Festive brussels

The humble brussel sprout sits proudly on most festive menus in the U.K. Like our love for Marmite, mum and I love these green ‘baubles’ at Christmas and all year round.  Sprouts are closely related to kale, cauliflower and mustard greens, and are a nutritious powerhouse. Mum and I cooked this recipe for dadima’s cookery demo at Woodstock Christmas Market, Oxfordshire (18th Nov, 2018), and the audience loved the dish so much that many went home and cooked it straight away. We'll be demoing it again at Padstow's 11th Christmas Festival on Thursday 6th December at 13:30pm (see details here).

So, how did this recipe enter dadima's kitchen? Every recipe we share at dadima's, has a food story behind it. Back in the 70’s when my mum was growing up in the Midlands, my nanima (nan) would cook sprouts and potato subji regularly, as it was one of my nanaji’s (grandfather’s) favourite dishes. He was big on eating his greens – so much so that he’d always drink the water from boiled vegetables - and was number one fan of my nanima’s cooking, who is known as dadima Kamla in my cookbook (available via this link).  She taught my mum, and together, mum and I added our festive twists. We dedicate this recipe blog to a special grandfather called Nick, who has been supporting dadima’s page since the very start, and always makes an effort to come to the live cookery demonstrations. Big gratitude to you, Nick!

Brussel sprouts add a super nutritious element to your diet, and some of the benefits include:

·        High in antioxidants

·        High in fibre so great for gut health

·        High in vitamins K & C

·        Immune-boosting properties

·        May help to regulate blood sugar levels

They can be boiled, roasted, sautéed, baked, added to pastas and stir-fry dishes, and of course spiced as we do in this recipe. There's a way to love them if you experiment with flavours and cooking styles. We hope you enjoy dadima's recipe, and of course adapt it with your own creative twists, alongside some of our variation suggestions to cater for a range of dietary requirements.

Serves: Around 6-8 people as a side portion

Prepare ahead note: We usually have our root ginger, garlic and green chillies, pre-blended and frozen for speed. Potatoes can be peeled and cubed beforehand for a few hours, and left in a pan of cold water until you're ready to cook. Brussel sprouts can be topped, peeled and halved in advance.

Ingredients:

  • 500g fresh brussel sprouts  - trim off the stalk ends, peel off the outer leaves, and halve each sprout. 

  • 2-3 medium-sized potatoes/400g - we love to use Maris Pipers. Peel and cut into even-sized pieces which are about the same size as the sprout halves.  Variation: sweet potatoes or butternut squash cubes.

  • 100g chopped, roasted chestnuts (a generous handful). You can freshly roast your chestnuts if you have the time and expertise (see dadima’s instagram video), or buy them in bags already cooked and peeled, ready to break up. Variation: walnuts or pine nuts.

  • 50g dried cranberries (we purchased from Holland & Barrett but I’m sure you can find elsewhere).  

Masala (tharka) ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized white onions, finely diced.

  • 3 tablespoons ghee (see dadima’s recipe for ghee here). Vegan variation: coconut oil or rapeseed oil.

  •  2 inch chunk of fresh ginger (our piece is 2 inches by 1.5 inches roughly).

  • 5 garlic cloves, blended together with the ginger or crushed into a paste.

  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped (or to taste).

  • 150g of tomato passata (if you don't have passata, use blended plum tomatoes).

  • Spices: salt to taste, 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground garam masala (ideally), 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons turmeric powder.

Garnish ideas:

  • Cooked rashers of bacon or pancetta for a crispy, salty edge.

  • Handful of freshly chopped coriander.

  • Handful of pomegranate seeds for juiciness and a splash of festive red.

  • If you're a cheese lover like us at dadima's, sprinkle over a little parmesan cheese, or top with some lightly grilled halloumi strips (around 100g of halloumi).

Method:

  1. Boil the potatoes and sprouts until they are almost cooked (use separate pans as they have different cooking times).

  2. Melt the ghee in a wide, heavy-based pan. Once hot, add the cumin seeds. Cook over a medium heat until they sizzle, taking care not to burn them. 

  3. Add the onions and cook until medium brown in colour. Stir regularly to ensure that they cook evenly and do not burn.

  4. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies and cook for 2 minutes.

  5. Add a generous splash of water before adding the salt and turmeric, then cook for 2 minutes. By adding water, we soften the onions and achieve a paste-like consistency to our masala.

  6. Add paprika and black pepper - stir well.

  7. Add the tomato passata and cook for a good 5 minutes, until you notice oil bubbles forming around the tomatoes. This is the secret to knowing when your masala is ready. It should be a like a thick paste.

  8. Add the boiled potatoes and sprouts and fold into the masala. Add the crushed nuts (of your choice), cranberries, and garam masala. Stir in a folding motion so that the vegetables are not crushed.

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Transfer to an oven-proof dish, cover with foil, and roast in a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes at 200 degrees until the vegetables crisp up around the edges and can be pierced with a knife. (Alternatively, you can simmer in your covered pan until soft, but not mushy).  

Garnish as you wish, depending on preference and dietary needs.

See dadima's Instagram page for short videos on this recipe @_dadimas