Moorish Roasted Cod

The sweet and spicy spice paste for this cod is not unlike an unconstructed harissa, but with the unmistakable scent of saffron. This will suit any white fish fillet you could name and would certainly sprauntz up the slightly cheaper whiting or coley. Serve with couscous, veg and lots of fresh lemon. Hangs on to those last warm days and  tastes best eaten in the garden if the weather will stand for it.  Serves 2.

  • 2 cod fillets
  • juice and finely grated rind of one lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp parsley, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (tabasco, west indian or what ever you have)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • half tsps of ground cinnamon, saffron, turmeric and ground cumin
  • 1  tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Take your fish fillets and lie them on a non-metallic plate.Combine the remainder of the ingredients together in a bowl and spread over the fillets. Do not leave this to marinate for more than about half an hour or the ingredients will begin to ‘cook’ the fish. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and transfer the fish onto a baking sheet. Put the fillets into a hot oven and cook for around 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Serve.

Tandoori Lamb Chops with Yoghurt Dressing

These are just amazing. When I look at them, and notice they are not tandoori red nor tell tale tandoori scorched, I cannot kid myself that I am not in my favourite curry house. I do not have a tandoor (oh, how I wish…) and I do not use a red dye in my food. But the taste of them, is comparable with the best tandoori lamb I have ever had. And damn easy too.I can take no credit for the deliciousness of the chops as I nicked the recipe from here, but I have modified the dressing somewhat, owing to availability of ingredients and evading the evil coriander. I bet my dressing is nicer.

Marinade and cook the lamb chops as per instructions. Take blender, and add:

  • 100 ml plain yogurt
  • good sprig of mint leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of one lemon
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • glug of olive oil
  • half teaspoon of sugar

Whizz all the ingredients in a blender and serve, with chops and salad.

Chinese Spiced Roasted Chicken

The last of the chicken thighs. Do not be surprised if you don’t see another chicken thigh on here until Easter, such are my feelings of ennui regarding the thigh at the moment. Another particularly easy recipe, just perfect after a busy day with a bowl of rice and perhaps, if you can face the effort, some stir fried veg. See how this chicken has made me? Too listless to consider chucking some chopped veg in a wok! I must confess, I didn’t have high hopes for this dish – my tolerance for dark chicken meat has waned recently, and there was nothing that sang out at me from the recipe.  But it was beautiful, rich and slightly sweet and, unsually for me, no chilli hit (that’s a  good thing, I think). This is one of those dishes far more than the sum of its parts – kitchen alchemy at work, which is the very best we can hope for. Anyway, you don’t need to use thighs – drumsticks or wings just as good.  To serve 4.

  • 8 chicken pieces, thigh or otherwise
  • 4 tbsp light soy
  • 6 tbsp yellow oil – groundnut is perfect
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients apart from the chicken in a bowl. You may find the garlic easier to chop very finely if you chop it along with the salt, as this helps break it down. Put in the chicken and leave to marinate for at least an hour (any more than about three hours, store in the fridge, but remember to get out to bring to room temperature). Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and cook chicken in a roasting tin for 45 minutes to an hour, basting every 20 minutes or so with the marinade. Remember to turn the chicken over around halfway through to make it slightly crisp all over. Enjoy hot or cold, perfect for picnic workaday lunches.

Curried Lamb Meatballs

These lamb meatballs have become so popular in our house now that I subconsciously almost always have a pack of lamb mince in the freezer just in case. I’m not sure that it is a perfect summer recipe, in the same way that any meat and gravy dish wouldn’t be ideal in the heat, but the perfect summer is a dim and distant memory now. Otherwise, for me they are perfect.

The meatballs don’t have any breadcrumbs or starch holding them together so as a consequence they are very light, but it does mean you need to be gentle with them – they will be wetter than normal meatballs and its best not to stir them in the pan – a gentle shake will do. Despite their relative fragility none have fallen apart on me yet! I tend to make the meatballs in the morning and leave them in the fridge but it won’t really matter if you do them as you start the sauce. I have adapted this from Anjum Anand’s Curried Lamb Meatballs, from the brilliant Indian Food Made Easy – I have changed the quantity of the lamb required and removed the evil fresh coriander from the original recipe.

For the Meatballs:

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp very finely chopped onion, (from onion used for sauce)

For the sauce:

  • Splash vegetable oil
  • large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • small cinnamon stick
  • 3rd of tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 800 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala

So first make your meatballs. It’s simply a matter of combining all the ingredients in a bowl and giving them a thorough mix with your hands. Then, when the ingredients are fully combined, take a spoon and shape spoonfuls of lamb mixture into walnut sized pieces. AsI have said, you can make these in advance if you like.

Now, heat the oil in a wide non-stick saucepan. Put in your onion and cinnamon stick and cook over a low to medium heat until your onions are golden brown. In a blender, blend together your tomato, ginger and garlic. When smooth, add to the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes, until the oil starts to separate from the tomato mixture and pour in 200 ml of water. Cook, stirring, over a medium heat until the water has evaporated and it has reduced down to a paste. Stir fry this for 2 or 3 minutes and then stir in the spices and salt. Add the remainder of the water and bring to simmering point. When you have simmered for 5 or 6 minutes carefully drop in the meatballs and simmer for another 20 minutes. Resist the temptation to stir! When the meatballs are done, give the pan a quick shake and serve the over rice, with plenty of the gravy.

Singapore Prawn Curry

This is another recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s excellent  Ultimate Curry Bible. It may seem like a lot of ingredients on first glance, but it is just a matter of measuring teaspoons of things out for the most part and the remainder of the recipe is very simple. Besides, in terms of depth of flavour and ‘nnnhhnmmm, omg’ ness, the ends do definitely justify the means. Maybe I am biased – my love for prawn curries and my romance with tamarind would predispose me to liking this, but still it is good. Despite the creaminess of the coconut milk, the tamarind and paprika make this a bright and spicy curry of medium heat. Madhur specifies this should be eaten with rice – and if Madhur says so, then ordinarily rice it must be. But I have run out of rice, so chappatis it must be for our tea tonight. No-one will mind.

  • 4 tbsp yellow oil such as corn or sunflower
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
  • 3 shallots, very finely sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes – peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250 ml water
  • 1 tbsp ground corainder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 750g raw prawns
  • 400 ml coconut milk

Please, please peel your tomatoes. Tomato skin doesn’t taste all that nice, and given the cost of the prawns, this two minute job will really improve the finished dish. Simply, boil a kettle and pour it into a bowl. Cut a cross in the top and the bottom of the tomato with a sharp knife, cutting the skin but not too deeply into the flesh. Leave them in there for about a minute and then remove them. By the time they have cooled down, the skin will slip off.

Anyway, heat the oil in a large wide pan, and put in the cumin seed, the fenugreek and the fennel seed. Give them a quick stir and when theu start to pop and jump out of the pan, put in your galic and shallots and fry over a gentle heat until the shallots are soft and golden. Stir in the ginger and chopped tomato and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have softened down – bashing them with the wooden spoon will help this process considerably. When you are satisfied, stir in the remaining spices and the salt until well combined with the shallots, and then stir in the water. Cook this over a medium heat for 15 minutes.

Add your prawns and coconut milk, stirring over a medium heat until the sauce is simmering and the prawns are opaque. Eat.