Sri Lankan curry

Serves 4


700g shoulder or neck fillet of lamb (weighed after trimming), cut into cubes
2 onions, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
3 TBS groundnut oil
1 rounded TBS Madras curry powder
75g fresh coconut, finely grated
75g creamed coconut, grated
Milk from 1 fresh coconut
Approx. 570ml stock
2.5cm whole cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, crushed
1 rounded tsp fenugreek powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish:
2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1 medium onion, quartered then separated out into layers


Pre-heat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2.  First heat 1 TBS of the oil in a large casserole, then add the onions and garlic and cook gently to soften for 5 minutes.  Next heat the remaining 2 TBS of oil in a frying pan and, when it’s nice and hot, quickly brown the cubes of meat (you will have to do this in 2 batches).  Then sprinkle the flour and curry powder over the onions in the casserole and stir to soak up the juice, then cook gently for 2 minutes.
Now pour the coconut milk into a measuring jug and make up to 725ml with stock and slowly pour this into the casserole, stirring all the time.  Next stir in the grated fresh and creamed coconut and transfer the browned meat to the casserole.  Finally add the spices and season with salt and pepper.  Bring up to simmering point, cover and cook in the centre of the oven or on a low simmer on top of the stove for 2 hours.  Approx. 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the cinnamon stick and stir the hard-boiled eggs and onion pieces into the curry to warm through (the onions are not meant to be cooked).  Serve with a large green salad.


Serves 2

For the sauce:
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
50g anchovies, drained
175g pitted black olives, chopped
1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
1 heaped TBS capers, drained
450g tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 rounded TBS tomato puree
1 dessertspoon fresh basil, chopped
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the garnish:
Fresh basil, chopped
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then add the garlic, chilli and basil and cook these briefly until the garlic is pale gold.  Then add all the other sauce ingredients, stir and season with a little pepper – but no salt yet because of the anchovies.
Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer very gently without a lid for 40 minutes, by which time it will have reduced to a lovely thick mass, with very little liquid left.  Toss in the basil (set aside for the garnish) and serve over a large green salad with freshly grated parmesan on the top.

Serves 2


350g halloumi cheese, cut into 2.5cm cubes
1 medium pepper (any colour)
1 medium red onion
4 medium cap mushrooms

For the marinade:
55ml extra virgin olive oil
1 fat clove garlic
1 level tsp each chopped fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary, mint and parsley
(or similar combination of whatever herbs are available)
Juice of 1 lime
Freshly ground black pepper


Begin by cutting the pepper and onion into even-sized pieces about 2.5cm square, to match the size of the cubes of cheese.  Then chop the herbs and garlic quite finely and combine them with the oil, lime juice and some freshly ground pepper.  Now place the cheese, onion, pepper and mushrooms in a large, roomy bowl and pour the marinade over them, mixing very thoroughly.  Cover and place in the fridge for 24 hours, and try to give them a stir round every now and then.
When you are ready to barbecue the kebabs, take 2 skewers and thread a mushroom on first (pushing it right down), followed by a piece of onion, a piece of pepper and a cube of cheese.  Repeat this with more onion, pepper and cheese, finishing with a mushroom at the end.  Place the kebabs over the hot coals, turning frequently until they are tinged brown at the edges (brushing on any left-over marinade juices as you turn) – this will take about 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.


Serves 4


900g fresh sardines (approx. 12)
175g fresh sorrel leaves (stalks removed), washed and dried
Approx. 2 TBS olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
3 TBS cider vinegar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 rounded TBS fresh chives, chopped
1 level TBS fresh tarragon, chopped
1 rounded TBS fresh basil, chopped
1 rounded TBS fresh flat-leaf parsley or chervil, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


First, prepare the sardines.  Use a small pair of scissors to cut open the bellies and remove the innards.  Then wipe them inside and out with damp kitchen paper and arrange them on a plate.  Next, chop the sorrel leaves fairly finely, then season and use 3/4 of them to stuff inside the bellies of the fish.  Sprinkle the oil over the fish and rub it in so that they all get a good coating.
Now prepare the sauce by placing the remaining sorrel leaves along with the other herbs, the shallots and garlic in a jug or serving bowl and add 5 TBS boiling water, followed by the vinegars.  Stir well and season with salt and pepper.
The sardines will need very little time to cook – just 2 minutes on each side.  They will also cook perfectly well under a domestic grill or on a ridged grill pan.  Serve with the sauce handed round separately.

Serves 4

4 large firm tomatoes
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 heaped TBS fresh coriander, chopped
1 fresh green chilli (the fat squat variety that isn’t too fiery)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the tomatoes in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to stand for 1 minute.  Transfer the tomatoes to another bowl of cold water for 1 minute.  Drain them and slip off their skins.  Now, cut each tomato in half, and holding the cut side down, squeeze gently until the seeds come out.
Using a sharp knife, chop the tomatoes into approximately 5mm dice, straight into a serving bowl.  Next, de-stalk the chilli, cut it in half, remove the seeds and chop the flesh very finely before adding it to the tomatoes.  Add the chopped onion, coriander and lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.  Give everything a thorough mixing, then cover and leave on one side for about an hour before serving.

Serves 4

900g best beef (preferably rump or chuck/blade steak – make sure it contains 20% fat)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little oil

If you are using chuck steak, trim off any gristle/sinewy bits but hang on to the fat.  Cut the meat into chunks, put it into a food processor and blend until it looks like fine minced beef.  However, don’t overdo the processing because if the meat becomes too fine, the burger will have a bouncy texture!
Empty the meat into a bowl and season with pepper – don’t add salt until after the cooking because it draws out the juices.  Now form the mixture into 4 rounds, pressing each one firmly together (it won’t need egg or anything else to keep it together if you press firmly enough).  Now place the burgers on a plate, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
When the barbecue is good and hot, brush the grill with a little oil to prevent the meat sticking to it, and give the burgers a light coating of oil too.  Grill them for 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on how you like them.  The same timing also applies to a domestic grill turned to its highest setting.  Serve the half-pounders with Mexican Tomato Salsa and a large green salad.

Serves 4


350g neck fillet of lamb (80% lean meat, as some fat is important to keep it juicy)
1 small onion, quartered
1 clove garlic
110g roasted and salted cashew nuts
3 TBS fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 fresh green chilli, deseeded
A little groundnut oil
1 level tsp cumin seeds
1 level tsp coriander seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


First of all, you need to roast the spices, and to do this place them in a small frying pan or saucepan over a medium heat and stir/toss them around for about 1-2 minutes, or until they begin to look toasted and start to ‘jump’ in the pan.  Now transfer them to a mortar and pestle and crush them to a powder.
To make the kebabs you need to cut the meat into chunks and place it in a food processor along with the onion, garlic, coriander leaves, lime juice, cashews, spices and seasoning.  Pulse until you have ground everything together but it still has some identity – it needs to end up like very coarse sausagemeat.  Now take around a TBS of the mixture and roll it on a flat surface into a sausage shape, squeezing the mixture firmly together.  Pat and square off the ends to give a nice shape.  Repeat until you have used all of the mixture – you should aim to finish up with 12.  Thread these on to 4 skewers (3 on each).  Cover them with clingfilm and keep them in the fridge until you need them (it’s important to leave them for at least 2 hours anyway to firm up).
Before grilling, brush the kebabs with oil and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, either indoors (around 5cm from the grill) or outside over hot charcoal.  Serve with a large salad or vegetable dish.