Spiced okra

This is an absolutely amazing way of preparing okra, a dish that I can never make too often. I found it at random, when searching for a quick and tasty way of preparing okra.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb Okra
1 tablespoon Ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Vegetable oil (I use a lot less, for a non-stick pan)

Directions:

Mix cumin, turmeric, chili powder, salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add mustard and mix into a wet paste.

Cut stems off okra then split them three quarters of the way down. Split them again, dividing pods into 4 equal parts that are held together at the narrow end tip. Pour a little of the paste in to the openings, spread it lightly all over but the narrow tip. Sprinkle with salt (I never do this bit, don’t think more salt is needed.)

Heat oil in a skillet and fry okra, covered, till tender, about 10 minutes, turning them once.

I serve this with my usual turmeric basmati rice. As for meat, grilled chicken breasts always work, though have had it with roast beef and pork cutlets too.

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Baked pears with ginger and cardamom

A wonderful dessert (from the Sunday Times magazine) for those times you don’t want to make anything too heavy or have only a few minutes to prepare. The most important about this is the right size of the tin, as pears need to be close together so all the buttery, cardamomy and gingery goodness permeates through them.

4 pears, peeled, halved and cored
75g dark brown sugar
4 tbsp runny honey
1½ tsp ground ginger (I used fresh ginger, thinly sliced using a grater)
Juice and finely grated zest of ½ lemon
4 tbsp unsalted butter
8 cardamom pods, squashed

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Put the pear halves in a small roasting pan, cut side down and in a single layer, so they fit relatively snugly. Sprinkle with the sugar, honey, ginger, lemon juice and zest. Dot with the butter and tuck in the cardamom pods.

Put the pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, turning the pears cut side up and basting halfway through, until the fruit is tender and the sauce is bubbling and sweet. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt.