Lentil Rice with Noodles

Lentil rice with noodles is well-known Persian dish. When I lived in Dubai I followed this same recipe, but I did it in my own way using a few Sri Lankan ingredients to create more flavour. I hope you will enjoy it.
INGREDIENTS
2 cups (256g) Basmati rice (washed and drained)
1 cup (128g) green lentils (par boiled)
1 cup (128g) noodles (roasted to golden brown)
100g potato (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup (64g) sultanas
1/2 cup (64g) dates (pitted and chopped)
1/2 cup (64g) pine nuts or cashews (roasted)
100g chopped onion
4 garlic cloves (chopped)
3 tbs chopped ginger
1 dried lime (chopped)
2 small capsicums (chopped)
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2 tbs butter
4 tbs olive oil
3-4 cups boiling water
1 tbs cumin powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp mace threads
1 tbs ground black pepper
1/4 tsp saffron
METHOD
Heat the pan. Add 2 tbs olive oil then add garlic, ginger, onion, capsicum, cumin powder and stir well until the aroma comes out.
Then add potatoes, lentils, noodles and rice and the rest of the ingredients. Add hot water to cover the mixture, mix well and cover with a lid. Cook on a low heat until the rice is fluffy and the potatoes are cooked through. Remove from heat, mix slowly with a fork or the edge of a wooden spoon. Remove the bay leaves. Serve with a sesame chicken (recipe to follow) and creamed spinach.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Three Flavour Risotto

Rather than make a standard mushroom risotto, I decided to liven it up a bit by adding some fresh vegetable flavours and grated halloumi. I am very happy with the result – three dishes in one!

INGREDIENTS 

400g risotto rice

1 white onion, chopped 

3 tbs olive oil

1 tbs white wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 bay leaves 

3 sprig of thyme 

3 cups vegetable stock

1 cup white wine 

2 tbs cream cheese (or creme fraiche)

50g  Parmesan cheese, grated

150g halloumi cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra Flavour Ingredients

  1. 100g green peas (fresh or frozen) and 3 tbs fresh mint, chopped
  2. 1 cup oven-roasted pumpkin (seeded and peeled) with 2 tbs chives, snipped
  3. 100g cherry tomatoes (remove the skin) with 3 tbs fresh basil, chopped

 

METHOD 

Heat the pan, add the oil and then the garlic and onion. Sauté until soft.

Add the rice, stir for 5 minutes on low heat then add the wine and herbs. Mix well, then add the vegetable stock a little at a time.

When the rice is cooked add the cream, halloumi cheese and vinegar. Check the seasoning. 

Separate into three bowls and add one set of flavourings into each bowl (peas, pumpkin and tomatoes). Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on the top.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Aubergine and Courgette Bake

The vegetables are coated with bread crumbs and shallow fried, then we add tomato sauce and finish in the oven, we get a dish that is so full of flavour.
INGREDIENTS
1 big aubergine
2 courgettes
1 white onion
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves and 2 sprigs of thyme
3 tbs fresh basil
1 tin chopped tomato (400g)
1tbs tomato purée
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp crushed chilli
3 tbs olive oil
150g fresh bread crumbs
2 tbs flour
2 eggs, beaten
150g grated cheddar cheese
For the béchamel
2 tbs butter
3 tbs flour
2 cups milk
1 egg
1/2 cup white wine
METHOD
Wash the vegetables, and cut the aubergine and courgettes into thick slices. Coat with flour, then dip into the egg wash and then breadcrumbs. Heat a shallow pan and sprinkle with some olive oil. Fry the vegetables until golden brown, and keep on one side.
In another saucepan heat the rest of the olive oil, sauté the garlic and onion and add chill, then add the tomato purée, sugar, bay leaves and salt and let it simmer until oil appears on the top. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems.
In a pan melt the butter, add the flour to make a roux. Then add the milk little by little until the sauce becomes a thick puree without lumps. Add the egg and wine and check the seasoning.
Heat the oven 180*. Arrange an ovenproof dish with one layer of aubergine, then a layer of tomato sauce and the béchamel. Follow in the same way with the courgettes, etc. Finish with the rest of the béchamel, cheese and chopped basil. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with a mixed leaf salad.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Sweet Potato and Potato Dumplings

This pure vegetarian dish is a favourite in our house! Serve with a simple salad.
INGREDIENTS
1 cup boiled and mashed potato
2 cup boiled and mashed sweet potato
1 cup flour
3 tbs chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
For sauce
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbs flour
3 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup milk
50g grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbs chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
METHOD
In a bowl mix flour, potato, sweet potato, parsley and salt. Cover and keep on the side. In a pan heat the butter and oil, then add the garlic and onion. Sauté then add mushrooms to soften. Add flour, mix well and add milk a little at a time. Remove from the heat, mix in the white wine, basil and salt and pepper. Check the seasoning.
On a chopping board or worktop sprinkle some flour and roll out the potato mixture. Cut as you like into 1 inch pieces.
Boil the water then add the dumplings a few at a time. When they float to the surface, remove from pan and place into an ovenproof dish.
Heat the sauce on a low flame, add the dumplings and sprinkle with cheese and basil. Serve immediately.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Crespelle

Italian crespelle is often made with a tomato sauce. In my own recipe I use béchamel instead, and tasty almonds flakes. My friends are so impressed with the taste, and I am happy to share this recipe with you all.

INGREDIENTS

500g fresh spinach (washed and drained)

200g leeks (washed and sliced)

50g parsley (washed and chopped roughly)

3 garlic cloves (chopped)

200g ricotta cheese

75g Parmesan cheese (grated)

3 tbs olive oil

Salt and black pepper

 

Ingredients for Pancakes

200g plain flour

2 eggs (beaten)

3 tbs olive oil

200ml coconut milk

1 tsp dry herbs (oregano or thyme)

1/2 tsp baking powder

Salt

Method

Mix eggs, milk and olive oil together

In another bowl, mix flour, herbs, baking powder and salt

Beat both mixtures together until a thick puree without lumps

Keep on one side

 

For the béchamel 

100g butter

75g flour

350ml milk

100ml white wine

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp mustard powder or paste

Salt

 

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan then add flour, cook until nutty brown

Remove from the heat, add the milk and mix until silky pure without lumps, then add wine

Add mustard and nutmeg, and check the seasoning

 

METHOD

Heat the oven 180*

Heat a pan with olive oil, add the garlic and leeks and cook for around 7 minutes

Add spinach and parsley, remove from the heat and mix well

Let it cool down then add the ricotta cheese and check the seasoning

Start making thin pancakes with a nonstick pan

Sprinkle the spinach mixture in each pancake and roll it up

Arrange the pancakes in a ovenproof dish

Finish with the béchamel, sprinkle with parmesan and flaked almonds

Bake in the oven until golden brown and the pancakes have crisped slightly

 

 


© 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.