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Somerset Maugham

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Entries in cumin (12)

Wednesday
Apr112018

Dad's Mexican mince

I had a craving for my Dad’s Mexican mince recently. We used to get so excited when we were little and came in the door to that unmistakable smell of stewing meat and spices.

Before I moved to the UK it was one of several recipes I made my Dad make in front of me so that he couldn’t “forget” any ingredients. To this day, I still haven’t quite managed to master his “benchmark aioli” and I have always thought that maybe there is something he is not telling me. The Mexican mince, on the other hand, I watched him make step-by-step so there was no room for items to be lost in translation.

Apart from the optional ingredients, this is to the letter. That isn’t to say that it is traditional – I have no idea, my Dad isn’t Mexican – but it tastes damned good and better than any I’ve tried elsewhere, but I have to admit that I haven’t been to Mexico so, until then, I will reserve judgement.

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Sunday
Dec172017

Pozole Rojo

This recipe first appeared on the Borough Market website as part of a 3 part series I am writing exploring lesser-known religious traditions in December from around the world.

This spicy soup with hominy and slow-cooked pork shoulder is a party favourite in Mexico. It is often served at Las Posadas festivities, celebrated from 16th to 24th December.  However, the religious significance of the dish precedes this Christian festival. Corn was a sacred plant for the Aztecs, so they cooked pozole to mark special occasions.

It is a great party main because it is easy to make in large batches (this recipe serves about 8-10 people) and there are lots of garnishes that guests can add to customise their bowl of soup.

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Wednesday
Jul192017

Harissa

Harissa, if you haven’t discovered it yet, is a vibrant Middle Eastern condiment that can be added to many dishes to give them a zesty hit of sweet and spice and all things nice.

It goes particularly well with lamb. I often use it as a condiment alongside roast lamb, coated lamb chops in it, slathered it on burgers and my new favourite, in a bun with merguez sausage, mayo and rocket.

It can also work with chicken or a meaty fish, like monkfish or hake, so long as you are not too heavy handed. I love adding a tablespoon or two to a tomato-based stew, such as my chicken, chorizo and chickpea stew or albondigas. You can also stir it through mayonnaise or yogurt to give them a bit of a kick.

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Wednesday
Apr062016

Hummus with spiced lamb and pine nuts

The new series I am writing for Borough Market, Box Clever, is encouraging me to be much more adventurous with my packed lunches and how I pack them. Don’t you just love these Indian tiffin tins? I bought them for pretty pictures, but I find I am using them all the time.

I first tried this dish in a little family-run Lebanese restaurant called Emma’s on Liberty in Enmore, Sydney. They called it “traditional houmous” but it was so much better than any hummus I’d tried before. It did make me wonder why I’d been eating the unadorned version my whole life. Never again.

The dish is more often called hummus kawarma or hummus b’lahmeh, both of which mean hummus with lamb, but I am sure there are many other names to match the myriad recipes. There are almost as many versions of this dish throughout the Middle East as there are recipes for hummus. Chopped lamb or minced? Pine nuts or pomegranate seeds? Chunky or smooth? Tahini? Herbs? Spices? It depends who you ask.

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Sunday
Sep202015

Moroccan-spiced carrots

Today I am updating a post from November last year to make use of these glorious heritage carrots from Natoora. Of course, you can just use normal ones or baby carrots as I did originally. The introduction that follows remains the same, but I have edited the recipe.

As a budding young food anthropologist I feel very ambivalent about the name I have just given this recipe. I just spent my summer writing a dissertation querying the very notion that any dish or cuisine can be assigned a nationality. However, the alternative is a bit of a mouthful: “Carrots with preserved lemon, cumin, caraway and coriander seeds”. I could keep things vague, e.g. “Middle-Eastern spiced carrots”, but that only extends the problem, anthropologically speaking. Anyway, the point here is these carrots are bloody delicious and I really ought to leave such musings to my anthropology pages.

This is such a simple recipe. I threw it together for the first time a few weeks back when all I had in the fridge was a bunch of carrots from the farmers’ market and some preserved lemons that I made a few months ago. (Any excuse to use the lemons – they are fabulous.)

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