Serve a veritable vegan feast of nut-topped tomato rice, spicy beans, fried plantain and a five minute mango pickle.
200g/7oz basmati rice
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tsp ghee, or vegetable oil
small handful cashew nuts
1 tsp urad dal (black lentils)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida
1 onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground fenugreek
1 x 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tamarind paste
small handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g/2½oz channa dal (yellow lentils), soaked in a bowl of water for 5 minutes
1 red chilli, finely chopped
10-15 French beans, finely chopped
2 tsp vegetable oil, or more if the mixture is too dry
1 tsp urad dal (black lentils)
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp asafoetida
¼ tsp ground turmeric
3 fresh curry leaves
For the tomato rice spice mix, place all the spice mix ingredients in a dry frying pan and toast for a couple of minutes, or until the seeds are aromatic – take care not to burn the spices.
Transfer the spices to a spice grinder, grind the mixture to a fine powder and set aside.
For the tomato rice, wash the rice for a few minutes under cold, running water and then drain well.
Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a saucepan and fry the rice for 2 minutes.
Add 360ml/12½fl oz of water to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed by the rice. Set aside.
In a frying pan, heat one teaspoon of the ghee (or oil) and fry the cashew nuts until they’re golden-brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add the urad dal, mustard seeds and asafoetida, and fry until the lentils turn brown and the mustard seeds begin to pop (throughout this recipe keep well away from the pan while the mustard seeds are frying in case they go in your eyes).
Add the onion and garlic and fry until golden-brown. Add the green chilli, red chilli powder, turmeric and fenugreek powder and fry for 30 seconds.
Add the chopped tomatoes, tamarind paste, two tablespoons of the spice mix and the chopped coriander leaves, and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Continue to cook for 4-5 minutes, then add three tablespoons of water to loosen the mixture.
Cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the sauce reduces to a thick paste.
Add the cooked rice to the tomato mixture and mix gently.
Transfer the rice to a microwavable dish and add a further 120ml/4fl oz water and the remaining two teaspoons of ghee (or oil). Microwave on full power for three minutes. Keep warm.
For the beans paruppu usili, drain the channa dal and transfer to a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. Grind with the red chilli to form a paste - if the paste is a little dry add a splash of water.
In a saucepan, boil 250ml/8½fl oz of the water and add the French beans and salt, to taste. Cook the beans for 1-2 minutes, then drain well.
Heat the oil in a separate saucepan, add the urad dal, mustard seeds and asafoetida and fry until the lentils turn brown and the mustard seeds crackle.
Add the channa dal and chilli paste mixture, and the turmeric and curry leaves. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and fry until the mixture becomes crumbly (you may need to add more oil a little at a time as it cooks).
Add the cooked French beans and continue frying for a few more minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.
For the mango ‘pickle’, in a mixing bowl, combine the mango, chilli powder, turmeric, fenugreek and asafoetida, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the oil in a small pan, add the mustard seeds and fry until they pop. Remove the seeds from the heat, tip them over the mango mixture and mix well. Set aside.
For the plantain crisps, combine the water, salt and turmeric in a small bowl and mix well.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the sliced plantain. Cook for a minute and remove from the pan. Transfer the plantain to a large bowl and mix with the salt and turmeric until evenly coated.
Return the plantain to the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until the plantain is crisp and golden-brown.
Remove the plantain crisps from the pan and set aside to drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Serve the tomato rice scattered with the reserved toasted cashew nuts and a sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves. Spoon the beans paruppu usili, plantain crisps and mango pickle alongside.
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