Petitchef

Guest Recipe: Akhu Shaak- Whole Vegetables with a Spicy Peanut Stuffing

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I?m ecstatic to deliver you a KO Rasoi guest recipe! I am so proud to tell you that this recipe was written and passed on to me by my dear mummy (to me, the best cook in the world!) Having learned from her father, who was a wonderful chef, she has been cooking with so much love for many years. I think all that is left to say about this is thank you mum for teaching me how to cook. I would have never started this blog if it wasn?t for her and my dad?s support and passion for cooking.

Akhu Shaak is what I like to call the Gujarati ?roast dinner?! Which is why I believe it is a great vegetarian alternative to a roast Christmas dinner; there is stuffing, gravy and crispy bits in a single dish! Akhu (pronounced: aakHU) literally means ?whole? and shaak simply means ?curry?. The vegetable stuffing is heavily spiced and is so wonderful for big get-togethers. You can make trays full of however many vegetables you like and just keep them in the oven, covered with foil. Then just remove the foil and wait for the tops to crisp up before you serve. The crispy corners are the best! There will be no fighting over crackling this Christmas, just fighting over crispy akhu shaak corners!

Mum says: Before you begin reading this recipe and start thinking it?s FAR TOO complicated with this long list of ingredients ? please don?t be put off. Trust me, it?s easy. You simply need to throw in all the masala ingredients. If you are missing one or two masala ingredients it will STILL work. It?s a VERY forgiving recipe and well worth trying.

Ingredients
Serves 4-5

2 Baby potatoes (floury type, E.G. Maris Piper in UK)
2 Baby aubergines
2 Baby onions
4 large mild chillies (I used green)
2 Med ripe bananas
or
You can also use any baby vegetables that you may have at hand for example, young okra, baby courgettes, small bell peppers, unripe green tomatoes, tindora (ivy gourd) or any small vegetables that you may like. We often add a handful of peas on the top of everything in the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Ingredients for the masala stuffing

2 tbsp desiccated coconut
½ cup coarsely chopped peanuts ? chopped in the chilli chopper
1 green minced chilli
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp asafoetida
1 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Chilli powder to taste
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 cup of finely chopped fresh coriander
½ cup fresh methi/fenugreek leaves chopped
1 finely chopped onion
¼ cup sunflower oil
½ cup chickpea flour (besan)
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder

For tempering

¼ cup cooking oil
4-5 fresh/dry curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ tsp asafoetida

For the Sauce

1 tbsp tomato puree
1 ½ cups of water
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Chilli powder to taste

Method

1. Dry roast the chickpea flour in a non stick pan with cumin powder and coriander powder until it emits a wonderful, toasted aroma (usually this takes around 2 minutes on a medium heat).

2. Mix in all of the other ingredients for the masala stuffing minus the oil. Set aside. Simple.

3. Prepare your vegetables, leaving the stalks intact make lengthways slits through them without cutting them in half - if you do by mistake then don?t worry they taste/work just as well. Set them aside.

4. Heat ¼ cup sunflower oil to smoking temperature and pour this over the masala stuffing ingredients you mixed together earlier. Be careful because it will splutter and sizzle.

5. Now stand back and nose the aroma the masala emits the moment the hot oil hits it?AHHHHH!

6. Now mix the oil and masala into a paste so it is ready for the vegetables to be stuffed with.

7. Gently pull apart the slit vegetables and start stuffing the masala into them, taking care not to split them apart.

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8. Place the vegetables into a microwave proof plate, cover with cling film making sure you have pricked a couple of air holes for steam to escape. You can steam them, but I find microwaving is quicker. Microwave them until they are half cooked. As various vegetables take different time to cook, I would suggest you cook them separately, for example all of the potatoes, then the aubergines and so forth.

9. Arrange the vegetables in a large oven tray.

10. In a wide pan heat the sunflower oil then add mustard seeds, when they start popping add cumin seeds, curry leaves, sesame seeds and asafoetida.

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11. Add the tomato puree and water (for the sauce) and stir. (at this time I would normally add a handful of frozen peas or sweetcorn). Flavour this sauce to your taste using salt, sugar and chilli powder and cook for 4-5 minutes.

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12. Pour this sauce over the stuffed vegetables and make sure they are all coated.

13. Cover with foil and cook in at 220 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook for a further ten minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or until crispy on top.

14. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with hot rice, Gujarati daal, hot buttered chapattis, accompanied by all the trimmings like Gujarati style pickles, salads, green chillies and a cooling glass of yoghurt lassi.

Oh and please do remmeber to remove the banana skin while you eat! Although saying that in some parts of India, people make a dish out of the banana skin and chickpea flour in a form of a curry because it is edible... somewhat an acquired taste.

Keep sending in your creative recipes for the Create for a Chilli Chopper Competition!



Merry Christmas!




and Mum!








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