Achari chicken curry

Ingredients:

  • For the curry:
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 4 good-sized chicken thighs, skinned but with bone in
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp achari spice mix (see below)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 400ml passata (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
  • fresh coriander

Method:

Achari is a type of curry from the Punjab which has this spice blend as its base. Whizz all the whole spices in an electric spice grinder if you’re lucky enough to have one. If not, do it the old fashioned way with a pestle and mortar. You only need 1 tsp for this recipe but the rest will keep well in a jar.

To make the curry, heat the oil in a large pan and brown the chicken thighs. Remove and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and fry slowly for about 15 minutes, stirring, until they are soft and slightly caramelised. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a few minutes more. In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp of the achari spice mix, turmeric, ground coriander and salt with the vinegar to make a paste. Add to the pan and mix well. Next add the cinnamon stick, cloves and passata. Stir well and return the chicken to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for 40-45 minutes or until the chicken is tender and falling from the bone. Serve sprinkled with the fresh coriander and some basmati rice.

Masala Chicken with cumin carrots

Ingredients:

  • 1 free-range chicken
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt (not low fat)
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • couple of glugs of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 small onions, peeled and cut into thick slices

Method:

Joint the chicken into 8 pieces – legs, thighs and cut each breast in half – and place in a non-metallic dish. Leave the skin on and the bone in. Keep the carcass for stock. If you don’t want to joint a chicken, you can just use pre-bought chicken pieces.

Mix the yoghurt, coriander, olive oil, garam masala, salt and garlic in a small bowl and add a grinding of black pepper if you wish. Add this marinade to the chicken and mix well – hands are best. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

 

To cook – Arrange onions in a thin layer on a large baking tray to form a ‘tasty trivet’ on which to cook the chicken. Place the chicken pieces on top and roast in a hot oven (200C) for 45mins-1 hour or until the juices run clear.

 

Cumin-roasted carrots
12 small/medium carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into thick pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sea salt

 

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and tip out onto a baking sheet. Cook in the oven along with the chicken – these will only take about 35 minutes.

 

Cucumber raita
2 cups natural yoghurt (Greek-style is best)
½ cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and grated
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

 

Mix everything together and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Second helpings: If there are any leftovers, they are great for next day’s lunch. Shred the chicken, chop the carrots and fill a wrap or pitta bread along with some raita. You can add salad leaves, tomatoes, spring onions etc for extra crunch if you wish. Yum yum.

Lamb mince curry

Ingredients:

  • 250g lamb mince
  • Groundnut oil for frying
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cardamom pods, bashed until slightly opened
  • 3 cloves
  • 3-5cm piece of cinnamon stick
  • Half tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • Half tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 dried red chillies, deseeded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Handful of frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp natural yogurt
  • Couple of lemon wedges
  • a few leaves of fresh mint, chopped

Method:

Heat a large frying pan and add a slash of oil. Brown the lamb mince over a high heat until it has a good colour. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, cardamoms and cloves. Reduce the heat then fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, roast the cumin, coriander and fenugreek seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes until they start to release their aroma. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder. Add this to the lamb mince along with the salt and chillies and mix well through.

Finally, add the tomatoes, puree, peas and natural yogurt (add a little water if the mixture looks too dry). Mix well, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning and squeeze in the juice from the lemon to taste (the lemon really lifts the flavour of the spices and cuts through the richness of the lamb). Serve garnished with the mint. All it needs is some plain basmati rice and a naan or pitta bread.

Chang Mai curry paste

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 dried chillies
  • 2 tblsp ginger
  • 10g lemongrass
  • 2 tblsp onion or shallot
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric

Method:

This is pretty simple, put all the ingredients into a liquidiser or a pestle and mortar to combine them. To make it easier add a little water. This will make around 4 – 5 tablespoons of paste. I sometimes add more chillies and also coriander to change the flavour. See also Panaeng curry paste for a simliarly versatile Thai paste

Rosemary risotto

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 500g very ripe plum tomatoes (can use tinned)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 head celery, white tender parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 6 teaspoons mascarpone
  • 150g parmesan, grated

Method:

Heat stock and check for seasoning.
If using fresh tomatoes, blanch in boiling water for a minute, remove and place in iced water. Skin and seed them into a sieve over a bowl to reserve juices. Discard seeds and skin. Chop tomatoes finely.
If using tinned tomatoes, drain well and chop finely, reserving juices.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat butter and oil. Add celery and onion and cook on low heat for 5 mins; they should become soft and slightly coloured. Add the garlic and chopped rosemary, cook for a minute, then add half the tomatoes. Stir to allow to reduce for 3-4 minutes before adding rice. Stir rice into the sauce to allow it to absorb the red of the tomato, cooking it for about 5 mins. Start adding the hot stock ladle by ladle, alternating it with reserved tomato liquid; stir constantly and allow each ladleful to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next.

Add the remaining chopped tomato about halfway through cooking. Cook , stirring constantly, until rice is al dente, usually about 20 mins. Check for seasoning.

You can either stir in the mascarpone at this point or serve with a tsp of it on top of each dish. Sprinkle over the parmesan and serve each plate with a small sprig of rosemary and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Risotto with ricotta and basil

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 175g ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 100g fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
  • 100g parmesan, grated

Method:

Heat the stock and check for seasoning.

Break up ricotta with a fork.

Heat oil in large pan and cook onion over low heat for about 10 mins until soft. Add rice and turn to coat with oil and onion. The rice should not colour but become translucent. Start to add the seasoned stock. Ladle by ladle, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next. Continue cooking until the rice is al dente, usually about 20 mins.

Lightly fold in the basil, ricotta and parmesan. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.

Spanish rice with roasted squash and chorizo

Ingredients:

  • 1 small squash (e.g. butternut), peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100g-125g chorizo, sliced or cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 orange or red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Half tsp dried chilli flakes
  • Half a tin (200g) chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 200g paella rice
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped (optional)

Method:

Heat the oven to 200C. Toss the squash with about 2 tbsp of the olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Tip out onto a roasting tray and roast for about 20-25 minutes or until tender and slightly charred at the edges.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan and fry the chorizo and peppers over a fairly high heat until crispy then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onions to the pan and saute gently for about 10 minutes until soft and slightly coloured. Add the garlic, smoked paprika and chilli flakes and fry for a few minutes before returning the chorizo and peppers to the pan.

Add the rice and stir well to mix. Add the tinned tomatoes and stock. season and leave to simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed. Mix through the roasted squash towards the end of cooking.

Garnish with parsley and tomato if using.

Pumpkin Risotto

If serving with the garnishes, make them now and set aside.

In a large frying pan, fry the bacon in a good slug of olive oil unitl just cooked (not crispy). Add the onion and fry on a low heat until soft but not coloured. Next, add the garlic and fry for a minute or two, stirring. Then add the pumpkin and continue frying, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin is soft but not browned.

Add the rice and mix everything together well. Cook until the grains are slightly translucent. Add the wine and allow to almost evaporate. Then start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time. Stir and allow each ladleful to be absorbed into the rice before adding the next. Continue until the rice is cooked but still al dente (about 15-20 minutes).

Remove from the heat and add the parmesan, butter and parsley. Check the seasoning and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes before serving with the garnishes if using.

Asparagus risotto

Ingredients:

  • 200g Risotto rice
  • 1 litre of good quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 onion finely sliced
  • A glug of white wine or marsala
  • 25g of unsalted butter
  • 25g of grated parmesan

Method:

Put the stock in a pan and bring to a simmering boil. Blanch the asparagus spears in the stock for a couple of minutes then take out and place immediately in cold water to cool down.

Chop the heads of the asparagus and set them to one side. with the remaining stalks chop very finely. Add the chopped asparagus and onion to a pan and fry gently for about ten minutes until the onion is soft but now coloured. Add the rice and fry on a mdium heat for a couple of minutes, turn up the heat and add the wine or marsala. Burn of the alcohol and then turn down the heat again to a medium heat.

Start adding the stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly and only adding more when the stock has been fully absorbed. After about 20 mins the rice should be ready, you may not need all the stock but when it is ready it should be soft but still have a little bite to until, a bit like al dente pasta.

Add the reserved asparagus heads and heat through, then add the butter and parmesan and check for seasoning before serving.

Pancetta, red pepper and potato frittata

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized potatoes, sliced (width of a pound coin)
  • 6 slices of thin pancetta, finely chopped
  • Half a red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • Half a cup of frozen peas
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 6 organic free-range eggs, beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • a handful of grated cheese (parmesan, gruyere, cheddar)

Method:

Par cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for about 5 minutes or until just cooked. Drain on kitchen paper to remove excess water.
Heat your grill to high.

Heat the olive oil in a large non stick frying pan and fry the pancetta, onion and pepper until the vegetables are soft and the pancetta is slightly crispy.
Add the potatoes to the pan and brown them slightly. Add the garlic and chilli (if using). Fry for a few minutes before adding the peas and parsley (if using).

Season the eggs and add to the pan. Stir to mix with the filling, turn down the heat and leave on the hob for a few minutes or until the egg is just starting to set.
Sprinkle the cheese on the top and place under the grill until the egg is just cooked and the top is bubbling.
remove from the grill and leave in the pan to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Serve with a green salad and some cherry tomatoes.