September 2008


Making Turkish delight – also known as locum – is complicated and labour-intensive, and many traditional recipes are closely guarded secrets of Turkish confectioners, whose families have followed them for centuries. This simplified recipe may not be as good as that served to the ladies of a Sultan’s harem, but it is much lovelier than commercial Turkish delight. Do try it! Makes 24 pieces.

12 fl oz/ 350 ml water
4 fl oz/ 100 ml orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon agar agar or vegetarian jelly crystals
1 lb/ 450 g sugar
A few drops of pink or yellow food colouring (optional)
1 oz/ 25g pistachios, skinned and finely chopped (optional)
1 oz/ 25g almonds, skinned and finely chopped (optional)
Icing sugar for dusting

1. Heat the water, orange and lemon juices in a heavy, non-stick saucepan.
2. Add the agar agar or vegetarian jelly crystals, and stir on a gentle heat until they have dissolved.
3. Add the sugar and food colouring, if using, and increase the heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the nuts, if using.
4. Remove from the heat and cool the mixture, stirring from time to time until it comes to room temperature.
5. Pour the mixture into a square or rectangular dish, and place the dish in a basin of ice-cold water. Cover the dish with a cloth, and leave it in the fridge until the Turkish delight has set.
6. Remove from the fridge and bring it back to room temperature. Cut into 24 squares using a greased knife, and dust with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container, or wrap in cellophane, tie with a colourful ribbon, and give to someone you love as a gift.

This earthy-tasting pate, pepped up with spices, is finger lickin’ good with crusty bread and a green salad. Serves 4.

170g/ 6 oz pumpkin seeds
2 green chillies, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 large tomatoes, skinned, deseeded, and roughly chopped
4 tablespoons tomato puree
4 tablespoons fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
6 spring onions, finely chopped

1. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a frying pan without oil, and let them cool.
2. Grind them coarsely in a food processor.
3. Add all the other ingredients one by one and continue blitzing, putting in the spring onions last.
4. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Pancakes are not just for Pancake Day! This delightfully different idea for lunch or a light dinner is livened up with a touch of chilli. Makes around 20 small pancakes.

225g/ 8 oz plain flour
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Salt
340g/ 12 oz medium cornmeal
240 ml/ 8 fl oz milk
115 ml/ 4 fl oz plain unset yoghurt
90 ml/ 3 fl oz corn oil
170f/ 6 oz canned sweetcorn, drained and rinsed
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Half teaspoon cumin, dry-roasted in a pan and crushed in a mortar
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 red birdseye chillies, finely sliced

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Heat a large frying pan, and drop 2 tablespoons of batter, flattening it with the back of your spoon in a circular motion as you go. Flip over and cook the other side. To speed up the cooking time, cook 3 or 4 pancakes at a time. Serve hot, accompanied by a salad.

jungle-curry1

Jungle curry is Thai curry made without coconut milk, and this flavour-packed recipe is sure to appeal to lovers of hot, spicy food. Vegetarian red curry paste is available from most supermarkets, or can be made by combining equal quantities of dried red chillies, coriander seeds, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and kaffir lime peel. Substitute any Thai vegetables you like, and add tofu if you wish – as long as you keep to the basic quantities, the recipe is pretty flexible. Serves 2.

2 tablespoons groundnut oil
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1-inch piece ginger, shredded into thin matchsticks
8 fl oz/ 240 ml vegetable stock
4 oz yard-long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 baby aubergines, quartered
6 baby corn, halved
4 kaffir lime leaves, rolled up and finely sliced
1 red birdseye chilli, sliced diagonally
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
Half teaspoon sugar
Salt

1. Heat the oil, and fry the curry paste for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the ginger and vegetable stock, then stir for a couple more minutes.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are al dente. Serve with plain or coconut rice and a tofu dish.

The piquancy of salty Greek feta marries well with the earthiness of black turtle beans which are widely used in Latin American cooking. Serves 4.

8 oz feta cheese, diced
2 cups cooked black turtle beans
1 small, ripe but firm mango, diced
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 red and 1 green pepper, diced
1 oz/ 25g mint leaves, torn or shredded by hand
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Chill for a couple of hours before serving with warm, crusty bread.

I love aubergines: I’m seduced by their shiny, plump purple skin, and melting, almost meaty flesh. This simple but surprisingly yummy Lebanese dish is ideal for lunch or supper, and serves 4.

8 fl oz/ 225 ml plain yoghurt
4 fat cloves of garlic, minced
Salt
2 fl oz/ 50 ml olive oil
4 medium aubergines
4 medium tomatoes, quartered
3 peppers – 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow, cored, seeded and roughly chopped
Black pepper
2 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley

1. Whip the yoghurt with garlic and salt, and set aside while you make the rest of the dish.
2. Slice the aubergines. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, and fry the aubergines on both sides until they’re golden brown and cooked through.
3. Remove the aubergines and place in a heated serving dish.
4. In the remaining oil (add more if necessary), fry the peppers until cooked. Add the tomatoes and stir for a few minutes until softened.
5. Add salt, black pepper and parsley.
6. Pour the pepper and tomato mixture over the aubergines, and top with the garlicky yoghurt. Serve hot or at room temperature with pitta bread.

Sweet potaoes, pumpkins and sweetcorn…. these beautiful, somewhat underrated vegetables echo the very colours of autumn leaves and spectacular sunsets. They happen to be very much in season right now, making it a perfect time to try this earthy, flavoursome soup. The recipe serves 4.

3 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon corn oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium orange-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
Small butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small potato, peeled and roughly chopped
A little salt
2 bay leaves
1.5 litres/ 3 pints vegetable stock
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
Approx 2 – 3 oz sweetcorn
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
Handful fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
Black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil, add the garlic, and stir for a few seconds, taking care it doesn’t brown. Add the vegetables.
2. Add salt, stir, cover with the lid, and sweat the vegetables for approx 15 – 20 mins until tender.
3. Add the bay leaves and stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for approx 30 mins until the vegetables are mushy.
4. Meanwhile, toast the cumin and coriander seeds, and finely crush in a mortar.
5. In a small frying pan, sautee the sweetcorn on high heat in 1 tablespoon oil until dark brown patches begin to appear, and some of the corn begins to make a popping noise (bit like popcorn!). Add chilli powder. Cool, mix with coriander leaves, and set aside.
6. When the vegetables are cooked, blend the soup using a hand blender until well amalgamated, but with still a few pieces intact to give it a rustic look.
7. Add the spices and lemon juice, and heat through.

8. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, top with the sweetcorn mixture, and amalgamate before eating.

Tip: Delicious served with melting, gooey Cheddar cheese on toast, topped with finely chopped tomatoes and green chillies.