Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemons – one of my favourite dishes to feed a crowd

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Cooking for 6+ guests always requires a bit of thought and forward planning. You typically want something that is relatively fuss free that you can pop in the oven and leave to cook. I have a very open planned kitchen so if I am prepping veg, talking and raising a glass at the same time it can become a little overwhelming. I prefer to plan ahead and then enjoy my guests company once they arrive without being frantic in the kitchen.

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Moroccan food is a great people pleaser and tasty all year round. It’s spices are delicate, fragrant but not hot spicy; think along the lines of cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, saffron and paprika. They are perfect gently marinaded and cooked with some tender chicken thighs or even some lamb. Olives and preserved lemons are synonymous with Moroccan cuisine and are key for this recipe. I need to do a post on preserved lemons so those of you who live in places where preserved lemons are hard to source you can make your own and store them.

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The marinading can be overnight or in the fridge or for an hour or so if you are working to a tight deadline. The part that takes the longest is browning off the chicken thighs. You want to leave them for about 5 minutes each side so that both sides are nicely bronzed. Then you place them to one side on kitchen paper whilst you prepare and cook the onions. I cook my chicken thighs in batches as I don’t want to overcrowd the pan.

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You can cook the whole dish on the stove, however I often find it is easier to place in a preheated oven for around 30 minutes so that the chicken thighs are sufficiently cooked and moist and all the flavours have blended together to create the most delicious of dishes.

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I tend to serve with spiced rice or couscous with pomegranates, slithered almonds or pistachio nuts and fresh coriander or parsley. It is always best to cook more than you need as seconds is pretty much guaranteed or if you feeding a reserved bunch then at least you have lots of lovely leftovers for another day. It’s a win win.

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Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemons

Serves 6-8

2.7kg chicken thighs, skin removed

2 heaped tbsp garlic paste

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp of olive oil

3 medium sized white onion, finely chopped

1 tsp of saffron threads

1 tsp of ground turmeric

370g green olives, stonned

1 fresh lemon

6 preserved lemons, quartered

1.  Remove excess skin from the chicken and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the garlic paste, paprika (I love using this one), cumin, black pepper and half the olive oil. Smother the chicken completely with the paste and leave covered in the fridge for a few hours, or even overnight if you are being organised.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a casserole dish or shallow pan. Add the pieces of chicken so that they are golden on both sides – this may need to be done in stages. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate with kitchen roll so as to soak up the oil.

4. Add the chopped onion to the oil, add more oil if you feel it is necessary. When the onion is golden, add the saffron, turmeric and olives and let it simmer for a few minutes.

5. Pour the juice of the fresh lemon over the pan along with 200ml/7 fl oz of cold water. Add the preserved lemons at this stage. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer. If you find there is too much liquid then increase the heat again to reduce the liquid.

6. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

7. In a couple of ovenproof dishes spread out the chicken and pour over the onion, olive, preserved lemon and juice equally. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, by which time the chicken will be sufficiently cooked and ready to serve.

8. Serve with either couscous, pomegranates, almond slithers and fresh coriander or cinnamon rice with brown lentils – both work equally well.

You can cook the chicken ahead of time and then simply heat up gently in the oven for 10-15 minutes (add a little extra water to keep it juicy) then serve.


Crispy Savoury Donut known as Medu Vada

IMG_2627I want to introduce you to a new kid in town that will seriously impress you.

Step aside donut and cronut (croissant and donut pastry) and make way for the Indian savoury donut known as ‘medu vada’. These savoury delicacies look very similar to their saccharin cousins the donut, but are filled with lots of wonderful spices instead of sugar.

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They are really fun to make and you can add your own twists to make them your own. They are a little bit naughty in that they are fried, but hey a little bit of fried deliciousness now and again is absolutely fine in books. They are made of urad dal – the white dal you can easily find in any Asian grocers-  that is soaked for at least 3 hours and then blended to form a soft fluffy paste.

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My daughters find them equally irresistible so they really are a treat for the whole family. They are typically eaten in southern India and Sri Lanka either at breakfast time or as a snack with a coconut chutney or possibly a dal or sambal. I could quite happily eat them for my breakfast but more often then not I make them for an afternoon snack with a cup of warming tea.

They are crispy on the outside and have a soft texture on the interior.

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My recipe makes around 13 little donuts, but if you want to make more just double up on the ingredients. There are no set rules here other than not making the dough too wet.

Medu Vada – Indian Savoury Donuts

Makes 13

175g white urid dal

1/2 tsp salt

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

 12 fresh curry leaves, chopped (optional)

1 green/red fresh chilli finely chopped (optional)

  1. Soak the white urid dal in a bowl covered with water for at least 3 hours.
  2. Strain the dal and place into a blender. Blend and if needed add literally a tsp at a time of water to loosen it slightly. Do not over water. You want it to have the same consistency as a fluffy light dough.
  3. Place the lentil dough into a large bowl and with your hand lift the dough, folding it over so that it gets air into it about 15 times.
  4. Add all the ingredients and mix well with your hands or a spoon.
  5. Heat a pan with cooking oil and when it is hot wet one of your hands and create a small ball (a little larger than a golf ball) and then place your thumb in the centre to create a hole through the dough. Then gently loosen the dough off your hand and place into the hot oil. Be careful when doing this as the movement from placing the dough into the pan and removing your hand needs to be super quick.
  6. Place a few donuts in the pan at once and leave them to bronze on one side for a couple of minutes, before turning them over with a slotted spoon for another couple of minutes.
  7. You are looking to get a yellowy bronze hue as opposed to brown, so be careful to watch them closely.
  8. Remove them from the pan and place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil.
  9. Continue to make the rest.
  10. If you are planning to serve them as a snack when friends come over simply place them in a preheated oven that has subsequently been turned off. They should stay warm for a good hour.

They are perfect to eat with a chutney, dal or sambal (see links in the body of my post).

Note: 

  • I often don’t add chilli so that all my family can comfortably eat them. For those who like the chilli kick, you can serve them with a hotter chutney, which keeps all parties happy.

 

 

 

 

 


Malaysian Inspired Street Food in the Heart of Soho – Sambal Shiok

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Soho, as a location, has always had a certain mystique and vibe completely unique to any other area in London. It’s bang central and could be described as the beating heart of touristy Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Regent Street and Oxford Street. The seediness that it had in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s has largely dissipated and now it is a magnet for those seeking to nourish their bellies and soul with memorable food, washed down with an ale or cocktail.

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Located on the corner of Beak Street and Great Pulteney Street – an intersection you’ll find at the end of London’s iconic Carnaby Street, you will find a pub by the name of ‘The Sun & 13 Cantons’. After a fire in late 1880’s, 13 Cantons was added to its name after its Swiss patrons who lived and worked as watch makers in the vicinity. Cantons, the Swiss word for counties, at the time had 12, but due to the Swiss community frequenting the pub it was charmingly given the name ’13 cantons’ as a tribute to it’s loyal customers.

The pub hosts culinary residencies, or extended pop-ups if you will, for 6 months plus, serving Indian/Asian inspired food at very affordable prices. Up until October they have ‘Sambal Shiok’ with chef Mandy Yin at the helm, tempting diners with addictively spicy Laksa Noodle Soups, Hainan Dumplings, Beef Rendang, Nasi Lemak or Malaysian Fried Chicken as well as a number of smaller starter dishes and sides. Yin grew up in Kuala Lumpur and after a two year stint feeding the masses at some of London’s markets, she made the transition to her own private residency at The Sun & 13 Cantons.

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I had been salivating over her Laksa noodle soups for quite some time, thanks to instagram, and with the interchangeable weather we have been having in the UK, I felt a strong need for something spicy and warming to give me that inner glow of happiness.

The pub itself was given a new lease of life in 2015 and today has Parisian inspired interiors with dark green leather banquette seating and different shades of green metro tiles and mirrors on the wall; all rather chic indeed. After deliberating on which laksa to choose I decided upon the spicy prawn and tofu. I am often suspicious when restaurants say something is spicy as they are invariably ‘Western spicy’ as opposed to properly spicy, but this laksa is dance about, super spicy. I loved it. My lunching companion, who I discovered whilst ordering is not so in favour of spice, opted for the Hainan dumplings and fried chicken with a tasty peanut satay on the side. Chicken portions were generous and more conservatively spiced, which appealed to my companion. It’s not often I get to eat fried chicken, although I do recall rather loving KFC as a child, but this fried chicken was lip-smackingly good.

Would I return, hell yes, I’ll be found slurping the laksa from time to time until the next residency starts in October.

Sambal Shiok
The Sun & 13 Cantons
21 Great Pulteney Street
London
W1F 9NG
Tel020 7734 0934

lunch 12pm to 3pm Tuesdays to Saturdays

dinner 5.30pm to 9pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

On Thursday and Friday evenings Sambal Shiok’s simpler street food menu will be available on a no reservations basis. Takeaways will be available at all times. Last orders will be at 2.30 and 9pm for each session.


Mediterranean Fish En Papillote

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I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest on Wandsworth Radio by the bubbly Emma Gordon aka Mrs Stylist. She also runs a great instagram feed brightening up each day with styling inspiration and pops of colour. As well as working as a stylist she also hosts the ‘Wandsworth Workday’ slot every Tuesday from 1-4pm. She wanted me to come and talk all things food and blogging with her and her audience.

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Before you ask, no I am not wearing an Ascot creation hat. I know it looks that way but really it’s the logo of the Wandsworth radio and my sunnies (it gets mighty bright in the studio) !!

During the course of the afternoon we covered a number of topics, but one thing that came up was how to cater for friends and family who really can’t handle spice. My answer was to go along the herb route by serving guests ‘en papillote’ style, which basically means ‘in parchment’.

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It is a fabulous, fuss free way to cook fish as you make individual parcels and then pop them in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Within each parcel you have a complete meal in a little ‘present’ which guests can open up themselves on their plates. It’s super simple and other than compiling the parcels before guests arrive, you really don’t need to do too much, thus freeing you up to enjoy your guests company.

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You really don’t need that many ingredients. The only ones that I have not included in this shot are a small knob of butter and a splash of white wine.

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You can use whatever fish you like, but typically I use seabass, bream, cod, trout and salmon – just make sure it is MSC certified. You can also have the fish filleted or kept whole, both ways work equally well, although the latter requires more ‘work’ for your guests.

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When you wrap the fish you need to make sure that you keep an air space within it – so don’t wrap it too tightly. The smells when you open your parcel are wonderful and very reminiscent of the flavours of the mediterranean.

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The taste of the whole dish is sweet from the tomatoes and basil, salty from the olives, zingy from the lemons and the flesh of the fish just falls apart. It really is a whole meal in a parcel.

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Mediterranean Fish En Papillote

serves 1 (simply x by how many you are serving)

baking parchment

2 or 3 slices of a large potato, thinly slice lengthways

small knob of butter, optional

pinch salt

pinch black pepper

200g fish (white or pink filleted or unfilleted works well – this time I used cod)

2 or 3 thin slices of lemon

1 vine of cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp of pitted black Kalamata olives

5 fresh basil leaves

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp white wine

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade if you are using fan or 20 degrees higher if you are not.
  2. Place the thinly sliced potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes and then drain and dry completely. Place to one side.
  3. Tear off some baking parchment at least three times larger than the length of your fish.
  4. Place a couple of thinly sliced potatoes in the middle of baking parchment.
  5. Place a small knob of butter (optional) and a sprinkling of salt and pepper and then lay the fish on top.
  6. Next lay some thinly sliced lemons on top of the fish followed by the vine of cherry tomatoes.
  7. Place the olives over and around the fish.
  8. Add the fresh basil leaves and sprinkle a little more salt and pepper and add the white wine on top.
  9. To seal the fish ‘en papillote’ you simply need to bring up the top and bottom pieces of baking parchment and fold them over a couple of times, making sure that there is a nice air vacuum between the fish and the baking parchment. At either end fold over as if you are wrapping a present and then tuck each end underneath the fish.
  10. Place in the centre of the oven for 22 minutes, by which time the fish will be soft and flakey and the potatoes will be equally soft.
  11. Serve immediately. Place one ‘en papillote’ on each plate and allow your guests to unwrap their present.

Important Notes:

  • You do not need to add butter, you can simply add the white wine and extra virgin olive oil
  • Sometimes I omit the boiling first of the potatoes, but I think to be on the safe side it is best to boil the potatoes for 5 minutes first so that they soften at the same time as the fish.
  • You can also add thinly sliced red onions if you fancy.
  • Adding asparagus is also another great option
  • Thyme or lemon thyme also works well for this dish if you don’t have basil to hand

I would love to hear how you get on. What personal twists do you add to this dish?

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Kolkata Style Mustard Mackerel Curry

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Bengalis love fish in a big way.  Mention ilish/hilsa or rui and their eyes will light up. In Kolkata the use of mustard seeds, mustard oil and mustard paste is used in a lot of their cooking. For this dish I have used mackerel as it is easy to source in the UK, is super tasty and is packed full of omega 3 fatty acids – the type of fats that are good for our health. For those who have been following my blog for quite a few years will recognise this recipe as I realise I posted a very similar one with bream back in 2013. You can see it here.

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This dish is something that can be rustled up in no time at all – from start to finish is max 15 minutes and unlike many mackerel curries, the fish is not fried. My mother-in-law cooks it fairly frequently so it has naturally become one of my staple dishes too.

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There is no need for onion or garlic in this dish, the ingredients are very simple: turmeric, nigella seeds, fresh chillies, chilli powder, wholegrain and English mustard and fresh coriander/cilantro. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

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Kolkata Style Mustard Mackerel Curry

Serves 4

3 mackerel, cut into 4 pieces (you can keep the head if you wish, which would make 5 pieces)

4 tbsp oil

1 tsp nigella seeds

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

4 fresh chillies, slit at the top to release some seeds

3 heaped tsp of wholegrain mustard

2-3 heaped tsp English mustard

pinch of chilli powder

75ml water

1/4 tsp salt

  1. Heat the oil and when it is hot add the nigella seeds, turmeric, chilli powder followed by both mustard pastes and the fresh chilli. Move around the pan for up to a minute.
  2. Add approximately 25ml of water, salt and then add the fish. Be careful not to move them around too much as you do not want them to break and fall apart. Place a lid on the pan.
  3. After a few minutes cooking add a further 50ml water and gently turn the fish over and replace the lid on the pan.
  4. Cook for 12 minutes and then take off the heat.
  5. Before serving sprinkle fresh coriander leaves. If cooking ahead of time gently reheat the fish adding a little more water and then add the coriander leaves.

Serve with rice or Indian breads.

As a side note: this dish is fabulous to eat as leftovers the next day. I like to add a little more water, a heap of fresh spinach and a couple of tomatoes quartered. It tastes delicious.


Spiced Tamarind Drink and ‘Summers Under the Tamarind Tree’ Book Review

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I love nothing more than browsing through cookbooks on a Sunday afternoon (actually in truth it doesn’t have to be a Sunday), cup of tea in hand, gleaning inspiration and ideas and planning feasts that I will then cook for loved ones. Cookbooks that take me to foreign shores, where the recipes sound enticing, exotic and evocative are my favourite.  Photographs are also key as they help to set the stage for the reader.

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Image from Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes & Memories from Pakistan by Sumayya Usmani, photography by Joanna Yee. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

So it was with sheer pleasure that I received a copy of fellow food blogger, ‘Sumayya Usmani’s’ first cookbook, ‘Summers Under The Tamarind Tree – Recipes & Memories From Pakistan’. The first thing you notice is the beautiful, understated and yet elegant cover for the book. The tamarind tree is in the middle with Pakistani style art surrounding it. The green, similar to the Pakistan flag, really complements the golden ornate artwork. Before even opening the pages you know you are in for a treat.

Pakistani cuisine has never really been given it’s own voice here in the UK, so it was with this notion in mind that Sumayya set out detailing some recipes from her very own Pakistani heritage to share with a wider audience. She begins by giving the reader a brief overview of Pakistan both geographically and historically. Understanding it’s DNA helps the reader begin to understand the sheer breath of influences that make up Pakistani cuisine. The next few pages are filled with charming black and white, sepia and colour photographs of her growing up with her relatives in Pakistan and we learn about the wonderful food experiences that were etched upon her memory.

p85-SUTTT-Chapli Kebab-(c) Joanna Yee

Image from Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes & Memories from Pakistan by Sumayya Usmani, photography by Joanna Yee. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

The next chapter talks about cooking methods -‘Pakistani techniques explained’, which I found really useful and interesting to read. I love the sound of ‘dhuni (smoking)’ by infusing meat or vegetables with coal smoke. I also like the fact that there were some photographs accompanying some of the techniques. Before embarking on the recipes themselves Sumayya gives ‘A note on Spice’, which does not overwhelm the reader with too many spices – 9 spices will be mainly called upon within the book. She then gives us recipes to a number of her family’s masala blends. The chapters are organised along the lines of :

Breaking bread and sharing rice -breads and rice dishes

Meaty markets and weekdays bazaars – beef, lamb and mutton

Birds from the Empress – chicken and other birds

Sailing the seas – seafood and fish

My grandmother’s garden – vegetables, fruit and salad

Homegrown guavas – chutneys and pickles

Under a motia-filled sky – celebration feasts

The sweet taste of mango heaven –  desserts

Chani-pani – hot and cold drinks

p68-SUTTT-Nutty Saffron Rice-(c) Joanna Yee

Images from Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes & Memories from Pakistan by Sumayya Usmani, photography by Joanna Yee. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20).

It all sounds very tempting indeed. Standout recipes for me are undoubtedly: Hyderabad-style samosas, sweet potato and squash parathas, Baluchi-style chicken sajji, spicy crabs, yoghurt and turmeric soup with curry leaves and egg, slow cooked lamb shank curry, mummy’s festive minty beef kofta curry, mango and chilli pepper, spiced pomegranate sharbat. Anyone who loves spice (not necessarily heat) and flavour will love cooking and eating from this book. There are some refreshingly new recipes that will interest and encourage the reader to try some home-cooking Pakistani style.

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Images from Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes & Memories from Pakistan by Sumayya Usmani, photography by Joanna Yee. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20).

The recipe that was calling out for me to try and show you today was most probably the seed, from which the whole book grew. Summers under the tamarind tree – Spiced tamarind drink. It is Sumayya’s best memory of the many childhood summers she spent lounging under her tamarind tree. Once the weather heats up here in Blighty I think this drink will really come into it’s own. Move over elderflower cordial, spiced tamarind drink is taking centre stage.

 

Spiced Tamarind Drink

serves 4

4 tbsp tamarind pulp (from 200g/7oz dried or fresh tamarind)

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp kalanamak (black salt) or 1 tsp chaat masala

500ml/17 fl oz cups hot water

quarter thin slice of lemon

4 mint leaves, finely chopped

  1. Soak the tamarind in a bowl with hot water for 15 minutes. Use your hands to separate the pulp from the stones and then pass the pulp and tamarind water through a sieve. Discard the stones.
  2. Add the brown sugar, black salt or chaat masala (I used this) and then blend in a hand blender and chill in the fridge.
  3. Serve over crushed ice and add a thin slice of lemon and some fresh mint.

The sour notes from the tamarind will harmonise perfectly with the salt and sweetness of the drink. Roll on hot summer days, this drink is a keeper in my books, I hope you agree.

 

 


Bengali Vegetable Curry with Lentil Kisses

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Lentil kisses, known as bori, are little sun dried lentil nuggets that have often been handmade and left to dry in the hot, warming Indian sun. My mother-in-law often brings me back a jar upon visiting her beloved  home city of Kolkata. They remind me of a lentil version of Hershey’s chocolate kisses – the type that visitors from the US often used to bring me and my siblings when we were young. Making bori yourself is not too tricky – there is a lovely recipe here if you are keen – if you live in a country where you can rely on warm, glowing hot sun, but as the weather in the UK is at best erratic when it comes to sunshine, it would probably be rather tricky.

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Whilst I realise not everyone has a Benglai mother-law-in who can magic up bori at a whim, you can get hold of bori in London at any good Asian grocers. In Kolkata, bori is also cooked with fish dishes or with greens, but today I wanted to show you a simple recipe that uses up vegetables that you are likely to have in your fridge. It makes for a very satisfying and enjoyable vegetable meal that is perfect eaten on it’s own or accompanied with some dal, rice or flat breads.

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Good luck in your quest for lentil kisses. They are seriously not that hard to seek out. Let me know how you get on.

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Vegetable Curry with Lentil Kisses

1 large handful of bori (lentil kisses)

2 tbsp groundnut oil

2 small dried red chillies

1 tsp panch phoron

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder, optional

2 carrots, cut into bite sized chunks

3 medium sized potatoes, quartered

1/4 of an aubergine, cut into bite sized chunks

2 tomatoes, finely diced

1 tsp salt

to serve

1 handful of fresh coriander

  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil (or thereabouts) in a pan and when it is hot add the dried chillies and allow them to blacken a little, this will take no longer than a minute, but may make you cough a little so beware!
  2. Add the panch phoron which will begin to fizzle almost instantly. Then add the turmeric and chilli powder (if using the latter) and add the chopped carrots and potatoes. Move around the pan, lower the heat add a couple of tablespoons of water and place a lid on the pan and leave for 15 minutes, stirring at intervals.
  3. Meanwhile in a separate pan add another tablespoon of oil and when it is hot add the bori/lentil kisses so that they bronze slightly in colour. This will only take a few minutes, if you keep moving them around the pan. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate with kitchen roll.
  4. In the main pan now add the aubergine, salt and fresh tomatoes and stir into the other ingredients. Add a little more water to help soften the ingredients, but not too much as you do not want the sauce to become too runny. Place a lid on the pan and leave for another 10 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes check to see if the potatoes and carrots are softening. Add the bronzed bori and gently stir into the vegetables. Place the lid on the pan and leave for a further 5 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots have softened sufficiently.
  6. To serve add freshly chopped coriander.

It is wonderful to accompany with some dal and rice or Indian flat breads.

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Vietnamese Beef Stew – Bo Kho

As those who have been following my blog for some time will know, I ADORE Vietnamese food. It is fragrant, spiced but not hot spicy like Thai food. It is also very versatile and is equally loved by young and old alike. As such, my Bo Kho – Vietnamese Beef Stew – is a great meal to serve the whole family.

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It reminds me of the stew my grandmother made the whole time when I was a child, albeit without the spices and fresh herbs, although she may have added fresh thyme. The potatoes and carrots in the stew make it satisfyingly filling and I love the taste of the fresh herbs and crunchy beansprouts. Texture, taste and zing.

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It’s comforting and equally enjoyable on a hot summers eve or a chilly autumn day or, in the case of us Brits, a rather chilly June day (come on sunshine you can come back now!). My girls love it as well as adult guests. I often choose to eat mine with flat rice noodles – medium or thick, but it would work equally well with steamed rice.

Vietnamese Beef Stew – Bo Kho

serves 4-6

2 tbsp ground nut oil

1 large white onion, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

1.2kg stewing/braising beef, cut into 1.5 inch cubes

1 can of chopped tomatoes/400g fresh tomatoes chopped

1.5 tsp Chinese five spice powder

3 tbsp fish sauce

1.5 tsp brown sugar

3 star anise

1/2 tsp paprika

2 tbsp ginger paste/minced fresh ginger

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 bay leaf

2 lemongrass, halved and stalks removed, gently bashed

300ml coconut water (not cream or milk)

100ml beef stock

2 large carrots, cut into into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal

2 medium/large sized potatoes, cut into 4/6 pieces

300g medium or thick rice noodles

large handful of fresh mint leaves

large handful of fresh coriander leaves

large handful of fresh Thai basil leaves

100g beansprouts

2 fresh limes, quartered

 large handful of fried shallots

1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced – optional

  1. In a large cast-iron pan gently heat the oil and when it is hot, but on a low heat, add the onion and salt and allow the onion to soften for 5 minutes.
  2. In batches, brown the beef and then add the tinned or fresh tomatoes and gently simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Add star anise, Chinese five spice, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, paprika, fish sauce, bay leaf, brown sugar and move around the pan before adding the coconut water and beef stock. Gently simmer for 45 minutes on a low heat.
  4. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook gently for a further 30-45 minutes, until soft but not falling apart.
  5. In a separate pan heat some water and when boiling add the rice noodles and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and then run under cold water until ready to use.
  6. If you are making the fried shallots, thinly slice a couple of banana shallots and allow to crisp up in vegetable oil. They take a few minutes and will burn easily so do not walk away from the pan when crisping them.

To serve:

In deep bowls add a handful of rice noodles to each bowl. If the noodles are stuck together run them under some water to loosen them up. Add the beef and a couple of ladles of the gravy to each bowl. Add the fresh herbs, beansprouts, quartered lime, crispy shallots, fresh chilli (if using) and serve immediately. Equally you could let guests add their own fresh herbs, beansprouts and shallots by placing them in the centre of the table to help themselves.

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Miso Aubergines and Harissa Asparagus – Vegan Feasting

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I really hadn’t planned for this to be a blog post. There is only this one photo that was taken in a hurry, with my iPhone and not my usual food photography camera.  I hadn’t given much thought as to food presentation or back boards or table cloths. It was very much in the moment, what my family were eating one evening. The feedback I had from this photo on Instagram however convinced me that I ought to share the recipes.

Whilst I added my own twist to the recipes both are from two wonderful cookbooks that are worth investing in, if you haven’t already got them. The plate on the left with the aubergines comes from a similar recipe by Anna Jones’s book ‘ A Modern Way to Cook‘. It is one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks and  one which I regularly dip into it. The asparagus on the right is from Sabrina Ghayour’s ‘Persiana’ cookbook, which is equally fabulous and worth purchasing.

Dark Miso and Honey Aubergines

Adapted from ‘A Modern Way to Cook’ by Anna Jones

Serves 4 (if served with other dishes)

1 large aubergine (or 2 smaller aubergines), halved and then cut into 1 inch slices

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp dark miso (I get mine from Korea Foods)

2 tbsp runny honey

2 tbsp mirin/rice wine

pinch of Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tbsp white sesame seeds

  1. First wash and then half the aubergine and cut into slices lengthways – approx 1 inch thickness and cut slice marks across the flesh (not the purple skin).
  2. Place on a lined baking tray.
  3. Meanwhile mix the dark miso, runny honey, mirin (you can get this from all large supermarkets, as well as Asian specialist shops) and a pinch of Kashmiri chilli powder.
  4. Heat the coconut oil in a pan if it is solidified and then gently brush the flesh of the aubergines.
  5. Place in a grill for 5 minutes before turning over for another 5 minutes.
  6. Using a spoon spread the miso honey paste over the aubergines equally and place into an oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.
  7. Scatter with white sesame seeds and serve.

Harissa, Lemon and Honeyed Asparagus

Serves 4 (if served with other dishes)

Adapted from ‘Persiana’ by Sabrina Ghayour

1 large handful of fresh asparagus, trim the ends

2 tsp harissa

2 tbsp runny honey

1 lemon, rind and juice

pinch of salt

  1. Trim the ends of the asparagus so that the rough ends are removed.
  2. In a bowl add the harissa, lemon rind and juice, honey and salt. Mix together then add the asparagus so that all the stalks are coated.
  3. Heat a heavy based griddle pan and when it is hot add the asparagus and allow to soften and form black ridges from the griddle pan. Turn over at intervals. The asparagus will be cooked within 10 minutes.
  4. Place on a serving plate and pour over any remaining juice from the marinade.

 

With these dishes I also served steam basmati rice and pak choi. To cook the pak choi I added a little coconut oil to a pan and then added the pak choi leaves. After a minute the leaves will soften so add a splash of soy sauce or tamari and a tablespoon of yuzu or lime juice and allow to wilt a little further for a couple of minutes.

Let me know how you get on. There is so much flavour coming from all the citric, spicy and cleansing notes and I like the way how the rice balances it all out nicely.

 

 

 

 

 


Wild Garlic Pesto Linguine with Sausage Crumb

IMG_0392Continuing with the same theme as last week’s post I decided to use up the remaining fresh wild garlic that my mother had given me by whizzing it up to create a pesto. It stores so easily in the fridge, for at least a week, and the whole family love it so its a win win.  Making pesto in general is easy and versatile. You can alternate the nuts from pine to walnut to pistachio and add a host of herbs and vegetables: basil, coriander spinach, wild garlic, tomatoes, peppers. I love the look of these varieties that Saveur has come up with.

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I thought the addition of a sausage crumb scattering would be a nice touch and balance well with the wild garlic. I used one sausage per person and then made a little incision into each sausage so that the outer ‘skin’ could be taken off. With the sausage meat I then broke it down and gently fried it, so that it crisped up.

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It took far less time than cooking a sausage normally would so again this whole meal was created in a very short space of time. I found I had lots of pesto leftover so popped it in the fridge in a sealed jar to use over the coming days.

Wild Garlic Pesto Linguine with Sausage Crumb

Pesto

200g wild garlic leaves washed and roughly chopped, flowers removed

100g parmesan cheese, finely grated

100g pine nuts

150ml olive oil

squeeze of lemon juice

salt

pepper

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1 tsp ground nut oil

sausages (1 per person)

linguine

  1. First you need to wash the wild garlic leaves thoroughly and remove the flowers (these are edible but best put on as a garnish re my last blog post).
  2. Roughly chop the leaves and then place them into a food processor and blitz so that they are broken down.
  3. Next add the parmesan cheese and blitz again before adding the pine nuts.
  4. Gradually add the olive oil so that a paste forms. Add more or less olive oil depending on the thickness you require for your pesto.
  5. Season to taste and add a dash of lemon juice.
  6. Boil a pan of water and add the linguine and cook according to packet instructions – just under 10 minutes should be perfect.
  7. To make the sausage crumb all you need to do is remove the outer covering of the sausage and discard. With the sausage meat, break it down using your hands.
  8. Heat a frying pan and add the ground nut oil. Add the sausage meat and move around the pan until it browns and begins to crisp. This should be done within about 5 minutes.
  9. Strain the pasta and place back in the pan. Add a generous amount of pesto and stir into the pasta.
  10. Serve into bowls and scatter with sausage crumb.

You can store the remaining pesto in the fridge in a sealed jar for over a week. 

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