Seasonal recipes: Winter

 

Ayurvedic root vegetable soup 

Why Ayurvedic? Because the spices in this recipe help digestion and the absorption of nutrients. You can use whole spices, in which case increase the quantities and make a batch or ready ground. Or a good garam masala mix is an easy alternative.

  • 1 medium sweet potato; half a butternut squash; one turnip; one small red onion – or your choice of winter vegetables
  • Water – filtered if possble
  • Knob of ginger finely chapped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds – or ½ tsp ground
  • 3 whole peppercorns – or 1/8 tsp ground
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick – or 1/2 tsp ground
  • 2 cloves – or pinch ground
  • 5cardamon pods – or 1/2 tsp ground
  • 2 -3  coconut oil
  • ½ tsp salt or to taste
  • 200 ml coconut milk or to taste*
  • Method

If you are using whole spices, grind them to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar.

Chop the vegetables into cubes.

Melt the ghee or oil and lightly fry the spices, ginger and onion (if used). Add the vegetables, coat well with spices, and fry until the outsides of the cubes begin to soften. Cover with enough water and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Transfer to a blender  with just enough of the liquid to lubricate, blend to desired consistency then add more of the water depending on how thick you like your soup. Sieve if you like a very smooth soup.

Swirl in the the coconut milk* and add boiling water until you reach the required consistency.

 

Brussel Sprouts with lemon and ginger

A bit late for Christmas but guaranteed to give a lift to the humble Brussel sprout. And even convert those not keen.

Moreover the addition of lemon and ginger helps absorption of nutrients and make sprouts more digestible!

  • 300g sprouts
  •  Juice (about a dsp spoon) and rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 slices of peeled fresh ginger –
  • Splash (about a dsp) soy sauce
  • ½ tsp coconut sugar
  • Pinch salt to taste
  • Generous tbsp coconut oil

Using a sharp knife, halve the sprouts and remove any dirty outer leaves. Shred the ginger and lemon peel.

Bring a sauce pan of water to the boil (no salt – it drains the colour), plunge in the sprouts, bring back to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes until they are a bright green. Drain, plunge into cold water and drain again. This will set the colour.

Heat a wok (at a pinch a large frying pan will do), add the oil and when it is hot throw in the ginger and lemon peel. Stir until they begin to soften then add the sprouts and stir again. Splash in the soy sauce, lemon juice and sugar and stir fry until the sprouts are cooked to your liking. If you let them turn colour a bit they will absorb more flavour.

Stir fried shredded potato

Sticking with our Chinese theme, but totally vegan, and suitable for most Ayurvedic diets, here’s a simple seasonal recipe to add a zing to that winter staple, the humble potato. Though actually China has a very different relationship to the potato than the West, seeing it as a vegetable, to be cooked in interesting ways, and not a staple at all.

This sweet and sour version is a great favourite with children. If you like a little spice you can stir fry the potato shreds with thin strips of green chilli pepper, or even a crumbled dried red one, but then leave out the vinegar and just add a small pinch of sugar.

  • 400 g (normally 2) (waxy) potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1½ tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp red rice vinegar
  • ½-1 tsp of salt.
  • oil for stir frying

Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut into slices and then into very thin matchstick shreds. Soak in cold water to get rid of the excess starch. Tip away the water and drain well.

Heat the wok, until very hot, add two tbsp oil. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, let them sizzle until they are black and all the flavour is released, then remove with a slotted spoon.

Turn up the heat (the oil needs to be hot for this dish). Tip in the potato and stir-fry rapidly, tossing and turning. All the pieces need to come into contact with the wok. Add the vinegar, toss and turn, then the sugar, and lastly the salt. Mix again to distribute the flavours.

Taste a piece of potato. It should be crunchy but not raw! If you are happy with the texture and seasonings, serve.