Saturday, 22 December 2012

Chicken and Chickpea Stew

I just wanted a meal that had chickpeas and was healthy, as I’d been over indulging again, but that is all I knew I wanted,  the rest of the ingredients were laying around my cupboard or my fridge. I got exactly what I wanted, a meal full of vitamins, low in fat and was light but full of flavour. This is exactly what I love about cooking, throw it together, if it works, great, if it doesn’t try again. There isn’t much more to say, but enjoy.

Excuse the camera, my battery died and had to use my phone.
  • 2 tbsp oil (I used extra virgin oil)
  • 1 onion cut  Asian style
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 chicken thighs, skinned, de-boned and diced
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and diced (not peeled)
  • 1 courgette, washed and diced
  • 100g dried chickpeas (soaked overnight see packet instructions) or 400g tinned chickpeas
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs (dried of fresh)
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5-10 minutes ensuring not to burn them.

Stir the chicken into the onions cooking for a 5 minute stirring occasionally.

Add in the carrots, courgette and chicken peas and mix together. Pour in the chicken stock and add the mixed herbs.

Bring to a gentle boil and cook for a minimum of 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

Serve with rice, cous cous or mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Lovely Curry - Shame About The Pictures

Full Plate

I am staying in a hotel/apartment called Coral Al Khooray and below the hotel is a lovely, if grubby looking Pakistani restaurant, called Kebab Roll. I have eaten there before and the food was great and full of flavour as you would imagine for a Pakistani restaurant. The other day, I was being very lazy and I could not be bothered to get in the lift, go down four floors, walk about 50 steps and come back up, so I got them to deliver and it still took over 50 minutes :-)

The food was absolutely delicious and perfect for my hangover. I as planning to write up a positive review but when I saw the pictures I thought how the hell can I make this food sound great when it looks so awful. As you can see, the food doesn't look appetising what so ever. Even while I was putting it on my plate I thought it looked awful and was reluctant to eat it,. The dhal mash looks like ants egg mixed in turmeric. The spinach looks like green slim from the sewer and I'm sorry to say the mutton dish looks like something you might tread in. The only saving grace was the chicken wings, not much could go wrong with that.

Ants Eggs in Turmeric - Or Dhal Mash

But as the saying goes “Don’t judge a book by it's cover”.The food was very well cooked, if a little much ghee for my liking. The lentil in the dhal mash (cooked with garlic and onions), were firm and cooked well. The Qeema Mirchi (mutton mince with onions, peppers and tomatoes) had some great spices with a hint of ginger and the sarson ka saag (spinach dish with blended mustard leaves, ginger and green chillies) had the biggest kick of chilli that it made me sweat. Overall a very tasty and enjoyable food, just a shame the pictures didn't do it justice.

Sewer Slim Spinach - Or Sarson Ka Saag

What do you think.....????

I Didn't Tread In It - Queema Mirchi

Friday, 14 December 2012

Nile Perch and Bean Stew

I am very excited about the fish in Dubai because the varieties are so different to the UK and there are a lot of fish I've never heard of before. Kingfish, Hammour, which is like Seabass or Seabream, it's gorgeous with firm flesh to name a few. Another fish, which I am using for this recipe, is Nile Perch which is a fresh water fish and can grow to 2 meters in length and weigh up to 200kg ( I know that feeling :-) ) It is native to Congo, Egypt, Senegal to name a few places. Like most fish it's low in fat, but very high in Omega 3. so very good for you. It's not unlike cod or haddock light in flavour but the flesh is a bit more dense in texture. If you want to read more about the fish click HERE.

This recipe is loosely based on a Cod recipe from Angela Hartnett's book “A Taste of Home, which has over 200 simple recipes and a popular book when I'm home. I have made this recipe a few times and tweak the ingredients depending on what fish I using Just before I left the UK I made it with salt cod and it changed the flavour and texture so much it was like a completely different recipe.

I am using dried chickpeas and cannellini beans, which need to be soaked over night or for 8 hours. I then drain them, add to a pan of fresh water and then bring to a rapid boil for ten minutes then tun down the heat and cook for a further 30 minutes. When draining the cooked pulses don't throw away the liquid as can use it in the final recipe which will add depth of flavour to the recipe. You can just buy tinned versions, but were is the fun in that. If you prefer the tinned versions use 200g of each and make some kind of hummus using what is left over, as I believe the tinned versions only come in 400g each.

The flavour in this recipe does improve if you have some left over and you put it in the fridge, but the chorizo will lose it's unique flavour the longer it sits in the stock. If you do place in the fridge do not worry if the liquid is thick and gelatinous as it will become liquid again when reheated.

  • 100g each of dried chickpeas and cannellini beans, (or 200g each of tinned versions)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • ½ chorizo picante, skin removed and diced
  • 500ml of chicken or fish stock
  • 2 large Nile perch fillets or firm white fish and cut into pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (serves 4)

If using the dried beans, once boiled place to one side, saving the liquid as mentioned above.

Put the olive oil into a heavy based pan and turn on the heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes, add the sliced garlic and cook until the onions are soft, ensure you don't burn the garlic or onions.

Add the skinned chorizo and cook for a few minutes. You will see the paprika slowly being released from the chorizo and cover the other ingredients in a lovely yellow/orange colour

Add the stock and stir all together.

Add the Nile Perch and tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Add seasoning if you require, I did not as the stock I used had enough flavour and salt.
Serve with cous cous or rice.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Chicken and Mushroom in White Wine

When I first came out to Dubai and saw what little equipment I had to use in the kitchen I was annoyed as I was used to a well stocked kitchen with everything at my finger tips. At first I was I had my usual defeatist attitude and thought how the hell am I going to do some great food with such little equipment. Now that I am getting use to it I am really starting to enjoy the challenge.

In fact it's my work colleagues that have spurned me on. At work we have a vast array of nationalities and am always talking about what they were eating for lunch and they are always eager and keen to let me try there food. One of our admin workers, Jasmine, brought me in a traditional and popular Filipino recipe called Adobo Chicken which is a simple recipe but with a unique flavour because of the soy and vinedgar that is used in it. I am going to attempt to make this very soon and will write it up, but if you can't wait there are lots of version on the internet.. We also have a large group of Indian and Pakistani people who bring in there tiffin boxes and once they start warming them up you get the wonderful smell of spices and rice, much better than nasty office smells.

Most of the recipes I've been making are basically based around one pot, as I have no oven and only two electric rings. I have been trying to make a variety of pot meals and this one just came to me the other day. I'm using the herb tarragon as it's goes so well with chicken, mushroom and wine, so it would seem stupid not to use it. The only downside to this recipe is it's bland to look at and when served it with rice it looked even more colourless, so next time I will serve it with a colourful side dish to give it a bit of a lift. As they say you do also eat with your eye

Normally with a recipe like this I would use some stock mixed with water, but I wanted the wine to be the main liquid. So I just added some chicken stock powder and stirred into the wine. For some unknown reason meat stocks are not as extensive as the UK and I am shopping in Carrefours which is a massive supermarket in the Mall of the Emirates and it has large stock section but it is very limited. I've also checked other supermarkets and they are the same.
  • 2 tbsp oil – I used extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 chicken thighs, skinned, boned and diced
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried chopped tarragon
  • 500ml white wine
  • 150g mushroom, quartered or halved
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • salt and pepper to season

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5-10 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Add the diced chicken thighs and stir into the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes, then add the tarragon, stir together and cook for a minute or two.

Add the wine and bring to a rapid boil then turn down the heat and add the mushrooms.

Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper to season and cook until the chicken is cooked. Although I cooked this for over an hour to ensure full infused flavour.

Serve with rice, pasta, couscous or potatoes and vegetable.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Chicken with Peppers and Olives

Chicken with Peppers and Olives
When I'm in the UK I am careful to try and not buy too much food out of season and nearly always look to find out how far away it's comes from. I like to try and keep my food miles down, but in Dubai you don't have that much choice. Although I try and use local produce, like Lebanon cucumbers, which are a smaller than European ones. I do like a variety of ingredients and some foods have travelled from miles away. Apples for example nearly always comes from the USA or Australia and I've yet to see any more mainland Europe, must I'm sure there must be, but even Europe is over 5 hours away.

Lebanon Cucumbers
As the vegetables have travelled they do not last very long. I bought the peppers, for this recipe, two days ago and they are starting to turn and so had to use quickly. In the UK these would have lasted at least a week before they started to turn for the worse. I wonder if that is because they have travelled or for other reasons, like added chemicals, but I wont look into it in case I don't like the answer.

Vivid Sliced Peppers
Look at the colours of these peppers, how could I not use them quickly. I am a big fan of peppers as they are incredibly versatile, you can cook them quickly or a long time and they have a different texture. They work wonderfully in a salad, either raw of cooked and are very tasty when stuffed, roasted, as the main ingredient or as a complimentary ingredient in another recipe. When I was a vegetarian they became a stable in my diet and even now that I'm a meat eater I still use them a lot.

This is a very simple recipe that you can cook either quickly, if you want crunchy peppers or longer if you like them softer and sweeter. It's also very low in fat and a healthy meal and if you don't want to use chicken it makes a lovely light vegetarian meal.

  • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli (optional)
  • 4 peppers of each colour, red, yellow, green and orange, sliced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tbls tomato purée
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 400g chicken thighs, skinned, boned and diced
  • 100g black olive, stoned and sliced
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (serves 4)

Put the oil into a pan and turn on the heat. Add the onions, garlic and chilli (if using) and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the onions are soft, but do not allow to brown.

Add the sliced peppers and mix into the onion mixture and gently fry for 4-5 minutes.

Throw in the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, mixed herbs and bay leaves and mix together and bring to the boil

Add the chicken, olives and salt and pepper to season. Cook for a minimum of 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked or like me for over an hour as I like soft peppers

Serve with any kind of pasta or long grain rice.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Apologies From Dubai

Hammour and Tomato and Mushroom Cous Cous

I cannot believe that it has been a month since my last entry, I had not realised it was so long since I added an entry. I wouldn't mind if I I didn't have so much to write about, but I've gathered a lot material in the last four weeks whilst I've been in Dubai. The big problem is getting time and the energy to write it all up. In fact since being in Dubai all sort of things that was common in the UK has gone out of the window. My exercise regime is almost dead and I've got to train for my first ever marathon in April – not sure how that is going to pan out. My healthier style of eating has taken a real battering. At least I've not succumbed, like a lot of ex-pats, and that is going out to cheap restaurants, which there are a lot of in Dubai. I have tried a few and they do produce really flavoursome food, but it's full of salt, cream and saturate fat to name an few items.
Baby Squid
I guess I am lucky because I find cooking a way of relaxing and I have managed to come up some wonderful, flavoursome and tasty recipes, like Nile Perch and beans stew, Chorizo and Pepper pasta and my dinner last night slow cooked lamb and potato curry to name a few. One thing that I have found strange is trying to cook for 1 and in fact I've given up and I am still cooking for four. It just means I've got enough for dinner the next night and something apart from sandwiches for lunch when at work. In fact I've started taking food into work to a colleague, who is from the Philippines and is not use to Western style food, but it appears she is enjoying every much – or it could be she is just being polite :-) I've also got no measuring equipment so most of it is guess work and I'm not really sure how write it up because I want people to try these recipes. I can hear you say buy some, but I don't know how much longer I'll be in Dubai and I hate to be part of that throw away culture. If I leave soon with no one to pass the equipment on to I will not be happy about throwing it in the bin.

Cheese (of course!)
I've also been lucky to go to some great restaurants, Alma a Momo a superb Moroccan restaurant in the Mall of the Emirates. A Friday Brunch at the Mayden Hotel, whilst not the best brunch I've experienced over the years, it provided a great variety of food with excellent service. In Dubai, Friday is the first day of the week and Friday brunch is very popular. A lot of the hotels do a buffet style brunch at different prices, normally regarding if you drink or not. Over the years I've been to many and they serve excellent quality with a grand array of food, due to the amount of different nationalities they have to cater for.
So please bear with me and I apologies for my lack of posts which hopefully in the next few days I will rectify. In this post are some pictures of the foods I've been lucky to experience and make.