I first tasted sabich in Tel Aviv a couple of years ago. I’d become so obsessed with the idea of tasting one, in fact, I made a point of seeking out as many as possible, managing just three. That number looks a bit more impressive when you consider that I went on a mad dash around the city in the few hours I should’ve spent packing for the airport, and I was eating sabich right up until I buckled into my seat.
The sandwich starts with a soft, round proper Israeli pita, not those cardboard slippers we get in the supermarkets, which is warmed (not toasted), and split for filling. Inside you’ll find sliced potato, hard-boiled egg, fried aubergine, pickles, salads and sauces, including amba. That’s a sweet and tart sauce consisting of mangoes and spices and it basically makes the sandwich.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to make one, and I think part of it was the fear of cooking from increasingly distant memories. The amba is sweet, sharp and vaguely musty, and the zhoug a lightning bolt of green, all zippy herbs and chilli heat.

I’d love to go back to Tel Aviv one day, a thrilling city with incredible food. These sandwiches are a glimmer of that sun-soaked city on a freezing afternoon in South London, and for now, that’ll do me just fine. For now.

Sabich Recipe

Makes 6 pitas with leftover amba and zhoug (a very good thing)

For the amba

Amba is a sweet and sour mango sauce which probably arrived in Israel with the Iraqi Jews and is a common topping on sabich and falafel. It really makes this sandwich.

2 unripe (green) mangoes (you should have no trouble finding these in the supermarket…), peeled and diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
1 heaped teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large pinch turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon vegetable or groundnut oil, for frying

In a small saucepan, gently heat the sugar with the lemon juice and vinegar, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the mango pieces along with 200ml water and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the pieces are very soft (you will blend the sauce). In a separate, small frying pan or saucepan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the garlic and cook very briefly, stirring, for 30 seconds or so. Add the turmeric, cumin, fenugreek and some salt and mix well. Transfer to a blender and whizz until smooth. Set aside to cool.

For the zhoug

Zhoug is a Yemenite chilli sauce which is fantastic with pretty much everything, including grilled meat and fish.

Large bunch of coriander and stalks
Slightly smaller bunch of parsley and stalks
5-10 green chillies (depending on their heat and your tolerance)
8 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
2 large pinches of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a pestle and mortar, crush the cumin and caraway seeds. Add the salt and crush the garlic too. Transfer to a food processer with the herbs, lemon juice and chillies and blend to a paste. Add the oil and blend again. Check for seasoning.

For the sandwiches

1 aubergine
3 potatoes
6 small, round, soft pita
3 eggs
1/2 small white cabbage, finely shredded
1 carrot, grated or cut into very fine strips
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Vegetable or groundnut oil, for frying

First, cook the aubergines by cutting into 1 cm slices, then frying in oil. I used a cast iron skillet for this, with oil to a depth of 1cm. Remove the slices when they are golden on each side and rest on kitchen paper.

Cook the potatoes in salted water. Drain, cool a bit and slice.

Cook the eggs by covering them with cold water. As soon as they start to boil, time them for 5-6 minutes (small-large), then transfer to a bowl of cold water. Peel and cut in half or slice.

Make a salad by mixing the cabbage, carrot, onion, olive oil, vinegar and some salt and pepper.

To assemble the sandwiches

Warm the pittas, but don’t toast them – they should be soft and pliable. Cut the top off and stuff with the ingredients and sauces. Direct into mouth.


Sometimes I have a conversation with people at the gym, which starts when they say something like, “why don’t you try x diet?” or “why don’t you cut carbs?” or “why don’t you reduce your intake of this?” and all the time I say, “I can’t” and they look at me like I’m making an excuse. It’s very hard to explain what I do, my love of food and the emotional significance of it, to people who are able to eliminate food groups, or drastically reduce calories. I can’t communicate how it goes against the very fibre of my being (literally) to restrict my intake of food in that way.

What I do is about more than describing what I eat, it is about how it makes me feel. It is the comfort of steam rising from a stew plopping gently on the hob, the dumplings warm and heavy on top. It’s about the sticky bun with builder’s tea when you’re frantic about the state of the world, or the slippery flick of buttered spaghetti, eaten in bed, with a hangover. It’s not even just about the joy of fat and carbs either – in January I crave bright, green vegetal things which bring freshness and vitality to a sad sack month.

I’ve often heard the phrase ‘don’t be an emotional eater’, meaning don’t comfort or reward yourself with food, and I think, ‘is there any other way?’ What is it like to look at ingredients and see calories instead of flavours? To stab letters into an app that passes judgement on what you’re about to consume, reducing it to numbers? Numbers are the worst. There is the very real problem of obesity, of course, and everything that comes with it, but that is why I bust my ass at the gym five times a week. To see food purely as fuel is such an alien concept.

This is not an anti-clean eating rant, although goodness knows I have plenty of those within me, it’s just an observation now that I’m in contact with people from another world – lovely, intelligent, fun people but with attitudes to food that are light years away from my own. I think of these conversations every time I make something I know they wouldn’t touch with a spiralizer, which brings me nicely onto this recipe for prawn toast. I live with a prawn toast obsessive – never an opportunity missed to order one of those white paper bags from the takeaway, his eager paw rustling in and out until all that’s left is grease spots.

The homemade version is obviously much nicer, and we played with the mixture a bit, ramping up the prawn flavour with some shrimp paste (so good), adding garlic, spring onions and soy. It’s fantastic with scrambled egg for a really OTT brunch, and the chilli oil is crucial for counteracting all that richness. That’s right, guys, extra fat on top.

Prawn Toast with Scrambled Eggs and Chilli Oil

This makes 4 rounds and so serves 4 people (4 pieces is enough with the eggs).

250g prawns
2 cloves garlic
4 spring onions
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste (I used a Thai one)
1 dash light soy
1 egg
4 slices cheap white bread
Oil, for frying (veg or groundnut)
Sesame seeds
Chilli oil, to serve

For the eggs

6 eggs (I used Burford Browns, hence the amazing colour)
Large chunk of butter (LARGE)

To make the prawn toast, put everything in a blender except the bread and process to a paste. Heat a frying pan and fry a tiny bit of the mixture to check for seasoning – add salt if you like. To assemble, divide the mixture between four pieces of bread, spreading in a thick layer on top. Cut the crusts off. Divide each into four triangles.

Spread sesame seeds on a plate and use them to coat the top of the toast. I found it easiest to sprinkle these on rather than dunk.

Heat oil to a depth of a couple of cm in a heavy based pan and fry each piece until golden (a couple of mins each side should do it). Set aside on a plate covered with kitchen paper. You could keep them warm in a low oven if you like.

To make the eggs, whisk them in a bowl and season. Melt the butter in a pan and add the eggs, moving them around gently until they are nearly cooked. Take them off the heat before you think they are fully done. Don’t over stir.

Serve alongside prawn toast, chilli oil on top.

Grilled cauliflower with labneh, dukkah and eggs

Holy shit.

I’ve just come back from the hospital where I was referred for an examination of my ribs and chest because I stacked it in a pub over the weekend. Had I been drinking? Alright yes, but goddamn it if people shouldn’t just level out tricksy little steps in pubs, particularly if they’re potentially in front of someone carrying a pint of lager and a slice of coffee and walnut cake (not natural bedfellows, you say? Whatever). I fell onto my chest with a great thwack, the wind left me, the world spun and when I got up I realised I had cake in my hair.

Cue hanging over the sink in the ladies loo washing my barnet, which then had to be dried under the hand dryer until it was just the right level of post-electrocution frizz. I sheepishly returned to the garden to find a fresh slice of cake and a pint gifted by pub because I assume they could tell I was just unlucky and not a terrible drunken heathen.

Parsley salad with pomegranate molasses.

I am clumsy, though. No denying it. Two weeks earlier I went arse over tit when exiting the tube station at South Wimbledon, not even realising it was happening until I was on the floor watching my shoe spin through the air behind me. A stranger ran out into the road to retrieve it and I dusted myself off and then ten minutes later came over all shaky and had to be placated with at least three ice-cold beers in quick succession.

I was going to say it’s a wonder I don’t hurt myself in the kitchen more often (TOUCH WOOD), which would at least have provided some kind of link into this recipe but then I remembered The Great Sprout Water Burn of Christmas 2014 and that was the end of that.

Dukkah = squirrel crack.

So now this is an unrelated recipe for grilled cauliflower but whatever. It’s very good. Do you remember when cauli was in danger of not being eaten anymore? It was like, ten years ago or something and all the farmers said they weren’t going to grow it because no one was bothered. Along came people like Ottolenghi getting all spicy on its ass and hey presto, cauli problem solved. It does take strong flavours well, and also it likes a bit of grilling. Combine the two and what have you got? Well, just about every side dish in every vaguely Middle Eastern restaurant in London right now is what.

So here’s my two penneth. You can smother the cauli in any spices you want really, so long as they, you know, go with cauliflower. Cumin, paprika, coriander seed, that kind of thing. I kept it simple, then blobbed thick, cool labneh here and there, topping with dukkah – that’s just a mix of nuts, seeds, spices and salt but together = squirrel crack. Eggs give the dish richness and also make it more filling but if you don’t want them then – wait for it – leave them out.

Grilled Cauliflower

The salad is a herby arrangement with radishes, olive oil and pom molasses squizzled on top. Pitta on the side and plenty of extra dukkah cause you won’t be able to get enough of it. I’d like to take the credit for the dukkah as it’s the best ever but I can’t, Donald made it. I’m scared that if I don’t tell you karma will catch up with me and I’ll accidentally drop a brick on my toe at the next opportunity.

Grilled Cauliflower with Labneh, Dukkah and Eggs

For the dukkah (do not ask me why he did this in cups. It’s probably because we just bought some new ones)

1 cup mixed hazelnuts, pistachios and pine nuts
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup cumin
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup Maldon salt (or other good sea salt)
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 heaped teaspoon ras el hanout

Toast the nuts and sesame seeds in a dry pan or oven. Bash up the seeds and nuts a bit until they resemble the picture above. Mix everything together.

For the cauliflower

1 small cauliflower
1 tablespoon vegetable or groundnut oil
1 heaped teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon grape molasses (you could also use date molasses, which is sweeter, or pomegranate molasses, which is more sour)
Hard boiled eggs (however many you want, I did three). I cook mine from cold then when the water starts boiling time 6 minutes – this way you get a slightly squidgy centre.
Labneh (strained yoghurt, I tell you how to make it here or buy it in a shop like the Turkish Food Centre)

Salad and toasted pitta, to serve

Prepare your BBQ for direct grilling.

Trim the cauliflower and cut it into thick ‘steaks’. I had a small cauli which only yielded two steaks – you don’t really want it any thinner as the florets will break apart. Rub them with the oil, paprika and grape molasses and season with salt and pepper. When the BBQ is ready, cook them for around 5 minutes each side or until tender.

Serve the cauliflower steaks with dollops of labneh, dukkah, hard boiled eggs and salad.

So it’s only taken me 8 months to get around to writing about Ethiopian cookery. Efficient. I have been experimenting with recipes, which means I have spent a lot of time battling with injera batter. I crave that stuff intensely since coming back; having eaten it 3 times a day, every day, I became addicted, surprisingly, rather than resentful.

Ethiopian cookery is richly spiced and complex. Two of the foundations are berbere and niter kibbeh. Berbere is a rusty red spice mixture, made from dried chillies, fenugreek, nigella seeds, ginger, false cardamom and various other herbs and spices. I managed to find a bag to bring home as the result of a twilight trek around the back streets of a small Ethiopian town. Purchased from a hut made of corrugated iron, it was like gold dust in my eyes. Precious cargo. It adds such a curious depth to a dish, and I add it to many. All very nice for me of course, but not so useful for you lot, huh? So I’ve had a go at cracking it at home. It’s not quite the same of course – the chillies are a different variety, some of the herbs and other bits are simply unavailable – but you know what? It’s not bad. Not bad at all. Recipe at the bottom of this post.

Berbere from Ethiopia 

The niter kibbeh is a clarified butter, simmered with spices including fenugreek, cardamom and nutmeg. It’s a key ingredient in the doro wat recipe below. That’s chicken and egg stew to you. Doro wat is really simple to make once you’ve done your prep and is honestly one of the most satisfying dishes ever invented. A rich, russet red like the darkest autumn leaves, it could stain a white T shirt at twenty paces. The flavour is so intensely spiced and satisfying; perfect for cooler weather and yet reminiscent of the blazing Ethiopian sun.

Berbere Spice Mix Recipe

Chillies (I used a handful of chillies I buy in Peckham labelled, helpfully, ‘African chillies’. They look a lot like piri piri. You could also just use cayenne, although I would use about 5 dried ones. Saveur use chillies de arbol so by all means use 5 of those if you like)
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
4 cloves
6 black peppercorns
3 allspice berries
Seeds from 6 cardamom pods
6 tablespoons crunchy dried onions (you can buy these from Indian grocers)
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinammon

Toast the whole spices in a dry pan, stirring constantly until fragrant. This takes a few minutes. Grind in a spice grinder with the onions and chillies until you have a fine powder. Mix with the remaining spices and salt.

Niter Kibbeh Recipe

You could of course use clarified butter for this, i.e. ghee, which saves the hassle of clarifying it yourself. You will need to use less butter or more spices though, as the recipe below allows for the loss of a bit during the clarification process.

250g butter (or just use 200g ghee to save arsing about clarifying it yourself)
Seeds from 6 cardamom pods, ground
Pinch fenugreek seeds, ground
Pinch nigella seeds, ground

If you do want to clarify the butter then melt it gently over a low heat, constantly skimming the scum from the surface. Once it is simmering, just keep removing all the scum until it looks clear. It takes ages, about 20-30 mins. Up to you. Strain it through a sieve and try to leave the white milky bits at the bottom behind in the pan. Stir in the spices.

Doro Wat Recipe

6 chicken thighs, skin removed
4 eggs
Juice of 1 lemon
1 level teaspoon salt
50g niter kibbeh (recipe above)
3 red onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons berbere (recipe above)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
500ml chicken stock
Veg or other oil for frying

Hard boil the eggs, let them cool and peel them.

Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and caramelise the onions slowly over a low heat. This will take about 40 mins to an hour. Stir them often and stop when they are sweet and caramelised.

Arrange the chicken in a dish and rub it with the lemon juice and salt. Leave for 30 minutes.

When the onions are done, add the niter kibbeh and let it melt. Add the berbere (yes it is a lot, don’t worry) the ground ginger and crushed garlic and cook out, stirring, for a few minutes.d

Pour in the chicken stock. Brush the marinade off the chicken pieces and add them to the pan too. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the lid after this time and add the whole eggs. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste and season if necessary (depending on saltiness of chicken stock). Serve with white rice or (bastard) injera.


A proper late summer job, this. Everyone is trying to find something to do with marrows, because they’re everywhere and they’re massive and people are passing them around frantically lest they be eating marrow for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“I’ve brought you a marrow!”

“Oh GOOD!”

*frantically hides 10 other gifted marrows*

Actually this year I’ve only been given the one, and it is splendid. I wanted to do something with it that ACTUALLY TASTED NICE though, you know? I just didn’t think it was possible, actually, which is why I defaulted, like I do every single year, to the idea of making marrow rum. Yes, you can make rum from marrows. I decided to ask Twitter what it was like, and then I remembered, I know someone who has actually made it. I would ask him. He made the below video in response.

And so yeah I decided not to make it *cough* this year. It would have to go into my lunch and dinner and so I made this frittata, which I wasn’t even going to bother telling anyone about but bloody hell it was delicious. The key I think is to cook the marrow so that it still has some bite, i.e. don’t let it go soft or worse, mushy or even worse, watery. The courgette flowers look gorgeous of course but when used like this rather than deep fried you can actually taste them. They have a really pleasant peppery flavour that is not really discernible when they’ve been stuffed with cheese and deep-fried, even though of course I do like things that are stuffed with cheese and deep fried because I am NORMAL. The basil is, well it’s basil and you know all about that – tasty, innit. So it’s all very high summer, yah? And I didn’t even pay for the courgette flowers like a knob this time! My friend Tai grew them in her garden.

So there is a way to cook a marrow that isn’t a) stuffing it or b) making a watery curry or stew or something.

I still have about 3 feet of it left of course. Any other bright ideas?

Marrow, Courgette Flower and Basil Frittata

1/3 marrow, diced (not too small, about the size of a er, dice, actually)
1 large onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 or so courgette flowers, cleaned (wash them gently, pick out the stamens from inside and pluck off the hairy stalks)
Small handful basil leaves
6 eggs
Piece of cheddar that was lurking in the fridge that is about 2/3 the size of a playing card? Sorry. It’s cheese, don’t worry about it.
Olive oil
Sprinkle of Turkish chilli (optional)

In a frying pan (I use a skillet for this), heat a little olive oil and fry the onions, marrow and pepper quite vigorously to start off with to get a bit of colour on the veg then turn the heat down and cook until the marrow is beginning to soften but still has a nice bite. Add the garlic now and let it cook out for 5 mins or so, stirring often.

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork so they break up. Grate in the cheese, add salt and pepper (generous amount – eggs need it) and the Turkish chilli if using and mix well.

Flatten out your veg in the frying pan and make sure all is evenly distributed. Pour the eggy mixture over evenly and press everything down so it is covered. Press the courgette flowers on top. Do the same with the basil leaves. Turn the heat right down, cover and cook until the frittata has set.

My boyfriend is the master of procrastination. To say he gets ‘easily distracted’ is like saying Keith Floyd was partial to the odd glass of wine on special occasions. Sometimes though his habit of poking about in the dark corners of the internet leads to the discovery of gems like this video of ‘disco fry eggs’. How he got there I do not know. I do not need to know.

The recipe is amazing. Oil is heated in a fiercely hot pan like a shallow wok, then green chillies are added and the aromatic bite of capsaicin rises. An egg is cracked onto the sizzling oil and smooshed around, before spices rain down from a hand out of shot. We had to identify them by eye – the pollen yellow hue of turmeric made it easy to spot, while the red and brown ones seemed most likely to be chilli powder and garam masala.

Then comes the best bit, as a bread roll is split and placed cut side down on top of the eggs, before the whole thing is squished down flat with a circular metal thing on a stick. I’ve no idea what this implement is, or once was, but it seems to serve its purpose here very well. We used the obvious substitute – a potato masher.

The whole eggy, bready mix is then flipped and squished, flipped and squished again. There is basically a huge amount of flipping and squishing. Once cooked, and very importantly, really properly squished, the pancake shaped mixture has developed lovely crisp bits around the edge, while there’s still soft, fluffy eggy bits inside. The spices have cooked out but are still boom! definitely there in refreshingly large quantities. At the end the whole thing is split in half and folded to serve.

We basically tried to follow the recipe as accurately as we could from the video, trying to move quickly and therefore making a right mess in the process. There is a pair of trousers which I fear will never recover from ‘turmeric-gate’.  The flipping provided some comedy moments. The end result was pretty special though. The only changes we made were to garnish it with coriander because that just made sense and some finely chopped spring onions because they go on everything in this house.

I shall not hesitate to claim that this is clearly the best hangover breakfast of all time that no-one seems to know about. It has eggy foundations, it contains chilli and spices, it’s a bit filthy, and there are laughs to be had whilst making it. The hangover boxes are ticked. The absolute best thing about this though is that I think the bread and the folding clearly qualifies the dish as a sandwich. An Indian eggy bread sandwich. Joy!

Mumbai Disco Fry Eggs Recipe

(serves 1)

One thing you don’t need to worry about is the mixture in the pan looking a mess. It will taste brilliant, I promise. Anyway, the messy edge bits give you the crispy bits of joy that you desire.

2 eggs
2 small soft round rolls, 1 large soft round roll, or 1 hot dog bun, split
3 green chillies, sliced (or more or less to taste)
Chilli powder
Garam masala
Fresh coriander
Finely sliced spring onions
Oil, for frying

Heat a frying pan or skillet over a medium high heat and add some oil (couple of tablespoons should do it). When hot, add half the chillies and fry briefly. Add the eggs and break them up a bit. Add the rest of the chillies, then sprinkle on a generous pinch each of chilli powder, garam masala, turmeric and salt.

Put the split bun on top, drizzle over a little more oil, and add another dusting of all the spices. Use a potato masher or similar shaped implement to press down on the buns so they are smooshed into the egg. When it’s fairly flat, flip it over and squash down again. Flip again and squash, then flip again and squash. The final result should be flat as a pancake and crisping at the edges.

Cut the eggy pancake in half down the centre. Fold each half into a sandwich, put on a plate, sprinkle with coriander and spring onion, and serve.

Baghdad Eggs

I first came across a recipe for Baghdad eggs in one of my favourite cook books, Jake Tilson’s ‘A Tale of 12 Kitchens’ (from which I also cooked a mummified chicken). Tilson discovered the recipe in the book ‘Medieval Arab Cookery‘, which describes eggs on a bed of spiced celery; my version however is more akin to modern recipes I’ve seen.

An egg is fried gently on a bed of softened onions, sizzled with lemon juice, sprinkled with cumin and paprika then slicked with melted butter. The whole lot is served on top of toasted pitta, which softens in places under the oozy egg. A dollop of yoghurt and a flurry of chopped mint contrast the richness.

This is quite indulgent considering the aforementioned butter, which is why it’s my new favourite Sunday brunch, Middle Eastern style.

Baghdad Eggs

(serves 2)

1 medium onion, diced
2 eggs
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 good generous knobs of butter
Hot paprika
Mint, chopped
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 toasted pittas

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and cook the onions gently until they start to soften. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, then crack in the eggs.

Dust each egg with a little cumin and paprika (use your fingers to do this and be conservative – you don’t want huge clumps of spice in there), plus some salt and pepper then put a lid on and let cook until the eggs are just set. Toast your pitta breads then split them apart and toast the er, untoasted side under the grill.

In a separate small pan, melt another knob of butter and sprinkle a little extra cumin and paprika into it. Leave this on a low heat to get a little brown and nutty.

When the eggs are cooked, cut up the pitta and arrange on a plate. Put an egg on top, making sure to get plenty of the onions too. Drizzle with some of the extra melted butter and garnish with a dollop of yoghurt and some mint.

Egg Yolk Ravioli

Yeah, quite chuffed with these. I thought it sounded near impossible to slip an egg yolk into the centre of a ravioli and cook it without it either busting out into the water or completely over-cooking and to be honest the latter worried me more; the idea of hard-boiled yolk encased in pasta is just really, really grim.

Anyway they are actually quite easy. You have to make your own pasta of course, so it depends how you feel about that and you really will need a machine because the pasta needs to be as thin as you can possibly get it. That would be a long hard slog with a rolling pin and I ain’t no Nonna. It’s easy when you make pasta at home to be fooled into thinking you have it thin enough when you don’t, which is exactly what happened to me the first time I made these. They cooked perfectly, but the pasta was just too fat and gluey.

The next time I pushed right through to the heady heights of setting number 9 on the machine and was rewarded with papery pasta sheets. I made a spinach and ricotta mixture which doubled up as a stand to keep the yolk in place (an idea I tea-leafed from Nicky who used a ricotta and herb mix and took some incredibly good pictures). It’s important to have a large pan so you don’t overcrowd it with ravioli and to have the water at an enthusiastic simmer rather than a boil (to avoid eggy bursts). A mere 2-3 minutes will cook the pasta through (remember it’s very thin, and fresh) and the yolk will remain gooey and ooze out onto the plate creating a rich sauce.

I bathed them simply with melted butter, crushed pink peppercorns, lemon zest and some of the purple basil that my mum grew and I have somehow managed to keep alive. I love how they look all pretty and delicate but are actually packing the punches with pasta, egg and butter. They’re deceptively light in the eating too, dangerously so in fact. You’ll only want one or two per person but there’s no need to worry about not being full; it would be a crime not to mop up all those golden buttery juices with a slice or two of good bread.

Egg Yolk Ravioli

(serves 4)

200g 00 flour (strong white flour)
2 eggs
A pinch of salt

For the filling

8 small eggs
200g spinach leaves
100g ricotta
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
Black pepper

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Add the salt. Bring the pasta mix together until you have a rough dough. Knead it on a lightly floured surface until smooth and silky. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for half an hour.

Meanwhile, wash the spinach and without drying it put it straight into a small saucepan on a low heat and put a lid on. Steam until wilted down. Drain, then when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze as much water from it as possible and chop finely. Add to a bowl with the ricotta and Parmesan. Add some black pepper. Taste and add some salt if you like.

Roll out the pasta to the thinnest setting using a pasta machine. Cut into 16 large squares on a well floured surface (you want to leave enough room to cut around the ravioli easily without the stuffing coming out of the sides). In the middle of every other square, put a blob of ricotta mixture, then make a dimple in the centre large enough to hold an egg yolk. Make sure the sides are high enough so that the yolk won’t spill over. Crack an egg over a bowl into your hands so that you are left holding the yolk and the white drains into the bowl through your fingers. Carefully slip each yolk into the middle of the ricotta mixture.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Brush some of the leftover egg whites around the edges of each ravioli and place another pasta square on top. Seal the ravioli carefully easing out any air bubbles towards the edges. Use a glass or teacup to cut each ravioli into a circular shape.

Use a fish slice to pick up each ravioli and place gently into the water. Cook for 2 minutes until the pasta is just cooked and the yolk still runny. Serve with melted butter mixed with crushed pink peppercorns and chopped lemon zest. Garnish with basil.

Nargisi Kofta Curry

I can’t remember where I first heard about this curry but I knew immediately I must have it because the koftas are basically like lamby scotch eggs simmered in a curry sauce, which also has yoghurt in it.

The eggs are hard-boiled, wrapped with a mixture of minced lamb, puréed onion and garlic, fried and then simmered in a masala sauce.  The slightly sour, spiced yoghurt mixture is a perfect contrast against the rich protein bombs that are the koftas – boy, are they filling. We could only manage 1 each with all the other dishes and I wondered if quail’s eggs might be good instead of hen’s; a bit more bite size if a little more fiddly.

An amazing curry though; who doesn’t want egg wrapped in meat in spicy sauce? You don’t? Please leave.

Nargisi Kofta Curry

(a recipe was kindly sent to me by Maunika, but I couldn’t resist playing around with it).

For the koftas

4 eggs
250g minced lamb
1 medium onion, blended to a paste
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper

Flour, for dusting the koftas prior to frying

For the masala

2 medium onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
8 tablespoons natural yoghurt
Fresh coriander, to serve

Groundnut oil, for frying

Hard boil the eggs by putting them in a small saucepan, cover them with water, bring to the boil and then let bubble for about 6 minutes. Remove them from the water, put them in a bowl, cover them with cold water and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, mix the rest of the kofta ingredients together (not the flour) very well in a bowl. It is easiest to use your hands for mixing the meat. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, remove their shells. Divide the meat mixture into four then wrap each egg in the meat. An easy way of doing this is to spread the meat out in an oval shape on a piece of clingfilm, place the egg in the middle, then draw the clingfilm up around the sides of the egg. Make sure all the meat is sealed so there are no gaps where the egg is showing then roll each one in a little flour.

Heat a 1cm depth of groundnut oil in a heavy based pan then fry your koftas, turning them gently, until golden on all sides. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

To make the sauce, soften the onions in a 3 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan until soft, about five minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring. Add the tomato paste and spices, then mix well and fry until the oil starts to separate from the masala. Add 250ml water and allow to cook for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the yoghurt a tablespoon at a time. Add the koftas back to the pan, return to a low heat and cook gently for a few minutes, carefully turning the koftas over in the sauce to ensure they are heated through. Scatter with fresh chopped coriander and serve.