The other day I brought home a couple of fresh mackerel, gutted and cleaned. As I cast about for recipe ideas, I spotted a couple of Moroccan fish recipes, using a couple of variations on a chermoula as a marinade. With that as inspiration, I dug out my heavy duty mortar & pestle and have it a good wash. I don’t use our mortar & pestle all that much, but every time I do, I keep wondering why I don’t use it more. I think it’s a mental block; even though I know it doesn’t take too much effort or time for a simple paste, there’s still that hesitation. It’s not my first tool of choice, and that’s purely out of habit rather than anything else, I think.
These lamb chops are a firm favourite in our household. We usually get a french-trimmed rack of lamb and then cut them up into individual chops (although there are probably cheaper ways of doing this dish). Then divide them into portions for two, rub in some marinade, and freeze in a ziploc bag. On days when you don’t feel like making too much of an effort, it’s an easy job to defrost a packet, put them in the oven for 15 minutes and have a great meal ready in a jiffy.
I find the Moroccan flavours go amazingly with lamb, with the slightly bitter rocket and tangy sweet pomegranate providing a wonderfully tasty counterpoint.
Another edition of the Avocado Breakfast. This wonderful ingredient can be used with so many others, the combinations are endless.
- Put some chunks of perfectly ripe avocado on crunchy toast. I haven’t buttered the toast as the avocado serves the purpose.
- Mash up the chunks roughly with a fork and spread them about a bit so that they cover the toast.
- Top with a poached egg and then a sprinkle of salt and a few dashes of sriracha. A runny poached egg is perfect as the yolk can run and mingle with the avocado.
- Serve immediately.
One of my favourite dishes is Kheema Pav, which is mince served with the ubiquitous Mumbai bread rolls. There are many versions of this dish, mainly variations in the way the meat is cooked. As an apprentice Marine Engineer I used to spend a lot of time in and around the Mumbai docks, where there is an abundance of the small Muslim cafés and restaurants. These restaurants specialise in a multitude of meat dishes cooked in a particular style, that are not easily available elsewhere. And so, the Kheema Pav served there has a particular nostalgic attraction in my mind. After many years of trying to recreate the taste at home, I came across a recipe that triggered ‘that taste‘ in my mind (thanks to Farrukh Aziz). And now, finally, I’m able to make my version of this wonderful dish, tweaked to be healthier, with the use of alternate meats (like chicken or turkey) and much less oil than they use in the restaurants, but still with the key flavours that remind me of those idyllic days.
Avocado for breakfast is a continued passion for me. The creamy nuttiness of soft, ripe avocados is a taste that can be savoured again and again, and I will never tire of it. And I keep trying different combinations of what can be done with this wonderful produce, often depending on what else I have in the fridge at the time.
This morning, I remember led a box of mixed heirloom tomatoes that I had bought the other day. Different shapes, colours and sizes, these little gems are so attractive to look at. I’m the first to admit that I’m no tomato connoisseur but even I could make out some subtle differences in taste between them. And with no sundried tomatoes in the house, what better alternative on my avocado breakfast?
- Take one slice of toast. I used a big slice of tiger bread (or giraffe bread as some shops call it nowadays). Definitely make it crunchy, the contrast in texture to the other ingredients is a delight.
- Layer on slices or chunks of ripe, soft avocado. You could mash it up slightly with a fork, if you feel like having a more even spread.
- Cut up some heirloom tomatoes into rough chunks. Don’t need to be fancy, just don’t keep the bite-sized. Scatter them across the toast.
- Also add chunks of mozzarella (cut around the same size as the tomatoes).
- Sprinkle a pinch of salt and then add dots of sriracha sauce.
- Serve immediately.
Moroccan food, especially the tagines, are close to our heart. Or rather more accurately, close to our palates and our stomachs. The cuisine uses a lot of the same spices; coriander, cumin, saffron, mint etc but in different ways and combinations. And the zing of the preserved lemons is a joy to the tastebuds. So whenever we feel like have something nice, but not Indian, one of our defaults is a Moroccan tagine. I’ve got a couple of books on Moroccan food and have enjoyed working my way through most of the recipes.
I’ve adapted this particular one from ‘The Moroccan Collection‘ by Hilaire Walden. The cooking process was fairly standard for a tagine, some attention up front and then a little peek every now and then while it simmers away. The result was very nice and because of the artichokes, something slightly different than usual.
Sometimes it’s not about gourmet cuisine, but just about combining a few key flavours and making quick, simple but yet delicious food. And this little tidbit is a exactly that.
Slices of homemade wholewheat and spelt seeded bread. Slivers of butter and a spread of sweet, tart sun-dried fig chutney. Topped with chunks of extra-hot Mexicana cheese. No cooking, no fuss.
And the best part is that you can switch things around and try different combinations. Go for a different chutney. Use goats cheese or feta. Experiment with the flavours and use what works for you.