French beans, courgettes, runner beans – whatever you’ve got. A mixture is good, especially if you can get some red veg in – red peppers or carrots make a nice layer.
2 medium Onions
Garlic (6 – 8 cloves)
Ginger (30mm cube)
Spice mix: 1tbsp cumin seeds, 1tbsp coriander seeds, dried chillies to taste (3-4), 6 green cardamom seeds, half stick of cinnamon, 6 black peppercorns, 6 cloves, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp ground turmeric
Tamarind (1 tbsp of concentrate paste, or 4 inch square block of dries tamarind, reconstituted by soaking in boiling water and passing through a sieve)
250 g red lentils
Generous splash olive oil (4-5tbsps. Virgin recommended)
3 cook-in sauce jars
- Make spice mix by microwaving all spices together for half a minute. Mix should be very warm, aromatic and toasty. Grind to a fine powder. Heat olive oil in large pan and add spices. Fry carefully for a couple of minutes to draw the flavours out. Make sure it doesn’t burn or result will be very bitter. Add garlic, ginger and onions. Fry for a few minutes until onions are soft and transparent. Add lentils and stir to coat in oils and spices.
- Add boiling water to cover the lentils and onions. Watch and stir carefully and add more water if necessary. The lentils will foam up, and soak up all the water, so you need to keep an eye on the awkward little darlings. Too little water and they will stick and burn; too much and the result will be too runny.
- The lentils will be cooked and creamy in about 30-40 minutes. Liquidise, or whiz in a food processor (though the liquidiser does give a better result). Add the tamarind and salt to taste. A dessertspoon of brown sugar also works well, and sets off the hot spices and the acidity of the tamarind. Note: you are aiming at a strong and spicy sauce, because it will be diluted by the vegetables, and the long processing.
- Thoroughly wash jars and lids (which must have safety buttons). Sterilise jars by putting in an oven at 100C for 10 minutes. Put lids in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. The pressure cooker will need a trivet in the bottom; the jars shouldn’t touch the bottom of the pan, or each other. Get boiling water ready. The key to success with this process is to make sure everything is as clean and hot as possible, and that it all flows through in one smooth movement.
- Chop courgettes into small pieces. I salt them for an hour or two, if I have time, to draw the moisture out, then wash them. (Not essential.) French beans are cut into short lengths. Loosely pack the hot jars with some vegetables, up to about half full. I layer them up – say – courgettes, then beans etc. Put in half the sauce, then squeeze in more layers of vegetables until the jar is tightly packed. Top up with hot sauce. Give it a good shake, or poke around with chopstick, or similar, to make sure there are no air pockets. Fill it right to the top and apply lid, screwing on tightly.
- Make sure the water is boiling in the pressure cooker and position jars as in pic – not touching each other. Put on the lid and bring up to pressure. Pressure cook for 40 minutes. The pressure should be gentle, but not allowed to drop at any time. After 40 minutes, turn off and carefully remove from heat. Allow the pressure to drop in its own time. I leave it for half an hour or so before removing the pressure cooker lid. Forcing things at this point can cause a pressure difference that makes the sauce squirt out! Undesirable.
- Sit back with a cool drink and await the delightful ‘pop’ from each jar as it seals. Any jars that don’t ‘pop’ and suck the safety button down should be refrigerated and used within a week. In truth, they’d probably last much longer than that – everything is sterile, after all – but, just to be on the safe side.