Sri Lankan Beef Curry

PeppercornsCooking Sri Lankan is enormously fun, just as cooking Indian is. And anyone who tells you otherwise is of dubious character.

This delicious pot roast recipe, modified slightly, comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. A specialty from Sri Lanka’s Burgher community, this dish owes its origins to a happy union between European colonialists (mostly Dutch but also some Portuguese and English) and the so-called indigenous population. Here, a simple pot roast has been made wonderfully Sri Lankan with the addition of roasted coriander, cumin and fennel seeds – the main ingredients in Sri Lankan curry – and, of course, coconut milk.

Serves 4


1kg beef
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
4 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
4 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
One 2-inch cinnamon stick
1 large onion, finely chopped
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1½ cups beef (or chicken) stock
½–1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup coconut milk, well-stirred


Set a small cast-iron (or other heavy) frying pan over medium heat. When hot, sprinkle in the coriander, cumin, fennel, and fenugreek seeds. Stir for 30 seconds or so until the spices just start to emit a roasted aroma. Empty onto a piece of paper towel, and, when cooled off a bit, grind the spices or crush in a mortar.

Preheat the oven to 160°C, and pour yourself a drink.

Cut the beef into large chunks and sprinkle lightly with crushed salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

In an ovenproof casserole-type pan with a lid (I use a large cast iron French oven made by Le Creuset, which I love as much as it is possible to love any non-‘person’), heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the meat and brown on all sides. Then, remove the meat to a plate. Add the cinnamon, onions, ginger and garlic to the pot, stir and cook for 4–5 minutes. Then add the vinegar, stock, cayenne pepper, 1½ teaspoons salt, the ground seeds and the beef (with its accumulated juices). Stir and bring slowly to a boil. Then cover and place in the oven for an hour at 160°C, and then lower it to 125°C, basting and turning every 30 minutes or so, for a further 2–3 hours, or until meat is tender. If things begin to look a little dry, then add a little boiled water or stock, and stir in well. You don’t want the meat to dry out. When the meat has reached the desired tenderness, or when you can just no longer handle smelling and not eating, then remove the pan from oven. Stir in the coconut milk, and bring it all to a slow simmer on a stove top before serving.

Serve with rice, noodles (Sri Lanka has exquisite rice noodles, so thin rice noodles would work) or mashed potatoes. Enjoy it with a beer.

And while we’re thinking Sri Lanka, here’s one of my all-time favourite fishing pics from that amazing part of the world:

sri lanka fishing

On cooking Indian (plus a recipe for Paneer Tikka Masala)

Indian spicesThere is something highly addictive about Indian food. In fact, ‘scientists’ (which is the BBC’s name for the odd creatures who typically spend four-fifths of their life trying to secure funding in order to research things that half a dozen people in the world care enough about to bother reading the findings on; not that important matters have typically been the concern of the majority) like a crew at Nottingham Trent University a few years back claim that ‘just thinking about eating a curry can make people feel high and eating it arouses the senses and makes your heart beat faster’. But I‘m not concerned here with that kind of addiction.

Rather, I’m concerned about the addiction that attends cooking Indian food. There’s something about the range, the texture and the colour of the various spices, about a home (and a human nose) coming alive with exotic aromas from ingredients grown 14,000 kms away, about the wonderfully friendly and cricket-loving people who run those funky little Indian food marts, and, of course, there’s the thrill – as brimming with eschatological hope as anything ever was – that drives one to produce a curry as near perfect as creatures living anywhere north of the Bellingshausen Station are capable of. Like the thrill of anticipation that attends catching a trout on a fly pattern that you had tied yourself, so too is the joy of creating your own curry recipe (as opposed to simply copying one from some tried and true volume by Camellia Panjabi or Pushpesh Pant). There’s something gloriously physical, too, about preparing Indian dishes. You are involved in the process from go to whoa in ways that many other forms of cooking don’t seem to invite nearly as much. Cooking Indian announces to the cook – and to all who have eyes to see and noses to whiff and palates to tingle – that the only creation worth celebrating, the only creation that is, is the creatio continua. Cooking Indian, in other words, is a prophetic act which exposes the joyless lie of deism and celebrates the joyful freedom of the God of spice. To be sure, such an act of (sub-)creation, of participation in the movement of Spirit in creation – like that which attends fly tying – requires some time-consuming research, patience, and sometimes a few doozies along the way, as with many of life’s most valuable gifts. But the rewards are obvious to all who so venture out (and hopefully to those they cook for as well!).

Had I an editor, s/he would have no doubt deleted the previous paragraphs laden as they are with mixed metaphors and superfluous waffle irrelevant to any definition of a point that this post purports to be about, and demanded that I make plain this post’s purpose in ways that demand less ink and much less of the reader’s patience and time and theological lexica. But I don’t have an editor, so they’re staying put. And having now released a few things off my chest, I am delighted to share a wee recipe – one in progress, for are not all recipes symbols of the provisionality and, in some cases, the idolatry of our attempts at meaning making and of our strange groping for the Bread of Heaven? – for Paneer Tikka Masala. I do so with no apologies in advance for the inconsistent use of measurement systems (something that I’m confident that my intelligent readers will be able to cope with), and with a caveat lector around the fact that I reserve the right to edit the recipe as I further tweak it. Cooking as creatio continua.

By the way, I’m always keen to hear from readers who give the recipes posted here at PCaL a go, and/or who have suggestions arising from their own culinary efforts.


Paneer Tikka Masala

Serves 8–10


For the tikka:

  • 1kg of Paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 green capsicum, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red capsicum, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp peeled, finely grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 12 tbsp yogurt
  • 6 tbsp olive oil

For the masala:

  • 8 tbsp ghee or olive oil
  • 3–4 medium-sized onions, very finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp peeled, finely grated ginger
  • 10–12 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp coriander, finely ground
  • 2 tsp cumin, finely ground
  • 8 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • 700 ml chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi, crushed
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 8 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • ½ cup cream


1. In a non-reactive bowl, marinate the paneer and capsicum in the ginger, garlic, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, garam masala and yogurt. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Pour yourself a drink.

2. When you’re ready to cook, it’s time to make the masala. Over medium heat, heat the olive oil in a large lidded pan (I use a large cast iron French oven made by Le Creuset. It has not failed me yet, with any dish). When the oil is hot, put in the onions, and stir until they brown (about 8–10 mins) but don’t burn the little fellas. Then add the ginger and garlic and keep stirring for about a minute. Then add the turmeric, chilli powder, paprika, coriander and cumin. Stir for about 10 seconds, and then add 1 tbsp of yogurt. Stir until it is absorbed (think stock and risotto!), and add the remaining yogurt in the same way – a tbsp at a time.

3. Now add the tomatoes, stopping along the way to give thanks to God for these amazingly versatile little friends, and then fry them for 5–6 minutes on low, or until they turn pulpy. Then add the stock, salt, and tomato puree and bring it all to a gentle simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is as thick as a stubborn Methodist (OK, not quite that thick. Think, instead, of somewhere between a nice creamy Anglo-Catholic, that all-too-rare breed of high-church Presbyterian and an ol’ time charismaniac. In other words, thick but thin too. Better still, just think cream.). Stir in the kasoori methi, garam masala and chopped coriander leaves, and, checking the flavour, add more salt if needed. Add the cream, stir gently, and simmer uncovered on very low. Refill your glass and put on some Iris DeMent. If you’ve made it this far and it’s not looking like a complete disaster, then you’re a champion.

4. If you’re someone who likes super smooth gravy, then now is the time to set the blender onto the sauce. After blending, keep it simmering away on very low while you attend to step 5.

5. While the masala is simmering away uncovered, it’s time to cook the paneer and capsicum. Thread the marinated paneer cubes and capsicum onto skewers, brush with oil and grill until lightly browned on all sides. Take the paneer and capsicum off the skewers, place in the masala, stir in well, and serve immediately. (As an alternative to the skewer method, fry the paneer and capsicum in butter/oil until all sides are lightly browned. Or, as an additional but I think less successful alternative, brush each piece of paneer and capsicum with butter/oil and bake in a 180° celsius oven until lightly browned.)

6. Garnish with more chopped coriander leaves (if you’re into pretty food) and enjoy with naan or roti or rice (my preferred type of which is Sona Masoori). More importantly, enjoy it with friends and/or enemies.

Rajasthani Red Meat

Indian Man Practicing Yoga - May 1949This recipe, based on Madhur Jaffrey’s from her At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, is a real hoot at our place.

When this dish is served in the Rajasthan desert region of India, its colour, coming mainly from ground hot chillies, is a fiery red. In the recipe below, I have moderated the heat by mixing cayenne pepper with more calming paprika for those who might prefer a milder curry. Fresh red paprika is good too if you are chasing a more traditional colour. My own preference, however, is to go with the Kashmiri chilli powder.

It is generally served with Indian flatbreads, but is just as good served with rice. A calming green, such as spinach or Swiss chard, could be served on the side as well, as can plain yoghurt.

Serves 4–6

¼ cup olive or coconut oil
Two 7cm cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
10 green cardamom pods
1 large red onion, chopped finely
2 teaspoons very finely grated peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, crushed to a pulp
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1kg stewing lamb, preferably from the shoulder, cut into big (6-8cm) cubes. (Alternatively, you can use stewing beef.)
1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons Kashmiri chilli powder
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

Pour the oil into a large, heavy pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom. Let the spices sizzle until the aroma begins. Add the onions. Stir and fry until they turn a reddish brown. Add the ginger, garlic, and coriander. Stir for a minute. Add the lamb/beef, salt, cayenne, and chilli powder. Stir for 3–4 minutes. Now add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for about an hour 1, stirring occasionally. Then remove the lid, and continue simmering on very low heat for between 2 and 6 (or more) hours, or until the meat is tender and the gravy is at your desired thickness. Sprinkle the coriander over the top when serving. Enjoy with a beer and with some after-dinner yoga.

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Coconut Red Lentil SoupThis recipe, modified ever-so-slightly from one shared by Heidi Swanson, was a real hit at our place last week, and I wanted to share the love.

Stuff to source

1 cup/200g yellow split peas
1 cup/200g red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 cups/1.6 liters water
1 medium carrot, diced into 1 cm bits
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1/3 cup/45g raisins
1/3 cup/80 ml tomato paste
1 can coconut milk (I used lite)
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
one handful coriander, chopped
cooked brown (or white) rice

Stuff to do with it

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don’t want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, the green chilli (optional) and raisins. Sauté for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and sauté for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

Serve over a small amount (about a handful) of cooked brown (or white) rice, and garnish with a generous sprinkling of fresh coriander and the remaining green onions.

Serves 6.

Howick Christmas Cake

Aunt Daisy's Book of Selected Special RecipesSomething beautiful happened to me this week. What was conceived as a brief Twitter conversation a few weeks ago came full term yesterday when a friend of mine baked a Christmas cake and then shared it not only with me, but with my family too. It was what the ancients called ‘Yummy’.

Of course, I just had to get the recipe. As it happens, it comes from The Twelve Cakes of Christmas: An Evolutionary History, with Recipes by Helen Leach, Mary Browne and Raelene Inglis (Otago University Press, 2011), and is adapted from the Howick Christmas Cake recipe which was first published in Aunt Daisy’s Book of Selected Special Recipes from California, Canada, France, Australia and New Zealand (1935). Anyway, the cake tastes wonderful, or at least my friends’ effort at it did, and I thought it worth sharing the recipe here. I also think that I’ll have to give it a go myself over the next few days. I don’t really do desserts, so this is a big step up for me.


450 g bread flour
340 g raisins
340 g sultanas
340 g currants
225 g peel
225 g crystallised ginger, chopped
115 g walnuts, chopped
115 g almonds, chopped (no need to skin)
340 g butter
340 g sugar
6 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons treacle
1 cup black currant jam

Royal icing
350g icing sugar
1 egg white
3-4 tsp lemon juice


Prepare a 25 cm diameter-round pan or 23 cm-square pan by lining with a double layer of brown paper and a single layer of baking paper. Preheat the oven to 130˚C with a shelf in the middle or slightly below.

Weigh the flour and set aside. In a large bowl place the raisins, sultanas, currants, peel, ginger, walnuts and almonds. Add 2 tablespoons of the weighed flour and stir through, separating any clumps of dried fruit.

Soften the butter in a large bowl and cream with the sugar until light and fluffy. In another bowl beat the eggs until foamy. Add to the creamed mixture a little at a time and continue beating. If the mixture shows signs of curdling add a spoonful or two from the weighed flour. Beat well. Sift the remaining weighed flour with the salt and baking soda. Fold into the creamed mixture.

Add the treacle and jam to the fruit and stir to mix thoroughly. Lastly add the creamed mixture and fold through gently but thoroughly.

Spoon into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the surface with a wet hand. Place in the oven and bake for 4 to 4 1/2 hours. (Details on how to test when a cake is cooked are given below.) Remove from the oven, cover with a teatowel and leave in the pan until cold. Turn out on to a rack or tray. Remove brown paper and baking paper. Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight cake container or wrap in foil.

When you’re ready, it’s time to tackle the royal icing. Place sugar, egg and 3 tsp of lemon juice into a bowl and beat until smooth. Add the extra lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Spread generously on the top of the cake, and be sure to lick up any leftovers.


During the cooking check that the surface of the cake is not browning too much and if so cover with a double piece of baking paper. Bake the cake for the shorter time specified in the recipe and test for doneness. When cooked, a cake will have shrunk slightly from the sides of the cake pan, the middle will be firm when gently pushed at the centre and the colour will have darkened. If these criteria are met then use a warm skewer or wire cake tester to insert into the middle of the cake. It should come out with no uncooked mixture adhering to it. If necessary, continue to bake for another 10–15 minutes and test again.

Chicken Korma with Coriander Leaves – Dhaniwali Murgh Korma (Kashmir)

Kashmir is actually sheep and goat country and chicken is eaten rarely. This recipe was shown to me by Abdul Ahad Waza who is the premier Kashmir wedding and party caterer. Along with his four sons he cooks in his courtyard and supplies food to the culinary cognoscenti of Kashmir and in the winter does the same in Delhi. This is rather an unusual-flavoured Chicken Korma, mild and fragrant with a thin gravy. Good to eat with rice, roti or even sliced bread. The recipe serves 4.


1kg (organic) chicken
8 green cardamoms
5 garlic cloves
10cm cinnamon stick
10–12 strands of saffron
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
3–5 green (or red) chillies, chopped (and deseeded if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups full-fat yoghurt
1/4 cup ghee or extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
4 cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2–4 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves


  1. Boil the chicken in 3 cups of water along with 2 of the garlic cloves for 3–4 minutes. Strain and discard water. Leave the chicken to cool, then rinse in lukewarm water. This removes all the odour of the chicken. Cut up the chicken into big bite-sized pieces.
  2. Pound the remaining garlic and soak in 1/2 cup of water to obtain a garlic infusion. Soak the saffron strands in 1/4 cup of water, pressing with the back of a spoon to get an infusion. Purée the onions with the green (or red) chillies. Whisk the yoghurt and set aside.
  3. Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy-based cooking pot and fry the onion purée until golden (about 12–15 minutes). Add the cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon followed by the turmeric powder. Add the chicken, garlic infusion and yoghurt and cover with a lid. Allow to simmer for 7–10 minutes until the juices are absorbed.
  4. Add the ginger powder and salt to taste and sauté for 3–4 minutes until the chicken is lightly browned. Add just enough chicken stock to get the amount of gravy desired (this dish does not need a great deal and you will probably want to then reduce the amount of gravy during the simmer).
  5. Simmer over a gentle heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the chicken is tender, sprinkle with the saffron infusion, pepper and fresh coriander leaves. (Alternatively, turn it off after the simmer and then re-heat when required, adding the infusion, pepper and coriander leaves just before you are ready to serve it up).

This recipe is modified from Camellia Panjabi’s version in 50 Great Curries of India.

Chickpea Salad


  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1–2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 2 handfuls of ripe red or yellow tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2–3 lemons
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained, or around 4 large handfuls of soaked (overnight) and cooked chickpeas
  • Fresh peas, or snow peas
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of fresh green or purple basil, finely ripped
  • 200g feta cheese


  1. Mix the tomatoes, onion and chillies in a bowl.
  2. Dress with the juice of 2 lemons and about 3 times as much good quality extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste.
  3. Heat the chickpeas in a pan, then add 90 per cent of them to the bowl. Mush up the remaining chickpeas and add these as well – they will give a nice creamy consistency. Allow to marinate for a little while and serve at room temperature.
  4. Just as you’re ready to serve, give the salad a final dress with the fresh coriander, basil and peas. Taste one last time for seasoning – you may want to add more lemon juice at this point. Place on a serving dish and crumble over with the feta.
  5. Enjoy with irresponsible amounts of New Zealand pinot gris!

Chickpea and pea curry


Chickpeas – 2 cans
Green peas – 2 cups (frozen peas are OK)
Vegetable stock – 4 cups
Canola oil – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Minced ginger – 1 tsp
Minced garlic – 1 tsp
Pureed tomato – 1 can
Salt – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Red chillies – 2 deseeded (or to taste)
Coriander leaves – 10 sprigs, finely chopped


1. Heat oil in pot over medium flame.
2. Once hot, add turmeric, minced ginger and garlic, and pureed tomatoes, in that order.
3. Mix well and add 1 tsp of salt and cook until the oil begins to separate from the mixture.
4. Add garam masala and chillies and stir.
5. Take a potato masher and gently mash some of the chickpeas, and then add to pot.
6. Add stock and chopped coriander leaves, and bring to boil.
7. Simmer over medium heat until sauce reaches desired thickness.
8. Serve hot with rice, chapatis or rotis, and cold beer.

Kashmiri Butter Chicken

I’ve been making my way through Sara Lewis’ recipes in her attractively-produced book Ultimate Slow Cooker. (Technically, I purchased this book for my partner, but it was in much the same spirit as when I, as a ten-year-old or so, bought my babcia a cricket set; old habits die hard.) By far the best grub to come out of this collection thus far is the Kashmiri Butter Chicken. Here’s the low down, slightly modified from Lewis’ directions:

Serves 4
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 5–7 hours
Cooking temperature: Low

2 onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves
6cm fresh root ginger, peeled
1 large red chilli, halved and de-seeded
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp canola oil
25g butter
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
300ml chicken stock
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
3 tbsp tomato purée
7 tbsp cream (or 5 tbsp of double cream)
rice and/or naan bread

To garnish
2 tbsp flake almonds, toasted
sprigs of coriander

1) Preheat the slow cooker.
2) Blend the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli in a food processor (or chop very finely).
3) Cut each chicken thigh into 4 pieces. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, until all the meat has been added. Cook over a high heat until evenly browned. Lift the chicken pieces out of the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.
4) Add the butter to the frying pan and, when it (i.e., the butter, not the pan) has melted, add the onion paste. Cook over a more moderate heat until it is just beginning to colour. Stir in the crushed seeds, cardamom seeds and pods and ground spices. Cook for 1 minute, then mix in the stock, sugar, tomato purée and salt. Bring to the boil, stirring.
5) Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker pot, pour the onion mixture and sauce over the top and press the chicken below the surface of the liquid. Cover and cook for 5–7 hours.
6) Stir in the cream and serve garnished with toasted flaked almonds, sprigs of coriander, and plain steamed rice and/or warm naan bread.

Stuck for a partnering beer? Try Kingsfisher or Kalyani Black Label or Kings Black Label premium pilsner.

[Note: the image is from Lewis’ book. I’m yet to learn the art of good food photography (which is something that today’s cookbook authors/publishers seem more interested in than in the actual recipes). Furthermore, after I’ve cooked and served, the last thing I feel like doing is farting around trying to take photos while dinner gets cold.]

Earl Grey Tea Loaf

Whether we’re talking creating or eating, I really don’t do desserts. But every now and then a recipe comes along that is both easy peasy to follow, and yields very yummy results. This recipe for Earl Grey Tea Loaf, adapted from that by Jo Seagar, is one example:


  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 3–4 tea bags of Earl Grey tea (I know, tea bags are a woeful invention – no doubt a conspiracy authored by the coffee industry – but they do work better with this recipe. If really desperate, you can use an inferior leaf such as English Breakfast)
  • 1 cup of raisins (weirdos might think that they can get away with using sultanas)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 cups of self-raising flour (here you could use plain flour plus 2 teaspoons of baking powder)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 orange or lemon zest


1. In a covered bowl, brew the tea in boiling water for 2–3 minutes. Add the raisins and sugar, stir and soak for around 10 minutes (or it can be left until the tea is cold).

2. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Remove the tea bags from your tea mixture. Then add the egg, flour and zest, and gently stir that baby for 2–3 minutes. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for one hour.

3. Gently remove from the tin, cool it down just a bit on a wire rack, slice thickly and serve warm with butter.

Poached Pears in Blackcurrant Juice

1 litre blackcurrant juice (you can also use pear or apple juice)
½ cup of sugar (or less if you prefer)
1 vanilla pod
1 cinnamon stick
Orange zest (1/2 an orange worth with do)
6 pears, peeled and cored

Place the fruit juice into a deep medium size pot, add the sugar (sweetness is up to you) add the vanilla pod and orange zest. Bring to the boil then reduce the temperature to a gentle simmer. Place the pears in the liquid and lid on the pot. Poach gently for 20 minutes or until the pears are tender all the way through.

Remove the pears carefully onto a platter and return the liquid back to heat and boil vigorously until the liquid has reduced to thick syrup. Don’t overcook it or you’ll burn it and stink the house out (like I did the first time)

Serve the pears whole with the fruit syrup poured over with either vanilla ice cream, cream or perhaps crème fraiche.

There were no complaints …

[HT: Otago Farmers Market]

Potato Soup

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5 kg potatoes, peeled and diced
2 onions, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
2-3 carrots
1/3 swede
500gr yams, peeled and diced
2 cans rosa tomatoes
2 cans chickpeas
750ml-1lt stock (chicken or vegetable)
handful of freshly chopped herbs (I used oregano & chives)
rock salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. heat oil in pot (cast iron if you have one) and lightly fry onion and garlic until opaque
2. add the rest, make sure that it’s near covered in liquid, and stir
3. cover pot and bring to boil, stirring occasionally
4. slow simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally
5. roughly mash
6. simmer for a further 15 mins
7. serve with toasted fresh bread (thick slices) and cold pilsner (optional)
8. share the love

Mustard Roasted Yams

Pre-roasted yams

A few people now have asked me for ‘my’ recipe for mustard roasted yams. It’s a lightly modified version of a recipe by Alison Lambert. Here ’tis:


2 Tbsp cup whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1kg yams, washed
Freshly cracked pepper
Handful of fresh herbs (oregano, thyme)


  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Whisk mustard, olive oil, butter, honey, vinegar/lemon juice, garlic, herbs and salt in large bowl to blend.
  3. Add yams; sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Spread yams in a single layer over a preheated baking tray. Roast yams for 20-30 minutes or until the yams are crusty on the outside and tender inside, turning occasionally.