- Middle East
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I like something simple to eat in the morning – something with no fuss. Sadly, this often means sticking a couple of slices of bread in the toaster – which in time can become a little depressing. This dish is a little more involved than that, but not much. I always forget about my clever little tapas dishes which can be put directly under the flame of the stove. This creates an instant pan/eating vessel solution, saving you time and washing up. I just cook everything in there and dispense with the fuss. The dish is simple, understated but very yummy indeed. I eat mine with a spoon and some crusty bread and could wish for nothing more. A fabulous start to any day.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 spring onion (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet)
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
200g best quality canned tomatoes (chopped)
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
In a medium flame proof tapas dish or small frying pan, heat the oil over a moderate heat until hot. Add the spring onion and fry for 1 minute. Add the paprika, sage, salt and pepper and stir briefly before adding the tomatoes. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat then break the eggs into the tomato mixture. Place under the grill for 4-5 minutes until the whites are set. Serve.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve alongside crusty bread.
The Parsi community of India are descendants of the Persian settlers from the 8th-10th Century. Their dwindling community can still be found all over India, and particularly in Mumbai. Their cuisine is notably different from standard Indian cookery, taking influences from Iran and the Middle East. There are a scattering of excellent Parsi cafes and restaurants in Mumbai, one such place served Parsi eggs. Soft, spicy eggs, scrambled with fresh vegetables and herbs along with spices. The results are mind-blowing! This recipe is fairly close to the eggs I ate, but omits the minced lamb which they used. You can add 1/2 cup of minced lamb to this recipe (just after frying the onion) – it’s amazing just how good it tastes! That said, without the meat is every bit as tasty perfect for breakfast or a lunch snack. Give this a try.
1 tablespoon ghee or butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 fresh curry leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 spring onions (chopped)
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger (grated)
1 small hot red chilli (finely chopped (seeds in or out, you decide)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tomato (chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh fenugreek (chopped) (optional)
6 eggs (beaten)
2 tablespoons fresh coriander (chopped)
1 lime (cut into wedges)
In a medium pan, heat the ghee until just hot. Add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, pepper and salt and stir for 30 seconds before adding the onion. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes then add the garlic, ginger and fresh chilli. Stir for 1-2 minutes then add the turmeric, chilli powder and stir once or twice before adding the tomato and fenugreek (if using). Let this cook for 1 minute then pour in the eggs. Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes or until the eggs are just cooked through and still creamy. Remove from the heat, stir in the coriander and serve.
Serve with Indian breads such as roti, paratha or naan, alongside some fresh lime wedges to squeeze over.
If there’s a curry that epitomises everything I love in a curry, it’s a Malaysian rendang – meltingly tender meat, intense rich sauce and a fragrant complex flavour. The Malaysian rendang delivers top marks in all categories. It’s one of my all time favourites. A thick, clingy sauce coats big chunks of butter-soft beef – no knife required. It’s also one of the easiest curries to make. The key is time, giving it long enough to cook. There’s a world of difference to a well cooked rendang and a badly cooked one. So don’t get too excited or greedy and take to off the heat too early. Give it plenty of time to cook until the meat is soft enough. A great way to intensify the flavour is to make it 24 hours in advance. The flavours will develop and make it that extra bit special – if you have the will power to wait. See for yourself why this curry is one of the most amazing creations ever…
1kg beef chuck steak (cut into large 100g pieces)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 lemon grass stalks (white parts only, thinly sliced)
2 French shallots (finely sliced) (or 1/2 sliced medium red onion)
1 tablespoon fresh galangal (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (chopped)
5 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
15-20 dried red chillies (soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 30 mins)
4 fresh small red chillies (seeded and chopped)
4 candle nuts (or macadamia nuts) (pounded)
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
550ml coconut milk
Marinate the beef in the soy sauce and sugar in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a food processor, blend together until very smooth all the paste ingredients and 100ml of the coconut milk.
Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat until hot. Add the beef in one layer and cook for 3 minutes each side to brown well. Pour over the paste and the remaining coconut milk together with 250ml water. Bring this to a simmer, then reduce the heat to very low to simmer gently. Cook, covered for 3-4 hours until the beef is very tender. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to moderate to reduce the sauce so that is very very thick and clings to the beef (about 15-20 more minutes). The oil may separate – this is normal and is the sign of a great sauce.
Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
I prefer mine served with Malaysian style roti bread (buy the frozen ones – they’re great), but it’ll also work with rice.
I was pretty exhausted and dare I say a little grumpy after a day filled with work, and general ‘stuff’. I was in the mood for something that would make me feel like it had all been worthwhile. Curry (and beer) go a long way to making this happen, and there’s none better than this amazing Chettinad chicken curry – flavoured with regional spices such as cinnamon, fennel and predominantly black pepper. This curry is spicy, fragrant and rich. But not at all heavy – the curry leaves at the end add a lovely fresh finish to this dish and the lingering heat of the pepper creates a welcome difference from the usual chilli hit. Grumpiness be gone!
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
4 dried red chillies
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 onion (sliced)
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely grated garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1kg chicken thighs (cut into 1/4 portions)
200g can chopped tomatoes
3 hot green chillies (chopped, seeds in)
20 fresh curry leaves
2 teaspoons black pepper
Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan over a moderate heat until hot. Add the mustard seeds and sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the chillies, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and cardamom. Cook for 1 minute, then add the cloves, cinnamon stick and fennel seeds and cook for a further 1 minute. Add the onion slices and cook for 7-8 minutes until soft and golden. Now add the ginger and garlic and fry, reducing the heat slightly to avoid sticking, for 1 minute. Now add the ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, salt and 1/4 cup water and stir continuously for 1 minute, before adding the chicken, tomato and chillies. Let this cook for 7-8 minutes until the sauce is thick and the oil begins to separate.
Add 400ml water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes (remove the lid after half way). Stir in the curry leaves and pepper and serve.
Serve alongside lots of fluffy basmati rice.
Now I know we’re a few months away from Easter, but this is one of the dishes from Italy that I love the most. It has good an bad memories for me however. I once ate it at a restaurant in Leichhardt, Sydney which will remain nameless. I was charged $37 for the privilege. On ordering I was pre-warned by our faux Italian waitress that I would a) not be disappointed and b) should brace myself to be very very full afterwards. The very opposite was the bitter reality. The dish was bland and very mediocre and it arrived on something the akin to a tea plate. I kid you not when I say that it took me about 3 minutes to eat, the waitress grinned as she came to pick up my plate as if to say “well, can you move?!” Six years later and I’m every bit as bitter, I have however learned to make the authentic version. Packed full of flavour, it’s quite amazing to me just how much the restaurant fu**** it.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion (roughly chopped)
1 stick celery (roughly chopped)
1 carrot (roughly chopped)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and bruised)
5 anchovy fillets
1kg lamb shoulder (cut into chunks)
10 cherry tomatoes
10 stems fresh thyme
200ml white wine
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
salt & pepper
5 small potatoes (halved)
500g frozen peas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano cheese (finely grated)
In a large casserole pan, heat the oil over a high heat until hot. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the lamb, thyme and tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes stirring once, then add the wine and vinegar and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until the liquid has almost gone. Add the potatoes and peas and 250ml water and season generously with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid or foil. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and simmer for a further 15-30 minutes until the lamb is tender and the sauce rich and thick. Stir in the butter and cheese at the end just before serving.
Serve as a stew alongside lots of crusty bread.
I felt like something easy tonight – something that I could just chuck into the oven and forget about. This Vietnamese inspired dish is just that – it features one of my guilty favourites, pork belly. I know I’m supposed to not eat all the fatty bits, but I can’t help myself, it’s the best – it’s especially fabulous when it’s been slowly braised until it literally melts in your mouth. Heaven! This dish is mild, fragrant and light, which balances well with the pork. The eggs are a stroke of genius, adding a great texture to the sauce. The sauce itself is thin and souplike and really delicious. It’s a simple and fuss free dish that left to its own devices cooks perfectly without any interference from you.
4 eggs (hard boiled then peeled)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
600g Pork spare ribs (cut into large bite sized pieces)
1/2 onion (chopped)
5 star anise
1 sick lemon grass (cut in half, lightly bruised)
2″ piece ginger (peeled and chopped)
3 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
250ml coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Preheat oven to 180ºC
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat. Fry the pork pieces for 2 minutes each side until browned. Add to an oven proof casserole pan. With the frying pan still over the heat, pour in the coconut milk and 300ml water then stir in the turmeric, soy sauce, fish sauce and pepper. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat and pour over the pork.
Stir in the onion, star anise, lemongrass, ginger and garlic. Cover the pan with a lid or kitchen foil and bake for 1 hour. Stir well, then bake covered for a further 1 hour until the pork is very tender. Add the hard boiled eggs and cook for 10 minutes before serving.
I served mine with some coconut rice and a crunchy mixed salad.
I bought some peaches at the market today. The sole reason I bought them was because they were extremely cheap. I am unable to pass on a bargain, so snapped them up. The only drawback is that they were pretty hard. I knew they’d be a while before they finally softened, but I wanted to eat them right away, so I decided to cook one of the simplest and best ways of eating peaches in my opinion, poaching them in wine. Instead of red wine, which is the usual way I do them, I tried rosé – it was hot outside, and I figured rosé would be less wintery and lighter. I was right. The peaches were soft, subtle and the reduced poaching liquid, sweet, tart and intense without being too overpowering. It was the perfect end to my balmy summer’s evening.
4 firm white peaches
1 bottle dry rosé wine
2 star anise
3 lemon rind pieces
1 cup sugar
Using a sharp knife, cut a deep slit into the bottom of each peach, I find this helps them poach quicker. Place them in a medium saucepan so they fit snugly together. Pour over the wine to cover and add the star anise, lemon rind and sugar. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan and poach the peaches for 30-40 minutes until soft.
Remove from the pan and cool slightly. The skin on some peaches will slip off very easily, others not. I like them with or without so don’t worry if the skins won’t budge.
Turn up the heat of the poaching liquid to medium, let the sauce reduce until you have about 1 cup of liquid left. About 30 minutes. It should reduce down to a glossy syrup. Strain through a sieve and discard the solids.
Cut each peach into quarters, discarding the stones. Arrange some pieces in a shallow bowl and serve with cream and a generous drizzling of the syrup.
On a long haul flight back from Las Vegas to Sydney, I read from cover to cover an issue of Bon Appetit magazine. In the magazine was a very simple recipe for chicken in Harissa with chickpeas. Having nothing else to do, I began ‘fantasising’ about cooking it when I eventually got off the excruciatingly long flight. Once home, imagine my horror when realising I’d left the magazine on the plane. The pain slowly eased as I remembered how simple it was to cook. So, off I went to shop for some of the ingredients. Once again, imagine my horror as I returned home to discover I’d forgotten to buy chicken. I’d bought every meat other than chicken at the butchers. Not being able to face any more horror, I settled on the same recipe, using lamb. And you know what!? It was delicious!! Flavourful, subtle and really something special. A very happy mistake and worth all the drama.
1kg lamb chump chops
1 tablespoon ghee or oil
1 onion (halved and thinly sliced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoons Harissa paste
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
400ml low sodium beef stock
Salt & pepper
1 x 400g can chickpeas (drained)
1/4 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
In a large heavy based pan, heat the ghee over a moderate heat. Brown the meat on both sides as remove from the pan. Add the onion, garlic and mint and stir for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the Harissa and tomato purée and mix well before adding the beef stock. Return the lamb to the pan and season well with salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pan and cook gently for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until the meat is very tender. Tumble in the chickpeas and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.
Squeeze over half the lemon, sprinkle over the parsley and serve alongside vegetables or cous cous with the remaining lemon cut into wedges to squeeze over as you see fit.
I was in the mood for something very spicy tonight. Something that would leave a lasting impression! It was a balmy evening so I also didn’t want anything too heavy or rich, so settled on a light Thai fish dish. Salmon works really well with coconut based curry sauces so was a perfect choice for this dish. I added a lot of chillies (more than I suggest here), maybe 30, which made it more than a little spicy. It was completely manageable though and gave me a hot, but incredibly fragrant sauce to accompany the fish. You can scale the chillies up or down obviously. 5 will give you medium/mild moving up the scale to 20 for hot. Whatever your threshold is, you’ll enjoy this I’m sure!
For the paste:
2 large French shallots or 1 small red onion (chopped)
5 cloves garlic (chopped)
3″ piece of fresh ginger (chopped)
1/2 tablespoon fresh coriander roots & stalks (chopped)
2 lemongrass stalks (whites only, chopped)
10-20 hot Thai red chillies (seeds in, chopped)
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons peanut oil
For the sauce:
4 200g skinless salmon fillets
3 tablespoons peanut oil
400ml coconut cream
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small carrot (thinly sliced)
1/2 head broccoli (cut into small florets)
10 sugar snap peas
1/2 cup fresh coriander
1/2 cup fresh Thai basil
2 kaffir lime leaves (shredded)
1 lime (juice of)
In a food processor, blend together all the paste ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
Heat a wok with the peanut oil over a medium high heat. When hot, tip in the paste and stir, let it sizzle for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid sticking. Pour in the coconut cream, fish sauce, sugar and about 300ml water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Gently slide in the salmon fillets and cook for 5-8 minutes until cooked thorough. Carefully remove from the pan and tip in the vegetables and cook for 3 minutes. Stir a few of the herbs and the lime juice and serve.
Over a bed of Jasmine rice, spoon over some sauce and vegetables, then place a salmon fillet on top. Spoon over a little more sauce. Garnish with Thai basil, coriander and shredded kaffir leaves and a few snow pea shoots. Enjoy!
I often forget that it’s OK to post really simple dishes on the blog sometimes. I get caught up in complex curries and the like but often, I prepare really simple and really tasty accompaniments to the main event of my meal. One such tasty dish is cous cous. I love the stuff. I make it often to sit with Middle Eastern stews and African tagines. Mostly, I’ll just serve it plain, but other times, especially if i’m trying to up the vegetable count, I’ll mix with veg and herbs. It makes for a substantial all-in-one side, which is a bonus. I mix and match what I add, but this version features carrots and beans, which went perfectly with the fish in tomato sauce I served it alongside. Very satisfying.
1 cup cous cous
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup French beans (cut into small pieces)
1/2 cup carrot (diced)
1/3 cup fresh dill (chopped)
1/3 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
1/3 cup fresh mint (chopped)
1/2 lemon (juice of)
freshly ground black pepper
Pour the cous cous into a large bowl. Pour over 1 cup boiling water, the olive oil, cumin and salt. Cover the bowl and leave for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a small pan of water to the boil. Cook the vegetables for 4-5 minutes until cooked but not soft. Drain and set aside.
Fluff up the cous cous with 2 forks then stir in the vegetables, dill, parsley and mint. Squeeze of the juice of half a lemon and season with black pepper and more salt if needed.
Serve alongside whatever takes your fancy!