Mung Bean and Coconut Lasagna

This is my own creation, and it came out with quite a special flavour. Simply add coconut milk and boiled mung beans. Instead of meat you can use only vegetables if you’re looking for a vegetarian dish.
INGREDIENTS
300g mince meat of your choice (chicken/pork/beef)
300g mung beans (green gram) (soaked overnight and then boiled)
2 tins (800g) chopped tomato
1 onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
3 tbs parsley ( chopped)
150g cheddar cheese
75g Parmesan cheese
6 lasagna sheets
3 tbs butter
3 tbs olive oil
3 tbs flour
2 cup coconut milk (fresh or powder)
1 tsp mustard paste
Salt and pepper
METHOD
Heat the pan, add meat and  cook for about 10 minutes.  When meat is cooked, remove the fat. Boil the mung beans (green gram), mix with the meat and keep on one side. Heat a pan, add olive oil, garlic and onion and sauté. Add chopped tomato, bay leaf and thyme and cook slowly until the sauce becomes thick and rich, then add the salt and pepper.  Check the seasoning, remove the bay leaf. Grate both cheeses and mix with the chopped parsley. Then combine the tomato sauce with the meat and mung beans.
Melt the butter in a pan, add flour and cook until well combined. Remove from heat, add the milk little at a time and mix so there are no lumps. Add mustard paste and heat on low until you get a thick sauce. Remove from the heat, add salt.
Heat the oven to 180*. In an ovenproof dish spoon one third of the meat sauce into the dish, then cover with some fresh lasagna sheets then the coconut sauce. Sprinkle some cheese. Repeat until you have 3 layers of pasta. Cover with the remaining sauce, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until the top is bubbling and lightly browned.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Orange and Chocolate Cake

This is my own recipe for orange and chocolate cake. It is soft and has amazing flavours.

INGREDIENTS 

175g soft butter

3 eggs

2 tbs milk

3 tbs fresh orange juice 

1 tbs orange zest 

1 tbs cocoa powder 

1 tsp baking powder

200g self-raising flour 

175g light muscovado sugar 

For the filling 

350g double cream

50g sugar 

100g unsweetened chocolate (melted in a double boiler)

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

2 tbs orange liqueur or Cointreau 

70g roasted cashew nuts

METHOD 

Preheat the oven 180*C/ 350F. Line a round cake tin with baking paper.  Mix together cocoa powder, baking powder, flour and orange zest in bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the other ingredients until there are no lumps. Add the dry ingredients in three batches to the wet ingredients, folding together until smooth. Pour the cake mixture in to the cake tin, bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool down.

To make the filling – add the double cream and sugar to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until you get a smooth paste. Fold the cream mixture into the melted chocolate and mix well. Mix orange juice with the liqueur.

To assemble – cut the cake into two layers and sprinkle with the orange juice mixture. Spread the cream mixture, stacking together carefully. Finish the cake as you like.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Risotto Cake

This risotto cake with vegetables is my own recipe. Full of flavours. it’s easy to make and a great dish for vegetarians.
INGREDIENTS
500g risotto rice
200g each of carrots and courgettes (grated), leeks (white part, sliced) and capsicum (seeded and chopped)
1 tin chopped tomatos
250g grated parmesan cheese
1 loaf of brown bread (400g) (crumbed)
150g fresh basil and parsley
3 eggs (beaten)
Olive oil
Boiling water or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
METHOD
Cook the rice by adding the boiling water or stock a little at a time until the rice is cooked. Heat the olive oil, sauté the leeks then add the capsicum. Remove from the heat, add grated vegetables and check the seasoning. Add cheese, chopped tomato and vegetables to the rice and mix well. Using a round cutter, make burger-shaped cakes. Coat with egg wash and the herbed breadcrumbs. Heat the pan on low heat, add the olive oil and fry the cakes until golden. Arrange on an oven tray and bake in the oven set at 175* for 20 minutes.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Stuffed Mushrooms

This is a pure vegetarian dish, tasty and very easy to make as a main dish or an appetiser. I use brie cheese, but any type of cheese works as well.
INGREDIENTS
10 Portobello mushrooms
500g spinach (washed and drained)
1 onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tin sweetcorn (150g)
100g grated cheddar cheese, or brie
Salt and pepper to taste
METHOD
Heat the oven to 180*. Peel the mushrooms and arrange on a baking tray. Heat a pan with a oil and saute the garlic and onion. Then add the spinach and corn, cook briefly to retain the green from the spinach then remove immediately from the heat. Check the seasoning. Stuff the mixture into the mushrooms and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for around 8 – 10 minutes until the cheese has melted.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Vegetable Pakora

Vegetable pakora is a pure vegetarian dish, which everyone seems to love. There are lots of different versions of this recipe, this one is my very own (popular because of its crunch). Why buy the frozen ones when this is so easy to make at home?

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup gram flour
2 tbs black sesame seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbs ginger and garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder
Cold water
Juice of half a lemon
Oil for deep frying as needed
Salt
Julien vegetables
2 medium carrot, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 capsicum (different colours), thinly sliced
1 medium courgette, thinly sliced
1 medium aubergine, thinly sliced
1 small cabbage, shredded
METHOD
In a bowl mix ginger, garlic, sesame seeds with the spices, flour and vegetables. Then add little bit of water at a time making sure the vegetables are coated lightly. Do not put too much water in. Check the seasoning and keep on the side for 10 minutes. Heat the oil. Spoon out the pakora mixture a tablespoon at a time into the oil and fry until golden brown (make sure not to burn them). Finish in a 180* oven for ten minutes before serving. Serve with chutney or raita.

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Oven Baked Felafel

Felafel is one of the Middle East’s most popular vegetarian dishes, suitable for breakfast, lunch or supper. It’s also one of my favourite finger foods. On a recent trip to Athens, Greece, I came across a small cafe on a high street that was selling only felafel. The queue was always miles long, so I was curious about their success. Having tasted their felafel, I decided I could do far better. I experimented with a healthier version cooked in the oven, rather than deep fried, and I am very happy to share my recipe with you.

INGREDIENTS

(For best results, if you can find dry white beans soak them overnight in cold water, drain then roughly grind)

1 tin chickpeas 240g

1 garlic clove (chopped)

3 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tbs lemon zest

5 tbs freshly chopped parsley and mint

1 tbs fresh chilli (chopped)

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

Heat the oven 175*. Drain the water from the chickpeas. In a food processor, blend them coarsely (making sure not to form a paste). Transfer to a bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients except for the oil. Check the seasoning. Form into small balls or any shape you like. Heat the olive oil in a l0w flame and seal the felafel balls until just brown. Transfer to an ovenproof tray and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with tahini paste.

Tahini paste

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 tsp cumin powder

2 tbs finely chopped parsley

salt to taste

Mix the ingredients together, then check the seasoning.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Vegetable Stroganoff

Stroganoff is a dish mostly associated with beef, but I invented this version made with vegetables. Adding root vegetables and butternut gives the recipe lots of flavour as well as texture. I think you’re going to enjoy it.

INGREDIENTS

250g sweet potato (peeled and diced)
400g butternut (peeled, seeded and diced)
300g capsicum (red pepper) (seeded and diced)
3 corn on the cob (remove the corn)
200g fresh broad beans
200g fresh green peas
250g white cabbage
250g carrot (peeled and diced)
2 onions (peeled and diced)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
3tbs olive oil
Small bunch of parsley and  basil
3 bay leaves
1 tin chopped tomatoes
250g cream
180g silver skin pickled onions (from a jar)
Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

Heat the oven to 180*. Make a paste with olive oil and fresh herbs, then mix into the vegetables. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the chopped tomato, cream and seasoning into the baked vegetables. Sprinkle the pickled onion on the top and bake for another 15 minutes.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Tortilla Bake with Chicken

This is my own idea and recipe, which I first made for a lunch party for friends. I used chicken and creamy leeks, which came out really nicely, but you can do it as a pure vegetarian dish by substituting tempeh or just vegetables instead of the chicken. Or try seafood (just make sure not to overcook it).


INGREDIENTS 

8 sesame tortillas (or plain tortillas)

400g skinless boneless chicken (marinated with 1/2 lemon, 1 tbs crushed chilli, 1 tbs soya sauce, 2 tbs thyme, salt and pepper in 2 tbs olive oil)

250g leeks (sliced, washed and drained well)

I tin chopped tomato

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 tbs sugar

50g sour cream

100g grated cheddar cheese

3 tbs chopped parsley

METHOD 

Heat the oil in a pan, add garlic and fry until golden brown. Then add onion and sauté until softened. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and sugar and cook on a low heat. When it starts simmering and oil appears on the top, add the salt and pepper until you are happy with the seasoning then remove from the heat.

Heat the oven 170*. Cook the chicken and allow to cool. Slice the cooked chicken roughly and mix with the sliced leeks. Roll the mixture up into the tortillas and arrange in an ovenproof dish, then pour over the tomato mixture and top with cheese.  Cook for 25 minutes, when the cheese melts and turns golden on top. Remove from the oven, add sour cream and parsley to finish.

Serve with a mix leaf salad.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Meat Loaf

My Dad used to make this meat loaf with three types of minced meat – lamb, pork and beef for special occasions. Recently I made this dish for my staff at the hotel using the same method but using only minced beef. It seemed to go down really well.

INGREDIENTS
1kg minced beef
200g onion (chopped)
250g fresh brown bread (crumbled)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
3tbs English mustard paste
2tbs olive oil
1 tsp allspice powder
1 tbs crushed chilli
4 tbs chopped parsley, thyme, and oregano (dried)
Salt

METHOD

Heat the oven to 180*. Heat the oil in a pan, add garlic and fry until golden brown. Add the onion, mix together and cook for about 6-7 minutes. In a bowl combine the meat and onion mixture with the rest of the ingredients, mix well by hand. Line a tray with baking paper, shape the mixture into a loaf and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly and slice. Serve with gravy.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Mixed Vegetable Stew

This dish is pure vegetarian, and easy to cook. There are only a two spices, which means the vegetables are the stars of the show.

INGREDIENTS
500g savoy cabbage (finely shredded)
300g carrot (washed, peeled and diced)
300g new potatoes (cut in half)
300g green peas
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 onions
1 tbs crushed chilli
5 tbs olive oil
1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sugar
Salt

METHOD
Heat the oven to 170*. Mix the cabbage with salt and 2 tbs of the olive oil, and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Heat the rest of the oil in a pan, add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the crushed chilli, spices and turmeric powder and cook for a few minutes more until the aromas develop. Then add the tomatoes and sugar, check the seasoning and let the pan simmer for another few minutes. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and carrots, and at the last minute add the green peas. Strain and add to the pan, mixing well. Check the seasoning and serve with rice and a salad.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.