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Nadiya’s quick recipes promise to deliver maximum flavour with minimum effort – while also being meat-free.
If all the climate change headlines have prompted you to try to cut down on your carnivorous tendencies to help do your bit for the planet, you’re not alone if you find yourself constantly on the hunt for inventive recipes – because there are only so many vegetable stir-frys or mushroom risottos a girl can eat. If you’re struggling to stick to your ‘must eat more vegetarian meals’ rule, hunting down veggie-forward twists on classic dishes can help – the familiar flavours are all still there, just not the meat.
Pleasingly, Nadiya’s Fast Flavours by Nadiya Hussain has three such vegetarian recipes that each take inspiration from coronation chicken, spaghetti carbonara and satay chicken. Packed with fast, easy recipes full of vibrant flavour – many of which are 100% meat-free – the 2015 Bake-Off winner-turned-national treasure’s new cookbook is also accompanied by a new BBC2 series of the same name, so you can glean even more veggie-friendly ideas while tucking into the recipes below.
There are few things we love more than a good curry, and Nadiya’s peanut butter egg curry is a much-needed hug in a bowl. Though it may sound a little unusual at first, egg curries are a staple in South Asian cuisines, with Nadiya’s recipe calling for hard-boiled duck eggs which are doused in a smooth and creamy peanut curry sauce, spiked with peanut butter.
While a traditional carbonara features guanciale, Nadiya’s using an ingenious hack to not only make this pasta favourite veggie-friendly, but also cut down on food waste. What’s more, the ingredients list is kept short and sweet, with the dish leaning on tahini to offer a gorgeously rich texture.
And though coronation chicken may be a little retro, Nadiya’s vegetarian take on the classic has caught our eye. Griddled aubergine is used in the place of traditional poultry, but you can still expect a tangy curry yoghurt dressing. The dish is taken to new heights with toppings of crispy fried onions, raisins and fresh coriander.
Peanut butter egg curry
Nadiya says: “An egg curry was something we normally ate at home when Mum’s dozen other curries were depleted. But an egg curry can shine all on its own – it needn’t be the understudy or Plan B to something better. Oh no! This curry is packed with flavour and finished with peanut butter for the smoothest sauce ever.”
- 6 – 8 duck eggs
- 6 tbsp oil
- 50g unsalted peanuts
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large dried chilli
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced 2 onions, grated
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp tamarind
- 3 tomatoes, grated
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 85g peanut butter
- 300ml hot water
- 60g watercress, finely chopped
Hard-boil the duck eggs for 10 minutes in a pan of boiling water, then remove from the heat and peel when cool.
Start by pouring the oil into a shallow non-stick pan. Heat the oil on a medium to high heat. Now make sure each egg is dried of any liquid using kitchen paper. Drop the eggs into the hot oil and encourage them to move around to be scorched and bubble the texture. This should take about five minutes and will help the sauce stick to the egg rather than just slide off. Once they are browned and textured all over, remove from the pan.
Now add your peanuts to the pan and toast for a minute till golden, along with the bay leaf and chilli.
Add the crushed coriander seeds and allow to sizzle. Add the garlic and as soon as the garlic is golden, add the grated onion. Cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onion is golden brown and caramelized.
Now add the salt, tomato paste, tamarind and grated tomatoes and cook till the mixture is dry. Add the curry powder, peanut butter and hot water and leave to simmer till the oil bubbles rise to the top. This should take about 10 minutes.
Add the watercress and stir in till wilted. Add the eggs back in and mix through. It is ready to eat. I like to eat this with rice or naan bread.
No-waste creamy carbonara
Nadiya says: “When I make carbonara, I always get into a tizz about what to do with the leftover egg whites, and often I have too many in the freezer, always some sat in the fridge and meringues I just don’t know what to do with. So this recipe is perfect for when you want to make carbonara but definitely don’t need the waste. The egg whites are turned into a mock ‘bacon’ using smoked paprika, while the yolks are mixed with tahini to create that smooth, creamy, luxurious coating. Not only is it yum, it’s also vegetarian!”
- 300g spaghetti
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 medium eggs, separated
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 150g frozen peas
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
Start by cooking the pasta as per the instructions on the packet.
Pour the oil into a pan and heat to a high heat. In a bowl, mix the egg whites with the paprika and salt and whisk really well.
Keep the heat up on the pan and add the egg white mix in. Whisk and cook till the mixture is scrambled. Let it then sit on the base on a high heat for three seconds – we want it to catch just a little to enhance the smoky flavour. Stir and break up.
Before draining the pasta, add the frozen peas and cook for just a minute. Drain the pasta, reserving a few ladles of that starchy water.
Add the drained pasta to the egg pieces and stir through on a medium heat. Lower the heat.
Mix the egg yolk and tahini. Don’t worry if it seizes, the pasta water will help to loosen it again. Add to the spaghetti and mix through. Add a ladle of that starchy pasta water and mix till you have a creamy sauce that has coated the spaghetti. Enjoy hot, and if you fancy some cheese, sprinkle with a little of that cheesy goodness, along with the ground black pepper.
Nadiya says: “Aubergines often feature as a side dish when served at a table for dinner, but not here. We are taking this delicious aubergine, coating it with flavour, frying till tender and then drizzling over the simplest coronation dressing. It’s like dinner at my mum’s collided with my lunches at school to create this beauty.”
For the aubergine:
- 225ml olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, grated
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large aubergines, sliced into 1cm thick slices (about 600g)
For the dressing:
- 200g Greek yoghurt
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp mango chutney, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- a small handful of crispy fried onions
- a small handful of raisins
- a small handful of fresh coriander, thinly sliced
Start by putting the oil in a bowl with the minced garlic, onion, paprika and salt. Mix really well and set aside with a pastry brush.
Pop the aubergines onto a tray (they can overlap, that is fine). Take the oil mixture and brush the aubergine slices generously with the oil on both sides till you have finished all the mixture. Set aside.
Put one large or two small (if you have them) griddle pan(s) onto a medium heat (these are great on the barbecue, too, FYI).
Griddle in batches on both sides. They take approx. two minutes on each side. You will know they are ready when the flesh looks saturated, less spongy and softer. Pop onto a plate, overlapping, ready to serve.
Make the dressing by combining the yoghurt, curry powder, garlic, salt and mango chutney and giving it all a really good mix. Add a few tablespoons of whole milk to loosen the mixture just a little.
Drizzle the dressing all over the top of the aubergine, saving the rest to serve on the side. Sprinkle with fried onions, raisins and coriander to serve.
Nadiya’s Fast Flavours by Nadiya Hussain (Penguin Michael Joseph, £22) is out now
Photography: Chris Terry