Cumin

Nigella’s Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shwarma 2

I’ve avoided  posting this recipe because I didn’t want you to think I was some sort of crazed Nigella fan/stalker such is the large number of her recipes on this blog.

However, this has become such a ‘go to’ recipe when I have to feed lots of people for a buffet type spread (and so many people have asked me for the recipe) that I’ve finally caved in.

This is a wonderfully simple recipe and whilst you do need a well stocked spice cupboard there’s nothing really specialist involved. It also makes good use of chicken thighs which still remain economical even if you buy them from a quality butcher (which I always do).

I cut the chicken into thin slices which makes it go along way and serve either with rice (easy) or homemade flat breads (a bit more effort). As an accompaniment Nigella mixes up a tahini and garlic flavoured yoghurt bejewelled with pomegranate seeds but I don’t bother with this.

Nigella’s Chicken Shawarma

Serves 6 (or more if you’re serving as part of a buffet with other dishes)

  • 12 skinless and boneless chicken thighs (I like to remove as much of the visible fat as possible)
  • The grated zest and juice of two lemons
  • 100 ml of regular olive oil
  • 4 fat or 6 smaller garlic cloves grated
  • 2 dried or fresh bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt flakes
  • 1 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
  • ¼ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

Take a large bowl, tupperware or freezer bag, tip in the chicken thighs and add all the other ingredients.

Squish everything about (hands are best for this) until the chicken is well covered with all the marinade ingredients.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 1 day.

When you are ready to cook heat your oven to 200oC fan and take the chicken out of the fridge to come up to room temperature.

Spread the chicken thighs out on to a large baking tray – you may need two because you don’t want them to overlap.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden and slightly crispy on top. I like to turn mine halfway through for an even colour. Sometimes they need slightly longer than 30 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes covered with foil.

Slice the cooked thighs thinly with a sharp knife and place in a sharing bowl for everyone to help themselves.

Advertisements

Beef tagine

beeftagine2

I’m a bit late to the game on the ras el hanout front. This ingredient has always seemed a bit too ‘Yotam Ottolenghi’ for me (meaning that it can’t be found easily in suburban Nottingham). But Tesco now stock it in their own brand spice range – a sure sign that it has entered the realms of commonplace.

Anyway, my sister gave me a little bag of it to try recently and so I set about finding a recipe.

Ras el hanout is a North African spice mix which translates as ‘head of the shop’ – as in the best spices the shop keeper has to offer. I have no idea exactly what was in my little unmarked bag, but according to Wikipedia, cardamom, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dried ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn and paprika are all commonly used.

I’m not sure why this recipe (a bastardised version of one of Jamie Oliver’s*) uses additional cinnamon, cumin, paprika and ginger if the ras el hanout is likely to include these already. Purists would probably insist of making up their own spice mix from scratch in any case, as with garam masala, curry powder, jerk seasoning, five spice and the like.

All I can say is that the final dish was delicious and very easy (if time consuming) to make.

When I was frying off the beef my son asked me if I was making mince pies. I can see why he said this because the cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in the spice mix does make it smell very Christmassy. I’m being a complete Grinch about Christmas at the moment so this is probably about as festive as my recipes on this blog will get this year.

*the original recipe can’t be trusted in any case. The comments section on Jamie’s website bought my attention to the fact that he uses teaspoons of spices in the TV series but tablespoons on the web.

Beef tangine

Serves 4-6

  • 1kg lean stewing steak cut into large (approx. 2.5 cm sq) chunks

For the marinade

  • 1 tablespoon of ras el hanout
  • 2 teaspoons of ground or whole cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

To cook

  • A little oil
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • A knorr vegetable stock pot (or equivalent vegetable stock cube)
  • 1 ½ cans of water
  • 100g of dried apricots cut into quarters

To serve

  • Toasted flaked almonds
  • A good handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Couscous (recipe here)

Place the beef in a bowl with all the marinade ingredients and mix them in with a wooden spoon or massage them in with your hands. Cover and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours.

When you are ready to cook, heat a little oil in a frying pan over a high heat and brown the meat all over. It is worth taking the time to make sure you get a really good dark brown colour on both sides as this helps with the final flavour. You will probably need to do this in a couple of batches depending on the size of your frying pan.

Fry off the onion in the same pan until brown.

Place the beef and onion in a lidded casserole dish along with the can of tomatoes, apricots, chickpeas and stock pot/cube. Cover with 1 and a half tins of water (using the tin from either the tomatoes or chickpeas to measure). Bring the mixture to the boil on the hob and then cover.

Place in an oven preheated to 180oC for 1 hour.

Then reduce the temperature to 150oc and cook for a further 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Make sure to check the pot at regular intervals (about every 30 mins) to give it a little stir and add a little extra water if the sauce is becoming too dry.

Just before serving mix in a good handful of chopped, fresh coriander.

Serve over a steaming bowl of cous cous or rice and garnish with more coriander and lightly toasted flaked almonds.


PS. If, unlike me, you are feeling the yuletide spirit then you may like to try one of my Christmas recipes from previous years.

Bread sauce
Easy chocolate biscuits (decorated for Christmas)
Homemade mincemeat
Christmas fudge
Mincemeat filo cigars and no nonsense mincemeat tart
Christmas pudding
Prawn cocktail

Lazy fish tacos

fish tacos

It has been far too hot this week for extravagant cooking.

I never lose my appetite in the heat (this only ever happens when I’m really, really poorly) but I do change the way that I eat – grazing lazily on smaller dishes throughout the day rather than wanting big, hot food.

In this summer weather I’ve been craving fresh, simply cooked fish and this recipe is just perfect. It’s basically a posh take on a fish finger sandwich (ever so Nigella).

I’m too lazy to bother with the corn relish or the quick pickled onion in the original recipe (find these on the BBC Food website if you like). I just serve the baked fish inside some sort of bread, with whatever salad bits happen to be in the fridge and some sort of sauce – usually mayonnaise and/or chilli sauce.

Nigella’s fish tacos

Serves 4-6

(I made this with 500g of hake and this served 3 generously. I then roughly halved the quantities of spices below)

  • 750-900g of hake (or haddock)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin (or grind your own from whole with a pestle and mortar – it helps to dry fry in a hot pan for a minute first before grinding)
  • ½ a teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated or minced
  • 2 tablespoons of regular olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200C fan.

Skin and remove any pin bones from the fish fillets (or ask your fishmonger to do this for you). Then cut into longish chunks and arrange in a shallow roasting tin.

Mix together the cumin, paprika and salt, and sprinkle over the fish fillets.

Mix the garlic and the oil in a small bowl. Drizzle the fish with the garlicky oil, and roast in the oven for 8–10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets. Check to see if the fish is cooked through before taking out of the oven.

Serve the fish wrapped in some sort of flatbread. Tortillas and pittas both work well. Bought ones are just fine but the best (if you can be bothered) are homemade – such as my ‘sort of naan’ flatbreads (recipe here). Then add in some sort of salad and sauce of your choice.

Here’s a photo of the baked fish inside a toasted pitta with broad bean hummus (it’s the season) and my new addiction – Sriracha chilli sauce.

fish tacos 2

I’ve realised that there are a lot of Nigella recipes on this blog. If you fancy trying any of the others here’s a recap.

My favourite Nigella recipes

Chocolate Guinness cake (I made this for the first time in ages this week – I’d forgotten how seriously delicious it is and it went down very well with my Bollywood dancing troupe)
Old-fashioned chocolate cake
New York cheesecake (the best cheesecake ever)
Ricotta hotcakes (I make these almost every weekend for my children as a breakfast treat)
Breakfast bars 
Crunchy cornflake coated chicken
Pea and garlic soup

 

Roasted beetroot with cumin, lime and mint dressing

beetroot salad

We have beetroot coming out of our ears. This is great news, but after using it in all our best-loved beetroot dishes (borscht, Russian salad, my husband’s legendary pink risotto) we are running out of ideas. So this week I’ve been experimenting with dressings for cold, roasted beetroot so that we can have it on its own for lunch, or on the side with any old meal.

So far this is my favourite. The flavours of cumin and lime are fantastic with the sweet beetroot.

Roasted beetroot with a cumin, lime and mint dressing

  • 4 large beetroot

Dressing

  • 1/2 a teaspoon of cumin seeds (don’t be tempted to cheat and use powdered cumin – it’s just not the same)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • A table spoon of fresh mint leaves, chopped

For the roast beetroot, first cut off the leaves and trim the root, then scrub to remove as much dirt as possible.

Place in a baking tin, cover tightly with foil, and bake in an oven heated to 160oC for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The beetroot is cooked when a skewer goes all the way through without resistance. Leave to cool and then slip the beetroots out of their skins and chop into small chunks or thin slices.

For the dressing, first dry fry the cumin seeds in a small frying pan, without oil, over a high heat for about 30 seconds until brown and fragrant. Crush in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of coarse sea salt.

Add this mix to the other ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Spoon over the roasted beetroot and serve.

NOTE: This beetroot salad goes really well with brown rice and flaked hot smoked salmon.

Crunchy chickpeas

crunchy chickpeas

Please look at the chickpeas here.

I was flicking through Tom Kerridge’s ‘Best Ever Dishes’ and was drawn to a recipe for ‘Skate with crunchy chickpeas’. I couldn’t find skate and so my husband pan fried some sea bass instead. The crunchy chickpeas though were a revelation. It’s nice to have something a bit different carbwise from the usual rice/pasta/potatoes (although note the sneaky saute potatoes in the photo above that I added at the last minute to pacify my carboholic husband).

Cooled down and on their own the chickpeas taste a bit like an upmarket Bombay mix. They would make a great alternative to crisps as a pre-dinner snack.

Tom Kerridge’s crunchy chickpeas

  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder (you can add less than this if you don’t like too much heat)
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Heat the oven to 180oC.

Mix all the ingredients above in a large bowl.

Spread the spice covered chickpeas evenly on a large baking tray.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until they are crunchy.

Super quick prawn curry

prawn curry 2
When we go for a curry my favourite dish is prawn puri and (being very stuck in my ways) this is what I always order. As a special treat my husband recreated the dish for me at home, cobbling together several recipes he found on the internet. He did such a great job that I kept the recipes and whilst I don’t bother with the puris (deep frying them is a bit of a faff) I love the prawn curry filling so much that I’m happy to have it with just rice.

This is super quick and ideal for a mid-week dinner when you don’t have much time. You can make it in less than 15 minutes – which is the time it takes to cook the rice. If you keep a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer then it makes a great standby.

Prawn curry

Serves 2

  • About 15 large prawns (cooked or raw), if you’re using frozen prawns then defrost them first
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ghee, or oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes, depending on how hot you like it, or you can use fresh chillies
  • ½ tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of malt vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of single cream
  • A tablespoon of chopped coriander (or thereabouts)

First dust the prawns in turmeric and set aside.

Fry the onions in ghee or oil over a medium heat until softened and golden brown (about 3-4 minutes).

Add the crushed garlic, ginger, garam masala, ground coriander, cumin and chilli and fry for one minute.

Then add the tomatoes and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the mixture reduces and thickens slightly (if it thickens too much then you just need to add a little water). Add a good pinch of salt at this stage.

Stir in the prawns, cover the pan with a lid and cook until the prawns are cooked through. This will only be a couple of minutes if you are using cooked prawns and a little longer 3-4 minutes if you’re using raw ones.

Finally, add the malt vinegar and cream and stir.

Serve with rice and garnished with fresh coriander.

NOTE: If you need a recipe for cooking rice see my previous post ‘Nice Rice’ and follow the instructions for cooking rice to accompany Indian food.

Lamb kofta

kofta version 2

I’ve eaten kofta or kofte in Greek restaurants, in Indian restaurants, in the home of my Lebanese friend and as Qofte in Albania. There seem to be so many versions of this dish around the world but considering that the word just means balls of ground meat with spices this is perhaps not surprising.

This is my tried and tested spice mix for lamb kofta and it has become a favourite at summer barbeques and mezze style dinner parties. I’m not sure in which corner of the globe these kofta sit best and this goes in their favour and makes them very versatile. Serve with cous cous and raita for a Moroccan twist, or rolled inside flat breads with tzatziki and hummus for a more Greek style affair. They are also good with rice as in the photo above.

Kofta are best cooked on a charcoal barbeque but as that’s just not possible at this wet and windy time of year it is fine to grill them as long as you preheat your grill to its hottest setting. It’s definitely worth buying decent quality lean lamb mince and you could use beef if you prefer.

PS. Sorry for the disturbing photo – I don’t think I’m going to win any guardian food photography awards with this one.

Lamb kofta

Makes 18 sausage sized koftas

  • 750g minced lamb
  • 1 small onion
  • A handful of fresh parsley
  • A handful of fresh coriander

½ teaspoon of:

  • Ground cumin
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried mint
  • Cardamom, husks removed and crushed with a pestle and mortar
  • Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

In a large bowl combine the lamb mince with all the spices in the list above and mix well with your hands. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge.

Leave for the flavours to mingle for at least an hour. I tend to do this part in the morning ready for dinner in the evening.

Shape into sausages. It helps if your hands are slightly wet.

kofta raw

These are best cooked on the BBQ but are also good grilled under a high heat for about 10 minutes. Turn the kofta regularly so that they colour well on all sides.

Serve with either rice (see my post Nice Rice), or flat breads (see my post Frugal cooking – Dhal with a sort of ‘naan’ bread).