Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Tandoori - not cooked in a tandoor - Roast Chicken

This is one of those recipes that sounds so much harder than it actually is .. Probably due to the 'tandoor' part of the name.. a tandoor is a clay pot or oven that meat or even breads are cooked in, over charcoal. As the fat from the meat drips on to the hot coals, the embers flare up onto the meat giving the meat a distinct charcoal taste & appearance. It's basically the equivalent of the much loved barbecue

Tandoori's are used in a lot of Indian & Asian restaraunts to this day, but obviously in home cooking it's the oven that takes centre stage for preparing large meals, and it's just as good for this recipe too. You can always get the barbecue out on a day when the sun decides to make a rare appearance then you're even closer to getting the authentic tandoor taste.

To serve 5 people you will need

10 drumsticks - skin removed
1/2  of 454g tub natural yoghurt
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp carom seeds (optional)
6 tbsp oil
14 tbsp tandoori masala* (powder)
lemon wedges & fresh coriander to garnish 

  • Start by making a small cut in the thickest part of each drumstick - this will help them cook through evenly
  • Place the drumsticks in a bowl, add all the above ingredients to the drumsticks and mix well. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours minimum, or even better overnight for the marinade to be  absorbed by the chicken.
  • Pre heat your oven to 200c, place the chicken in a roasting tray or oven proof dish. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Half way through the cooking time, remove the foil, and turn each of the drumsticks over. 
  • Bake uncovered for the last half until the chicken crisps up a little . The chicken is ready when it has a charcoal like appearance and the juices run clear from the thickest part of the drumsticks 
  • Serve garnished with wedges of lemon and fresh chopped coriander 

*Tandoori Masala is a red coloured powder mixed with other Indian herbs & spices that gives the chicken its well loved red colour. It's now widely available in most big name supermarkets too as well as any Indian & Asian grocery store*


Monday, 20 January 2014

Pimped up Banana Cake

Bananas - Now there's a fruit I really struggle with, I've never liked them since I was a child and even now I will avoid them at all costs. What I also really don't like it wasting food, the absolute feeling of guilt of throwing away edible food is one that I could do without out.

So picture my despair a few weeks back when for what must have seemed the billionth time, as I noticed 3 very over ripe & lonely banana's sitting in the fruit bowl. I certainly wasn't going to eat them and i knew full well that as the kids had already eaten their daily share as part of their school lunch, that they wouldn't have another. So what to do ? I decided to take to twitter and ask my fellow tweeters what to do 

The overall majority suggested banana loaf or cake, and I was even given a recipe by a fellow mum who i have come to know through twitter. So make it I did, and even dared to try a bit and I have to say I rather enjoyed it, the kids and other half loved it.

So I've now made it a few times, tweaked it and added my own twist ! I do hope you'll like this variation

For my banana & walnut sandwich you will need:

4oz melted butter
4oz  soft dark brown sugar
4oz self raising flour
75g walnuts - crushed roughly
3 medium ripe bananas
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 medium eggs

For the Vanilla butter cream you will need:
300g icing sugar
150g butter softened
few drops of vanilla extract 

  • Grease and line 2 20cm cake tins & preheat your oven to 180c 
  • In a bowl, add the butter, soft brown sugar & golden syrup, mix until combined.
  • Whisk the eggs, add into the bowl with the sugar & butter
  • Mash up the bananas, add to your mixture  along with the crushed walnuts, cinnamon & milk
  • Stir through thoroughly and add in the flour through a sieve, fold in quickly and lightly so as to keep in as much air as possible
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 sandwich tins and bake for about  15- 18 minutes till golden brown or the cake has a slight spring to it. Leave to cool completely
  • To make your buttercream simply combine the icing sugar & softened butter till smooth. When the cakes have cooled, spread the buttercream onto the top of one the cakes so the buttercream comes almost to the edges
  • Take the second cake and gently place on top of the iced peice - and there you have a banana & walnut sandwich    

Gram flour curry

Now I know you're reading this recipe and probably thinking that this has got to be a mistake and well just not right ? Well I promise this is one of my all time favourite served with pakoras. It is such a simplistic dish but bold on flavours

It doesn't cost the earth, it's quick to make & the amount will easily feed a hungry family of 4 with enough left over for the next day if any of you can resist it !

you will need :

2 x 454g tub natural yoghurt
2oz melted butter
4 tablespoons oil
2 tbsp gram flour (ground chick pea flour)
1 small onion finely sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garlic paste
1tsp ginger paste
1 tsp salt
3 green chillies
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 bay leaf
coriander to garnish

  • Start by pouring the yoghurt into a jug, and add equal amount of water  (about 40fl oz) along  and whisk together. 
  • Put the gram flour into a small bowl and add enough of the whisked yogurt to the gram flour to make a smooth paste, pour the paste back into the whisked yougurt, whisk together till combined and set aside.
  • In a heavy based pan, heat up the oil & butter on a medium heat, add in the mustard seeds and cover the pan with a lid until you hear the seeds begin to pop
  • Add in the onions, when slightly softened, add in the garlic, ginger and green chillies. Cook through until the garlic & have browned. Add a splash of water if the mixture begins to catch
  • Next add in the curry powder, cumin seeds, tomato puree and bay leaf. Leave to simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes
  • Turn the heat up to full, and quickly but carefully pour in the yogurt, stirring in a continous clock wise motion as you do. Keep stirring till it reaches boiling point* 
  • Lower the heat back down and leave to simmer for about 10-15 minutes till the curry has thickened in consistency. Garnish with coriander just before serving, and serve with pakora's  & chapatis 

*stirring the curry till it reaches boiling point ensures that the mixture won't curdle

Friday, 17 January 2014

Greek yogurt & fresh fig pavlova with honey & rose water

Anyone that knows me well enough should know that I've got a real sweet tooth & that I can never resist a meringue based dessert.
Imagine how ecstatic I was when I came across the Meringue Girls, they have taken meringues to a whole new level with creations that you wouldn't have even thought possible.

This post shares one of their amazing recipes from their book which of course I obviously have... A pavlova topped with fresh figs, Greek yoghurt & a delicate addition of rose water .. It is absolutely amazing ! 

For the pavlova you will need:
5 medium whites
300g caster sugar

For the topping you will need :
100g green pistachios ( optional ).
1tbsp rosewater
8 fresh figs
300g greek yoghurt
4 tbsp runny honey

  • The first thing is to make the meringue to form your pavlova. Start by lining a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  • Preheat your oven to 200c/ Gas 6 line a small roasting tray with greaseproof paper, pour in the caster sugar and bake in the oven  for about 5 minutes till the edges are just begininng to melt a little.
  • While your sugar is baking, pour your egg whites into a free standing mixer bowl or a plastic bowl if using a hand held electrical whisk. Whisk on a low speed so you get small little bubbles forming
  • Turn up the speed a little once the bubbles have formed and whisk until stiff white peaks form - you should be able to tip the bowl over without the whites falling out.
  • Next step is to add the sugar, with the whites still whisking remove the sugar from the oven - the sugar should feel hot when touched (& lower the oven temperature to 100c) and add it to the whites a spoonful at a time. 
  • Once all the sugar has been incorporated carry on whisking the whites for another 5-7 minutes. Check a small amount of the mixture between your fingers, it should be smooth. If its a little grainy, whisk for another couple of minutes. 
  • The mixture will be ready when a small amount of it forms a smooth stiff peak on the tip of your upturned finger
  • Grind half of the pistachios and add them to the merge mix along with the rosewater. Fold it together as quick as you can but remember to be gentle- you don't want to knock out that air that will give your pavlova the volume
  • Spoon the meringue mixture onto your earlier lined baking sheet and mould into a nest like circle, about 10 inches wide. Use the back of the spoon to make a slight dip in the centre.
  • Sprinkle the rest of the ground pistachios on top of the nest and bake in the the oven for 2 hours
  • The pavlova should come away from the paper easily & base will be firm. Leave to cool completely
  • When you're ready to serve, cut your figs into quarters and roughly chop the remaining 100g of , pistachios.
  • Place your pavlova onto a serving dish, spoon in the greek yoghurt into the middle of the pavlova, let it run down the sides and add the figs, sprinkle with the chopped pistachios, drizzle over the honey and serve 
For a little inspiration you can check out the girls YouTube account here , as well as their instagram account  and their official website  too .. You will not be dissapointed I promise  

Tharka Daal

This is a recipe for daal that has fried garlic as a base - this is the tharka element. It gives the dish a wonderful aroma of  garlic, combined with the fragrant spices it's so simple but full of flavour.

It's another dish that is super cheap to make, a little goes a long way and is made in just 5 steps 

The amount below will easily serve 4 people:

3 tbsp melted butter
1 small onion
1tbsp oil
1tsp mustard seeds
3 garlic cloves crushed
6-8 fenugreek seeds
1/2 inch piece crushed / grated ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup /6 oz red lentils
1 pint/600ml water
2 tsp tomato puree
1 large tomato
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 green chilli
coriander to garnish

  • In a heavy based pan, add the melted butter & oil. Finely slice the onions and add to the pan on a high heat. When browned, add in the mustard seeds and cover the pan with a lid until the mustard seeds start popping
  • Take off the lid straight away, lower the heat slightly & add in the garlic, ginger, salt, fenugreek & green chilli
  • Stir through, add in the tomato puree, chopped up tomato & curry powder once the garlic and ginger have browned.
  • Add in the lentils & the water, simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes
  • Just before serving garnish with coriander & serve with naan or boiled rice

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Chilli Con Carne

Texas - the state that gave us Dr Pepper, (honest) the state where more land is farmed than in any other American state, the armadillo is it's mascot, its the home of girl group Destiny's Child and of todays recipe .. Chilli Con Carne .. yes it's a Texan dish .. not Spanish or Mexican that some people do assume 

Beef seems to be the most popular choice for Chilli but quite often use lamb which tastes just as good in honesty, if you're vegetarian you can swap the meat for vegetarian mince which again tastes just as good and obviously healthier too !

For my chilli con carne you will need 

4 medium onions
2 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp ginger paste
3 green chillies
piece of cinnamon (about 2 inch)
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp worcestershire or HP sauce
1 tbsp dark soy
1x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of kidney beans
1kg/lb mince lamb/beef
chopped coriander to garnish

  • Start by chopping the onions, add to a heavy based pan and fry till they've softened. Add in your green chillies, garlic & ginger paste, salt, & cinnamon stick. Cook through till onions become golden brown & the chillies have softened. Add a splash of water if the mixture begins to catch.
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes, curry powder smoked paprika & stir well. With a masher, roughly mash the mixture - don't worry about getting a completely smooth consistency .. chunky chilli is good
  • Check the taste of your chilli base .. adjust the taste to your liking if any more of the ingredients need adding. Add your lamb or beef. Brown the meat on a high heat, once your meat has browned, lower the heat and add in the kidney beans, soy & Worcestershire sauce. Cook through  until the oil separates from the meat & beans. Again add a splash of water if it begins to catch
  • Pour in just enough water (preferably freshly boiled)  to cover the meat. Stir through and leave to simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes. 
  • Check the seasonings of the chilli and add any extra of the spices if needed to your liking
  • Garnish with some fresh coriander and serve with my cumin rice or on jacket potatoes with cheese & sour cream & nachos on the side