Archive for November, 2009

Breakfast in America – Photos

Bacon, Scrambled Egg and Hash Brown

Monterey – Bacon, Eggs & Hash Brown


Monterey – Pancakes

Breakfast at The Venetian, Las Vegas

Las Vegas – Hotel Room Service

More Pancakes, with some healthy fruit this time!

Chicago – the healthiest breakfast we ate all week – pancakes with some healthy fruit!

Poor Man's Skillet

Chicago – Poor Man’s Skillet at the Tempo Café. (Shouldn’t that be called “Fat Man’s Skillet? :))

Bacon, Toast & Granola

Napa – Bacon, Toast & Granola

Denver Omelette

San Francisco – Denver Omelette with the ever-present hash brown.


Chai – Masala Tea

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the majority of Indians did not know how to make a cup of tea and were reluctant to drink one. Now that India is both the world’s major producer and consumer of tea, this seems incredible. It confounds the myth that the British acquired their love of tea from their Indian subjects. In fact, it was the British who introduced tea to the Indians. Although they barely changed the way Indians eat, the British radically altered what they eat and drink.  While the introduction of a wide variety of European and American vegetables to India was an inadvertent by-product of British rule, the conversion of the population to tea-drinking was the result of what must have been the first major marketing campaign in India. The British-owned Indian Tea Association set itself the task of first creating a new habit among the Indian population, and then spreading it across the entire subcontinent.

Extract from “Curry – A Biography” by Lizzie Collingham.

If like me, you tend to “over-indulge” when you eat Indian food, chai is a great option for dessert when you’re too full, but you still want to satisfy that sweet tooth. The fragrant spices are infused in boiling water and milk before the tea is steeped. Chai is also believed to be great for tummy upsets and generally aiding digestion.

Even if you’re not accustomed to taking sugar in your tea, don’t skip on the sweetening. You need it to bring out the warmth and flavour of the spices.


  • 350ml water
  • 100 ml milk
  • 5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • piece of cinnamon stick (about 5cm)
  • slice of ginger root (about 2cm thick)
  • 1 tsp tea leaves (black tea)
  • 1-2 tsp sugar


  1. Heat the water, milk, ginger and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and leave simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  2. Take off the heat and add the tea leaves. Leave to stand for 3 minutes before straining into a mug and sweetening to taste with a little sugar. A teaspoon or two should do it.

Serves 1.

South Indian Lemon Rice

Spices for Lemon Rice

Lemon rice is a South Indian dish, often served with dosa (filled lentil pancakes), sambar (a cross between a soup and a dhal), and rasam (a hot and sour soup). It’s not very traditional, but I think the zingy rice makes a fantastic accompaniment to rich, creamy curries.

In this recipe, turmeric is added to the simmering rice, giving it an attractive yellow colour. You could also use some star anise, cinnamon or sesame seeds for extra flavour. You can also add some toasted cashew nuts.


  • 200g basmati rice
  • ½ tsp turmeric (to be cooked with the rice)
  • groundnut oil
  • butter (or ghee)
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 4 dried red chillis, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric (to be cooked with the spices)
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • juice of 1 lemon


  1. Rinse the basmati rice and leave to soak in water while you bring a large pot of water to the boil.
  2. Add the rice to the boiling water and add the turmeric and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook the rice until it’s “just” done – a minute or so less than the time stipulated on the packet. Taste a few grains every now and then to ensure you have an “al dente” texture.
  3. Drain the rice in a colander and set over a pot of simmering water to keep it warm.
  4. Heat a teaspoon of oil and large knob of butter (or ghee, if using) in a large pot until sizzling. Add the curry leaves,  red chillis, mustard seeds, turmeric, cumin seeds, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry until the mustard seeds start to pop.
  5. Add the cooked rice to the yellow spice mixture and stir-fry for a minute to warm through. Add the chopped fresh coriander and mix well. Serve.

Serves 2.

Mint & Cucumber Raita

A raita is a classic yoghurt-based sauce from India. It can be used to accompany breads, poppadoms, biryanis and grilled meats. The restaurant version, made with bottled mint sauce, can be a little disappointing. This version is made with fresh mint leaves and cucumber which gives it a fantastic flavour. This recipe serves 2-4 people.

Remove the seeds from ½ of a cucumber and grate (or very finely chop) into a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Now squeeze the water out of the cucumber. Add 225g thick Greek yoghurt along with 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves. You can also add a pinch of ground cumin and a pinch of chili powder if you wish. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and mix. Taste and add a little extra salt if necessary.

There are lots of variations on the classic raita recipe, just add the following to 225g of yoghurt and season:

  • Mint Sauce Raita – the restaurant classic, add 2 teaspoons of bottled mint sauce.
  • Jeera Raita – add a teaspoon of freshly toasted cumin seeds, finely ground.
  • Tomato & Cucumber – skin and de-seed 2 tomatoes, finely dice and add along with dived cucumber.
  • Cucumber, Onion & Fresh Coriander

Seekh Kebab

Seekh Kebab with Naan Bread and Raita

Seekh kebabs are a classic on Indian restaurant menus and typically cooked in the tandoor oven. “Seekh” means skewer, but the truth is you don’t really need skewers for this; just form the meat into long sausage shapes before cooking. You can also form the meat into patties, which will turn them into a “shami” kebab. My version uses great flavourings such as fenugreek, fresh mint and garam masala.

The trick to achieving a good seekh kebab is to finely mince the lamb. Minced lamb from the butcher or supermarket is typically too coarse. Use a food processor to pulse the lamb giving a finer texture. By doing this you won’t need any binding ingredients such as egg or flour. Don’t go crazy with the food processor, you don’t want purée!

Serve with naan bread, salad and raita.

(Note: you could also add a small pinch of red food colouring, as the restaurants do, but you really don’t need it.)


  • 450g minced lamb (I used minced lamb shoulder)
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 green chili peppers, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tbsp tomato pureé
  • 1 tsp salt
  • handful fresh mint
  • handful fresh coriander
  • juice of ½ lemon

Seekh Kebab


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Run the lamb mince through your food processor to achieve a finer texture, as described above. Place in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well before shaping, use metal skewers if you have them.
  4. I like to use a grill pan to cook this in the oven. This means a lot of the fat can cook out of the meat, but it will still be succulent. Place on the grill pan and cook for 15 minutes.

Serves 4 as a starter, 2 for a main course.

Easy Chicken Korma

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 2/8

Chicken Korma

I can remember my first “proper” curry – a chicken madras in Khan’s Balti House in Donnybrook about 15 years ago. Strange I know, but I tend to remember things like that. I’ve been smitten with Indian food ever since, but some time ago I realised that restaurant style food is difficult to achieve at home. You need a lot of time and vast amounts of ghee, a type of clarified butter. You should also let your food rest overnight before serving; this allows the flavours to mature and the spices to mellow and mingle.

Happily, some restaurant dishes produce better results at home than others. This korma is the perfect example – it’s reminiscent of the restaurant version but includes fresh green chillis, dried fruits and toasted nuts. It tastes spectacular and it’s very quick and easy to cook. Serve with pilau rice and naan bread.


  • 4 free-range skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 200g)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • thumb-size piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp curry powder (good quality)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 150ml single cream
  • 65g creamed coconut
  • 4 tbsp ground almonds
  • 5 tbsp sultanas
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 fresh green chilli peppers, sliced
  • 2 tsp garam masala (to taste)
  • fresh coriander
  • 5 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted
  • 2 tbsp flaked coconut, toasted (optional)


  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy saucepan and add a knob of butter. Fry the onion gently for about 10 minutes until it’s well caramelised. At this point, add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the dried spices and stir-fry for another minute.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 2 cups of cold water. Whizz the mixture with a stick blender until it’s completely smooth.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the cream, ground almonds, sultanas and dissolve the creamed coconut then simmer gently for another 5 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and add a little extra sugar if you think it needs it. Stir through the garam masala and fresh coriander. Garnish with flaked almonds and toasted coconut, if using. Serve.

Serves 4.

Tomato & Fennel Seed Bread

Tomato & Fennel Seed Bread

Tomato bread makes a great ham sandwich. Slice ham thickly and spread the bread with a little mustard mayonnaise, just as they do in Fortnum & Mason. It’s also great for dunking in some good extra-virgin olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.


  • 340g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp (heaped)  sugar
  • 5g dried yeast (I use McDougall’s)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200 ml tepid water
  • 1 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé (tomato paste)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 6-8 sun-dried tomatoes (in oil),  drained & chopped


  1. Mix the dry ingredients. Sieve together the flour, salt, sugar and dried yeast into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add your wet ingredients. Rub the olive oil into the flour mixture, then add the tepid water, fennel seeds, tomato pureé and sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Mix to a loose dough (add a little extra flour if necessary) and turn out onto a clean work surface, lightly dusted with flour. Cover the dough with the bowl and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until the dough is smooth. You may need to add extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
  5. Clean your mixing bowl with hot water, then lightly brush the bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with cling film. Place the bowl in your airing cupboard or beside a radiator. Prove the dough for about 1½ to 2 hours. The dough should have at least doubled in size.
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 220°C. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and “knock back”. This means gently kneading the dough for a minute to knock some of the air out of it. Form the dough into a round loaf and place on an oiled and floured baking sheet. Allow the dough to prove in a warm place once again, it should rise by 1½-2 times.
  7. Glaze with beaten egg or dust lightly with flour. Bake for 25-35 minutes.