Spicy rolls and a winter salad: Ravinder Bhogal's kale recipes

Ravinder Bhogal
·4-min read

Step aside, soft, speckled lettuces and wilting greens – hardy kale has invaded our shopping trolleys, and for good reason, too. It has snuck into everything from our snacks (hello, kale chips) to salads, and is even characterful enough to have internet memes and T-shirt slogans dedicated to it. Its varietals, from curly kale to Italian cavolo nero, are reliable, cheap and versatile, while its unique, bittersweet flavour means it is robust enough to stand up to any other flavours you throw at it.

Kale, pineapple and red cabbage salad with lime leaf peanut dressing (pictured above)

This salad is a riot of bold colour and flavour that, in the midst of grey winter, is nothing short of life-enhancing. The sweet pineapple counters the mildly bitter brassicas, while the spicy peanut dressing lends a rounded, nutty note.

Prep 25 min
Cook 5 min
Serves 4-6

1 small pineapple, peeled and cut into thin wedges
4 handfuls kale, tough stalks removed and discarded, the rest roughly torn
200g red cabbage, finely shredded
1 bunch coriander, leaves picked

For the dressing
1 tbsp coriander stalks, very finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
4 lime leaves, stalks removed, finely shredded
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp fresh grated root ginger
tbsp palm sugar or light brown sugar
tbsp rice vinegar
200ml coconut milk

4 heaped tbsp natural unsweetened smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime

To garnish
50g roasted peanuts, crushed
1 red chilli, thinly sliced on the diagonal

First make the dressing. Combine the coriander stalks, chilli, lime leaves, garlic, ginger, sugar and vinegar in a saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the coconut milk and peanut butter, then gently warm through. Stir in the soy, fish sauce and lime juice, so the sauce has a loose pouring consistency – if it feels too thick, thin it down with a little water.

In a large bowl, toss the pineapple, kale and red cabbage with half the dressing, then transfer to a platter. Scatter over the coriander leaves, top with the peanuts and red chilli, and serve with the remaining dressing on the side.

Gujarati-style cavolo nero and chickpea flour rotolo

This takes kale out of the predictable realm of salads, soups and stews. It is my inauthentic take on a favourite Gujarati snack known as patra, which is normally made from rolled colcasia leaves. Those are not the easiest ingredient to come by in the UK, so instead I’ve used cavolo nero, which has a similarly earthy flavour. The secret to making this is that, once you’ve mastered the rolling technique, it’s actually not very hard at all.

Prep 45 min
Chill 1 hr
Cook 30 min
Serves 4-6

16 large cavolo nero leaves

For the paste
60ml tamarind concentrate
1 heaped
tbsp Greek yoghurt
100g chickpea flour
tsp red chilli powder
tsp turmeric
tsp asafoetida
tbsp jaggery or soft brown sugar
Sea salt,
to taste

For the spice tempering
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
tsp mustard seeds
1 pinch asafoetida
tsp cumin seeds
15 fresh curry leaves
tsp sesame seeds

To garnish
2 tbsp freshly grated coconut, or defrosted and grated frozen coconut
tbsp finely chopped coriander

Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut off the tougher part of the cavolo nero stalks, but leave the delicate bit intact, so the leaf holds together at the top.

Mix all the paste ingredients with 80ml water to form a thick, spreadable mixture – if it’s too dry, add a little more water, to loosen.

Flatten out one of the leaves on a work surface and spread a thin layer of the paste over the back of it. Put another leaf on top and coat that, too, with the paste. Repeat until you have four layers. With the final layer of paste on top, fold in the edges and, starting from the base and rolling towards the tips, roll the leaves together. Make sure the roll is quite tight, then cover the roll with more paste, so it is sealed. Repeat with the remaining leaves and paste, leaving you with four rolls.

Line a steamer with baking paper and steam over boiling water for 15 minutes. Leave to cool, then refrigerate for an hour, or until firm and set, then cut the rolls into 1cm slices.

Put the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they crackle, stir in the asafoetida, cumin and curry leaves, tossing the mixture so the curry leaves are coated in oil. Lower the heat and sprinkle in the sesame seeds, then gently put the cavolo nero rolls in the pan in a single layer, and fry on both sides until lightly browned.

Transfer to a plate, spoon over the spices and oil, then sprinkle with the coconut and coriander, and serve.