Potato has to be one of life's great comfort foods. And while I rail about the result versus the time and planning taken to bake a jacket potato to golden crunchy skin and a fluffy inside, there's no denying that slathered in butter, salt, pepper and melting Cheddar cheese, there's not much to rival it in the crawling under the duvet of food stakes.There are so many things you can do with the potato as we know, but here, because it's such a great absorber of flavour -think of the roast potatoes sucking up the juices from the meat at the end of Sunday lunch- I've used it in a curry. This goes a little beyond the quick spinach and potato saag aloo in that the spice mix is a lot more involved, it's a little saucier and the addition of tomatoes gives it a tangy and sweet richness.It's a dish I happily have on its own, but equally will go fantastically well as a side dish for a slow-roast spicy marinated lamb dish if you want a more exciting Sunday. It also makes a great dosa filling, and the chilli in this will certainly make for a more exciting breakfast. Perhaps a little too exciting, but it will certainly wake you up. And possibly ruin the day if you feed it to the children instead of egg on toast or porridge.Make the spice mix in advance and keep it in an airtight jar, then it's a matter of moments to put the dish together and leave it to simmer away for about 25 minutes to cook and thicken.IngredientsFor the spice mix:I used a combination of the following in fairly equal quantities, but you can adjust if you prefer it to have more or less heat, more aniseedy flavour and so on.SaltChilli powderGround turmericBlack mustard seedMango powderCardamonClovesFenugreek seedCuminCoriander seedFennel seedNigella seedCitric acidGarlic powderBlack pepperFor the curry:1kg Maris Piper potatoes, cut into smallish chunks150g cherry tomatoes4tbsp spice mixA few handfuls of spinachFresh coriander and sliced green chilli to serveMethodBlitz the ingredients for the spice mix into a powder. After you've blitzed it all, add some whole coriander, cumin, fennel and nigella seeds which give the finished dish an extra element of flavour.Put the potatoes, four tablespoons of spice mix and tomatoes in a large saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes are soft and the water has reduced by about half.Mash some of the potato into the liquid to thicken it and add the spinach.Stir well until the spinach has wilted, check the seasoning, add some coriander leaves and green chilli and serve. Easy.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And while this is not pudding and I have nothing to prove, the only way you're going to understand how delicious this dish is, is by making and eating it. I urge you to do this as soon as you can.Read More
I've been a little less than enthusiastic about cooking the past week. It happens every now and then. Coming up every day with something exciting to eat for supper can be a train that runs out of steam occasionally. Getting back late from shoots and peering into an uninspiring fridge means we've also eaten out and had takeaway more than usual recently.Mostly, I'm up to the challenge and will happily cook a quick prawn curry, a risotto or simple pasta with salad. Last week even that was beyond me. It happens. Perhaps it's the laziness of summer, the thought of holidays and eating lunches by the water's edge, white linen tablecloths and the clinking of ice in glasses. But last night, I roused myself from my torpor and cooked a simple steak with asparagus and baby potatoes with chive butter. There was a delicious tomato salad with balsamic on the side and a bowl of green leaves, lightly dressed with vinaigrette to cut through. It was lovely.But the most delicious part of it was the final potato, crushed into the buttery juices of the steak, mopping up the mustard and melting into my mouth. That alone would have made a great dish.Today, with a little more time I'm making a carrot salad for lunch. I've jazzed it up with some fun ingredients. It's worth every now and then going out of your way to buy strange things such as cucamelons or shiso leaves, it adds a little wow factor. Just buy or grow what you can and have fun, remembering to use good things simply. They often speak for themselves.This salads simplicity, colourfulness and delicacy is just as exciting to look at as it is fresh, delicious and healthy to eat. If you don't like anchovy, leave them out of the mayonnaise, but they are a taste worth acquiring.IngredientsFor the cumin oil:100ml olive oil2tbsp cumin seedsFor the aioli:1 egg1 anchovy, chopped1 small clove of garlic, crushed1tsp Dijon mustardOlive oilFor the salad:A bunch of baby carrots, a mix of purple, yellow and orangeA handful of pea shootsA handful of fresh peasA punnet of cucamelons, halved, if you can get them (I use Mash Purveyors), if not, some chopped cucumberShiso leaves and flowers (Use mint leaves if unavailable)A head of fennel seeds just starting to flower, otherwise dried ones are fineSome carrot leavesMethodMake the cumin oil first. Heat a small pan with the olive oil and add the cumin seeds. Heat until the cumin becomes aromatic, then turn off the heat and leave to cool.Make the aioli. I use a jam jar as I find it emulsifies a little easier than whisking in a bowl. Blend together the mustard, anchovy, garlic and yolk and slowly drizzle in the oil, drop by drop at first, whisking all the time until you have a thick sauce. Keep going until you have half a jarful. This keeps in the fridge for a couple of days.Thinly slice the carrots and pile up on a plate with the other ingredients. Drizzle over the cooled cumin oil and serve with the aioli.
I had a couple of packets of baby turnips in the fridge. I always struggle with them, as in, what is their point? I've always thought of them as a bulbous, soft crunch of flavourlesness. A little like eating a toasted tennis ball.To give them a chance, I threw some of my favourite flavours at them, knowing that whatever I did would be an improvement. It's hard to improve upon slowly caramelised onions, and the thought of draping them over the turnips once they had been roasted in some chilli oil was enough to get the oven on first thing this morning.Three quarters of an hour later and I had a delicious mid-morning snack with enough chilli punch in it to finally get the day going after having survived my children's joint birthday party with no fatalities and I think all children safely returned. We may yet find one or two in the bushes.So turnips are safe, for now. This would make a splendid accompaniment to spatchcocked, grilled tandoori-spiced chicken or roast coriander and cumin slow-roast lamb shoulder. Now there's an idea for next weekend.Ingredients:A few packs of baby turnips2tbsp chilli oil1tbsp chilli flakes1/2 white onion1/2tsp ground coriander1/2tsp ground cumin1/2tsp ground turmeric1tsp ghee or vegetable oilSalt and pepper to seasonMethod:Heat the oven to 180c and roast the turnips, drizzled with the chilli oil for about 45 minutes.While they are cooking, finely slice the onion and slowly sauté in the ghee with the spices and a little seasoning. Cook slowly until they are golden and starting to ever so slightly caramelise.Spoon over the turnips, drizzle with a little more chilli oil and scatter with chilli flakes.Serve immediately, being careful to not burn your tongue on the onions like I did.