Lamb kofta, spiced roasted chickpeas, tahini yoghurt

What is it about food you have to use your hands for? Food that involves you putting it together, starting with a carb like wraps, tortillas, rice paper, pita or naan, then building a vessel of goodness.

My kids can’t get enough of it. I think it makes them feel some control over what they’re eating, even if I’ve made it.

I’ve had this hankering for weeks for middle eastern flavours – tahini, spices, pita – I think the need for freshness after weeks of alcohol, cream and ham.

There are components to this. I’m not sure it warrants a weeknight dinner option, except if you have willing kitchenhands, as I now do, someone can be making the yoghurt, someone the tomato and cucumber salad and someone prepping the chickpeas while you make the meatballs.

Many hands, light work, you know the drill.

I’ve given you the full gamut of spices I used tonight, but really, you could easily just run with cumin and coriander if your spice cupboard is not prolific.

The yoghurt tahini number was a complete revelation – straight from Smitten Kitchen I wouldn’t change a thing.

The chickpeas were inspired by her as well, but I ended up cooking them a little differently. When it came to putting them in the oven, I dumped them in the baking tray I’d cooked the lamb in, so it had meaty residue and juices. Not great if you’re a veggo but delicious otherwise and also – less washing up.

I served it all with a simple tomato and cucumber salad – diced quite small with a little red onion and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Lamb kofta
 
Middle Eastern flavours with lamb, spices, tahini, yoghurt, tomato and cucumber.
Author:
Serves: 40
Ingredients
Lamb kofta
  • 1kg lamb mince
  • 1tsp salt
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground allspice
  • ½tsp ground coriander
  • ¼tsp coarse cracked pepper
  • ¼tsp ground cumin
  • ¼tsp cayenne
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together thoroughly
  2. Roll into smallish balls, or really whatever size you want. I made them roughly walnut size and got 40 meatballs.
  3. Cook them however you want - on the bbq for about 8 minutes, in the oven at 200C for about 10-15mins (although i did this and they kinda went watering and weird not crispy and golden as I'd hoped), or in a frypan, which probably would have been the correct option for the result I wanted.

 
Yoghurt tahini dressing
 
Delicious dressing/dip for any savoury adventure really.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6tbsp tahini
  • 4tbsp water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • crushed garlic clove
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together until nice and smooth.

 
Spiced roasted chickpeas
 
Basically crack for those who like pulses and beans
Author:
Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • zest from half a lemon
  • 4 cans of chickpeas (I did two chickpeas and two butter beans because that's what I had), liquid kept from one tin, the rest drained
  • (I don't add any salt because of the salt in the water from the tin, but feel free)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Saute the onions in the oil until softened
  3. Add the garlic, cook for a couple more minutes
  4. Add the spices and zest and cook for another minute
  5. Add the chickpeas and liquid from one of the tins
  6. Pour it into a baking tray, and roast for 30 minutes, giving it a stir/toss every so often (you really could forget about it and it would be fine)

 

Onward!

Potato salad

It seems ludicrous to give you a potato salad recipe. I mean, thousands of them already exist and mine changes basically every time I make it. But this one is a bit of a dinner winner.

A simple potato salad with a tangy sweet dressing

Potato salad
 
A deeply comforting potato salad with tangy and sweet dressing.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1.8-2kg potatoes, whole and unpeeled
  • 10-12 strips of streaky bacon
  • 2-4 green shallots/spring onions, depending on size
  • 6 eggs
The dressing
  • 200g mayonnaise
  • 4tbsp buttermilk
  • 2tbsp maple syrup
  • 1tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 heaped tsp seeded mustard
  • good pinch of salt
  • heaps of freshly cracked pepper
Instructions
  1. Boil the potatoes until a skewer easily goes through them
  2. Drain and let cool
  3. Peel the skin off and cut into dice or rounds, whatever takes your fancy.
  4. Cook the bacon until quite crispy (think you want to be able to crumble it or roughly chop it into smallish pieces)
  5. Slice the shallots/spring onions thinly
  6. Hard boil the eggs
    eggs in cold water, bring to the boil, boil for about 9 minutes
    drain and run under cold water until they're cool enough to handle
    peel while the water keeps running over them
  7. Grate the eggs on the fine side of a box grater
  8. Gently mix everything together
The dressing
  1. Mix everything together, have a taste and adjust as needed (sometimes I add more vinegar)
    The flavours develop if you can make it ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge
  2. Add about ⅔rds of the dressing to the potatoes, have a taste, had more dressing until you get a coverage and consistency you like.

 

Onward!

Butter Chicken

What I’m going to give you here are the bones of the recipe – you need to add some stock if you’re cooking it on the stove-top and maybe if you’re slow-cooking it. I don’t add any more chilli than is in my fancy-bought-at-a-market garam marsala because 5,000 children mean 5,000 variants of chilli tolerance, so by all means, add away.

Anyway, it’s delicious and really very straight forward. Get to it. Make your #everyfuckingnight a winner.

#everyfuckingnight Butter Chicken
 
Delicious and easy
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Ingredients
To marinate the chicken
  • 1 kg chicken (I have used thigh fillets in a stove-top version and three marylands in a pressure-cooked version)
  • 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
For the sauce
  • 115 g butter
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • salt to taste
  • (If cooking on the stove-top ⅔ cup chicken stock)
To finish
  • 1 ½ cups cream or sour cream or yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp almond meal
  • Fresh coriander
Instructions
The marinade
  1. Smoosh everything together and marinate for as long as you've got - at least a couple of hours
The sauce
  1. If you like you can brown the chicken but really, who has the time or energy for such nonsense
  2. Melt the butter and add the onions. Saute for a couple of minutes
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and tomatoes and cook for a few minutes
  4. Add the chicken AND all the marinade
    If using a slow cooker put the lid on and set on high for, I don't know, four hours? Or low for eight? It's impossible to destroy food in a slow cooker, you know your machine, do what you think best. Add a splosh of stock if you so wish but I find I always over water things in the slow cooker
    In the pressure cooker, on highest setting for 45 minutes for marylands, 30 for chicken with no bones
    On the stove add the stock and simmer for about 30 minutes
The finish
  1. Once cooked, add the almond meal and cream and cook for another 10 minutes or so
    In the pressure cooker I take the chicken out, set the machine to reduce, add the meal and cream and reduce for 15 mins. (Just stir through yoghurt at the very end in this case otherwise it will split.)
  2. Serve with fresh coriander, chutney and cucumber raita

 

Onward!

Every fucking night

Lamb with cous cous, slow roasted tomatoes, cucumber and Persian feta

Popcorn chicken

This is a firm family favourite, of course it is, it involves deep frying, but the chicken is so so tasty I can see past the painfulness of cleaning up post fry.

Although, I read it somewhere that the trick with deep frying at home is to do it in a really deep saucepan so your stovetop and surrounds don’t end up slicked with oil and they were right! You still get splatter but nothing like what I was getting using a wok.

So my main suggestions here are to make sure you use the right flour for dusting – sweet potato/potato/tapioca flour is what you’re looking for. Keep the bits of chicken nice and small so you can pop them in your mouth. Marinate the chicken for as long as possible. And don’t think of bypassing the spice salt, it, like a good salad dressing, makes the dish.

Popcorn chicken with five spice salt

Popcorn chicken
 
Delicious little bite-sized pieces of fried chicken with an earthy five-spice salt
Author:
Ingredients
For the chicken
  • 1kg boneless chicken thighs cut into small bite-sized pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • scant tsp of Chinese five spice powder
  • Sweet potato flour (also known as tapioca flour, I often use straight potato flour)
Five spice salt
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • ¼ tsp five spice
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • pinch of chilli powder
Instructions
  1. Toss the chicken with the marinade and set aside for as long as you've got
  2. Toss the chicken in the potato flour - I am very gung-ho at this step, I'm sure you're meant to go gently and toss a few bits at a time but I chuck the whole bag of flour in a large bowl and dump the chicken in and toss to thoroughly coat
  3. Heat the oil and then fry the chicken in batches for about 3 minutes until nice and golden. Again, I know the cardinal rule of not overcrowding the fry but last time I did the whole 1kg of chicken in just three batches and guess what, it worked! I will leave this to your better judgement and patience
  4. Skim out any bits between batches and secretly eat
  5. Drain on paper towel
For the salt
  1. Combine all the ingredients and then scatter over the cooked chicken.

 

Five spice salt