Carrots are one of those vegetables I’ve never felt particularly excited about. They’re essential as a sweet foundation in mirepoix, in stock and in one of my favourite cakes but I just feel generally quite bored by them. I do not often think of a carrot as a starting point to a dish and get excited.

And yet. There are ways of cooking carrots that make them more interesting and it will come as no surprise that I think they are best cooked over live fire. The real trick here though is marinating them. I let these sit overnight in a bath of olive oil, spices and garlic, although a few hours would be fine. They’re then grilled until tender and charred in places before meeting a plate of cold (so crucially cold!) strained yoghurt and some mustard seeds and curry leaves, made shiny and aromatic with hot butter.

We ate this with some grilled garlic and coriander naan – a recipe I’ve been working on. That was a complete meal really – no meat or fish necessary – and I never thought I’d be saying that about a plate of boring old carrots.

Grilled Marinated Carrots, Strained Yoghurt and Curry Leaves Recipe

500g carrots, peeled and cut into quarters lengthways
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed or grated
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 cardamon pods, crushed and seeds removed
4 tablespoons neutral oil e.g. groundnut

For serving

Strained yoghurt or other thick, cold yoghurt for serving (around 250g should do it)
A good knob of butter (about 25g), or ghee
Good handful fresh curry leaves
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant, then grind or crush to a powder with the cardamom seeds. Mix the spices with all the other ingredients for the carrot marinade in a dish large enough to hold the veg in a shallow layer.

Cook the carrots in boiling water for a few minutes, then drain. Add them to the marinade with some salt and mix well. Leave overnight or for a few hours.

Prepare the barbecue for direct cooking. Cook the carrots on it, until cooked through and lightly charred – around 15-20 minutes depending on size.

Spread the yoghurt onto a serving plate and top with the carrots. Melt the butter or ghee and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves – when the mustard seeds start to pop, pour the mixture over the carrots, sprinkle with some more salt, and serve.

I have so many recipes to share with you but London is currently experiencing a heat wave and I’m finding it hard not to just flop onto the cool kitchen tiles with the cats. Nobody wants to cook anyway, right? Yeah, yeah, so 30 degrees doesn’t seem that extreme but there’s something about the fuggy London heat that clings to your skin like a special kind of grime. It’s oppressive.

I’ve always wondered, when visiting places like Borneo or Vietnam, why they have such an extreme approach to indoor temperature control and it’s because they genuinely like to freeze in between bouts of professional sweating. I heard a story the other day about someone who grew up in Dubai and they had to carry around a jumper when it was 45 degrees outside so they wouldn’t become Mr. Frosty if sat inside for more than half an hour. That’s ridiculous.

Broad beans with yoghurt and smoky chilli butter

Some people claim to like the heat, of course. Good for them. I say it’s just not natural for a human to be exposed to these conditions. In Malaysia, I asked someone if they were born able to bear the heat or if they built up resistance over time and their answer was: neither. People living in very hot countries don’t enjoy it either. They just have to get on with it.

If all this sounds like a bitch and a moan about the good weather then I’m sorry to tell you that’s exactly what it is. Give me 25 degrees and a gentle wind and I’m a happy woman. That’s perfect weather for a BBQ, say, or sitting in the park with an ice cream. It becomes more about Vitamin D and less about survival.

Broad beans with yoghurt and smoky chilli butter

Tomorrow, this weather is due to break and it’s then that I will share with you a recipe for ice cream because I’m doing this on my terms now, weather. I’m taking back control.

Broad Beans with Yoghurt and Smoky Chilli Butter

This is a lovely thing to eat with lamb, as we did (recipe coming soon), or on its own with bread for swooshing through that sauce. The yoghurt is very cooling (yes, COOLING) and the butter is great because it’s butter and it’s infused with ground up smoky chilli. It’s essential that you use a whole chilli here – one of those Mexican ones with a complex flavour, not, say smoked paprika.

This also works best with small, sweet beans.

500g broad beans in their pods
50g butter
1 smoky chilli e.g. Poblano, Ancho (Chipotle would be a bit much)

Pod the beans and cook them. Pop them from their tough husks. Allow to cool.

Melt butter. Grind the chilli. Add to the butter.

Spread yoghurt on a plate, top with beans and the butter. Serve.

My first dish of manti was a crushing disappointment. I’d developed an interest in Turkish food and was determined, on a visit to Istanbul, to tick off as many experiences as possible – always a guaranteed route to spoiling the fun. I’ve learned over the years that while planning is all well and good, you need to allow for a certain amount of spontaneity when travelling, otherwise it just turns into an exercise in box-ticking. You may as well walk around with your eyes closed.

The manti happened because we were hopelessly lost in some back street – a really steep, cobbled lane which we trudged along in the early afternoon sun, moaning and bickering because we wanted nothing more than an ice cold beer and a plate of something really, authentically Turkish. Once the flip-flops on my newly exposed feet had rubbed the skin raw and our t-shirts clung to our backs we’d had enough and ducked into the next pleasant-enough looking restaurant.

The walls were covered in colourful mosaic tiles and the staff were young and spoke English – not exactly the ‘little old lady rolling yufka’ experience I’d been hankering after but hey, when did jumping to conclusions ever get me anywhere? Also: cold beer. We saw manti on the menu and I was thrilled at the opportunity to tick something off the list. My first, real manti experience was incoming.

They were multicoloured, these dumplings (a warning sign if ever I’ve seen one), and were as bland as flour and water can be. A bowl of flabby pouches in plain yoghurt, underseasoned and sorry for themselves. I’d never tasted manti before, but I knew they had to be more than this, because as a cook, I’m able to read a list of ingredients and have a pretty good idea what the final dish is going to taste like. That was the first thing we ate in Istanbul.

Thankfully, there were many better meals that holiday but actually, no better manti. I’ve had fantastic mantu (Afghani cousins) in Adelaide, glorious khinkali in Georgia and many other dumplings around the world, but no good manti. Even those I’ve eaten in the UK have been a different style entirely, such as the marvellous beetroot and feta version at Queen’s, almost a sort of hybrid dumpling, with various whispers of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus muddling in.

I wanted to start then, by making the very traditional Turkish lamb manti, little folded parcels containing minced meat, topped with garlic yoghurt and spiced butter. I was absolutely convinced I’d mess this up but actually they were fairly easy and I did a little dance around the kitchen when they came out exactly as I wanted them, the first time around. These are the dumplings I’d expected that day in Istanbul. The dumplings of my dreams.

Manti with Lamb, Garlic Yoghurt and Spiced Butter

This will serve 4 people in portions a little larger than the one in the photos. They’re pretty filling, to be honest.

For the dough

225 plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 egg
2 teaspoons olive oil
100ml cold water
Pinch salt

For the filling

150g minced lamb
½ medium onion, grated
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch ground cinnamon

For the garlic yoghurt

3 cloves garlic, peeled
250g natural yoghurt (full fat, obviously)
Small handful parsley leaves

For the spiced butter

50g butter
¼ teaspoon paprika (make sure your paprika is fresh – in my experience, it’s the spice that most easily loses pungency)
1 teaspoon pul biber flakes (Turkish chilli/Aleppo pepper)

To serve

To make the dough, sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then make a well in the middle. Add the egg and olive oil and mix briefly. Add the water a bit at a time until it comes together into a dough. It shouldn’t be sticky. You might not need all the water, and I’d be surprised if you need more but flour is funny stuff – don’t worry too much. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes or so until smooth and elastic. Divide into 4 pieces. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 20 minutes.
While this is happening, mix the lamb, onion, spices and some salt and pepper in a bowl, using your hands.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece at a time to a width of around 2mm. This is easiest with one of those skinny rolling pins, like this (available online or in Turkish shops). Cut the dough into squares. It’s up to you but about 4cm square worked for me.

Place a blob of filling in the centre of each square, approximately the size of a chickpea. Fold opposite ends inwards and pinch together, then set the manti down, push the filling inside (it will have popped up a little) and fold the other sides to form a cross shape. This sounds complicated but is obvious once you have a go (otherwise: Youtube). Set aside on a flour-dusted tray.

Make the yoghurt by simmering the garlic cloves in boiling water for 1 minute, then draining, crushing and mixing with the yoghurt, parsley and a pinch of salt.

Make the butter by melting it and adding the spices. Heat gently, taking care not to burn it.

Cook the manti in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Arrange on the plate with yoghurt and spiced butter. Add some dill fronds if you like. Serve immediately.


There are some really great restaurants very close to my house, which is both a blessing and a curse, believe me. Recently, for example, I had to introduce a ban on visiting Xinjiang restaurant Silk Road because I started to tire of cumin lamb skewers and hand-pulled noodles. Can you imagine? Then, the other night, we had to turn around while on our way to Theo’s pizzeria because omfg it was getting embarrassing to go in there.

Another ‘problem’ has been my long and well-documented love affair with the lamb Adana wrap from F M Mangal and to be honest that’s not something I’ve managed to shake off. My most recent sticky little habit? Their Adana yogurtlu (and when I say ‘recent’ I mean it’s something I’ve been addicted to for the last four years).

This is a dish that combines everything I love about Turkish food. There’s yoghurt and spiced butter, there’s charred tomato sauce and fluffy bread and there are those fatty little kebabs, hot and fragrant. The yoghurt soaks into the bread at the bottom so it swells up all plump and happy, just like me after I’ve eaten it. It’s one big mess of smoke-licked Turkish fun and for a while, I just couldn’t get enough. I fell hard. I wanted more.


I knew I could make it at home but really, why would I when it’s right there, just across the road? Well, because. Because I’m a cook and a food writer and I can’t bloody help myself. Also, what if someone didn’t get to experience the joy of Adana yogurtlu, just because they don’t live near an FM Mangal? That would be a sad thing indeed. They would need a recipe. I was doing it for the people *thumps hand to chest in solidarity*.

You could cook this on the BBQ like I did for this recipe but it’s cold out, guys. I whacked them under the grill making sure to get lots of nice crispy bits. The dish needs to taste mangalised (that’s definitely a word, albeit an entirely new one). It’s a great feed, I tell ya, so do consider making it unless you live opposite FM Mangal, in which case, carry on. Will I stop going to FM Mangal now I’ve made this recipe? Will I hell. I’m busy and anyway, they give us Raki.

This post is part of some work I did with Leisure range cookers (it’s the second of two recipes, the first is here). I was their ‘meat representative’. You can find out more about the campaign here.

Adana Yogurtlu Recipe

This recipe will serve 6.

You’ll find the recipe for the Adana here.

For the tomato sauce

1 regular onion, finely chopped
½ green pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
Olive oil

Cook the onion and pepper gently in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for a few mins. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to simmer, put a lid on and let cook very gently for about 1.5 hours. Blend the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

For the spiced butter

100g butter
2 heaped teaspoons Urfa chilli

To serve

Pitta, toasted (1 per person makes sense but hey, up to you)
Natural yoghurt (must be full fat, don’t mess about)
Chopped parsley

To assemble

Spread some yoghurt onto a plate. Layer with chopped, toasted pitta, more yoghurt, sliced Adana kebabs, tomato sauce, a final dollop of yoghurt and then a generous drizzle of spiced butter. Scatter with parsley. Serve.


I’ve never really been a soup person. I think this stems back to living in shared houses when someone would always make a vegetable soup with all the leftover rubbery carrots and cabbage cores that had been quietly seeing out their final weeks in the salad drawer. This ‘soup’ would always end up too thick – a vegetable sludge – which is down to the fact that everyone, when they first make a soup, thinks that it’s just about sticking everything in a pot and then blending it up. The novice soup maker has no care for the balance of flavours in the soup, nor the consistency of it. We’ve all made that vat of murky brown/green paste and been stuck with it for a week. If you’re a student then it’s preferable to leave it in the fridge for months until the smell is reminiscent of The Bog of Eternal Stench. Finally, someone else throws it away. That involves a combination of forcing down the sink (it’s too solid) and dribbling into the bin (it’s too liquid). I am scarred.

Only certain hot soups are acceptable to me now (tomato, French onion, bisque) but I am very much into most of the cold ones (gazpacho, ajo blanco and all those that fall into the yoghurt category).

This soup uses courgettes, as you’ve probably gathered. It’s light, summery, fresh and cooling. You can warm it gently though if you prefer, particularly since the weather is so unpredictable. A few edible flowers (chives, pansies) on top would look very pretty as a garnish if you have them.

Chilled Courgette and Yoghurt Soup

(serves 4-6)

Approx. 1kg courgettes halved, seeds removed and diced
3 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
300ml good chicken stock
3-4 tablespoons whole fat natural yoghurt
Olive oil and chives, to garnish

Sweat the shallots in a little oil until translucent, then add crushed garlic and spices. Cook for a few mins, stirring. Add the courgettes, then cook on a medium heat until softened. Add the stock and cook briefly until it smells awesome. Season with salt and pepper.

Blitz in a food processor (you know the rules here, right? Don’t put too much in at once). Allow to cool, then add the yoghurt. Blitz again, then pass through a sieve. When fully chilled, check the seasoning again, ladle into bowls, garnish with a dribble of olive oil and the chives, snipped. Serve.

Don’t mention the heat don’t mention the heat don’t mention the heat arghhhhh it’s just been so freakin HOT. All the time I’m walking around in a fug of lethargy and sweat thinking, ‘be grateful it’s sunny be grateful it’s sunny be grateful be grateful be grateful’. It’s been really hot though. I haven’t had the oven on. At least not every day. What I did manage was to strain some yoghurt and chop a watermelon; a watermelon that had been in the fridge and so made a glorious respite in the form of my lunch. The cool, sweet melon on top of creamy labneh, tickled through with a little red onion and mint. A lazy trickle of olive oil. I managed to toast the pittas, by slotting them into the toaster and backing the hell away for 2 minutes.

I’d eat this again and again. It’s a lovely thing to have around at BBQs too; a good little starter or side with grilled meats. It’s actually really damn good wrapped up in a kebab.

Watermelon Salad with Labneh Recipe

(serves 4 as a side dish, or two as a starter)

500g full fat natural yoghurt
1 chunk watermelon, about 1.2-1.5kg (that’s not actually very big – heavy, innit)
1/2 red onion, very finely chopped
Handful mint leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Squeeze of lime juice
Toasted pitta, to serve

Make labneh as per this recipe.

Skin, seed and finely chop the watermelon flesh. Mix it with the finely chopped onion, mint and a squeeze of lime juice. Spread the labneh on a serving plate and season with salt and pepper. Pile the watermelon salad on top and add a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with toasted pitta.

In his excellent book, ‘The Yoghurt Cookbook‘, Arto der Haroutunian talks about the health promoting properties of the white stuff, and its supposedly life lengthening power. By my reckoning I should live until at least 180, providing the yoghurt can counteract a history of fags, booze and fast livin’.

Cultures that consume a lot of yoghurt, such as the Georgians, are huge believers in its supposed powers, and have used it as a cure for…well, pretty much everything actually, for centuries. I can’t vouch for the validity of those claims, but I can vouch for the taste, and its hangover-curing properties. This buffalo yoghurt made in a traditional clay pot brought me back from the brink; I’m talking nausea, shakes, the creeping doom…not a whisker of it after I’d gobbled this lot down at the side of a rocky road in Georgia.

The yoghurt I tried in Ethiopia recently was a little more…challenging. I asked the lady we were visiting how she made it, and she replied ‘well I just put the milk in this bucket (straight from the cow in the back yard) and leave it on the shelf for three days.’ That’s one approach, although it is of course really just curdled milk and not ‘proper’ yoghurt. The taste was very sour and it had a loose wobbly texture. The Ethiopians often mix it with chilli powder and drink the whole glass like a shot, and I can see why. I spent the next three hours concerned about potential gastrointestinal payback.

Yoghurt in Ethiopia

Mixed with chilli powder

Labneh, then, is basically yoghurt that’s been strained of its whey. Of course, I adore it because, well it’s like yoghurt to the power of ten. Once strained, the resulting substance is more akin to cream cheese, but with the obvious tartness of yoghurt; that sour freshness that yoghurt-lovers crave.

I’ve found that the best brand by far for making yoghurt is Total. It’s even better than the mega-expensive stuff I bought from the farmers’ market, which relinquished hardly any liquid. It is thick and creamy before straining  which is a good thing if you’re eating it straight up, but with labneh you want some residual sourness.

To make labneh, mix the yoghurt with a large pinch of salt, then wrap in muslin, or as I have done, a clean/brand new dishcloth. Hang in the fridge (to be honest I used to just hang it in a cool place but now I have a very hot kitchen so the fridge it is) and allow the whey to strain away for about 5 to 6 hours. The longer the strain, the thicker the labneh, obviously.

After this time it is ready, and can be used or preserved in a number of ways.

Try rolling in herbs and preserving in olive oil…it’s then lovely just spread on bread. It’s also delicious rolled in dukkah, or za’atar. Straight up it’s best topped with punchy flavours like anchovy and chilli, or dolloped onto salads as you would use a goat’s curd for example.

My favourite way to use it right now however is to stuff it into Turkish peppers before slinging them on the BBQ. They are lovely when wrapped up inside a flat bread with a kebab, oozing their creamy centres against the sizzling meat. If you’re up for it, you fly bastards, stuff some green chillies instead.

Labneh Stuffed Peppers Recipe

1 x 500g tub Total yoghurt
Large pinch of salt
About 5 mild green Turkish pepper for stuffing (you could also use the long red Romero peppers if you can’t find the Turkish ones)
Muslin or a dishcloth for straining

In a bowl mix the yoghurt with the salt. Line a bowl with the muslin or cloth and scrape the yoghurt into it. Tie the top with string or whatever you have and suspend it from something. I used to use a cupboard handle but now I have a very sun filled, hot kitchen and so I hung it in the fridge. Set a bowl underneath to catch the whey. Leave for 5 or so hours. It will be usable but soft after 3. If you want to make balls with it and preserve them in oil then the longer the better as the labneh will need to be fairly firm for rolling.

Cut the tops off the peppers and de-seed them without cutting the sides. Stuff with labneh. Rub with oil, salt and pepper and either grill on a BBQ or underneath a hot grill until charred in places and soft. Serve either in kebabs, or on toast, in pittas…

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.

Okra Pachadi

Most of the recipes on this blog are my own, but sometimes I want to share others I’ve stumbled across, or those that people have sent to me. This pachadi recipe comes from Sharmila, a local food blogger who does Very Good Things with yoghurt and okra.

In my limited experience, a pachadi appears to be a base of yoghurt and vegetables, topped with a mixture of tempered spices; like pouring a tarka over a dahl. It’s clearly South Indian, as mustard seeds and curry leaves feature heavily in many recipes. My first chapadi experience came via Flickr when one of my contacts posted a recipe so unusual to my eyes that I had to have it. Mustard seeds, dried chilli and curry leaves are fried briefly in coconut oil until the seeds pop then mixed with yoghurt and cucumber. It’s hard to resist bombing a hot chapatti into the still-sizzling spiced oil. The flavours will have you on the edge of your seat.



Sharmila’s version is made using okra slices, fried until crisp; a beautiful contrast against the chilled yoghurt. It takes minutes to make and I can particularly recommend it as part of a  ‘curry day’ extravaganza; nargisi kofta curry, chicken tikka and this excellent spinach and paneer dish from Das Sreedharan’s hugely under-rated book, ‘Indian’*. Yes, I know I go on about that book all the time.

Okra Pachadi

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 or so curry leaves
2-3 green chillies, chopped into a few pieces
Chilli powder
Lemon juice
Coriander leaves
Two large handfuls of okra, chopped up into smallish (2cm pieces)
Natural yoghurt
Salt to taste
Groundnut oil

Fry the okra in a few tablespoons of groundnut oil until nice and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.

Combine the okra with the yoghurt (about 200g) and a bit of chilli powder (but not too much – this isn’t a spicy dish). Fry the mustard seeds in a small pan in a tablespoon or so of oil. When they start to pop, add the green chilli and curry leaves. When they are nicely sizzling, pour over the yoghurt mixture. Stir to combine, add salt and lemon juice to taste and then add the coriander leaves.

* The edition of Das’ book that I have doesn’t seem to be available any more but this looks very similar and I imagine will have a lot of the same recipes. It’s one of those books you actually cook from rather than just flick through.

Thanks again to Sharmila for the chapadi recipe.

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.

I ate a stunning baba ganoush at Maramia Cafe recently as part of a ‘lamb banquet’. The meat was soft and tasty as hell, but the baba was what really blew people’s minds. It was thicker than mine; I wondered how they’d achieved the consistency and considered straining the yoghurt. I’m a serial strainer – you end up with something almost cream cheese-y but way more refreshing. I tried using it in the baba and the result was of course, richer. I’ve also started using smaller aubergines, which means that the smoke can penetrate all the flesh, rather than just the outer layer.

That’s it really – makes all the difference.

Baba Ganoush

8 small aubergines
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 lemons (juice)
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
1 handful coriander or parsley leaves (or a little of both), chopped
6-8 tablespoons tahini (I like a good whack but you may want less)
1-2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
4 tablespoons strained yoghurt (see below)

First, strain the yoghurt. If you don’t remember to do this the night before it doesn’t matter, even a couple of hours will make a big difference and the process itself takes seconds of preparation. Take a 500g tub of decent Greek-style yoghurt such as Total. Full-fat will obviously taste better than low fat but the latter does work okay. You’ll need some butter muslin, which is available from hardware stores easily. Cut a square of the muslin and line a bowl with it. Mix the yoghurt with a scant teaspoon of salt, mix well, then dollop it all into the middle of the muslin in the bowl. Gather it up, tie string around the top then tie the other end to something (I use a kitchen cupboard handle). Leave it for a few hours or ideally, overnight with the bowl underneath.

Pierce the aubergines with a fork and place directly on the gas rings of a hob (1 per ring) on a low flame, or put them under the grill, turning occasionally until blackened all over and collapsed. They will burst but this is fine, it just requires a bit of attention so you don’t lose the flesh. Remove to a plate and let cool slightly, then scrape the flesh from inside, leaving any bits of blackened skin and liquid on the plate behind.

Blend with all the other ingredients and season and adjust as necessary. You may want to add more lemon, yoghurt or salt for example. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses and scatter over extra coriander, if you like.

Allow to sit for a few hours before serving with hot flat breads or pitta for scooping.

Savoy Slaw with Bacon and Walnuts

The crinkled heart of a young savoy is delicious freshened up with a dressing of yoghurt, mustard and lemon; raw brassica never tasted so good. This may be down to the addition of grilled pork and its fat.

I like this with mackerel; a freshly grilled fillet is nice but to be honest, on a school night, a couple of smoked pieces from a packet is often all I can manage.

Savoy slaw with bacon and walnuts

1 savoy cabbage, tough outer leaves and core removed and finely shredded
1 small red onion, halved and cut into fine slices
200g Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
100g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (by ‘toast’ I mean put them in a dry pan on a low heat and shimmy them around until they start to smell fragrant. Take care not to burn them).
6 rashers streaky bacon
Pinch of caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon

Grill the bacon until crisp and then chop into small pieces.

Mix the shredded cabbage, onion, bacon and walnuts together in a large bowl. Mix the yoghurt, mustard, sugar and lemon juice together well then add to the cabbage mix and combine. Season with salt and pepper.