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Mince and Potato Curry

6 May

This is my version of Keema Aloo a popular North Indian dish of minced meat cooked with spices and potatoes. It is really tasty, hearty stuff, easy to prepare and cheap, I love it. Delicious served simply with rice and a sweet or sour chutney or spinach-stuffed flatbreads. It also makes a lovely stuffing for pastry parcels, kachori or samosas.

  • 250g Minced meat ( lamb, goat or beef)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 fresh green chillies, deseeded and sliced to taste
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 hot dried chillies (my favourite for this dish is lemon drop)
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seed
  • dried curry leaves (to taste)
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 250g-500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 tomatoes skinned and crushed
  • salt to taste
  • lemon zest to taste

Fry the mince in a little oil until the meat starts to brown, tip into a bowl and set aside. Prepare the spices and set aside. Add a little more oil and fry the onion until it starts to colour then add the garlic, ginger and whole spices, chilli and curry leaves. Fry for a minute or two then add the potatoes, tomatoes, fresh chillis and salt and fry for a minute or two. Return the mince to the pan plus a little water, stir well and cover. Cook slowly until the potatoes are cooked 15–20 minutes. Add a little water during cooking if it starts to stick but it should end up as a fairly dry dish. Sprinkle with a little garam masala or grated lemon zest and stir in before serving.

Note as always be careful with the chillis. I use all kinds of chillies (I grow over 30 varieties) some are very hot, some mild, some fruity and some lemony acidic like these lemon drop chillies. Use whatever chillies you have available but make sure you know how hot they are before adding. I would recommend adding a little grated lemon peel at the end of cooking if you are not using lemon drop chillies to get that citrus high note.

Recipe Source I’ve been making variations of this since my student days in Glasgow, it is such a staple I have no idea if there even was an original recipe.


Gingered Crispy Beef

12 Oct

This is a super treat for meat eaters. Thinly sliced steak marinated in ginger, fish sauce, sake and sugar and then deep fried until crisp on the outside but succulent on the inside. Perfect served with plain rice and a Asian style green vegetable or as a topping for a rice noodle salad.
Serves 1-2 Prep 5 min cook 6 mins

  • Rump, sirloin or frying Steak ( 1 portion size)
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 3 tbsp cornflour


  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake

Slice the beef very thinly into strips across the grain. Put the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well, add the steak and mix to coat. Set aside for 30 minutes or more.
Heat oil in a pan, 6-8cm of oil in a small pan should be enough. Put the cornflour on a plate and roll the strips of beef to coat. Drop into the hot oil in two batches and fry until crisp, remove each batch with a slotted spoon and drain on paper before serving.

Cook’s Note even a tough piece of steak, given this treatment, is transformed into a melt-in-the-mouth treat. Recipe Source I think this recipe is Vietnamese in origin but sadly I don’t remember how I came about making this orignally.

Lamb Biryani

22 Aug

This is a fast and tasty way of making a meat and rice dish using the leftovers from a roast leg of lamb. I love Biryani, but it can be a complicated affair to make, with this method it is only slightly more complicated that making boiled rice yet it tastes fantastic. Perfect with Tomato Pachadi or Raita (Sweet Mint Yogurt) or make a heartier meal of it and serve with greens such as Kashmiri Style Greens or with a vegetable curry such as Cauliflower & Potato Curry.

100-200g shoulder or leg of lamb, removed from the bone cut into bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic
2 cm piece of ginger, peeled
seeds from 6 green cardamom pods
pinch coarse sea salt
1 tsp home made garam masala
2 tbsp natural thick yogurt

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, minced
1 large green chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 large cup of basmatti rice
1.5 large cups hot lamb stock

grated lemon zest
coriander leaf

Pound the first five marinade ingredients together in a large pestle and mortar to make a paste, stir in the yogurt , and pour over the lamb, stir to coat well and leave to infuse while you do the rest. Wash the rice and leave to soak in warm water. Meanwhile heat a little oil in a large saucepan and throw in the cumin seeds after a few seconds throw in the onion and chilli stir and fry for a minute or so. Drain the rice and add stir and fry until it turns opaque, add the lamb and its marinade stir well and cook for 1 minute then add the hot stock cover and cook for 10 minutes. Leave covered for another 10minutes, then fluff up the rice with a fork and stir in coriander leaf and a little lemon zest and its ready.

Cooks Note Once in a while we have a roast leg of lamb as a special treat and there is always some lamb left on the bone. That is unless we have Yorkshire wallers staying with us, in which case not only will the bones be bare but we’ll have to referee the wrestling match over the bone -:)  Anyway these last bits of meat are fairly undercooked and are perfect for this dish, so if you do have any pickings after the Sunday roast then it is well worth using them to make this dish, and the bone can be boiled up to make a wonderful cooking stock for the rice.

Vietnamese Beef Wraps

5 Jun

This is great summer food great for eating outsdoors. Marinated char grilled beef is served with plain rice noodles, dipping sauce, a vietnamese salad of fresh herbs and raw vegetables and lettuce leaves for wrapping. We ate something like this is in a restaurant in Aix-en-Provence and I was inspired to make our own version of it at home. It was served with rice pancake wrappers, but I wanted to use our large crisp lettuce leaves. Set all the ingredients out on the table, with a Vietnamese dipping sauce, and let dinners do the work, its great fun and very tasty.

Serves 2
1 medium to large fillet steak
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 spring onions finely sliced
1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted and lightly crushed (optional)
Raw vegetables choose any of the following: cucumbers, mangetout or carrots julienne, beansprouts, shredded lettuce, thinly sliced spring onions or shallots
Lettuce Leaf Wraps Chose nice clean large lettuce leaves iceberg, cos or romaine work well.
Aromatic leaves a mixture of any: fresh mint, coriander, Thai basil, laksa leaf, rocket or mizuna.
Rice Noodles 1 portion
Dipping Sauce make up a batch of Vietnamese dipping sauce

Slice the beef across the gain in very thin strips and put into a bowl with all the marinade ingredients mix well and set aside for at least 2 hours for the flavours to infuse.
Soak thin rice noodles in boiling water for 5-10minutes until they are soft. Drain and set aside to cool meanwhile prepare the rest of the ingredients. Prepare the raw ingredients, lettuces and aromatic leaves and set out on a serving plate with the noodles.
To serve cook the beef at the last minute by throwing into a very, very hot wok, griddle or plancha and cook very fast until browned, it should just take a minute or two, then lay over the rice noodles or alternatively use a table top cooker for dinners to cook for the meat for themselves as in the restaurant.

To make a wrap place a little of each ingredient on the inside of the wide end of the lettuce leaf and gently roll up into the small end to make a fat cigar shape. Dip into the sauce and munch.

Use rice pancakes as wrapping. These are bought dry and soaked in warm water until soft. Wrapped with a rice wrapper these make great picnic food.
original post Mas du Diable 5/6/2007

Beef Noodle Soup (Vietnamese)

1 May

Phở Bò is the classic Vietnamese noodle soup dish. Flat wide rice noodles served in a bowl of delicately spiced beef broth with thin slivers of beef and garnishes of aromatic fresh herbs and vegetables. In spring it is lunchtime staple in our house, thanks to a special Phở stock paste I found in an Asian grocers, which makes it even easier to knock out this tasty lunch.

Serves 2 Prep & Cook 20min
Phở Bò Stock 1 tbsp of paste to 2 pints of hot water
Beef steak
1 tsp each of soy sauce and fish sauce
Wide flat rice noodles (2 portions)
1 onion thinly sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Garnishes The traditional Vietnamese garnishes are; green onions, white onions, coriander, Thai basil, saw leaf herb (Eryngium foetidum), mint, lime segments, bean sprouts, and sliced red chilli peppers. As some of these can be difficult to come by we use all kinds of aromatic leaves including: sorrel, garlic chives, angelica, dill, chervil, fennel tops as well as sprouted spice seeds such as fennel, onion and fenugreek.

Slice the steak against the grain very thinly and marinade in the soy and fish sauce while you prepare the rest of the dish. Soak the noodles in water for 15 minutes or as directed on the packet, rinse and drain. Meanwhile prepare the garnishes. Just before you are ready to assemble the dish, drop the noodles into boiling water for a further 2 minutes or so then drain and divide equally between bowls, scatter with some of the onions, marinated beef and some chopped coriander. Ladle the boiling stock over to cover and serve with a plate of garnishes. The garnishes are generally provided on a separate plate, along with; hoisin sauce, chilli sauce or fish sauce, allowing diners to adjust the soup’s flavour to their taste.

Variation I like to add a handful of greens such as spinach, green beans, asparagus whatever is in season, to each bowl they cook in the hot broth and are delicious. You can also speed up preparation even further by dropping the noodles straight into the stock to boil for 3-7 minutes (depending on the type of noodle) then ladle out and garnish.
COOK’S TIP If you don’t have the paste or prefer to make fresh stock; boil up some beef bones or cheap cuts with an onion, a few slivers of ginger, some star anise, cloves and fish sauce, covered for at least an hour, strain and it is ready to use.
Cook’s Note Some sources claim the name phở is derived from the French soup pot au feu. To read more about the origins of phở visit this website dedicated to the appreciation of phở
Phofever or read this article in the San Francisco Chronicle A Bowl of Pho 


Beef, Lime & Asparagus Sauté

18 Apr

This is a Thai inspired stir fry of fresh spring asparagus with beef and kaffir lime leaves. Asparagus picked straight from the garden is superb stir fried, the quick fire cooking just brings out the flavour of the vegetable. You can use any crisp green vegetable such as green beans, mangetout or snap peas, asparagus, broccoli or chayote with equally good results.

Serves 2 Prep 15min Cook 15mins

  • 1 tbsp light vegetable or peanut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2-3 fresh hot red chillis
  • 150g beef steak
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 2-4 fresh lime leaves
  • 4 tbsp stock or water
  • asparagus, green beans, mangetout peas or other crisp green vegetables.
  • pinch of sugar

Prepare all the ingredients in advance, so they are ready because the cooking pace is very fast and hands on. For the rice noodles follow the instructions on the packet to cook, drain, then set aside until ready to use.
Slice the beef into very thin strips, add a dash of soy sauce and set aside. Finely chop the garlic, spring onion and chilli, slice the lime leaves very finely, cut the vegetable diagonally, measure out the liquid seasonings and set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan and when it is really hot add the oil and throw in the garlic, stir fry for one minute before adding the chilli and beef strips and stir fry for another minute or two. Add the vegetables and lime leaves and stir fry over a high heat for one minute then add the soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and stock continue cooking for one or two minutes. Serve immediately on a bed of rice noodles or plain rice.

TIP if the rice noodles stick together run warm water through them and move around gently with your hands to loosen.
Recipe Source My pot Kaffir lime tree started to produce new soft growth and I thought it would be fun to experiment with cooking with the leaves. This recipe just emerged because I wanted to use the fresh flavours of Kaffir Lime leaves with the spring harvest of Asparagus which was in full swing.

Beef & Kale Noodle Soup

6 Mar

This is my version of a traditional Vietnamese soup of water spinach and beef, which I have adapted to what we grow. I’ve had this dish in my head for a while waiting for the Tuscan kale (cavolo nero) to get bigger and our Vietnamese mint to re-sprout in the polytunnel.

Serves 4 Prep 10 plus 30 minutes marinade cook 10 mins
* 350g beef steak
* 4 portions dried rice ribbon noodles
* 2 litres beef soup stock
* Onion, peeled and thinly sliced
* colander full of fresh green spinach leaves
* small handful of Vietnamese mint or laksa leaf

* 2 tbsp soy sauce
* 2 tbsp fish sauce
* 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
* 1 dried medium hot red chillis fresh sliced or dried ground
* 1 tsp sugar
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1cm piece ginger grated

Slice the beef very thinly and put it into a bowl with all the marinade ingredients, mix well and set aside for 30 minutes or longer to marinade. Soak the noodles for 5 minutes in water, or as directed on the packet, then drain and set aside. Put the soup stock in a pan and bring to a boil meanwhile wash the spinach and shred. Put a portion of noodles into the bottom of each serving bowl. Drop the onion, beef and spinach into the soup stock and cook for 1 minute then pour over the noddles, serve garnished with more herbs.

To make oriental beef soup stock
Heat 2 litres of water and add an onion, some beef bones or cheap cuts, a few slivers of ginger, some star anise, cloves and fish sauce, cover and boil for at least an hour, strain and it is ready to use. I make this in large batches and freeze it in portion sizes. If you don’t want to make you own stock you can find ready made beef stock cubes and pastes in oriental stores or use a stock cube and boil with the oriental flavourings until it has flavour.

Variations: use any greens you have available; watercress, tetragon (New Zealand spinach), mizuna, tatsoi or any leafy greens. Use coriander, Thai basil or mint instead of the laksa leaves.

This recipe was originally posted on on 6/3/2008.

Beef & Vegetable Hotpot

1 Feb
This is real winter comfort food and a throw back to my 1970’s childhood. Hotpot was a favourite dish in our house, with us kids fighting over the crispiest bits of potato stuck around the pot. This version uses minced beef and our winter vegetables. The meat and vegetables are first gently fried then laid in a pot with gravy and a thick topping of thinly sliced potatoes. The potatoes act as a lid and are both steamed and roasted as they cook on top of the lovely stew mixture. There are no real measurements for this dish, just use what you have available. I like a lot of vegetables so the ratio is about 3:1 of vegetables to meat.

Prep 20min Cook 45-60min

  • Lean beef, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • I onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • leek
  • carrots
  • white turnip, peeled and chopped
  • 3 peeled and chopped tomatoes (tinned ones are fine)
  • Potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 stock cube or gravy salt (this is a 70’s dish)
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour mixed with a little water
  • salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Turn on the oven and pre-heat to 180c. Prepare the vegetables. Fry the onion in oil then add the mince stir and cook until the mince is browned. Add the garlic and leeks and stir fry for a few minutes then add the remaining vegetables except the potatoes. Meanwhile dissolve the stock cube in hot water and add the cornflour mix give it a stir. Put the meat and vegetable mixture into an oven dish, poke the bayleaves into the mixture and pour over the liquid, enough to just cover the vegetables, check the seasoning. Lay the potatoes in several, overlapping layers, to cover the whole dish. Push down gently so that some of the stock bubbles up over the potatoes, Add a little more liquid if necessary so that the potatoes have liquid around them but not fully covering. Cover tightly and bake for 30 minutes remove the cover and bake for another 15-30minutes until the potatoes on top are crisp. Serve with lightly steamed sprouting broccoli or another green vegetable.

Variations: use any winter vegetable you like such as parsnip, root parsley, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes etc you could even use frozen broad beans or peas. I prefer to leave out any green vegetables and serve those lightly cooked on the side.

Spaghetti Bolognese

22 Jan

This is one of those classic dishes that for me is real comfort food, it reminds me of home. It is rich with tomatoes, red peppers and fresh herbs and made with beef mince which is less greasy than lamb. One of our family stories goes that my grandfather made spaghetti Bolognese during WWII, on his last leave, picking the tomatoes and herbs from the garden with my mum when she was just a baby. I often wonder what it would have been like to have known him, I have a feeling I would have liked him.

* olive oil
* 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* Good quality beef mince
* 500g tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped or 1 tin of tomatoes
* 1 tsp dried rubbed or a large stalk of fresh thyme
* 3 bayleaves
* 1 pinch each of cracked black pepper and sea salt
* 1 tbsp red pepper paste
* parsley or basil

In a fairly large size saucepan heat the oil and then gently fry the onion and garlic. When the onion becomes translucent add the beef mince. Stir it well to break up the mince and let it cook until the meat is sealed. Add the tomatoes, pepper paste, herbs and seasoning cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile bring a large pan of water to the boil add 1 tsp salt and a glug of olive oil then add the spaghetti. Stir to make sure none of the pasta sticks together and cook until it is soft but still has some bite. This should be 8-12 minutes depending on the variety of pasta.

Cooks tip – if you don’t have red pepper paste you can easily make it by making a paste of preserved or roasted red peppers.

This recipe was originally posted on on 22/1/2007.

Beef Roghan Josh

16 Nov

Another restaurant favourite of mine is Roghan Josh, a rich, meaty curry with mild aromatic chillis and tomatoes. Perfect for a cold autumn night after a hard day spent clearing paths and chopping wood.

  • 700g stewing steak cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp peanut oil
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1-2 dried hot chillis
  • 12 pepper corns
  • 6 green cardamon pods
  • 1 black cardamon pod
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 3 tbsp almonds, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3cm piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tsp Kashmiri or mild chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 4 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
  • handful coriander leaves, chopped

Season the meat then fry, in batches, in a large heavy bottomed pan until browned. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil behind, and set aside. While the oil is still hot fry the cloves, chillis, peppercorns, cardamons, cumin and coriander, until they start to darken. Then add the coconut and almonds and stir carefully making sure nothing burns and the coconut turns a golden colour. Scrape the fried spices and nuts into a bowl, let them cool slightly, before grinding, to a fine powder, in a coffee mill. Put the spices back in the bowl and mix in the garlic, ginger, turmeric, nutmeg and Kashmiri chilli powder with a little water to loosen the mixture.

Return the heavy pan to the heat and fry the chopped onions in the same oil until they start to brown. Lower the heat and add the spice paste fry gently for a few minutes then gradually add the yogurt until blended. Add the chopped tomato and fry for another couple of minutes. Add 1/2 pint of water, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the meat and continue cooking slowly over a low heat for 1-2 hours or until the meat is tender. Give it a stir now and then to make sure it is not sticking on the bottom. Stir in the coriander and serve with Rice or Chapatis, a green leafy dish such as Kashmiri Style Greens and a yogurt relish.

Note Lamb is more commonly used for this dish but in our area beef is the more commonly available meat so that is what we have used.

TIP kashmiri chilli powder mild but tasty and deep red. To make something similar use a mixture of red paprika powder and red chilli powder say 3½ tsp paprika and ½ tsp cayenne powder.
Recipe Source Adapted from The Madhur Jaffrey Cook Book, a recipe for Lamb cooked in dark almond sauce (badami Roghan josh). I’ve made small variations in the spicing most notably with the addition of plenty of Kashmiri chilli and in the cooking method in order to simplify it.