Recipe: Halloumi pakoras with daal, aloo chaat chips and chilli jam
PUBLISHED: 21:00 14 August 2019
This dish is so full of flavour you really won't miss the meat.
"That is so typically you," a friend laughed at me over dinner this week. Why the cruel (OK funny) jibes? Well, I was explaining the origins of this week's recipe. So, let me set the scene. It's a muggy Saturday afternoon. I've just walked nearly two miles from the car park into the belly of Latitude Festival with my family, mentally jotting how to get back to our Volvo - a right past the tower thingy, up the hill, past the dead tree, to the right of the huge pile of manure. The kids (alright, me too) are hangry so we head for the Street Feast area where there's such a dizzying array of choice I almost have anxiety attack trying to work out what we should have. The boys go one way, searching for the ultimate burger. Ella and I queue next to a lady with a jaunty netted hat, a pink tutu and gold sparkly lipstick for a bowl of katsu curry for what seems like forever.
We saunter to the Lake Stage with our purchase, where the band has been plucking stringed instruments and shouting into microphones for sound checks for around 20 minutes. I set my jacket (the one with a broken zip I don't mind losing at a festival) on the ground. We plonk out bottoms down, open our gobs to shove in the nosh and….the heavens open!
And I mean that in an almost literal sense. It's like some naughty pixie of the skies has cracked the clouds apart and is sloshing buckets of water everywhere. "Quick Ella, save the food," I cry, dashing for the nearest hedge/tree and almost leaving my newly teenage daughter on her tod. But she nods, covers her bowl and follows me into the undergrowth, where we huddle over our saucy chicken, praying it won't turn to mush.
While Ella succeeded and got a pretty damn good lunch, mine, dear readers, got so wet it looked like bin juice once the weather had had its way. Not to worry, because later on I had a superb veggie dinner in a box - one I've tried to create as faithfully as I can this week. It hit every spot - being crunchy, salty, spicy, sweet and gooey. Crispy chips dusted in aloo chaat spices were loaded with a mild daal, topped with pakora halloumi pieces and anointed with chilli sauce. Enough to make even hardened meat eaters like myself want to turn over to the greenside. The dish got the thumbs up from a veggie pal who tasted the finished dish. Put some tunes on in the kitchen and give it a try.
Halloumi pakoras with daal, aloo chaat chips and chilli jam
For the daal:
Part one: 6 clove garlic peeled and thinly sliced, 2tsps black mustard seeds, 1tsp cumin seeds, pinch salt, 1tbsps dried curry leaves, 2tbsps butter, splash vegetable oil
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For the lentil pot: 1lt veg stock, 250g red lentils, rinsed, 1 green chilli, sliced in half, 1tsp each ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground cumin, large pinch ground cayenne, 4 green cardamom pods lightly crushed, 6 cloves
To finish: Seasoning, 1tsp garam masala
For the chips: 1.5kg peeled Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes, 1tbsps aloo chaat powder (mine was from Waitrose), oil for cooking
For the pakoras: 2 blocks halloumi, 200g gram flour, 1tsp chilli powder, 1.5tsps garam masala, 1tsp ground coriander, 1/2tsp ground cumin, oil for frying
To serve: Chilli Jam - I used Stokes, and chopped peppers, onion and cucumber seasoned with lemon juice and salt
Pop all the daal part one ingredients in a frying pan and fry until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
Now put all the ingredients for the lentil pot in a large pan and bring to the boil, then simmer until soft. You may need to add a touch more water along the way. Once the lentils are soft, bring the heat up to reduce and thicken. The whole process should take no more than 30 minutes.
While the lentils cook, half the potatoes and cut each half into 1.5cm thick pieces. Boil in a large pan for 10 minutes, drain and toss in oil in the pan. Pop in the oven in two trays at 210C for 30 minutes, then turn the chips over and give another 10 to 20 minutes until golden.
When the lentils are thick, add the garam masala and season to taste. Turn the heat off until you're ready to serve. For the pakoras cut the halloumi in half through the middle lengthways, then cut each half into four pieces. Mix the flour and spices in a bowl and add cold water, bit by bit until you have a thick batter the consistency of thick whipped cream.
After you've turned the potatoes over heat half a saucepan of oil to 180C. Dip four pieces of halloumi in batter and carefully lower them into the oil, cooking for a minute or two until golden then removing to kitchen paper to drain. Repeat with the remaining halloumi. Once the potatoes are done, sprinkle over the aloo chaat powder. Serve onto four plates, top with a ladle of the daal, four pakoras, a dollop of chilli jam and some fresh chopped veggies to garnish.