In today’s post, I’m sharing a review of Mira Manek’s debut cookbook Saffron Soul plus two delicious recipes – Rajma – Simple Kidney Bean Curry and Fansi nu shaak – Green Bean Curry. These dishes are quick, easy to make and super cheap too! We’ve been enjoying them as a weeknight meal, served as a ‘mini Thali’ with some chapattis. As Mira mentions in the book, these curries are perfect for serving as part of a Thali, which is my absolute favourite way to enjoy Indian food.
While I already own a number of traditional Indian cookbooks, for me, Saffron Soul is like a breath of fresh air. Inspired by her family’s traditional cooking, Mira has created ninety recipes, each with a modern healthy twist on a traditional recipe.
While traditional Indian cooking can involve a fair amount of deep frying and generous use of oil and ghee, Mira has drastically cut back on the oil and dairy (mostly using coconut oil and almond milk), and introduces a whole range of nutrient-rich nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables and fruits into her dishes.
While the book is vegetarian, by far the greatest majority of recipes are either vegan or easily ‘veganised’ by switching the honey with a vegan-friendly syrup (I use maple or fruit syrup) and Greek yogurt with coconut yogurt.
Saffron Soul is one of those cookbooks that’s an absolute joy to read. The recipes are interwoven with stories and photos of Mira’s family and heritage, which really bring the book to life. Mira’s passion for Indian cooking shines through on every page.
The book is filled with photographs, with at least one photo for each dish. The ethnic tableware, pots, pans and cutlery featured in the photos are breathtakingly beautiful, as are the shots of Mira’s family ❤️
The recipes are divided into six chapters – Soulful Mornings – Anytime Favourites – Light Meals – Traditional Thalis – Desserts – Spiced Drinks.
We’ve tried five recipes so far…
- Cauliflower & Pea Curry
- Simple Kidney Bean Curry
- Green Bean Curry
- Morning Balance – Tofu Scramble with Sweet Potato (which we ate for dinner rather than breakfast, using regular tofu rather than silken which meant the scramble was ready in a matter of minutes)
- Carrot Halwa
All have been delicious and a big hit with the family!
If you buy the Vegan Life magazine, you may have spotted the recipes for Mira’s Simple Kidney Bean Curry and Tofu Scramble with Sweet Potato in this month’s edition (Issue 26 – the one with Tim Shieff on the cover). The magazine also features a third dish from Saffron Soul that I can’t wait to try… Quinoa & Coconut Upma.
Other recipes topping my ‘to try’ list are:
- Almond Milk Chai
- Saffron & Lime Chia Pots
- Saffron Porridge with Jaggery
- Red Lentil Soup with Garlic
- Masala Chana Chaat
- Indian Summers Salad
- Cauliflower Rice with Grilled Corn
- Lime & Saffron Vegan ‘Cheesecake’
- Brown Rice Kheer with Dates, Almonds & Poached Apples
All the recipes I’ve tried so far have easy-to-follow instructions. The quantities are given in grams, ounces and cups, so all bases are covered. Mira also provides the alternative US/Canadian terms for ingredients such as oats, corn flour, etc. The one thing I would have loved to have seen is the timings for each recipe i.e. how long it takes to prepare and how long until it’s ready to serve. Since there are no timings, I read through the recipe instructions and work out a rough estimate so I know whether it’s a dish I can make on a weeknight or best saved for a weekend. A number of the recipes require time for soaking grains so this is worth bearing in mind and preparing ahead, either the night before or in the morning.
Today, I thought I’d share two recipes from Saffron Soul that my family love and will definitely be making time and again – the Simple Kidney Bean Curry and Green Bean Curry. In the book, they are featured as part of Baa’s Thali, which includes nine dishes that you serve together in mini bowls on a platter. I would love to cook the entire Thali one day but, due to time constraints, two dishes seems to be my limit at the moment! And these two work perfectly together.
These two curry dishes are lightly adapted from recipes in Saffron Soul by Mira Manek. On weeknights, we love to serve them as a ‘mini Thali’ with flat breads. They can be prepared at the same time in order to reduce the overall cooking time.
The Kidney Bean curry is also delicious served as a main meal, either with flat breads or on a bed of rice.
Rajma – Simple Kidney Bean Curry
Serves 2 as a main dish and 4 as part of a Thali
Hands-on time: 30 minutes Ready in: 30 minutes
2 TBSP coconut oil or rapeseed oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp Himalayan salt or sea salt, or to taste
5cm / 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated*
4 garlic cloves, minced*
1 red chilli (or more if you like heat), deseeded and finely chopped**
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
6 TBSP chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned***
2 x 400g / 14 oz cans kidney beans, drained
4 TBSP tomato puree (tomato paste)
200ml / ¾ cup water
handful of coriander (cilantro), chopped, optional
* For a speedier option, use some ready-chopped frozen ginger and garlic instead.
** If serving to children, remove the seeds and white membrane (as this is where the heat is concentrated). Alternatively, add the chilli once the children’s portions have been served.
*** I use canned chopped tomatoes as they’re cheaper than organic fresh tomatoes at the moment
Gently heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add the onion, red bell pepper and a pinch of salt and stir.
Once the onions are lightly browned (a couple of minutes), add the ginger, garlic and chilli and stir for another 30 seconds. Then add the ground turmeric, cumin and coriander, chopped tomatoes and the rest of the salt.
Next add the kidney beans, tomato puree and water, and mix everything together. Leave to cook on a low heat for at least 10 minutes, stirring regularly. To finish, mix a handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves into the curry, if desired.
This curry is delicious served with hot roti, chapatti or rice. Stored in the refrigerator, it will keep for 3 days.
Fansi nu shaak – Green Bean Curry
Serves 3-4 as part of a Thali
Hands-on time: 25 minutes Ready in: 25 minutes
300g / 10½ oz green beans, trimmed and sliced into small pieces
½ TBSP coconut oil (or other oil)
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds, optional
2 garlic cloves, minced (or use some frozen ready-chopped garlic)
5 TBSP chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
½ – ¾ tsp Himalayan salt or sea salt
¼ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp red chilli powder (use mild chilli for children, or add once the children’s portions have been served)
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Blanch the beans for 2 minutes, then drain in a colander and set aside.
Gently heat the oil in the pan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds (if using). Once the mustard seeds have popped, add the garlic and immediately stir in the green beans. If it starts to stick, add a splash of water and stir through. Place the lid on the saucepan and cook on low heat for around 10-15 minutes until the beans have softened, stirring every couple of minutes. Add more water if needed, to preventing sticking.
Once the green beans are cooked, add the chopped tomatoes, salt, ground turmeric, cumin, coriander and the red chilli powder. Stir well and cook for a couple more minutes.
We love to serve this curry alongside the Simple Red Kidney Bean Curry and some chapattis, as part of a ‘mini Thali’. Stored in the refrigerator, the curry will keep for 3 days.
Do you enjoy Indian food? What’s your favourite dish?
Disclosure: I was sent complimentary copies of Saffron Soul and Vegan Life (the perks of being a blogger!) but, as always, all opinions are entirely my own.