Having to kill one day at the airport, on the plane, at the station and on the train always stirs the desire to cook something tasty so that I can chase away the ominpresent impressions of fast food and convenience products. The result of the last unvoluntary fasting are these chickpeas with coconut milk, pakoras, mango chutney and oriental yoghurt.
Preceding that journey was a lunch at Bagri, located in ulitsa Dobrudhza in Sofia. The Bagri is arguably the most interesting restaurant of the Bulgarian capital at the moment, and fortunately just three walking minutes away from the cantaneaoffice.
It is one of the few restaurants, that consequently offers seasonal food. Therefore it regularly change the menu completely. Vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat come from selected farms in the region. And iwth its ambituous but never snobby cuisine, it undoubtedly sets standards for taste and presentation in the Sofia restaurant scene.
Said lunch in the Bagri was chickpeas with swiss chard in coconut milk with deep-fried, crispy cauliflower. Delicious, but in the course of these eight hours walking past airport fast-food miles and tasteless airline meals the desire to give the bagri lunch a little bit more drive was awakened.
Mango chutney can be prepared very well in advance. I took the recipe from Daring Gourmet as a base.
Serves several portions
- 2 ripe mangos
- 2 level tsp. coriander seeds
- 6 cardamons
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 level tsp. black-caraway (also known as black cumin, nigella or kalonji)
- 1/2 level tsp. cumin
- 1/2 level tsp. kurkuma
- 5 level tsp. finely minced ginger
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. butter or ghee
- 2 red chilies
- 80 g gelling sugar 2:1
- 100 ml vinegar
- Peel the mangos and chop into and cut into cubes of about 1 cm.
- Roast coriander seeds, cardamons, cloves, and cinnamon in a hot pan without grease until they take on color. Crunch everything with a mortar and a pestle, remove the cardamon shellss. Roast the black-carway (nigella) shortly, transfer away from the fire and add ground kurkuma and cumin.
- Peel ginger and garlic, finely chop, and sauté in butter or ghee, not letting them take on color.
- Finely chop the peeled chilies. Remove the seeds and the ribs if you want to remove hotness. Sauté another minute with the ginger and garlic.
- Add the mango cubes and sugar letting them caramelize.
- Add the gelling sugar, deglaze with vinagre, and add the spices. Let simmer on low heat for about 1 hour.
Compared to the original recipe I have doubled the amount of spices but omitted the salt. To be honest, I had forgotten the salt, a mistake that I became quite happy with in the end. The gelling sugar was added to make the chutney a little firmer.
You can use the chutney fresh, keep it in a closed vessel in the fridge for a couple of days, or cook it in a preserving jar for 30 minutes and then keep it for a couple of months.
- 200 g soured milk or Yoghurt
- 4 level tsp. chopped mint
- 4 level tsp. rose water
- salt (1/2 - 1 level tsp.)
You can buy rose water in Turkish or Arab Shops.
- Chop the mint, until you have about 3 level teaspoons
- Stir into the soured milk or yoghurt and season to taste with rose water and salt.
The mixture resembles Lassi but should be more like a dip, firmer and more viscous.
- 400 g Chickpeas from a jar (or 250 g dried)
- 2 shallots
- 2 tbsp. ghee or butter
- 2 red chilies
- 165 ml coconut milk
- 100 g spinach
- Water dried chickpeas for 16-24 hours.
- Peel and finely chop the shallots. Sauté in ghee or butter, not letting them take on color.
- In the meantime, wash, peel, and finely chop the chilies, removing seeds and ribs according to the desired hotness.
- Deglaze with the coconut milk. Allow it to reduce for a couple of minutes cooking lightly.
- Add the chickpeas and reduce until the sauce is creamy, not too liquid.
- Add the washed spinach and cook lightly until it collapses.
- 400 g chickpea flour
- 550 ml water
- 5 level tsp. cumin
- 1 level tsp. salt
- 1 level tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 small cauliflower
- 1 small broccoli
- 6 carrots
- 1 beetroot
- 1 heaping tsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. vinegar
- 1 l neutral vegetable oil
- kitchen paper for degreasing
- Wash the cauliflower and broccoli and break into bite-sized pieces.
- Peel the carrots, cut them in long halves or quarters, and then into sticks of 3-4 cm length. They should be about 1 cm thick.
- Peel the beetroot and cut into sticks of 1 cm.
- Bring 100 ml water and a heaping teaspoon of sugar with 1 tablespoon of vinagre and the cut beetroot to boil. Cook for about 15 minutes at medium heat and immerse in ice water briefly. Dry with kitchen paper so that the beetroot gives less color to the dough.
- In the meantime, mix the chickpea flour with cumin and salt, add 550 ml. cold water, stir rigidly and allow to soak for 15 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a large pot until bubbles ascend from a wooden spoon..
- Pour about 1/4 of the dough into a smaller bowl for the beetroot.
- Pull the vegetables in portions throught the dough and deep-fry them until golden. Degrease on kitchen paper. Use the separate dough in the small bowl for the beetroot.
A little hotness surely doesn’t hurt here, but decide yourself how spicy you prepare the chickpeas, the chutney or the yoghurt. With children at the table you may also want to serve the chilies separately, and everybody can season to taste.
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