Moussaka and a Greek Escape

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Before I headed off to the Greek Island of Kefalonia – you know the one that Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was based and filmed, my Italian friend in London said I HAD to seek out a certain restaurant where he had tasted, and I quote, “the best Moussaka in my life”.


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I didn’t need to be told twice. With no restaurant name and only scant directions to go by (on the left hand side at the top of the road as you leave the famous Myrtos Beach….. if you are interested), we did manage to find the restaurant. It was called ‘Alexandros’ and yes the Moussaka was heavenly and without doubt the best we had sampled. So much so it has inspired me to recreate it back in Blighty.

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Here is a photo of the legendary Moussaka. Pipping hot in its own terracotta pot. It looks similar to an English Cottage or Shepherds pie, but don’t be fooled. This moussaka was filled with aubergine, slices of potato and delicately spiced lamb mince. Oooooh it was so good. Thanks Carlo for the tip!

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Other than eating we did a lot of swimming in glorious hidden beaches or  in the pool (see photos below). We were based in the north of the island in a wonderful villa in a little rural hamlet outside the charming town (although to be fair it is more of a village) of Fiscardo, which is a mecca for those who love yachting (aka my father who was with us). It’s quiet, calm and peaceful and my idea of the perfect relaxing holiday.

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A short drive up the coast is picturesque Assos with it’s sheltered harbour – another great spot for swimming and  for exploring it’s ruined Venetian castle on the hill facing the town.

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It’s pretty remote and most of the people living there are working the ‘tourist’ season, so much so that only around 40 people remain through the winter months. We were told that in the northern part of the island (which includes Assos) around 300 hundred people remain on the island. Flights onto the island stop at the end of October and do not resume again until spring. If you need to reach the island you have to get there the old fashioned way – by boat. We contemplated for some time what it must be like to live there in a place where everything shuts down for 6 months of the year. The inhabitants must feel so isolated from the worries of the outside world. It made me think of the film ‘The Wicker Man’.

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After swimming around this glorious bay I climbed up into the woods to take the photo above. I then stumbled across the sign below about 20 feet from where I was standing.  Needless to say I was back in the water quick smart!

 

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So I hope you will try my version of Moussaka. It’s delicately spiced with cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, dried oregano and bay leaves, and similarly to Alexandros I have also added potato as well as aubergine. You can prepare most of the dish a day in advance, apart from the béchamel sauce and the potatoes, which are best prepared just before you start layering the ingredients.

 

So here the steps you need to take to make this deliciously Greek dish.

 

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Greek Moussaka

Serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil

1 white onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 bay leaves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

400g lamb mince

390g chopped tomatoes (fresh or tinned)

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp oregano

50 ml red wine

370g potatoes (I used 1 very large potato), thinly sliced

2 aubergine, finely chopped width ways

olive oil for frying

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Bechamel Sauce

70g plain flour, sieved

70g butter

50g parmesan, freshly grated

pinch of salt

pinch of ground nutmeg

600 ml milk, warmed

2 eggs, whisked

1. Warm the olive oil in a large pan and then add the onion and gently cook for 5 minutes, before adding the garlic and cooking for a further minute.

2. Add all the spices and bay leaves and stir into the onion and garlic. Now add the lamb and use a wooden spoon to break up the mince. Stir well.

3. After 10 minutes the lamb should now all be brown, with no pink meat remaining. If there is any pink meat cook for a little longer.

4. Add the tomatoes, sugar, red wine vinegar, red wine and stir into the mince. Leave to simmer for a further 15-20 minutes, then leave to cool.

5. In a separate pan boil some water and place the sliced potatoes into the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. You do not want the potato to be soft, instead take it out of the water just before it becomes soft. Strain and place in a bowl of cold iced water to prevent it cooking further. Place to one side.

6. In a large frying pan add a little olive oil and then place some of the sliced aubergine in the pan to bronze. It is best to do this in batches. You will find that the aubergines will probably need a little more oil during cooking as they do tend to soak it up fast. After 5 minutes turn and fry for a further 5 minutes so that both sides have begun to bronze. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper.

7. To make the béchamel sauce, heat the milk in a pan to warm – although do not boil it. Then place in a pouring jug.

8. In a separate pan add the butter and when it is melted add the flour and stir together. Gradually add the warm milk, stirring each time some more milk is added. Add a pinch of salt and ground nutmeg followed by half of the parmesan cheese. Simmer gently for a few minutes, by which time the sauce will be thick. Leave to cool.

9. Once it has cooled add the eggs and stir into the sauce.

10. To layer up the moussaka, first add some of the aubergine so that it coves the bottom of the dish. The dish I use is 12×9 inch. Then add half the mince followed by the potato, followed by the rest of the mince and another layer of aubergine. The final topping is the béchamel sauce, which completely covers all the other ingredients. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on the top.

11. Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees and cook for 35-40 minutes when the top begins to bronze.

Serve once it has begun to cool slightly as it will be very hot when it comes out of the oven.

Happy Holidays everyone.

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Rajasthani Kick-Ass Lamb Curry – Laal Maas

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Sometimes a kick-ass curry is what one needs to enliven the senses and to feel blessed to be alive. It also does wonders if you are suffering from a cold or feeling a little run down. This curry, known as Laal Maas – which in Hindi translates as  ‘red meat’ – is a traditional Rajasthani dish that is loved, adored and eaten in every Rajasthani household. My version is not ‘blow your brains out’ chilli hot, although it does have more heat than the majority of my Indian curries on my blog.  I think if you generally like spice then this will appeal. If you are more of a korma person then I would give laal maas a wide berth.

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I cooked it earlier in the week when I had a bunch of friends over for supper and not one lamb morsel or spoonful of sauce was left. I served it with an ivy gourd/tindora/gentleman’s toes curry – see recipe here as I felt they would compliment and not overpower one another. I also made some pakora with some homemade coriander chutney and tamarind and date chutney – recipes for all of these I will post soon.

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Rajasthani cooking is traditionally a lot spicy than Bengali and this dish clearly demonstrates this. It is not a hot as you may think, largely owning to the Kashmiri chilli powder that is added which gives the curry a deep red colour but not so much heat that it is difficult to eat. The yoghurt also tones the down the heat making it enjoyably palatable. Not one of my guests requested milk to deaden the heat or were perspiring uncontrollably. So give it a go. I like to cook it earlier in the day and then gently reheat before serving. I find that leaving it to rest a while before reheating also calms the heat so don’t stress if you taste a spoonful when it is cooking in the first instance as it will calm down if it is left for a few hours.

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Laal Maas – Rajasthani Kick-Ass Lamb Curry

Serves 6

125ml vegetable oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

6 cloves

6 fresh red chillies, storks removed (you can also used dried – see footnote)

1/2 mace blade

6 green cardamom pods, opened

2 black cardamom pods

2 large red onions, thinly sliced

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 tbsp ginger paste

1.2kg lamb, diced

2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp salt

250g plain yoghurt, whisked

coriander to serve – optional

1. Using a pestle and mortar (or a bowl and the end of a rolling pan if you do not have one), gently bash the green cardamom pods so that they open and some of the seeds come out. Place to one side. If you are making your own ginger and garlic paste I find gently grating them first is the best way to form a paste. Add a drop or two of water to make a more paste like consistency. For this recipe I used a jar of garlic paste and ginger paste for ease and speed.

2. In a large pan or casserole dish add the oil and when it is hot, but on a medium heat, add the cumin seeds and move them around the pan for 30 seconds to allow the flavours to open up.

3. Add the chilli, the green and black cardamom pods, mace blade and cloves and continue to move around the pan for a further minute.

4. Add the sliced onion and cook on a low heat for 6-8 minutes, by which time the onion will begin to brown in colour.

5. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir in well with the other ingredients and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes.

6. Now add the diced lamb and completely coat in all the ingredients. Add the turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder and salt and leave to cook gently so the lamb has browned – this will take up to 10 minutes.

7. Place the whisked yoghurt into the pan and fold into the lamb. Cook for a further 5 minutes, before reducing the heat and allowing the lamb to simmer in the sauce for 40 minutes. Continue to stir intermittently.

8. Ideally cook this curry at least a few hours before serving allowing the curry to rest. When you are ready to eat gently reheat and if you like scatter with coriander before serving.

Serve with Basmalti rice or Indian flat bread to mop.

The same curry can be made easily with either chicken or goat. 

You can also used dried Kashmiri chillies. Best to soak them in warm water for 10 minutes and then either keep them whole or blitz them to make a coarse paste. 

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Chana Masala at L’atelier des Chefs by St Paul’s Cathedral

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A stone’s throw away from the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of the city of London you will find Foster Lane and nestled down it at number 10, the cookery school and cook shop, ‘L’atelier des Chefs‘. This is one of two – the other is in Wigmore Street – soon to be three locations of the cooking school, with a further 17 across the water in France.

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Originally set up by two French brothers, Nicolas and Francois Bergerault who wanted to bridge the gap between chefs and the day to day cook. The ethos of the company was to bring people back in the kitchen, around the table and share the love of cooking. The brothers have hired passionate and skilled chefs to teach cooking classes to budding food enthusiasts. Classes range from half an hour, whereby you cook one dish over a lunch time or after work, to a four hour ‘chefs masterclass’, therefore appealing to those of all standards and budget. Class sizes also range from small intimate groups to larger corporate events/team bonding; there is even a class for kids so everyone is included and encouraged.

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I headed down there earlier this week with my mother in tow. I enlisted the pair of us on the Indian cooking session. Whilst I am very comfortable around the spice rack and cooking Indian food, my mother, who is a fabulous cook, is slightly less comfortable cooking a curry. I was keen to see if the session would appeal to both of us.

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We were greeted by friendly staff who offered us teas and coffees before class began. There were seven of us in our class and we were introduced to chef Daniel Stevens who has just returned from an extended visit to Kochi in Kerala, India, where he has been working closely with Lily Vanilli and Atul Kochhar in their new joint venture, Bloomsburys Cafe, which focuses on celebrating Kerala flavour in Western style patisserie.

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Introductions over we rolled up our sleeves, washed our hands and began slicing, dicing and chopping away. Over the course of the morning we all helped to prepare a lamb rogan josh (lamb curry), chana masala (chickpea curry), vegetable pakoras (similar to an onion bhaji) with a tamarind chutney and saag aloo (potato and spinach curry). We all took turns with stirring and adding ingredients and all tasted for spiciness and saltiness along the way. I liked how Daniel allowed the class to decide if more salt, spice, sourness or sweetness was required in a particular dish. After all Indian cooking is not an exact science like baking where exact measurements are integral to the success of the cake or bread. Indian cooking allows you to be a little flexible with measurements and a more ‘go with the flow approach’ to creating a dish – something that definitely appeals to my style of cooking.

Time raced by and after two hours we had prepared all the dishes. We all sat down on a long table, admired the curries we had created and dived in before anything got cold. We all agreed that the morning had been a real success. We had all picked up new tricks and skills and unanimously agreed that we would all be able to replicate the same dishes again in the comforts of our own home kitchens. Would we return? Most definitely. In fact a couple of my class mates were already on their third return visit and if that isn’t the seal of approval on a fun and informative cooking school, I don’t know what is.

After squeezing in second helpings we were given goodie bags to take home some more. We said our goodbyes and headed out into the rain with a glow in our bellies and a spring in our step.

Chana Masala

Adapted from the L’atelier des Chefs recipe.

Serves 4-6

250g tinned chickpeas

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 whole cloves

1 whole cinnamon stick

3 green cardamom pods, split open

2 medium sized white onion, finely sliced

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp red chilli powder

2 tsp ground coriander

2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

2 whole garlic, finely grated

4 tomatoes, chopped into small bits

150ml vegetable stock

1 handful of fresh coriander

2 tsp rock salt

1 lemon, juice

1. Heat a saucepan and add the vegetable oil. When it is hot add the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and allow the aromas to be released. After a minute add the onion to the pan and cook on a medium heat for around five minutes until it begins to soften and brown.

2. Now add the turmeric, chilli powder and ground coriander and give a good stir. Add the garlic and ginger and stir to make sure they do not burn at the bottom of the pan. Adding a very little water helps to prevent burning!

3. Add the tomatoes and allow them to soften for a few minutes before adding the vegetable stock and chickpeas and allowing the curry to simmer and soften gently. Allow the juice to soak up and if it becomes too dry then just add a little more water.

4. After ten minutes add some salt to taste and then turn off the heat and scatter the fresh coriander on top. Before serving add some lemon juice

Chilli and Mint was a guest of L’atelier des Chefs. You can find more details about the course and other courses on offer here.


Lamb and Spinach Curry – a warming curry for cold winter nights

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Given the recent drop in temperature my cravings for comforting meat dishes grows. Lamb works so well in curries that through the winter months I am always digging into my recipe library (see above) to cook either my lamb keema, my rezala, which is heavenly if you haven’t tried it already, or my goat curry, which you can cook with lamb instead.

With a lamb and spinach curry on my mind I set out to buy the ingredients – most of which I had at home, however the lamb and spinach needed to be procured. I picked up some halal lamb from my local butcher, so much better priced than supermarkets I might add, which was mostly off the bone. Personally I rather like meat on the bone as it tastes so much better, but I know that it can put off some guests who are unaccustomed to eating meat in this way. After purchasing a few other sundries, I arrived home and realised that I had forgotten the fresh spinach.  I decided to improvise and use the frozen spinach that I always have a packet of in the freezer. It works really well so don’t stress if you too go down the route of frozen as opposed to fresh spinach.

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I have a propensity to always cook more food than one can eat in a single sitting so that I can stretch the meal over two days. So whilst the meat quantity looks a lot it can be eaten in one go if you have 4-6 guests or over two days if you are feeding 2-4. As is always  the case with my blog the amount of chilli you put in is up to your own individual taste. If it were just me and Mr B eating it I would spice it up a lot more than if we are sharing it amongst guests.

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Lamb and Spinach Curry

Serves 4-6

3 tbsp vegetable oil

2 white onions, sliced

4 bay leaves

2 inch fresh ginger, finely grated

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1.4 kg diced lamb (mainly off the bone)

5 cardamom pods, seeds taken out

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 finger sized piece of cinnamon bark, broken up

2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

400g tin of tomatoes

700g frozen spinach (or fresh if you remember!)

500ml water

1. Heat a large casserole dish (or any that you can use both on a hob and in an oven) and add the oil followed by the sliced onions and bay leaves. Keep on a low heat for 10 minutes so that they soften and begin to brown in colour. If they remain translucent, increase the heat for a couple of minutes, stirring to make sure they do not burn.

2. Whilst the onions are cooking prepare the spice mix of cardamom seeds, cinnamon bark and cumin seeds in either a spice grinder (one of my favourite kitchen tools) or pestle and mortar. Add the ground turmeric, coriander and red chilli powder and place to one side.

3. Add the ginger and garlic to the onions and give a good stir. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl, whilst you bronze the lamb.

4. On a medium heat add a little more oil to the pan, if needed, lightly brown the lamb in batches.  This should only take a few minutes per batch. Return the cooked onion, garlic, ginger to the pan and add the spice mix. Stir into the meat and onions before adding a little salt and pepper, tinned tomatoes, spinach and water. Heat on the stove for 10 minutes before transferring to a preheated oven set at 150 degrees ( if using a fan oven), ten degrees higher if not. Place a piece of parchment paper over the casserole dish followed by the lid and leave to cook slowly in the oven for 1hour 30mins hours, stirring a couple of times during cooking. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

5. Taste before serving to check the salt/chilli level and adjust if necessary. I find this curry is great to make ahead of time as it tends to taste even better once it has rested for a while. When you are ready to eat simply heat up gently on the hob.

Serve with rice or naan bread.

What hearty, warming curries do you like to make and eat as the winter evenings draw in? Are there any curries you would like to see me make on this blog? Leave a comment below and let me know….don’t be shy now ;o)


Rezala – Lamb Rib Chop Curry with Rose Water and Saffron

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Tomorrow I am heading off to Asia once again, returning to Hong Kong, but also managing to squeeze in a long overdue visit to Vietnam. I’m looking forward to visiting my favourite eating haunts that I discovered on my last visit to Hong Kong in December/January, as well as scoping out new restaurants that I never had time to visit. As for Vietnam, well I cannot wait to see what it has to offer on the food front. I am definitely going to be seeking out the ubiquitous Pho – the legendary Vietnamese soup and Banh Mi, which I fell in love with after eating my first here in London, it’s basically a Vietnamese version of a sandwich but is off-the-charts incredibly tasty. I am also looking forward to sampling a variety of Vietnamese spring rolls and hoping I can remember how to make them when I come back home so that I can share the recipes with you. Whilst I am not a coffee drinker I hear the coffee in Vietnam is out of this world and may even win over a non-coffee drinker….so let’s see.

In the meantime the dish I wanted to leave you with today, and one that I hope that you will try, is a Bengali dish known as ‘Rezala’, whose roots lie with the Muslim rulers of the Mogul era. It is both fragrant and sweet and yet there are some sharp notes from the lime that compliment the overall taste of the dish. Other flavours resonate from the dish as well including: cloves, cardamom, saffron, ginger, garlic, cumin and chilli powder. It is a dish that heightens the senses and beckons you to eat more….so you’ve been warned!

Rezala – Lamb Chop Curry with Rose Water and Saffron

Adapted from Mridula Baljekar’s recipe in ‘Curry Lovers Cookbook’

Serves 6-8 (or 4 with leftovers for another day!)

3 medium sized onions, chopped

splash of water

3 garlic cloves, crushed/chopped

3 tsp grated fresh ginger

6 cloves

18 peppercorns

8 green cardamom pods

4 small pieces of cinnamon bark

14 lamb rib chops

2 medium sized onions, very finely sliced

200ml natural plain yoghurt

75g butter

vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp sugar

juice of half a lime

pinch of saffron – place into a small bowl with 1 tbsp of hot water for 10 minutes

1 tbsp rose water

rose petals

1. Place the three chopped onions into a blender with a splash of cold water and blend until you have a smooth puree.

2. Place the puree into a large bowl along with the grated ginger, garlic, cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns and cinnamon bark and stir together before adding the lamb rib chops. Use your hands to  coat the lamb fully. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for a few hours – or overnight if you can. Remember you need to bring the meat back up to room temperature before cooking it!

3. Heat some oil in a large pan and gently fry the remaining 2 onions, which need to be finely sliced. Gently fry until the onions have browned, which will take around 6 minutes. Remove the onion from the oil and place on some kitchen paper so as to soak up the oil.

4. Using the same pan, fry the marinated lamb chops for 5 minutes before reducing the heat and simmering on a low heat covered for another 5-7 minutes.

5. In a separate pan mix the butter and yoghurt together, stirring constantly for around 5 minutes before stirring into the lamb chops, along with the salt, cumin and chilli powder. Cover and gently cook for 50 minutes.

6. Finally add the sugar and stir into the curry before adding the lime juice, saffron and rose water. Mix well and simmer for a few minutes.

Serve with the fried onions and a scattering of rose petals. The sweet smells coming from this dish are sublime. Eaten with rice or naan, this dish is very memorable. I hope you agree.

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Lamb Keema Masala – one pot dish

A lot of time has been spent indoors recently due to the unpredictable weather. There is something rather homely and comforting to be inside a warm house as the rain storm causes havoc outside. We’ve had over two weeks of rain, virtually non stop, so I am guessing that the hosepipe ban for the south of England must surely have been lifted or at least close to being lifted. My garden is so lush and green to the extent that it is looking positively tropical.

So when the rain ceased slightly I made a dash for my local ethnic food stores to gather supplies in order to make some tasty dishes for the coming days. Upon returning home laden with exciting vegetables, spices, meats and fish, I decided to prepare Keema Masala for  supper. Keema Masala is in many respects the Asian version of chilli con carne or bolognese, hence it is very straight forward to make. The word ‘keema’ derives from the ancient Turkish word for minced meat and the ‘masala’ is the blend of spices that make up the dish, namely the garam masala.

I tend to eat mine with flat bread or naan and mop it up this way, but eating it with rice is equally pleasurable. I like to compliment the dish with some homemade raita to help balance the spice from the keema masala. It works a treat.

Lamb Keema Masala

Serves 6

1.5kg minced lamb (or beef)

3 tbs vegetable oil

1 and a half red onions, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped

3 fresh green chilli, chopped in two

5cm ginger, grated

6 black peppercorns, whole or ground

6 cloves, whole or ground

5 cardamom pods, whole or ground

3 bays leaves

3 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp ground almonds

2 tbsp tomato puree/or 2 fresh tomatoes chopped

50 ml boiling water

2 tbsp natural yoghurt

handful of fresh coriander to garnish

1. Warm the oil in a pan and then add the onion and garlic. When it begins to darken after 3-5 minutes add the ginger, green chillies black peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves and gently fry all the ingredients for another couple of minutes.

2. Add the remaining spices: ground coriander, turmeric and cumin as well as the garam masala and stir thoroughly and then add the ground almonds and tomato puree/fresh tomatoes along with 50 ml of boiling water.

3. Place the minced lamb into the pan and stir into the fragrant ingredients. When the lamb has become brown add the salt and natural yoghurt. You will need to stir it frequently at this stage so that the mince does not clump together.

4. Leave to simmer for 25 minutes. You can cook it earlier in the day and reheat it when you are ready to eat.

Note: You may find you need to add a very little boiling water when reheating it. 

5. When served garnish with fresh coriander.

Homemade Raita

7 tbsp yoghurt

1/2  cucumber, grated

1/4  tsp salt

3/4  tsp ground cumin

pinch of paprika

pinch of black pepper

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and then place into a small serving bowl.

2. Serve chilled.


Goat Curry….I’m not kidding!

I have had a frozen goat, well part of one, sitting at the bottom of our freezer for quite some time, so I thought it was high time I dug it out. As my mother-in-law was returning from her two month vacation in Kolkata I thought goat curry might be the perfect dish to welcome her back to the UK. I adore goat, but I realise that perhaps it is not as easy to come by as lamb. If you live near a Middle Eastern or Asian butcher you will be able to purchase it without too much trouble. If however this is tricky for you, lamb works equally well for this curry.

As with all the Indian recipes, there is a certain amount of artistic license involved with creating them, so whilst I list a teaspoon of this and a teaspoon of that, if you put a little extra or less it will alter the dynamics slightly but still taste really good;  just remember it is not an exact science as baking is. Scales are not commonly used in Indian kitchens, instead the cook relies more on sight, smell and taste to get the right balance in a dish. After you have cooked the dish a number of times, you too will improvise more with the quantities, but until then it is best to follow my amounts listed below.

Goat Curry

Serves 4-6


1,600 kg goat, diced into mouth sized portions

1 yellow onion, grated

2 inch fresh ginger, grated

1 whole garlic, grated

2 tbsp malt vinegar

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

2 tbsp yoghurt

3 tbsp mustard oil

3 bay leaves

4 tbsp tinned tomatoes

2 tsp garam masala

1 tbsp ghee (optional)

1. Dice the goat (or lamb) into bite sized morsels and remove excess fat.

2. Grate the onion, ginger and garlic and add to the meat. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, sugar, salt, yoghurt, malt vinegar, coriander and cumin  powder. Some cooks like to add a little mustard oil at this stage, however, I felt that it was unnecessary.

3. Really mix the ingredients into the goat meat thoroughly and if you have time leave to marinate in the fridge between 4-6 hours.

4. Heat the oil in a pan and add the bay leaves a few seconds before adding the marinated goat meat. Let it simmer gently, stirring from time to time.

5. After about 10 minutes of cooking add the tinned tomatoes and continue to simmer. You will probably need to add a little water, so gradually put in a little at a time so that there is some sauce and is not too dry.

6. The curry should take just under 1 hour to cook. 10 minutes before you turn off the heat add the garam masala and stir in well to the curry.

7. To enhance the flavour further you can also add a little ghee, but this is not essential and if you are watching your waste line then you might want to ignore this ingredient.

Serve with rice, paratha, luchi, roti.

Please note: it is great to cook in advance and then reheat before serving hot. I find curries taste better if they have had time to rest for sometime before eating. If there is leftovers you can keep in the fridge and eat the next day. 


Slow Cooked Lamb with Tomatoes, Dried Fruit and Spices

Winter time calls for hearty stews, casseroles and tagines to lift the spirits and bring joy, warmth and wonderful cooking smells into the home. You can cook them in advance and they are also perfect for leftovers the next day. Cooking with dried fruit divides opinion, but I for one am a huge fan and if someone really dislikes prunes, apricots or raisins I suppose they could easily pick them out so as to avoid eating them, but in many respects I feel they would kind of be missing the point. I think the fruit adds to the depth of flavour and gives it a touch of sweetness that makes this dish stand out from the crowd.

I don’t have a proper tagine dish so I cook mine initially in my Le creuset pot and then transfer it to two oven proof dishes. It works equally well with rice, which you can cook with a couple of cardamom pods, so as to make the dish more exotic, or couscous with a sprinkling of roasted almonds. I have added a chilli to the dish, naturally, but this is optional and tastes equally delicious without.

The amount I cooked was more than sufficient for a large group, so just divide by 2 for a family of 4/5.

Slow Cooked Lamb with Tomatoes, Dried Fruit and Spices

Adapted from a similar recipe by Tana Ramsay’s Family Kitchen

Serves 6

3 tbsp olive oil

1.6kg lamb cut into bite sized portions

2 inch ginger, grated

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 red chilli, chopped

6 spring onions

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp ground cumin

1.5 pints chicken stock

32 vine cherry tomatoes

handful of fresh thyme

15 dried apricots

10 pitted prunes, cut in half

50g/4oz raisins

handful of fresh coriander, chopped

rock salt, sprinkling

1) Preheat the oven to 160 degrees

2) Add  2 tbsp olive oil to a deep cooking pot and gently fry the ginger, garlic, chilli and spring onions for a couple of minutes.

3) Place the lamb into the pot and stir gently so that all the lamb begins to cook and change colour from a deep red to a lighter brown. This will take around 6 minutes. Once the lamb has changed colour add the rest of the spices and really stir into the lamb. Add the stock and then transfer into one or two oven proof dishes and place in the oven for 1 hour.

4) Whilst the lamb is cooking place the vine tomatoes in a separate oven proof dish with a few sprigs of thyme, a little olive oil and a sprinkling of rock salt. Place into the oven for 30 minutes so as to intensify the flavour.

5) When the oven roasted tomatoes have finished cooking add these, along with the dried fruits, a small handful of chopped coriander to the main dish and cook for a further 30 minutes. Serve immediately with a little extra fresh coriander sprinkled on top and either rice or couscous on the side.