Chickpea, Chorizo and Cod Stew with Fresh Parsley

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My household are on a bit of a cod roll this week. There’s rather a lot of it in the freezer so we decided to cook cod a different way for three nights running – a little bit of a challenge and to prove that you can cook with the same key ingredient in different ways and make it taste completely different. Yesterday it was a Kerala fish curry with my toor dal and tonight we are having my three C stew; the three C’s being chickpea, chorizo and cod. It’s so darn delicious you’ll have to have especially strong willpower to stop yourself picking up your plate and licking every last drop of sauce. I find serving it with fresh crusty bread normally works a treat where mopping is concerned.

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Like most of the recipes on my blog it is very straight forward and if you don’t eat meat you can simply leave out the chorizo as you will still get the wonderful smokiness from the sweet paprika. The basic sauce can be cooked in advance and then the cod added five minutes before you are ready to eat, so it’s also perfect if you are cooking for a crowd and want to just enjoy the moment instead of slaving over a stove when they arrive. I also find that it works well as a very comforting and satisfying mid week meal. In fact it’s perfect to eat at any time, although I would probably pass if it were served at breakfast.

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Like a good old Victoria sponge cake there are many versions of cooking this dish, but here is mine. Let me know what you think. Oh and for those wondering what I will do tomorrow night, well I’ll probably do a tom yam broth with cod instead of prawns or maybe my Cha Ca La Vong – recipe here we’ll see which way the wind will blow in the morning.

Have a good weekend folks.

Chickpea, Chorizo and Cod Stew

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, sliced

150g spicy Spanish chorizo, sliced or cubed

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp rock salt

1/2 a 400g tin of plum tomatoes

1 tsp of tomato puree

100ml red wine

300ml boiling water

2 tsp agave nectar (or caster sugar)

400g tin of chickpeas, drained (240g after drained)

500g cod, skinned and cut into 2cm cubes

handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

optional: bread for mopping up the juices

1. In a large pan heat the olive oil on a medium heat and when hot add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking for another 3 minutes so that the onion is soft and beginning to bronze.

2. Add the chopped chorizo and continue to fry for a further 3 minutes. Add the sweet paprika, rock salt and stir into the ingredients, which will have taken on a deep red colour.

3. Add the plum tomatoes, which you then need to cut up, red wine, tomato puree, boiling water, chickpeas and agave nectar. Let the sauce gently bubble away for 20 minutes. If it becomes too dry add a little more boiling water. Taste and see if you like the balance of sweet and salty, adjust if necessary.

4. Five minutes before eating add the cod and cover with the sauce. Do not stir too much as you do not want the cod to flake. If you can place a lid on the pan as it will allow the fish to cook through nicely.

5. Serve into bowl/plates with a scattering of fresh parsley on top and fresh bread to mop up the sauce.


Indian Aubergine/Eggplant, Peanut and Tomato Curry

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Have you ever been a little ambivalent about aubergine/eggplant? On the one hand loving their smooth, shiny plum coloured exterior but never really in raptures about the taste. Well my other half, Mr B, tended to fall into this category, so a while ago I set out to prove him wrong.

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After mutterings of ‘you know aubergine is my least favourite vegetable, I prefer greens’, he tasted one mouthful and that completely shut him up. Murmurs of approval were given between mouthfuls and a 9/10 score (yes we regularly mark our food – is that unusual?). RESULT. Surprisingly my eldest child also adored it, surprising as it does have a fair amount of chilli in it! If you don’t like chilli, but like spice, just reduce or take out the chilli in the recipe below.

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The combination of aubergine, peanuts and sesame seeds works ridiculously well together so much so that you will have to restrain yourself from wanting to guzzle up the whole dish. Combine that with a spiced onion and tomato sauce and you have yourself a winning dish.  So put your assumptions to one side for a moment and give this recipe a whirl and I can assure you you will be more than pleasantly surprised.  I couldn’t resist the bijou aubergines on sale at my local market but a regular sized aubergine will work equally well. Just slice the aubergine into chunky chip sized pieces, keeping the skin on of course.

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Indian Aubergine/Eggplant, Peanut and Tomato Curry

Adapted from Sanjay Thumma’s Eggplant Tomato Curry

450g baby aubergine/eggplant (normal size is fine too), sliced lengthways or chunky chip sized if using a regular aubergine

cooking oil, enough to deep fry the aubergine

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 dried red chillies

1 small green chilli, finely chopped (optional)

5 curry leaves (fresh or dried)

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp of garlic paste

1 tsp ginger paste

1 white onion, finely chopped

200g chopped fresh tomatoes

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

2 tbsp salted peanuts

1 tbsp sesame seeds

150ml water

1 tsp salt (to taste)

1. If using baby aubergine/eggplant slice lengthways removing the stalk. If using a regular sized aubergine slice into chunky chip sized, again removing the stalk. Once sliced, immediately place in a pan of boiling oil to sizzle away and bronze. This should take no longer than ten minutes.

2. Remove the aubergine with a straining spoon and place on some kitchen roll whilst you prepare the next steps.

3. In a new large pan add the olive oil and when hot add the mustard and cumin seeds. They will begin to pop immediately so move them gently around the pan for 15 seconds before adding the dried red chilli, fresh small green chilli (optional), curry leaves (fresh or dried), turmeric, garlic, ginger paste and onion. Continue to cook on a medium heat for around 7 minutes by which time the onion should have nicely softened, but not bronzed.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes, coriander, cumin and Kashmiri chilli powder and simmer for a further 5 minutes, by which time the tomatoes will have totally softened and blended into the sauce. Return the aubergines to the pan and fold gently into the sauce.

5. In a small pan dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds for a couple of minutes, making sure to constantly move them around the pan so that the heat is evenly distributed and they do not burn. They will begin to bronze at which point you need to remove them from the pan.

6. Using a spice grinder (definitely one of my most useful items I own in my kitchen) – this is the one I use – see here – grind the peanuts and sesame seeds together to form a paste.

7. Add the peanut sesame paste to the pan and stir into the curry, adding more water if necessary. As I used salted peanuts I only needed to add a little more salt. Simmer for a few minutes and serve. If cooking ahead and leaving to rest you will have to add a little more water when heating up.

Serve with rice or Indian bread and you have yourself a vegetarian – in fact vegan – treat. Try it and leave a comment below.

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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)


Pork and Onion Curry – Dopiaza

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I haven’t posted an Indian recipe for quite some time so thought it would be refreshing to post one for you. With all this deliciously hot weather we have been blessed with recently in the UK, cooking a pork curry is probably the last thing on your mind, instead opting for fish/salad type foods right? When the weather cools slightly then come back to this one as it is guaranteed to become a firm family favourite.

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If you’re a bit of a curry novice in the kitchen then this curry is a perfect one to start your life long love affair with cooking Indian food.   It require a lot of onions – that’s the Dopiaza bit (it actually means twice cooked onions) – and all the other ingredients are always in my store cupboard. If you are not very keen on things hot and spicy this also works well as it is very mild requiring only one teaspoon of chilli powder.

Enjoy the sun and hope this curry finds it’s way into your belly very soon!

Pork and Onion Curry (Dopiaza)

4-6 people

900g onions (slice half thinly and chop the other half)

butter/ghee/vegetable oil 2 tbsp

2 tbsp lemon juice

 roughly 1.1kg/2.8lb boneless pork, cubed

2 tsp turmeric

2tsp ground coriander

1 tsp fenugreek

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp salt

 handful of fresh coriander – to serve

1. Heat the butter/ghee in a deep pan and add the chopped onions (remember to keep back the sliced onions) and the lemon juice and cook gently for 15 minutes on a low heat until golden, stirring frequently. Remove from the pan and place to one side.

2. Using the same pan add the pork and increase the heat slightly so that the pork is browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and place to one side.

3. Continuing with the same pan (you may want to add a little more butter/ghee/oil) add the sliced onions, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, chilli powder and salt and fry for around 10 minutes. Re add the browned pork and add a little cold water and gently cook covered on a low heat for 50 minutes. You may need to add a little more water if it begins to look to dry.

4. Re add the fried onion and cook for another 15 minutes continuing to stir.

5. Serve with rice or chapati and some fresh coriander.


Vietnamese Pho Bo – Beef Noodle Soup and finding the perfect cooking course in Hoi An

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Vietnamese cuisine is to put it simply, ‘heavenly’. After my first bite of a Banh Mi, from Banh Min 11, back in London, not that long ago, I knew that it was going to be a culinary love affair. Since arriving in the motherland it has not disappointed. Each meal we have eaten has been a multitude of delicate, fragrant flavours – spices that sing to you and dance on your tongue.

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Herbs feature heavily in most dishes and add real fragrant lift. I was sufficiently enthused that I am going to attempt to grow some of them back in London – for example Vietnamese mint (which I should have no problems growing!), Vietnamese basil, saw tooth coriander, Vietnamese lemon balm, garlic chives. There is a great explanation of Vietnamese herbs here.

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I was keen to attend a cooking course in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An and so set about researching a course that best suited my needs. I was given a few recommendations, however, I decided that a course run by the very affable Van, who runs ‘Green Bamboo Cooking School’ suited my needs perfectly.

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The course run by Van offered a detailed tour of the fresh food markets, where we picked up our ingredients; convivial fellow pupils; personal touches by Van who runs the course in her own home; unhurried tutoring over seven hours; a generous range of recipes manifesting itself in a memorable group lunch and a souvenir goodie bag to take home. Throw in door to door service as Van kindly ferried us to and from our hotels, and it is no surprise that Trip Advisor has over 210 positive comments for this class with no dissenters.

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I am pleased to say that course surpassed even my high expectations. Van was charming, spoke excellent English and a was a natural teacher. She also converted me to Vietnamese coffee – the condensed milk being the key.

My fellow students were a really lovely bunch of enthusiastic foodies – three Australians, two Norwegians and two Swiss and all of us had huge grins on our faces all day, clearly revelling in the fact that we had chosen such a perfect course. Here are few photos of the day. Scroll down.

I elected to cook the unofficial national dish of Vietnam – pho bo, beef noodle soup (pronounced ‘fur’). You can find pho stalls on most streets in Vietnam, but to cook it well is the tricky part. I was keen to understand how to cook it from scratch and to make that perfect pho broth. First stop was the market to buy the beef, which was as fresh as it gets as the cow had been slaughtered that very morning. We bought the beef fillet and 1kg of beef bones. Normally Van would have bought the spine, but there had been a run on spine bones that morning from a hotel restaurant, which had bought the lot. So instead we had a range of other beef bones and some shin to add to the flavour.

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Back at Van’s house the first trick I learnt was to gently char the skin of some ginger, shallots and garlic over a flame as this would give the broth a deep smokey flavour.

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It takes no more than a couple of minutes on each side.

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I then removed most of the skin of the ginger, using that back of a teaspoon and also the skin from the shallots and garlic, which is very easy at this stage as they virtually pop out.

After properly cleaning the beef bones, place them in a large pan of boiling water so as to get rid of any scum from the bones before cooking. Submerge them in boiling water for under a minute and then place them into a second large saucepan, which has also has boiling water in it. Discard the water from the first saucepan. You then need to add the charred ginger, garlic and shallots

Continue to add the following ingredients to the pan: 2 chillies, stick of cinnamon, 1 large white onion, 5 star anise, 5 Chinese apples. I had not come across Chinese apples before, but they tasted delicious. As they may be difficult to source for some people, dates work equally well. Add some sugar and salt and if you fancy, some beef stock as well (I decided to omit the beef stock, to see how it would taste in its natural state).

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Place a lid on the top and leave to boil away gently for a further 2 to 3 hours. Add more seasoning to taste and beef stock if necessary.

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Meanwhile, very finely slice the beef fillet and leave in the fridge until ready to use.

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Before serving have individual bowls of bean sprouts and fresh pho noodles/rice noodles, (the noodles you have submerged into boiling water for 30 seconds and drained) at the ready. In a large ladle add a little of the raw beef and submerge it into the pho broth so that the broth fills the ladle. Using a fork or chop sticks, move the beef around in the boiling stock in your ladle for 30 seconds (that magic number) so that it cooks through and ladle it over one of the bowls of noodles that you have prepared.

Add a generous amount of fresh herbs, including Asian basil, coriander, spring onions along with a quarter of a lime and chilli sauce to taste. You can also have a small bowl of soy sauce on the side, should you wish to add a little, as well as some sliced green papaya and fresh sliced chilli.

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I was delighted by the results and despite having eaten a ridiculous amount of the tastiest Vietnamese food, cooked by my fellow foodies, I managed to see off a bowl of my pho bo.

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Eight happy and well fed people were then deposited back to their hotels, along with a goodie bag provided by Van.

I hope that you too will try this tasty version of pho. Watch this space for more Vietnamese recipes over the coming months.

Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup)

Adapted from Van’s recipe, who runs Green Bamboo Cooking School

Serves at least 8

500g fresh pho noodles/rice noodles

300g beef fillet

1 kg beef bones – ideally spine bones or shin

5 litres boiling water

1 tbsp beef stock

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5 star anise

1 large stick of cinnamon

1 roasted fresh ginger

5 roasted shallots

1 large roasted bulb of garlic

5 dried Chinese apples/dates

1 whole white onion, peeled

2 red chillies, left whole or chopped in two

2 tsp salt and pepper

1 tbsp raw sugar

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50g fresh bean sprouts

50g fresh Asian basil

50g fresh coriander

50g spring onion, finely sliced

2 limes, cut into quarters

green papaya, finely sliced

chilli paste to taste

soy sauce, to taste (optional)

2 fresh chillies, sliced (optional)

1. Wash the beef bones under a tap and then place to one side. Meanwhile bring two large pans of water to the boil. In the first add the beef bones and submerge them for just under a minute and then transfer them to the second saucepan. Discard the water from the first saucepan.

2. Over a gas flame place the garlic, shallots and ginger on a metal grill directly above the flame, allowing them to char/roast. After a couple of minutes turn them over so that both sides are equally charred. Using the back of a teaspoon, peel off a little of the skin of the ginger.

3. Add them to the bones and boiling water, along with the onion, chillies, dried Chinese apples/dates, cinnamon stick and star anise. Add the salt, sugar, pepper and beef stock it you wish and place a lid on the pan and let  it boil gently for 2-3 hours.

4. Meanwhile, very finely slice the beef fillet and return it to the fridge.

5. Before serving, warm the noodles by placing them on a slotted spoon and submerging them in boling water for 30 seconds. Drain and place in individual bowls. Add the bean sprouts to each of the bowls.

6. In a large ladle add a little of the thinly sliced beef fillet and submerge into the pho broth so that the ladle is completely full and the beef is submerged. With a fork or chop sticks move the beef around in the ladle so that it ‘cooks’ through properly.  Pour over the noodles. Please note the pho broth needs to be boiling/bubbling away at this stage so that the beef fillet is cooked properly. 

7. Add the fresh herbs, lime, spring onions, green papaya and chilli paste/soy sauce/fresh chillies to taste.

8. Serve immediately and enjoy piping hot.


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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Duck Vindaloo

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Sometimes I think it’s good to eat a meal that really makes you feel alive, something that has some real zing to it. I understand though that loving chilli and things hot and spicy really divides opinion and that it is definitely something that you build up a tolerance to over time, similar to swimming in cold water in fact. It’s good to have a gradual build up rather than jumping in at the deep end whether it be cold water or chilli. On this basis I have shown you how to cook a hot vindaloo as well as a more mild version, but one that still has a pleasant kick to it.

I rather like using duck for a change, but should you wish you could also easily cook this with chicken. Pork vindaloo is probably the most well known Goan version – which you can follow the recipe to HERE, however, duck adds an interesting and tasty alternative, which I urge you to try.

I suggest you probably try the more subtle version first and then gradually build up the chilli content should you require more of a kick. I would love to hear how you get on so do leave a message in the comments box below….go on, don’t be shy.

Duck Vindaloo

Serves 4 (or 2 if you are very hungry)

4 duck legs (or 1 duck jointed)

2 sticks of cinnamon

5 cloves

2 green cardamom pods, slightly split open

3 white onions

10 garlic cloves

2 inches of fresh ginger

5 dried red chilli (2 if you prefer it milder) I use the small Thai variety

5 small green chilli (2 if you prefer it milder) I use either serrano or finger chillies. Use Jalapeno if you prefer it less hot

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tsp turmeric

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

5 small/medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 tbsp sugar

1-2 tbsp butter/ghee

300ml water

1. Place the duck in a deep pan filled with cold water so that it covers the duck legs. Prick the duck a few times with a fork so that the spices can penetrate into the meat. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves to the pan and bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 1 hour.

2. Using a blender, blend the onions, garlic, green chillies and fresh ginger. In a spice grinder grind the cumin seeds and dried chillies and then transfer them to the blender with the onions, garlic etc.

3. Add the turmeric, sugar and white wine vinegar and give it another final blast in the blender so that a smooth paste is formed.

4. Once the duck has been boiling for one hour, drain the water away and place to one side.

5. Heat a frying pan/karahi/wok and add the butter/ghee and when it has melted brown the duck legs on both sides and place to one side.

6. Using the same pan add the blended curry paste to the pan and gently fry until it becomes dry. You may need to stir it a few times to make sure that none of it burns on the bottom – cook on a relatively low heat!

7. Add the potatoes and duck to the paste along with the water and simmer gently until the water has disappeared and the potatoes have softened. You may need to add a little more water if the potatoes have not cooked through and the water has dried up.

8. Serve with rice or chapati along with a dal (see my recipe library for a list of my dals)


Bengali Khichuri – perfect for convalescing and detoxing

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If you are feeling a little under the weather, have the winter blues or just fancy some good old Indian comfort food, then read on, this post is especially for YOU>>>>>>>

Khichuri is a traditional Ayurvedic Indian dish, consisting of rice and lentils, that is given to those who are convalescing, detoxing  or fasting, it’s also really popular during puja time. Whilst it can be eaten in its pure form of rice and lentils (no onions or garlic), most khichuri that I have eaten consists of a vegetable or two thrown in as well. It’s the perfect dish to prepare if you need to use up any vegetables before they go off.  The Anglo-Indian dish of ‘kedgeree’ was inspired from khichuri and although it tastes very different the consistency is similar.

My eldest daughter (Big A) has been poorly recently and this is what I prepared for her as it is both nourishing and easy to digest.

There is no set rule on which lentil you need to use or vegetable for that matter. I tend to opt for red split lentils as they are the quickest to cook and need no soaking, although mung beans are also good to use (they do need soaking) as they are known for their ability to remove toxins from the body. My version includes carrot, courgette and and peas. Other vegetables would work equally well so if you have squash, marrow, cauliflower, pumpkin, green beans in the fridge (garden) pop one or two of them in and it will taste divine.

I have not included chilli in this dish as I was feeding it to my daughter, however, if you need a chilli buzz yourself just pop it in (whole or chopped) during  number 2 on the steps below.

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Bengali Khichuri

Serves 2-4

100g red split lentils

100g white rice (if using brown it will take twice as long!)

900ml boiling water

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 large handful of fresh/frozen peas

1/2 courgette, partly peeled and diced

1 tsp of fresh ginger, finely grated

1 tsp garlic paste

4 green cardamom pods

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1/4 tsp of garam masala powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

pinch of asafoetida/hing

1 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp ghee/butter/or a splash of oil

fresh coriander to garnish

1. Rinse the rice and red spilt lentils a couple of times in cold water so as to get rid of any impurities and than place in a large saucepan with 900ml of boiling water and the chopped carrots and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile place the ghee/butter/oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion. After 5-7 minutes add the cumin seeds, ginger and garlic and mix into the onions. Following this add the turmeric, garam masala, asafoetida and stir once again. Take a spoonful of the boiled rice and lentils and mix into the saucepan ingredients and then return it back into the main rice and lentil saucepan.

3. Stir all the ingredients together and add the courgettes and peas (or any other greens you need to finish up). Simmer for a further 5-7 minutes and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. You may find you need to add a little more water, but just enough to make sure that the rice and lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pan. It is not meant to be the same consistency as a soupy dal.

4. Serve into bowls with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.

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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.