This is the best chilli sauce you will ever make. Ever. If you grow your own chillies, perfect. If not you will have to buy a lot, but it’s worth it. Here goes. Obtain:
- 400g red chillies of your choice.
Remove seeds and stalks. You might think you can get away with chopping one chilli with unprotected fingers, but don’t try it with 400g. Wear gloves or you will suffer. Put your chillies in a food processor or blender with:
- 10 cloves of garlic
- 200ml water
- 70ml cider vinegar
Whizz until finely chopped. Add to a saucepan with
- 60g soft brown sugar
- 2 tbs salt
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened. Stir to prevent sticking and burning. Sterilise some jars or small bottles, fill with the sauce while hot, seal then leave to cool. It will keep in a fridge for several months, but it is highly likely it will all be consumed well before then.
OK, true Indian cookery affionados will probably cringe at this, but if you want a tasty meal ready in under 20 minutes and fewer than 100 ingredients you are in the right place. I’m giving the quantities here for one person, you can scale up x2, x3 and x4 but as this is a microwave dish I’m not guaranteeing it will work for larger quantities because I haven’t tested it for more servings. You can adapt it for the Instant Pot then you can go larger.
Here goes, per person. You can chop and change the choice of vegetables. It can be one or two types, or a gathering of anything you have to hand.
- 70gm basmati rice
- 140ml vegetable stock
- 0.5tbs curry paste (any will do)
- 120gm vegetables – sliced mushroom, chopped beans, peas, chopped pepper, chopped carrot, cauliflower florets, diced potato, diced sweet potato or any combo that takes your fancy. You can use chopped onion but best to saute these first.
- 25g dried fruit such as sultanta, raisin, chopped dried apricot
Put the whole lot in a microwaveable container such as a pyrex bowl, and cover. Microwave on full power for 12 minutes. If you are scaling up, you may need to cook for slightly longer but only a minute or two. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff up and add:
- 25g shopped cashews or flaked almonds
- 0.5tbs chopped fresh corianer if you have it
Serve with a blob of yoghurt on top and chutney on the side. If you have a few long-life naan breads in the cupboard, heat one in the toaster. If you have grabbed a pack of uncooked popadums you could microwave a couple of those instead. Grab a bottle of lager and away you go.
An easy way to tart up couscous as a side dish. This makes a side dish for four.
- Generous pinch of saffron fronds
- 3 tbs boiling water
Place them in a saucepan and let the saffron steep for 20 minutes while you make something else.
Dry fry the pine nuts until they look a bit brown. Set aside.
- 225g couscous
- Equal volume of boiling water or vegetable stock
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
Put all this in the pan containing the saffron. Cover and leave for five minutes.
- Leaves from a small bunch of parsley, chopped.
Stir in the pine nuts and parsley. Fluff up with a fork and serve. Good alongside falafels, pittas, hummus and courgette and tomato
I have tried several recipes and not all of them work. This one does! It needs a bit of preparation but it’s well worth it. Here are quantities to make a generous pile to feed four.
Either soak overnight, or cook for 5 minutes in your Instant Pot and leave for a further hour in the water.
- Optional – 1 small onion
- Bunch of parsley leaves
- 2 garlic loves
- 1 tbs chickpea/gram flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 0.5tsp ground coriander
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
Put these and the drained chickpeas in a food processor with about 50ml water. Process to a coarse paste. Add a spash more water if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
Make little balls 2-3cm in diameter – you will make about 20 with this batch. A small icecream scoop is useful. Heat a pan full of oil to about 160degC and shallow fry the balls in batches. You may need to flip them halfway through cooking if your oil isn’t deep. They are cooked when the outside goes brown and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm until ready to serve.
An easy side for a Lebanese meal. This is nice and sloppy so it goes well with dry dishes like couscous and falafel. This serves 4 as a side.
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tbs oil
Saute gently until translucent.
- 2 courgettes, sliced thickly and quartered.
Add to the pan. Saute until starting to colour.
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- Salt and pepper
- 4-6 tomatoes depending on size, diced.
You could use a tin of chopped tomatoes if times are hard. Now gently stew all this in a covered pan for 15-20 minutes. Add a splash of water if it is drying out. That’s it! Job done.
This is wonderful on chicken, fish, or anything else you want to zap up.
- Handful of fresh young wild garlic leaves.
- Tablespoon of grated parmesan
- Tablespoon of capers
- Two or three anchovy fillets from a tin
- Glug of good olive oil.
Zap the lot with a stick blender. Add more oil if it is too much of a lump. You want it spoonable. You can use it straight away, but it will improve if left in the fridge overnight.
The American classic. This is for two people as a main course, easy to scale up or down. It can also be served as a side like in American diners.
- 10g butter or substitute
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
Heat the butter in a flameproof pan (like a le Creuset casserole dish and gently fry the garlic
Add to the pad and wilt
- 400ml milk
- 200ml pale ale
- 170g macaroni, penne or curly pasta
Add to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer 20 minutes
- 150g mozzerella cheese sliced
- 100g cheddar cheese grated
- 1 tsp cornflour in a little milk
Add to the pan and stir to thicken. Keep heating gently to melt the cheese. Place under a grill to brown the top if you like. Serve with crispy bacon!
An easy, cruchy slaw with an interesting and unusual taste. Take roughly equal quantities of peeled
Coarsley grate or slice super fine into micro julienne strips.
- Chives or parsely
- Shallot (optional)
Chop the herbs and add to the root veg. with a spoonful or two of mayo – enough to combine but not smother the veg. You can add a grated shallot if you wish. Adjust the seasoning and serve. This is very colourful and crunchy. It doesn’t keep well – best to serve within an hour.
This is an easy lunch salad as long as you plan ahead with the bulgur wheat! You can us a variety of proteins for this to make it a more substantial dish, or you can use it as a side. For 2 portions (main) or 4 portions (side):
- 100 gm Bulgur wheat
- 400ml water
Simmer 15 minutes covered, turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile
- 1tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs tomato puree
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
Mix to make a dressing. When the bulgur is cooked, fluff it up. It should have absorbed all the water. Mix in the dressing and leave to cool.
- 2 dried figs or dates, chopped
- 2 spring onions chopped, or chives
- 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
- handful of mint leaves, shredded
- handful of parsley, chopped
- Optional – 1/4 cucumber cubed
Mix up with the cooked bulgur to make a salad. If you are serving this as a main course salad, you can top with:
- fried halloumi (vegetarian) or…
- Smoked mackerel fillets, or…
- Falafel (vegan), or…
- Grilled chicken breast, or…
- beef mince kofta, or…
- Lamb meatballs
and a few fancy lettuce leaves alongside. Pittas, yoghurt, hummus, Lebanese pickles all start to make this look like a feast.
Makes about 16 fritters: serves four as a main meal or eight as part of a brunch
- 3 cups (500g) grated courgettes, water squeezed out
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup (125g) plain flour
- 1/4 cup (15g) nutritional yeast
- 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic puree
- 2 spring onions chopped, or chives
- 1/4 cup (56g) meted vegan butter or spread
Mix that lot in a bowl. The batter should be fairly stiff, adjust flour or water until it is. Heat a frying pan, add
Put fritter-sized blobs of batter in the pan. Fry 2-3 minutes per side until brown and crispy, and cooked through. They will be crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. You may have to do this in batches. Keep warm until ready to serve.