Spiced roast potatoes with chickpeas

I’m always buying bags of baby potatoes and coming up with different ways to use them beyond steaming and boiling. It can bepotatoes roasting them with garlic, rosemary, sea salt and olive oil – in their skins until golden brown – or steaming them to use cold in a chunky potato salad (made with any one of four mayonnaises: ordinary, garlic, ordinary mixed with chive or curried).

In the winter, the Teen likes one bowl dinners that can be eaten without cooking anything else like rice or vegetables to accompany them. With a bag of baby roasters available, I decided to make a hearty spiced potato and chickpea dish. I roasted the potatoes separately – in their skins – and added in at the end just before serving. It turned out to be rather delicious and a welcome change from older potatoes as these small ones retained their sweet taste.

1lb, baby roaster potatoes cut into chunks
Sunflower oil
Sea salt
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp, grated fresh ginger
1 chilli, chopped finely
1 tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, ground cumin
½ tsp, turmeric
½ tsp, garam masala
½ tsp, mango powder
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
1 tin, chick peas, drained
½ cup water

1. Pre-heat fan oven to 200C degrees
2. Rinse the starch off the potatoes, dry, put into a bowl adding just enough sunflower oil to coat them and a sprinkling of sea salt
3. Heat a baking tray in the oven and when hot, tip the potatoes on to roast for 15-20 minutes until golden brown
4. While the potatoes are roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan
5. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes until soft
6. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
7. Add the ginger and cook for minute
8. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a minute
9. Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, mango powder, garam masala and turmeric until combined with the onion mix
10. Add the tomatoes, water and chickpeas
11. Simmer over a gentle heat for 15 minutes
12. Using a slotted spoon, add the roast potatoes to the mix
13. Serve immediately*

* Although this is a vegan recipe, I enjoyed a dollop of greek yoghurt on the top of mine


Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Roasted Cauliflower Curry

Fresh cauliflower in the supermarket makes me love when vegetables are in season.  With the Teen working flat out at the moment, I promised her something tasty for dinner. With the cauliflower, I thought I’d make my usual Aloo Gobi but when I went to prepare it, I decided I wanted to do something new. So off I searched for a new recipe. As always, I came across a lot I liked but none I loved. Time to mix and match.

I love the idea of roasting vegetables instead of cooking them simply in the sauce. While this can all be cooked at the same time, I decided to cook it in stages. This was partly due to the way my day was structured and partly because I wanted the sauce to be as deepcauliflower and as rich as it could be. So I made the sauce and left it aside for a few hours and I prepped the vegetables so it could all be put together later. I also combined the vegetables with the spices rather than simply sprinkling over and left to stand while the oven was heating. This worked very well as the flavour was even throughout.

And it all worked so well. Hands up, I am not too keen on Aloo Gobi as I find the cauliflower can often be bitter but with this recipe, it tasted delicious. We ate it with homemade flatbread and it was ‘a hug in a bowl’ as the cliché goes. This will be the recipe I use going forward as a main meal or as a side dish.

Makes 4 servings

I small cauliflower
1/2 lb potatoes, peeled
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 chilli, chopped finely
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 lemon, juiced
6 dried curry leaves
4 tbsp, sunflower oil
1 dessertspoon cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar

1. Cut potatoes into chunks and break cauliflower into small florets
2. Crush the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds together with a pestle and mortar if possible
3. Add these to the other spices and combine with half the oil
4. Coat the potatoes and cauliflower completely in this spice mix and leave to stand while the oven heats to 180c (fan)
5. Heat the other half of the oil in a pan
6. Cook the onions until soft
7. Add garlic, chilli and curry leaves and cook for another two minutes
8. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, sugar and tomato puree and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes
9. While this is cooking, heat a tray in the oven
10. Place the spiced vegetables on the tray and cook for 30-40 minutes
11. Combine with tomato mix
12. Serve with flatbread or rice

Beef, Keema

The Versatility of Mince…

photo (25)


Minced meat always makes it into my shopping basket a couple of times a month. If it is lamb, it could end up as tasty Kofta served in flatbreads or a rich Moussaka. If it is chicken, it would usually be made into spicy burgers served in pitta breads with oodles of salad and lashings of yoghurt. If it was turkey – okay, that never ends up in my shopping basket as I don’t like the stuff minced!

Beef mince is the most common purchase as it can be moulded into all shapes and sizes. It is cooked and spiced according to recipes of different far-flung places. It could be juicy homemade burgers or comforting Shepard’s Pie. It could be rich lasagna or a rather spicy chilli with oodles of beans.

This week was different. Mince may be versatile but I groaned – loudly – when I saw it. I had no interest in cooking any of the favourites, let alone eating them. I needed to think of an alternative. Aha! I thought! I’ll cook Keema.

Never having cooking it before, I searched through a number of recipes and cooking styles. Garnering bits and pieces, I set about preparing my own version. Did it work? It worked wonderfully! Although I cooked rice, I didn’t eat it as I found the Keema too filling. Instead, I ate it with a small naan bread. The Teen ate it just as it was.

Traditional Keema contains peas but I left them out. Don’t get me wrong – I love them but not when they have been slow-cooked and turn that icky grey-green colour! They taste fine – it is simply a question of the look of the little spheres!

Instead of opting for a stove top method, I slow-cooked the Keema in the oven. I wanted it to have a richness of flavour which cooking in a pot rarely achieves to the same depth.


Minced Beef Keema
(serves 4-6)

1 large onion chopped roughly
3-4 cloves garlic chopped roughly
1 fresh chilli chopped roughly
1 piece of ginger (about 1.5 inches long) peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 lbs minced beef
1lb potatoes peeled and cut into large, bite size cubes
1-2 cinnamon sticks (according to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 pint good quality beef stock
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to season
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional – if prefer more of a kick)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
2. Blitz the onion, chilli, ginger and garlic in a food blender to make a paste
3. Heat the oil in a heavy (cast iron) casserole dish
4. Fry the onion paste for 2 minutes and then add the mince, mixing it in with the paste and cooking for about 5 minutes
5. Add in all the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes
6. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, tomato puree, half of the beef stock, salt and pepper
7. Cover and place in the oven
8. Cook at 180C for about 10 minutes and then reduce to 160C, cooking for a further 40 minutes
9. If the mix is too thick, add the remainder of the stock at about the 30 minute point of cooking. Some cayenne pepper may also be added at this  point if you prefer the dish to have more spice
10. When cooked, remove from oven and let stand for about 5 minutes
11. Remove cinnamon stick and give the mixture a gentle stir so as not to break up the potatoes
12. Serve on a plate with rice or in a bowl – on its own or with a warm naan bread.

Lamb, Moroccan Meatballs with Cous Cous

Moroccan meatballs with cous cous

Winter is creeping in and the annual yearning for red meat continues to escalate. Many meat dishes take a long time to prepare and to cook. It is nice then to have something which is quick, easy and tasty. This is tried and tested – a firm family favourite.

1lb lamb mince
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium onion, chopped finely
Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
Some sunflower oil for frying
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Tin of chopped tomatoes in own juice
1lb cous cous
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Mix meat, ½ tsp cumin, ground coriander, salt, pepper, half the chopped onion and half the chopped parsley
2. Make into small meatballs (size of walnuts)
3. Fry in the heated oil
4. Remove meatballs
5. Fry the rest of the onion and garlic in the same pan, coating with the mix
6. Add the rest of the cumin.
7. Add meatballs and toss completely in this mixture
8. Add the tin of tomatoes and remaining chopped parsley
9. Prepare the cous cous as per the instructions on the pack. I cover the bowl with cling film while the water or stock is being absorbed
10. Fluff up the cous cous, add the butter and mix throughly
11. Season with salt and pepper
12. Add in lemon juice into meatballs mixture just before serving.



Soups, Spiced Butternut Squash, Spiced Butternut Squash Soup, Spiced Butternut Squash Soup, Spiced Cauliflower, Vegan, Vegetarian

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Winter dawned yesterday when I was reduced to wearing the dreaded tights! URGH! I hate them but needs must and all that.

And with the cold comes the greater need for soup. Technically, a slow release food, soup is great. Spiced Butternut Squash Soup is one of the teen’s favourites. I like it because it is so easy to make and it fills the house with the really warm and comforting aroma of spices. She likes it because it is tasty and smooth enough in texture to fit in her flask for college. A winner all round methinks!

Here’s the recipe.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
(Serves 4)

1 butternut squash, chopped into large chunks with the skin left on but seeds removed
1 large onion, skin removed and halved
1 dessert spoon, coriander seeds
1 teaspoon, mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt and ground pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil
1 pint vegetable

1. Preheat the oven at 180c
2. Place the chunks of butternut squash on a baking tray, skin down
3. Add the halved onion
4. Sprinkle with spices
5. Season with sea salt and ground pepper
6. Cook in the oven until the flesh is soft (about 30 minutes)
7. Allow to cool
8. Scoop the spiced flesh off the skin and put in a liquidiser
9. Add the stock
10. Liquidise until the texture is smooth and all ingredients are blended
11. Pour into saucepan to heat and season to taste
12. Serve on its own or with a swirl of cream.