A Thali Dish – Cooking with Marshford Organic Foods

August is a month rich in garden produce – beans, tomatoes, zucchini and herbs, writes Vanessa Ebdon of Marshford Organic Foods.

Here in North Devon the weather is also quite unpredictable, scorching temperatures with one heatwave one minute, westerly wind currents with gray skies and thunder the next.

The inspiration for this came from not wanting to do too much cooking during the heat wave, but wanting to use a variety of the best fresh ingredients, without taking up too much time at one time.

So it’s sort of based on an idea of ​​thali – lots of little dishes on one plate, all put together with a spicy coconut sauce. Everything can be prepared in stages and then simply heated when ready to serve.

Don’t be put off by the long list of different seeds – just use the ones you have – the idea is to get a different flavor for each vegetable.

I think a dahl dish would also be appropriate and elevate that from lunch or dinner to a main meal, but there’s no room to include a recipe here. Although I prefer to make my own, we have good canned dahls available in our shop. For two.


  • 100g onions
  • 1 knob of butter or a drizzle of olive oil
  • For the zucchini
  • 200g zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • For the beans
  • 120g green beans
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • For the tomatoes
  • 4 tomatoes about 375g
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of nigella seeds
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • pinch of salt
Beat turmeric to make a thali-inspired summer produce dish. Credit: Marshford Organic Foods

First, prepare the coconut sauce as this will give some standing time for the flavors to develop.

Peel and slice the turmeric and pound it with the salt in a pestle and mortar. Heat the oil and fry the ginger/garlic paste for a few minutes, then add the turmeric paste, cinnamon bark and star anise. Stir until the spices release their aroma.

Add lemon zest, chilli powder, leaves, 200ml water and coconut cream. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to simmer. Cook until reduced to a thick sauce, stir in garam masala and remove from heat.

Thinly slice the onions to form croissants. Sauté in oil over low heat until they start to become soft and translucent. Fry for a minute or more until golden brown and remove half to use with the beans. Keep stirring and frying until the rest begins to caramelize and turn reddish brown. Remove from heat and reserve.

Meanwhile, hull the beans and cut them into 2-3cm lengths. Boil in water for about four minutes, drain and set aside. Combine the mustard, syrup, vinegar and oil in a small bowl and stir in the beans while still hot. Chop the golden fried onions and mix.

Cut the zucchini into quarters lengthwise and scoop out any large chunks of seeds in the middle. Cut into 1cm pieces and brown over high heat in butter.

When the zucchini begins to color, add the sesame seeds and continue to stir and sauté until the seeds have taken on a darker shade. Remove from heat and reserve.

Cut the tomatoes in half through the core. Remove the core by making a V-shaped cut on each side. Heat the butter or oil in a skillet just large enough to take the tomato halves in a single layer and add the cumin and nigella seeds.

When they begin to crackle, place the tomatoes cut side down in the pan. When seared, add 50ml of water and a pinch of salt, lower the heat and cover with a lid. When the water is cooked, turn the tomatoes over to cook the outside for a few minutes.

When ready to serve, strain and gently reheat the coconut sauce. Divide into individual bowls. Fry the chilli and garlic slices in hot oil and pour over the coconut sauce.

Place a mound of rice and a bowl of coconut sauce on each plate. Spoon a pile of each vegetable onto the plate and garnish with the remaining caramelized onions and chopped basil.

Comments are closed.