Potatoes, root vegetables, bananas, chick peas: Felicity Cloake tastes a selection of your monster mashes.
Loads of lovely recipes this week, hailing from places as far-flung as Malaysia, the Netherlands and Gujarat, every one of them wonderfully comforting during this cold spring.
I was desperate to make Sakura Nishimura's Japanese mashed edamame cakes, but two hours trawling London in the snow failed to yield any joshin rice flour, so if anyone can suggest a substitute, I'd be very grateful.
In the meantime, Sonali Hindmarch's spicy, crisp and fluffy potato cakes - or, at least, her mum's - are not only absolutely heavenly but completely addictive. Don't say I didn't warn you!
The winning recipe: batata vada
These are mashed potatoes, spiced, covered in a gram flour batter and fried. They're a sort of casual starter and they are heavenly. My mum is Gujarati and cooks these by instinct, so this is my pinned-down version of her recipe. If you have any batter left over and a banana to hand, my mum likes to chop one into the remaining batter and then fry it in the oil.
Sonali Hindmarch, London
Makes about 12
4 medium baking potatoes
3 green chillies, deseeded
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp salt
150g gram (chickpea) flour
120ml warm water
2 tsp sugar
3 tsp sesame seeds
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
500ml sunflower oil, for frying
1 Boil the unpeeled potatoes whole for about 30-45 minutes, until soft.
2 Meanwhile, mince the chillies, ginger, garlic and a pinch of salt.
3 Make the batter by sieving the flour into a bowl and adding 120ml warm water and a pinch of salt. Stir to make a thick batter - thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
4 Drain the potatoes and allow to cool, then peel and mash together with the ginger paste, salt, sugar, sesame seeds, coriander and lemon juice. Roll into golf ball-size pieces.
5 Heat the oil in a large pan: when a drop of batter floats to the surface and bubbles, it's ready. Coat each ball in batter and lower it into the pan.
6 They will take about 5 minutes to brown slightly. Drain on kitchen paper while you fry the next batch, then serve immediately.
This is our family version of a traditional super-mash from the Scottish Borders and Northumberland. The name comes from the noise of bashing lots of mash around in a pan. Any leftovers can make the base for a quick-and-easy soup for next day's lunch.
Alison Schofield, Berwickshire
800g floury potatoes
400g turnip or other sweet root vegetable
150g spring greens or kale, or rather more spinach, chard or sorrel, chopped
4-5 spring onions or 30g chives, chopped
100ml single cream (or 50ml milk, 50ml cream)
50g strong cheddar, grated
1 Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Boil the potatoes and roots in salted water until they are soft enough to mash.
2 Meanwhile, fry the greens and onions or chives in 20g of the butter for about 5 minutes, until they are cooked but not soft.
3 Mash the potatoes and roots with the remaining butter and cream, and possibly a bit of the cooking liquid if the mash seems dry.
4 Stir in the greens and onions and season. Spoon into baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
I admit my first thought at the suggestion of "mashed" was a creamy buttery mountain of potatoes - but hot on its heels were mashed chickpeas, spiced with smoked paprika.
I read somewhere recently that there is no savoury dish that doesn't benefit from at least a smidgen of this lovely brick-coloured stuff from Extremadura in western Spain, which is intensely flavoured with sunshine and burnt oak.
Bronwyn Wolfe, Stockwell, London
175g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
Bouquet garni (eg celery leaves, rosemary, thyme, bay and a dried chilli)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 Drain the soaked chickpeas, put into a pan with the bouquet garni and cover with water.
2 Bring to the boil and skim (retaining the herbs), then simmer for 40-50 minutes until tender.
3 Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion over a very gentle heat until golden and caramelised. This takes about half an hour. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes until fragrant.
4 Drain the cooked chickpeas, discarding the herbs, and mash roughly with the remaining oil. Stir through the onions and garlic and their cooking oil, then the paprika, season to taste and add the chopped parsley. Serve warm. Or hot. Or cold.
Gooey banana bread
The extra gooeyness in this is because it uses more mashed banana than most! It's best eaten straight out of the oven, but is equally good cold or toasted with cream cheese.
Natalie Wong, London twinnydip.blogspot.co.uk
Makes 1 loaf
260g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
115g butter, plus extra to grease
100g brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
5 overripe bananas, mashed
150g chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or brazil nuts (optional)
1 Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Lightly grease a 22cm x 12cm loaf tin with butter.
2 Mix the flour, bicarbonate and salt in a large bowl.
3 Cream the butter separately until light and fluffy, then mix in the sugar.
4 Blend the eggs and bananas into the butter and sugar, then mix in the nuts, if using. Pour into the tin.
5 Bake for 60 minutes. Personally I prefer it a little gooey, but otherwise leave it to cook for 10-15 minutes more, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
This is my family's version of the fabulously named Dutch classic, hete bliksem (hot lightning), which can be served mashed or chunky.
Ben Fletcher-Watson, Edinburgh
6 rashers smoked bacon
4 large potatoes (King Edwards work well)
2 apples (we like braeburn, but one sweet and one tart apple will also do)
Sprig of thyme, leaves only
1 Cut the bacon into matchsticks and fry gently in the butter until they are golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2 Cube the potatoes (leaving the skin on for extra flavour) and fry in the butter and bacon fat for about 10 minutes, until browned.
3 Meanwhile, core and slice the fruit to the thickness of a pound coin (leave the peel on for texture).
4 Add the bacon, fruit and thyme to the potatoes. Toss everything in the buttery juices and season.
5 Cover the pan tightly and place on a low heat for about 45 minutes, or bake at 150C/300F/gas mark 2 for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. You may need to add a splash of water to prevent sticking.
6 Allow any excess liquid to boil off. If you like a smooth mash, you can add a knob of butter and mash thoroughly at this point, or just stir it all together roughly. Enjoy with a tart white wine or cider.
The winning recipe: batata vada. Photograph: Jill Mead