped
  • Mushroom stems/trimmings – 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Bay leaf – 1 large, torn
  • Rosemary – 1 sprig (sub with dried rosemary)
  • Water – 1 litre

For the mushroom & cacao filling –

  • Mushrooms – 400g, stems removed and divided. (Use part of the stems for the stock mentioned above)
    (highly recommend using a mix of Button, Shiitake, Portobello and Oyster)
  • Butter – 20g, or use vegan butter if preferred
  • Olive oil – 1 tbsp
  • Onion – 1 large, chopped
  • Garlic cloves – 5-6, finely chopped
  • Fresh red chillies – 1, minced
  • Black pepper – 1 tsp
  • Stock – 300ml (from above)
  • Lime juice – 2-3 tbsp
  • 100% unsweetened Cacao – 10g, grated or use unsweetened cacao/cocoa powder
  • Soy sauce – 2-3 tbsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp or to taste
  • Cornstarch slurry – 1 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • Flat-leaf parsley – 3/4 cup, chopped, or use fresh coriander

For Pastry –

  • 500g of pie dough (I use 1 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup all purpose, 150g frozen butter, 2-3 tbsp ice cold water and salt to make mine)
Method –
  1. To begin, make the stock. Remove stems from about 100 g mushrooms and finely chop them. Slice the onions 1 cm thick. Heat olive oil in a large pot, add the onions, sugar and salt. Fry over low heat until they are very brown and caramelised. Take care not to burn them as this will make the stock bitter
  2. Add all the remaining stock ingredients along with cold water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and leave to simmer till the liquid is reduced to about 300ml (roughly 1 hour). Strain and set aside.
    (Add dried mushrooms, if using, to this hot stock. Cover and allow to rehydrate)
  3. Next, prepare the filling. Remove stems from all mushrooms, finely chop and set aside. Chop heads either in half or into fat chunks, depending on shape and size. Leave the smaller mushrooms whole.
  4. Divide chopped mushroom heads into batches (depending on the size of your pan). Cook each batch over medium heat until soft (don’t overcook or you will lose the individual flavours of the mushrooms). Set aside and repeat with the rest of the mushrooms.
  5. Heat olive oil in the same pan, add the chopped onions and fry until they are a nutty brown. Add finely chopped mushroom stems, garlic, chillies and black pepper. Pour in the prepared stock, then add the cooked mushrooms, cacao, soy sauce, lime juice, cornstarch slurry and salt. Bring to a boil and cook gently over low heat until thickened, about 5–7 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. (You may want to add a tsp of sugar if the filling is too salty or bitter). Stir in the parsley and allow to cool completely.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  7. Divide pastry dough in half. Roll out one half to a thickness of about 3mm. Add to a prepared pie tin. Blind bake for 12 mins. Meanwhile, roll out the remaining pastry dough to 3mm thickness. Then add prepared filling to the tin and lay the sheet of rolled-out pastry on top. Press down firmly along the edges to seal, then trim off any excess. Cut a few slits in the pastry topping and glaze by brushing with beaten egg.

    (If you are a pastry beginner, I highly recommend baking hand-pies instead. Roll the dough out to an even thickness and use a small circular bowl to cut out discs. Spoon 1 tbsp filling onto half of the discs, cover each one with another dough disc. Firmly press down the edges with a fork to seal the pies. Use a knife to make a tiny slit on top of each hand-pie. This method does not need any blind baking. Reduce baking time by 5-8 mins)
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Storage notes –

Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven, microwaving will make the pastry go soggy.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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