Archive for the 'Meat' Category

Turkey and sweetcorn meatballs with roasted pepper sauce

April 15, 2010

Gastrogeek wrote about these meatballs quite recently, but I think they’re so good they deserve another write-up. It’s a sign of how truly great this cookbook is that in the past week this is the third thing that I’ve made for the second time – I still have many little post-it tags sticking to the pages of things I desperately want to make, but having tasted something as sublime as these meatballs you only want to make them again.

I think almost everyone likes meatballs and I’m no exception. Turkey is a bit unusual, but it makes them amazingly light, almost bouncy. The sweetcorn is lightly pan-fried before it goes in so it tastes more, well, sweetcorn-y, and there’s a gentle hint of cumin for spice. The roasted pepper sauce has a bit of a kick and really goes perfectly – I also cheated this time around and used a jar of roasted red peppers, which was a fine short cut.

Turkey and sweetcorn meatballs with roasted pepper sauce  Serves 4

100g sweetcorn (fresh or frozen)
3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed (you can use wholemeal, it works fine)
500g minced turkey
1 free-range egg
4  spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley (I left this out this time as I didn’t have any)
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
sunflower oil  or rapeseed oil for frying

For the roasted pepper sauce:
4 red peppers, or a small jar (200g) ready roasted peppers
1 – 3 tbsp olive oil (depending on whether your peppers need roasting)
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (depending on whether your peppers need roasting)
25g coriander, leaves and stalks
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 chilli, deseeded
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 200c. Start by making the sauce: if you’re using raw peppers, you’ll need to quarter and deseed them and roast them in the preheated oven for around 35 minutes with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 1/2 tsp of the salt. You can peel them when they’ve cooled, but it’s not essential.

Place your peppers in a food processor or blender with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt, plus the rest of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

For the meatballs, toss the sweetcorn in a hot pan for a few minutes until the kernels start to brown, then remove from the heat. Soak the bread in a little cold water for a minute, then squeeze well and crumble into a large mixing bowl (I should warn you, this is revolting). Add the rest of the meatball ingredients (except for the oil) and mix well with your hands.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. You can test the seasoning of the meatballs by frying a small amount of the mixture and tasting it. Shape the mince mixture into golf balls and cook in batches in the hot oil, turning, until golden brown all over, a couple of minutes on each side. Transfer to an oven  tray (or you can just put the frying pan in the oven if it won’t melt) and bake in the 200c oven for 5-10 minutes until cooked through. Serve hot or warm with the pepper sauce.

From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.


Roast chicken and rice salad

April 14, 2010

This is what you make if you’ve managed not to eat all of your saffron and hazelnut roast chicken in one go. It’s far more interesting than the name suggests, although to be fair the original name was ‘roast chicken and three-rice salad’ – only mine only had two kinds of rice, and I thought ‘two-rice salad’ sounded a bit odd. Also, I don’t think the taste would suffer if you were to use just one bog-standard rice, which is helpful if you have leftover cooked rice as well as leftover cooked chicken, in which case this is really quite quick to make. It would make an enviable packed lunch. Not quite enough to make me stop feeling smug about having finished work, though.

Roast chicken and rice salad  Serves 2

I always get annoyed when people write in to the Guardian to complain about how they can’t make any of Yotam Ottolenghi’s New Vegetarian recipes because the ingredients are all obscure. Generally I think that if I can get these things in Oxford, hardly a buzzing modern metropolis, then it shouldn’t be impossible. But in this case I have to admit that I was a bit stumped on shiso leaves, so I used rocket instead.

Leftover roast chicken meat (use whatever you have – I used a breast and a wing)
150g cooked rice (I used brown rice and camargue red rice, or cook about 75g rice from scratch.)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
large handful of coriander, chopped
small handful of mint, chopped
10 shiso leaves or a couple of handfuls of rocket, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

For the dressing:
2 tbsp lemon juice (about half a lemon)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

If you need to cook your rice, start by doing that. Wild rice and brown rice can take about 50 minutes to cook and you’ll need to give it time to cool down before making the salad.

Either carve the meat from the chicken or just tear it off into largish pieces. Put it in a bowl big enough to mix the whole salad. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and pour over the chicken.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion with a pinch of salt until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.

Add the rice, fried onion, spring onion, chilli, chopped herbs and rocket to the chicken. Mix well and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.

Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey

April 13, 2010


This week’s book is Ottolenghi, amazing book of the amazing deli. The prospect of cooking from the Ottolenghi book all week is an exciting one, or it would be, if I didn’t have something even more exciting on the horizon: on Saturday I set sail on the ferry from Fishguard to the shores of Ireland to take up my place on the Ballymaloe Cookery School’s next 12 week course. Yes, this does mean The Great Cookbook Project is faltering to a halt, or at least a postponement. I may have to change my tagline to ‘the G-O of a cookbook addict’, which sounds a bit pathetic. Anyway, I’m sure the number of people waiting with bated breath for me to reach my Nigel Slater collection is approximately zero, and if all goes well I might actually learn to cook without a recipe.

On Sunday we threw an afternoon tea party as a send-off and I made the Ottolenghi chocolate macaroons. I’m too ashamed to post a picture because they went all bumpy and not nice and smooth like the pictures, even though they were all eaten and some people tried to claim they didn’t even know they weren’t meant to look like that (possibly under the influence of one too many Earl Grey martinis). So, no macaroon recipe, but I do have a very good roast chicken recipe instead. This is so good I’ve made it twice, which is pretty rare for me. The chicken is marinated in ginger, saffron and cinnamon and then part-way through cooking you cover it with a mixture of roasted hazelnuts, honey and rosewater – it sounds as if it might be too sweet, but it’s not: the roasting juices from the chicken mix with the melting honey paste to give it savoury depth. Your kitchen will be filled with the most bewitching smell of chicken and toasting nuts and the delicate scent of roses that you’ll find yourself hovering by the oven until it’s done. It’s that good. There’s a recipe on the opposite page for roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon, which also sounds moan-inducingly good, but I couldn’t bring myself to not eat this delicious honey-nut chicken for a second time.

Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey  Serves 4-6

We ate this with a rice pilaf, khobez bread and chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic (also from the book, a recipe to convert any broccoli hater). You can ask your butcher to joint the chicken for you, or just hack it ineptly into bits if you’re me. Or you could try making it with bone-in chicken pieces.

1 large organic or free-range chicken (mine was about 2kg), divided into quarters: breast/wing and leg/thigh
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a big pinch of saffron
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp cold water
2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
100g unskinned hazelnuts (mine were skinned – I could have blanched them, but the skins didn’t bother me)
70g honey
2 tbsp rosewater
2 spring onions, sliced (for garnish)

Find a bowl large enough to fit all the chicken. Mix in the onions, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper, rubbing it evenly into the chicken with your hands. Leave it to marinate for at least an hour (or overnight in the fridge).

Heat the oven to 190c. Put the hazelnuts in a baking tray and roast them until browned and fragrant (this took about 5 minutes in my oven). Remove and chop roughly.

Tip the chicken and marinade into a large roasting tray, with the chicken skin-side up. Put in the oven for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the chopped hazelnuts with the honey and rosewater until it comes together into a rough paste. Remove the chicken from the oven and spoon over the nut paste, pressing it on to the top of each piece. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, making sure that the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Garnish the chicken with the chopped spring onions and serve.

From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.

One chicken, two ways

March 5, 2010

Does anyone else have fantasies about what they would be like on Masterchef? Including awing the judges and never ever using the phrase ‘one hundred and ten percent’? Well, someone has stolen mine. Aliya, on last night’s programme, made exactly the sort of food I would want to make (chicken in a walnut and pomegranate sauce, flourless chocolate cake with ginger and cardamom), didn’t break a sweat in the professional kitchen, and she’s a nutritionist with an interest in writing a cookbook about healthy eating. And she got through to the quarter-finals. It’s an odd experience for a stranger to incarnate your very specific (and implausibly calm) Masterchef dream personality, let me tell you.

Anway, this has nothing to do with chicken. Actually, this one’s a bit of a misnomer: one chicken one way with many uses would be more accurate, if less snappy.

The disadvantage of poaching a chicken over roasting it is that you don’t get nice crispy skin, but there are several advantages to using this method which I particularly like:  it’s much quicker (at least it is if you have a pan big enough), you don’t need to be as precise about timing as there’s no danger of it drying out, and you get the bonus of the big pot of chicken stock created by the cooking. If you quickly chop some vegetables and throw them in the still-bubbling stock, with some rice or noodles on the side you have dinner made. Of course, the fact that the skin is so unappealing that you don’t want to eat it and thus save yourself from the fattiest part of the bird could also be considered an advantage (although my Scottish roots don’t like having to throw it away).

This is fairly austere food as it is, so you’ll want plenty of extras on the side: soy sauce, chilli sauce, pickled ginger, togarashi, slivers of nori, whatever Oriental accoutrements float your boat. There’s a certain childlike delight to be taken in customising your meal, I think.

One chicken, two ways  Serves 4-6

One whole, free-range chicken, around 2kg
2 slices ginger
1 spring onion, sliced
small handful coriander

To serve:
soy sauce, chilli sauce etc.
thinly sliced/chopped vegetables
rice or noodles

Bring a kettleful of water to the boil and pour into your biggest pan. Put the chicken in the pan with the slices of ginger and a little salt. The water should cover the chicken, but if not don’t worry – you can turn it over halfway through cooking.

With the heat at a gentle simmer, cook the chicken for 30 minutes. Test to see if it’s cooked all the way through, and if it is, take it out and set it aside to rest for 20 minutes. If not, turn over and cook for another 30 minutes or so.

Keep the chicken stock which is now in the pan at a simmer and throw in your vegetables – I used cabbage, mushrooms and a leek. You could also cook your noodles or rice in the stock (do that first), or cook them separately.

Peel the skin from the chicken and carve it, or if you have a sharp enough knife you can just hack through the bones and cut it into pieces. If you’ve taken the chicken off the bones, you can add the bones back into the stock and keep simmering to make a richer broth.  

Serve the chicken scattered with the spring onion and coriander with the vegetables and starch on the side. Let everyone help themselves to sauces at the table.

From Deng Ming-Dao’s ‘Zen: the Art of Modern Eastern Cooking’.

Sausage, kale, beans

February 22, 2010

I know that title reads like one of those non-descriptive menu entries some chefs seem to be so fond of at the moment, but really, it pretty much is just sausage, kale, and beans. OK, a bit of chicken stock, a handful of herbs maybe, but that’s it. It will give you a sense of deep and satisfying frugality, particularly if you dug the sausages and stock out of the freezer, and the beans were hand-me-downs from Tom’s sister, who can’t get her husband to like them. Just so you know, I will happily give any unwanted beans a home. I like to think this is exactly what they would have wanted, all cosy and warm, nestled into the kale fronds.

I made quite a few changes to the original recipe, not because I thought I was improving it, but because I didn’t read it very carefully before I did my shopping. The beans should be flageolet, which are certainly among the prettiest of the beans, but I used one tin of pinto and one of borlotti (when tinned they’re almost indistinguishable from each other anyway).

I also used sage instead of rosemary, and I left out the cream. Then I felt like it was missing a certain something so I added a bit of parmesan. Cream would probably have been better, but it’s still one of the best ways I can think of of eating up your kale (‘the new blueberry’, according to Leon).

Finally, a warning: this supper may induce a soporific effect. That was clearly why I fell asleep during Synecdoche, New York and missed the ending. Certainly not because I couldn’t understand it and was bored, at all.

Sausage, kale, beans  Serves 3-4

1 packet sausages (should be 6, we had one missing, consumed in fry-up)
2 tins whichever beans your cupboard yields (or 200g dried beans, soaked and cooked)
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
800ml chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tbsp chopped rosemary (or sage)
small handful parsley, chopped
200g kale, chopped and any large stalks removed
75ml cream
parmesan for grating (optional)
salt and pepper

Slice the sausages into manageable chunks, about 4 to a sausage. Fry them in the olive oil until nicely browned.

Add the garlic and sage/rosemary, stir, and then turn down the heat and add the onion. Cook over a low heat with the lid on for about 15 minutes, until all is soft and tender. Add in the chicken stock, season and bring to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, with the lid on.

Add the kale (and cream, if using) and cook for 10 minutes with the lid on and a further 10 with the lid off. Check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with parsley, and parmesan if you like.

Adapted from Allegra McEvedy’s ‘Leon’.

Duck, mushroom and watercress broth

February 9, 2010

Ugh, this weather is really no friend to the cyclist. Last night I cycled to my yoga class with the wind blowing sleet down my hood and into my face, torn between the desire to keep my eyes shut against the onslaught of pointy ice and the need to see where I was going. This is why people hate February.

Even I struggle with February, and for me it’s birthday month, which means a lot of eating out and celebrating and presents. That just about pulls me through and drags me into March. I can’t imagine how everyone else manages.

This is a recipe for one of those February days. It’s not just soup, it’s broth, which is infinitely more restorative. It has chunks of tender duck meat, bright green watercress, and lots of mushrooms. I added noodles too, because soup is comforting and pasta is comforting, so therefore soup and pasta is comfort squared.

The flavour is all from the cooking of the duck and the stock it creates, a lovely soft cushion for the other ingredients to nestle against – what I’m trying to say is, this is easy to eat; it will pacify rather than wake up your tastebuds. You need a couple of hours to roast the duck and let it cool, but that’s the only time-consuming bit.

Duck, mushroom and watercress broth  Makes 4 huge bowlfuls

The recipe calls for duck legs, but failing those I got a pretty good deal on a Gressingham duck crown. Which, I know, is everything except the legs, but it worked. Also, technically the mushrooms should be shitake, but I used a combination of soaked dried wild mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms from the veg box.

1 duck crown or 2 large duck legs
10g wild mushrooms, soaked in hot water
150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced (or the same weight shitake mushrooms)
bag of watercress, mine was 100g but you might want to use more
200g vermicelli noodles, or whatever noodles you like
few handfuls beansprouts
1 tbsp or more soy sauce
1 lime or 2 tbsp lime juice

Heat the oven to 160c. Put your duck legs or crown in a very big roasting tray, if you have one – it should be big enough to also contain the 2 litres of water you’re going to add at the next step. Being not so well equipped, I used our big Ikea stockpot. Sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven for 25 minutes.

Take out the tray/pot and pour out any duck fat that has collected in the bottom. You can keep this for roasting potatoes and that sort of thing. Pour in the water. Put the duck back in the oven for another hour, or until it’s properly cooked through, clear juices etc. Take the duck out of the stock and set it aside until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, skim the fat from the top of the stock and strain it into a big saucepan.

Discard the skin from the duck and separate the meat into chunks. It may just pull away from the bones, but since ours was a bit more stubborn we sliced it into manageable pieces. Put the meat back into the stock and bring to the boil. Cook your noodles in a separate pan according to packet instructions.

Once the soup is boiling, throw in the mushrooms (you can put the dried mushrooms in soaking liquid and all) and add the soy sauce. Bring back to the boil and add the watercress and noodles, then turn off the heat. The watercress should be added right at the end so that it stays fresh and green looking, so if you want to save portions of soup for later hold off on adding all the watercress. You can even, as we did, just put a big handful of watercress in each soup bowl and ladle the soup over the top. The heat of the soup is enough to wilt the watercress.

Strew a big handful of beansprouts over each portion and squeeze over lime juice. Add more soy sauce to taste at the table.

Adapted from Allegra McEvedy’s ‘Colour Cookbook’.

Southern baked chicken

February 2, 2010

I’ve been wondering what to call this. In the book, it’s Southern Fried Chicken with Eastern Spices, but that’s a bit of a mouthful, and anyway, I baked mine rather than frying it. I happen to live with someone who would honestly be happy if my idea of a night off was arriving home with a bucket of Colonel Sanders’ finest, but as it’s really not, this is a sort of compromise.

We’ll still in the East this week, with Arabesque – not the Claudia Roden version, which I also have, but a book of the same name by Australian chef and writing partners Greg and Lucy Malouf. It’s organised by  ingredient, all key Middle Eastern flavours, but rather than using them to recreate classic recipes they’ve adapted and borrowed from other cuisines to inspire new dishes. It’s not quite fusion cooking, which I’m a bit distrustful of, more looking at tradition with a contemporary eye. Hence this first recipe, in which chicken pieces are coated in cornmeal, buttermilk and a whole long list of warm spices to create a delicious gnawable crust. I really liked the spice mixture here: the fennel and sugar for sweetness, the cayenne and pepper for heat, the toasting for complexity and the low notes of cumin and coriander seeds. As soon as the smell wafts up from the grinder, you know it’s going to be good.  

So, South-East Baked Chicken? Eastern Baked Chicken? Whatever you call it, sweet potato wedges and a big green salad are called for. Or I suppose you could serve it with corn-on-the-cob and baked beans. You could even put it in a bucket, if you really want.

Southern Baked Chicken  Serves 4

You could do this with chicken pieces, but it’s better value to buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself (saying that, I had someone much more knife-competent than me to do the heavy work). Then you can make stock from the carcass, and if there’s only two of you you’ve got a great packed lunch for the next day.

1 chicken (free-range, but that goes without saying)
6 pods cardamom
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (I used muscovado)
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on taste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
100g cornflour
50g fine cornmeal or fine semolina
2 eggs
200ml buttermilk

Joint the chicken into eight pieces: 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings and 2 breasts. Or, get a responsible adult to do it for you. If you want to be really healthy, remove the skin.

Heat the oven to 200c. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and toast the cardamom pods, peppercorns, fennel seeds, salt and sugar, shuffling them in the pan every so often until they start to darken. Remove from the pan and grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. They should smell warm and fragrant. Pick out the cardamom husks, leaving the black seeds behind.

Combine the toasted spice mix with the other spices and mix into the flours. Whisk the eggs into the buttermilk.

Dip the chicken pieces into the flour, then the buttermilk, then back into the flour. Place them on an oiled baking tray, turning to coat, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. If you want to fry them, do this first in hot oil until golden brown and bake for only 20 minutes.

Adapted from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s ‘Arabesque’.

Moroccan honey chicken

January 18, 2010

Do you know what, this book is brilliant. The tone takes a bit of getting used to – all breathless chit-chat and boys and late nights – but once I started thinking of her as a bit like Nigella’s debonair younger sister I settled into it. And I’m glad I did, because she knows her stuff, this Rosie Lovell. From the book this week we made: banana and buckwheat pancakes, muesli, rice cubes with dipping sauce, tofu with soy beans and mushrooms, carrot and sweetcorn fritters, onion and butterbean soup, tuscan bean stew with orzo pasta, smoked mackerel and broccoli bake, smoked mackerel pate, ebi chilli men, babaghanoush, chicken and mushroom korma, plus the moroccan chicken and two other tasty things I’m going to tell you about shortly. The only thing I didn’t like was the soup, which I thought combined sweetness and fishiness in a way that was not pleasant, but Tom liked it. I’m sad to move on, because this is a weighty book and when I was jotting down things I’d like to make from it, before I do my weekly meal plan (you should see it, it’s insanely detailed), I basically just copied out the contents list.

Back to – or rather onto – the chicken. I had to immerse myself in a lengthy and consoling food preparation session on Saturday to take my mind off the horrible hangover resulting from a cocktail party the night before. Of course, we decided to bring the ingredients for White Russians. If you ever see me with a White Russian in my hand feel free to stage an intervention – it’s for my own good.

This is perfect for such a scenario (I didn’t know I needed a recipe specific to a White Russian hangover, but now I have one). You basically poach a whole chicken with some aromatics, which takes a good hour and a half, so you can maybe have a little lie down while the smell of chicken and cloves wafts medicinally in the air about you. Then you have to leave the chicken to cool before you can strip it, which takes another hour or so. You need to make a tomato sauce, too, but that’s mainly simmering for an hour. See? You can take it at your own pace. The chicken stripping is oddly calming and, bonus, you get a whole pan of chicken stock for absolutely no effort whatsoever.

I served it with the afore-listed babaghanoush as a sort of smokey relish, along with his n’hers starch accompaniments of cranberry and toasted almond-scattered couscous and lemon and thyme roasted potatoes:

Moroccan honey chicken  Serves 3-4

Note: I roughly halved the original recipe, which serves 10. I cooked only one chicken instead of two, using half of the meat and saving the other half for salads and the next day’s chicken curry, and I just halved the sauce quantities. The ratio seemed about right.

For the chicken:
1 chicken, around 1.5 – 1.8 kg
2 bay leaves
2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp peppercorns

For the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 red chilli
3 garlic cloves
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2-3 tbsp honey
black pepper

Fill your biggest pan with water and immerse the chicken, along with the bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns. Simmer for around an hour and a half, until the chicken is fully cooked and the flesh is starting to come easily away from the bones. Remove the chicken, keeping the stock, and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, start the sauce: heat the olive oil and fry the onions gently with the cloves, cinnamon and chilli. After a few minutes, peel, crush and add the garlic. Leave for a couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes. Cook, covered, over a low heat for around an hour. You can use a little of the chicken stock to loosen it to the required texture should it dry out. (The chicken stock also comes in handy for cooking the couscous, if that’s what you’re having on the side.)

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, strip all of the meat from the bones. Set aside half for other uses and tip half into the tomato sauce. Stir in the honey and season.

Adapted from Rosie Lovell’s ‘Spooning With Rosie’.

Kofta curry and naan bread

December 13, 2009

I’m not going to pretend that making your own naan bread is easy. This is one flatbread that’s easily as labour intensive as any risen loaf, the dough is difficult to work, you’ll end up with bits of it sticking to your fingers, flour on all your teatowels, and your boyfriend may just start to think you design your choice of evening meal with the express purpose of creating as much washing up as possible. And does it end up exactly like the naan you get in an Indian restaurant? Well, no, not exactly. It is curiously satisfying, nonetheless. My mum used to make naan bread in the bottom oven of the aga which was, also, not exactly authentic, but we loved it and my brother and I used to butter any leftovers for breakfast the next morning. What I’m trying to say is, naan or not, it tastes nice. Just be in a relaxed frame of mind before you start.

The kofta curry – yes, meatballs again – ended up playing second fiddle slightly, but it’s a good recipe. The meatballs are tender and juicy with a hit of spice more interesting than average and a slight hint of ginger. And they seemed to be none the worse for the fact that I accidentally used garam masala instead of cumin – in fact, I quite liked it. We also ate a cauliflower bhaji which almost managed to make me enjoy cauliflower.

All in all, not the most true to its origins of meals, but I declare it a success.

Naan bread  Makes 8

A word on butter: Madhur Jaffrey calls for 265g altogether, but I probably used about half that. I’m not sure how you could use as much as this, even if you were extremely liberal with your smearing, but I suspect that the more you manage to work on, the more restaurant-like they will be. Or you could just keep the leftover butter for next day’s breakfast.

620g strong white bread flour (I’d say you’ll need a bit more than this)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp yoghurt
250ml milk
1 egg
15g melted butter, plus 225g butter or 25oml oil for assorted other uses
250ml water
2 tbsp oil
about 1/2 tsp nigella seeds, also called kalonji or black onion seeds
about 2 tsp sesame seeds

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.

Put the sugar and yoghurt into a separate, large, mixing bowl and beat with either an electric whisk or a wooden spoon. Add the milk and water and continue to beat. Now gradually and thoroughly beat in about 255g of the flour (100 strokes if you are using a wooden spoon). Add the egg and the 15g melted butter and continue to beat. Slowly add another 255g flour, continuing to beat until the dough is difficult to move the whisk through. Remove the whisk (if using) and add enough of the remaining flour with a wooden spoon to make a soft, sticky dough. I ended up tipping quite a bit more flour in until it was just about possible to handle it, although it was still very sticky – I’m not sure if this was the desired texture or something was up with my dough.

Oil your hands (this makes the dough stick to your hands less) and briefly knead the dough on a floured work surface. Divide it into 8 balls and place them on a generously floured baking sheet (you might need two). Press each ball with an oiled palm to flatten it slightly and cover the trays with cling film. Set them aside for at least 30 minutes – they may now be refrigerated for up to 48 hours.

When ready to go, put a large, cast-iron frying pan on a medium-high heat and set the grill to hot (I had mine on its highest setting). Make sure your shelf is about 13cm from the source of the heat.

Take the first naan and place it onto a floured work surface. Dip your hands in the melted butter or oil and press down on it, enlarging it with your fingers and making it into the traditional tear shape. This is where the instructions begin to get delightfully precise, in true Jaffrey style. The shape should be 23cm long and 13cm at its widest. Dab more melted butter on top and sprinkle with some of each of the seeds. Press down in the centre, leaving an unpressed border of around 2 1/2 cm. Lift up the naan with both hands and stretch it to about 30cm long and 18cm wide, then slap it into the frying pan. This was too much to ask of my dough, which was still a sticky mess, so I settled for approximating the right shape and dumping it in the pan. Cook for 1 minute and 15 seconds on the first side, moving the naan around after the first 30 seconds so it develops an even browning on the base. Dab with more butter and put the whole pan under the grill for 1 minute. There should be reddish-brown spots appearing on the surface. Remove the pan and keep the naan warm in a teatowel while you make the rest in the same way. I found the method of working the next naan into shape while the previous one was under the grill worked for me.

If you’re not going to eat all the bread at once, wrap any left over in foil and keep refrigerated. You can reheat the foil bundle in a medium-hot oven for about 15 minutes, or if you have a microwave, one naan can be reheated by sprinkling it lightly with water and blasting for a minute or two.

Kofta curry  Serves 6

For the meatballs:
675g minced beef or lamb
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, crushed
7 1/2cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the sauce:
7 1/2cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp salt
1.2 litres beef stock or water (this seems to be a recurring problem with me and Madhur Jaffrey recipes – I thought this was too much liquid as it never really seemed to be reduced or thickened. Go with it if you like a lot of juice)
2 sticks cinnamon
4 black cardamom pods (I didn’t have any black, so used green)
2 bay leaves
5 cloves
10 peppercorns
Small piece of muslin, or toe of old (but clean) pair of tights

Put the meat in a bowl and add all the remaining meatball ingredients. Mix well with your hands and roll into meatballs about 4cm in diameter. Return to the bowl, or place on a plate. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight (oops! Forgot to read this step. I refrigerated them for about 30 minutes, they were fine).

Put the ginger, garlic, green chillies and 4 tbsp water in a blender. Blend into a smooth paste.

Pour the oil into a wide, lidded pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and fry for about 5 minutes, or until starting to brown. Add the ginger-garlic-chilli paste and fry for about one minute. Put two tablespoons of water in the blender, swish it around, pour this into the pan and add the tomatoes. Fry and stir until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the tomato puree and stir for a minute. Add the coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Stir for a minute. Add the stock or water and bring to the boil.

Tie up the cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns in the muslin and drop it into the sauce. When the sauce is boiling, cover it, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. Add the meatballs to the pan, spooning the sauce over them, and continue to simmer for 40 minutes, stirring to turn the meatballs every so often. Remember to discard the muslin bag before serving, but squeeze the juices from it first.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Ultimate Curry Bible’.

Meatball soup (wanja kuk)

December 4, 2009

This caught my eye immediately as I was flicking through ‘Far Eastern Cookery’, deciding what to make this week. Thank god it turned out well, because I’d had a run of bad meals: a prawn tom yum that was quite inedible, like drinking bitter washing up liquid, on Monday night (I don’t blame Madhur Jaffrey for that – I blame a packet of tom yum soup stock from the local Wing Yip). On Tuesday night, a BBQ steak wrap from Sainsbury’s bolted down before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs played the Brixton Academy. Ugh. It was the only sandwich I could find without mayo. At least the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were good, and you don’t even want to know how much time I spent the following day dancing around my kitchen to ‘Zero’.

So, anyway – meatballs. I love meatballs, and sausages, and minced meat in most forms, much to the chagrin of my parents as I grew up reluctant to eat meat in any other form (see aforementioned ‘vegetarian phase’). I’m proud to say that I can now eat proper meat (with bones!) without my bottom lip wobbling, but I still love meatballs. These meatballs are from a Korean recipe which features the unusual addition of tofu – about half and half tofu and beef minced together. This has the effect of making them perfectly light, and, as you don’t have to use as much meat, it’s a good way of making it stretch. It’s also pretty much the only way I’m going to expect Tom to eat tofu. And he couldn’t guess what the ‘secret ingredient’ was, so make these for other tofu-sceptics with impunity.

The meatballs are assembled quickly enough, simmered in stock fragranced delicately with ginger and spring onions, and then you’re free to eat them however you like. The recipe notes that in Korea it would traditionally be served as part of a selection of main dishes, but Madhur eats it alone with a green salad. I ladled mine over a mound of short grain brown rice. Tom had noodles (of course).

Meatball soup (wanja kuk)  Serves 4

150-175g bean curd
2 cloves garlic
4 spring onions
225g lean minced beef
1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce (shoyu)
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
2 pints/1.1 litres chicken, beef or pork stock
1 cm cube ginger
65g plain flour
1 egg

Put the beancurd in a clean cloth and squeeze out as much moisture as you can, then tip the beancurd into a mixing bowl and mash it with a fork. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Cut 2 of the spring onions crossways into very fine rounds, reserving the other 2 for the stock.

Add the garlic and sliced spring onions to the bowl with the beancurd and then add the beef mince, soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Mix well and roll into about 20 meatballs – about the size of a walnut (I only managed 18).

Put the stock in a large pan. Cut the remaining spring onions into 5 cm lengths. Peel the ginger and cut it into thin slices. Add the ginger and spring onions to the stock and bring it to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes. Salt the stock to your taste and keep it at a simmer.

Meanwhile, put the flour onto a plate and beat the egg lightly in a bowl. Roll each meatball first in the flour and then the egg and then drop into the simmering soup. You should try to make sure there isn’t too much loose flour on the meatballs as it will turn into a paste when it meets the soup – it doesn’t really matter, but doesn’t look too attractive, as I discovered. Simmer the meatballs for about 5 minutes and then serve the soup however you wish.

From ‘Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery’.