Friday, 29 April 2011



One of the things I always have in my freezer is a pack (or two) of minced lamb – either to make into an easy keema curry, spice up and spread on wraps with yoghurt and coriander ‘Peckham Pizza’ stylee (thanks Helen at Food Stories) or to make into these meatballs.  I was reminded of them seeing Rick Stein on his Mediterranean travels recently on ‘Saturday Kitchen’ so decided to cook them again last night.  They don’t take long to prepare then just need a little time to cook in the sauce and for all the flavours to meld.  Ideally this would be cooked in a tagine but I don’t have one, so I use a wide deep sauté pan with a lid.

And apologies for the photo - was too hungry to wait....

I serve this with rice or couscous, pitta bread and harissa – I buy a particularly yummy one from Borough Market, which I often eat on its own with pitta bread!


450g minced lamb
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp ras-el-hanout rouge powder
2 tblsp chopped parsley
1tsp hot smoked paprika
Salt and ground black pepper
1tblsp olive oil


1 medium onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
2 cans chopped tomatoes
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tblsp olive oil

To serve: Pitta bread, rice or couscous, harissa and yoghurt

Put the minced lamb and all the other ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl and scrunch together.  Add a little more salt than you think necessary and lots of black pepper.  Dampen your hands and make the mix into small balls – about 1” diameter.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and lightly brown the meatballs all over. Remove from pan and set to one side.

For the sauce, heat the oil in the frying pan and fry the onions and garlic gently for 5 – 10 minutes until soft and golden.  Add the cumin and paprika and lightly fry for a minute then add the tomatoes and seasoning.  Simmer gently for 20 minutes until the flavour has intensified add a little water if it is getting too thick.

Finally add the meatballs and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Sprinkle with coriander and servce.

Monday, 18 April 2011

And more Indian treats...

I lived in Edinburgh for nearly 20 years and most of the Indian restaurants in Scotland have pakora high up on their menus – something not reflected to the same degree in London.  I love pakora – onion and potatoes (and anything else) fried in a gram flour batter then dipped into a spicy yoghurty minty sauce – what’s not to like?  So, as I have become the proud new owner of a deep fat fryer, I present my pakora recipe.  I added a little beetroot as I love it – you can also add courgette or aubergine. Enjoy!

Serves 4 as a starter

600g gram (chick pea) flour
1 tblsp. oil
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. nigella seeds
1 tsp. chilli powder
Salt and black pepper
2 medium onions cut into fine half moons
1 potato sliced into matchsticks
1 boiled beetroot cut into small dice

3 tblsp. yoghurt
1tsp. chilli powder
1 dsp.  sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp. mint sauce

Sift the gram flour into a bowl, and then add the oil and enough water to make a thick batter.  Stir in the garam masala, nigella, chill powder, onions, potato and beetroot, a good shake of salty and a couple of grinds of black pepper.  Mix thoroughly – you should have a thickish batter filled with bits of onion and potato poking out.

Heat your fryer to around 170 degrees – drop small dessertspoons of the mixture into the fryer and keep them on the move so they don’t stick to the basket.  Cook for around five minutes until dark golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.

For the sauce just combine all the ingredients.

Serve as hot as you can!

Indian eating...saag aloo....

One of the things I love about living so close to Rye Lane is the availability of endless supplies of fresh spinach, aubergines, okra, chillies, coriander and dill – amongst all sorts of other exotic produce – which let me indulge my passion for cooking Indian food.  I love Indian food – both in some of the great restaurants we have nearby like Jaflong in Lordship Lane, delivered to my door by the Honor Oak Tandoori or as cooked by me. 

I find cooking Indian food absorbing – roasting and grinding spices, grating ginger and garlic, slicing onions and preparing meat and vegetables, bringing it all together to make something aromatic and delicious.  I use very little oil so the results are often lighter than many ‘middle of the road’ Indian restaurants, but I think they have as much flavour.

I often make a big batch at one time – of a meat curry, and a dhal – and pack up what’s left to go into the freezer.  We all know the flavours develop and marry together during that resting period!  Once the basics come out of the freezer I decide what we’re having with it.  Always basmati rice, steamed with cardamom pods,  and parathas – occasionally I make my own but usually Khans on Rye Lane provides me with excellent frozen ones.  My current favourite vegetable side is is Saag Aloo – spinach and potatoes – and this is how I make it:

Serves 4 as a side dish 

3 bunches of spinach or 2 large bags – real spinach, not baby
I large potato, cut into 1” dice
1 tblsp. mustard oil
2” length of ginger, cut into very fine julienne
Clove of garlic, cut into fine slices
I medium onion, cut into fine rings
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. fennel seed
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. dried dill or handful of fresh dill chopped

Wash the spinach and wilt in a hot frying pan – you don’t need any oil, the water will protect the spinach until it starts to cook.  Drain and chop as fine as you wish – I like mine fairly rough. Boil the potato for 10 minutes in salted water – drain.

Heat the mustard oil in a frying pan or wok and, once hot, add the mustard seeds, turmeric and fennel seeds. Once they have started popping add the onions, ginger and garlic and cook on a high heat until the onions are browned.

Add the potatoes and toss until they have picked up colour from the turmeric and are coated with mustard seeds.  Add the chopped spinach, the dill, a splash of hot water, cover and let steam for five minutes.  A little bit of chopped dill over the top before you serve is lovely.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hot Cross Buns

I am aware of many terrific bloggers in my area - Eats Dulwich, Bambuni Nunhead. Food Stories, Tehbus, Food Stories and Ginandcrumpets to name but a few - but the burning topic a coupe of days ago was Hot Cross Buns. I am not very experienced at yeast cookery but thought I should have a go.  I used the BBC Food recipe at adding a bit more mixed spice and a bit of candied peel.  They turned out OK, if a little heavier than the steam driven supermarket buns, but the flavour was delicious.  And they are delicious toasted.  A picture to whet you appetite:

Well, here we go!

I am at a loose end having taken voluntary redundancy from the civil service after 22 years.  I have realised that food and drink play a huge part of my life and want to join the food blogging community.  I can't afford to eat out much, so will mostly be posting my own concoctions.  I am so lucky living in SE15 where we have unrivalled access to the most exotic ingredients every day and I am also close to the so chi chi SE22 of Lordship Lane and East Dulwich.