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Nice as spice – autumn recipes

The chill's setting in so what better time to hunker down and take to the kitchen to add some new healthy and flavour-packed dishes to your repetoire this autumn?

There’s nothing like the flavours of the East to hit the spot when you’re craving nutritious comfort food at this time of year, so we asked ‘queen of spice’, Kumud Gandhi, Founder of cookery school, The Cooking Academy, in Rickmansworth to share two recipes inspired by the flavours of the East for you to try at home as the nights draw in.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

This fantastic, colourful salad has it all: in-season cauliflower which is high in fibre, lentils which are rich in iron and a good source of protein, and antioxidants and vitamin C in pomegranate and parsley. Ideal for keeping you fighting fit through the autumn and winter. Add feta, avocado or pine nuts to taste, and serve on its own or as a side to a meat dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 100g puy or green lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 100g of your bulgur wheat or cous cous
  • 550g of cauliflower (small)
  • 1 tbsp Baharat spice
  • handful of cherry tomatoes – halved
  • ¼ of a cucumber – diced
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp of garlic or 2 clove of garlic – minced
  • 2-3 large handfuls of herbs (parsley, mint)
  • Seeds of 1 pomegranate

For The Dressing (optional)

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Method

  1. Put 2 tbsp of oil, 1 tbsp of Baharat spice and 2 tsp of garlic in a large bowl and mix until well combined
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and toss into the spice mixture  
  3. Spread out the florets on a large baking tray, ensuring that they are not touching
  4. Put in the oven at 200°C for 20-25 minutes
  5. Bring the lentils to the boil with the bay leaf and simmer for around 20 minutes until tender, soak the bulgar wheat/cous cous in boiling water for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Dice the cucumber and half the cherry tomatoes, chop the mint and parsley, de-seed the pomegranate
  7. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them (discarding the bay leaf) and rinse with cold water.
  8. Squeeze any water out of the bulgur wheat / cous cous
  9. Add the mint and parsley to the lentils, then season with salt and pepper
  10. Add the diced cucumber to the lentil mixture, scatter over half of the pomegranate seeds and the halved cherry tomatoes
  11. Take the tray of cauliflower out of the oven and add to the lentil mixture, before scattering with the remaining pomegranate seeds
  12. For the dressing mix 3 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of pomegranate molasses with a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl and drizzle over the salad

Vietnamese Caramelised Cod

This sweet and sticky fish dish feels indulgent yet is vibrant and healthy too with a spicy, chilli kick. Serve with steamed rice, Asian greens, fresh herbs and a wedge of lime for extra zestiness.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sugar for marinade + 2tbsp sugar for caramel
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 small shallots finely slice
  • 2 pcs of Cod (good deep fillets if possible)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 60ml coconut water
  • 1 Thai red chilli, sliced diagonally
  • 1 stalk of salad onion or spring onion sliced diagonally
  • Black pepper to taste

To serve

  • Chopped coriander &/or Mint leaves
  • Wedge of lime
  • Steamed rice

Method

  1. In a bowl combine fish sauce, garlic, the 2 tsp sugar and the shallots – mix well then add the fish, stir well then set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan heat the 2 tbsp of sugar on a medium high heat until the sugar melts and becomes a rich mahogany caramel colour. Immediately add the oil and stir well to stop the caramelisation process, whilst keeping the flame on a low heat, (if the mixture cools it will set hard).
  3. Add the fish to the pan (skin side up) with the seasoning and shallots. Cook on a low to medium heat, turning after two minutes once the flesh has picked up the caramel colour.
  4. Add the coconut water, and a few of the red chillies then bring to a simmer on a low heat. Place a lid on the pan and cook for two minutes, then remove the lid, increase the heat to medium and reduce the sauce by about 1/2 until it’s bubbling and sticky and the fish is cooked through.
  5. Season with more fish sauce if you like, add a little black pepper, the salad/green onions, the remining chillies and fresh coriander or mint, then remove from the heat and serve with steamed rice and Asian greens.

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