Thursday, 23 February 2017

Low Fat Chicken Tikka Masala

A very unauthentic curry that apparently was invented on these shores to suit the British palate, Chicken Tikka Masala has fast become the most popular takeaway in the UK.

My family tend to keep away from takeaways and make our own. They really can be simple to make and in this case, are often more healthy as you are in control of the salt and fat content.

Rather than cream, this uses yoghurt but aside from that, it is absolutely packed with flavour and misses none of the extra fat. For the spices you can use one of those ready-mixed tikka spices but it's just as easy to do it from scratch. Give your taste buds and your stomach a favour and try it now!



Low Fat Chicken Tikka Masala
Feeds 4

Ingredients
Marinade
4 chicken breasts, sliced into mouth sized chunks
100ml low fat yoghurt
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp each of ground paprika, ground coriander, ground ginger, turmeric, ground cumin and fennel seeds (grind them in a pestle and mortar if you prefer)
Salt and pepper

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion
6 cloves of garlic
A thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
1 fresh red chilli
1 tsp of garam masala, ground coriander and ground cumin
Half tsp of ground cinnamon
5 tbsp tomato puree
150ml low fat yoghurt
Salt and pepper

1 - In a large bowl, mix together the yoghurt, lime juice, spices and seasoning then marinade the chicken in it for a few hours.
2 - Finely chop the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger (or blitz in a food processor). Heat up the oil in pan and add. Cook for 10 minutes until starting to colour. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute.
3 - Stir in the tomato puree followed by the yoghurt. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until slightly reduced. If it looks too dry, add a splash of water. Taste for seasoning.
4 - While that is cooking, place your marinaded chicken on a piece of tin foil and cook under a hot grill until cooked and slightly charred.
5 - Stir into the curry sauce and taste for seasoning. Serve with rice, a scattering of fresh coriander and wedges of lime.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Mini Raspberry and Almond Puddings

A beautiful, delicate sponge cake, perfect for making in advance for your family treat or a dinner party. You can of course bung the whole mixture into a spring form cake tin and make a full on cake for slicing and serving with tea.

Serve with double cream, Greek yoghurt or good old custard.






Mini Raspberry and Almond Puddings
Makes 6 mini puddings, or 1 whole cake (in a 22cm spring form cake tin)

150g butter or margarine
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
50g ground almonds
100g self raising flour
Finely grated zest of one orange
A splash of milk
A small punnet of fresh raspberries

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4. Grease 6 mini ramekins and dust with ground almonds. If you are making a full cake, grease and line.
2 - In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Stir in the eggs one by one until thoroughly mixed.
3 - Tip in the ground almonds and flour and fold together.
4 - Finally, fold in the zest of orange, a splash of milk and the raspberries.
5 - Using a tablespoon, fill each ramekin about three quarters full until evenly shared. Tap each ramekin until the air is out and they are flat on the top. Place on the middle shelf and cook for 30-35 minutes or until slightly browned and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
6 - Allow to cool slightly before serving. Dust with icing sugar.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Fajita Seasoning

As a family, we love Mexican fajitas: easy to make, delicious and healthy, they are a popular and tasty quick tea option up and down the country.

The only problem that I find is that the commercial fajita seasonings aren't too good. They are either too salty, too hot, too smokey and too expensive. So here's probably the quickest and most simple recipe I've ever produced on here and one that you must try. It will save you money and also make for a more authentic and tasty seasoning for your chicken.

Experiment with heat and smokiness; if you like it hot, add a splash of chilli sauce whilst mixing together. If you like it smokey, use smoked paprika instead. If you like it smokey and hot, add both!



Fajita seasoning
Enough for an average family of 4 (4 chicken breasts)

1 - In a bowl, mix together 1 tsp each of ground cumin, paprika, ground coriander and dried oregano. Mix in quarter of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, a crushed garlic clove and season with a little salt and pepper.
2 - Squeeze in the juice of a lime and a tbsp of groundnut or olive oil. Add a few splashes of your favourite chilli sauce at this stage if you like it hot.
3 - Pour over thinly sliced chicken and leave to marinade for an hour or two.
4 - Cook as normal in a hot, non-stick drying pan with sliced peppers and onion.

NOTE - You can make a lot of this seasoning and put into an airtight container to save you mixing every time. When you need to use, simply stir two tablespoons of it together with the wet ingredients. Easy!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Tomatoless Beef and Squash Curry

I've a friend who has certain food allergies with one of them oddly being the tomato. He has to be the only person I know that can't eat this fruit which is evident in everything from soups to casseroles.

I've a great recipe which uses yoghurt as the main base for the sauce, a twist on a Rogan Josh, but even that uses tomato paste to colour and flavour. Thinking along the same lines, the curry I ended up with uses a rich paste of onion, garlic, chilli and ginger, lots of Indian spice and tamarind pulp, a sweet and sour fruit available in good Asian stores and one heavily used in Keralan food in south India.

The verdict? For something so simple and easy to make, it was delicious; hot, pungent, spicy and slightly sweet, the tomato wasn't missed one bit and it completely took me by surprise, becoming one of the best curries I've ever made. Try it this weekend; it will put smiles on faces, even ones with certain food allergies.

Tomatoless Beef and Squash Curry

Feeds 4

2 onions, peeled
1 thumb size of ginger, peeled
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 red chilli, deseeded
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 bay leaves
600g stewing beef cut into large chunks
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced thin
200ml tamarind water (use concentrated tamarind paste)
Water
Salt and pepper

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 160C/GM3. Put the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli into a blender. Blend to a paste.
2 - Heat up the oil in a flame-proof casserole dish. Add the paste and cook for 5-10 minutes until it begins to colour. Stir in the spices and cook for a further minute.
3 - Stir in the beef and thoroughly combine with the spiced paste. Cook for 5 minutes until the beef browns.
4 - Add the tamarind water and a little more water to just cover. Bring to the boil then place into the oven and cook for 2 hours. Check on the hour to ensure it isn't cooking dry; you may need to add a drop or two of water. Add the squash at this point too. The finished product should have a light gravy rather than be watery. Continue to cook if it is too watery.
4 - Remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning. Serve with plain boiled basmati rice, chutney, fresh mint and/or coriander and Indian breads.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Spiced Pickled Beetroot


Beetroot are an acquired taste. Boiled to submission, they can retain all of the character of a Saturday night singing contest. However, roasted slowly to tease out the sugars makes for a unique vegetable that sits perfectly alongside your Sunday roast or simply diced and tossed into a cold pasta or rice salad.

They are probably more used to the pickling treatment in this country. This process can demolish the beet's subtle flavours but when you have more beetroot than you can juggle with, sometimes the pickling jars are the only option. I've devised a simple spiced version with a balanced flavour of sweet and sour. Placed in between two doorsteps of bread with a hunk of strong Cheddar cheese, it helps to make arguably one of the best sandwiches in the world.

Spiced Pickled Beetroot
Makes approximately 4 large jars

8 whole beetroot
Olive oil
500ml malt vinegar
200g caster sugar
4 whole chillies
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp salt
4 large picking jars

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4. Clean the beetroot and place into a square of foil. Drizzle with a little olive oil, wrap thoroughly then place onto the middle shelf and bake for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
2 - Sterilise your jars by placing into a warm oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
3 - To make the pickling liquor, place the vinegar, sugar, chillies and spices into a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.
3 - Peel the skin from the beetroot. Slice thickly then place equally into the jars. Pour over the spiced pickling liquor and share out the chillies and spices. Seal and put into a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks to allow the flavours to develop before eating.