Sprouts are possibly my least favourite of all vegetables. I’ve always been baffled by their time honoured spot on the table of otherwise deliciousness that makes up Christmas lunch.
So when an errant net of these toxic little brassicas turned up in my veg box I decided to do what I always do when faced with the unpalatable and give them a Bengali makeover.
Panch phoran, that magical Bengali five spice of fennel, fenugreek, cumin, mustard and nigella works really effectively here, namely because the fennel and mustard seeds temper and tame any sulphuric business. You do need to shred the sprouts quite finely and to patiently steam fry over a lowish heat until they’re properly caramelised and charred. A splash of coconut milk to mellow things out and a handful of prawns if you’ve got them make this a killer dish to have alongside a nice tomato, red onion and coriander salad and a stack of parathas to mop the lot up.
brussel sprouts, trimmed and finely shredded
1 tbsp. oil
a pinch of turmeric
1-2 tsp. panch phoran (alternatively add fennel, cumin, mustard, nigella, fenugreek seeds)
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. fresh finely shredded ginger
1 tsp. dried red chilli (or chilli powder)
200ml coconut milk
- heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and all the spices.
- Tip in the sprouts, mix well and fry over a lowish heat, partially covered with a lid for about 15-20 minutes or until charred and caramelised.
- Add the salt and sugar and adjust seasoning according to taste. Add the coconut milk and serve.
It seems that the whole world and his wife have been struck down by the sniffles. Everyone I talk to sounds a bit bunged up, slightly red around the eyes and just a little bit blue. After working our way through some pretty vile cold powders, mugs of hot honey, lemon and ginger and inhaling endless bowls of steaming Vicks; it was this comforting soup, that finally put paid to monsieur lurgy. Sweet, spicy and ambrosial on the throat, this makes an immense tureen. Perfect for squirreling away freezer-friendly stashes ready for the next onslaught.
850g pumpkin, hacked into chunks
270g parsnip, peeled and chopped into chunks
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 large onion, finely chopped
75g ginger, peeled and finely chopped
150g brown basmati rice
145g/2 medium carrots, diced
110g celery sticks, diced
250g eating apples
4 green cardamom pods
1 tsp. turmeric
500ml chicken stock
400ml coconut milk
400g tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp. mango chutney
2 tbsp. fresh coriander
A big squeeze of lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 180C. In a shallow roasting tray toss the pumpkin and parsnip chunks with the garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt and half the olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until tender and charred in places.
- In a large saucepan heat the butter and remaining oil. Fry the onion and ginger for about 10 minutes over a low heat. Add the rice, carrots, celery, apple, cardamom and turmeric and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes or until everything is well cooked.
- Mash in the roasted pumpkin and parsnip along with the tempered oil from the roasting pan.
- Pour in the stock, coconut milk, tinned tomatoes and adjust seasoning to taste. Simmer until the rice is tender.
- Stir in the chutney and lemon juice. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with the fresh coriander and lots of black pepper.
“ahm joony faareigner ja git me yeah? Nooo. Naaaaah Jimmy I’ve nae idea wha’ ure sayin’” slurs the wild-eyed Asian guy with the Celtic scarf and hair like Jesus. The table of young office workers look shocked and slightly scared. I hold my head in my hands. It’s 2003 and I’m in The Cock with my mate Hermeet. We’ve just been working on the John Peel show and my Glaswegian Sikh colleague is pissed again. (Un?)fortunately nobody understands a word he’s saying. Earlier that day I watch him cheerfully trowel a good inch of butter onto his parathas. “Nobody does comfort food like us Punjabis” he tells me, or at least I think he does. He introduces me to the ambrosial delight that is chole bhature – or chickpea curry mopped up with deep fried bread. It’s basically the north Indian equivalent of beans on toast. Fast forward to now and it’s all I want to eat because it’s parky and I’m coming down with a treacherous cold.
Pairing up tangy, cumin-flecked legumes with crisp, puffy bhature equals pure magic. Traditionally these yeasty, slightly spongy orbs are deep fried. I prefer to cut down on the cholesterol overload by shallow frying, and I’ve made mine with spelt flour over plain, and with yeast over baking soda. So not really bhature in the sense your average North Indian might recognise, but still pretty damned tasty. You can of course make the curry beforehand, but it’s important to dish up the bread as you fry it, perhaps with a nice cool raita alongside, for that triple texture-taste delight.
Boiling the chickpeas with Assam or Darjeeling teabags, really encourages an authentic street-vendor mahogany hue. You could just chuck in tinned, but for me, nothing beats the nutty bite of raw to soaked and it’s hardly that much of a faff. With a bit of forward planning you’re looking at an unbelievably cheap eat with tons leftover to freeze.
For the chickpeas
250g dried chickpeas
3 large onions, finely chopped/blitzed in a processor
30g fresh ginger, finely chopped/blitzed
6-8 cloves garlic finely chopped/blitzed
1 ½ tsp. cumin seeds
1 black cardamom (use a couple of green if you don’t have any black ones)
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns, tied in some muslin/a baby sock
1 tsp. turmeric powder
½ tsp. black salt powder (‘kala namak’ is available in asian shops, use 1 tsp. standard white salt if not)
A fat slice of butter
1 tsp. curry powder
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
½ -1 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. dried fenugreek powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
250g fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh coriander
Lemon wedges and v.finely sliced red onion to serve
For the spelt bhature
300g spelt flour
150g plain flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. nigella seeds
½ tsp. dried yeast
1 tsp. salt
150ml natural yoghurt
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Approx 300ml warm water
Oil for shallow/deep frying
- One or two nights before you want to eat this, soak the chickpeas in at least double the volume of water.
- Anywhere between 1-6 hours before cooking, (you could also start this the night before) get your bhature dough on by mixing the flours, sugar, nigella seeds, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the water, oil and yoghurt in a jug. Gradually add to the flour mixture until you have a smooth dough. Knead for 10 minutes until nice and elastic and then leave in the bowl somewhere warm covered with a damp cloth.
- tip the contents of the chickpea bowl into a large saucepan, adding more water if necessary until you have at least double the volume of water to chickpeas. Add the teabags, 1/3 of the onion, 1/3 of the garlic, ½ the cumin, the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, 20 peppercorns and the turmeric. Cover and simmer for an hour over a gentle heat and then drain and toss with the salt. Fish out the tea, cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns and bay but reserve the liquid.
- In another pan, heat the butter and add a splash of oil. Gently brown the remaining onion, garlic and ginger for a good half an hour.
- Stir in the curry, pepper, chilli, fenugreek and coriander powders along with the remaining cumin. After a few minutes add the fresh tomato and the chickpeas and cook for a minute or two.
- Add the cooking/soaking water and simmer until tender. Check seasoning and sprinkle in lots of fresh coriander.
- To make the bread, heat the oil to deep/shallow-frying temperature. Knock back the dough and tear off lemon-sized pieces. Roll each one out to the size of a small dinner plate and cover with damp kitchen roll.
- Gently slide the bhature into the hot fat, allow to brown, while pressing continuously down into the centre of the bread with a slotted spoon for about 45 seconds-this should cause it to puff up magnificently if you’re deep frying and more languidly if shallow. Flip over and brown the other side before draining on plenty of kitchen paper-lined plates.
- Serve hot with a well chilled cucumber raita, the chickpeas, red onion slices and lemon wedges.
Soft shell crab. Three words pretty much guaranteed to elicit a hedonic response, particularly as I now live in an area where I can’t get hold of the little critters for love nor money. I find the only thing more satisfying than the crunch of tiny exoskeletons is slathering them with gingery blueberry ketchup and spring onion mayo…the whole crunchy, creamy mess cushioned in a nutty yet sturdy wholemeal roll. Bliss.
Not to be confused with their blue swimming brethren, I had to make a special trip to Chinatown and came home minus twenty quid. On the plus side, I now have a massive box of individually wrapped Thai beauties half of which have taken up residence in the freezer, ready for my next craving. Blueberry ketchup is incredible and even if you can’t be done with faffing about over seafood, I’d recommend my tangsome blue sauce to fulfil all manner of dunking needs; it’s smashing with egg and chips.
Back in January I signed a two book deal with the mighty Kyle publishing. The first of my cookbooks will be out early next year, and although I haven’t included this recipe, it’s a little taster of the kind of thing you can expect.
For the blueberry ketchup
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. bottled tamarind sauce
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan and cook the onion until softened but not browned.Add in ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant.
- tip in the blueberries, tamarind, sugar, vinegar and salt and simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes and until nicely thickened.
- Allow to cool, blend if you want a smooth texture and pour into a sterilised jar. Keeps happily in the fridge for a good fortnight.
For the soft shell crab
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. 5 spice powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. rice wine
100g rice flour
v.cold sparkling water
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 egg whites, beaten till frothy
1 heaped tsp. baking powder
8-10 soft-shell crabs
Rice flour for dusting the crabs
oil for deep frying
1 spring onion, finely chopped and mixed with 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
some token lettuce
- defrost the crabs. Combine the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, five spice powder, salt and rice wine and carefully marinade the crab (they’re pretty fragile) for a few hours in this mixture in the fridge. I managed to wait for about 6 hours.
- Mix the cornflour and rice flour, salt, garlic powder and baking powder. Gradually add enough sparkling water until it reaches the consistency of double cream. Fold in the soy sauce and egg whites.
- Have a plate ready with more rice flour and heat the oil in a wok. When you’re ready to deep fry, dust the crabs in the rice flour then dunk in the batter, coating well.
- Fry two at a time to golden perfection (they tend to spatter a lot so take care). Drain on kitchen paper before sandwiching in a roll with a hefty spoonful of blueberry ketchup, lettuce and a smear of spring onion mayonnaise.
If you’re after boozy, creamy, gorgeousness as well as a full on exercise in kitschness, then look no further. I’ve always preferred lamb to beef so decided to give some thick cut lamb steaks the old brandy-cream treatment. Crumbling feta and showering dill into the sauce really took things somewhere special. This was so tasty we had it twice in the same week.
6 thick cut lamb chops
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. Worcester sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
A knob of butter
200g chopped mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
75ml cider brandy
2 tbsp. double cream
2-3tbsp. finely chopped dill
- combine the dried parsley, thyme, garlic, Worcester sauce and olive oil and coat the chops. Leave in the fridge for anywhere between 3 hours-overnight.
- Heat the butter in a large frying pan and once it’s foaming add the meat plus any excess marinade, browning well all over.
- Nudge the chops to one side of the pan and add the chopped mushrooms and onion. Cook until everything takes on a nice mahogany hue, then crown each chop with the mushroom-onion mixture.
- Turn the heat up and pour in the cider brandy. Reduce until syrupy and pour in the stock. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove the meat and keep warm. Turn heat up again, crumble in the feta and simmer with lid off for about 10 minutes or until it reduces slightly. Stir in the double cream and allow to bubble a little.
- Finally sprinkle in the dill and serve the chops with the sauce poured over, sautéed potatoes and something green.
Hello, it’s been a while. Don’t worry, this isn’t another one of those “sorry I haven’t blogged in ages” posts because I don’t really see the point of those. Personally, I blame the year round availability of unseasonal fruit in our supermarkets – people just think they can have what they want when they want it all the time. Perhaps it might help if you just think of me as an organic greengage, or something.
Anyway. Aren’t peas brilliant? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve podded and ploughed my way through a fresh bag fully intending to use them in a meal but with absolutely nada to show at the end. I had to exercise a lot of self restraint for this dish, but am super pleased I did because it’s bloody sensational.
At about 4am last Tuesday I had a proper hankering for mutter paneer, palak paneer and also for makhani paneer (think butter chicken but with paneer instead of poultry). You might say I really, really wanted paneer.
This was the result – a glorious mash up of all three. Packed with sweet fresh* peas and spinach for all those crucial vits plus sour cream (SO authentic, I know) butter and cashews for a healthy dose of hedonic richness. A win-win dish if ever there was one.
2 large onions
4-5 cloves garlic
2 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
60g roasted cashew nuts
A little blitzing water
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. curry powder
salt to taste (I used a teaspoon)
¼ – ½ tsp. chilli powder
½ – 1 tsp. dried fenugreek (methi) leaves
1 tsp. coriander powder
½ tsp. turmeric powder
1 tbsp. tomato puree
2-3 tbsp. sour cream (coconut milk would be lush)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 green chillies chopped finely
2 tbsp. coriander stems, chopped finely
1 tbsp. sunflower oil
A large knob of butter
2 tsp. cumin seeds
227g paneer cubed
300ml veg. stock
chopped fresh tomatoes (250g-ish)
200g spinach leaves-wilted in a colander with boiling water from the kettle then chopped
145g shelled peas (*you can of course use frozen if you don’t have fresh)
coriander leaves chopped fine to garnish
A few extra whole toasted cashews to serve
- Blitz onion, cashews, garlic and ginger to a rough paste in a blender with a little water.
- Mix sugar, curry powder, salt, chilli powder, fenugreek leaves, coriander powder, turmeric and tomato puree in a bowl. Add the cream and lemon juice, green chilli and coriander stems
- Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add oil. Once it’s hot add the butter and cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter.
- Add the onion mix and fry until it turns a sort of frazzled beige colour (this took about 20 minutes over a low heat, giving any excess water the chance to evaporate). Add the paneer cubes and cook until everything is well crusted and golden.
- Stir in the stock, spiced cream and fresh tomatoes. Cook for 10 mins on a low heat.
- Finally, add the peas and spinach. Adjust seasoning to taste, scatter over the toasted cashews and coriander leaves. Serve with hot plain rice.
When Miss Marmite Lover invited me to host a curry stall at her forthcoming underground food rave, I decided I’d offer dishes that were a little bit different alongside the same old traditional curries. Chaal kumro bhaja is a classic Bengali fried pumpkin dish, which involves panch phoran (Bengali five spice), fresh coconut and chilli. This roasted panch phoran pumpkin salad is my modern version. Fat chunks of the orange flesh are lightly coated in mustard oil, salt and garlic before roasting to fudgy tenderness. Cubes of paneer, raw cashews, fresh coconut, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are browned in panch phoran and chilli tempered oil before everything is tossed with a pinch of sugar, salt, fresh coriander, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds. A drizzle of chillified yoghurt and the contrast of crisp, spicy cheese, nuts and seeds with soft garlicky gourd is pretty unbeatable.
I’ll be serving this on Saturday 5th November, along with a more old school mutton kosha mangsho (slow cooked Bengali mutton and potato curry), saag and pea paneer (with home made paneer), spicy sausage rolls (both veggie and meat), potato and pea shingaras (Bengali samosas with nigella seed pastry) lentil doughnuts in raita (dahi vadai), organic, free-range chicken curry, vegetable biryani, masoor dal and smoked aubergine and tomato borthas (fresh Bengali salsas).
Serves 2- 3 as a main course and 6 as a starter/side dish
1/2 medium pumpkin or 1 small one, halved, deseeded and lopped into chunks
1 tbsp mustard oil plus extra for drizzling
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
½ block paneer, cubed
1 handful raw cashews
½ fresh coconut, sliced thinly
1 tbsp each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1 tsp each of fenugreek, asafoetida, cumin, mustard and nigella seeds
1 fresh chilli sliced or ½ teaspoon hot chilli sauce
Fresh coriander roughly chopped
Fresh lemon juice
½ fresh pomegranate, deseeded
2 tbsp natural yoghurt mixed with 3-4 tsp chilli sauce
- Place the pumpkin chunks in a baking tray and anoint liberally with the garlic, salt and a little of the mustard oil. Roast at 150C for around 30-40 minutes, or until slightly charred and very soft.
- In a frying pan, heat the remaining mustard oil and when hot, add the mustard and nigella seeds. Lightly crush the fennel, asafoetida and cumin and add to the oil, which should be spit and crackle.
- Add the paneer and coat well in the spices. Add the fresh chilli or chilli sauce and stir in the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, the cashews and the coconut. Mix thoroughly and continue to cook until everything is toasted and golden brown.
- Tip the contents of the frying pan over the roasted pumpkin, add a teaspoon each of salt and sugar and mix well. Strew with the coriander, pomegranate and a generous squeeze of lemon juice and drizzle with the chilli yoghurt dressing. Serve warm.
I’ve got really into pot roasting lately and had been thinking about making this dish for ages. I wanted to experiment with the combination of robust curry spicing and the technique of browning off a choice hunk of flesh before leaving to languidly blip away in the oven for hours with a bit of stock and some vegetables, then maybe stirring in a touch of dairy to enrich matters. Ultimately you’re left with a supper that satisfyingly disintegrates at the merest suggestion of a spoon.
The results are mind blowingly good. Mouthful after mouthful of unrelenting deliciousness sort of good. The shanks provide the vertebrae of flavour while the roots become melting and sweet, with kicks of heat from the spice, then finally the whole lot is mellowed with thick cream…scooped up with some blistered chappatis I can think of no finer way to herald the colder months.
1 large onion, diced
2 lamb shanks
1 dsp mustard oil
1 dsp vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
7 green cardamoms
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp each of crushed garlic and finely chopped ginger
2 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp asafoetida
I tsp each of salt and black peppercorns
1 tsp dried fenugreek
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 heaped tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
2-3 green chillies, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 small turnip peeled and diced
A dozen new potatoes
¾ pint stock (I used chicken)
3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 heaped tbsps of double cream
- Heat the oils in an ovenproof casserole dish and add the onion. Gently brown over a low heat.
- Grind the cloves, coriander seeds, asafoetida, salt, black peppercorns, methi leaves and fennel seeds to a powder.
- Add this powder, the ginger and garlic to the caramelised onions and mix in the chilli powder, along with the fresh green chillies.
- Turn the heat up, add the lamb shanks and brown all over. Add the carrots, turnip and potatoes and stir well.
- Pour in the stock and add the tomatoes. Stir again and cover the pan with a close fitting lid.
- Place in the oven at 160C/320F/Gas mark 3 for about two and a half hours or until the lamb is meltingly tender.
- Uncover and place over a high heat on the hob to reduce the liquid slightly. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Sprinkle with fresh coriander before serving with hot chappatis to scoop up all that delectable sauce
Creamy, oozing with comfort and addictive little stabs of chilli this savoury French toast with an Indian twist is just the dish to take refuge in whenever you’re feeling hungry, tired, skint or all three. It’s a proper serotonin-raiser, whether we’re talking a decadent breakfast in bed gesture or a midweek, post-work-pre-flicks/plonked on the sofa type affair. The peach and tomato salsa is bright, punchy and the perfect accompaniment (it’s basically my Bengali tomato salsa recipe plus a couple of very ripe peaches), although a hefty blob of ketchup is just fine if you really can’t be bothered. My aunt in Rochdale makes hers using cheap white sliced bread but for me it’s all about the nuttiness of wholemeal.
1-2 tbsp single cream
A large pinch of curry powder
4 of the finest eggs money can buy
slices of bread
½ Fresh green finger chilli sliced (or more if you like your heat)
1-2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 shallot, finely chopped/spring onion
Salt and pepper
Tomato bortha/Bengali tomato salsa with a couple of ripe peaches roughly chopped and crushed in.
- Beat together the eggs and add the curry powder, cream, chilli, coriander, shallot and salt and pepper.
- Place a slice of bread in the mixture and leave for about 5 minutes then turn over, until well saturated with the egg mixture.
- Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and when sizzling carefully add the bread. Brown on both sides.
- Repeat until all the egg has been used up and serve hot with plenty of salsa/ketchup.
Cumin isn’t really a spice you’d associate with Chinese cooking is it? However, head for the more Islamic districts of North West China and these cumintastic lamb skewers are all the rage. Sadly, I’ve never had the chance to check out the street food of Xinjiang, but I have spent many a belt-loosening evening in Chilli Cool, the Sichuanese hotspot in King’s Cross. There the skewers come fried and spice encrusted on a plate that’s practically scarlet with chillies.
I decided to make my own for a spot of Victoria Park BBQ action and I must say these really couldn’t be easier. Super nice with a hot and sour cucumber salad (diced and dressed in salt, garlic sizzled in sesame oil, sugar and rice vinegar) and crammed into toasted pitta, these were wolfed down the very minute they came off the heat and I only wish I’d made more.
The Sichuan peppercorns add that “ma la” hot, numbing and almost lemony back note which works gorgeously with the toasted cumin. You can get them in most Chinese shops or online. If you really can’t be bothered, just stick in a bit more chilli powder/paste and a load of black pepper- it won’t be the same of course but you’ll still be dead chuffed with the results. It’s important to toast and grind the cumin – you want that lamb properly infused. Like all the best hot-coal related treats, the longer you marinade the tastier the rewards (I held out for two days). If you don’t have access to a barbecue, you can always slide them under a hot grill. Either way, you’re guaranteed all manner of smoky, juicy, spicy fun times.
(makes four generous skewers)
500g lamb steaks hacked into skewerable hunks
skewers ( if wooden, soak in water for at least an hour)
For the dry spice mix
1 ½ tbsp dry roasted and ground cumin seeds
1 ½ tbsp dry roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
2-3 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground fennel
½ -1 tsp chilli powder
For the wet mix
2 tsp sesame oil
1 ½ large red chillies, sliced roughly
2-3 large spring onions, cut roughly into chunks
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp chilli bean paste
1 tbsp groundnut oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- Combine the ingredients for the dry marinade and coat the lamb chunks thoroughly.
- Combine the ingredients for the wet marinade. Tip the contents of the dry into the wet and mix well.
- Cover and leave overnight in the fridge or for a couple of days if you can.
- Thread onto skewers. Fish out the chilli and spring onion chunks and alternate the bits of lamb with these.
- Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side over or under a medium to fierce heat. You basically want these to be charred on the outside but still a little pink in the middle. Devour while hot. Regret not making more.
If like me, you managed to OD on mini-eggs and treacle tart over the weekend, you might be thinking about injecting something a little bit healthier into your poor, saccharine-addled body. This chilled green soup of mind-boggling goodness is just what the overworked NHS GP ordered. Verdant with veg and gorgeous supped with tomato juice ice cubes, a touch of greek yoghurt and a piquant crab salsa (don’t worry if you can’t get fresh crab, the supermarket tinned lump-meat stuff is just as good for these purposes) it’s something you can put together super-quickly after the shock of being back at the electronic coalface. Perfect for when you’re feeling a bit kitchen shy and just want to bask it up in those final rays of the day…
for the soup
1 x 230g bag spinach leaves, washed and blitzed right down in a blender with ½ pint cold vegetable stock (I used 1 tsp Marigold powder)
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2-3 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 avocado, roughly chopped
1 small clove garlic, crushed
The juice of a lime
A couple of pickled chillies
A dash of sherry/balasamic/rice/not Sarsons vinegar
1 hefty pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper
1 handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp peas (I used defrosted frozen petit pois)
For the salsa:
One tin of whole lump crab meat (or fresh if you can get it)
A red pepper, diced
½ red onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
Juice and zest of half a lime
A glug of good olive/avocado oil
Salt and pepper
a spoonful of greek yoghurt
frozen cubes of tomato juice, or if you’re feeling a bit flash, whole mint leaves frozen in tomato juice cubes.
- Place all the soup ingredients in a blender, whizz and adjust the seasoning to taste (it develops over time, so if enjoying this straight away, I’d add a smidge more garlic, salt and/or chilli).
- Chill in the fridge with ice cubes while you get on with the salsa.
- Combine the salsa ingredients.
- Serve with the chilled soup.
- If you’re mega-organised you can make tomato ice cubes ahead of putting this together, otherwise a cold swirl of yoghurt it is. Some toasted almonds would be nice too.
Because it’s definitely picnic o’clock.
a good, sturdy loaf of bread (I experimented with sourdough and ciabatta but found one of those Grand Mange Blanc loaves in Waitrose worked brilliantly)
cheese (I used Emmental, Jarlsberg and Gouda)
for the vegetarian half
1 aubergine sliced and griddled until tender
2 or 3 spring onions, halved and blistered on a griddle
1 jar grilled courgettes
for the carnivorous half
for the olive salad
6 marinated artichoke hearts, plus a tablespoon of the oil they’re marinated in
approximately 10 sunblush tomatoes, plus a tablespoon of the oil they’re marinated in.
100g marinated olives
1 stick celery
1 carrot, grated
1/2 red onion
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp oregano
There’s no anticipation quite like the build up of a long, languid roast, and for me that’s especially the case when we’re talking roast duck. This one gently crisps up for a good five hours, which might sound a bit time guzzling, but apart from the odd bit of turning and prodding, you can pretty much leave it alone.
I picked up a bottle of yuzu juice (that distinctive, mandarin-grapefruit like citrus) in the Japan centre the other day and had the remnants of a jar of yujacha* knocking around, so decided to experiment with a modern twist on the classic duck a l’orange. The slow roasting resulted in ultra tender meat and conker-coloured skin, while the aromatic citrus scythed through those crisp lipids beautifully with just the perfect degree of acidity (you can buy yuzu online here, but I’m sure a juicy blob of good old Seville marmalade and some pink grapefruit juice would also be a brilliant substitute). The sauce a la yuzu is sweet, sharp, savoury and salty all at once, in that maddeningly addictive drink-it-straight- from-the-pan kind of way.
*Yujacha is a marmalade type drink from Korea made with yuzu and sugar or honey and diluted with hot water to make fruit tea.
One duck, giblets removed
1 or 2 onions, peeled and studded with a few cloves
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp chilli sauce
5-6 tsp yuzu juice/pink grapefruit juice
½ pint chicken stock
2 tsp cornflour
3 tsp honey
1 tbsp yujacha, plus 2 tsp for the sauce
- Wash and dry the duck thoroughly. Lightly score diamonds through the fat.
- Stud an onion or two with cloves, and roughly hack up a fat finger of ginger –stuff these in the cavity.
- Salt liberally and snip off any excess fat from the extremities. Place in a rack in a roasting tray and roast at 150C/300F/gas mark 2 for an hour.
- Prick all over and turn the bird over. Repeat for about 4 hours, until crisp and brown all over.
- Drain off the fat, and reserve for roasting vegetables, smothering on toast etc.
- Gently heat a tablespoon of sugar in a thick-based pan until it turns to a rich mahogany caramel.
- Add a teaspoon of rice vinegar, one of chilli sauce and about 5-6 teaspoons of yuzu.
- Add half a pint of chicken stock and whisk in a teaspoon or two of cornflour. Stir and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon (you might want to add a bit of soy at this point, but I found my stock was salty enough). Stir in the honey and two teaspoons of yujicha/marmalade.
- For the final hour, the breast should be face up. Turn the heat up to about 190C/375F/gas mark 5 for ten minutes or so, just to ensure a good depth of colour.
- Brush liberally with the yujicha/marmalade, turn the oven down a little and continue to roast for 30 minutes (make sure the glaze doesn’t burn).
- Rest for 15 minutes and serve with plenty of sauce and some nice green vegetables.
I’m still working my way through that final truckle of Red Leicester. As I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth, these savoury scones are my cunning twist on the classic cream tea. I’ve already made a batch for @farmlondon and with not one but two tea parties coming up in the near future; these decadent little delights will most certainly be putting in an appearance.
There’s a fair amount of fromage in the mix so you only need a few teaspoons of oil. They swell up beautifully and the hint of truffle works a treat with the cheese, as does the suggestion of smoky pepper. Split them while they’re still warm from the oven and recklessly smother with the roasted garlic cream and a generous blob of tomato relish. Wash down with a large mug of lady grey. Splendid.
- 500g plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 250g red leicester (or any other decent hard cheese), grated
- 2 spring onions, finely snipped
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- lots of black pepper
- pinch of smoked paprika
- 1 tsp truffle oil
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 250 ml whole milk
- 1 egg
for the garlic cream
- 250ml sour cream
- 1 bulb garlic, sliced in half
- a little oil
- a handful of chives
to serve – tomato relish or my personal favourite, some Branston’s pickle.
- weigh out the flour and mix in the baking powder, salt, thyme, cayenne, paprika, spring onions, black pepper and grated cheese.
- Combine the beaten egg, milk and oils in a jug and slowly trickle into the dry ingredients.
- Mix well until a dough is formed. Roll out to about just over an inch thick (make sure you don’t roll too thinly).
- If you want to create a natural “split” in the scone, fold the dough in half, back over itself and lightly roll out again.
- Using a cutter (or an inverted glass) cut out round shapes.
- Place on a well oiled baking tray and brush with milk. Sprinkle with a little more grated cheese.
- Put your garlic halves on a scrap of foil, drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt. Wrap up into a loose parcel.
- Place the scones and the garlic parcel in the oven at 220C/450F/gas mark 8 for about 20 minutes or until the scones are well risen and golden and the garlic tender.
- Put the scones on a rack to cool slightly.
- Mash the roast garlic to a pulp, mix with the chives and stir into the cream.
- Split and smother the scones.
- Serve immediately.
Tangy, aromatic and fresher than a boxfresh pair of hightops, this is a lovely little springtime cuzza. Based on a Keralan pal’s recipe, the layers of nut do make it fairly rich, so you might want to go easy on the oil/tinned milk/flesh if you fancy more of a sour finish. Perfectamente with a hot portion of lemon rice (there’s a fab recipe here- http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-make-lemon-rice) chapattis and a spoonful of mango chutney on the side.
- 2-3 fresh squid, cleaned and hacked into rings (tentacles included)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 fresh coconut, cut into thin slices
- 250ml coconut milk (you could use the water from the fresh coconut for a lighter result or tinned coconut milk for a richer finish – I used a mixture of both)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (which incidentally also makes the most luscious popcorn)/ghee/olive oil
- 1 large handful of curry leaves
- 1 red chilli
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 large fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 250ml tamarind water
- 1 large handful of frozen peas (optional)
- 1 tsp curry powder
- fresh coriander
- 1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Heat the fresh coconut slices, coriander seeds and chilli in a dry frying pan over a medium heat (you’ll be cooking the curry in this later, so make sure it’s not too small).
- While that’s toasting, smear the squid in turmeric and salt in a small bowl.
- Set the toasted coconut and chilli aside and tip the seeds into a grinder/mortar and grind to a powder.
- Heat the coconut oil in the empty pan and once it’s sizzling, lob in the squid pieces for a quick flash fry.
- After a minute or two, remove the squid and drain on some kitchen paper.
- Add the mustard seeds, coriander powder, fennel seeds and curry leaves to the hot fat.
- As soon as the mustard seeds pop (this should happen fairly immediately) add the onion, garlic, whole red chilli and ginger.
- Once everything’s nice and brown, turn the heat down a little and add the fresh tomatoes. Cook for about five minutes until they break down and thicken into a sauce.
- Add the curry powder, tamarind water, coconut milk and stir well. Check the seasoning, you might want to add a bit more salt at this point,or if you think it could do with a bit more heat add the green chilli (I prefer it without personally).
- Re-introduce the squid pieces and simmer for 10 minutes . Add the peas if you’re using them and simmer for a further 5 minutes. The squid should be cooked through but also extremely tender.
- Strew with the toasted coconut and coriander and serve immediately with wedges of lime.
This is Incredible.
Make it for someone you love kind of incredible. Can’t wait to make it again and again kind of incredible. Make it in the afternoon and watch it cease to exist by the evening kind of incredible. Thyme scented garlic, slick with balsamic syrup, glossier than Cheryl Cole’s barnet kind of incredible. Clods of butternut roasted to coax out the sugar, cosseted in a duvet of delicately shuddering dairy kind of incredible. There are no words kind of incredible.
Mr Ottolenghi – I salute you.
You wouldn’t catch your average Japanese housewife faffing around making a curry roux from scratch. Not when there are dozens of excellent ready made versions requiring little more effort than the mere flick of a kettle switch.
Katsu curry is a veritable thing of joy and one that’s warmed me through many a grim London winter but I must admit, I’ve always turned lazily to those ready made bars of S&B. So when an old friend from Osaka passed on her recipe, I was excited at the thought of seeing what actually went into this unique dish.
Tough day in the office? Repeatedly sneezed on during the central line rush hour? Feeling a bit sniffly? Had your favourite pair of Cheap Monday’s tsunamically and indeed deliberately drenched by some sadist in a white van? If like me you’ve recently suffered from any/all of the above then what you need is a great steaming bowl of shorba. Nothing sorts me out quite like that rich, soothing hug of a soup, alive with spices and the spiky warmth of ginger. It truly is the perfect antidote to so many of life’s woes.
There was once a time when all you’d ever hear about was Nobu and that black cod miso dish. That was until “The End of the Line” exposed it to be the bluefin-plundering, money-grabbing, z list hang out it really is. Still, you can see why the dish was such a winner. That deeply savoury rot of the marinade, sweet and salty against oily flesh was and still is pretty genius.
Mark Hix certainly seems to know his Asian food – I’ve had my eye on the mutton chop curry recipe in his latest cookery book for some time now. I chanced upon his recipe for these lentil and potato cakes on a yellowing scrap of old Independent I’d ripped out around, ooh seven years ago. Gently spiced potato cakes filled with a piquant mango chutney and lentil mix and rolled in coconut, they are the perfect packed lunch fodder and definitely taste more intense the next day. I used fresh coconut instead of desiccated and added some bay and grated ginger to the potato mix. I think a spot of fresh green chilli in there wouldn’t go amiss, or if you can get hold of it, the weeniest dollop of Mr Naga hot chilli sauce.