26 February 2011


I have entered the Wessex Culinaire cooking event this March. I am competing in the Vegan live cooking event and will have 20 minutes to present two plates of a well balanced dish. It will be judged on presentation, flavour, texture and technical difficulty. I have decided on my dish using seasonal British vegetables as the main ingredients and have taken influence from various Asian cooking cultures to add a modern twist and utilise the great flavours from the Asian spices.
I had a trial run today and was really happy with the result so I took a few pictures and wanted to share it on my blog.

Curried red lentils and spinach,
Coconut milk, chilli, ginger, ground spices and fresh coriander.
Served with;
Sesame and garlic bread,
Cauliflower tempura, sticky sweet chilli dipping sauce.

As a regular diner of meat, fish and dairy, I have challenged myself to create a vegan dish for the Wessex Culinaire live cooking competition. I created this dish to show off the versatility of British vegetables that will be enhanced by modern cooking techniques and the use of Asian spices and flavours that have long been a part of modern British cooking. As well as bringing unique flavours to my cooking, I have researched some of the health benefits that my chosen ingredients bring to my dish.

Chilli; Contains capsaicin which can aid pain relief, prevent stomach ulcers and is good for the heart.
Cinnamon; Can help lower blood sugar levels and reduce bacterial growth.
Turmeric; Contains curcumin which is a natural anti-inflammatory.
Coriander; Contains protein, fat and minerals to help aid digestion.
Garlic; Can destroy cancer cells, good for blood circulation.
Ginger; Helps stimulate blood flow.
Lentils; Good source of dietary fibre and a source of protein in vegan diets.
Coconut milk; Contains vitamins, potassium, calcium, and chloride. Although a source of saturated fat, the main one being lauric acid, this is made up of short and medium chain fatty acids which are broken down quickly to be used for energy instead of turning to fat.
Spinach; A super food rich in calcium, folic acid, vitamins C and K, Iron and fibre.
Cauliflower; Contains vitamin C and manganese, natural anti-inflammatory.

Garam masala recipe;
4 tbsp coriander seeds       1 tbsp mustard seeds     2 tbsp cumin seeds         1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp fennel seeds            1 tbsp fenugreek seeds   2 inch piece cinnamon     1 tsp black cardamom seeds
1 tsp cloves                        1 tsp crushed bay leaves

Toast all the seeds over a moderate heat for a few minutes until the aromas are released from the seeds. Do not over toast as they will burn and become bitter. Grind to a fine powder when cooled slightly.

Cauliflower tempura, sticky sweet chilli dipping sauce.
1/2 small cauliflower, cut into small florets.
Tempura batter 
(50 grams self raising flour, 50 grams corn flour, 1 tspn garam masala, 1 tspn turmeric, 
25ml cold fizzy water)
Sweet chilli sauce
(1/2 red pepper & 1 red chilli, finely diced, 1 inch grated ginger,
 2 tblspn white vinegar & 2 tblspn brown sugar)

  1. Mix the ingredients for the sweet chilli sauce and boil together for a few minutes until thickened.
  2. Coat the cauliflower florets in the batter and deep fry for about 3 minutes.
  3. Serve warm with the sweet chilli dip.

Curried red lentils and spinach,
Coconut milk, chilli, ginger, ground spices and fresh coriander.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds.
1 teaspoon coriander seeds.
1 teaspoon fennel seeds.
1 teaspoon mustard seeds.
1 small onion, finely diced.
2 cloves garlic, crushed.
1 inch fresh grated ginger.
1 x red chilli, finely sliced.
1 teaspoon turmeric powder.
1 large tomato, roughly chopped.
10 curry leaves.
100 grams pre-soaked red lentils.
300 ml coconut milk.
1 teaspoon garam masala.
50 grams fresh baby spinach.
25 grams fresh coriander.
Juice of half a lemon,
Walnut oil for cooking, salt and pepper to taste.

1) Toast the whole seeds in a pan to release the aromas.
2) Add a splash of oil and sauté the ginger and garlic,
3) Add the onion, chilli, curry leaves and turmeric. Sauté for a few more minutes.
4) Add the tomato. Cook for a few minutes until the tomato begins to break down.
5) Add the lentils and a little water. Cook for about five minutes.
6) Add the coconut milk and reduce by half until the sauce has thickened.
7) Add the garam masala, spinach and coriander.
8) Stir together to cook the spinach. 
9) Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning.

Sesame and garlic bread,

200 grams self raising flour.
50 ml soya yoghurt.
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced.
1 cm fresh ginger, grated.
1 teaspoon sesame seeds.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Method:   (Pre heat an oven proof pan at 220 Celsius)
  1. Mix the flour and yoghurt together to form a soft dough.
  2. Mix in half of the other ingredients, reserving the other half to garnish.
  3. Knead the dough for a few minutes and leave covered until ready to roll out.
  4. Divide into 4 balls and flatten them out with your hands into tear shapes.
  5. Brush one side with oil and divide the remaining ingredients over the breads.
  6. Place the breads into a preheated pan and put in the oven.
  7. They will take about 5 to 6 minutes


  1. Another gold medal to my name. I am so chuffed! it was worth all the effort that I put in to creating my vegan dish.. :-)

  2. Are you married? Can I come and polish the knives?
    Or just become Vegan and give us more!

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  3. And please don't wait so long before you do gives us more of the vegan cuisine
    Thank you