Rice with peas

This is a very gentle rice dish, common in India. It goes with everything. I use MJ’s instructions.

To cook the rice:

1) measure rice up to 450ml in a measuring jug

2) put it in a sieve and thoroughly run water through it until the water runs clear. It will be cloudy at first.

3) put it in a bowl and cover it with water to soak for 30 minutes

4) drain in the sieve and let sit to drain more for 30 minutes

Now you can do all sorts of things to it. Today we had rice with peas.


The prepared rice
One onion finely chopped
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cups of peas fresh or frozen
600ml water or stock (I use chicken if not cooking for vegetarians)
1 teasp of salt or a stock cube if using water rather than stock
3 tblsp ghee or oil


In a medium sized saucepan on medium heat, heat the ghee.

When hot put in the cumin seeds and stir for a few seconds while they sizzle. Quickly add the onion and fry until it starts to become a little brown – flecked brown.
Add the rice and peas and stir for a couple of minutes to make sure the rice is well coated with the ghee. You can turn down the heat if the rice is sticking to the pan.
Now add the stock, or water and salt or stock cube. Turn heat to high and stir gently until the water is boiling.

Turn heat to very low and cover pan with lid.

In about 13-15 minutes check that the rice is nicely cooked, it should be dry and soft, no liquid. You may wish to let it sit for ten minutes off the heat at this point. It will stay piping hot. Gently stir as the grains of rice are very fragile so that the rice becomes separate and not stuck together.

My own curry

I could have sworn I’d already written this up, but apparently not. It’s my own and everybody loves it!

If you can get mutton shanks do this:

Ask the butcher to cut them into chunks.

Boil mutton shanks in plenty of water which is reduced by a lot of vigorous boiling after you have removed the shanks: maybe after 2 hours.

Heat some ghee and fry onion over moderate heat until soft and translucent, add garlic and ginger and then on a low heat Master Curry Powder. For 1.5 kg of meat, I’d add two heaped dessertspoons. Add tin(s) of tomatoes which have been pureed. Fry until it looks nicely cooked, maybe fat is peeping out of the sides. Add the strongly reduced stock and the deboned meat. Simmer about 30 minutes.

Serve with everyday rice.

I’m sorry there are not better instructions for this. It depends what you start off with. I always try to make lots when I make a curry and then freeze most of it for later.

That’s how I first wrote it, but in practice for reasons to do with the Australian dollar or something I was no longer able to find mutton locally and I can’t find it in Geneva at all. So, using lamb shanks, or, as I’m doing today for a change, beef which is off the bone but very fatty, it should be good for the job:

Today in a large wide pan in heated ghee I started off rendering the larger pieces of fat I cut off the beef. Discard (or eat!) those, add the chopped onion and, as before, fry gently over moderate heat until soft and translucent, add the garlic and ginger and then on a lower heat Master Curry Powder. Then add the meat and mix thoroughly. Finally, the tomatoes and probably some extra water. You can always reduce the sauce later if necessary. Bring to the boil, and then lower heat to a simmer for up to a couple of hours. Sit overnight, skim fat from the top before reheating.

Curry power Master recipe

Everybody has to have one of these, a go-to curry powder. This is like Clives of India except that it’s fresh. It’s perfect, this makes a lot, but it keeps and you can easily use two heaped tablespoons of it at a time, I find.

Julie Sahni’s Curry Powder Master Recipe

Makes about 4oz/125g

2oz/60g coriander seeds
15 dry red chili pods (quantity is too taste, or may be left out entirely)
1&1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1&1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1&1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1&1/2 tsp black peppercorns
15-20 curry leaves, dried or fresh (optional)
3 tbsp turmeric powder

1. Mix coriander, chili pods, cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and peppercorns in a blender or spice mill and grind to a fine powder in several batches. Pour into a bowl and combine well.

2. If you are using fresh curry leaves dry them briefly (about 4-5 minutes) in an ungreased frying pan over low heat. Grind them in a blender and add them to the spice powder in the bowl.

3. Stir in the turmeric.

4. Transfer the curry powder to an airtight jar, cover tightly, and store in a cool place.

This is utterly, utterly divine and you can do lots of wonderful things with it. Worth every bit of the twenty minutes making it that you thought you didn’t have…you know. Those twenty minutes you spent driving to the supermarket to buy curry powder. Yes, those twenty minutes.

The one the restaurants always get wrong

Manny looked a bit sad when I told him what lunch was, and I can’t say as I blame him. It’s the dish restaurants always make so badly you can’t even believe it. You order it several times at several places thinking this time will be better, but eventually you wise up.

Spaghetti with smoked salmon sauce


Shallots, finely chopped
Garlic, finely chopped
white wine
spring onion green part cut into small rounds
smoked salmon
parmesan for those that must


While the spaghetti is cooking:

In a wok, gently fry the shallots and garlic in the butter until soft. Increase heat, add wine and vigorously reduce. Turn down heat and add cream. When the spaghetti is cooked, add to the sauce along with the salmon and toss thoroughly.

Serve with the spring onion rounds on top and lashings of freshly ground black pepper. Best practice, in my opinion, is for everybody to have their own pepper grinder.

Spaghetti in fresh herb sauce

Spaghetti in Fresh Herb Sauce. My own concoction

I’m not totally sure about this one, but I’m trying harder to keep records of things that I randomly put together.

While the spaghetti is boiling.


A bunch of basil chopped
Generous quantity of continental parsley chopped
Bacon thinly sliced and chopped
Eggs, sorry, I don’t know how many. Maybe a couple and then decide?
Parmesan cheese grated
Freshly ground black pepper


Fry bacon until crisp, crumble on paper towels, set aside.
Mix the herbs with other ingredients excluding the bacon.
When cooked, mix the spaghetti in with the sauce and heat VERY gently.

Stir bacon through, and leave a little to put on top.

Basillica. Something to do with lots of basil.

Another thing to do with too much basil – I made this up and haven’t made it for ages, so I’m curious as to whether it’s as good as I recall. Report if you try it, please!


pine nuts
a bunch of basil for two people
creme fraiche
cheddar cheese


While the spaghetti is boiling:

Toast pine nuts.

Render the fat from bacon rashers and then fry diced bacon in the fat.

Puree about a bunch of basil leaves with at least 2 large dollops of creme fraiche. Add this to the frying pan. Warm gently.

When pasta is nearing to cooked, add to the sauce some of the cooking liquid. Stir, decide if you have added enough – start with too little, not too much.

While spaghetti is draining, add some grated cheddar to the sauce.

Mix in the spaghetti, thoroughly coat it.

Serve with pine nuts on top.

Basil and tomato: as simple as it gets

I wrote this ages ago….

Are there foods or dishes that made such an impact on you, the very first taste stays with you forever? I was 25 when I first tasted basil. Wow. What a revelation. Not for the first time I regretted my parents’ decision that we weren’t to be raised in an Italian way. I was deprived of basil for TWENTY-FIVE years!! Not fair.

I ate this dish for about a week, breakfast, lunch, dinner. I could do that now. If only I didn’t have to go to the doctor tomorrow morning on an empty stomach. Sigh. 10am. I could be dead of starvation by then.

While the spaghetti is boiling:

Chop tomatoes into slivers, or perhaps small cubes.
Finely chop garlic.
Tear basil leaves with your hands.
Grate parmesan.

All rests on the quality of the ingredients here. Sqiuishily soft, juicy, red as red can be tomatoes. I’ve got lots in the garden at the moment. Best garlic, straight from the ground. Basil that is not – on pain of something truly horrible happening to you, not – hydroponic. I promise, if you compromise here, you will go straight to hell. You won’t even get the chance to explain what on earth you were up to. You will be dispensed posthaste to an eternity in hell. You won’t even die first. You will have the rest of your life and then an eternity of death to ponder the inadequacy of that stuff called hydroponic basil. Ugghhhh.

You do not want to stew this, it’s a summer-sun-warm dish. Generous splash of best olive oil, gently heat to a moderate temperature and add the garlic. The merest hint it is overcooking and take it off the heat. Add tomatoes, heat tenderly. Take off the hotplate. When the spaghetti is close to ready, put sauce back on the heat, add basil, quickly drain spaghetti and toss through.

Serve with parmesan on the side as you might not even want this complication.
Black pepper? Only maybe.

Honestly. If you can’t get the very best of each ingredient for this, just don’t bother.

Oh, and guess what? You’ve become a vegetarian and you didn’t even notice.