Biryani

This recipe is based on one I got from my father. Please treat the measurements as rough and adapt based on the size of your pan1.

Ingredients

  • Lamb neck2, 500g, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Potato, 500g, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Onion, 1 medium, sliced thin
  • Basmati rice, 450g
  • Plain yoghurt, ~250g
  • Garlic, 6 cloves, crushed
  • Ginger, 1 inch, peeled and grated
  • Cumin, 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric, 1 teaspoon
  • Cardamom, 4 pods, gently crushed
  • Cinnamon, 2 sticks
  • Saffron, ~5 strands
  • Coriander, a generous handful, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil, 3 tablespoons
  • Harissa, a squirt
  • Lemon, ½, juiced
  • Frozen peas, a handful
  • Salt + pepper
  • Baking paper

Instructions

Marinade

  1. Take a pan and add the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, 2 cardamom, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 saffron strands, coriander, olive oil, harissa, lemon juice, olive oil, salt + pepper then stir well to combine the ingredients.
  2. Add the meat and potatoes and stir well.
  3. Pop in the fridge to marinade (ideally the night before, or the morning of the day you want to cook).

Build

  1. Fry the onion until caramelised and set aside.
  2. Take the pan out the fridge and slowly add water to the marinade, mixing as you go. Stop adding water when the marinade is almost level with the contents.
  3. Arrange the meat and potatoes so that the potatoes are at the bottom of the pan with the meat on top: a layer of potato topped with a layer of meat. Set aside.
  4. Rinse the rice well, drain, then add to a pan with 2 cardamom, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 saffron strands, turmeric and salt. Stir well.
  5. Add enough water to cover the rice then put a lid on.
  6. Bring the rice to the boil, then immediately lower the heat and simmer until the water has been absorbed, then remove from the heat. The rice will be predominantly uncooked — that’s fine.
  7. Use a large spoon to carefully place the rice on top of the marinade, then use a fork to evenly (and gently!) distribute: a layer of rice on top of the layer of meat.
  8. Top with the caramelised onion and handful of frozen peas.
  9. Cut a circular piece of baking paper, an inch larger than the pan, place on top, followed by the lid. Press down to form a seal.

Cook!

  1. Cook on a low heat for 2 hours3 then serve like you might a cake.

  1. Pan size is important: you want a pan that will fit the ingredients comfortably (not too big, not too small). 
  2. You can use any meat you fancy. I’ve used this recipe with chicken thighs, lamb chops, etc. 
  3. When cooking this recipe, you want the potato to get a bit crispy on the bottom, without burning. I find cooking it on a low heat for a longer amount of time more fault tolerant. 

Farfalle pasta with mackerel and tomato

This superquick pasta recipe takes ~10 minutes from start to finish and makes enough for two.

Ingredients

  • Farfalle pasta, 100g
  • Mackerel in olive oil, 1 tin, flaked
  • Fresh basil, small handful, roughly chopped
  • Chopped tomatoes, 227g tin
  • Harissa, a small blob
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 tbsp, grated
  • Balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp
  • Salt + pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a salted pan of water to a rolling boil and add the pasta.
  2. Take a bowl, add the tomatoes, mackerel, harissa, basil, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Stir well, cover, then throw in the microwave for 2 minutes.
  3. When the pasta is a bit before al dente, drain, chuck the pasta back in the pan then add the sauce.
  4. Reduce the sauce for ~1 minute on a medium heat then add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, a touch of pepper, stir well and enjoy.

Fish and prawn stew

Fish prawn stew

Serve with bread, potatoes or rice.

Ingredients

  • Fresh prawns, 500g, shelled
  • Cod loin, 250g, cut into chunks
  • Fresh lime, 2 juicy, juiced
  • Coriander, small handful, chopped fine
  • Parsley, small handful, chopped fine
  • Large onion, diced
  • Cumin, 1 tsp
  • Paprika, 1 tsp
  • Garlic, 4 cloves, minced
  • Bay leaf, 1
  • Spring onion, 3, chopped
  • Mild chilli powder, 1 tsp
  • Gammon stock, 500ml
  • Large tomatoes, 2, diced
  • Chopped tomatoes, 1 tin
  • Salt + pepper

Instructions

  1. Shell your prawns and chop the fish into 1 inch cubes (maybe slightly bigger), stick them in the fridge for later.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to a medium-large pan and fry until starting to get soft.
  3. Add the cumin, paprika and chilli powder, fry until the mixture gets a bit tacky.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, gammon stock, lime juice, coriander, parsley, spring onion, bay leaf and salt + pepper and give it a good stir.
  5. Let that simmer for about 15/20 minutes, your nose will tell you when it’s done.
  6. Take out the bay leaf!
  7. Blend until smooth. If at this point it looks a bit thick, add some vegetable stock.
  8. Put the the bay leaf back in and bring back to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  9. Add the fish and prawns.
  10. Simmer until the fish and prawns have cooked.

Fabada asturiana

IMG_5185

Using the leftovers from last weekend’s roast pork shoulder I cobbled together a tasty fabada asturiana with what I had in the kitchen. It’s a rich, heavy dish — I had it with a couple of boiled potatoes.

Ingredients

  • Leftover pork shoulder, cut into 6 ⨉ 3cm cubes
  • Chorizo, cut into 4 ⨉ 3cm pieces
  • White beans, 400g tin, drained and rinsed
  • Tomatoes, 2, chopped
  • Onion, 1 medium, diced
  • Red onion, ½ medium, diced
  • Garlic, ½ bulb, minced
  • Bay leaf, 1
  • Pimentón, 1 tsp
  • Crushed red pepper, ½ tsp
  • Dried mixed herbs, 1 tsp
  • Vegetable stock, ½ pint
  • White wine, 1 glass
  • Olive oil, a glug
  • Salt + pepper

Instructions

  1. Take a heavy lidded casserole pan, heat a glug of olive oil on a low-to-medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, red onion, garlic and sweat until the onion becomes translucent.
  3. Add the tomato, crushed red pepper and dried mixed herbs. Cook until the tomatoes turn soft.
  4. Add the pork, chorizo and the white beans, stir.
  5. Add the white wine and vegetable stock, stir.
  6. Add the pimentón and bay leaf, stir!
  7. Put the lid on and cook on a low heat for ~2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  8. Take the lid off and reduce for ~30 minutes, or until desired consistency.

Pickled ginger

I keep pickled ginger in the fridge at all times — a quick (and lazy) alternative to fresh ginger that I mince before using1. Whenever I’m frying onion and garlic, more often than not, I reach for the pickled ginger.

Ingredients

  • Ginger
  • Vinegar (I use malt vinegar but cider vinegar is also great)

Instructions

  1. Take a speed peeler and peel the ginger root.
  2. Cut the ginger root in half lengthways, and again into ~1 centimetre thick batons2.
  3. Cut each baton into ~2 millimetre thin slices.
  4. Take a jam jar and pack the ginger slices in tight.
  5. Fill the jam jar to the top with malt vinegar.
  6. Stick in the fridge.

  1. Don’t forget to mince! Nobody wants to find themselves chewing pieces of ginger! 
  2. I don’t mince the ginger before pickling because I suspect it’d go mushy after sitting in vinegar for a while. 

Adapted tomato soup

I adapted1 a recipe for tomato soup. It’s delicious, spiced and freezes well in sandwich bags.

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes, 1.25kg, cored and quartered
  • Garlic, 1 bulb, minced
  • Ginger, 1 inch, peeled and grated (or pickled ginger, 1 tablespoon, minced)
  • Onions, 2 medium, diced
  • Carrots, 2 medium, cubed
  • Celery, 2 ribs, cubed
  • Olive oil, a glug
  • Tomato purée, a good squirt
  • Harissa, a good squirt
  • Sugar, a good pinch
  • Bay leaf, 2
  • Oregano, dried, 1 tablespoon
  • Basil, dried, 1 tablespoon
  • Vegetable stock, 1.2 litres
  • Worcestershire sauce, a few shakes
  • Salt + pepper

Instructions

  1. Put a large pan on a low heat (it’s best do the entire recipe on a low heat!), add a glug of olive oil, followed by the garlic, ginger and onion and fry until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the carrot, celery and tomato and cook for ~10 mins or until the vegetables have started to turn.
  3. Add the tomato purée, harissa, bay leaf, basil, oregano and sugar then give the pan a good stir. Put the lid on the pan and cook until the tomatoes start to release their juices, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the vegetable stock, season with salt and pepper, followed by a few shakes of Worcester sauce and stir well.
  5. Bring to the boil then turn down to simmer with the lid on for ~45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove the bay leaves.
  7. Blend (a hand blender makes this easy) until smooth and taste! If you want to boost the tomato flavour you can add some more tomato purée then blend again to mix.

  1. Fact of the matter is you can make a soup however you like, just taste after blending and adjust as needed. 

Steak

Here’s the thing about cooking steak off the grill: it has to be done on a screaming hot, heavy slab of metal. A cast iron skillet is ideal but not necessary. I’d rather use a heavy casserole pan than a dainty skillet.

Ingredients

  • Steak, 1
  • Olive oil, a glug
  • Salt + pepper

Instructions

  1. Turn your oven up to maximum temperature, place your heavy slab of metal at the top of the oven and leave in for 30 minutes or so.
  2. 15 minutes before cooking remove the steak from the refrigerator, drizzle with a little olive oil and use your hands to ensure the entire steak is coated.
  3. Season every surface of the steak with salt and pepper and leave to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove your screaming hot, heavy slab of metal from the oven and place on the largest gas burner and turn up to maximum heat (also turn the oven off).
  5. Place the steak in the pan then turn on the extractor fan and open doors and windows.
  6. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the steak. For a 1½ inch sirloin I turn every 20 seconds for 2 minutes for a rarer medium. I find turning the steak often develops a better crust than only turning once, but however you do it, your aim is to develop a decent crust on the surface of the steak.
  7. Once done, remove from the pan and leave to rest — usually for as long as you cooked it, or up to 5 minutes.

Sausage casserole

After

I decided to make (what turned out to be) a delicious sausage casserole — the likes of which I’m unlikely to be able recreate — but I thought I’d jot down the recipe for future reference.

Ingredients

  • Sausages, pork, 8
  • Celery, 3 ribs, chopped into 1cm pieces
  • Carrots, 2 medium, scrubbed, quartered lengthways and cut into 1cm pieces
  • Chestnut mushrooms, 6 large, cut into ⅛ pieces
  • Onion, 1 large, diced
  • Red bell pepper, 1 large, deseeded, chopped into 2cm pieces
  • Garlic, 4 cloves, minced
  • Ginger, 3cm, grated
  • Chopped tomatoes, 400g tin
  • Flat-leaf parsley, small handful, chopped
  • Cumin, ½ tsp
  • Smoked paprika, ½ tsp
  • Vegetable stock, ½ pint
  • Tomato purée, a good squirt
  • Red wine, a glug (if there’s any knocking about)
  • Worcestershire sauce, a glug
  • Thyme, small bunch, tied into a bundle
  • Olive oil
  • Salt + pepper

Instructions

  1. Take a large skillet, heat a glug of olive oil on a medium heat, brown the sausages then set aside on some kitchen paper.
  2. Take a heavy casserole pan (with a lid!), heat a glug of olive oil on a medium heat.
  3. Add the onion, garlic and ginger followed by salt + pepper and sweat until the onion becomes translucent.
  4. Add the carrot, celery and bell pepper, stir, and cook for ~10 mins until the veg have started to turn.
  5. Add the cumin and smoked paprika followed by a good squirt of tomato purée and stir well. Cook until the spices have gone somewhat tacky — keep stirring frequently so the spices don’t stick or burn.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock and Worcestershire sauce, followed by a glug of red wine if you have any knocking about.
  7. Finally add the mushrooms, sausages, bundle of thyme and stir well — I like to cut the sausages in half because it makes it easier to stir.
  8. Put the lid on the casserole pan and cook on a low heat for ~2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  9. Stir in the flat-leaf parsley before serving!

Tuna sandwich

Ingredients

  • Flat leaf parsley, a good pinch-and-a-half, chopped fine
  • Red onion, small, diced fine
  • Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon
  • Tin of tuna in olive oil, drained
  • Mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons
  • Salt + pepper

Instructions

  1. Add the red onion, followed by the flat leaf parsley and tuna.
  2. Add the teaspoon of Dijon mustard and stir well with a fork, ensuring the tuna has flaked.
  3. Add a tablespoon of mayonnaise and stir well. Add more mayonnaise until you reach your desired consistency.

Midnight egg curry

For when you want an egg curry at midnight.

Ingredients

  • Eggs, 4, hard boiled, shelled
  • Onion, 1 large, diced
  • Garlic, 4 cloves, minced
  • Ginger, 1 inch, grated
  • Curry leaves, small handful
  • Ground cumin, 1 teaspoon
  • Ground coriander, 1 teaspoon
  • Ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon
  • Garam masala, 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon bark, 2 sticks
  • Chopped tomatoes, 1 tin

Instructions

  1. Take a good-sized pan, add a little olive oil followed by the onion.
  2. Fry on a medium heat until the onion starts to turn translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a few minutes.
  4. Add the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala and curry leaves and fry until the mixture is of a tacky consistency. Take care not to burn the spices! Add a splash of water if necessary.
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes, followed by a tin of water then give the pan a good stir, dislodging all the spices that may be clinging to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add the cinnamon sticks and the eggs.
  7. Cook on a low heat with the lid on for 30/40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Remove the lid and gently reduce until thick, stirring occasionally.
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