I’m a truly rubbish Muslim. Seriously. I’ve been known to enjoy the odd half of snakebite, am married to a devout atheist; rarely buy halal anything and would never dream of circumcising my baby boy. Despite this, I’m still a Muslim and am therefore incredibly excited about the UK’s first and indeed, the world’s largest halal food festival at the London ExCel from 27-29 September. Let’s face it, it’s about time “haloodies” were represented in a predominantly non-Islamic foodie ocean of white, middle class bacon munchers. As Islamophobia continues to spread its poisonous tentacles and as seemingly every government, power and faction has homicidal designs upon the people of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon; it’s good to see something positive for Muslims for a change, even if that something is as simple as a food festival.
The festival will feature cooking demos from Cyrus Todiwala, Shelina Permaloo and Jean Christophe Novelli. I’m particularly excited about the launch of Indian street food by Cinnamon Kitchen chefs “Joho Soho” and can’t wait to try their Bengali mutton and fenugreek chicken. I’m also looking forward to feasting on Palestinian medjool dates, stuffed with organic fairtrade nuts and topped with rosebuds by The Datelatiers. Meanwhile here’s a recipe for Papeta pur eeda or “simply divine eggs on potato” from Cyrus Todiwala. Mashallah!
Cyrus’ PAPETA PUR EEDA
THIS IS QUITE SIMPLY DIVINE “EGGS ON POTATO”.
POTATO One large, peeled and sliced to approximately 1/8th of aninch thick. If you have a mandolin you’ll get more even slices, otherwise do not fret.
one medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small, finely chopped green chilli
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tbsp. finely chopped fresh coriander
4 eggs, organic if possible
salt, to taste
two to three tablespoons or half oil half butter (Cyrus prefers to add a healthy heap of butter once the cumin is coloured)
Peel, slice the potato, wash and set aside.
Slit the onion into half and slice thinly.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the cumin seeds.
Allow them to sizzle for a minute or two over a medium flame.
Add the green chillies & garlic, saute for a further minute or two before adding the sliced onion. Saute for a minute or two until opaque and add the potato slices.
Saute for at least three to four minutes, sprinkle salt and level out the contents of the pan. Add enough water to just below the level of the contents, cover the pan and on a low flame cook until the potatoes are just tender, but still firm without being mushy.
At this stage Cyrus likes to add a small spring onion thinly sliced and sprinkled, but it is optional. Sprinkle over the coriander, check the seasoning, mix gently and level the contents of the pan again, ensuring the sides of the pan are clean.
Make four, well spaced indentations with an egg where you would like to have each egg. This should roughly be one and a half inches from the sides of the pan.
Break each egg taking care to drop the yolk into each cavity.
Cover the pan and cook over a very low flame.
The eggs will poach in the steam, however if the heat is too high the potatoes will burn.
When done to your liking, cut out into four segments and serve with mango chutney and warm baguettes.
I have quite the soft spot for the spicy beanburger. This has less to do with the weird, pappy texture and everything to do with the memory it evokes of errant teenage years. My first ever boyfriend was a very angry, very well read and very political vegetarian. He was also an excellent cook. Together we’d stomp around the mean streets of HA2 in our army surplus jackets, going halves on packets of Superkings and taking the proverbial out of all the posh kids from the hill. Our favourite past time was frittering away hours in charity shops and second hand record shops. The best one by far had to be Sellanby on Northolt Road. I once flogged my entire Throwing Muses and Mudhoney collection in there just to scrape together the necessary to make a pavlova. Any particularly good finds would be celebrated with a spicy beanburger from the Wimpy.
These, thankfully are nothing like the ones from the Wimpy. They’re much, much tastier, despite all the salt*. A couple of points – you do need to char the hell out of them and they are pretty crumbly so make sure you cook them properly on each side to ensure a good crust. Also, *you will need a ton of salt. Plus a long list of other ingredients, including an entire jar of chipotle paste. You absolutely must not leave the fresh green chilli out, and I urge you to add more if you feel the need. Oh, and you will need to soak your beans overnight and roast and grate some beetroot. In short, they are a tremendous faff, but they are totally and utterly worth it. This makes enough for about 50 so once you’ve perfected your magenta mastermix you can just stash it away in the freezer forever.
3 large whole beetroot
300g of your favourite dried beans (I went for a mixture of 100g each of aduki, black turtle and kidney) soaked overnight
100g brown rice
2 medium onions
5 cloves garlic
a fistful of coriander stalks, chopped finely
1 dried chipotle
2 heaped tsp. cumin seeds
vegetable stock, about a litre
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
v.fine porridge oats (whizz fat ones in the blender if necessary)
2-3 tsp. Colmans mustard
2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 tbsp. dark miso paste
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano
100g jar of chipotle paste
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1-2 fresh green chillies, finely sliced
a lot of salt. Honestly, I must have used at least 2 tablespoons.
- heat a splash of olive oil and add the cumin seeds, whole chipotle, one of the onions and half the garlic. Once browned add the coriander stalks and the soaked beans, plus enough vegetable stock to cover. Bring to the boil then simmer for an hour.
- Wrap the beetroot in foil and roast at Gas mark 6 for an hour. Add the brown rice to the beans and continue to simmer for another half an hour or until the beans are tender, the rice is cooked and the water has almost evaporated.
- In a small frying pan, fry the remaining onion and garlic. Once browned, splash in the cider vinegar to deglaze and set aside. Allow the beetroot to cool before grating into a bowl. Blitz the rice and bean mixture in a food processor and stir into the grated beetroot (you can either finely chop the whole chipotle or chuck it at this point), adding the fried onion and garlic mixture and enough oats to form a moist mixture (a bit like the texture of mince).
- Season with the mustard, smoked paprika, miso, soy sauce, salt, chipotle paste, thyme and oregano. Stir in the fresh green chilli. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before forming into patties and then frying in a little olive oil, ensuring the burgers are well charred on both sides.
I was extremely chuffed to have my recipe for Bebek Betutu AKA Indonesian ceremonial barbecued duck featured in The Sunday Times magazine a couple of weeks ago. The article was penned by the incredibly talented Mr Oliver Thring and featured some of Britain’s best food bloggers.
In case you missed it, here’s the recipe again:
2kg duck, giblets removed
1 cinnamon stick
10 shallots or 2 medium onions
1 bulb of garlic, segmented and peeled
6 macadamia nuts
2 tsp. shrimp paste
50g ginger, peeled
1 tsp. turmeric
3 red chillies, roughly chopped
2 sticks lemongrass, roughly chopped (tough outer leaves discarded)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. coriander powder
Juice of 1 lime
5 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2 tbsp. coconut/vegetable oil
2 tbsp. water
100g spinach leaves, roughly chopped
The night before you want to eat, wash and pat the duck dry. Blend all remaining ingredients bar the spinach to a thick paste.
Mix half the paste with the spinach and rub the remaining paste all over the duck and inside the cavity. Stuff the duck cavity with the spinach mixture and wrap the whole thing very well in foil until completely airtight. Marinade overnight in the fridge.
The next day place the wrapped duck in a hooded BBQ for 4 hours (or alternatively in an oven at 160C for 2 hours and then at 120C for another 2 hours).
- Unwrap the duck and pour the juices into a small pan. Carefully scrape off any excess marinade and add to the juices. Simmer to reduce a little and stir in some of the stuffing. Very carefully return the unwrapped duck to the BBQ or into a hot oven to crisp up the skin. Serve the sauce in a bowl alongside the duck.
Because actual barbecued battered fish and vinegar sodden chips would of course be pretty disgusting. This is a much fresher version of that classic British marriage of fish and tuber. Think salmon fillets, sea bass and par boiled slices of spud marinated in a punchy garlic, caper and herb sauce (a kind of cross between a tartare and a chimichurri if you will – it basically tastes like something that’s been dragged through the herb garden, in a good way) and then slapped over glowing embers. The perfect midweek supper, this took very little time to put together. Slices of fennel, lemon and spring onion were also striped to smoky perfection and a lavish glop of said sauce anointed everything on the plate. Smoke and garlic. Two of my absolute favourite things, brought together for the punchiest of hot coal experiences this side of summer.
*Disclaimer: I’m constantly being asked to link to websites and very rarely do. However,I have a massive soft spot for John Lewis and if like me, you’re sick of those frankly dangerous flimsy disposable supermarket jobs, they have some excellent and very sturdy looking barbecues. Personally, I’m gutted the portable charcoal kettle’s out of stock.
for the sauce:
1 bunch flat leaf parsley (with stalks) – 50g
chopped sage leaves – 1 tbsp
1 small bulb garlic
1-2 tbsp. capers
120ml extra virgin olive oil
60ml white wine vinegar
juice of half a lemon
2 small shallots
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
for the rest
2 salmon fillets
2 small seabass
4-5 medium Maris Piper potatoes, peeled, sliced into pound coin thickness and parboiled for 5 -8 minutes
1 bulb fennel, sliced
2-3 spring onions halved lengthways
- blitz all sauce ingredients until you have a thick, verdant gloop and refrigerate for at least an hour to develop.
- Mix the potato and fennel slices in a couple of tablespoons of the sauce and set aside to marinade.
- In a shallow dish, stuff the seabass cavity with some of the sauce. Make shallow cuts in the salmon and baste in the marinade.
- Barbecue the fish, spring onion, fennel and potato slices until everything is crisp and cooked through, adding more sauce as required.
I came across this at Yalla Yalla the other day. Gloriously sharp and refreshing, it’s immensely quaffable and there’s been nothing else I’ve wanted to drink quite so much since. Don’t forget to strip the leaves from the stalks. There’s nothing worse than stalky bits in your lemonade.
the juice of 4 lemons
45g mint (leaves only)
75g caster sugar
1 litre water
optional- a dollop of orange blossom honey
- make a rough syrup by placing the sugar and water in a pan and simmer until just dissolved.
- Blitz the mint and lemon juice in a blender. Add the cooled syrup, honey (if using) and adjust adding more lemon, mint or sugar as required. Serve with plenty of ice.
Summertime stodge. Nobody nails it quite like those canny Greeks. This classic melange of lamb, tomato and rice-shaped pasta is the ideal thing to simmer up and leave on the blip while you crack on with more important things (like constructing makeshift paddling pools from plastic buckets, for example). I particularly love the way the grains of orzo swell up with cinnamon scented lamby juices and have included smoked aubergine and anchovy stuffed olives in my version. Although I’m guessing it’s not completely authentic; I can confirm that by heck it’s tasty.
This is at it’s most delicious served ever so slightly warm with lots of Greek salad and ripped up baguette.
half a shoulder of lamb, cubed
1 aubergine, chunked
8-10 shallots, peeled and halved
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 glass red wine
2 tbsp. anchovy stuffed olives
1 cinnamon stick
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 pint stock (lamb or vegetable)
2 tsp. each of dried oregano and thyme
1 dried chilli
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
100g feta, diced
fresh mint leaves
- in a large pan brown the lamb in batches and set aside. Fry onion and garlic in the fat. Place the aubergine over a gas burner or in the oven to blister. Cool when black.
-return the lamb to the pot, crank up the heat and pour in the wine. Reduce and introduce the olives, tomatoes, rosemary, chilli, cinnamon, oregano, thyme and stock. Peel and dice the aubergine and add to the pot.
- simmer over a low heat for at least 2 hrs (I lasted for 4). Stir occasionally and more water as necessary.
-Remove cinnamon stick. Add more water and tip in the orzo. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the orzo is done.
- Serve in shallow bowls strewn with feta and mint.
A cross between a crumpet and a pancake, Beghrir are a bubbly, lacy breakfast favourite in Morocco. They’re also an excellent way of using up any semolina you might have hanging around. Cooked on one side only and traditionally smothered in butter and honey, you need to make sure that your batter isn’t too viscous. My mother in law gave me some beautiful Hampshire rhubarb recently and I came up with this tart, fragrant compote. The pop of stem ginger and cardamom works a treat with the magenta stems. If you can’t be bothered to wait for the Beghrir batter to do it’s thing you can always make the batter the night before and just let the mixture come to room temperature before frying. Just the thing for a rainy day brunch.
makes about 20 Beghrir
for the compote
4-5 sticks of rhubarb, roughly chopped into chunks
250ml orange juice
5 green cardamom pods
3 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped plus a tablespoon of the syrup
50g brown sugar
for the Beghrir
60ml warm water
1 tbsp. active dried yeast
2 tsp. sugar
225g fine semolina
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
440ml tepid water
sunflower/vegetable oil for frying
- Make the beghrir batter by placing the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkling with yeast and then sugar. Set aside somewhere warm to activate for 5-10 minutes (it should start to look frothy).
- Tip the semolina, flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the frothy yeast mixture, vanilla, beaten egg and tepid water. Mix to form a smooth, creamy batter (it should have the consistency of thin cream). Cover and set aside for an hour.
- Meanwhile, place all the compote ingredients into a pan and simmer for about 30-40 minutes (or until the rhubarb is tender). Fish out the cardamom pods and discard.
- To cook the beghrir, heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Brush with a thin coating of oil. Stir the batter and pour a ladleful into the hot pan. Cook without turning until the surface becomes pockmarked with tiny craters and the base is a deep, golden brown. Remove and continue to add a little more oil to the pan for each one. Serve immediately with the compote.