First impressions of Hong Kong and getting over jet lag

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There is always something rather thrilling about going on a trip or a journey, but when you’ve never visited the destination before there is an added level of excitement and anticipation. The smells, sights, sounds and general fever of the place seize you almost immediately as soon as you step foot on to Hong Kong soil. I always knew that the place would be frenetic with activity but seeing and experiencing it in the flesh is another thing. Hong Kong is buzzing and bustling with people. An initial impression is the sheer number of people who all live here side by side, or perhaps more aptly I should say – on top of, in huge towers reaching to the stars. Vertical living is very a la mode and living in dinky dwellings is standard practice.

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Whilst a lot is packed into Hong Kong there are also places to be found where there is an element of calm and serenity and to watch the world go by. One of the first places that I went to visit was the Man Mo temple, which is the oldest temple in Hong Kong, having being built in 1847. I thought it was necessary to experience the old if I was to truly understand and appreciate the new and besides I always enjoy visiting temples and churches when visiting a new country as I find it helps to better understand the underlying fabric of that country.

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The temple did not disappoint and as I strolled around it I particularly enjoyed the heady aromas from the incense coils that hung from the ceiling. From the outside the temple stands surrounded by tall tower blocks, which makes a slightly surreal sight.

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Near to the temple I came across this wonderfully vibrant street art that really appealed to me; I think Banksy would definitely approve.

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Getting to know a city I like to amble around on foot as this not only helps me get my bearings but also see what the locals are up to. Street food sellers were out in abundance selling all manners of temptingly delicious snacks to feast upon.

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As our body clock is a little confused at the moment, we are eating at rather random times of the day, that said little Z and big A always seem to be hungry around tea time and therefore are ready for a little cake to give them some energy before more sight seeing then supper. We have come across a number of bakeries selling all manner of wonderful tasting cakes. Egg tarts are popular here as well as buns filled with red bean paste.

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We visited a fish market, but it is unlike the fish markets we have in the West as the fish here were not to eat. Oh no, if you want to find fish and meat to eat as well as vegetables and fruit you need to visit a ‘wet market’ which are scattered all over Hong Kong. I hope to take some photos of these over my stay so watch this space for more on this soon.

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Tropical fish for sale at the Fish Market in Mong Kok

Our first evening meal out in Hong Kong was dim sum at the very popular Din Tai Fung, which is in fact a Taiwanese import. It’s famous for it’s Xiao Long Bao, which are steamed pork dumplings filled with broth and dipped into vinegar and ginger – basically little mouthfuls of joy! I liked the way that they had instructions on how to ‘eat’ the little darlings. How very thoughtful!

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The winner on the dim sum stakes so far though comes from Hutong where we ate delicious tasting dumplings filled with pork and fennel – ones I wouldn’t mind attempting to make when back in London. Another favourite at Hutong was the Chicken Pot with Sichuan peppers, addictively delicious and not as ‘hot’ as you would think!

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As I mentioned we have all been experiencing a bit of jet lag so I decided to make a southing, homely broth for our first lunch on Hong Kong soil. After gathering a few ingredients I made the following dish, which seemed to hit the spot after a long journey. I kept ours vegetarian, but it would taste equally good with a bit of salmon or trout thrown in for a couple of minutes. Here is how to make it.

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Jet lag Noodle Broth

Serves 3 (and enough for seconds)

splash of olive oil

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tbsp light soy sauce

1 heaped tsp of vegan Bouillon/vegetable stock

boiling water (to cover veg and noodles)

generous handful of Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan) or regular broccoli/spinach/pat choi

6 small tomatoes, halved

3 eggs, boiled, shell removed and halved

2 packs of udon noodles (or 3 if you are serving just adults)

1. Place the eggs into a pan with cold water and when the water has boiled cook the eggs for 4 minutes, less if you like it soft boiled.

2. Meanwhile place a little oil in a medium sized deep pan and when it is hot add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute before adding the soy sauce.

3. Next add the boiling water so that it reaches a quarter of the way up the pan – you can add more a little later. Add the Bouillon or vegetable stock that you are using and stir well.

4. Add the Chinese broccoli and after 2 minutes add the udon noodles. You may wish to add a little more boiling water at this stage. Taste to see if it requires a little more soy sauce. Add the tomatoes no more than a minute before serving so that they still hold their shape. If you prefer softer vegetables then cook the Chinese broccoli for a little longer, but I find a couple of minutes is more than enough.

5. Serve with a slice or two of boiled egg.

Warming, delicious and ever so quick, before you collapse and have another little sleep.

Other ingredients that would be great to add: fresh chilli, spring onions, fresh salmon/trout, mushrooms.

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Ottolenghi’s Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts and Honey

Foodies in London will be very familiar with the names Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi who first set up the successful deli/bakery/patisserie cum restaurant  called ‘Ottolenghi’ back in 2002 in Notting Hill.  Their passion and flair for cooking was evident from the start and their venture soon became a food lovers magnet, in particular I remember the mounds of mouth watering salads piled high on large dishes for you to help yourself to. We are not talking about a few lettuce leaves with tomatoes and cucumbers thrown in. Oooooooooh no, their salads were, and in fact still are, on a whole different playing field. They are the most imaginative and more-ish that you will come across, to the extent that it is actually hard to decide which to tuck into. Decisions, decisions!

In 2010 Yotam published a book dedicated to vegetarian food called ‘Plenty’ and a number of his salads were put into the book. It’s beautifully put together and I am convinced it would persuade even the most carnivorous amongst you to try some of the recipes. He has in many respects made vegetarian food, and indeed salads, look sexy.

Today they now have four delis as well as launching a very successful restaurant called, Nopi.  Basically they are on a roll and London cannot get enough of their talents. That is not to say that Yotam and Sami only cook vegetarian food, far from it. Their cooking is heavily influenced from their childhoods in Israel and their style of cooking definitely has a Mediterranean edge to it, with wonderful meat and fish dishes to whet the appetite.  They cook all the kind of dishes that I am attracted to – basically ones that are full of bold flavours, which they describe rather endearingly as the ‘noisy’ flavours: ‘lemon, pomegranate, garlic and chilli’. The other cookbook, which is a definite must for those who like their style of honest cooking, is ‘Ottolenghi, The Cookbook‘. They also have a new book,  ‘Jerusalem’, in the wings, launching later this year, which I am looking forward to buying.

It was from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook that I discovered ‘Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey’. I was immediately attracted to the recipe as it had a wonderful range of interesting ingredients – in particular I like the fact that it had ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon, hazelnuts, honey and rosewater. I had never cooked with rosewater until I started cooking this recipe; I love the fragrance  and subtleness that it brings to the dish.  The  exotic smells coming from the oven takes me back to happy times exploring Morocco and the Atlas mountains.

 Roast Chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey

Sourced from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook

Serves 4

10 chicken thighs (or a combination of wing, leg and thighs)

2 onions, roughly chopped,

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 large pinch of saffron strands

juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp cold water

2 tsp coarse sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

100g unskinned hazelnuts

75g honey

2 tbsp rosewater

2 spring onions, roughly chopped

1. Trim the fat of the chicken thighs and then mix in a bowl with the chopped onions, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, pepper and salt. Leave to marinate in the fridge for over an hour –  or overnight if you are really well organised. I wasn’t so left it in the fridge for a couple of hours!

2. In a preheated over – 180 degrees if using a fan oven (10 degree hotter if not), place the hazelnuts on a tray to roast for 10 minutes.

3. Roughly chop the roasted hazelnuts – I give them a quick wizz with my hand blender and set aside.

4. Place the chicken, skin side up, in an ovenproof dish/roasting tray in the oven with the onions and juice surrounding it and leave to cook for 35 minutes.

5. In a new bowl mix the honey, rosewater and nuts to create a rough paste. When the 35 minutes cooking time for the chicken is up, spread the paste over the chicken and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown.

6. Whilst the chicken is cooking for the final 10 minutes, put on the rice/or prepare the cous cous.

7. Serve the chicken with either rice or cous cous and garnish with spring onions – I preferred to do this over the cous cous. There will be plenty of sauce full of deliciousness to serve over the chicken.


Indian Style Tomato Chutney

I adore condiments with my food no matter what the origin of the food. Chutneys, mustards, jellies, pickles, dressings – you name it, I love to have the option of having them on my plate supporting the meats and/or vegetables and giving the dish that extra added dimension. So you can just imagine how in heaven I was when Mr B’s grandmother, known as Dida, cooked this simple tomato chutney for us when we visited her in Kolkata a while ago. We were all given a little bowl of the chutney to eat alongside our dal and vegetable dishes and it tasted sublime. The combination of hot and spicy with sweet undertones  made the chutney completely addictive.

Tomatoes are to me what I imagine chocolate is to many people. I could give up eating chocolate tomorrow, but tomatoes……well that would be seriously hard. In fact for Easter my parents gave me a tomato plant instead of a chocolate egg, knowing that I would get more enjoyment out of that than a chocolate egg.  I eat tomatoes pretty much everyday and without doubt they are my absolute favourite fruit as they are just so versatile and can completely transform dishes. If you have any tomato recipes that you think I would like please send me an email to chilliandmint@gmail.com as I would love to try them.

With this recipe you can keep it simple and just use tomatoes, but I like to add a little dried fruit so as to blend the flavours. You can add a couple of dried prunes, dates, apricots or mango. Experiment and see which you like to compliment with the tomato.

Dida cooks her chutney without the tomato skins on, however, for speed and because I don’t mind them, I have left the tomato skins on. If you prefer a smoother texture then simply boil the tomatoes in a pan of boiling water for five minutes and then strain them and you will find the tomato skins easily come away from the body of the tomato.

Indian Style Tomato Chutney

Makes 1 bowl, 4-6 servings

300g tomatoes, chopped in half if using cherry and quartered if using larger size

1 inch of ginger, grated or chopped finely

2 dried red chillies

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tbsp olive/mustard/nut oil

1/4 (quarter) tsp salt

4 tsp sugar (to taste)

3 slices of Aam Shatwa (dried mango), or dried apricots, dried prunes, dried dates – optional

1. Warm the oil in a pan and when it is hot place the two dried red chillies into the oil. You want to fry them until they turn black, which will take a few minutes. For those of you who have seen or made my homemade mango chutney you will remember that frying the dried chillies will make you cough. My mother-in-law assures me that it helps those with nasal congestion, so if you have any issues in this area get involved at this part of the recipe as it is sure to help your ailment!

2. When the dried red chillies have blackened add the remaining ingredients and stir. The tomatoes will release juice as they warm in the pan. Squash the tomatoes with the back of a fork so that they become limp. Taste the chutney and add extra sugar if required.

3. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes have completely softened and then transfer into a bowl to cool. Serve at room temperature.

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Coriander Leaf Fritters – Dhone Pata Bora

I know that coriander leaves (cilantro for my lovely US/Canadian readers, dhone pata for my equally lovely Bengali readers) divides opinion, but I for one admire the herb for it’s wonderful, bold and punchy flavour. I find it really adds the perfect kick to a dish and brings it alive.

For this dish, or perhaps that’s a little bit grand to call it a dish as it ‘s more of a tasty snack, has coriander as the main ingredient. It takes centre stage and while they might not look that exciting, they taste really good and are prefect nibbles if you have friends popping over or if you are feeling the need for an original snack.

We’ve been having a roller coaster of weather conditions over here in the UK, with sun-rain-hail-thunder-lightening-rainbows all in one day, so outside play action for big A and little Z has been only temporary. Inside the house we get creative in all manner of ways, and cooking little delights is something we enjoy doing together. These bite sized fritters are easy to prepare and the girls love to help me put them together. We make an extra batch for them, without the chilli, but for a more mature, adult palate I add lots of chilli.

So here are the main fresh ingredients you need to make the fritters:

Coriander Leaf Fritters – Dhone Pata Bora

serves 2-3 (double/triple for larger quantity)

large handful of fresh coriander leaves/cilantro leaves/dhone pata, chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, grated or finely chopped

2 small green chilli, finely chopped

half tsp of salt

3 tbsp plain or gram flour

3 tbsp water

splash of oil (I use mustard oil)

1. Finely chop all the fresh ingredients and place in a bowl along with the flour (I simply used plain instead of gram this time), salt and water. Add the water a little at a time so that the fritters are not too moist. If they do become too moist simply add a little more flour to bind them together.

2. Mix well and roll into small balls in your hand and then gently press down so as to flatten them, so that they look like this:

3. Heat the oil in a pan and when it is hot gently place the fritters into the oil and fry on a medium to low heat for a few minutes. When the undersides have darkened turn them over and let the fritters cook throughly on the uncooked side. The cooking time should not take much more than 5 minutes.

4. Serve and eat immediately. They also word well with dal and rice if you want to make more of a meal out of them.


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.


Save the English cauliflower from extinction by EATING it!

It was during a recent family conversation about how cauliflower consumption is in decline, that gave me the idea for this blog. I wanted to do my bit, so as to speak, to give the cauliflower some much needed positive PR and encourage people actually to buy and eat the vegetable.  The sad truth is that if we don’t consume them we will slowly see them disappearing from our farmers’ markets, grocers, supermarkets (delete as required) and they will join the list of other extinct vegetables. A really interesting article was published a couple of  years ago in “The Daily Telegraph” with the heading ‘Cauliflower to make a comeback with environmentally friendly rebranding’ – it’s worth a read so just click here.

I think a lot of people are not too sure what to do with cauliflower, other than the obvious cauliflower cheese, which don’t get me wrong is tasty, especially when you add crispy bacon bits to the topping, but there are so many other delicious things to do with cauliflowers.

So I thought I would share two completely different recipes with you to inspire you to love and eat cauliflower. Broccoli and other so called ‘superfoods’ seem to have taken centre stage due to their health benefits, but the fact is that cauliflower is also very nutritious, perhaps not quite as much as broccoli, but close, and if the truth be told cauliflower has less calories than broccoli. You can check out the facts here if you don’t believe me!

First up…………………………drum roll please……………………. is………………………………………………..

Sweet Piccalilli, which is a gloriously tangy and vibrant looking relish which includes cauliflower as the main ingredient, along with green beens, courgette/marrow, pickled onions and spices. It’s also been referred to as ‘Indian Pickle’, indicating that it’s origin stems from the Indian subcontinent. I recently made a huge batch and then gave a number away as gifts at christmas time. A dollop of this relish is the perfect accompaniment to hams and cheeses, in fact you are guaranteed always to see it on the plate when ordering a traditional ploughman’s lunch at any good English Pub.

This recipe is sourced from my favourite preserves and pickling book called The Complete Book of Preserves and Pickles by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew. I have remained pretty loyal to the original recipe other than the fact that I do add a little more flour as I like the piccalilli to be slightly thicker. It’s personal choice, so see how you get on and don’t be afraid to add a little more flour if need be. It is also really important to note that steps 1 and 2 you need to do 24 hours before the next steps can be completed.

Sweet Piccalilli

Makes circa 1.8kg/4lb, which was precisely 7 jars  and I bought them from here.

1 large cauliflower

450g pickling (pearl) onions

900g mixed vegetables (marrow/courgette, cucumber, French green beans)

225g salt

2.4 litres/4 pints cold water

200g granulated sugar

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 tsp of mustard powder

1 tsp of ground ginger

1 litre/1 and three quarters distilled (white) vinegar

25g plain flour

1 tbsp turmeric

1. Clean and cut the cauliflower into small edible florets and cut off the ends of the French green beans and cut them into 2.5cm/1inch in length. The pickling onions I use are small, but if you have bought the slightly larger ones you will need to quarter them.

2. In a large bowl place the vegetables in layers and add a sprinkling of salt over each layer. Pour the water over all the vegetables and then cover with cling film and leave to soak for 24 hours.

24 hours later

3. Drain the soaked vegetables and discard the brine. You will need to rinse them well several times in cold water so as to get rid of the salt. You may find it easier to do this in batches.

4. In a large pan (preserving pan if you have one) add the sugar, garlic, mustard, ginger and 900ml/1 and a half pints of the vinegar. Gently heat the pan stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

5. Add the vegetables to the pan and bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until they are almost tender.

6. In a separate bowl stir the turmeric into the flour and then add to the remaining vinegar. Stir this mixture into the vegetables. Bring to the boil and stir and then turn down the heat so that it simmers for another 5-10 minutes allowing the piccalilli to become thick. If it is not the consistency you want, simply add a little more flour and it should thicken up.

7. Into warmed sterilized jars, add the sweet piccalilli and cover and seal. Store in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks. Use within the year.

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The second recipe I wanted to share with you is Cauliflower Curry, which is really straight forward and speedy to make and perfect to eat either on its own or with a bowl of dal on the side; I also like to have mine with a little natural yoghurt. This recipe comes from my mother-in-law who stores all her recipes in her head and never seems to have precise measurements. It’s always a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and the result is always divine.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how tasty and simple this dish is to make.

Cauliflower Curry

Serves 2-4 accompanied with another dish such as dal or speedy salmon curry

1 large cauliflower

2 tbsp of mustard oil (or sunflower oil if you do not have mustard oil)

1 tsp  nigella seeds

1 tsp turmeric

1tsp ground coriander (cilantro)

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

half tsp chilli powder

3 inch cinnamon bark, broken into smaller parts

splash or two of water

1 heaped tsp of ghee or butter, optional

1. Wash and cut the cauliflower into small florets. Do not discard the outer green bits as these too can be used in the curry.

2. In a pan warm up the oil on a low heat and when it’s hot add the nigella seeds. After 10 seconds add the cauliflower and stir into the seeds and the oil. Add the turmeric and then let the cauliflower gently cook away. You want to begin to see the cauliflower bronzing before adding any more of the ingredients, this will take between 5-10 minutes. Keep the oil on a low heat or you will find that the cauliflower will burn, which is not the effect that you want to achieve.

3. Add all the rest of the ingredients, aside from the ghee/butter and water. Stir them all together and then add a small amount of water to help soften the cauliflower and help it cook. Cook for further 10 minutes and then add the ghee/butter and stir into the cauliflower to give it a more buttery taste. This is not essential so try it both ways and see which you prefer.

4. Serve with natural yoghurt.

Do you have any any cauliflower recipes that you cook at home and would recommend? I’d love to hear them.


A special curry for REAL foodies

I’ve been procrastinating about sharing this blog recipe with you all for some time now as I know that if I mention three certain words I would guess that possibly 80% of you will just reach for your mouse or control pad and head straight out of this blog entry, quicker than you can say…….

CHICKEN

LIVER

CURRY

Ahhhhhh I said it. Is anyone still there?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Phew at least there are still a few of you still curious to find out more.

I think our fear and loathing of liver stems largely from our school days where it was rather unceremoniously dumped on our plates with some watery greens and some white looking mush that vaguely resembled mashed potato. It wasn’t great, I admit – and thats coming from someone who actually liked her school food.

My opinion of liver changed completely when my mother-in-law started cooking chicken liver curry for me. It completely took me by surprise, so much so that I thought that I would try and convert a few of you. A real bonus as well is that chicken livers are so cheap to buy that even if you give this a shot once and you absolutely loathe it (which you won’t) then you are not wasting loads of money. It’s not as if I am asking you to try making lobster thermidor!

Chicken Liver Curry

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

1 large potato, diced

500g chicken livers

1 large onion, chopped

2 inch ginger, grated

2 small fresh red or green chilli (optional), chopped in two

1 large tsp of ground turmeric

1 tsp of ground coriander

1 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of salt

5 garlic cloves, kept whole

1 cinnamon stick, broken up

3 cardamom, opened up slightly

1 small tsp of vindaloo curry paste

100 ml water

a few glugs of olive oil

1. Peel and dice a large potato and then fry it gently in some olive oil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the cubes don’t get stuck at the bottom of your saucepan. Make sure that you are using a pan that is deep enough to hold all the ingredients and some water. After 5 minutes spoon out the potatoes and put to one side.

2. Fry the onions in the pan that the potatoes were in. You may need to add a little more oil at this stage.  After 6 minutes the onions should begin to be turning brown. At this stage add the grated ginger (and fresh chillies if you are using them – I tend not to for this curry) and stir into the onions.

3. Add the chicken livers and let them turn a whiter colour. Do not add any further ingredients until they have become paler in appearance, this should not take longer than 10 minutes. If you are cooking with rice, this is the perfect time to start boiling your rice so that the curry and rice are ready around the same time.

4. Now add the ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, garlic and the potato to the chicken livers. Stir well, but gently, so that all the spices are mixed up evenly.

5. Add the broken up cinnamon stick, cardamom and vindaloo curry paste. Gently add a little boiling water – I tend to add the water in two stages of 50ml each. You may find that you do not need this much so add a little at a time. It will help soften the potatoes and garlic.

Serve with rice and dal.  I really think you will be pleasantly surprised. Let me know how you get on.


Monkfish curry with tamarind, coconut, ginger and coriander – inspired by Skye Gyngell

This curry is always a crowd pleaser. The talented Skye Gyngell, of Petersham Nurseries fame, does the decadent lobster version in her book ‘A Year in My Kitchen’ and I have tweaked her recipe slightly to suit my style of cooking, but the essence of this recipe stems from Skye, I sadly take no credit.

So the main things I have done differently to Skye are:

1. Blending the onions after they have been cooked on a low heat. I found that I preferred a slightly smoother texture, but not blending them works equally well. It’s just a personal choice.

2. I have only used one 400g can of coconut milk. I find that it is more than sufficient.

3. I use a little less sugar.

4. I have omitted the toasted coconut flakes to serve – mainly because my husband finds it a bit of a coconut overkill, but again this is down to personal choice.

5. Skye uses a whole tamarind pods and breaks off a little piece as she needs them. She soaks these pieces in hot water for 20 minutes.

In the photo above I put 1 tablespoon of caster sugar as Skye suggested, however, with hindsight, I would reduce this amount but half. Add a little, then taste it to see if it needs any extra sweetness.

Monkfish curry with tamarind, coconut, ginger and coriander 

Serves 4

850g of Monkfish, cut into 2 inch pieces

2 onions, peeled and finely sliced

5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated or diced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 red chillies, chopped

1 tbsp of coriander seeds, toasted

5 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsp of tamarind water

1 x 400g can of coconut milk

To garnish: either unsweetened dried coconut flakes, lightly toasted or coriander leaves

1. Break a small piece of tamarind (the blocks that you can buy NOT the paste) into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to stand for 15 minutes. Following this strain the liquid into another bowl. Really press the pulp into your strainer with the back of a spoon and then put the extra strained pulp into the water. Tamarind has a wonderful sour taste,which adds real depth and balance to a dish. I absolutely adore it.

2. Cut the monkfish into 2 inch pieces, or larger if you prefer, and clean under cold water. Set aside.

3. Heat a small frying pan and when it is hot, gentle toast the coriander seeds for 30 seconds so they begin to brown, then set aside.

4. Heat a little olive or vegetable oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent. This will take around 5 minutes.

5. Put the ginger, garlic, chillies, toasted coriander seeds and tomatoes in a blender and whizz to a paste. Then place the translucent onions into the paste and whizz again briefly. Transfer the contents back into the pan and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. If you prefer it less smooth then obviously do not blend the onions.

6. Add the sugar, fish sauce, tamarind water and coconut milk and stir so that the contents are merged into the tomato and onion sauce. Simmer for a further 5-10 minutes. Add the monkfish and add additional seasoning if it requires it. Keep the heat on medium/low heat stirring occasionally for no more than 10 minutes. Be careful not to break up the monkfish!

7. Ladle into a warm bowl or soup plate and garnish with coriander leaves or coconut flakes. Serve with a bowl of steamed rice.