Spicy lamb burgers with coriander, tomato & yoghurt relish

I made this a couple of weeks ago for a BBQ party when my mother was visiting and it was a roaring success. Well, at least I loved them! The BBQ grill took ages to cook for some reason, so grilling these was a guess work as by the time the coals were doing their job I couldn’t see a thing. I recall a helpful maglite being used to determine what’s what. But… the end result was worth it, so here’s the recipe.

Ingredients
1kg/2¼lb minced lamb (it’s best not to use extra-lean mince as the fat will help bind the burgers and keeps them juicy when cooked)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp mango chutney (I used Sharwood Mango chutney which was bought in an emergency and didn’t live up to our usual chutney standards :))
3cm/1¼in piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
oil, for brushing
flat bread, pitta bread or burger buns, to serve

For the relish
6 ripe tomatoes, quartered, de-seeded and diced
200g/7oz tub of Greek yoghurt
bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon or lime juice

Place the minced lamb in a large mixing bowl and add the garlic, onion, mango chutney, ginger, chopped chilli, turmeric, crushed coriander and cumin. Season well with salt and pepper and mix by hand until combined.

Divide and shape the mixture into 8-10 burgers. If you want to check the flavour, fry a small burger in a drop of oil before shaping the rest and, if necessary, add extra flavourings or seasoning. Place the burgers on a cling film-covered tray and keep them in the fridge to relax for at least 30 minutes. They’re ideal made the day before cooking. To prevent the burgers from sticking, brush with a little oil before barbecuing over medium-hot coals for about 5-6 minutes each side.

Mix together the tomatoes, yoghurt, coriander, onion and lemon or lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the burgers, either inside the bun or as a dipping sauce. For a change, use diced, seeded cucumber instead of tomatoes, and try mint instead of coriander.

I will certainly be making these again, BBQ or not.

Venison steaks with cranberry sauce and celeriac puree

I love venison, especially in winter and this year I decided to try as many ways of preparing it as I can find. I think steaks are the best way, though I am partial to venison sausages with red wine (used to get them at the Kingsland Edwardian butchers in Portobello Road).

This recipe is a combined one. The venison steaks with the cranberry sauce are a Delia recipe, the celeriac puree is from BBC food site.


Venison steaks and cranberry sauce

For the steaks
2 venison steaks (about 14 oz/400 g total weight)
1 tablespoon groundnut or other flavourless oil
2 level teaspoons crushed peppercorns
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
salt

For the sauce
2 rounded tablespoons cranberry sauce
zest and juice ½ orange
zest and juice ½ small lemon
1 rounded teaspoon freshly grated root ginger (about 1 inch/2.5 cm cube, after peeling)
1 level teaspoon mustard powder
3 tablespoons port

If you want to, you can make the sauce way ahead of time (even several days). Take off the outer zest of half the orange and the lemon using a potato peeler, then with a sharp knife shred it into really fine strips, about ½ inch (1cm) long.

Then place the cranberry sauce, ginger and mustard in a saucepan, add the squeezed orange and lemon juice, and place over a medium heat. Now bring it up to simmering point, whisking well to combine everything together, then as soon as it begins to simmer turn the heat off, stir in the port and then pour it into a jug to keep till needed.

When you’re ready to cook the steaks, heat the oil in a medium-sized, thick-based frying pan. Dry the steaks thoroughly with kitchen paper, then press the crushed peppercorns firmly over both sides of the steaks. When the oil is smoking hot, drop the steaks into the pan and let them cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium (4 minutes for rare and 6 minutes for well done).

Halfway through, add the shallots and move them around the pan to cook and brown at the edges. Then 30 seconds before the end of the cooking time pour the sauce in – not over, but around the steaks. Let it bubble for about 20 seconds, season with salt, and then serve the steaks with the sauce poured over.

Celeriac puree

700g/9oz celeriac
70g/2oz unsalted butter
70ml/2fl oz double cream or 100ml milk
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the celeriac in boiling water for 20-25 minutes, if you want, add 2 medium sized potatoes. Drain well and blend all of the ingredients either in a food processor or a hand blender (I use the latter). Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and blend to a purée.

Chicken tikka masala

I made this last week on a weekday and must say it was the best Indian dish I have had outside the Painted Heron. It is not from an Indian source but from Gordon Ramsay. The rice is wonderful too, cardamom and star anise working its fragrant magic.

Ingredients:
Serves 4

Groundnut oil
1 large onion, peeled
2 fresh green chillies
1″ piece of ginger, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
4 boneless chicken breasts (approx 150g each), cubed
10 dried curry leaves
4-6 tbsp natural yoghurt
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

For the steamed rice
400g basmati rice, rinsed
600ml cold water
Salt and pepper
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 star anise

  1. Heat two tablespoons of groundnut oil in a pan. Slice the onion and fry in the oil. Meanwhile, deseed and chop the chilli, chop the ginger and add to the hot pan, crush in the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
  2. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes to the pan and allow them to cook for a further few minutes.
  3. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth (I transfered into a deepest pyrex ball I had and used a hand blender. This seems unnecessary as the sauce already look good, but it is an essential step to make the dish really creamy and make all the flavours blend.
  4. Add a tablespoon of fresh groundnut oil into the pan and fry the chicken pieces until lightly coloured (watch the video from Gordon on how to joint a chicken). Pour in the blended sauce and add the curry leaves. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Place the rice in a saucepan, add the cold water and season with salt and pepper (watch the video from Gordon on how to cook rice). Lightly crush the cardamom pods with your fingers and add to the pan with the star anise. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the rice to steam for a further 5 minutes. Remove the cardamom and star anise. Fluff up the rice with a fork and set aside.
  6. Stir in the yoghurt to the chicken curry along with half the chopped coriander. Serve with the steamed rice and garnish with the remaining coriander.

Spicy dhal soup

After a rather nice dinner in an Indian restaurant, I decided to have a go at cooking some Indian dishes myself. I came across this red lentil soup, which turned out to be fragrant, tasty and filling. Serve with some warm grilled naan bread spread with a little garlic butter and cut into chunky fingers. If not bothered about keeping it vegetarian, serve with a decent amount of dry-fried bacon, it works wonderfully and turns it into a hearty dish.

Serves 4, takes 30 minutes to prepare. I made a double batch, which is enough for 8, for sure.

Ingredients:

225g dried red lentils
3 tbsp sunflower oil (used light & mild olive oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, grated
1 medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and chopped, plus extra to garnish, if you like
1 medium-hot green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
300ml hot vegetable stock (I used my own chicken stock, foregoing the vegetarian option)
200g can chopped tomatoes
Good pinch of cayenne pepper
100ml coconut cream
100g baby leaf spinach, to serve (I didn’t have any so I used lots of fresh parsley)
20g bunch fresh coriander, to serve
6 tbsp natural yogurt, to serve (optional)

  1. Put the lentils into a medium saucepan and cover with 900ml of cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, until tender and just falling apart. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in another pan, add the onion and fry gently for 15 minutes, until browned. Reduce the heat, add the garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the spices and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, the lentils and their liquid, canned tomatoes, cayenne pepper and season with salt to taste. Cover and simmer for just 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, then add the coconut cream. Blend, using a hand blender or in batches in a liquidiser, until the soup is almost smooth.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the spinach and most of the coriander leaves and cook for a further minute. Using a hand blender, blend briefly until the spinach is just roughly chopped.
  5. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each with a spoonful of yogurt, the remaining coriander leaves and some finely chopped red chilli, if you like.

Note:
Nutritional Information per serving
369kcals
16.1g fat (1.6g saturated)
18.3g protein
41.6g carbs
7.6g sugar
1.6g

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.