Chicken Bhuna

Confession: I might have burnt this a little.


Chicken bhuna curry

Anyway, I’m sure you’ll forgive me, since I’m still giving you the recipe and unlike me, you’ll do it properly.

In many ways, this is a sort of poor man’s tandoori if you bake it in the oven, but of course nothing would do me but to barbecue the goddamn thing. Blame the sunshine. Blame the dear friends sharing it with me on the overgrown patio. Blame the beer, blame the wine, blame it on the boogie.

Does it matter?

Here’s a bhuna recipe and you can use it with anything. Meat, vegetables, captured vegans. It’s up to you.

For myself, I didn’t fancy going to all the effort of boning a vegan, so I bought some chicken instead and in the end we all agreed it tasted slightly veganish with nutty overtones and a strong demand to be heard.

The Spices

Cumin seeds : 2 spoons

Coriander seeds : 4 spoons

Mustard seeds : 2 spoons

Dried chillis to taste. I like it hot but you might not.

Fennel seeds: 2 spoons

Fenugreek seeds: 2 spoons

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

Stir them constantly on a heavy frying pan at medium heat. Not too high or they’ll produce a poison gas that will kill everyone in the house. Just enough heat to darken them slightly but not enough to burn them.

They should come out nicely browned. In fact, I think I might have overdone it a bit with this lot, but it worked out all right in the end.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

When they’re roasted, fling them into a food processor or else grind them up with a mortar and pestle until you get a nice powder like this.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

The Other Stuff

You need some onions, ginger and garlic.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

Skin them, chop them up finely and fry them in light oil.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

Add some curry leaves and some tomatoes.

Let me confess that I had no fresh curry leaves and no tomatoes, so I cheated and just tossed in some dried curry leaves and a couple of cartons of passata. It didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

Add your spices.

Add your meat, whatever it is. In this case, I used chicken.

Let it all cook away until it reduces down to a thick paste and the meat is cooked through.


Now you have a choice. You can just serve the bhuna straight from the pan with any accompaniment you like. It might be rice, it might be chapatis or for that matter it might be chips. We won’t get precious about it.

On the other hand, you can bake it all in the oven and it will come out very like a tandoori.

I chose to barbecue it, which might not necessarily have been the best decision since I managed to scorch it, but at the same time, nobody was complaining. That might have been due to the beer, it might have been due to the sunshine or it might have been due to the laid-back music, but I like to think it was due to the delicious  food.

Chicken bhuna curry


One way or another, we won’t fall out over it. Have a beer.



Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Vegetarian lasagne.

I said vegetarian, not vegan. There’s loads of cheese in this, so if you’re a committed vegan, this one isn’t for you, just like all the other recipes on this site.

If, on the other hand, you fancy a tasty dinner without meat, you could do worse than have a shot at this vegetarian lasagne. It won’t take you long and you’ll impress the living shit out of your non-cooking friends.

Now, this recipe is based on what I happened to have handy, so don’t feel bound to follow it slavishly. If you prefer different vegetables, toss them in. It’s all good. Like any other lasagne, this consists of two main components: a tomato-based sauce and a Béchamel sauce, which is just a fancy name for a white flour-based sauce. I like to add cheese to this, but some people just use it plain.

Here’s what you need.

Vegetables: peppers, carrots, onions, garlic, mushrooms and aubergine.

Lasagne sheets

Passata or tinned tomatoes.

Cheese: Grated cheddar and grated parmesan

Butter, flour, bay leaves
Vegetarian lasagne recipe


Vegetarian lasagne recipe


Start by slicing the mushrooms and onions. Crush the garlic.  Fry them all gently.

Vegetarian lasagne recipe


Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Then add some passata or tinned tomatoes

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Toss in a glass of wine. Obviously.

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Crush a nutmeg and toss it in. Add some herbs to taste. Some oregano, maybe, some basil or parsley. It’s a matter of personal taste.

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Add the carrots, some good quality vegetable stock and let it all cook away gently for an hour or two while you polish off the rest of the wine and make the Béchamel sauce.

There’s no mystery to this, by the way. All you need to do is melt some butter in a heavy pot and gently sift in flour until you have a reasonably solid mix. This is a roux. Let it cook thoroughly because you’ll be using it to thicken the sauce and you don’t want to get an uncooked flour taste.

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Meanwhile, heat a pot of milk and add a couple of fresh bay leaves and a pinch of whole black peppers. Add shallots to the infusion if you have them but don’t worry if you can’t find any, and If you haven’t got fresh bay leaves, dried will do. Let the milk simmer gently for maybe a half hour, but don’t let it boil over or burn. The important word is gently.

When the roux is thoroughly cooked — but not burnt! — add it a bit at at time to the hot milk until the mixture thickens. Then add the grated cheddar and parmesan mix very gradually, stirring all the time until you end up with a smooth cheese sauce. (I actually forgot to add the bay leaves and the pepper to the milk, and that’s why I had to throw them in later. Not to worry).

A Béchamel sauce with cheese added is called a Mornay sauce, because that’s how the French are about stuff.

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Now you’re ready to put it all together.

Assemble your sliced vegetables.

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Line the base of a cooking dish with sheets of lasagne and spoon a layer of your tomato sauce onto it. Then apply a layer of vegetables and cover with the cheese sauce.

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Add a layer of lasagne sheets and repeat the process until you’ve used almost everything up.

Finally, apply a top layer of pasta, spoon on the remaining cheese sauce and cover it with vegetables.

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Sprinkle it with the two-cheese mix and pop it in the oven.

Vegetarian lasagne recipe

Voila!  Vegetarian lasagne in minutes.


Vegetarian lasagne recipe


Beef Curry Recipe – Ceylon style

Here’s a thing I haven’t made in years: a rather quaintly-named Ceylon beef curry recipe. I just happened to be thumbing through an old cookery book when I stumbled across it, which wasn’t hard. Did you ever notice that all your favourite recipes are in the pages caked with dried food and marked with grubby fingerprints?

Ceylon Beef Curry

A long, long time ago I discovered by accident that coconut goes very well with large amounts of garlic, so I modified the original recipe a bit.  I also had no coconut milk so I adjusted by using creamed coconut instead.  Apart from that it’s pretty much the same as the original, and I can tell you this. It is absolutely delicious, so get cookin’!

What do you need?

Get some beef, cut into cubes.

20 dried chillis

2 teaspoons of coriander seeds.

10 cardamoms. I used black, but next time I’ll try the green ones and see what difference it makes.

A one-inch stick of cinnamon or thereabouts. Roughly. Don’t worry too much about the proportions.


Ceylon Beef Curry

Pound up the coriander, the cinnamon, the chillis and the cardamoms. This mortar-and-pestle business is all very well, and it looks better in the pictures, but I think I should get myself a small coffee grinder instead. Sieve the spices through something coarse like a colander to get rid of the cardamom husks or else you’ll be spitting them out the whole way through your meal, and it isn’t a great look really.

Ceylon Beef Curry

Roast the ground spices in a dry hot pan until they begin to give off a pungent aroma but don’t make the mistake of inhaling deeply to check progress.  This stage is very important for any recipe involving aromatic spices, so don’t skip it.

Ceylon Beef Curry

Add the roasted spices to vinegar. I used wine vinegar but it’s up to you. Malt vinegar might be a bit strong.

Ceylon Beef Curry


Marinate the beef in the spices for about an hour.

Ceylon Beef Curry


Now you’ll need some more ingredients.

Onions, garlic and ginger.

Ceylon Beef Curry


For this, I used about five or six garlic cloves but you could use more or less depending on your taste. Chop up the garlic, onions and ginger and fry them until they’re soft.  I use ghee which I make myself, but you can always use vegetable oil if you prefer.  When the mix is soft and browned, take it out of the pan and set it aside for a while.

Fry the marinated beef in small batches. The reason for this is because if you add too much at one time, the pan will cool down and you don’t want that.  When you have all the beef nicely fried return the cooked vegetables to the pan.

If you have coconut milk put that in now, but don’t worry too much if you have none. I just added hot water and grated creamed coconut. Personally, I think it’s a better option anyway because tinned coconut milk can give food a slimy texture at times. Stick with the creamed coconut.

Ceylon Beef Curry 008


Ceylon Beef Curry

Then throw in some curry leaves if you have them, and let the whole lot stew away until the sauce thickens and the meat is nice and tender.


Ceylon Beef Curry


When you’re happy with all that, cook up some nice brown rice or else make a few chapatis.

Invite some friends around. Enjoy your meal.

Ceylon Beef Curry

Cooking Food & Drink

Mulligatawny Recipe

I bumped into a friend today who shares my interest in cooking.  He’s an excellent cook, much better than I am, but today he was looking a bit under the weather.  We’ll call him “John”.

Are you a bit under the weather, John? I asked him.

Jesus, I am, he croaked.  I was out till four in the morning, but I’m much better now.

Glad to hear it, I assured him as the conversation drifted around to other matters.

Do you know what I made last week? he said.

No, John.   How would I know what you made last week?   I don’t even know what you made yesterday.

Well, he perked up, as it happens, I made bacon and cabbage yesterday for the very first time in my life.

Comfort food, I observed.

Mmm-hmm, agreed the obscure hungover-looking character in the corner.

Not something I’m particularly fond of.

Mulligatawny recipeMe neither, said “John”, I just got a figary to do it, but anyway, last week I made kedgeree.

Kedgeree?  I was taken aback.   How very Raj of you.  But as it happens, I’ve found smoked fish to be a wonderful cure for hangovers.  There was a time, many years ago when we used to have all-night house-parties, and I always found that the perfect breakfast was a kipper and a bottle of Guinness.

Precisely, agreed “John”.  That kedgeree knocked my hangover for six, old chap, and then I bagged an elephant.  Kedgeree for tiffin.  Can’t beat it, old boy.

You’ve got me thinking, I told him.  Here’s a thing I haven’t had in yonks.  Mulligatawny.  I first had it in an East End restaurant run by a Bangladeshi wallah years and years back, and damn tasty it was too.   Maybe I’ll revive the old Bock recipe series and see how it goes.

Splendid! said “John”, brandishing a buffalo gun.  Tally-ho!


So here we go.

My ad-hoc Mulligatawny based on whatever I happened to have in the kitchen.

Now, here’s the thing about most recipes: you really can’t go wrong even if you don’t have all the stuff  because there’s no such thing as right and wrong ingredients.  In my case, the first Mulligatawny I ever had, back in the East End of London, had a strong lemon character to it and that’s what I continued to expect over the years, but another man’s recipe might be completely different and that’s fine too.  We make it up as we go along, based on what we have.

For this, you’ll need some spices.  Cumin seed, haldi, cracked peppercorns and plain old curry powder.  I prefer hot but you might like it milder.  That’s fine. It’s up to you.  As a matter of fact, I might even toss in a load of hot chilli as well just to liven it up, but that’s me.  Live and let live.

Mulligatawny recipe 003

The next thing you’ll need is some onions, some carrots and a few garlic cloves.

Mulligatawny recipe 005


Mulligatawny recipe 006


Mulligatawny recipe 004

Now.  When you have these all chopped up, you should fry them in clarified butter, although to be honest, unclarified butter is fine too as long as you don’t make it too hot and burn it.

Mulligatawny recipe 007

Fry them away gently until they’re soft, and at the same time, put on a pot of rice.  I prefer brown, but white is fine.  When we’re finished, we’ll mix the rice in with the sauce (or we might not, as I’ll explain in a little while).

When the onions, carrots and garlic are soft, you should toss in your spices and some flour to thicken things up.  Stir the whole lot around to get it well mixed.

Mulligatawny recipe 010

Mulligatawny recipe 011

Now add some chicken stock and cook it all up until it thickens.  Let it cook away for a good while.

Mulligatawny recipe 013

Now you can chop up your chicken and cook it in some clarified butter.

Mulligatawny recipe 009

When you think the sauce is well cooked, throw in some natural yoghurt.  Some people use coconut milk, but I haven’t tried that so I don’t know what it would taste like.  I must  try it next time.  Other people throw in a couple of chopped Granny Smith apples, which sounds interesting.  Nothing like a bit of variety.

Mulligatawny recipe 014

Then add the chicken and the juice of half a lemon.  Maybe you’d prefer it to be a bit tangier but you can always add the other half if it’s not to your taste.  There are no hard and fast rules in this.

Mulligatawny recipe 015


Let this cook away for a while.   Go off and shoot an elephant, but don’t forget to drain the rice first.

When you get back, it will all be ready and you can serve it, but here’s where you have to make a decision.  Traditionally, Mulligatawny has the rice mixed into the entire dish, but these days not everybody wants to eat rice.

You could serve it mixed like this.

Mulligatawny recipe 001

But I think it would be better to offer it in two separate bowls, and let people decide for themselves how much rice they want mixed in with the sauce.  It’s only fair, really.

Mulligatawny recipe 002

Three other things.

First, you can always add more spice or other flavours later.  Play around with the proportions.  Nobody will arrest you for getting it wrong.

Second.  Before adding the chicken you could, if you wished, blend the whole lot to a smooth consistency, and that’s what I myself intended to do, but I forgot.

Third, you don’t need to add meat.  This would make a very tasty vegetarian dish if you substituted sweet potato or butternut squash, for instance.

Anyway.  Enjoy your Mulligatawny and let me know how you get on.


Mushroom Soup

I haven’t done any recipes in a while, for one reason or another, but as I happened to be making mushroom soup, I thought it might be nice to take a few pictures and put up a recipe.

As usual, I won’t bother giving quantities.  Just play around with the amounts and see what you like.  The world won’t explode if you get it wrong.

For this soup, you’ll need these things:








 Mushroom soup recipe 001
Chop up the mushrooms, garlic  and onions.  Mushroom soup recipe 002
Cook the onions and garlic gently, and set them aside.  Mushroom soup recipe 003
Cook the chopped mushrooms until they’re soft  Mushroom soup recipe 004
Add the onions and garlic to the mushrooms  Mushroom soup recipe 005
Add some vegetable  stock or chicken stock if you prefer.  Whatever you have handy.

Simmer it all for about twenty minutes.

 Mushroom soup recipe 006
Add your mascarpone.  If you prefer a sharper flavour, you can try yoghurt, but it’s completely up to you.Experiment with cream cheese, crème fraîche or whatever you think might work.  Mushroom soup recipe 007
Whizz it all with a stick blender until it’s smooth and creamy.  Mushroom soup recipe 008
Add the juice of half a lemon. Taste and add more juice if you think the soup needs it.  
Mushroom soup recipe 009
 Enjoy your soup.  Mushroom soup recipe 010



All cooking posts HERE


Thai Chicken Curry

This is a recipe I got from a buddy of mine.  He got it from Jamie Oliver but I don’t know how.  It might have been in a bar-room brawl.  It might have been over a game of cards.  For all I know, he sent agents into Jamie’s house and had them steal the recipe using microfilm and spy-type torches held between their teeth as they looked over their shoulders.

One way or another, the secret is broken.

I didn’t have all the ingredients  so I made it up as I went along and it was still delicious.  Try it.  I think you’ll like it.  As usual, I’m not giving quantities.  Just play around with the proportions and find the mix you like.   It’s not rocket surgery.


Here’s your ingredients:

A bunch of fresh coriander.




Chillis, preferably red, but I only had green.

A lime.

Red peppers

Fish sauce

Coconut milk

Sesame oil

Soy sauce

Tomato purée



How to:

Strip the outer skin off the lemongrass, and remove the ends.  Bash it with a heavy cleaver or a rock, or a piece of an engine you happen to have lying around the kitchen.  Chop it up.

Chop up the red pepper.

Take the seeds out of the chilli.  Chop it up.  Don’t touch your eyes or any other sensitive parts with those fingers.

[Hint: what dissolves burning-hot chilli-juice on your fingers?  Not water.  Use butter.]

Peel the ginger and chop it up.  Crush two cloves of garlic.

Throw the whole lot, along with the coriander,  into a container deep enough to use a stick blender.

Add the tomato purée, sesame oil, fish oil and soy sauce.  A good dollop of each.  Squeeze the lime juice into it.



Whizz the shit out of the whole lot and eventually you’ll end up with a nice sauce.  If you had more red peppers and red chillis, it would be redder than this but it’s still nice.



Now.  That’s the sauce made and you can put it away until you need it or you can get cooking straight away.

I happened to use chicken but this would work equally well with unsmoked fish, prawns or anything else you have handy.  Not beef or lamb, though.  I don’t think it would taste good.

Chop up your chicken and fry it  for a few minutes before tossing in some of your sauce.


Add the rest of the sauce.  Throw in the coconut milk and cook it away for a while until the chicken is done.  You know yourself how long that will take.

This is really tasty.  It’s a low-key sort of curry with very little chilli bite, but it has all sorts of flavours playing against each other.  You could serve it with a salad, some fruit and maybe a lightly-scented rice.  That’s your own decision.  I wouldn’t dream of telling you how to present food to your guests.



All Cookery posts here


Chicken Hoisin

I knocked this together in a hurry and therefore made a bit of a mess of the photography, but it was so nice, I thought I should tell you how to make it anyway.  Maybe you’ll take better pictures and send them back to me.  One way or another, I have to tell you the team wolfed it down and came back for more.

As you know, I normally make everything from scratch in these recipes, but this Hoisin sauce is so delicious, I just had to try it.

This recipe is in two parts.  First you must make a marinade for your chicken.  I like to soak it overnight in the fridge, but you can go ahead after about an hour if you prefer.



Soy sauce

Sherry or port

Sesame oil




Hoisin sauce


You could add a few hot chillis if you like, although I decided not to use them for this.  If you do happen to throw them in, either prick holes in them, or whizz the whole lot with a stick blender, but make sure to remove the seeds first.

Chop up about an inch of the ginger and mash a few cloves of garlic.  Chop up a couple of onions and fry them gently until they’re soft.  Toss the lot into something suitable like this glass jar.   It’s high enough and narrow enough to make sure the marinade rises to the top.  Add the soy sauce, the sherry or port, the sesame oil and the Hoisin sauce.

It looks fairly disgusting in the picture, I realise, but ignore that.  Everything will be fine tomorrow.

Chop up the chicken and add it to the marinade.

Put it in the fridge to marinate overnight (or soak, as we used to say before the Celtic Tiger forced us all to speak French and shop in Brown Thomas).

Go out for a couple of pints and come back tomorrow.



Strain the marinade  into a pot and reduce it (or boil it down as our parents used to say).

Meanwhile, mix up enough cornflour and baking powder or bicarbonate of soda to coat all the chicken pieces like this.

Stir-fry or deep fry the chicken in hot oil to crisp and puff the batter.  You can turn down the heat after a minute to prevent burning.  When the chicken is fully cooked, add it to the reduced Hoisin marinade.  Throw in a few bean sprouts if you like.

You could add other vegetables to taste.  There’s nothing hard and fast about this recipe.

I served it with fried rice, but it’s entirely up to you.  One way or another, it’s damn nice.


Low-Fat Chicken, Beansprout and Mushroom Soup

Chicken Mushroom and Beansprout soup

Here’s a quick and tasty Chinese-style soup made with no frying and no fat.

It took me about five minutes to knock this together.  Anyone can make it, so give it a shot, and impress your friends.  (Not that you probably don’t impress your friends already — I imagine they think you’re great, but you can always surprise them with new things).


Here’s what you need:



Some beansprouts

Breast of chicken, chopped.

Mushrooms.   I happened to have some dried Asian mushrooms so I used them , but you can throw in whatever you’ve got.

Chicken stock

Oyster sauce.


Boil up the chicken stock.  I’m too lazy to roast chicken carcasses for real stock, but that makes the best kind.  Next best is an organic Kallo stock cube.

Chicken stock


Toss in the chopped chicken and let it cook for a couple of minutes.  Then throw in the mushrooms.

Let them cook for another minute or two, and then slip in a little shot of oyster sauce, the secret ingredient.

Chicken Mushroom and Beansprout soup

If you wanted, you could serve it up just like that, in which case you’d get a thin but tasty soup, like this.

However, if you add a fistful of beansprouts, you get the added advantage of their unique flavour.

Some people, including most Chinese restaurants, like to thicken these soups with a little cornflour, and I can see nothing wrong with that.

Here you go.  Enjoy.

Chicken Mushroom and Beansprout soup

Quick and Tasty Beef Stir-Fry

Here’s a handy recipe I’ve been using for years.  It’s quick, easy, tasty and cheap, much like myself.

You can do it for one person or a dozen and it always goes down well.  See what you think.


Weekend Food

It’s been a busy week, and so, to relax, I took it into my head to cook a bit of grub for assorted freeloaders, chancers and ne’er-do-wells.  Oriental food seemed appropriate, for no reason other than the fact that I like it and that I had the  ingredients handy without too much pissing around, so I settled on a selection of dishes broadly related to things I wrote about here before.