I have been pining after a Tomato, Fennel, Yogurt sauce that I used to make. It was called Sauce Afghan and it was from my favourite Indian Cookbook Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Saini. To make the sauce you fry onions, fresh tomatoes and yogurt with delicious spices until it separates and thickens into a paste. Then you add a bit of water and to the concentrate and it becomes the most flavourful addictive sauce. I have tried making it with canned tomatoes and for some reason it does not work, but even sad, flavourless, off-season fresh tomatoes become delicious when prepared this way. There essential tomato-ness is drawn out and enhanced by the yogurt I think. I like to add more fennel because I am a fennel fan.
The sauce was meant to accompany a fried stuffed pepper recipe, that I do not find myself craving so much, but I like to eat it with these baked herb pistachio falafel from Green Kitchen Stories. The falafel are a lovely pale green and they look pretty floating in a dish of this coral coloured sauce. The falafel are a little sweet from the pistachio, which is a nice contrast to the tart sauce.
When I make the falafel, I like to add ground fennel seed (again I am a fennel fan) and ground fenugreek seed. If you don’t have (or don’t like) these spices just omit them, but I encourage you to try throwing them in if you have them on hand. The baked falafel keep well and make good packed lunches as well. When I take them for lunch, I pack them with some butter lettuce leaves, fresh tomato and green herbs and a lemony nut and yogurt sauce so I can eat them at room temperature.
adapted from Green Kitchen Stories
- 7 oz (1 and 1/2 cups) shelled raw pistachios
- 1/2 cup fresh mint (minced)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley or some other green herb (minced)
- a scant 2 cups canned chickpeas, drained (1 can)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 shallot (or half of a small onion), minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek (optional but very good!)
- 1 tsp ground fennel (optional but very good!)
- 1 tbsp buckwheat, amaranth or quinoa flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- I found the easiest approach was to combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and use a submersion blender to process the mixture until it was smooth with just the occasional chunk of pistachio for texture. If you are using blender or food processor, you will want to whir up the pistachios first, then add the herbs, then add everything else and process until smooth.
- Make 24 small round kofta, place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (or lightly oiled) and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Turn every 5 minutes to get an even brown color. Meanwhile make one of the sauces.
LEMONY NUT AND YOGURT SAUCE
- 1 cup of plain whole milk yogurt
- 6 Tablespoons cashew butter, pistachio butter or tahini
- The juice of 1 lemon
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoons garlic, minced
- Lettuce leaves, chopped fresh tomato and minced green herbs for serving.
- Combine the yogurt, nut butter, lemon, slat and garlic in a blender and process until smooth.
- Serve the kofta on lettuce leaves with a dollop of the lemony nut and yogurt sauce and a sprinkle of minced tomatoes and green herbs.
adapted from the Sauce Afghan recipe in Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Saini
- 4 Tablespoons mild oil
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1 hot chilies (depending on how much heat you like)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 ripe medium-sized tomatoes (I like to blanch them to remove the peel), finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, freshly ground in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, freshly ground in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1/3 teaspoon coarse salt (more to taste)
- Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the onion and fry over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the onion begins to brown.
- Add the other ingredients and cook for 30 minutes, until the sauce separates. You can add extra water if needed to prevent sticking.
- When the sauce is reduced add enough water to make about a cup of sauce and heat through.
- Serve about 6 kofta per person with 1/4 cup of the sauce each. Serve hot.