Anjali Pathak’s family recipes: From stuffed courgette flowers to spiced latte meringue

The chef takes classic ideas and creates innovative dishes for a new generation

Anjali Pathak
Friday 01 September 2017 15:25
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Roast aubergine salad with chickpeas and tamarind

This is perfect to have when you fancy something good for you, but you definitely need something carby to bulk it out. Aubergines are one of the best ingredients to pair with spices, as they are like sponges and soak up any flavours you put with them. For this recipe. I have made a marinade that doubles up as a dressing.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time 10-15 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate/paste
1 tbsp clear honey
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar
Good pinch of salt, or to taste
Good pinch of cracked black peppercorns
2 large aubergines, thinly sliced
1 large red chilli
1 red onion, finely sliced
200g drained canned chickpeas
100g rocket leaves
Juice of
½ lime
60g feta cheese (optional)

Preheat a griddle pan over a fairly high heat or, if baking in the oven, set it to 200C. Make the marinade/dressing by mixing together the olive oil, tamarind, honey, garlic, cumin and the salt and cracked pepper. Rub half the marinade on the aubergine slices and whole chilli, add to the hot griddle pan and cook for around 10 minutes, turning a couple of times, until soft. If cooking in the oven, spread out on a baking sheet and bake for around 15 minutes, turning once.

Once the aubergine is cooked, roughly chop the chilli. Toss the red onion, chickpeas and rocket with the lime juice and remaining dressing in a bowl. Gently mix in the aubergine and chopped chilli. Serve piled high, with some crumbly salty feta if you fancy it.

My secret

Tamarind is known as the date of India. If you don’t have any, add some lime juice and dried fruit, such as dates, or pomegranate molasses to the dressing to give it a sweet-sour flavour.

Stuffed courgette flowers with ricotta and honey

Courgette flowers are seen as exotic and are only available when courgettes come into season. They have a light, subtle flavour and so I’m adding sweet spices to my ricotta with just a little chilli heat to help the honey taste even sweeter. This is a great starter to any meal.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

8 courgette flowers with baby courgettes attached (preferably), flower stamens removed
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Good drizzle of clear honey
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Stuffing

3 tbsp ricotta cheese
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ tbsp finely chopped chives
½ tbsp pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped, plus extra to garnish
Pinch of ground green cardamom (optional)

Mix all the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl. Slit the courgettes through the middle lengthways but not all the way to the top so that the heat from the pan can cook them all the way through. Carefully stuff the flowers with the ricotta stuffing, trying not to overfill them. Twist the top to seal.

Gently heat the oil in a large frying pan and pan-fry the flowers for a few minutes until they are light golden brown on all sides. Transfer the flowers to a plate, draining on kitchen paper if you need to, and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle over the chilli and a few extra toasted pine nuts to garnish.

My secret

Courgette flowers are delicate. Be careful when stuffing them to avoid damaging the petals. If you can get hold of baby courgettes with the flowers still attached, then great, otherwise the flowers alone will do.

Spiced latte meringue

When I was training to be a chef we had special creative days every now and again. After learning all about the different types of meringue (and there are quite a few methods), we were all asked to come up with an idea for a creative meringue day. Ever since then I’ve been hooked on meringues and I adore them.

They are easy to make, but there are a few rules to follow to ensure that they work every time. Make sure all your equipment (bowls, whisk, spoons and so on) is scrupulously clean – the whites won’t whisk up properly if they aren’t. Use room temperature eggs and, lastly, do please allow the meringues to cool completely before diving in. This is one of my favourite recipes, using rich coffee and sweet spices. Making a simple coffee meringue means you can add any of your favourite spices to the cream topping. Every mouthful screams spiced latte.

Serves 6-8

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1½ hours, plus cooling

2 egg whites
100g caster sugar – I like golden caster sugar
2 tsp strong coffee – simply mix 2 tsp coffee granules with 1 tbsp boiling water

Spiced cream

175ml (6fl oz) double or whipping cream
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Good pinch of ground green cardamom
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Grated chocolate, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 120C and line a large baking sheet with nonstick baking paper. Whisk up the egg whites in a very clean large bowl until you get a stiff peak and they have quadrupled in size. I find it easier to do this with an electric whisk. Keep whisking and add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. It will turn glossy and shiny. Fold in the coffee – I like to lightly fold it in to create a marbled effect.

Pour the meringue into the middle of the lined baking sheet and spread it evenly into a circle. Don’t worry if there are peaks on top and it’s not completely smooth, as that’s half the charm of meringues. Bake for 1½ hours. You will know it’s cooked as the paper will come away easily from the base and the meringue will be dry. Allow to cool while you make the spiced cream.

Place the cream in a large bowl and sprinkle in the spices. Whip up until it just holds its shape (soft peaks). Keep the cream chilled, until you need it. Once the meringue has completely cooled, top with the spiced cream and sprinkle over some grated chocolate to decorate.

My secret

To make individual meringues, dollop even-sized amounts of the meringue mixture on to the lined baking sheet, then flatten them a little. Bake for about an hour, depending on the size and depth of your meringues.

‘Secrets From My Indian Family Kitchen’ by Anjali Pathak, published by Mitchell Beazley, £14.99. Photography by Martin Poole

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