Vegetable Pakoras

One of my favourite Indian foods are pakoras. I love this crispy, spicy, snack. It’s perfect as part of a meal, but equally good as a savoury treat. Eaten all over the Indian subcontinent they are a great way of using up bits of different vegetables, working well with cauliflower, courgettes, onions, potatoes, spinach, chard, aubergine…the list goes on. An added bonus for our family is that they’re inherently gluten free, due to their use of gram flour.

Simple in method, they do however need a few different herbs and spices to achieve the perfect pakora. For some, this would require a trip to the supermarket, or local ethnic shop (or both) to stock up on the necessary ingredients. I love having a range of spices in my cupboard, but sometimes the convenience of a spice mix is a godsend.  When I was recently contacted by Hari Ghotra about her Pakora curry kit, I thought I’d check it out.

The kit comes with all the spices and gram flour combined, and instuctions to make both vegetable and paneer pakora. There’s also a link to a video showing the process involved, but the recipe on the card is clear and easy to follow.  As mentioned before, pakora are very versatile, so I chose to use up a glut of courgettes, as well as some potatoes and onions. I love growing courgettes at the allotment, but if you look away for a moment, they seem  to grow in seconds, so another way to use them up is always handy. The one thing with using courgettes is that they have a lot of liquid in them, so after grating them they need to be squeezed of excess water, before combining them with the rest of the mix. Once your mixture is combined, it needs to be used pretty quickly, dropping spoonfuls into hot oil and frying until golden brown.

For a recipe which includes the spices needed to recreate the mix, see Hari Ghotra’s website, where you’ll also find a rnage of different curry kits and recipes to try. As a handy store cupboard emergency pack, these are pretty good. They certainly make it easy to turn a glut into a tasty, spicy treat.

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Courgette Sourdough Bruschetta

courgette sourdough bruschettaAs its Zero Waste Week, I thought I should post a quick recipe to use up the last slice or so of the loaf. I’ve been making more bread recently and we frequently end up with a few slices worth being left a little too long to be used for a sarnie. Real bread, that which is made of the simplest of ingredients, tends to not go mouldy, instead going stale first. This leads to it being perfect for a range of different uses as toast. One of my favourite at the moment is bruschetta. A great way to use up vegetables, as well as the bread. We’ve got a few courgettes still, so I used one to top my slice or two of leftover sourdough.

You will need (a snack for one)
2 slices of bread – I used sourdough, but any good bread would work.
1/2 clove garlic
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 courgette
A little red chilli (finely chopped)
1 tsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper

Use a speed peeler to cut the courgette into long ribbons. Place the ribbons on a hot griddle and cook for a minute or so on each side, until they star to have charring on the courgette. Remove them from the griddle and place them in a bowl with the lemon juice, chilli, a little salt and pepper, and almost all of the oil. Allow the courgettes to absorb the flavours, whilst you toast the bread. When the toast is done, rub it with the garlic, drizzle a little oil on it, and top with the courgettes mix.

Courgettes – A Guest Post from Plot 22

The allotment has been a real haven for me over the last year. I’m sure I’m not alone in benefiting from the communal and restorative properties of time outside growing. At our allotment site we have a community plot, Plot 22, which offers people just that. So I asked Emma, who runs the project, to write a guest post.

PLOT 22 is an allotment garden project that offers people who may not otherwise have access to a garden the chance to enjoy and participate in creating a peaceful, abundant and edible oasis in the middle of our busy city.

I think of courgettes as cheerful generous friends! They are easy to grow and so gallopingly bountiful it can be hard to keep up with them. That said, the planting out stage is their most vulnerable but those that make it through and survive the slugs have a prickly and reassuring sturdiness. New fruits seem to double in size over night. And for us, gardening and cooking collectively on site at PLOT 22 this ensures a feast several days a week in the summer months. This month we are dining out on a variety gifted to us by another allotment holder: a yellow courgette that produces sweet round fruits. Happily the slugs didn’t decimate these plants as they did some of our own courgettes grown from seed. This may have been because we planted these yellow ones in raised beds, waist high, certainly out of the eye line of slugs, or more likely their scent detectors.

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Courgettes are most definitely a vegetable made for cooking outside. There’s very little preparation required and no need for saucepans at all! We’ve had delicate raw ribbons in our salads, using a potato peeler – easier with the long variety than the round sort, marinated multi-coloured courgette and halloumi kebabs grilled on the BBQ, and thick, colourful slices seared on the hot bars and dropped straight into fresh herby, garlicky dressing to soak up all the flavours. Next week we’ll try a recipe shared by a Japanese friend: grating the juicy pulp into spelt flour then mixed with a dash of oil to make thick green pancakes, cooked quickly in a skillet on the fire they are a treat I’ve been looking forward to for months!

It is true that you can have too much of a good thing. Sometimes a courgette’s generosity can seem like a burden of responsibility – how to make use of all this sudden vegetable goodness before they turn into the size of baseball bats? I’ve often found bags of these oversized beauties left on my doorstep by other gardeners, clearly overwhelmed by their mighty bounty. But that’s the beauty of gluts – there’s so much to go around. It reminds us how abundant Nature is and brings out the generous friend in us!