30 May 2014

Chicken Tikka & Green Pepper Karahi

We were away for about a week and since coming home, work has been rather hectic, I've not had much time to plan any meals, but I had lined up this card on the fridge door and decided to give it a try as a special Friday-end-of-the-week dinner. It is another quick recipe utilising a new product, which seems rather good, even though I generally would prefer to do it from scratch. It's something called The Spice Tailor Original Tikka Masala and consists of 3 bags - one with a spice mixture and two with sauces and it is used in 3 steps. There were other varieties available, might be worth trying out as well. The packet had basic instructions, which sort of match this recipe more or less. I guess as long as you add the packets at appropriate stages in the cooking, pretty much anything goes.



500 g chicken thigh fillets
1 onion
2 peppers (green preferably)
200 ml hot chicken stock
3 - 4 plum tomatoes
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
300 g pack The Spice Tailor Original Tikka Masala
2 tbsp chopped coriander

  1. Trim the chicken fillets if needed and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Peel and coarsely dice the onion
  3. Cut, de-seed and wash the peppers
  4. Wash, trim and cut up the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks.
  5. In a large wok, heat up the oil, then add the chicken and brown for a few minutes.
  6. Add the spice bag, onion and peppers and stir-fry for a further few more minutes.
  7. Stir in the base sauce (marked on the packet) and continue to cook 2 minutes before adding the main sauce, chicken stock and tomatoes.
  8. Stir through and let simmer for 5 minutes until the tomatoes start going soft, but still keep their shape. The chicken should be cooked through by now.
  9. Serve with boiled brown basmati rice or naan bread. Sprinkle the coriander to decorate.

As with many curry recipes - the chicken can be swapped with beef, pork or lamb or with paneer for a veggie alternative.

And as before, I spent ages trimming the chicken thigh fillets, so I recommend using chicken breast instead. However, the end result was very good, smelt lovely and was full of flavour. Lundulph would have preferred it with more spicy heat - another teaspoon of chilli powder. Actually the heat did build up over the meal, but was still quite measured.

As an aside, I had some rice left over and at the next meal (baked salmon in foil), I had a bit of a play with it:

Lundulph was impressed and it was rather tasty too. I was surprised that the whole thing stayed in shape, since basmati rice isn't that sticky, but I made sure to press down the layers in the food ring and was careful when I removed it.

26 May 2014

Moroccan Lamb Meatball and Basmati Bake

Here's another of my recipe cards from Waitrose, for some reason I forgot to blog it at the time. This one was a quickie cheater thing, with most ingredients sort of ready. However, I wasn't able to get hold of some of them, so had to go from scratch.


500 g lamb mince
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried mint
1 dl breadcrumbs
300 g basmati rice
400 g can of tomatoes
500 ml beef stock
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 cinnamon stick (5 cm)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C.
  2. Mix together the mince with the black pepper, ginger, coriander, mint and breadcrumbs.
  3. Place the rice in a casserole dish.
  4. Crush or blend the tomatoes, then stir together with the stock and harissa paste. Break the cinnamon stick in two and stir in as well, then pour over the rice.
  5. Form small meatballs from the mince mixture, it should make 20 - 24, then place on top of the rice in the casserole.
  6. Cover the casserole and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and let cook for a further 15 - 20 minutes to brown the meatballs.
  7. The rice should be cooked through and the liquid should have mostly been absorbed. It's ready to serve.

On the whole this was rather nice, but a bit on the cinnamon-y side. Also the harissa I bought wasn't as spicy/hot as I would like it to be - I recommend tasting it first and adjusting the amount. Also possibly a little more salt might be a good idea.

6 May 2014

Spicy Thai Noodles

Another quick mid-week recipe, the original actually uses quorn mince, but I swapped it for lean beef mince. It looks a bit colour less in the photo unfortunately, but believe me, it was stunningly tasty.


Ingredients 1 stick of lemon grass
2 - 4 red chillies (depending on desired spiciness)
2.5 cm piece fresh ginger
2 - 3 carrots
1 head of broccoli
2 dl soy beans
1 lime
2 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp light brown sugar
10 g fresh mint
3 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
500 g beef mince
300 g fresh thin rice noodles


  1. Wash the lemon grass and chillies, then slice thinly. Peel and grate the ginger finely.
  2. Peel and grate the carrot coarsely. Wash and cut up the broccoli into florets.
  3. Wash the lime and grate the zest. Then cut in half and squeeze out as much of the juice as possible.
  4. In a bowl, mix together the lime zest, juice, Thai fish sauce and sugar.
  5. Wash and chop the mint.
  6. Heat up the oil in a wok pan on low heat, then add the lemon grass, chillies and ginger and fry gently for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the mince and stir vigorously to prevent it from clumping. Fry until it's browned a little.
  8. Add the broccoli, carrots and noodles and stir until the vegetables soften.
  9. Pour over the lime/fish sauce mixture over the stir-fry and add the chopped mint and stir through for 1 more minute, then it's ready to serve.

Looking at the recipe card, it's from April 2006, but the recipe seems to be still available on-line here at the time of writing. Curiously it has only received 3 stars out of 5, but there were no comments as to why people didn't like it. I gave it 4 stars, removing one because the original recipe didn't have any veggies.

Lundulph thought the use of mince in a stir fry was quite unusual and novel, but says he quite liked the resulting texture. I guess strips of beef or chicken will do just as nicely.

4 May 2014

Lamb Gyuvetch for Easter

Once again the family gathered together to celebrate Easter and this year everyone came to our house.

Traditionally in Bulgaria, lamb is on the menu for Easter (at least that's what my Mum says) and so I decided to do that. I also decided to try one of the recipes in a cook book I got a couple of years ago. However, after reading it through, I felt it didn't have enough veggies, so I kind improvised quite a lot. But it turned out really good and I'm sorry to say, I completely forgot to take a photo.

Since a significant number of the family are vegetarians, I made two stews - one with lamb and one without. That was the only difference. And the amounts make loads of both stews, so really good for a large crowd.


2 kg lamb shoulder fillets
3 largeish aubergines
3 large courgettes
900 g button mushrooms
8 medium carrots
1 dl grapeseed oil
400 g salad onions
2 cans of tomatoes (of 400 g each)
300 g frozen soya beans
100 g runner beans
1 l beef stock
0.5 l vegetable stock
5 tbsp harissa
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
3 tsp smoked paprika
1 dl fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 dl fresh parsley, chopped
0.5 dl dried savory
salt and pepper
2 dl water
2 tbsp flour
2 dl white wine
boiled potatoes


  1. Trim off fat from the meat, dry with kitchen tissue and cut into 2 cm chunks.
  2. Wash and dice the aubergines and courgettes.
  3. Peel and dice the mushrooms.
  4. Peel and slice the carrots.
  5. Heat up a little of the oil and brown the pieces of lamb, then transfer to a large casserole dish, preferably clay.
  6. Add a little more oil to the pan and fry half of the aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms and carrots for a few minutes until the start softening, then transfer to the casserole with the lamb.
  7. Heat up a little oil in another frying pan and fry the remaining aubergines, courgette, mushrooms and carrots for a few minutes and transfer to a separate casserole dish.
  8. Place the canned tomatoes in two bowls and blend each.
  9. Trim the salad onions and slice, then divide between the two bowls
  10. Divide the soy beans between the two bowls.
  11. Wash and slice the runner beans, then divide into the two bowls.
  12. Add the beef stock to one of the bowls and the vegetable stock to the other.
  13. Finally stir into each bowl half of the harissa, garlic, paprika, mint, parsley, savory, salt and pepper.
  14. Pour the beef mixture into the casserole with the lamb and the vegetable mixture into the casserole with the veggies.
  15. Place in the oven and bake at 200 °C for 2 h.
  16. After the 2 hours are up, place 1 dl of water into a small bowl and stir 1 tbsp flour into each.
  17. Take out the casseroles of the oven and add the water/flour mixture to them. Also add 1 dl of white wine to each and stir.
  18. Put back in the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.
  19. Serve with boiled potatoes.

I think I've sussed the secret with a successful gyuvetch - fry both meat and vegetables before the bake. Also, even if slow-cooking, aim to bake above 100 °C. Either way, the stew was fabulous, though a bit on the runny side, despite the flour. Good for dipping bread in. The whole crowd seemed to enjoy it and we had a great Easter.

Healthy Chicken Chilli

Time for another recipe card and since it's been a while since we had chicken, I decided on this one from Waitrose. Do I need to mention that I tweaked it?



1 large onion
2 cm piece of root ginger
500 g chicken breasts
2 red bell peppers
1 yellow bell pepper
400 g can of tomatoes
2 cans of kidney beans (of 400 g each)
100 g red lentils
0.5 l chicken stock
2 tbsp chipotle paste
1 tsp hot chilli flakes (optional)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp grapeseed oil


  1. Peel and dice the onion. Peel and grate the root ginger. Trim and dice the chicken.
  2. Wash the peppers and remove seeds and pith, then dice.
  3. Blend the canned tomatoes. Drain and rinse the kidney beans.
  4. Measure up the remaining ingredients.
  5. Heat up the oil in a large frying pan and brown the onion, ginger and chicken.
  6. Stir in the peppers, tomatoes, beans, chicken stock, chipotle, chilli flakes, salt and pepper, then cover and let simmer for 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. Check and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Looking at the comments on the Waitrose website, it seems that their chipotle paste is actually quite hot. I bought mine from a different shop and it was more sweet and smoky, but not hot, this is why I added the chilli flakes.

I decided not to bother with carbs to go with this dish - we'd been gardening all day and it was getting late and I was tired. But it was one tasty chilli, even though I forgot to turn down the heat after I covered the pan and didn't stir while it was cooking, so I ended up with a burnt layer at the bottom of the non-stick pan. I guess not that non-stick after all. I fished out what black bits I could. Still, both Lundulph and I had seconds.