janet @ the taste space

Posts Tagged ‘paprika’

Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Balti

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on August 30, 2011 at 5:50 AM


Curries are actually really varied. Considering curry simply means something has been simmered in a sauce with spices/herbs, it can encompass many different kinds of meals. They are a heterogeneous bunch and hail from India and Nepal to Thailand to Great Britain, Japan and even Trinidad and Guyana. They can be quite different and for those who shun at the sight of curry on a menu or in a recipe (yes, count me in on that), I wanted to highlight beginner-friendly curries this week. Curries for those who do not like curries. Like me. If these are my favourite curries so far, then you can be assured that you will love them, too.

While I am still averse to eating curries in restaurants, I had a favourite Indian restaurant in my pre-vegan days. It was at Amaya that I fell in love with flavourful Indian cooking. Instead of over the top earthy and spicy dishes, I could taste layers of flavour. I still want to know how to recreate their butter chicken at home (without resorting to chicken, cream and butter, obviously!), but have yet to crack that recipe.

I know there are others like me that quiver when they hear the word curry, not knowing what it will taste like. Will it be hot or spicy? Will it be earthy? Sweet? Creamy? Each component makes a difference and can make me wax from loving a dish to wane and hating it altogether. Remember the 11-Spiced Lentil Salad? You essentially make your own curry powder with all the spices, but had Sarah called it Curried Lentil Salad, I never would have made it. But I am so glad I did, since the flavours were all right up my alley.

For those like me, or for anyone who wants to make a delicious flavourful curry, try this one: vegetable balti. Named after a cooking vessel or the Baltistan area in Pakistan, its origins are debated, hailing from Birmingham in Britain but possibly originally created in Pakistan.  Baltis can incorporate lamb or chicken, but in this case, I feature it with tomatoes, cauliflower and spinach.

Regardless, it is the sauce that counts. I hesitate to call it a curry sauce, because honestly it is a deliciously spiced tomato slurry that is the star of the show. With my adapted recipe below, it is more sweet and savoury than spicy but there is a backdrop of spice. Dial up the heat to your taste, but I loved it exactly as written. The dash of garam masala added after cooking was a neat twist.  The savoury tomato curry sauce smothers chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, crisp cauliflower and loads of spinach. You could use any vegetables you prefer, including green beans, eggplant, zucchini or sweet potatoes. Balti curries tend to be a bit more soupy because they are supposed to be eaten with bread like naan, instead of rice.

Furthermore, I love how healthy the recipe is with limited oil and loaded to the brim with vegetables. So many tomatoes and onions, it is nuts! I also didn’t think all my spinach would fit into my skillet, but then the magic of wilting occurred. 😉

This recipe actually took a while to make. The sauce alone needed 30 minutes to simmer, but if you make it on a separate day, then yes, this dish could come together in under half an hour. You could even cheat and buy premade balti sauce, in a pinch.  In fact, double or triple the curry sauce so that you can freeze it and whip up this curry quickly for a weekday meal. I wish I would have done that the first time as I only had a smidgen leftover. 🙂


This is my submission to My Kitchen, My World for Britain, to E.A.T. World for Britain, to this month’s Simple and in Season, and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends.

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Spanish Lentil and Squash Stew with Roasted Garlic

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on April 13, 2011 at 5:46 AM


Who likes garlic? I mean, really likes garlic? I probably shouldn’t scare the garlic-shy from this recipe, because it was really tasty. And didn’t leave me with garlic breath, so it couldn’t have been that potent with 14 cloves of garlic.

Ten of those garlic cloves are roasted, so they don’t really count towards the scary garlic count. Although, I almost had second thoughts as I dumped in 4 cloves of raw garlic at the end of making this stew. I shouldn’t have doubted Anya’s genius, though.

This recipe comes from The New Spanish Table, and I had been eyeing this recipe for months (I first mentioned it on my list of things to make with butternut squash back in November and again in January!). Honestly, I waited too long.  This is a lovely, hearty stew that is both savoury but still slightly sweet.  Lentils fill the stew as its base, and the butternut squash and red peppers add colour and sweetness. A head of roasted garlic brings a mellow sweetness as well. The peppers are both boiled and pan-fried for a contrast in flavour and texture (but I feel like this step could be skipped if you are pressed for time). And while I stated I don’t want to muck with Anya’s genius, I made a slight modification to her recipe, that I think lent to its prowess. Instead of adding in two fresh tomatoes (nothing with a fresh taste is around during the winter!), I added 1 cup of passata (strained tomatoes) at the end. This is where you get a silky tomato base for the stew that complements the squash, bell pepper and lentils so well.

I love it when I am surprised by a dish; but I shouldn’t have been. 🙂


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Jaya at Desi Soccer Mom, and E.A.T. World for Spain. Read the rest of this entry »

Ultimate Winter Couscous

In Mains (Vegetarian) on March 7, 2011 at 5:51 AM


It has been nearly 3 months since I have returned from Morocco and I am surprised I have yet to post a Moroccan dish.

I will admit that I was a bit sick of Moroccan cuisine after being profoundly immersed into it for 2 weeks straight. For every meal, I would seek out a new dish that I hadn’t yet tried. As we meandered from Casablanca, to Marrakesh, through the Berber inland towards the Sahara desert, up to Fes and Meknes, there was always something new to try. However, it was mostly meat. I remember asking if I could get a couscous dish without meat, and the waiter told me I could have it with chicken instead. That’s not what I had wanted, either, actually.

My friend and I scoped out some vegetarian restaurants (Clock Cafe in Fes, and Earth Cafe in Marrakech), but vegetarians options (nevermind vegan options) were hard to come by. So, I plunged myself into Moroccan culture, and ate like the Moroccans. And ate my meat quota for the year.

However, perusing the web, there are bountiful recipes with exotic Moroccan-spiced vegetarians dishes. I just didn’t find them in abundance while in Morocco!

While I still have yet to recreate the traditional flavourful and spicy chickpea and lentil Moroccan soup (harira), I busted out nearly everything in my spice cabinet to create this ultimate winter couscous (christened as such by Yotam Ottolenghi). I adapted the recipe I found in Plenty, but a similar recipe was originally posted in his column at the Guardian.

At the same time both savoury and sweet, it embodies my favourite aspects of Moroccan cuisine. The base of the vegetable tagine is made of butternut squash, carrots, parsnips and chickpeas and it is pleasantly spiced with cinnamon, ginger, sweet paprika, bay leaves, turmeric and chili flakes. It could be made even hotter with harissa, but I opted to keep it more tame. The sweetness comes from the dried apricots which are simmered in the broth with the spiced vegetables. Feel free to sprinkle with fresh lemon juice, or use the suggested preserved lemon.

Couscous is prepared separately, but once combined, you have a good textural contrast. Chopped cilantro adds the fresh, finishing touch.

Sometimes cooking in your own kitchen brings you places you never thought. And in this case, my kitchen is a better place to experiment with vegetarian Moroccan cuisine. And trust me, there will be plenty more. 🙂

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Ammalu’s Kitchen and E.A.T. World for Morocco.

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Vegetarian Bulgur Chili (aka Moosewood’s Chili Fest Chili, adapted)

In Mains (Vegetarian) on January 26, 2011 at 7:32 PM

One of my friends has a sulphite allergy. In short, she could have an anaphylaxis reaction (ie, really bad difficulties breathing) if she consumes sulphites. Sulphites are a commonly used preservative and found in a whole host of foods (processed food, beer, wine, dried fruit, etc). Canada is very good at making food producers label their products with any sulphites used, so I always check labels when I know my friend will be over.

In reality, though, I don’t make many things from processed foods, so I should be ok, right? Well, as it turns out, I have been cooking with a few sulphite-laden ingredients – vegetable broth (not homemade), coconut milk and even dried fruit were among the many culprits I have found in my recent dishes.

So when we needed an emergency girls night in, and when it was -28C outside (with the wind), I scoured for recipes I could make without venturing to the grocery store AND that had no sulphites AND that would taste best the next day as leftovers (since I wasn’t going to cook after work). A pretty onerous task, if I may say so myself!

I narrowed my choices to two options: The New Spanish Table‘s Lentil and Pumpkin Stew with Roasted Garlic OR the Chili Fest Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. The chili was rife with savoury flavours like cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, paprika and oregano. Oh, and molasses! Considering it was so cold outside, the chili won out instantly.

I modified the original recipe by increasing the onions, red bell peppers and carrots while omitting the celery. I used the sweet paprika and Aleppo chili flakes for the heat (and omitted the chipotles in adobo sauce). I mixed up the bean variety by using both red kidney beans and black beans. But, the best addition, the secret ingredient, was bulgur! (I realize that my title gave it away….)

The result was a hearty chili with the mix of savoury flavours. Not my favourite chili, as something was a bit off and I prefer my chili with a bit more robust tomato flavour. Next time I might add some tomato paste. The bulgur, though, was excellent and a healthy way to get the mouth-feel of ground meat, without any meat at all. Other grains – millet, spelt, etc – could also be used. TVP is also an option. In any case, this is a nice way to warm up during the winter. Pair it with a leafy salad, some crusty bread, or just eat the chili plain. The original recipe called for a yogurt-cilantro topping to help with the heat. Personally, mine wasn’t a spicy chili but that’s because I didn’t put in the chipotle peppers!

I will have to find some more red peppers to make that lentil and squash stew, though… 🙂


This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted byAstrid from Paulchens FoodBlog.

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Creamy Bean Mole with Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale

In Mains (Vegetarian) on November 6, 2010 at 6:54 AM


I love to know how people choose their recipes. Especially food bloggers who tend to try a variety of food.

I scooped up a few butternut squashes when they were on sale, and they are great because they don’t take up coveted refrigerator space. I can plot and determine a strategy to use them in my cooking. What will I make first? Ina Garten’s Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with a Warm Cider Vinaigrette? Smitten Kitchen’s Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew or her Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese? The New Spanish Table‘s Lentil and Pumpkin Stew with Roasted Garlic? Joanne’s Tofu, Tempeh and Squash Peanut Butter Mole? Ottolenghi‘s Roasted Butternut Squash with Burnt Eggplant and Pomegranate Molasses? Fat Free Vegan’s Lemony Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash? 101 Cookbook’s Borlotti Bean Mole with Roasted Winter Squash? There are so many options to mull over as squash season starts up again.

So how did I narrow my choices? I didn’t have all the ingredients for any of the recipes, so I kept my eyes out for the missing links. While I was walking around the St Lawrence Market, I stumbled upon fresh cranberry beans (borlotti beans). I had bought some dried Romano beans earlier to make the dish, but when I spotted the fresh beans, I couldn’t resist! The Borlotti Bean Mole was the chosen one. How could I not have chosen it initially? It has lots of great ingredients – caramelized onions, roasted butternut squash, ground almonds, some kale is thrown in for greenery and it is smothered in a spicy chocolate mole sauce. Now, all I had to do was also find some kale. 🙂

My favourite part of St Lawrence Market is the Saturday morning farmer’s market in the North building. For early risers like me, it is great because it is probably one of the only places to buy groceries at 6am in the morning! 🙂 I spotted a bunch of kale for $2. Let me not fool you, this bunch was HUGE. It could not fit into my bicycle pannier, it was that big. It did not even fit in my refrigerator. I had to store it outside on my balcony! And when I measured out 3 oz of kale for this recipe, I needed one leaf. Just one leaf!

I have never had a Mexican mole before. For the other newbies out there, it is pronounced mo-lay, not mole like the skin lesion. I was corrected, thanks Rob! My Mexican modesty was revealed! 😉

While I generally am a bit apprehensive with traditionally spicy dishes, I really enjoyed this. I modified Heidi’s recipe (who in turn adapted it from Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me) to increase the beans and squash, and I used Aleppo chili flakes instead of the jalapeno peppers. The chocolate softens the spicy kick. I otherwise kept things the same and really enjoyed it. It takes a while to make, at least an hour prep, with a further 2 hours of slow cooking, but you have a wonderfully fragrant meal. I think you could skip the 2 hour cooking time, if you really need to. It would still taste great. Everything was basically cooked before it went in and when I snuck in a lick before I popped it into the oven, it was very tasty. It was also slightly colourful at this point. Two hours later, the flavours were more robust, deeper, darker and savoury but it was still great beforehand. The cranberry beans are creamy, the squash is sweet, the kale has a slight bite to it and it is smothered in a spicy chocolate sauce. Who says you can only have chocolate as a sweet treat? It is wonderful savoury as well. 🙂 Enjoy!

This is my submission to this week’s BSI featuring chilies and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen.

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Roasted Eggplant, Red Pepper and Green Bean Pomegranate Salad

In Salads on August 28, 2010 at 6:01 AM

This is my third dish in a string of salads with pomegranate molasses. No bulgur here, so my brain didn’t do the auto-compare with The Best Salad Ever.

Just like the Pomegranate Tabbouleh Salad, this one was adapted from Closet Cooking when Kevin went on his pomegranate kick!

This is a salad filled with green beans, roasted eggplant and roasted red peppers.  I liked the Spanish paprika, cinnamon and cumin with the roasted eggplant, so there was a savoury twist I wasn’t expecting. I may remove the cumin next time, though.  The green beans added a nice crunch, and a lovely colour to boot. I also enjoyed the creaminess from the feta, but it is completely optional. The mild pomegranate dressing worked well to not overshadow the savoury flavours in the salad.  I preferred this salad to the tabbouleh, despite it being less of a complete meal. Serve it with some crusty bread or wrap it in a pita as a portable lunch.

This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring mint, to Jayasri for this month’s Cooking with Seeds featuring pomegranate seeds and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Asiago Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks

In Appetizers, Sides on June 5, 2010 at 10:51 AM

Zucchini is a very versatile vegetable which is great when gardens are overflowing with zucchini. Sadly, I don’t have a garden, YET.  I have a balcony, still devoid of plant life, but no backyard, courtesy of living in an apartment. I was *this close* to signing up for a shareable backyard garden through Sharing Backyards or the Yes In My Backyard through The Stop Community Food Centre. But my mom convinced me not to do it this year as the backyards were a bit further than in my immediate neighbourhood. Our compromise will be a deep dish herb garden for my balcony. However, zucchinis won’t fit in there. It won’t stop me from buying them, though.

Adapted from Closet Cooking, this is an interesting way to bake zucchini into fries. Zucchini is cut into sticks, coated in egg and dredged in Asiago cheese and (panko) bread crumbs mixed with smoked paprika and oregano. My Asiago cheese was freshly grated and I found it a bit difficult to stick to the zucchini when in a 1:1 ratio with the breadcrumbs, so I diluted it with more bread crumbs which helped. I liked the extra smokey flavour brought by the paprika into the crunchy coating. A bonus for this recipe is that the zucchini is baked, not fried. Perfect as a side, and if you make big pieces, great for dipping into a marinara or tzatziki sauce as a appetizer.

This is my submission to Preeti’s Green Gourmet Event at W’Rite’ Food and my second submission to this week’s Blogger Secret Ingredient event, featuring Paprika, hosted by PreventionRD, and this month’s Side Dish Showdown.

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Hungarian Mushroom Soup

In Soups on June 2, 2010 at 11:39 PM

Over the long weekend, I went cross border shopping. Yes, me, the Queen of Not Shopping (save grocery shopping, because I LOVE that!), drove 5 hours to an outlet mall in Michigan. I bought some clothes, but one of my must-visit destinations was Penzeys, a spice store in Detroit. Aimee at Sugared Ellipses mailed me some small containers of various spices from Penzeys in the fall, and let’s just say I fell in love with them. I already needed a refill.

I perused Penzeys’ catalogue and thought I knew what I wanted to buy. I thought! I never knew visiting a spice store could be that much fun. The difference with Penzeys is that there are so many different kinds of spices that you have to smell them to understand the differences. For paprika, did I want Hungarian, Californian or Spanish?  Californian has the best colour but Hungarian the best flavour (who cares about looks anyways?, says the food blogger). Spanish is more all-around goodness. Thankfully someone was there to help me sniff every single one of them, and then again and even a third time, before I decided to stick with Hungarian paprika. But then there was other question – sweet or half-sharp? Sweet it was with its smokey flavour and my virgin palate.

Hungarian sweet smoked paprika is definitely one of my new favourite spices because of its smokey full flavour without too much heat. I already used it in a spiced brownie but it was mixed with a few spices. This soup really lets the paprika shine.

A creamy mushroom soup, without cream (wait, does sour cream count?) with a hint of fresh dill and the smokiness of the paprika really sets this soup apart from the pack. I really liked the soup with shiitakes, but that’s because I am a sucker for Japanese ‘shrooms.

This soup was originally posted at Allrecipes.com, and posted by some of my favourite food bloggers. It was time for me to follow in their foot steps.

This is my submission to this week’s Blogger Secret Ingredient event, featuring Paprika, hosted by PreventionRD. I am also sending this to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays .

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Spiced Brownies

In Desserts, Favourites on May 19, 2010 at 10:05 PM

This is a story about how to win friends and how to lose friends. All through brownies. Brownies are that powerful. OK, I am exaggerating but these brownies are that good.

Just like creamy salads are best shared, a 9×13 pan of brownies are meant to be shared as well – even if you’ve been eating cabbage all week.

I was visiting a friend who was recovering from surgery and while she barely had mustered up an appetite all week, when I asked what I could bring her, she immediately exclaimed: “CHOCOLATE!”. What better way to satisfy a chocolate craving than through fudgy melt-in-your-mouth brownies? Well, when they are all spiced up! Consider this akin to the Mayan Chocolate Haagen-Dazs. These brownies, which are sinfully delicious as pure chocolate brownies, are elevated to the next level with the addition of cardamom, cinnamon and paprika.  I opted to use a smoked sweet paprika, which lacks the true oomph of a chili powder, but I enjoyed the quiet subtleness of spice amongst the chocolaty goodness.

So these brownies made their rounds and received many praises.  But how could I lose friends through brownies? Well, let’s just say I was never more insulted when a co-worker asked whether they were made from a box. Do brownies that taste like this come from a box? I don’t think so!! 11 ounces of dark chocolate came from a box, though… two boxes, actually. 😛


This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

This is my submission to Meeta’s Monthly Mingle featuring Special Sweet Treats and to We Should Cocoa for coffee.

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