Absolutely amazing Cottage Pie, the most yummy comfort food. I made it after a really long time when my daughter Samira requested some! Turned out to be the best one I ever made… must try…this is really so delicious.
3 tbsp olive oil
1¼kg beef mince
2 onions, finely chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
large glass red wine (optional)
850ml beef stock
4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
few thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
For the mash
1.8kg potatoes, chopped
200g strong cheddar, grated
freshly grated nutmeg
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan and fry the mince until browned – you may need to do this in batches. Set aside as it browns. Put the rest of the oil into the pan, add the vegetables and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins. Add the garlic, flour and tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then return the beef to the pan. Pour over the wine, if using, and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the stock, Worcestershire sauce and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 mins. By this time the gravy should be thick and coating the meat. Check after about 30 mins – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the gravy a little. Season well, then discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.
Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes in salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain well, then allow to steam-dry for a few mins. Mash well with the milk, butter, and three-quarters of the cheese, then season with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper.
Spoon meat into 2 ovenproof dishes. Pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. If eating straight away, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden. Or follow the steps (below) to freeze.
A beautiful bulghar recipe with gorgeous coriander and red pepper flavors. Great if like me you are trying to eat more whole grains. There are lots of onions and raisins in this which gives a beautiful touch of sweetness. The spice combination for this pilaf is just perfect. I discovered this recipe while leafing through Ottolenghi’s gorgeous book “Plenty” the other day and thought great I can finally make something with that brand new packet of bulghar I bought in a bid to expand the list of whole grains I eat. This is a really gorgeous dish, not just the colors and flavors but also great to eat in the summer, I literally packed it in a box and took to Central Park for a picnic the other day…just so good!
leek fritters also from Plenty
Also you can pair this with the leek fritters in “plenty” and as Ottolenghi says it truly is a pair made in heaven. Please make these two together if you have some leeks…the pairing is just out of this world. The lovely garlicky, parsley coriander yoghurt sauce with the fritter is also just amazing and goes with this pilaf particularly well.
Itamar’s Bulgur Pilaf
Ingredients About 6 tbsp olive oil
4 small white onions, thinly sliced
3 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp pink peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 cup medium bulgur wheat
1 3/4 cups water
Salt and black pepper
Handful of chopped chives
Heat up the olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onions and peppers together over medium-high heat for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they soften up completely.
Next, add the tomato paste, sugar, spices and currants and stir as you cook for about 2 minutes. Add the bulgur, water, and some salt and pepper. Stir to mix, then bring to the boil. As soon as the water boils, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, remove from the heat and leave to sit for at least 20 minutes.
Finally, fluff up the bulgur with a fork and stir in the chives. If the pilaf seems dry, add a little more olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning; it’s likely to need more salt and pepper. Serve warm.
A proper biryani takes forever to make, this is a nice no fuss version when you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen and still want to make something that will hit the spot! It tastes great served with yogurt and a salad.
If you like your biryani more meaty by all means lessen the amount of rice here from 2 cups to 1 or 1.5 cups and then just double the amount of rice to calculate the amount of water you need. If you have some nice stock in the fridge by all means use that to make the flavor even nicer. Lamb or chicken stock would work well.
Minced Lamb Biryani
1 stick cinnamon
1 black cardamom pod, cracked open
5 green cardamoms, cracked open
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, use shah jeera if you have it
2 bay leaves
1.5 tablespoons oil
1 onion, sliced
450 grams of mince lamb or beef or chicken
1 green capsicum, cut into squares or slices
3 sliced green chillies
3 tablespoons of sindhi biryani masala spice mix (if you don’t have this just use some coriander and cumin powders, turmeric, nutmeg, mace)
handful of chopped mint
handful of chopped coriander
handful of dill leaves if you have them
2 cups basmati rice
juice of one lemon
4 cups water
1/4 cup golden raisins
Heat the oil and add the cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamoms, cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves. Let them sizzle for a few seconds and then add the onions. Cook till onions go a bit soft, and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, and then add in your minced lamb and a bit of salt. Keep stirring and break up the mince, cook it till the meat has browned. Add the sindhi biryani masala andthe fresh chopped green chilli, stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the washed rice, along with the mint and coriander and dill leaves, stir around and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add the water and juice of one lemon. Add a handful of golden raisins. Stir and bring to a boil. Now cover your pot and bring the heat right down, so the rice cooks slowly.
Once the water has dried up and your rice is cooked fluff up your rice with a fork and serve.
Well, I am finally back! I was away travelling the last couple of months around Ladakh, Mumbai, Kuala Lampur and then a couple of weeks in London. Happy now to be home in NYC! For those of you who have not been to Ladakh yet, get yourself up there! It is a stunning part of India on the border of Tibet. The scenery is just spectacular, its rugged beauty will astound you, making you feel like you are on the moon at times!
Lake Pangong in Ladakh
Sheep crossing the road to Nubra Valley
On my stay in London I was very happy to pay Ottolenghi’s Nopi a visit with some good fiends, as usual they offered up some real in your face flavors. Upon returning home, I found myself still in a very Ottolenghi inspired mood! So I decided to try out his extremely tantalizing harissa-marinated chicken with red grapefruit salad from Ottolenghi The Cookbook.
I had never made my own harissa before, this one is Tunisian and turned out nice and smokey, very different to the Moroccan harissa I usually have which is a lot more lemony with the preserved lemon flavors quite strong.The grapefruit, lemon and maple syrup sauce smells divine and glistens beautifully, effortlessly making your mouth water. It tastes simply amazing, almost like sunshine! Really makes the whole dish come alive by allowing the citrus flavors to mingle nicely with the smoky flavors of the harissa and make the dish truly sing.
The left over chicken tastes really great the next day wrapped up in a pitta with some hummus, chilli paste, onions, salad leaves, and of course with lashings of the tangy gorgeous grapefruit sauce drizzled over the top. I think the extra sauce could be used to make dressings for salads too, it is so tasty you want to eat every last drop of it.
Harissa-marinated chicken with pink grapefruit salad Serves 4
800 g chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
For the harissa marinade 1 red pepper 1/2 tsp coriander seeds 1/2 tsp cumin seeds 1/2 tsp caraway seeds 1/2 tbsp olive oil 1 small red onion, roughly chopped 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 2 mild fresh red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped 1 dried red chilli, seeded and roughly chopped 1/2 tbsp tomato puree 2 tbsp lemon juice 1/2 tsp salt 1 tbsp Greek yogurt (or strained plain yogurt)
For the pink grapefruit salad 2 pink grapefruits 120 g peppery wild rocket 1 tsp olive oil course sea salt and black pepper
For the sauce 150 ml pink grapefruit juice 130 ml lemon juice 150 ml maple syrup (or honey) 1/4 tsp salt a pinch ground cinnamon 1 star anise
1 First make the marinade for the chicken. Over a gas ring or under a very hot grill, toast the red pepper until blackened on the outside. This should typically take about 8 min on an open flame, 15-20 min under a very hot grill. Place the pepper in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool. Peel the pepper and discard the seeds.
2 Place a dry frying pan on a low heat and lightly toast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds for 2 min. You should be able to smell the aromas of the spices. Transfer them to a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder.
3 Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion, garlic, and fresh and dried chillies and fry until they turn a dark, smoky colour. Now blitz together all the marinade ingredients except the yogurt in a food processor or blender; you will have a pure harissa paste.
4 To marinate the chicken, mix the paste with the yogurt and use your hands to rub it all over the chicken thighs. Layer them in a plastic container, seal and refrigerate overnight.
5 The next day, take each grapefruit and use a small, sharp knife to slice off the top and tail. Now cut down its sides, following its natural lines, to remove the skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, cut in between the membranes to remove the individual segments. Squeeze any remaining juice into a bowl and keep to make up the 150 ml juice required for the sauce.
6 Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Lay out the marinated chicken pieces, spaced well apart, on a large baking tray and place in the hot oven. After 5 min, reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees C and cook for another 12-15 min, until the chicken is almost cooked. Now place the chicken under a hot grill to give it extra colour and cook it through completely.
7 Meanwhile, place all the sauce ingredients in a small pan and bring to a light simmer. Simmer for about 20 min, or until reduced to a third.
8 To serve, toss the rocket and grapefruit segments with the olive oil, salt and pepper, Pile in the centre of 4 serving plates, put the warm chicken on top and drizzle about a tablespoonful of the sauce over each portion.