THE BOROUGH MARKET GUIDE TO
Featuring ingredients and recipes from around the world, a guide to sourcing and cooking with spices
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THE BOROUGH MARKET GUIDE TO
So, what is a spice? That’s actually a much harder question than it probably ought to be. It can be many things: the seed of a cumin plant, the bark of a cinnamon tree, the stamen of a saffron flower, the rhizome of a turmeric plant. In summary, spices are derived from some kind of vegetation, but not from the leaves, and they’re, you know, spicy. For all the vagueness of this definition, their impact on cookery could hardly be more acute. Across the globe, there’s barely a culture in whose cuisine a distinctive use of spices isn’t deeply embedded, regardless of whether that culture produces any spices of its own. With their impressive durability and symphonic impact on the senses, these ingredients have been among the principal engines of international commerce since the dawn of civilisation, thus embedding themselves into every nook and cranny of the culinary world. If you want your food to taste of India, Iraq, Nigeria or Spain, finding the right blend of spices, and the right technique for their application, is a vital part of the process. As with all foods, the quality of a spice is completely tied up with its provenance: where and by whom it was grown and processed, when and how it was roasted or ground. The best spices can make your cooking sing. You’ll find some tunes in here. BOROUGH MARKET ONLINE Borough Market Online offers a wide selection of our traders’ produce, delivered direct to London addresses and, where available, by post to the rest of the UK. goodsixty.co.uk/borough-market
What it takes: Making spice blends Magali Russie Griddled courgettes, spicy chickpeas Urvesh Parvais Baghare baingan Roopa Gulati Spiced new potatoes Urvesh Parvais Dress to impress: Dry spice mixes Ed Smith Jollof spiced guinea fowl Zoe Adjonyoh Onglet with Tellicherry & long pepper sauce Ed Smith Chicken chaap Asma Khan A dish dissected: Massaman curry Sue Quinn Curried monkfish & clams Ed Smith Masgouf Phil Juma The spice guide: Coriander, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, ginger & galangal Ed Smith Strawberry & fennel seed kulfi Meera Sodha Knafe Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich Mango, coconut, turmeric & ginger ices Ed Smith
KIM LIGHTBODY / FRONT COVER: REGULA YSEWIJN
Curried monkfish & clams
WHAT IT TAKES: MAKING SPICE BLENDS Magali Russie
How do you go about selecting the raw spices you use in your blends? Getting the right spices is key to what we do. Take cumin seeds, for example: at Spice Mountain we only buy them from a particular supplier who specialises in cumin seeds; he doesn’t deal in any other spices. He offers us several gradings of cumin seeds – because not all cumin is the same. Its quality depends on its essential oil content, its size and its shape. The oilier the seeds, the fresher the taste. The highest grade we sell either as whole or ground cumin, but the second grade is good for mixing into blends. It’s like making juice out of misshapen apples – while the taste is extremely important, people buying spice mixes are less concerned about the size and shape of the original seeds.
realistic to buy direct from the farmers. It’s not like sourcing vegetables in the UK: I can’t just buy cumin from one farm – or if I did, I’d have to buy it by the tonne. I do, though, insist that the spices I buy have been sourced from the particular countries or regions that do them best. Our turmeric, for example, comes the Gujarat region of India and our lemongrass comes from Indonesia.
How can you tell if a spice is of sufficiently high quality? With most spices, as soon as you open a sample pack, your nose will tell you how good it is. Some spices you may need to bite on as well: a little bite of cumin, coriander or fennel seeds will tell you if they’re fresh or old. There are visual clues, too: at the moment we have Sri Lankan cinnamon sticks on the stall; they’re really small and thin, which means the quality is far greater than the bigger ones that customers often assume are better. Cinnamon bark is shaved off the tree and left to dry and curl naturally. The producers then layer the sheets by hand and roll them like cigars. The tighter the rolls, the better and more intense the flavour will be. If it’s a big, thick roll, it’s too loose.
How do you devise the recipes for your blends? A big part of what we do is trial and error, but there’s a lot of knowledge too. I don’t want to be vain, but I’ve learnt a great deal through sampling and selling spices for so many years, and I’ve developed a real feel for the proportions you need, particularly of certain strong spices. Cumin and coriander, for example, are sort of brother and sister spices, in a way. Cumin is a strong, domineering spice and coriander has a distinct flavour that some people really don’t like. The two tend to work beautifully together, but only if you get the balance right.
Who do you buy spices from? Most spices I buy from suppliers. It’s not
How do you get ideas for new spice blends? Through travelling, reading and listening to our customers. Our customers are hugely varied in background, and also eat out a lot! We get lots of feedback and suggestions as to blends and variations we could make. It’s a constant conversation.
How important is the roasting process? The balancing of certain spices – including cumin and coriander – often happens when you roast them. It’s then that the flavours really amalgamate. Before roasting you
can taste them separately, but somehow afterwards it’s like the two spices have joined forces to create a new one. You can really taste the effects of roasting on Ethiopian blends: the spices are roasted for a long time, which means they develop a gorgeous, smoky flavour. But I don’t always roast spices, and sometimes I mix roasted and non-roasted. We rarely roast fennels seeds, for example – fennel is so lovely, it really doesn’t need anything doing to it. We’re making a Goan curry blend at the moment, and the challenge is making something gentle, mellow and woody, but with a nice sweetness. Powdered fennel seeds provide sweetness, cinnamon is sweet but woody, so those two seem to work well together. How do you test your blends? When we’re creating a new blend, we will use it to make a particular dish a number of times to check that it works consistently. Even after a blend has been perfected, though, it is really important not to neglect the testing, because the profile of the spices
can change. The heat of the chilli can vary, for example – we might get a batch that is not so spicy – and we see turmeric changing all the time. Sometimes it’s the most beautiful shade of bright yellow, other times it’s darker. Each time that happens, we have to retest the blend, as the taste of the turmeric tends to vary with the colour. It helps that I use the blends in my own cooking – especially the Mauritian curry, Ethiopian and shichimi togarashi blends – and that my partner tries everything I make! Are there any spice blends you’re not able to make? We have had a lot of people asking about the merkén spice blend recently – it’s a smoky, peppy blend from Chile – but the main ingredient in that is aji cacho de cabra, a hot smoked chilli, and you can’t reliably get this chilli yet in the UK. Sometimes with spice blends you can cheat a little by substituting one specific ingredient with another if the profile is similar enough, but you can’t in the case of merkén. The chilli makes its flavour. Without it, it’s not merkén.
GRIDDLED COURGETTES, SPICY CHICKPEAS Urvesh Parvais Serves 4-6 Ingredients For the chickpeas: 250g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight 2 tbsp sunflower oil 4 x 2cm lengths of cinnamon 2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced lengthways 8 curry leaves 1 tsp cumin seeds ½ medium onion, finely diced 3cm fresh turmeric, very finely sliced For the courgettes: 4 large courgettes of different colours, sliced lengthways into 4-5mm slices 1 tbsp cumin seeds 6 cloves 2 tbsp olive oil 3 tbsp golden raisins A handful of fresh coriander leaves A handful of micro mustard shoots Method Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 6 hours in enough water to allow for them to double in size. Rinse once, cover with lightly salted water, then boil for 1-1½ hours, until soft enough to squeeze between your thumb and index finger – do allow them to overcook and become a mush. Drain and spread them out on a clean cloth to dry for 15 mins or so.
Add the cumin seeds, allow them to sizzle for 10-15 seconds, then add the onions and half the turmeric. Give it a stir, then add the chickpeas. Cook for about 8-10 mins on a medium heat, moving the mixture gently. Add ½ tsp salt and the rest of the turmeric, taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Remove from the pan and set aside. To make the courgettes, dry roast the cumin seeds, then grind in a pestle with the cloves. Add this ground spice to the olive oil, then use a pastry brush to anoint the courgette slices on both sides. Place the courgette slices in a griddle pan or on a barbecue and cook until you get those lovely char lines. Place some of the courgette slices onto a serving plate, sprinkle with a few sea salt flakes and some of the spicy chickpeas, then scatter over some raisins, fresh coriander and mustard shoots. Continue to layer the plate with courgette and chickpeas. Top with the fried curry leaves and chillies.
Place the sunflower oil into a large pan, over a medium heat. Add the cinnamon, then once you see little bubbles starting to appear around the bark, add the sliced chilli and curry leaves (these may splutter as they go in the pan, so move away quickly or have a lid ready as a shield). Once the chilli skin has turned white, remove the chillies and the curry leaves and reserve for later. Visit boroughmarket.org.uk for more recipes
Dried chickpeas Oliveology Fresh turmeric Ted’s Veg Golden raisins Brindisa
BAGHARE BAINGAN (AUBERGINES WITH PEANUT MASALA) Roopa Gulati Serves 4 This elegant dish has long been a jewel in India’s crown. It reflects the refinement of Persian-inspired cooking techniques and incorporates punchy southern Indian ingredients, such as peanuts, tamarind, curry leaves and coconut. Recipe from India: The World Vegetarian (Bloomsbury Absolute) Ingredients 1 onion, thickly sliced 75g unsalted peanuts, skinned 2 tbsp desiccated coconut 1 tsp coriander seeds 2 tsp sesame seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp white poppy seeds 200g wet, seedless tamarind block ½ tsp ground turmeric ¾ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder 1 rounded tsp jaggery or light brown sugar 8 small, round or oval aubergines (600g) 4 tbsp sunflower oil About 15 fresh curry leaves
medium heat. Add the onion and peanuts and dry-roast for about 3-4 mins, until the nuts pick up flecks of colour. Reduce the heat to low and add the coconut, then the coriander, sesame, cumin and poppy seeds, and continue cooking for about 2-3 mins, until the coconut darkens and the spices are aromatic. Take the pan off the heat, transfer everything to a bowl and add 75g of the wet, seedless tamarind pulp, turmeric, chilli powder and jaggery or sugar. Stir to combine, then scrape the mixture into a food processor and blend to a thick paste, adding a splash of water if needed. (You can use a mortar and pestle for this if you don’t have a food processor.) Slit each aubergine from bottom to stem through the centre, but not quite all the way through – they should each hold together at the stem. Fill each aubergine with a dessertspoon of the spiced peanut paste, reserving the remaining paste to make a sauce.
Heat the oil in a large, sturdy frying pan over a medium heat. Add the filled aubergines and fry on both sides until the skin darkens and the flesh begins to soften. This should take about 5 mins. Carefully transfer them from the pan onto a plate.
Break up the tamarind block with your hands and put it in a heatproof bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover generously and soak for 15-20 mins, until it is totally soft. Leave to one side to cool.
Add the curry leaves to the oil in the frying pan. Then, after a few seconds, add the reserved peanut paste. Cook for 3-4 mins, stirring all the time, then pour over 250ml of hot water or enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
Push the tamarind pulp through a metal sieve and discard any fibres. Add a little water if the tamarind is too thick to easily pass through the sieve. Aim for a consistency similar to a cake batter. Set aside.
Bring the masala to a simmer over a mediumlow heat and return the aubergines to the pan, arranging them in a single layer. Cover the pan and cook the aubergines over a low heat for about 15-20 mins, until tender and the masala has thickened. Serve with Indian breads or rice.
Heat a griddle or cast-iron frying pan over a Visit boroughmarket.org.uk for more recipes
Onions Elsey & Bent Round aubergines Turnips Tamarind block Spice Mountain
SPICED NEW POTATOES Urvesh Parvais Serves 6
Crushed new potatoes tossed in butter, cumin, dried chilli, curry leaf and fresh turmeric: this simple dish looks great and tastes just as good, and will disappear off the table before you can say, “Come and get it...”
Boil the different coloured potatoes separately in salted water until they are firm but can be broken with the back of a large spoon. Drain the potatoes then crush them gently, preserving their shape but allowing for cracks to appear – these will hold all the lovely flavour.
Ingredients 500g white new potatoes 100g blue new potatoes 50g salted butter 1 tsp cumin seeds 12 curry leaves ½ tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground coriander 2cm dried chilli 3g fresh turmeric, finely chopped 3g fresh ginger, finely chopped A handful of fresh coriander leaves A handful of micro mustard shoots A pinch of garam masala Greek yoghurt (optional)
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Cut the butter into small pieces and melt in a pan over a medium heat. Add the dried chilli. Once this starts to brown, throw in the cumin seeds and curry leaves, and allow both to sizzle gently in the foaming butter – it should smell lovely. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and ginger, plus a little sea salt, cook for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat. Add the still-warm crushed potatoes and the coriander leaves and gently mix. Taste, then add more salt if required. Serve with micro mustard shoots, a sprinkle of garam masala and a dollop of yoghurt.
New potatoes Ted’s Veg Curry leaves Spice Mountain Greek yoghurt Oliveology
DRESS TO IMPRESS: DRY SPICE MIXES Ed Smith
Over the past two decades or so, British home cooks have been educated in the art/joy/craft of adding fresh herbs to a dish. It’s one of Jamie’s greatest gifts to us, I guess: the idea that fresh basil, mint, coriander, parsley or dill should be measured in fists, not pinches. He (and others no doubt) have freed us to add herbs as we might if we were in Tel Aviv, Tbilisi, Tehran or Hanoi: by the literal bunch. That liberal scattering of fresh herbs might even be second nature now. But there’s also much to be said for seasoning and embellishing with dried herbs and spices. A heaped teaspoon or more of a spice mix at the end rather than mid-way through the cooking process can really ‘make’ a dish, too. Cruise the shelves at Arabica and Spice Mountain, and in among the tempting pots and pouches are tubs of sumac, za’atar and dukkah .The sharp citrus tang of sumac, the zingy fragrance of the dried oregano in a good za’atar, and the nutty crunch of dukkah: these powders are such a brilliantly effective way of adding lip-tingling layers of flavour to grains, leaves, grilled meats and roast vegetables. Yes, they’re dusty, which might seem off-putting at first, but, as with fresh herbs, it pays to add about twice as much as you think you need. Counterintuitively, the more it looks like you’ve dropped your greatuncle’s urn on, say, a platter of golden-crisp chicken thighs, the more alive they will be. Spice Mountain’s blends go beyond the Middle East. I’m a fan, in particular, of the stall’s Japanese seasonings. One, gomashio, is technically just a mix of sesame seeds and salt. But it’s somehow far more than the sum
of its parts, particularly good as a dusting for roast vegetables or steamed fish. Another, which you should acquaint yourself with if not already familiar, is shichimi togarashi: a blend of seven spices that majors on chilli powder, but also dried citrus and nori (seaweed). There’s heat, sourness, umami from the seaweed, a real shot in the arm for any ricebased dish or soup. Consider a scattering of ume plum sesame seeds too, for a moreish combination of sour and savoury. There’s more: like tabil, a Tunisian and Algerian mixture consisting of coriander, garlic and caraway, and often the likes of mint, cloves and turmeric. We’re so used to putting these spices in among the onions as they soften, or perhaps in a stew while it bubbles down. But a last minute dusting over something like a lamb chop or even stirred through roast or fired potatoes would be effective. Ditto a chimichurri blend of parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic – something you could sprinkle on a steak or flatbread, but like za’atar is even more effective mixed with olive oil and drizzled. Much can be done with all of these blends. On the one hand, it’s worth looking to their use in the countries they originate from. But I think we can use them more casually, too – if ever a mid-week meal or weekend egg feels bland, could it be transformed by a few spoonsful of dukkah or an explosion of shichimi togarashi? Probably. So next time you finish plating up and bemoan the fact you’ve forgot to add fresh herbs to your shopping basket, pause and consider whether there’s actually something dry and dusty in your spice cupboard that could be just as enlivening. Dust away.
JOLLOF SPICED GUINEA FOWL Zoe Adjonyoh Serves 6
I use my jollof spice mix to make a west African inspired version of roast guinea fowl – perfect for enlivening your Sunday roast. The jollof seasoning mix makes about 170g, far more than you need for the recipe. Store the rest in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and use within a few months.
Mix all the seasoning ingredients together in a bowl.
Ingredients For the jollof seasoning: 30g ground ginger 20g garlic powder 20g dried chilli flakes 35g dried thyme 25g ground cinnamon 15g ground nutmeg 15g ground coriander ¼ tsp sea salt ¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 190C. Place the guinea fowl into a roasting tray and stuff with a lemon half, the spring onions and the pierced scotch bonnet. Use a sharp knife or fork to prick some holes in the skin of the bird before pouring over the melted coconut oil and 2 tbsp jollof seasoning. Rub thoroughly all over skin. Loosely cover with foil and roast for 30 mins, then remove the foil and baste with the juice of the other lemon half, plus a sprinkling of sea salt. Reduce the temperature to 165C and roast for 20 mins more. Serve with your usual Sunday roast potatoes and vegetables!
For the guinea fowl: 1 whole guinea fowl (approx 1.5kg) 1 lemon, halved 1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed and washed 1 scotch bonnet, pierced with a knife 50ml coconut oil, melted
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Cinnamon Spice Mountain Guinea fowl Wyndham House Poultry Scotch bonnets Turnips
ONGLET WITH TELLICHERRY & LONG PEPPER SAUCE Ed Smith Serves 2 This is a twist on the classic French steak au poivre. So often pepper sauce accompanies a fillet steak, which I personally think has little flavour, or at best an expensive sirloin, which has more, but why spoil it? Better, I think, to match power sauce with power meat, hence opting for onglet, which hangs from the diaphragm of a cow and was once thought of as offal. The pepper sauce itself isn’t classically French either. Instead of brandy I suggest a dark and nutty oloroso sherry, and I stir creme fraiche into that, finally adding some fruity, flavourful Tellicherry pepper and musty, near cinnamon-like long pepper. It really shows peppercorns off as an ingredient and flavour, rather than a seasoning and happily (or perhaps worryingly), is fiendishly moreish. Ingredients 1 tsp long pepper, ground in a pestle and mortar 1 tbsp Tellicherry peppercorns 1 tbsp sunflower oil 400-500g onglet, butterflied by the butcher 20g butter 100ml water 75ml oloroso sherry 60g creme fraiche 15g fridge-cold butter A small wedge of lemon Method Measure out all the ingredients before you cook as it’s a fast meal, and you’ll need things to hand once you begin. Tip the long pepper into a bowl. Add the Tellicherry peppercorns and bash them so Visit boroughmarket.org.uk for more recipes
they’re somewhere between cracked but not fully dusty, then mix with the long pepper. Find a thick-bottomed frying pan that will fit the onglet comfortably (or cut the steak in two so it does). Place the pan on a medium-high heat, add the sunflower oil and let this heat up for 30 secs. Now lay the onglet in the pan – if it’s the right temperature it should sizzle straight away. Sprinkle a good pinch of sea salt over the top and cook without turning for 1 min. Then flip the meat and cook for another min, again sprinkling with salt. Flip once more and cook for 45 secs, then add the butter to the pan, letting it foam for 10 secs, before turning the onglet over one final time and cooking for 45 secs more. Transfer the onglet to a warm plate to rest, leaving the pan on the hob. Deglaze the pan with the water, then add the sherry and let this bubble away and reduce by half (around 30 secs). NB: If you do this the other way round the alcohol may well set alight, given the heat of the pan. Add the creme fraiche and keep cooking over a medium-high heat for 30 secs, then drop the cold butter in and whisk into the sauce, letting it bubble away for a final 30-45 secs. Remove from the heat, add all of the pepper and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice. Whisk once more. Slice the steak on an angle. Sprinkle generously with salt and divide between your two plates. Spoon the peppercorn sauce generously over the plate, and serve with some robust, flavourful salad leaves, such as red chard, rocket or watercress, to help mop up the juices. @boroughmarket
Onglet Northfield Farm Tellicherry peppercorns Spice Mountain Oloroso sherry Cartwright Brothers Vintners
CHICKEN CHAAP Asma Khan Serves 6 Recipe from Asma’s Indian Kitchen: Homecooked food brought to you by Darjeeling Express (Pavilion Books) Ingredients ¼ tsp good-quality saffron strands 10 tbsp sunflower oil or other neutral oil 5 onions, thinly sliced into half moons 1.2 litres thick Greek yoghurt 2 tbsp chopped garlic 2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger 6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs 1 tbsp ground coriander 2 tsp mild chilli powder (preferably Kashmiri) 4 tsp salt 4 tsp sugar 2 tsp flaked almonds, to garnish For the garam masala: 2 tsp cloves 4 black cardamom pods 1 nutmeg 2 large pieces mace 6 Indian bay leaves Method To make the garam masala, in a dry frying pan (skillet), roast all the ingredients over a medium heat, stirring continuously to prevent them burning. The spices are ready when the cloves swell, turn grey, and pop. Allow the spices to cool, then grind to a fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder. Grate the nutmeg, before adding it to the spice grinder. Any unused garam masala can be kept in an airtight container for a few weeks.
In a frying pan (skillet), heat 6 tbsp of the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions to the pan and fry gently, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelised. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions from the oil, leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible to use later, and place on a plate to drain. Spread the onions across the plate so they crisp as they cool. In a large bowl, mix the yoghurt with the garlic, ginger, 1 tbsp of the garam masala and the oil retained from the caramelised onions. If using orange food colouring, add this directly to the yoghurt. In a pan that has a lid, heat the remaining 4 tbsp oil over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken and seal on all sides. Lower the heat to medium and pour the yoghurt mixture over the chicken. Keep the heat at medium so the contents of the pan do not boil. Add the caramelised onions and ground coriander and cook, stirring continuously, for 10 mins. When the oil rises to the surface and the yoghurt splits, add the chilli powder and salt. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat. Add the infused saffron at this point, if using. Cover and cook the chicken for a further 10 mins. Add the sugar and stir to mix thoroughly. Before serving, taste to check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. To serve, garnish with flaked almonds.
In a small bowl, infuse the saffron strands in 4 tbsp tepid water. Visit boroughmarket.org.uk for more recipes
Saffron Brindisa Onions Elsey & Bent Chicken Ginger Pig
A DISH DISSECTED: MASSAMAN CURRY Sue Quinn
According to Thai food guru David Thompson, the perfect massaman curry should be sweet, sour and salty – a holy trinity of virtues that makes devotees sigh with longing when they’ve finished their bowls. Legend holds that massaman arrived in southern Thailand from Persia in the 16th century, trailing exotic aromas redolent of western Asia, notably cardamom. And in deference to its Muslim heritage it is never made with pork; beef or chicken, cooked until butter-soft, are stars of the bowl. Massaman is the most time-consuming of Thai curries; a long list of ingredients must be carefully prepared from scratch to yield invigorating flavours. Most southern Thai families have their own beloved recipe passed down through generations, says Worawan Kamann, co-founder of Borough Market Kitchen’s Khanom Krok. “But there are a lot of things that go into it, so it’s not something that’s cooked every day,” she says. Born in Bangkok, Worawan was taught to make the stall’s chicken massaman with potatoes and peanuts by her grandmother. “She was an amazing cook right into her nineties,” Worawan recalls. “We would spend the whole day cooking it, shredding the coconut and doing all the preparation.” And this, as ever, is the secret. Khanom Krok’s comforting massaman is made with love and care. Worawan has zero tolerance of short cuts, such as cooking the chicken and sauce separately then bunging them together to serve: a crime against massaman prevalent in the UK. “I stick to the way I learned as a
child. I cook my chicken in the spicy sauce, so it sucks up all the flavours.” The perfect balance of sweet and sour needs judicious application of palm sugar and tamarind juice, and a light hand with the chilli paste. “Massaman is not supposed to be very spicy,” Worawan says. “It’s meant to be quite a mild curry. That’s the traditional way.” Spices Dried spices are heavily roasted in a pan or wok and then used sparingly to impart an elusive fragrance. Cardamom is a stalwart, but others might include star anise, cloves, cinnamon, coriander seeds or cumin seeds. Coconut Coconut milk or cream (or both) forms the ballast of the rich sauce, simmered in a pan or wok until it begins to separate or ‘crack’. Chilli paste A puree of chillies, garlic, shallots and other aromatics is cooked off in the boiling coconut along with the toasted spices. Seasonings Palm sugar is added for sweetness, and tamarind (at the end) for a sprightly sour kick. Meat & veg Chicken or beef pieces are slowly simmered until they reach the sweet spot between falling apart and undercooked. Starchy veg is vital: white radish, potato or sweet potato. Toppings Shower with deep fried shallots and toasted peanuts for extra tastiness and crunch.
CURRIED MONKFISH & CLAMS Ed Smith Serves 4 Spice Mountain has a wide range of really interesting pre-mixed curry blends, inspired by the flavours of Sri Lanka, Kerala, Mauritius and more. I’ve suggested using the Thai green curry blend in the recipe below, but any blend based on a coastal region would work well. Ingredients 250g palourde clams 200g rainbow chard 240g basmati or jasmine rice A thumb-sized piece of ginger, cut to matchsticks 1 large banana shallot, finely sliced 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced 2 tsp Thai green curry powder 200ml coconut milk 2 tsp golden caster sugar 450-500g monkfish fillet 1 lime Method Purge the clams by placing them in a bowl and covering with cold water. Leave for 5 mins, drain the gritty cloudy water away and repeat until clear. Discard any clams that remain open if tapped. Cut the stems off the chard at the point those stems meet the leaves. Cut the stems into 2cm lengths, and halve any leaves that are bigger than your hand. Rinse the rice, then place in a saucepan of rapidly boiling salted water. Cook for 2 mins fewer than the packet instructions, drain and leave to steam.
pan (for which you have a lid) on a medium heat. Add 1 tbsp sunflower oil, then the ginger, shallot and a pinch of salt. Sweat and soften over a low-medium heat for 4-5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more, before measuring the spice powder into the pan and cooking for 1 min, stirring continuously. Pour in the coconut milk, fill the tin with water, then pour that into the pan. Add the sugar and simmer for 5 mins. Cut the monkfish into four equally weighted portions (probably around 4cm deep). Add the clams to the broth and place the lid on top of the pan. After 2 mins, add the monkfish pieces to the bubbling broth, return the lid and simmer for 2-3 mins more, shuffling the pan once or twice, until the clams are all open and the monkfish has turned from translucent to pearlescent white. Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze in the juice of half the lime and cut the other half into quarters. While the monkfish and clams are cooking, place another large frying pan or sauté pan over a medium-high heat with a knob of butter or 1 tbsp coconut oil or light olive oil. When warm, add the chard stems, fry for 2 mins, then add the chard leaves and stir occasionally until wilted – this should take around 4 mins. To serve, pile a ladle of rice into the middle of each bowl or plate. Lay chard leaves and stems over the rice. Add the monkfish portions and ladle the clams and curried sauce on top and around, with a wedge of lime on the side.
Once the rice is on, start cooking the monkfish. Place a heavy-bottomed sauté Visit boroughmarket.org.uk for more recipes
Rainbow chard Elsey & Bent Green curry powder Spice Mountain Monkfish Furness Fish Markets
MASGOUF (BUTTERFLIED SEA BREAM) Phil Juma Serves 6
This dish is an interpretation of the national dish of Iraq. Traditionally cooked on the shores of the river Tigris, a butterflied carp is marinated in tamarind and cooked next to an open fire. My take on this classic dish uses sea bream (you could use sea bass, too) and I’ve created a tangy marinade that complements the fish perfectly.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Begin by finely slicing the onions, spring onions, and garlic. Take a large pan and over a medium heat, sweat the vegetables with a splash of olive oil and generous pinch of salt.
Ingredients 1 small onion 1 bunch of spring onions 2 cloves of garlic Olive oil, for frying ½ tsp ginger powder 1 tsp curry powder 1 tsp dried lime powder 1 tbsp tomato puree 250ml passata 2 tbsp tamarind pulp 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses ½ lemon, juiced 3 tbsp parsley, chopped 2 large sea bream, butterflied and bone in
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After 8 mins add the spices and cook for another 5 mins, stirring often so the spices do not catch. Add a splash of water if the pan becomes too dry. Next add the tomato puree and cook out for a few mins, then add the passatta, tamarind pulp, and pomegranate molasses. Cook for another 5 mins, then set aside to cool. Once cooled, place in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped parsley, plus lemon juice to taste. Take your fish and rub the marinade on the flesh and skin. You can leave them to marinate overnight for extra flavour. Place the fish, skin side down, on a baking tray and cook for 9 mins. Once out of the oven, finish with a blow torch if you have one to give that charred, smoky flavour of the original masgouf cooked by the fire.
Sea bream Shellseekers Fish & Game Passata Bianca Mora Pomegranate molasses Arabica Bar & Kitchen
THE SPICE GUIDE: CORIANDER, CUMIN, CARDAMOM, TURMERIC, GINGER & GALANGAL Ed Smith
Coriander Though used (and grown) prodigiously in India, coriander was originally a Mediterranean plant. In fact, we should really consider it a global crop, as it is cultivated in (among other places) Russia, Mexico, Morocco and Australia, with the seeds and leaves used in traditional recipes from Cyprus and Greece, the Middle East, south-east Asia, Central America… heck, it’s even been common in British cooking since Roman times. We are, of course, talking about coriander seed, not the leaves of the plant loved by many but hated by the few who are biologically predisposed to tasting detergent rather than perfumed citrus and grassy notes. In contrast to the almost aggressively herbaceous top, coriander seed is warming, mellow and nutty with faintly orange-like citrus top notes. To my mind, it’s imperative that you store coriander in seed not ground form, lightly toasting the requisite amount (to warm and release its aromatics) immediately before grinding in a mortar and pestle and using as required in your recipe. The flavour is much better than that found in ground coriander that’s sat in a pot for any length of time. For something a little different, try Spice Mountain’s Indian-grown coriander seeds – labelled ‘dhania’ – which are a tear-drop rather than spherical shape, and have a more pronounced floral and earthy flavour than the coriander more often seen on these shores. Coriander is present in a huge number of cuisines. However, it usually sits quietly in the background, providing an earthy depth, while
other spices (cumin, cardamom, turmeric) take the plaudits. Which doesn’t mean it’s not vital, whether as an aromatic, whole in chutneys and brines, as a seasoning in a Mexican chilli or Indian curry paste. I think it’s particularly good when involved with rich beef stews (whether western, or something like a rendang or madras). Cumin Cumin is the world’s second most used spice after black pepper. It’s an important, nay, essential characteristic of the foods of the Middle East, India, north Africa, Central and South America, Spain, Italy, Germany, Thailand and more. Originally from Egypt, cumin is now cultivated in Iran, Turkey, India, China, Japan, Chile and Somalia. Like coriander, cumin seeds are the fruits that hang around after the flowering plant begins to lose its bloom. They’re a flatter, longer seed than coriander (confusingly similar to caraway) and are normally brown in colour. I note, though, that there is a ‘black cumin’, which is perhaps a little sweeter than the brown (and is not to be confused with nigella seeds). The flavour of cumin is unmistakable, unique and ultimately quite hard to describe without saying “tastes like cumin”. I get musk, lemon zest and ‘spice’, but I’m not sure that’s particularly helpful. As with coriander, you’re much better off buying and storing cumin seeds whole, toasting and grinding them when required (or often just toasting and leaving them whole). Cumin hogs the limelight. As we know it is essential in Indian cooking, but some of
its standout uses are elsewhere. Look for it sprinkled over Mexican-style grilled corn. Roasted roots like carrot and beetroot love it, and lamb and pork are big fans (think roast shoulder of lamb, or crisp pork belly seasoned with cumin and a squeeze of lemon juice). It’s even used as an aromatic to flavour liqueurs, like the German kummel. Cardamom Cardamom, unlike the previous two curry spices, is indigenous to India (and Sri Lanka). It has two forms: ‘true’ green cardamom and ‘false’ black cardamom, the latter found more commonly in the Himalayas (Nepal, Bengal and Bhutan). Green cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice by weight (after saffron and vanilla), but it packs a heavy punch. The flavour of green cardamom is intense, resinous, eucalyptus-like… and has spoilt many a pilau rice for eaters chowing down without looking. Nevertheless, fans will note that it has a unique quality that enhances both sweet and savoury dishes.
Cardamom is normally traded in whole pods. There is a wide variety of sizes, the larger often being more powerful in aroma. At Spice Mountain you can also buy cardamom seeds already removed from the pod and indeed, those same seeds ground to a powder. Though the ground form loses its flavour over time, it’s not the worst idea ever to have both whole and powder in your cupboard. Black cardamom has a similar if cooler aroma and flavour to its ‘true’ cousin. Most significantly, its flavour is smoky, because the blackness comes from the cardamom pod being dried over an open fire. As with green cardamom, depending on the recipe, you can use it whole, grind it whole (very finely), or grind the seeds only. How and where to use cardamom? The first things that come to mind are savoury dishes. For example, whole pods are tapped and dropped into rice dishes – both Indian and Persian – to impart aroma as the rice cooks. Ground cardamom is integral in many Indian spice mixes too. But perhaps
things get more interesting when we move into sweeter treats. Apparently, 60 per cent of the world’s cardamom goes to Arab countries, where it plays an important part in the coffee ritual – that eucalyptus or menthol-like quality pairs beautifully with the bitterness of coffee beans. In fact, other cultures have tapped into the match too: across south-east Asia, cold, thick and sweet coffee syrup infused with cardamom and cinnamon is poured over bananas for breakfast and the Scandinavians have shown that there is no better flavour match than that of a strong coffee and an equally strongly spiced cardamom bun.
roots in fresh form. Masses of turmeric roots (rhizomes) are harvested around 10 months after being planted. The finger-sized stubs are boiled then baked until dry, and (generally) ground into a powder. It can also be purchased in dried root form – Spice Mountain advises grating it like nutmeg. If you plan to use a fair quantity, though, it’s best to buy the powder.
Turmeric Due to its yellow colour and belligerent staining ability, turmeric is sometimes known as ‘Indian saffron’ or ‘false saffron’. Yet it has nothing to do with the stamens of the crocus flower. In fact, the ground turmeric powder you have at the back of your spice cupboard derives from a root in the ginger family, mostly grown in south Asia.
Turmeric is used in a variety of cuisines, though notably those of India, Kashmir and Pakistan. It’s almost certainly not the nailed on super food that health gurus would have you believe; though it’s not bad for you either. Still, its reputation does mean that the use of this spice has had something of a renaissance in recent years.
As with ginger, it is possible to find turmeric
The taste is a fairly bitter, near acrid one, though it is also quite mild and tends to be used alongside other spices to add a layer of flavour, rather than acting as the star.
Ingredients that enjoy turmeric include eggs (scrambled and omelettes), haddock and rice
(think kedgeree), lentils (dal), carrots and cauliflower.
spiced dried fruit puddings, which more often than not have a hint of ground ginger in them.
It’s a spice that has been utilised by British cooks for centuries, most notably in preserves alongside mustard seeds – perhaps for colour as much as flavour – and as a key component of curry powder. Piccalilli is one thing that immediately comes to mind. See also coronation chicken.
Dried ginger is also fantastic when sprinkled on fresh mango or melon. It adds a certain piquancy and tang. The flavour matches well with rhubarb too – add a pinch to the sticks just before you stew.
Ginger Like turmeric, ginger is a flowering plant whose pungent roots (rhizomes) are harvested and used the world over to flavour foods. The plant is thought to originate from the Indian sub-continent, but it’s been farmed across the world for centuries and is vital to multiple cuisines. It is, of course, often used fresh, where its piquant, fiery, near sour-citrus yet soothing flavour is unmistakable. Young ‘stem’ ginger, candied before it becomes fibrous, is popular too. Dried ginger is processed in the same way as turmeric, and is particularly well used in spice mixes, curry powders and in baking. It’s possible that its tongue-tickling heat is intensified when dried and ground, and it certainly provides a warming background whenever it’s used. Again, ginger can be purchased in dried root form – again, Spice Mountain advises grating it, but you will find it more practical in preground form. Dried ginger pairs well with a number of different ingredients. The first that spring to mind are pumpkin and butternut squash. I like to add pinches and teaspoons of ground ginger to pumpkin soups, any pumpkin-based stew (whether curry or tagine), when roasting squash on their own, and also when making into a sweet pumpkin pie too – along with cinnamon, ginger is one of the sweet spices. On which note, ground ginger is often used in sweet, baked treats, both in Indian and western cuisine. British gingerbread men and German lebkuchen being two key examples. Think, also, of steamed suet puddings and ginger cake, and old English
Galangal Galangal is also a plant in the ginger family, and the flavoursome part, again, come from the mass of rhizomes that grow under the ground. It is paler and woodier than the ginger root you’re well accustomed to (almost ivory-like), and again is boiled and then baked before being ground (if not used in raw form). Technically there are two main types of galangal: ‘greater’ galangal from Indonesia and Laos, and ‘lesser’ from south China. The Laos variety is most common over here and, indeed, its peppery, citrusy, piney flavour is something we associate with south-east Asian cooking: Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese and, of course, Laotian. Most western interpretations of recipes incorporating galangal suggest it in raw form. To be honest it is best like this, though you could use dried roots or ground galangal as a substitute which, unless your home cooking is regularly pointed at south Asian cookbooks, also means you can have the flavour in your cupboard for the rare occasions you require it. It’s a tricky one to grate or grind, so you may want to buy it pre-ground. It’s often a flavouring for coconut-based soups and stews – you could try to add the dried root and hope the liquid helps to reconstitute it, releasing the flavours while that happens. Galangal has a tart, zingy and peppery flavour, associated with south-east Asian cooking, and particularly fish dishes – whether a dry or wet curry – or to spice up a fresh green papaya salad. Dried galangal roots or powder can be used to bump up a coconut-based soup, curry or minced pork or beef laap – it’s certainly better than not using it at all, particularly if you’re after an authentic taste of Laotian, Thai, Malaysian or Indonesian cooking.
STRAWBERRY & FENNEL SEED KULFI Meera Sodha Serves 6
Indians go wild for strawberry season. Strawberry sellers in Mumbai stand on street corners behind gigantic pyramids that look too beautiful to disturb. This kulfi, much like an ice cream, is my favourite way to eat them. Infusing fennel seed into the cream lends it a sweet but gentle aniseed flavour.
Place the strawberries into a blender, blend to a puree and leave to one side. Taste the mixture.
Ingredients 400g ripe strawberries, hulled and washed 2 tsp fennel seeds (plus more to decorate) 400ml condensed milk 400ml double cream 1 tbsp caster sugar (optional) Dried rose petals to decorate (optional)
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Grind the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar and place in a pan alongside the cream and condensed milk, stir to mix and heat over a medium heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Turn the heat off and leave to cool. When cool whisk all but 2 tbsp of strawberry puree into the mixture until fully mixed. It should become thick, like custard. Taste and add the sugar if need be, mix and pour into freezable pots or moulds. To decorate, dot over with the remaining strawberry puree and sprinkle over with fennel seeds and rose petals then freeze for at least 3 hours.
Strawberries Stark’s Fruiterers Fennel seeds Spice Mountain Double cream Neal’s Yard Dairy
KNAFE Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich Serves 4-6 Recipe from Honey & Co: The Baking Book (Headline Home) Ingredients For the syrup: 5 whole cardamom pods 3 wide strips of orange zest (use a peeler) 250g caster sugar 1 tbsp orange blossom water For the filling: 125g (1 small log) rindless goat’s cheese 150g feta 100g mascarpone or full fat cream cheese ½ tsp freshly ground cardamom pods Zest of ½ orange For the base: 200g kadaif pastry 100g unsalted butter, melted To garnish: 20g pistachios, chopped 1 tbsp dried rose petals Equipment: 1 x 18-20cm frying pan Method Start by making the syrup so that the flavours have time to infuse. Press the cardamom pods to open slightly and expose the seeds in the centre, then pop into a small saucepan, pods and all. Add the other syrup ingredients and mix well with 140ml water to start the sugar dissolving. Set the pan on a high heat and bring the syrup ingredients to the boil. Skim off any foam that forms on the top, then remove Visit boroughmarket.org.uk for more recipes
from the heat. Leave to cool in the pan with the orange zest and cardamom pods still in it, until you are ready to assemble the knafe. This syrup is very thick and will need to be strained before using. To make the filling, crumble the goat’s cheese and feta into a bowl and add the mascarpone, cardamom and orange zest. Mix to combine, but allow the cheeses to stay in rough clumps. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the kadaif pastry in a large bowl and pull apart a little to separate the strands. Pour over the melted butter and mix it in, using your hands to rub it all over so that the pastry is well coated (a little like putting conditioner in your hair). Place half the pastry in an 18-20cm frying pan and flatten down to cover the base of the pan. Evenly distribute the cheese filling all over and then top with the rest of the pastry as a second layer. Set the frying pan on a low to medium heat and swivel the pastry around in it every 20 secs to start it crisping. After 2 mins, press down on the top layer with the lid of the frying pan or a plate that fits into the pan, and (holding firmly onto the lid or plate) carefully turn upside-down. The knafe will now be sitting on the plate or lid, crispy side uppermost. Set the frying pan down and very carefully slide the knafe back into the pan so that you can crisp the other side for 2 mins, before transferring the pan to the oven for 10 mins to complete the baking. Once the knafe is baked, remove from the oven and carefully pour all the syrup over it, using a sieve to catch the orange and cardamom pods. Allow 5 mins for the syrup to absorb, then sprinkle the pastry with chopped pistachios and rose petals. Serve straight away. @boroughmarket
Goat’s cheese Mons Cheesemongers Feta Borough Cheese Company Pistachios Oliveology
MANGO, COCONUT, TURMERIC & GINGER ICES Ed Smith Serves 6-8
Cut the flesh from the mango stone and scrape away from the skin, reserving any juice. Weigh the flesh and juice you have to ensure it’s around 350-400g, then place this in a blender or food processor.
1 large mango (350-400g flesh) Juice of 1 lime 15g caster sugar 1 heaped tsp ground turmeric 1 heaped tsp ground ginger 250g coconut yoghurt Equipment: 6-8 ice lolly containers and sticks
Add the lime juice, sugar, turmeric and ginger and blitz until totally smooth. Decant this into a mixing bowl and stir the coconut yoghurt through it. Taste and consider adding a little more sugar or lime if you think it needs sweetening or sharpening. Carefully transfer the fruity purée into your iced lolly holders. You may find a funnel helps. Add the sticks and freeze for at least 8 hours.
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Mango Turnips Lime Stark’s Fruiterers Turmeric Spice Mountain
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