Here's a quick way to liven up a simple supper of grilled chicken or perhaps some salmon, lightly poached in a stock with some white wine and parsley. It's a zingy and fresh tasting combination of flavours.I used it the other day on top of a Texan-style chilli I found in the bottom of the freezer that I'd made a batch of about a month ago and it just lifted it from the comforting to a notch above delicious.It takes about two minutes to chop together so make it fresh and spoon it on just before you serve.Ingredients2 spring onions2 green finger chillies1 small bunch of corianderZest and juice of a limeMethodSlice the spring onion and coriander, zest the lime and finely chop the coriander. Put everything in a bowl.Squeeze the juice all over, mix well and serve.
The petrol station. Where food goes to die. This is why people think badly of Scotch eggs, although, thankfully there has been a little positive renaissance recently of these picnic staples, and done well, they are delicious. There was even a recent trend for 'artisan scotch eggs' in the edgier areas of London. Although why you'd want an artisan to make your lunch rather than a cook is beyond me. It would probably be full of wood shavings and metal filings. And no doubt beard hair.There is much debate about the origin of this dish. I wonder if 'scotching' an egg means keeping it alive but rendering it harmless inside a case. Shakespeare says in Macbeth 'We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it’ (see, Mrs. Hutchings, I was paying attention at the back). But whatever the origin of the term, it doesn't seem to be used for any other dishes. And whatever the method or serving, egg wrapped in meat cannot fail to be a good thing. Unless you're vegan. Or vegetarian.Allegedly invented in the 18th century at Fortnum and Masons, the dish pops up all over the place if you look carefully behind the cushions. The one that excited me most of all was from Lucknow, in India. Their version is served in a rich, spicy gravy but here I've taken those flavours and added them to the meat itself then serve it with a yoghurt dipping sauce. A kind of Scotch egg curry. Bloody hell. And as with many British meals, our Empire travels, subjugation and plundering has given us a wide variety of dishes full of spice and exotic backgrounds. Every cloud and all that...Ingredients500g lamb minceA few tablespoons of paste made from onion, green chilli, garlic and ginger2tsp ground turmeric1tbsp ground cumin1tbsp chilli powder1tbsp ground cumin2tsp dried mint2tsp ground fenugreekSalt and pepper4 eggs, boiled for five and a half minutes then quickly cooled (I boiled mine for four minutes for a runny and explosive yolk filling, but you may want it firmer)Breadcrumbs (I used panko and crushed them a little) mixed with 1tbsp garam masala.For the dip:Natural yoghurtCoriander leaves, choppedMint leaves, choppedToasted flaked almonds1/2tsp grated garlic1/2tsp grated gingerPinch of ground cinnamon, ground cardamom and caraway seedsMethodMix the meat and spices together and wrap each egg in a layer of the mixture, making sure the whole egg is sealed. Do this gently, it's easy to squash them.Put in the fridge for an hour to chill and firm then roll each one in the breadcrumbs, pressing them into the meat.If you have a deep-fryer, this is what it was born for. If not, carefully cook them in oil in a deep and heavy pan, only half-filling it to avoid accidents and over spill.Heat the oil to 180c and cook the eggs, a couple at a time until golden brown all over. This will take about four to five minutes.Drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool a little before serving with the dip, extra green chillies and coriander leaves.
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.
I always get excited when I stumble across new ingredients. I'll try anything as long as it's not a joke or a dare. Or fugu. Or a still beating snake heart. Or a Ginster's pasty.The food that really captures my imagination and makes my appetite dance around with anticipation is Indian. The spices, the variety, the flavours, the smells, the occasional cartoon version of me with steam coming out of my ears all get me going.If I go too long without some form of Indian food, my curry levels drop and I need treatment. That just doesn't happen with any other cuisine for me. As much as I love rich, subtle and elegantly robust French food and the beautiful simplicity of Italian food, it's just not the same level of wonder.I made one of my regular, but too infrequent trips to Tooting last week to seek inspiration and hopefully a green chilli pakora or two from Ambala if I timed it right. (They're at their best straight from the fryer, before they've had time to sit around and lose their enthusiasm). I didn't time it right, they didn't open for another hour. Instead, I managed a spicy container of chickpea chaat failing dismally at pretending I was walking through the street-food markets of Mumbai on a cold January London morning.My favourite shop since the much missed Dadu's mysteriously closed down is now V&B, not too far down the traffic-filled road. As I was loading the trolley with things I had no idea about, and vegetables I photographed the names of to Google when I got home, I found a packet of 'Punjabi wadi'. The word wadi looked similar to 'vadi' to me -you'll be impressed at my deduction there- which are one of my favourite snacks, so in they went. (There is a recipe here). These dried lentil dumplings turned out to be a popular Punjabi ingredient, which should come as no surprise to the sharper among you.The packet instructions suggested cooking them in a tomato based sauce and that's exactly what I did. I followed the instructions and even looked up on the internet what they are supposed to look and taste like and what texture they are supposed to be. I got everything right. I'll not be making them again.These are from an extensively vegetarian cuisine, but I'd rather have ande ki sabji, the tomato and egg dish, or chana masala. They are equally quick to make, and you're quite likely to already have the ingredients in the cupboard. If you're vegan though, these may be a winner. The sauce was delicious, the accompaniments and flavours all tasty. I just couldn't get along with the texture. Almost meaty, quite substantial, but a little reminiscent of compacted damp cardboard. Perhaps my mind can be changed if ever I'm in Amristar, but it won't be my life's mission.You can buy these online if you want to try them, but if I've not filled you with excitement and ambition, use the sauce base for an aaloo egg curry. I'd recommend trying the radish pods (mogri) if you can get hold of them, they were simple, tasty and fun. And I bought the sarson ka saag ready-made. It's a dish I love, but can be tricky to get the right leaves.Ingredients for two100g Punjabi wadi1tsp cumin seeds1tsp black mustard seeds1/2 thumb of grated ginger1/2tsp ground turmeric1tsp chilli powder250g chopped tomatoes1tbsp palm sugar/jaggery250ml waterRapeseed oilA few green chilliesSaltFor the mogri masalaA couple of handfuls of mogri1/2tsp mustard seedsSmall pinch asafoetida1 green chilli1tsp ground corianderRapeseed oilSaltFor the sarson ka sagBuy a tinMethodMake the tomato sauce by heating the oil in a heavy saucepan then adding the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the remaining spices, cook for thirty seconds on a low heat then add the ginger and wadi then cook for a further minute.Add the tomatoes and water and simmer away for ten minutes. Slice the green chillies and throw in the pan toward the end of cooking.Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan for the mogri and add the oil and mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the remaining ingredients and toss around the pan for a couple of minutes until they've cooked a little but are still crunchy.Warm the sarson ka saag and serve everything together.
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
Butternut squash is great to have around the kitchen. They normally hang around in mine for a while as I psych myself up to peel them. Fortunately, they keep for what seems an eternity, and can quickly become lunch when you are ready to battle with them. I like to sauté chunks of it in coconut oil and mix with chickpeas in a spiced tomato sauce. Here it's used as the base for a vegetable salad and works really well with the slightly bitter radish and kale. If you can't get barberries, use goji berries. The Parma ham gives crunch and saltiness and the dill cream brings a soothing calmness.I like the surprise of fiery green chillies, but you can leave these out if you're scared. And don't forget the squash seeds. You may want to roast all of them separately and keep them in a jar for future use.Ingredients500g butternut squash, peeled and cut into smallish chunks2tbsp of the squash seeds2 cloves of garlic, bashed with a knife1tbsp mustard seedsA handful of curly kale leaves, depending on how big your hands are. Cut out the big stalks4 slices of Parma ham30g sour cream2tbsp chopped fresh dill20g dried barberries1tsp chilli flakes or sliced green chillies1 watermelon radish, cut into chunks1/2tsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushedOlive oilSalt and pepperMethodHeat the oven to 190cMix the squash, seeds, garlic, mustard seeds and olive oil together and season well.Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then toss through the kale and and curl through the Parma ham and cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the squash turns golden orange and the ham and kale become crisp.Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperatureMix the dill and pink peppercorns through the sour cream and add a little salt and pepper.Add the radish to the squash, throw over the barberries and chillies, season a little and drizzle over some olive oil and the dill cream and serve.