The kheema you should start with….


I guess there are just about a gadzillion versions of kheema. This is the version of the basic staple recipe that I prefer of the various ones I’ve tried. Leave out the peas, add spinach instead, or smoky pureed eggplant (see another chapter for making this), or….


  • 450g minced lamb (or beef)
  • 4 tblesp ghee/oil
  • 200g onions sliced coarsely
  • 4 large cloves garlic chopped finely
  • 2” piece ginger chopped finely
  • 1 teasp ground cumin
  • 2 teasp ground coriander
  • half teasp tumeric
  • 1 teasp chilli powder
  • tin of tomatoes plus juice, chopped
  • peas
  • fresh coriander, chopped


Over medium high heat, heat the ghee and then fry onions, stirring constantly until a deep brown. Turn heat very low, add ginger and garlic, fry for a minute or so before adding all the ground spices, stir for another minute or so, DON’T BURN THE SPICES!!!

Turn heat back up, add the meat and stir to brown, being vigilant to break it all up, no big lumps please.

Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil, cover and then turn down to a vigorous simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, check now and then to make sure it isn’t drying out too quickly. At the end, it should be dry, with the oil seeping out. Add the peas a few minutes before serving and lastly, the fresh coriander. You may, for the last few minutes of cooking, turn the heat up high and stirfry to make sure it is a nice brown colour. In my opinion, if you’ve started out the right way, you won’t have to do that.

Serve with rice.

See another post for turning this into samosas.

(I’ve used Sameen Rushdie’s recipe for this post)


Pasta and chickpeas

It’s the basis of many a variant in Italy and I’ve decided to add it to our staples like this:


  • 1 tin chickpeas drained, rinsed, peeled
  • 1-2 tblesp tomato paste
  • some shallots finely chopped
  • fresh garlic finely chopped
  • small pasta shapes
  • anchovies mashed
  • salt and pepper
  • ghee
  • water/stock

Optional additions as you please….

  • parsley
  • chives
  • spring onion
  • spinach
  • lemon
  • bacon
  • parmesan grated for serving

I started out frying shallots and garlic in ghee, adding chickpeas and then the water or stock if you prefer and lastly the tomato paste. Let all this simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. This can sit in the fridge once it’s cool.

When you come to preparing the meal, boil the pasta but keep it underdone, drain, put back in the pot and add however much of the chickpea mixture you want as well as the mashed anchovies which will melt through. While this is reheating and the pasta is finishing its cooking chop herbs or other last minute accompaniments. Add and stir through. Serve.

For two people the first time I did this I added a small bunch of parsley, half a bunch of chives, the white of a spring onion and before serving sprinkled snipped spring onion greens on top. The second time I made the addition finely chopped spinach.

The possibilities are endless, one could add an Indian element by sprinkling garam masala on top. Fresh chillies would work well too.

It can be as soupy or stewy as you please. Part pureeing the chickpeas is an idea I have not explored yet but will obviously enhance a move from the one to the other.

This is cheap, healthy and tastes great. It is also quick and flexible – in Italy carrots and celery may be added, but I wanted something that wasn’t an echo of minestrone. You could also make in large quantity and freeze the first part of the recipe, the stock/chickpea/tomato paste combo.


Avocado on a mortgage

You can do this: go out, avo, juice, coffee $25 x 2 or….

  • Ciabatta from Lucia’s at the Market – perfect ciabatta $6.90 does practically an infinite amount of toast, so I’m saying…$1
  • Avocado, one Hass, lovely taste, right size $2
  • Harissa $1
  • Feta $1
  • Lemon 50c
  • Eggs x 4: $2
  • OJ freshly squeezed $2
  • Coffee/tea $1

Cost in the vicinity of $12, rounding up for butter, power, milk…

I don’t believe we need a recipe for this one. For posterity I note that we used biona organic harissa from the UK and it is really nice, none of the harsh vinegar aspect one generally gets from jarred harissa. Due to the situation which developed last time I made it myself, when Manny kindly offered to deseed 70 bird’s eye chillies, we now buy it premade.

It’s so good we’ve been having it for dinner too. Sliced tomato on top is an excellent addition if the mortgage repayments permit.

White beans and chorizo

This ensued after buying San José smoked fresh chorizo at the Central Market last week.


  • two onions, peeled and diced
  • smoked fresh chorizo skinned and chopped
  • ghee for frying
  • white beans – I used two tins of cannellini
  • garlic finely chopped
  • tomato paste
  • half a bunch of spinach, chopped fairly finely
  • a cheddar that melts nicely, grated


Fry the onions until softening, add the garlic and stir a few times without burning,  add the chorizo and fry until it’s getting brown and the onions are fairly soft. Add drained and rinsed beans or dry beans you have cooked yourself. Add water and tomato paste at some point, bring to the boil and then put on a very low simmer for a couple of hours.

Sit overnight. Next day when serving add spinach while the spaghetti is boiling. After stirring the cooked pasta through the sauce, mix in cheese. This is a soupy stew you could serve with ciabatta, but we had it as a spaghetti sauce with parmesan on top.

A couple of bunches of parsley instead of spinach would be good. I had initially meant to cook it with celery, but forgot to buy any, but I could imagine trying that too.

Spaghetti with Italian pork sausage

I don’t really understand what’s hard about pork sausages. And yet, there it is. In Switzerland you can only get horrible Swiss pork sausages even though one might expect a better return for Italian being one of the national languages.

Adelaide Central Market: Marino make traditional Italian pork sausages. They are so good that the rest of it can be very simple.


  • 500-750g Italian pork sausage with fennel (or add a little ground fennel).
  • finely chopped garlic
  • a large onion diced
  • 2 tins tomatoes crushed
  • water
  • butter/olive oil


Fry the onion and garlic gently in the butter/oil until softened. Turn up the heat, add the sausage which you have first skinned (slice it longwise and the skin will easily come off) and stir vigorously, breaking up lumps, until it has lost is raw colour. Add the tomatoes and water, bring to the boil. Then turn down to a slow simmer and cook for a couple of hours.

I guess this must be better the day after – it’s the sort of dish that is. We were not able to wait that long, however, and instead had a first helping of it with fresh spaghetti we bought at the Goodwood producers’ market this morning. From the Grain has a gloriously colourful display of pasta, which, much as my preference is for plain, I found irresistible. We tried a vivid green garlic and parsley spaghetti. It combined fabulously with the sauce, parmesan on top – perfecto.

Brown sauce noodles

Needed to turn the contents of a rather empty fridge into dinner.


  • Thai rice noodles, dried.
  • boiled chicken
  • rocket
  • boiled potatoes
  • for the dressing in the ratio 4:2:2:1, thick plain yoghurt, sweet Thai chilli sauce, a chutney (mine was peach), Chinese soy sauce. Mix


Cook the noodles, mix everything. Serve tepid/room temperature

For me the point was that the dressing coped with a rather desultory little band of ingredients. Tasted great. But it is brown. You do have to face the fact that you will be serving and eating a brown dish. Everything in the dish will be brown, the net effect is brown. Don’t make this if you dislike eating things that are really quite….brown.

Chicken, lentils and vegetable stew

This was a ‘it’s in the cupboard’ recipe. It’s cheap and makes enough for 6 serves.


5 chicken wings
2 sticks of celery diced
2 carrots peeled and diced
1-2 onions peeled and diced
several cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
tin of tomatoes, crushed if not already
a cup of red lentils, washed and picked over if necessary
water or stock of some sort
ghee (or oil for frying)
some sweet paprika (I used 1 teasp)
some roasted and ground cumin (I used 1 teasp)
some chilli powder (I grind mine and it’s superhot, so I didn’t use much)
salt and pepper to taste.


Fry onions until softening, add celery, carrots and then after a few minutes the garlic. Keep stirring. Low enough heat that nothing burns, especially the garlic. Add the paprika, cumin and chilli powder to taste. Next the tomatoes, perhaps two cups of water and the lentils. Stir thoroughly to make sure the lentils aren’t clumped together, bring to the boil and simmer, covered. I’d say quite a strong simmer, but less than brisk. Stir from time to time and add more water as may be necessary. I wanted something thicker than a dahl, which is why I started with only 2 cups of water. I added a bit more water at some point.

Cook all this for a couple of hours. Then debone the chicken and return to the pot.

Leave for a day.

Good with rice, with mash, stirred into pasta. Obviously one could vary this to make it more Indian-like or more European….I would be curious to see what happens if you use green lentils or chickpeas, if it comes to that.

If you want this meatier – it is a small amount of chicken, 5 wings, you can add more chicken. Maybe later in the cooking process, since wings appreciate long cooking the most.