Black Beans with Garlic and Allspice
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This is a quick recipe that can be prepared with any type of tinned pulses and beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans or even chickpeas or red lentils. If you don't have allspice, you could try a pinch of garam masala. Improvise as much as you like but don't over do it on the chilli heat in the first instance. You can freeze the recipe without adding the coriander as long as the beans are covered in a liquid. Defrost thoroughly if you freeze.   Black Beans with Garlic and Allspice Serves 4 2 tbsp olive oil 2 bay leaves (optional) 1 onion, chopped 3-5 garlic cloves, chopped 1 tsp tomato puree 1/2 tsp allspice 1 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp chilli flakes 1/4 tsp salt 200g or half a can of chopped tomatoes (you can save the remaining for another dish) 1x400g can of black beans 250ml or a cup vegetable stock made from a stock cube   Heat a saucepan on a medium heat and add the oil. Add the bay leaves, if using, and stir. Tip in the onion and fry for 3-4 minutes until soft. Tip in the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more until soft. Add the tomato puree, allspice, cumin, chilli flakes and salt cook stirring for 2 minutes. Mix in the tomatoes and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the mixture becomes quite thick. Tip in the beans along with the water and sauté for a minute. Pour in the stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the beans are tender and the consistency of the mixture is fairly thick and not too runny. Garnish with coriander leaves, if using and serve with rice.

Garlic Mushrooms
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Serve as a first course or as a side vegetable with pork chops or lamb cutlets. The nice addition is the parsley to give it that extra flavour. Serves 4 20 flat black mushrooms, stalks removed 4 tbsp olive oil 2 small lemons, zest removed and chopped, juice squeezed salt and pepper 100g fresh breadcrumbs 1 bunch flat parsley, leaves only 100g butter, melted Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Put the mushrooms in a roasting tin, gills uppermost, drizzle each mushroom with a little olive oil, pour over the lemon juice and season. Bake for 30 minutes until well cooked through. Meanwhile place the breadcrumbs in a food processor, then add the parsley, garlic and lemon rind. Process until well blended, the crumbs will turn a nice green colour. But don’t overwork the mixture, it might turn pasty. Carefully spoon some over each mushroom and then gently press in the mixture with your fingers.  Spoon the butter evenly over each mushroom. Turn up the oven to 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 and return the mushrooms to the top shelf of the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes until the crumbs are starting to turn brown. If necessary finish them off under the grill. Serve immediately.

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A refreshing chunky dunking dip that can accompany nachos or become a side dish with some rice and Mexican style beans.   Serves 4   2 ripe avocados 4 tomatoes, finely chopped Juice of 1 lime a few washed and finely chopped coriander leaves 1 red onion, finely chopped 1 red or green chilli, finely chopped  1 garlic clove, crushed A pinch of sea salt 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper   Halve and stone the avocados (saving a stone) and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh into the bowl with the tomato. Tip the juice of the lime, the coriander, red onion, chilli, if using, and the garlic into the bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Use a whisk to roughly mash everything together. If not serving straight away, sit a stone in the guacamole (this helps to stop it going brown), cover with cling film and chill until needed.

Bombay Potatoes
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Bombay in western India is now called Mumbai but this Indian restaurant perennial served predominantly in the UK can be made quite easily at home in place of jackets or chips. Serves 4 4 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil 1/4 tsp brown or black mustard seeds (rai) 1/4 tsp turmeric 1/4 tsp salt 400g fluffy potatoes such as King Edward or Maris Piper, peeled, boiled and cut into 4cm pieces 1/4 tsp chilli powder or chilli flakes Heat the pan on a medium setting and add the oil. To check that the oil is hot enough, add a few mustard seeds. If they pop, the oil is ready. Then add the remainder of the mustard seeds. Tip in the turmeric and salt. Mix well. Fry the pungent mixture for about 30 seconds and then add the potatoes. Fry for about 4-5 minutes until the potatoes are smothered in seeds and appear to have crispy edges. They will look quite yellow in colour. Add the chilli powder or chilli flakes and mix well. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for a few minutes more if necessary. Serve immediately with pitta breads and a crisp green salad.

Cheesy Nachos
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This is a favourite at most parties and also when you fancy a quick snack with friends.  

Serves 3-4


200g tortilla chips

50g cheddar cheese or Red Leicester, grated

¼ tsp ground cumin

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 small red tomato, finely chopped or 4 tbsp salsa

2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped or 8-10 jalapeños

A few washed and chopped coriander leaves, to serve (optional)

6 tbsp sour cream, to serve (optional)


Cover a baking tray with tortilla chips and spread the cheese evenly on top. Sprinkle over the cumin, onion, tomato and chillies. Place under the grill for 6-7 minutes or bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 180C/gas 4.

Remove from the oven and garnish with the coriander leaves, if using.

Baba Ganoush
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Serves 6-8

2 large aubergines (about 650g)

1/4 tsp black pepper

Juice of 1 lemon, plus a little extra

2 tbsp tahini

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tbsp chopped mint or flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

green olives, for garnish

Sweet paprika, for garnish


Blacken the aubergines over a gas hob or barbecue, turning regularly with tongs, until completely charred and collapsed (you may wish to surround the rings with foil, as it can be messy). Allow to cool.

Slit the aubergines lengthways and scoop out the flesh in long strands, discarding the skins. Put in a sieve and leave to drain for 30 minutes, or squeeze out if you're in a hurry. Season with the black pepper.

In a serving bowl, stir the lemon juice into the tahini until it loosens up. Add the garlic and two-thirds of the chopped herbs, and season again to taste. Add a squeeze more lemon juice if necessary.

Mash the aubergines gently with a fork, and then stir into the tahini mixture. Top with the remaining herbs. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well.

Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.

Place the olives around the sides, along with the sweet paprika

Serve at room temperature.

Baked Beans Balti
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Technically, a ‘balti’ means a bucket. But this recipe uses four spices to create an exotic twist to a store cupboard favourite. It makes a change to traditional beans on toast and also makes a great breakfast accompaniment to eggs. Serves 2 1 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil a pinch of asafoetida (optional) 1 small onion, chopped ¼ tsp ground cumin ¼ tsp ground coriander A pinch of chilli powder or 1 green chilli, finely chopped 200g can baked beans Heat the oil on a medium heat in a frying pan or small saucepan, then tip in the asafoetida, if using. When it crackles, put in the onion. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Tip in the cumin, coriander and chilli powder and fry for another minute. Add the beans, reduce the heat and cook for 1 more minute. Serve hot with toast, wholemeal pittas or on jacket potatoes.

Muhammara – Red Pepper Relish
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Muhammara is a dip from Aleppo in Syria made from fresh or dried peppers, chilli peppers, breadcrumbs, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. the pomegranate molasses brings both tartness and sweetness to the relish. Muhammara is eaten as a dip with bread, as a spread for toast, and as a sauce for kebabs, grilled meats, and fish. Serves 6 3 red peppers or a jar of red peppers 50g fresh breadcrumbs ½ tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses 1½ tsp ground cumin 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed 50g walnuts, finely chopped by hand 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish   If using fresh peppers, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Put the peppers on a tray and roast for 30-35 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are cooked and the skin is blackened. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling-film and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and seeds. Pat the peppers dry, and place in a mortar or a blender or food processor. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice, molasses, cumin, chilli and garlic. Work this with a pestle until well combined, but not so much that the peppers no longer have a noticeable texture. Stir through the walnuts and the olive oil. Add more pomegranate molasses and salt to taste the flavours will be quite intense and concentrated. Spoon the dip into a shallow bowl, using the back of a spoon to give it a wavy texture, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve at room temperature.    

White Chocolate Indian Fudge – Barfi
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Chocolate couverture is chocolate used for cooking which contains a high content of cocoa  butter around 30-40 percent. This fudge also a great way to introduce children to different spice flavours.   Makes about 8 pieces 150g white chocolate couverture 1 tsp unsalted butter the seeds of 4-5 green cardamom pods, crushed (optional) 150g full fat milk powder   Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Add a little boiling water to a saucepan and heat until simmering. Suspend the bowl of chocolate over the simmering water (this is known as a bain marie) and allow the chocolate to melt. Chocolate needs to be heated carefully to prevent it from seizing through overcooking. Once melted, set aside. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan over a medium heat. Add the cardamom and mix well. Tip in the milk powder and continue simmering and stirring, for 3-4 minutes until the mixture begins to come together. Then add the melted chocolate and continue mixing or until the mixture becomes stiff and begins to leave the side of the pan and possibly leaves a sheen of the butter in the pan. Tip the mixture onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and leave it to stand for a couple of minutes, then use a wet palette knife or spatula, shape into a 10cm/4 in square about 1.5cm/ 1/4 inch thick. Cover and place in the refrigerator for half an hour. Using a sharp knife, cut the cooled fudge into eight 3 cm squares.  Serve immediately with coffee, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Oaty Apple Crumble
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This is a great way of using up leftover apples in your fruit bowl. I've added oats for that extra crunchiness and a little roughage. I've also used less sugar for the topping as is traditionally used. Serves 6 For the crumble: 150g plain flour 70g rolled oats 80g brown sugar 130g vegan margarine or butter   For the filling: 350g apples, some peeled, cored and cut into 1cm pieces 30g brown sugar 1 tbsp plain flour A generous pinch of ground cinnamon Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.   Place the flour, oats and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Taking a few cubes of margarine or butter at a time rub into the flour mixture. Keep rubbing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Place the fruit in a large bowl and sprinkle over the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir well being careful not to break up the fruit.  Butter a 24cm/9in ovenproof dish. Spoon the fruit mixture into the bottom, then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.  Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture bubbling.  Serve with custard.

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1x 400g can of chickpeas 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tbsp tahini 1 garlic clove, crushed 4 tbsp olive oil juice of 1 lemon 2 tbsp orange juice 2-4 tbsp chickpea water 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper ¼ tsp paprika ½ tsp chilli powder (optional) Garnish: black olives, paprika, 1 tbsp olive oil Drain the chick peas and reserve the liquid. Blend or mash the chick peas with the garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, chickpea water, ground cumin and chilli powder with the salt, if using.  Add about 1-2 tbsp or enough of the reserved liquid to give a soft dropping consistency, not too runny. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika, significantly placed black olives and the drizzling of olive oil. TIP: You could use freshly ground cumin if you like (toasting the lightly in a dry pan before grinding will help to bring out the aroma).

Uppama – South Indian Semolina
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Serves 4 250g fine or medium semolina 2 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil 1/4 tsp brown or black mustard seeds 4-6 curry leaves (optional) 1 onion, sliced 2 green chillies, finely chopped 60g petit pois or peas, defrosted if frozen 1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp lemon juice 1 tomato, washed and chopped 1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional) A few washed and chopped coriander leaves   Heat a saucepan and put in the semolina. Stir well for about 5 minutes to roast it, But don’t let it burn. Its colour should darken only a little. Take it off the heat and set it aside. In another saucepan, heat the oil and add a few of the mustard seeds. If they start to crackle, the oil is hot enough so add the remaining seeds. Tip in the curry leaves if using and stir to combine. Add the onion and the chillies and sauté for about 4-5 minutes. Add the peas and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes. Mix in the salt. Then add 500ml of water to the mixture and then tip in the semolina and cook for a further 5 minutes. Mix in the lemon juice, tomato and the desiccated coconut, if using. and sprinkle over the coriander leaves. Serve with lime pickle.

Spiced Cauliflower with Olives – Gobhi Masala with Olives
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Although edible olives are not indigenous to the Indian sub-continent, they are increasingly becoming popular in restaurants and shops in major cities of India.   Serves 2-3 300g cauliflower florets, cut into 4cm pieces 5 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 2 green chillies, finely chopped 2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tsp turmeric ½ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground coriander ¼ tsp salt ¼ tsp garam masala 2 tomatoes, blended 1 tsp peeled and finely grated root ginger 10-12 black pitted olives Wash the cauliflower well in salted cold water. Heat the oil in a frying pan and lightly saute the cauliflower florets for 5-6 minutes until they are slightly browned. Remove from the pan and then add the onion, chillies and garlic, and fry for 7 minutes or until the onion is deep yellow and translucent. Add the cauliflower and fry for a further 3 minutes until light brown. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, and garam masala, stir and fry gently for 5 minutes. Tip in the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add 5 tbsp cold water, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and the olives. Serve hot.

Potato and Gram Flour Fritters – Aloo Pakora
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This is another way to eat a street food snack known as pakoras which are extremely moreish so I warn you to eat in moderation and make them on special occasions such as a tea time get-together. Serves 2 sunflower oil for deep-frying (approximately 500ml) pinch of coriander seeds, slightly crushed pinch of turmeric 1/4 tsp cumin seeds 1/4 tsp chilli powder 1/4 tsp salt 25g gram flour (besan) 150g fluffy or smooth potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced   Put the deep-frying oil into a saucepan and set it on the hob to heat or in a deep fat fryer at 180C. In a bowl, mix together the spices and salt with the gram flour. Add 50ml of water and stir it into a thick paste. Drop a few potatoes into the batter and roll them around to coat them in it.  Check that the oil is hot enough: with a spatula, let a drop of of batter carefully fall into the oil: if it splatters or sizzles, it is ready. Drop the coated potato slices into the oil and fry for a few seconds, then tun them to cook the other side. Lift them out on to some kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Repeat until all the potato slices are cooked. Serve as snacks with ketchup or any of your favourite chutneys.

Streetfood Snack – Samosa Chaat
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Samosa Chaat is a street food sold in eateries predominantly in northern India. It is made up of crushed samosas served with a generous topping of a chickpea preparation and garnished with a selection of chutneys and a crunchy scattering of Bombay mix. This recipe uses shop bought samosas but you could make your own for an even more personal touch. For the Amritsari Chole - Northern Indian Chick peas Serves 4 3 tbsp sunflower oil 2 bay leaves 4 black cardamoms 2 onions, finely chopped 1 tsp ginger paste 2 tsp ground cumin 1.5 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp ground fennel  1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp mango powder or ground pomegranate seeds 1/4 tsp chilli powder 1.5 tsp garam masala 1 x 450g can of chopped tomatoes 1 tea bag 2 x 450g cans of chick peas 2-3 green chillies, slit lengthways  Julienned fresh root ginger 8 cooked samosas   For garnishes: Sev or Bombay mix Green chutney Red chutney (can be shop bought garlic and chilli sauce) Red onions, finely chopped  Natural yogurt Tamarind sauce Washed and chopped coriander leaves   Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the bay leaves and the black cardamons and fry, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds, or until they splutter. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Add the onions and fry, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes until they are golden brown. Add the ginger to the pan with the cumin, coriander, fennel, salt, mango powder or ground pomegranate seeds, chilli powder and garam masala and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and mix well till the mixture becomes thick. Bring 500ml or 2 cups of water to the boil. Put the tea bag in a heatproof bowl, pour over the water and set aside to brew. Tip in the chickpeas and continue stirring for a further 5 minutes, mashing some of the chickpeas against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Discard the tea bag and stir the tea into the pan. Leave the mixture to simmer for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes quite thick. Garnish with the green chillies and the root ginger. To assemble the samosa chaat: For one serving, add a couple of tablespoons of the chickpeas on a plate. Then break up 2 samosas and place on top of the chickpeas. Tip over a teaspoonful of sev. Add some green and red chutney, sprinkle over the red onions and coriander leaves and serve.   For the Green Chutney: Serves 4 A large bunch of washed and chopped coriander leaves 20 washed mint leaves with stalks 2 green chillies, roughly chopped 1 x 2.5cm piece root ginger  1/2 tsp lime juice  1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp chaat masala 1 tbsp water, for blending    Put all the ingredients in a blender or a food processor and blend till smooth.

Strawberries with Vanilla Cream
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Strawberries are a great source of vitamins C and K and include folic acid, fibre and potassium. Pick strawberries that are firm and plump and bring to room temperature before serving.   Serves 2   150ml double cream  1 tsp vanilla extract 100g strawberries, hulled and washed 2 washed sprigs of mint (optional) Place the cream in a bowl and add the vanilla extract. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form and set aside.  Slice or cut the strawberries into pieces. Fold in the strawberries into the cream and divide into 2 bowls. Garnish with the mint, if using.

Lemon Rice
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Basmati is an authentic Indian long grained rice that has a unique nutty flavour. It is very popular in India and all over the world, and is used in a wide variety of rice dishes: Plain steamed rice, pulaos, pilafs, biryanis or just different types of fried rice. Special occasion rice dishes are usually made with basmati rice.   Serves 2-3   1 tbsp groundnut or olive oil 1/2 tsp mustard seeds 1 tsp skinned split black lentils or urad dal (optional) 5-6 curry leaves (optional) 2 medium dried red chillies or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp turmeric 200g white Basmati rice, washed 1 tbsp lemon juice   Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves, if using, red chillies, salt and turmeric, and stir for few seconds. Add the rice and mix well, then pour in 500ml boiling water. Cover tightly and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Replace the lid and simmer for a further 8 minutes.

Mango Fruit Salad
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Mango is the national fruit of India. It is also known traditionally as the food of the gods. Its leaves are used as floral decorations during Hindu marriages and religious ceremonies. Used in all sorts of sweet preparations, mangoes are delicious eaten on their own or with other fruits, such as in this refreshing salad. This recipe is taken from the Easy Indian Cookbook   Serves 4   1 mango 1 handful strawberries, hulled, washed and chopped 2 nectarines, washed and chopped 2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice 1 tsp vanilla extract  1 tsp rose water or 2 drops rose extract 1 tsp dark brown sugar   Slice the mango lengthways, either side of the large flat stone. Place the two sides flesh side up and make criss cross cuts into the flesh without cutting through the skin. Push the skin gently to make the cubes standout. Then cut away the segments of flesh.  Combine the mango cubes with the strawberries and the nectarines. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to allow the salad to return to room temperature.  Mix the lime juice, vanilla and sugar together, and pour over the salad. Serve with whipped cream, if you like. This can be refrigerated covered for up to two days.