A Weekend in Turin

When I mentioned I was heading off to Turin for a weekend away I must admit the usual reaction was something along the lines of ‘really, isn’t Turin just an industrial city’ or ‘interesting choice’ with a hint of sarcasm. I purposely picked it as it is off most people’s radar and I was convinced there would be lots to see and do, and ultimately eat, away from throngs of tourists. What I discovered was that Turin delivered on every level – cheap tickets on BA, easy transfer to the centre of town (we took the train and then local bus on the way in and returned in a taxi), a stunning hotel that served the best breakfast I can remember having eaten in Italy, delicious meals out – with change from €50 for 3 of us, museums, great shopping and ultimately the most amazing food market. The sun shone and there was a relaxed grandeur to the city. In short, it was the perfect weekend away that ticked all our boxes and more.

Where To Stay

I booked the four star Hotel Victoria Torino, which is centrally located and has a wonderfully inviting old school charm (that you would not sense from the outside) and serenity about it. The decor is British country house meets chinois in a deliciously charming fusion.  There is a grand fire place, big sofas and the owners’ collection of French and Italian works of art as well as number of Asian pieces dotted around, clearly picked up on the owners’ travels overseas. The overall effect is charming and a place that you want to linger and enjoy a coffee or an aperitivo in the evening. In fact, Poirot would not seem out of place residing in the Hotel Victoria Torino.

The other major plus about the hotel is that it has a spa/hammam with steam rooms, sauna, cold plunge pool and jacuzzi as well as a lovely space with sofas, magazines and fruit and tea. There is also a magnificent pool (which was one of the reasons I booked it), which guttingly was closed when we were there as it needed some work. It is now back up and running. As we were three friends we managed to book a very large duplex room, which had two double bedrooms and another ‘bedroom/sitting room’ on a lower level with a double sofa bed. The space also included two bathrooms, one included a bath. It was perfect for us and a very generous space, allowing us all to have our own rooms.

The breakfast was also incredibly generous with a wide variety of treats to accomodate both the sweet and savoury palate. You can choose to eat inside or out in the courtyard, which was just warm enough for us with the suns rays shining down on us.

Price wise we split the bill between three and each ended up with change from £200 for a two nights stay. Amazing value for the offering.

 

What to Do

Visit the Porto Palazzo Food Market (on Piazza della Repubblica)

It is the largest open air market in Europe with around 800 stalls from Mondays to Fridays. Inside there is a Farmers market with over 100 stalls and another section selling all manner of meats, cheeses and fish.

The place is bustling and the perfect place to soak up the atmosphere of Turin over a coffee.

If you are there over lunch time grab a plate of ‘fritter mista’ and a glass of local white wine from Gallina Pescheria Banco N.2. It has quite a following so get there early to secure a table.



Stroll around the famous flee market of Balon

Open every Saturday morning and every second Sunday of the month (on Sundays there is more on offer), this flee market is a wonderful place to wander and find that real gem you have always wanted in your life. It is a stones throw away from the Porto Palazzo Food Market and is a maze of 250 stalls selling a wide range of antiques and retro furniture. Amongst the stalls are a number of restaurants, especially along Via Borgo Dora.

Sample and buy some Chocolates

Yes you read correctly. Turin is THE place of chocolate innovators owing to its history back in 1585. The Turin-based Duke of Savoy, Charles Emmanuel I, married the daughter of Philip II of Spain and through the Spanish colonies, raw cacao arrived in Italy. Turin’s expertise for chocolate burgeoned and turned the city into the chocolate centre of Europe. Today, the city is still synonymous with the sweet treat – especially Nutella, which was given life by Pietro Ferrero, a pastry chef in Turin.

 

The two well known chocolatiers are:

Confetteria Stratta (Piazza San Carlo 191)which opened in 1836. It is the perfect place to pick up ‘gianduiotto’ the most symbolic chocolate of Piedmont -bite-size, boat-shaped, hazelnut chocolates that were invented in Turin.

Guido Gabino (Via Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange 1) opened in the 1960’s now has two branches. Beautiful little orange bags are filled with individually wrapped chocolates. I may have picked up some from here on my visit.

Take a Glass Lift up to the top of the Mole Antonelliana for a panoramic view

An absolute must is to visit this architectural landmark in Turin. It was originally conceived as a synagogue but after being bought by the Municipality of Turin it was made into a monument to national unity. Completed in 1889 it was, at the time, the tallest building in Europe reaching 167.5 metres. The building also houses the National Museum of Cinema which spirals around the central atrium as the glass lift speeds up through the central part of the building. My advice is to prebook tickets for either the panoramic view and/or the museum. The queues on the Saturday for the panoramic view were easily a couple of hours wait so we returned on the Sunday at 9am when it opened and when there was a shorter queue and only a 30 mins wait, before returning to our hotel for a leisured breakfast.

The view from the top is spectacular and you can see the whole of Turin and the snow-capped Alps in the background. (first photo at top of blog post).

 

Visit the Turin Shroud in Turin Cathedral

Probably one of the most well known facts about Turin is that the shroud is housed in Turin Cathedral. The shroud is a length of linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man that some believe depicts Jesus and that the fabric is the burial shroud in which he was wrapped after crucifixion. Evidence points to it being a medieval creation and a forgery owing to radiocarbon dating. Nonetheless it is interesting to visit the Cathedral, which is just next door to the Royal Palace of Turin.

Wander the streets and marvel at the architecture and beautiful arcades

Turin is great to amble around on foot, although the classic orange tram cars also add a rather picturesque backdrop to the whole experience. There are some beautiful arcades, which I urge you to explore and wander through. I particularly loved the art deco LUX cinema in Galleria San Federico.

Just near by is the food speciality shop ‘Ferrero’ on Via Antonio Giuseppe Bertola 6/D, which is definitely worth popping into. It has a little restaurant attached where you can join locals for a bowl of carbonara and a glass of Barbaresco.

The Baroque architecture is beautifully elegant and I spent a lot of time looking up at the towering buildings as I wandered the streets.

If you are after a spot of clothes shopping then they have all the known brands, as well as lot of chic boutique Italian stores that are worth visiting. You want to head to Via Roma, as well as the two main department stores: ‘San Carlo 1973’ on Piazza San Carlo 201 and ‘Top Ten’ on Via Marcello Soleri. Via Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange – away from the main drag – has lots more boutiques worth checking out. It was here that we bumped into the only other British tourist we saw on our weekend – actor Ralph Fiennes – clearly having done a spot of shopping himself.

I didn’t manage to get to ‘Verdellila’, unfortunately, but I hear it is Turin’s answer to Anthropologie – in a hidden courtyard behind a glass gate. It’s on Corso Re Umberto 17. Next time….

 

On my list was a number of places which we ran out of time to visit, but on my next visit I will try and spend time in the following:

The Egyptian artefacts at Museo Egizio

A museum specialising in Egyptian archaeology and anthropology. It houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities, with more than 30,000 artefacts. We ran out of time, but on a return visit I will be making a bee line for this museum.

The Galleria d’Arte Moderna

This modern art gallery was on my to do list but again we ran out of time. We decided that we would have a leisured weekend instead of running around trying to fit in everything to 48 hours. It looks and sounds fascinating so if art appreciation is your thing then this place is worth checking out.

The original Eataly

Set in a vast converted factory in the southern area of Turin, next to the former FIAT Lingotto factory, you will find the Eataly mothership opened in 2007. It houses a staggering array of sustainable food and drink, along with beautiful affordable kitchenware and cook books.  You can take a food tour whilst you are there and end with lunch sampling the incredible produce on offer. The NY branch of Italy is really impressive and I can only imagine that the mothership in Torino is equally impressive.

 

Where to Eat in Turin

Aperitivo is serious business in Italy and our Hotel had a great bar with snacks where a number of the guests began their evening. You can also visit it even if you are not staying in the hotel. It’s an oasis of calm and grandeur.

Caffe Vini on Via Porta Palatina, 9/g. This rather enchanting ‘piola’ is a simple tavern that has been serving traditional food, local wines and a welcoming glass of vermouth to locals and passing travellers since 1850. The places oozes charm and nostalgia with old Campari and Cinzano posters adorning the walls, faded rusty mirrors and a room and courtyard full of locals. We managed to slip in to secure a table just in time before the place really begin to throng with people. It’s open at lunch times and early evening. We sampled the local vermouth – heavenly- with some bar snacks, although we could have easily had our antipasti here as the plates of food coming out of the kitchen really looked very tempting indeed.

Da Ciani Piola Caffe

A few minutes walk away from Caffe Vini is Piola Caffe on B, Largo IV Marzo, 9. YOU NEED TO BOOK  (+39 011 569 0425) this place as it gets rammed. It is located on the edge of very pretty little green space called Giardino Bottero. It is good, honest, home-cooked food. Nothing fancy, but at a price point that is attractive with everyone. It is a good place to try local antipasti and pastas. Our meal included many antipasti, three pastas, a tiramisu and some wine and water came to €43 for the three of us. Pretty unbelievable. They do have secondi options too but we found the antipasti and pasta more than enough.

 

Pizzeria IV Marzo

Just across the way from Piola Caffe is a great little pizza joint called Pizzeria IV Marzo. A great little menu with outside dining options and the perfect place to have lunch in the sun, soaking up the ambiance of this pretty neighbourhood. They have a good selection of beers and wines. It’s popular but does not take too long to get a table.

Di Michele or Porto di Savona

Both restaurants are on Piazza Vittorio which is a huge, elegant piazza running down to the River Po. I was recommended both restaurants and the concierge managed to get a table outside at Di Michele. I hear that Porto di Savona is a little more formal than Di Michele offering a number of local Piedmont dishes, where as Di Michele has a broad selection of Italian pastas and pizza. The food was tasty – and no different in quality than Piola Caffe, but three times the price – which to be fair was still reasonable at €125 for the three of us. I would be keen to try Porto di Savona next time to see how that compares as I hear good things about it.

Di Michele: Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 4 +39 011 888836

Porto di Savona: Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 2 +39 011 817 3500

In Balon, the flee market district I have a strong recommendation for:

Trattoria Valenza

I have had many recommendations to go here next time. With decor along the lines of ‘grandmas living room’ this gem offers traditional piemontese cuisine which has been described as outstanding. Honest, homely and rustic, it makes me want to book a return ticket to try this place alone.

Via Borgo Dora, 39,

+39 011 521 3914

Jazz Club Turino

Two minutes walk from our hotel – Victoria Hotel Turino – is the Jazz Club Turino. We walked passed it each evening and the place was full with jazz devotees listening to the bands on stage. The glass structure allowed us to peer in and it looked a really fun way to spend an evening. I have no idea what the food is like, but perhaps it is worth checking out or going to have some drinks and listen to the jazz.

Via S.Francesco Da Paola, ang, Via Giovanni Giolitti

+39 011 882939

reservations via the fork

 

 

Turin really is a fabulous city that I would not hesitate to return to or recommend. There is so much to see and do and if you have fine weather, like we had thankfully, it is a joy to walk around soaking up the atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Spiced Chickpea and Pineapple Salad

 

As we have been treated to some bright sunny days recently I thought that it would be super helpful to share some tasty and easy ‘salads’ over the coming weeks so that you can be ready for when the sun shines and you want to throw open the back door and eat ‘al fresco’. I like interesting combinations that work and I think this one will tick that box in spades.

 

 

Spiced Chickpea and Pineapple Salad

Serves 6 

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 stems of curry leaves, leaves removed and finely sliced

1 large whole pineapple, skin removed and cut into small bite sized cubes

2x400g tins/jars of chickpeas, strained

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

2 limes, zest and juice

2 tbsp freshly grated coconut

generous pinch of chaat masala

handful of fresh coriander to scatter on top

 

  1. Place the fresh coconut in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before using. Reason for this is that the outer shell comes away easier if it has been placed somewhere cold. To remove the outer shell use a rolling pin and bash the shell and it will crack allowing the outer shell to be removed. It will then be far easier to grate.
  2. Prepare the pineapple into bite sized cubes and place to one side.
  3. In a large wide pan heat the oil on a medium heat and then add the black mustard seeds. They will begin to fizzle almost immediately.
  4. Add the chilli flakes and the finely sliced curry leaves. They will begin to splutter so you may need to remove it from the heat for a second.
  5. Move around the pan and then add the pineapple, chickpeas and salt and cover in the mustard seeds, curry leaves and chilli flakes.
  6. Pour into a large serving platter and sprinkle with the grated coconut, lime zest and juice and chaat masala.
  7. Before serving scatter with some fresh coriander.

 

I accompanied it with my Bang Bang Chicken Salad which you can find here.

 

 

 

 

 


Lindisfarne and Pilgrims Coffee Cake


On our recent visit to Northumberland we visited the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. It is a tidal island that is accessed by a paved causeway, which is covered by the North Sea twice every 24 hours (so check tide times before you visit). It is one of the most important centres of early English Christianity when Irish monks settled there in AD635.

The Northumbrian King Oswald summoned an Irish monk named Aidan from Iona – the island monastery off the south west coast of now Scotland – to be bishop of his kingdom. He granted Aidan and his companions the island of Lindisfarne on which to found a monastery.

In the AD670’s a monk named Cuthbert joined the monastery at Lindisfarne and later became the greatest monk-bishop, and the most important saint in northern England in the Middle Ages.

Cuthbert also spent time on the even more remote island of Inner Farne just off the coast from Bamburgh. We visited the priory, which is now run by English National Heritage and definitely worth exploring, along with the fascinating exhibition which is included in the ticket. We combined our adventures on Lindisfarne with a stunning walk of the coast line of the whole island – around a 5 mile circular walk. We use Pathfinder walk books which I really recommend.

At the end of the walk, before we headed into the Priory, we chanced upon a rather inviting coffee house called ‘Pilgrims Coffee and Roastery’. I highly recommend you make a detour here to purchase a bag of their coffee beans (great gifts) as well as a cup of coffee and some excellent cakes and savoury eats. Their ‘Espresso Cake’ was so good that I thought I would share it with you here.

They have a cookbook, which you can buy with all their recipes in – you can purchase that here.

 

Pilgrim’s Coffee Cake

adapted from the Pilgrim’s Coffee and Roastery Cookbook

Serves 12

250ml espresso

250g salted butter

50g cocoa powder

400g caster sugar

150ml sour cream

2 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

300g plain flour

200g chopped walnuts

2.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing

60g unsalted butter

120g sifted icing sugar

2 tbsp espresso

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (they state 160 degrees if using fan, but I found it needed to be hotter for my fan oven)
  2. Line a 20cmx30cm tray with greaseproof paper
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Mix in the espresso, cocoa, sugar, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, flour, bicarbonate of soda and walnuts to a loose batter.
  5. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tray.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until risen and dark brown – I found I needed to do it for a little more than 40 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool on a baking tray and remove the greaseproof paper when cooled slightly.

Icing


8. In another bowl whip together the butter and icing until light and fluffy.

9. Fold in the espresso until smooth.

10. Spread over the cooled coffee cake. Decorate with a few extra walnuts.

 

Note: It’s probably me, but I found the icing did not work when I used the amounts in their recipe – 250g unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar and 120ml espresso so I redid the icing to the amounts above and it worked. I tend to prefer less than more when it comes to icing anyway as I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth. Let me know what works for you.

 

 

 


Wild Garlic Recipes Ideas

It’s that time of year again when a woodland walk will be interspersed by the smell of wild garlic on the wind. Follow the scent and you will find wild garlic growing – often near a stream – ready for picking. Over the years I have shown a number of wild garlic recipes on my blog so I thought it may be helpful to point them out.

If this is your first foray into foraging wild garlic may I suggest you start by making wild garlic pesto as it is very straight forward, tastes delicious and freezes really well (so much so I have enough to last me over the winter months and until the season starts again).

You can find the recipe here. When picking wild garlic simply break off the leaf, leaving the root and stem intact.

Wild garlic scones are great fun to make and a delicious treat after a spring walk – perfect for Easter gatherings.

You can find the recipe here.

Perhaps you are into soups – like me – then you might like making my wild garlic, courgette and lemon soup with a poached egg and panko breadcrumbs.

You can find the recipe here.

Or you can simply spread on hot butter toast, which is the favourite option of my eldest daughter and sister.

How do you like to eat wild garlic?  Have you ever eaten it? Any other new suggestions welcome in the comments section below. Happy Easter everyone.


Celebrating 100 Years of La Scolca Wine at Novikov Mayfair

Photo by Tibor Silva

It’s not every day that you get invited to help celebrate 100 years of La Scolca winery, hosted by the very charming and charismatic owner and CEO, Chiara Soldati, at the Italian restaurant of Novikov in Mayfair. The vineyard is located in the Piedmont region of Italy and was purchased between 1917-1919 by Chiara’s great-great grandfather who planted Cortese vines in an area traditionally used to cultivate only red grapes. Through the hard work, drive and tenacity of the Soldati family La Scolca winery has created an extraordinary set of wines that have brought attention to the “Gavi” region and to the Cortese grape.

Photo by Tibor Silva

Attending the seven course lunch were a host of gourmet food and wine connoisseurs from industry, the press and bloggers, as well as some of the most respected general managers from well known Italian restaurants across London. The gathering was intimate and celebratory and we began the occasion with a glass of Soldati Brut Millesimato to mark the occasion. This sparkling wine is 100% Cortese, is fresh, full with a velvety embrace.

The menu as you can see below, was beautifully put together and each dish presented was a triumph. I particularly loved the crispy sweet paprika coating to the calamari – nice touch – and the spiky artichoke salad from the starters and both mains were exactly the type of dishes I would naturally choose from a menu – and I got to eat both. LUCKY.

Photo (above and below) by Tibor Silva

With our food we were treated to two different wines from the La Scolca winery – Gavi La Scolca (Gavi D.O.C.G. wine), which is a delicate, dry white that paired beautifully with the antipasti and seafood and fish dishes that we ate. Following this we had the Gavi dei Gavi Black label, which again is made with the Cortese grapes and was utterly delicious, and one that I will most definitely be seeking out again.

Drinking Chiara’s beautiful wines got me thinking. Both the white wines I had drunk would work rather well with some of the Indian recipes that I make. Something light, fresh and possibly citrusy would work well with these wines.

Back in my kitchen I came up with a lemony tomato chicken curry, that does not have much chilli heat but is delicately spiced. I think it would work brilliantly with Chiara’s wines or other Gavi whites.

 

Lemony Tomato Chicken Curry

serves 6-8

4 medium tomatoes, quartered

1 large potato, quartered

1 large white onion, quartered

3 green chillies, halved

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 tsp ginger paste

4 lemons, juice only

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1 tsp brown sugar/jaggery

1 tsp salt/to taste

2kg chicken on the bone (legs and thighs)

1 large handful of freshly chopped coriander

 

  1. Blend the tomatoes, potato, onion and green chillies in a blender until smooth.
  2. In a deep wide pan heat the oil and when it is hot add the cumin seeds so that the begin to sizzle – within 20 seconds – and then add the garlic and ginger paste. Move around the pan for a minute before adding the tomato and onion puree.
  3. Add the lemon juice and the remaining spices as well as the brown sugar/jaggery. Mix together.
  4. Add the chicken and coat in the masala mixture. Place a lid on the pan and keep on a medium heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring intermittently so that nothing burns on the bottom of the pan and the chicken cooks through evenly.
  5. You may find you need to add a little more water if the sauce is drying up.
  6. Taste test the salt level and check the chicken is cooked through – it sometimes takes a little longer on the bone.
  7. Before serving mix in the fresh coriander and serve with some simple plain rice and some dal (see my recipe library for a wide selection).

 

Me, Chiara and Susi – check out her blog www.foodwithsusi.com @food_with_susi
I was a guest of Chiara Soldati. Some of the photos above (mentioned) were taken by Tibor Silva

 

 


Daler Bora – Bengali Lentil Fritters

Close to where we were staying in Kolkata there was a guy who set up a food stall in the late afternoon to make daler bora – Bengali lentil fritters. He would fry them upon request and serve them piping hot in little paper bags. They were so addictively good that one bag was never enough. We would munch them as we strolled back to our hotel, pausing often at the tea wallah for our last masala chai of the day.

It became a habit and one that the whole family enjoyed. Upon arriving back in London I decided that life without daler bora was incomplete, so after a bit of tweaking I came up with the perfect recipe to cook them in the home. They are light, crisp and not at all oily. They must be eaten hot and freshly made. Try them and let me know how you get on.

 

Daler Bora – Bengali Lentil Fritters

350g red spit lentils (masoor), soaked for 2 hours

Handful of fresh coriander

1 medium sized onion, chopped

1 inch of fresh ginger, skin removed and finely grated, optional

2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

1tsp turmeric powder

Sunflower or Vegetable oil for frying

sprinkling of chaat masala

  1. Once the red split lentils have soaked, drain them and then place in a blender along with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Use a small deep pan and place enough oil in the pan so that the daler bora will float.
  3. Wait for the oil to be at the right heat – drop a little of the batter in the pan and if it fizzles and rises to the top then the oil is ready.
  4. Use two teaspoons and heap one teaspoon with the blended dal and use the other to gently push the blended dal into the oil. I usually fry one first and then try it to check for the right chilli and salt levels. If it needs any more of either of these then this is the time to add a little more.
  5. Place around 10 in the pan and then allow them to bronze. If the oil is at the right heat they should be done in 1-2 minutes. Turn them over half way with a slotted spoon.
  6. Once bronzed remove with the slotted spoon and place on kitchen roll and sprinkle a little chaat masala on top. This will give the lentil fritters a pleasing tang.
  7. Eat whilst still hot.

They are great dipped into an Indian chutney. My tamarind and date chutney works a treat.

 

 


Goan Pork Curry for Sunday Supper

On Sundays we tend to have our ‘main’ meal now in the early evening, where we can all sit down and break bread together. We eat very little meat in the week these days, but on Sunday we like to indulge and have a roast or perhaps a curry. This evening we will be having a Goan pork curry, which is deliciously spiced – not chilli hot as my youngest daughter is 9 years old. It’s a great one you can make advance, either the day before or in the morning of the day you are making it.

I’ll be accompanying it with some plain basmati rice and my beetroot curry.

Do you have a main family meal on Sundays? Do you go for the traditional English roast or something more exotic?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Goan Pork Curry

Serves 4

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp peppercorns

1 tsp cardamom seeds, remove seeds from the pod

4cm stick of cinnamon bark

2 tsp black mustard seeds

2 dried red chillies (4 if you want more chilli heat)

1tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp cardamom seeds, remove seeds from the pod

2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 whole head of garlic, all cloves peeled

2 white onions, peeled and chopped

1 tsp salt

4 tbsp white wine vinegar

4 tbsp of vegetable oil

750g of boneless pork, cut into bite sized cubes

1 tsp light brown sugar

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp of turmeric

250ml water

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1.  Dice the pork into bite sized mouthfuls and set aside in a bowl.

2. Heat a frying pan and add the cumin seeds, red chillies, peppercorns, cinnamon bark, black mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Move around the pan so that the aromas are released but they do not burn. This will take under 1 minute. Place them into a small bowl to cool. Add the cardamom seeds to the bowl.

3. After a few minutes, place them into a spice grinder to create a masala. Return the powdered masala into the small bowl.

4. In the same frying pan, fry the onions until they begin to bronze. This will take around 10 minutes.

5. Whilst the onions are bronzing, peel the garlic and the fresh ginger (use the back of a teaspoon to do this – it is really easy this way), and grate the fresh ginger. Place in a hand blender, add a splash of water and blend to form a smooth paste. Place in a small bowl and place to one side.

6. Once the onions have bronzed transfer them to the same hand blender and blend until smooth. Add the vinegar to make the consistency smooth. The reason for putting vinegar in this recipe is to help soften the pork when cooking.

7. In the same frying pan, heat half the oil and gently fry the pork cubes so that they too begin to bronze. Remove with a slotted spoon.

8. In a new deeper pan, add  the remaining oil and add the ginger-garlic paste you have created. Add the turmeric and coriander powder and then return the pork to the pan along with the onion puree and masala blend. Fold all the spices into the pork. Add the water and cook on a low heat for 45-55 mins, stirring intermittently.

I like to serve this with a simple plain basmati rice and a vegetable curry as a side dish.

 


Green Jackfruit Curry

 

Back in December, when I was in Kolkata, I was at a family gathering and was given a curry that tasted absolutely delicious. Deep in conversation I ate the curry, pausing after a few mouthfuls to ask what ‘meat’ it was as I couldn’t quite work it out and thought perhaps it was pork. The answer was ‘green jack fruit’. Somewhat surprised but delighted that such a fruit could taste so ‘meat-like’ in structure. It was substantial, filling and utterly delicious. In the photo below it is the curry bottom right.

Fast forward a few months and I’m down in Tooting taking some clients on a spice tour before heading back to my house to teach some Indian recipes. One of my shopkeeper friends – Rohit – delighted us all by giving us a plate of his delicious jackfruit curry that he had just made – it tasted divine and prompted one of my clients to immediately buy a fresh green jackfruit to take home to replicate the curry. I love enthusiastic foodies.

I returned a few days later to continue the conversation of his curry and how he made it exactly and to buy one myself so I can share it here with you. This is Rohit’s recipe and it works a treat. They are in season now (in India and Africa) so if you see one when you are next in your local Asian grocers be brave and pick one up and try making this recipe. Please note the yellow jackfruit is sweet and not used in savoury curries – you want to buy the green jackfruit.

An important point to note:

  1. Once you cut into the jackfruit – cut into rounds and then use a serrated knife to cut away the tough outer skin – it is VERY sticky. Place a little oil on your hand that will touch the jackfruit to prevent the stickiness from covering your hand.

 

If you are keen to join me on a spice tour of Tooting followed by an Indian cooking class at my house- send me an email chilliandmint@gmail.com for details.

 

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Jack Fruit Curry

kindly given to me by Rohit – my friendly Asian grocer in Tooting

2 tbsp vegetable oil (you can use mustard too)

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 dried red chilli, broken in two

5 fresh garlic, roughly chopped

2 inches of fresh ginger, skin removed and finely grated, chopped also fine

1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing

2 fresh green chillies, finely sliced

2 or 3 large white onions, finely chopped

salt, to taste

1tsp coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1x 400g tin of tomatoes OR 3 or 4 large tomatoes diced

200ml water

1 small green jackfruit, cut into rounds and then skin removed and then cut into 2 inch pieces

1 tsp garam masala

 

  1. First cut and peel the jackfruit and then cut into 2 inch pieces and place in a pan of boiling water so that it covers the jackfruit completely. Allow to boil for 20 minutes so that the jackfruit softens. It will never be soft, like potato for example, but when you place a sharp knife into one piece it will go in easily. Drain and keep to one side.
  2. In a different pan, heat the oil and when it is hot add the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and dried red chilli. Move around the pan for 20 seconds and then add the chopped garlic and ginger and move around the pan for a minute.
  3. Now add the asafoetida/hing and fresh green chillies. Stir.
  4. Add the chopped white onion and some salt (to speed up the cooking time for the onion)and move around the pan, mixing all the ingredients together. Allow the onions to pick up some colour – lightly bronzed. This will take 10-12 minutes.
  5. Add the coriander, cumin and turmeric powders and stir once again.
  6. Add the tomatoes and mix together before adding the cooked green jackfruit. Stir gently into the sauce and add the water. Add the garam masala and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Checking the salt and add more if necessary.

Serve with spiced rice or Indian naan or flat breads.

Do YOU have any spectacular green jack fruit curries that you would like to share? Please do so in the comments box below.


Speedy Indian Salmon Curry

Exhausted after a long day, with little energy or inclination to cook a complex dish that involves lots of marinating and blending? We’ve all been there right? Well this curry works a treat and literally takes 15 minutes to prepare and cook.  It’s a staple dish in my household and is always guaranteed to raise spirits and a smile. I’ve been cooking it for 20 years so felt it would be a good one to share with you all. I have used salmon but you can equally use trout or any firm fish in fact.

I find I use all the spices quite regularly so am guaranteed to have them in the house. My fridge also always has fresh ginger and curry leaves, which are either kept in my fridge of freezer (so I don’t get caught out). Same goes for fresh chillies.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy this dish is and yet tastes really moreish. I often get asked do I eat the curry leaves and the answer is ‘yes’. I love the taste of them, but you can leave them to one side if you don’t fancy it. They will have already worked their magic flavouring the dish.

I often accompany it with some of my Bengali dal, which is my ultimate comfort food. A plain white or brown rice works well with this dish.

I would love to see how you get on so don’t forget to tag and link me on instagram if you make it @chilliandmint #chilliandmint.

 

Speedy Indian Salmon Curry

Serves 4

700g filleted salmon, cut into manageable portions (skin on or off as you prefer)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tsp nigella seeds

1 small tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

2 fresh chilli, chopped in half (more if you like it hot)

half tsp chilli powder (optional)

2 inches  fresh ginger, peeled and grated

approx 10 fresh curry leaves

2 large tomatoes, finely died

150ml water

1 tsp salt

handful of fresh coriander

1. Cut the salmon pieces into manageable sized portions and put to one side.

2. Warm the oil and when it is hot add the onions and fry on a medium heat for 6 minutes or until they begin to brown. At this point add the nigella seeds, fresh chilli, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, grated ginger, curry leaves and salt and stir for 20 seconds.

3. Add the tomatoes and 100ml of water and mix all the ingredients together.

4. Gently place the salmon pieces, with the skin facing upwards (if skin is still on), into the sauce and let it simmer on a medium/low heat for 5 minutes. Place a lid on the pan.

5. Then using a spoon turn the salmon pieces over and add a further 50ml of water if necessary. It will only need a couple of minutes. If you prefer a thicker sauce add less water and vice versa. Its really not an exact science and more down to personal taste.

Serve with roughly chopped fresh coriander.


Aloo Matar – Potato and Pea Curry

Increasingly I am eating more and more vegetarian dishes (and fish) throughout the week. Has anyone else found that their meat/veg ratio has changed quite a lot in the last couple of years? I do still eat meat, but certainly not every day. I find it immensely helpful to have a number of go-to vegetarian recipes up my sleeve, so thought I would share this one with you. It’s a good one for the whole family as it is spiced but not spicy. Invariably I always have potatoes, tomatoes and frozen peas in my house, so this recipes is an easy one to whip together at a moments notice. It’s very similar to a dish that I started cooking way back at university, and in many respects laid the foundation stones for my future Indian cooking exploits.

I know that potatoes seem not to be so in vogue as they once were, like bread, but I still love to eat both potatoes and bread – especially sourdough – in many different guises. Do you have a potato recipe they you always fall back on time and time again? Do let me and my readers know in the comments section below.

 

Also if you cook this dish please share it on instagram and tag me @chilliandmint so that I can see.

 

Aloo Matar (Potato and Pea curry)

serves 4 

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ chilli powder

1 tsp salt

400ml water

3 medium/large potatoes, chopped into 1.5inch pieces (approx)

100g peas

½ tsp garam masala

2 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek)

1 tbsp fresh coriander

  1. Place the tomatoes and ginger in a hand blender and blend to a smooth puree. Place to one side.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, they will begin to sizzle almost immediately. After 15 seconds add the red onion.
  3. Gently saute for 5 minutes before adding the coriander, turmeric and chilli powders.
  4. After a minute, add the tomato and ginger puree followed by the potatoes and cover with the water.
  5. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potato has softened.
  6. Add the peas after 8 minutes.
  7. Just before serving scatter the kasoori methi and garam masala and fold into the potatoes.
  8. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.