Prawn Jalfrezi

A quick burst of heat for dinner on a cold winter’s day comes in the form of this prawn jalfrezi, the recipe for which is available online at the BBC Good Food website.

There were a few panics whilst making this – particularly when I realised we had no tinned tomatoes in the cupboard and I had to run to the corner shop on a particularly cold and windy night. The recipe also calls for you to cook the onions and spices, then add the chopped tomatoes and water and blitz with a hand blender. I tried to do this in the pan (heat turned off, obviously!) but the depth wasn’t sufficient to do without spattering so I had to decant everything to a pyrex jar, blitz it, and then put it back in the pan.

Also, the recipe called for one 400g tin of chopped tomatoes plus half a tin of water – I suspect the water wasn’t needed because our sauce was quite wet even after reducing down for a long time. The recipe said cook uncovered, but we took the lid off in an attempt to try and make things a bit thicker.

Despite that, the end result was really nice. Not a 100% authentic jalfrezi, but a nice and spicy sauce with a fresh taste.

West African Chicken & Peanut Stew

This is a new one for us – an evening meal which features peanut butter as a main ingredient. Don’t get me wrong, we love the stuff, it’s just that we’re more familiar having it on toast… or possibly just eating it with a spoon straight from the jar…

This Diana Henry recipe (as ever, from A Bird in the Hand) is a lengthy one, as evidenced by our “before” photo. On closer inspection though, there’s nothing fancy here and if you have a reasonably stocked spice cupboard then you’ll have pretty much everything you need anyway.

It’s very strange to make the sauce by dissolving peanut butter into chicken stock, but the resulting meal is utterly fabulous – substantial and satisfying with a great nutty flavour and smoothness. Obviously not a good meal for those with certain allergies, but since we don’t fall into that camp we were happy to gorge ourselves on it.

Courgette and Lentil Dhal

How much health can you get in a single bowl? Quite a lot, actually, when you’re using the Thrive on Five cook book. We’ve raved about this book before but the long and short of it is that it contains recipes which will give you your five portions of veg for the day in a single meal. There are a lot of nice recipes in the book (although some of them can get a bit samey – I’m looking at you, mushrooms) and we found this one we hadn’t tried before.

There’s a lot of spices and interesting flavours going on in this meal, but it upset me by requiring the use of the food processor to blitz carrot and celery (I hate anything which creates washing up!). The end result was very tasty but Mark enjoyed it more than me. Some brown rice and chapatis rounded out what turned out to be a very filling and tasty meal.

Followed by a slice of the healthy cake we made at the weekend, it’s 6 portions of fruit and veg in one sitting!

Quick Lamb Curry

It’s been a while since I last made anything from Nigel Slater’s The 30-Minute Cook and whilst trying to think of something nice and spicy to cook for dinner I remembered we’ve had some other nice recipes from that book (most notably his quick chicken korma) and that led to this quick lamb curry recipe.

The recipe makes quite a dry curry and uses quite a lot of spices but the end result works. Perhaps not as tasty or authentic tasting as some of his other recipes, but certainly not bad. We mopped it up with supermarket naan breads – not too fancy, but does the job nicely.

One suggestion – Nigel says to add water to the recipe, but use stock if you have it available. We used water and thought it was a bit bland and added a fair bit of salt to the recipe. I suspect that if we’d used stock it might have reduced the need for salt and added a bit more depth to the flavours.

Afghani Style Stew with Pine Nuts

Recipes have been a bit thin on the ground this week because I’ve been ill. I had an ill fated attempted at cooking a Nigel Slater lamb casserole earlier in the week and I’m going to blame the illness because it was a disaster – possibly the single blandest meal I’ve ever had.

I’m on the mend now, but feeling the need for something healthy so where else to turn but good old Thrive on Five? Five portions of veg in one meal must help get me on the road to recovery.

This recipe isn’t the easiest – get all the chopping and prepping done first because it’s a tight turnaround between adding each set of ingredients, and if you don’t keep stirring the pan then things will burn and taste bitter. I thought I’d managed it but got caught out and half way through the recipe I tasted it and thought it was disgusting.

By the time I got to the end though, things had improved. The yoghurt helped balance out the bitterness and the end result wasn’t half bad. Lots of vegetables and lots of spice. We also followed it with a dessert of cherries, strawberries and banana so I think that’s 8 portions of fruit and veg just at dinner time… I’ll be back to full health in no time.