Mushroom Passanda

Mushrrom Passanda - Copy Traditionally a passanda is made with meat and yoghurt so making a vegan version was something of a challenge.  Mushrooms are often described as “meaty” and they work wonderfully in this recipe.

Cashew nut cream is included instead of yoghurt to give a rich, creamy texture.  You can buy cashew cream in health food shops or you can make it yourself:  Soak raw (not roasted or salted) cashew nuts in cold water overnight. Next morning strain and rinse the nuts and put into a food processor or blender.  Add enough water to just cover the nuts – this will give a thick cream, add more water if you want it thinner.  Blend until smooth.  If your processor/blender doesn’t make a completely smooth cream pass it through a sieve.  You can use this in a variety of sweet or savoury dishes.  I used it in this curry and also used it to make a raita with mint and spring onions.

This is a very mild curry so don’t be afraid of the chilli – add more if you want a bit more heat.


Small Closed Cup or Chestnut Mushrooms

4 tbsp Cashew Cream

1 tsp Ground Cumin

2 tsp Ground Coriander

4 Cardamom Pods (split and seeds crushed)

1 tsp Turmeric

Groundnut Oil (for frying)

1 Onion (chopped)

2cm piece Grated Ginger

1 Green Chilli (sliced)

1 Clove Garlic (finely chopped)

100ml Vegan Stock

2 tbsp Ground Almonds

1 tsp Garam Masala


Gently fry the mushrooms in a little oil until just cooked and slightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

Put the cashew cream, cumin, coriander, cardamom and turmeric in a bowl and mix well.  Add the mushrooms and marinate for half an hour or so.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and gently cook the onions until softened and golden.  Add the ginger, chilli and garlic and cook for another few minutes.

Tip in the mushrooms and the marinade then cook, stirring until the mushrooms are beginning to colour.  Add the stock, cover then simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir 4-5 tbsp of the cooking liquid into the ground almonds then add everything back to the pan.  Add the garam masala and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with a little extra cashew cream and green chilli if you like.

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Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Rogan Josh

Vegan Rogan Josh

Rogan josh is one of my favourite curries but it is more normally made with lamb.  I made this vegetable version during the vegan challenge and it is a really good alternative.  The chickpeas add protein and texture whilst the squash adds a certain sweetness so i promise you won’t miss the meat.

Please don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – it is still a relatively simple recipe and, with a little care, you will get layers of spiciness unfolding and ending in a build up of chilli heat.  This is a medium hot curry – if you want it milder leave out the seeds from the chillies.

This is one of those recipes that I know I will be making again and again because it is so tasty.  I hope you give it a go.


2 Cloves Garlic

A thumb sized piece of Root Ginger (peeled)

1 tbsp Paprika

1 tsp Cayenne Pepper

2 tsp Garam Masala

2 tbsp Groundnut Oil

2 Bay Leaves

3 Cloves

1 Red Chilli (chopped)

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

2 tsp Cumin Seeds

2 tsp Coriander Seeds

8 Cardamom Pods (crushed and seeds removed)

Salt and Black Pepper

A handful of Fresh Coriander

1 Butternut Squash (cut into cubes)

1 Cauliflower (cut into florets)

400g Tin of Chickpeas

1 large Onion (chopped)

2 handfuls of young Spinach Leaves

1 tin Chopped Tomatoes


Grate the ginger on the finest side of the grater to create a paste. Crush the garlic and mix in with the ginger.

Heat the groundnut oil in a deep sautee pan over a medium heat add the cardamom seeds, bay leaves and cloves and stir once then wait until the cloves swell and the bay leaves begin to take on colour. Add the onions and chilli and fry for 5 minutes until golden.

Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and cook for a minute. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds and add to the pan along with the paprika, cayenne, garam masala, salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

Add the squash, cauliflower, chopped tomatoes and chickpeas and stir well. Pour in 200 ml of water or vegetable stock and the tomato puree, bring to the boil, stir, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Stir through the spinach and add a little more water if necessary. Sprinkle with the coriander before serving.

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Tarka Dhal


Tarka Dhal and chapattiTarka dhal is a protein rich, spicy meal that is suitable for vegetarians or vegans.  It is traditionally made in two halves; the split peas or lentils are cooked to a thick, creamy, almost porridge like consistency then the spice mix is cooked separately and the two are mixed together just before serving.

I like making this recipe for two reasons:  firstly it is a cheap, filling and tasty dish and secondly, it allows me to use my only curry related joke:

What is Tarka Dhal?  It is like ordinary dhal but just a little ‘otter!

I guess you probably have to be British and maybe of a certain age to get that but it amuses me.


9 oz / 250g Yellow Split Peas (dried)

Vegetable Oil

1 Onion

4 Green Chillies

1” / 2.5 cm piece Root Ginger

3 Cloves Garlic

1 tbsp Cumin Seeds

1 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp Garam Masala

2 tsp Ground Coriander

8 Cardamom Pods

4 Cloves

3 Tomatoes (peeled if you like)

Salt and Pepper

A handful of Fresh Coriander (chopped)


Rinse the split peas in plenty of cold water then place in a pan with 900 ml (1 ¾ pints) of water.  Bring to the boil – you will find that a scum forms on the surface; this is completely normal just use a large spoon to skim it off.  Simmer, uncovered, for 35 minutes or so, stirring occasionally until the peas are tender and the water has been absorbed (you may need to add a little more water if they start to get too dry).

Once cooked beat well with a wooden spoon and set aside to cool.

Chop the onions and chillies and grate the ginger.  Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds; fry for around 30 seconds then add the onion, chillies and ginger, fry for around 5 minutes until golden.

Blend the tomatoes and garlic together and add the puree to the pan.  Add the turmeric, ground coriander, cardamom seeds and garam masala along with 100ml of water.  Stir well, season with salt and pepper and simmer for around 15 minutes.

Add this sauce to the cooked split peas, stir well, and re-heat.  Check the seasoning and add a little more water if the mixture is a little bit too stiff.  Sprinkle with the chopped coriander just before serving.

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Warm Lentil Salad with Tofu and Moroccan Spices

Moroccan Spiced Warm Lentil Salad

It’s been a long wet winter in Cornwall and I am craving sunshine. No sign of a break in the weather anytime soon so for now I will have to settle for some warming and cheering Moroccan spices.

Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice mix, its name actually means “head of the shop” meaning that it is made from a selection of the best spices in the shop. It usually, but not always, contains cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, chilli and rose petals. And it is delicious.

Harissa is a hot, Tunisian, chilli paste. I actually had a harissa and rose petal spice mix in the cupboard so I made it into a paste with a little oil but you can buy harissa spice in most supermarkets. If you don’t have any pomegranate molasses you can use a little agave syrup (or honey if you are not a vegan) but this won’t have the same flavour.

I didn’t have enough puy lentils so I topped them up with red lentils but they cook down a bit too much and become mushier than I like for a salad so I really do recommend that you use all puy lentils.

I’ve listed the veg I used in the recipe but use whatever you have in the fridge (I did) because this is a great way to use up odds and ends. If I was cooking this for an occasion, rather than just a Friday night dinner, I would probably just use lots of different coloured peppers and tomatoes.


Serves 2

For the marinated Tofu

1 pack Firm Tofu

2 tbsp Harissa Paste

2 tbsp Pomegrate Molasses

1 tbsp Olive Oil

For the Lentil Salad

200g Puy Lentils

1 tsp Vegetable Bouillon

1 large Carrot

1 Onion

1 Stick Celery

2 cloves Garlic

½ Red Pepper (sliced)

½ Orange Pepper (sliced)

1 Red Chilli (sliced)

A generous handful of Cherry or Small Plum Tomatoes (halved)

A few florets of Broccoli and Cauliflower (cut small)

1 tbsp Ras el Hanout

1 tbsp Sunflower Oil

A handful of Coriander (chopped)


Rinse the puy lentils in plenty of cold water. Place in a pan, cover well with cold water and add the bouillon. Bring to the boil then simmer until just cooked but with a little bite left in them (about 10 mins). Drain and set aside.

Chop the onions, garlic, carrot and celery into small dice. Place in a large, lidded sautee pan with the sunflower oil and cook over a low heat, lid on, until soft.

Stir in the Ras el Hanout and cook for one minute more. Add the peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and chilli, cover and continue to cook until the vegetables are nearly cooked. Add the cooked lentils and tomatoes, stir through, cover and keep warm while you cook the tofu.

Mix the harissa paste, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Slice the tofu and brush each slice with the harissa mix on both sides. Fry in a little hot oil until the harissa mix begins to caramelise.

Pile the lentils onto a plate, add the tofu and sprinkle with coriander.




Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Vegan Blueberry MuffinsI created this recipe for the vegan challenge – a month of eating an entirely vegan diet.

This is bun scuffle – I bake – it’s not all I do but it is one of the things I love to do.  So I needed to find some good vegan cake recipes.  But before I could do that I needed to address the issue of sugar.

I was really surprised to discover that sugar is not considered to be vegan. There are two main reasons for this depending on your reasons for being a vegan:

Ethical vegans (who believe that it is wrong to eat meat or other foods which are made using animal products) avoid sugar because it is often refined using charcoal and this charcoal may be made from animal bones.  This actually only applies to refined cane sugar so beet sugar and unrefined sugar is fine.  The problem with this is that sugar is not usually labelled “beet” or “cane” so it is hard to tell which it is and some “brown” sugars have been refined and then made brown by the addition of molasses.

People who are vegan for health reasons often try to avoid sugar altogether because it is a high calorie, low nutrient food.

The problem with all of this is that sugar makes cakes taste good!  However, I decided to try and come up with a tasty recipe which sticks to vegan values so I replaced the sugar with maple syrup (still sugar but not refined).  I also read lots about using unsweetened apple sauce as an egg substitute so thought I would try that too.  The apple sauce helps to bind the ingredients together in the same way as egg but it also adds apple flavour which doesn’t matter in a fruit muffin but might in other recipes.

I could have used self raising flour to get a good rise but this time I used plain flour along with baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.  I mixed the soda with vinegar because the acid helps the reaction and is more potent than using it on its own.  That’s why lots of muffin recipes use buttermilk or yoghurt – it’s for the extra acid to help the rise.  Measure carefully though – too much bicarb leaves a slightly odd after taste.

Now that the science lesson is over I should just point out that these muffins are yummy, sweet, moist and fruity – just what the vegan ordered!


Makes 12

4 Eating Apples

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

300g Plain Flour

160g Blueberries

125 ml Unsweetened Almond Milk

200 ml Maple Syrup

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

2 tsp Baking Soda

2 tbsp White Wine Vinegar

1/2 tsp Salt


Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4

Cut the apples into quarters (no need to peel or core) and toss in the lemon juice.  Cover and cook until soft (in the oven or in a microwave) but not browned.  Push through a fine sieve to make apple sauce.

Toss the blueberries in one tablespoon of the flour – this will stop them sinking during the bake.

In a large bowl mix together the maple syrup, vegetable oil and 130g of the apple sauce until light and fluffy.  Mix together the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar (it will froth) and stir into maple syrup mix along with the vanilla essence.  Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder and stir until just combined.  Stir in the milk to get a dropping consistency.  Stir in the blueberries until evenly distributed.

Place large spoonfuls into 12 muffin cases and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.