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.

Parsee Chicken with Apricots

Something nice and spicy today from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand.

We’ve raved about this book often enough, but this meal is a prime example of why we love it so much – it’s easy to put together and doesn’t call upon any especially exotic ingredients but the end result is a really tasty, comforting and spicy meal – but also noticeably unique from the myriad of other chicken recipes you can find in other books.

I’d eat this again and again – possibly the apricots appealing to my sweet tooth, but it was a real treat of a meal.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe is another opportunity to use up some leftover chicken from a recent roast – the recipe is from Nigella’s fabulous book, Kitchen.

Long story short, it’s nice and tasty but we love roast chicken leftovers and the flavour of the chicken was a bit lost on this meal. That’s not to say we wouldn’t have it again… just that if you’ve got some roast chicken going spare then there are other recipes which show it offer to its full potential (Diana Henry’s bird pie being my absolute favourite!).

Vietnamese Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry

When we have a roast chicken, we tend not to post the photos on Instagram or on here because it’s a pretty routine exercise. However, it is also an opportunity to cook something the next day from Diana Henry’s fabulous A Bird in The Hand which has a whole chapter on uses for leftover chicken. That is, of course, if the chicken survives long enough with Mark and me both pinching bits every time we open the fridge!

The recipe is pretty simple and easy. Fry the chopped onion, then add the chopped chilli and spices (ground coriander and turmeric, the latter of which I forgot to photograph) and fry for a minute. Then add the coconut cream, chicken stock and cubed sweet potato and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through. Then throw in your chicken and warm it through, along with a squeeze of lime juice, and serve with some rice.

Diana also adds fish sauce, but I left this out because Mark isn’t a fan. This would probably normally be a sweet and sour flavour as a result, but ours was more on the sweet side. Still delicious though!

Roast Chicken in Turmeric, Paprika & Cumin with Corn Cakes and Mashed Avocados

The list of ingredients here is pretty long but a lot of it is storecupboard stuff – and if you’ve cooked any number of Nigella Lawson recipes you’ll probably have most of the rarer items anyway (I’m looking at you, polenta). The recipe itself is from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand.

The recipe is actually three dishes. It looks like it takes a lot of time and preparation but actually it’s really simple. First you make the batter for the corn cakes, which basically means put the ingredients in a food processor and blitz them together.

Next you make a spice mix for the chicken, rub it all over and bang it in the oven for 45 minutes.

When the chicken is nearly ready, mash the avocado with a fork and add sherry vinegar and lime juice. Then fry your pre-prepared batter in a pan to make your corn cakes and serve the whole thing up.

I think I under-did the seasoning in the corn cakes and chicken, and overdid it with the sherry vinegar in the avocados. But the overall result was highly impressive. Presenting three home made items on a plate for dinner makes you look like some kind of domestic wizard!

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!

Kachin Chicken Curry

What I was thinking choosing to make a curry on one of the hottest days of the year so far, I’ll never know. It’s apparently a Burmese recipe – that’s a cuisine I’m not familiar with, but it comes from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand and she’s never let us down so far.

Diana says this is a mild curry, but I didn’t have access to the dried chillies suggested so I used chilli flakes instead. Because it was the end of a jar, there was a lot of chilli “dust” and this ended up being significantly hotter than expected!

Considering the relatively short list of ingredients, the most exciting thing about this meal was the fact it smelled and tasted so authentic – normally I’d associate curry with a long list of ingredients but that’s not the case here and the meal doesn’t suffer at all.

Indian Spiced Cod

It’s been a while since we cooked anything from Simply Nigella, so we dusted the book off the shelf and decided to give this recipe a go. It’s a pretty quick and easy to put together – just right for a warm evening after work.

The recipe is very easy. The spices all get mixed together with some yohurt, lime juice and lime zest. Nigella uses coconut yoghurt (that’s the dairy substitute, not coconut flavoured regular yoghurt!) but says you can use Greek instead. I used Greek because we had some in the fridge. Nigella also suggests cutting back on the lime if you use Greek yoghurt… I missed that particular instruction and used the full amount, and it ended up with a very strong lime flavour which was a bit much for me but marked loved it.

You then thickly coat your cod with the sauce and bake in the oven at 200 Celsius for 15 minutes… and that’s it! Done! I did a side of mashed potato and peas to go with this. Maybe not in keeping with the Indian flavours, but it went well enough for my liking.

Spiced Chicken Rice

We’re rounding out the working week with another recipe from the Sainsbury’s Homemade By You website. It’s another quick and easy recipe and takes next to no time to prepare.

Cut the chicken and fry in some oil, then add some chopped garlic and fry for a few more minutes before adding a teaspoon of turmeric and two teaspoons of garam masala. Next add some chopped leek and lettuce, plus some sultanas and chicken stock.

The recipe calls for it to be simmered with some frozen rice and frozen peas. We had the latter, but no frozen rice – we just boiled up some run-of-the-mill white rice and added that and it worked just fine.

End result was nice, but no particularly exciting. The spices added some flavour, but it wasn’t as satisfying as a true curry. It was a great mountain of food though and very filling.