A friend of ours came to the back door with a couple of very fresh large pollack, just as I was contemplating what to have for tea. I was about to make a Norwegian dish from Davidson’s, involving cheese and macaroni, but then I turned to Google.
When I search for recipes online, I type in the ingredients that I have, and then pick out interesting sites to check what they suggest. I sometimes pick up flavour suggestions, or some interesting methods. I don’t like sites with too many photographs, it makes it hard to find and follow the recipe. I also don’t like sites with poor formatting, or dodgy programming that don’t let you download the recipe so that it is readable.
The BBC food website is reliable, informative and full of good ideas, so when I spotted this recipe, I had to try it. I had to tweak it to fit my ingredients and timescale, though. I get all my spices and herbs from Seasoned Pioneers, if you wondered.
coarse sea salt
a pinch of saffron
1 large pollack, filleted, skinned and boned
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 red chillies, finely chopped,
4 cooking chorizos (about the size of a standard sausage, and soft) cut into 1 cm lengths
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
200ml chicken stock
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can chick peas (or 150g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender)
salt and pepper to taste
125g spinach (could be more, but that is all I had)
Cut the fillets of pollack in half to make four good-sized portions, In a close-fitting plastic container with a lid, sprinkle the pollack with coarse salt and a pinch of saffron, and ensure that the fish is well-coated. Cover, and put in the fridge.
After an hour and a half, start preparing the rest of the stew. Preheat the oven to 170C.
Put a casserole dish on a medium/high heat, add the olive oil, and fry the onions, garlic and chillies for 6 minutes or so.
Add the chunks of chorizo, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the cumin, paprika, bay leaves and cinnamon, and continue to cook for another 4 minutes or so.
Add the drained chickpeas, chicken stock and chopped tomatoes, bring to the boil and then put it in the oven for 45 minutes.
Next, remove the stew from the oven, check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. I also reduced the stew a bit on the stove top at this stage.
Take the fish from the fridge, thoroughly rinse off the salt and pat dry, before adding to the top of the stew, and returning the casserole to the oven for a further 12 minutes.
To serve, lift the fish onto warmed dishes, and then stir the spinach into the stew before ladling it onto and around the fish.
We also had some fresh bread and olives at the table, and a Spanish white wine.
I have no idea where I found this recipe, I think it dates back to student days in the 1980s. There are lots of notes and at least two totally different versions in my old recipe book. It works well with or without the potatoes.
5 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions finely chopped
8 cloves of garlic, finely chipped
1 tbsp coriander seed, ground
1 tsp cumin seed, ground
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
6 tbsp tomato paste
2 tins of chickpeas (do not drain)
1 tbsp amchoor or juice of half a lemon
2 tsp sweet paprika
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1cm cubes, and put into cold water
Salt to taste
2 fresh green chillies, very finely chopped
2 tsp grated ginger (or 1 tsp dried ginger)
Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat, until beginning to brown, around 10 minutes
Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and turmeric, stir, and reduce the heat
Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and then add the chickpeas with their liquid from the tin, and around 200ml water, and the amchoor, and paprika. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 10 minutes.
At this point, it may be wise to set the pan aside for a day or too, for the flavour to develop.
To serve, drain and pat dry the potato cubes. Fry in oil for 10 minutes over a medium to high heat, stirring.
Stir in the ginger and chillies, and then the fried potatoes, and serve.
This was a portmanteau of a recipe. I had several recipes that looked very similar, so I took ideas from each one. This tastes really good and it is filling. We served it with kale braised in butter and pepper.
2 cans of chickpeas
2 large onions
2 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp sweet pepper puree
1 tbsp baharat spice mix
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp date syrup or pomegranate molasses
OPTIONAL – 2 green peppers, chopped, or 450g spinach, chopped and cooked
Salt and pepper
Chopped mint and parsley, to garnish
Chop the onions finely, crush the garlic, and cook slowly in the olive oil for at least 10 minutes
Add the Baharat spice mix. If you are using green peppers, slice them thinly and add them to the onions, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, pepper puree, and bring to a simmer.
Add the chickpeas, and simmer until they are hot and tender.
Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice and date syrup or pomegranate molasses. Adjust the quantities to taste. If you are using spinach, stir this in now.
Garnish with chopped herbs before serving. This can be served hot or cold.
A visitor to my house made this, and then referred me to the Kitchenist website. The stew was delicious. I’m not going to type it out, because the Kitchenist has already done that and you can just click on the link. Instead, here are my top tips for making this.
First of all, I made Barbari Naan to go with it, but haven’t perfected the techniques for that yet, so you’ll need to wait for the recipe. Nan or pitta bread should be good. I also served this with home-made labneh, which was delicious. Recipe for that coming soon. A Greek salad with lots of feta cheese in is also good.
I also found that the recipe needs a bit of salt and pepper, just my own taste, I suspect.
There’s a bit in the recipe that calls for garlic, ginger and lemongrass to be mashed together. I have a small coffee/spice grinder attachment for my bamix blender that I use just for this sort of thing, small and quick. There are a few similar products on the market, really worth while for this sort of cooking.
I’ve bought a few new cookbooks this year, the theme seems to be about the middle east. This book of Persian recipes is called ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. Hopelessly romantic title, but then again, I have a photograph of two Tehrani police officers outside our gate in northern Tehran, posing for my mother with bunches of roses and honeysuckle.
I never had this soup, though, until today. It is easy and delicious. The recipe makes a large quantity, it says it serves four but only if you have two helpings each. It takes about an hour and a half to make.
4 tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped finely
1 tbsp turmeric
1.5 litres boiling water
50g arborio rice
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 pack of coriander leaf, chopped (around 40g)
1 pack of flat leaf parsley, chopped (around 40g)
1 tbsp dried summer savory (or substitute a mixture of thyme and mint)
300g spinach, chopped
1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
250ml greek yoghurt or sour cream or creme fraiche
Black pepper to garnish
Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. When it is hot, add the chopped onions, and fry for 10-15 minutes until the onions are brown. Stir in the turmeric and mix. Set aside a tablespoonful of fried onions for a garnish at the end.
Add the water and rice to the rest of the fried onions, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, herbs and spinach, bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 minutes.
Add the salt and pepper to taste, then beat in the yoghurt. Don’t boil once the yoghurt is added, because it will curdle.
Garnish with extra yoghurt, the fried onions, and a grating of black pepper.
For a vegan version, leave out the yoghurt, or use coconut yoghurt. For a meaty version, use beef stock instead of water and add small meatballs.
This is the first recipe I have tried from the ‘Cook for Syria’ recipe book. The book is a collection of recipes from Syria, and so much more. It tells about the culture of food and sharing in Syria, builds links with people using the #CookForSyria @CookForSyria tags, and raising money for Unicef to help children affected by fighting in their beautiful country.
I served it to a visitor, and we shared a lot of stories about the ethics and politics of food. I had to make a few adaptions to fit my ingredients.
6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp za’atar (I used the mystery mixed Italian herbs, but za’atar is available from Seasoned Pioneers. )