Category Archives: chilli

turkey masala burgers

turkey masala burgers with sweet potato wedges and cauliflower pickle

A turkey isn’t just for Christmas. It’s for all year round.

That was the message put out by the British Turkey board. Headed up by Paul Kelly – a good Essex boy – me and a bunch of others were entertained as a guest of Cyrus Todiwala to help promote the use of turkey throughout the year. Cyrus was an affable host, preparing dinner and chatting away. We were blown away by dishes like turkey heart pie and turkey cafreal tikka. All of us were stuffed with the amount of turkey dishes served, it really did showcase the bird!

It inspired me to cook an Indian-flavoured dinner. I have to be honest and say I’d not used turkey outside of December for a few years; it’s appearance in supermarkets seems to have declined. I would quite often but the breast strips for marinating, stir frying or for pies. Using mince here I made a burger with rich masala flavours, inspired by Cyrus Todiwala’s tikka recipe. I marinated mine in clotted cream, because I had some knocking about, but traditionally you’d use yoghurt.

My turkey here was succulent and meaty, and supported by spiced flavours it was a real hit. I will definitely be putting turkey in my basket more regularly.

Based on a recipe by Cyrus Todiwala

Turkey masala burgers (serves 4):

800g British turkey mince

¼ teaspoon turmeric

2 heaped tablespoons clotted cream

40g ginger

4 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

Juice of 1 lime

½ teaspoon garam masala

For the sweet potatoes:

5 sweet potatoes, scrubbed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

For the cauliflower pickle:

400g frozen cauliflower

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

½ red onion, peeled and sliced

Burger buns and mango chutney, to serve

  1. Season the mince with the turmeric and plenty of salt and pepper. Combine well then form into 4 patties, and leave covered in the fridge while you make the marinade.
  2. Bash up the garlic and ginger with the cumin, coriander and chilli powder in a pestle and mortar until you have a paste. Add the lime juice and cream and mix well to combine. Smother the turkey patties in the marinade, cover (twice!) and leave in the fridge overnight.
  3. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C, get a saucepan over a high heat and the grill on medium high. Slice the potatoes into wedges, dust with the cumin and drizzle with oil. Roast for 30 – 40 mins, turning frequently until starten to blacken at the edges. Sprinkle salt over as they come out of the oven.
  4. When the potatoes are in the oven, put the onion in a bowl with the vinegar and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Stir occasionally.
  5. Add the cumin and nigella seeds to the saucepan and allow to heat for a minute. Add the cauliflower and jam the lid on. Toss frequently and cook for about 15 minutes or until tender. Add the onion for the last minute of cooking and check for seasoning.
  6. Grill the burgers for about 6 – 9 minutes each side, until browned and cooked through. Serve in a toasted burger with plenty of mango chutney.

olives with dates, orange and chilli

olives with dates, pine nuts and chilli

When someone says “can you do something with these olives?” I don’ t need asking twice. Their bittersweet bite and salty character give me lots to work with, and I’ll happily eat them every day of the week. Olives from Spain have asked me to come up with a marinade or two, and this is my favourite creation.

The filling is inspired by ma’amoul, a date-filled cookie from the middle east. It is heavy with dates and nuts, although I went for pine nuts here as opposed to the standard walnuts. Just to make sure we knew we’re on savoury territory, red wine vinegar and chilli keep it on track. It’s sweet, spicy, savoury, and surprising.

The quantities below will make a portion of the marinade base. You can then blend a part of it with olive oil to make a loose drizzle. The rest can make further olive mix, or be spread over white meats before grilling or roasting.

Olives with dates, orange and chilli:

4 Medjool dates, stoned

A large pinch of chilli flakes

1 teaspoon pine nuts

Zest of half an orange

Maldon sea salt

Red wine vinegar

Spanish extra virgin olive oil

Spanish green olives

  1. Put the dates, chilli, pine nuts, orange and a pinch of sea salt in a food processor and whizz to a paste. Add a squirt of orange juice, a big splash of olive oil and a dash of red wine vinegar. Mix a little more and then taste. You will have to find a good balance of spicy, sharp and sweet with the chilli, vinegar and orange.
  2. To make the marinade, put a tablespoon of the mixture into a small bowl and blend with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the olives and macerate uncovered for an hour before eating. Garnish with fresh pine nuts.

15 minute chilli con carne meatballs

jamie oliver's 15 minute chilli con carne meatballs

Jamie Oliver thunders on with another lightning-quick meal, this time turning his attention to chilli con carne. I’m no stranger to rapid chilli but this is a more hearty and balanced version than mine. This chilli dinner is from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals.


The genius here is to disassemble chilli con carne’s parts (spiced meat, cumin, beans, tomatoey sauce) and cook each part separately. This way you get a “best of” chilli with all the things you love but in a fraction of the time.

I departed from Jamie’s recipe slightly – he used bulgar wheat where I went for regular basmati rice but the effect and timing is the same. I also didn’t have a lemon to hand so used a little more lime in the rice. He also grilled some chilli peppers as a garnish but they’re really not my thing so left them out. Other than that it’s exactly as is, and it’s extremely tasty. At 14 minutes to crank out it wasn’t too demanding on my time either! I’m especially a fan of blitzing a jar of peppers with passata to make a sauce base which I’m definitely going to repurpose in other recipes for a quick fix.

Chilli con carne meatballs (serves 4):

For the rice:

1 mug basmati rice

1 lime

1 cinnamon stick

For the meatballs:

400g beef mince

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 small jar peppers

4 spring onions

Bunch of coriander

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

700g passata

1 tin kidney beans

1 pinch cumin seeds

  1. For the rice, put the basmati rice with twice the quantity of boiling water into a lidded saucepan over a medium heat, along with half the lime and the cinnamon. Stir often while you get on with everything else.
  2. Combine the mince and garam masala with some salt and pepper and divide into 16 meatballs. Get them into a frying pan over a hot heat with a little oil, tossing regularly.
  3. Get another frying pan super-hot. In a liquidizer blitz the peppers, half the spring onions, paprika, half the coriander and passata to a smooth sauce and add this to the pan.
  4. Add the kidney beans and cumin seeds to the meatball pan. Once the meatballs are browned on all sides remove while you continue to heat the beans. Once the rice is cooked plate with the meatballs, sauce and beans, and garnish with the remaining coriander and sliced spring onions. Serve with creme fraiche or natural yoghurt if you like, and the lime wedges on the side.

Gary Fennon

chicken biryani

quick chicken biryani

Give me a few minutes alone in someone’s company, and I’ll soon be asking them about their eating habits. A colleague, originally from Lahore, Pakistan was kind enough to give me a lift. We talked of food, of the curious Anglicisation of Indian cuisine and what he recognised of it. We discussed balti, dhal, obsession with gravy… and he mentioned that he’d never had biryani. A staple of his region, yet somehow it had passed him by.

I love biryani. Fairly often when left to my own devices I’ll make some spiced rice; to push it further in this version I added a chicken curry. It’s hilariously inauthentic, using cream cheese as the dairy ingredient but the tang you’d usually ascribe to yoghurt works great. Don’t be put off by the mountain of spices – it’s worth it.

This one’s for you, Waseem!

Chicken biryani (serves 2):

For the rice:

A pinch of saffron

3 pods green cardamom

1 cinnamon stick

100g white basmati rice

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

4 cloves

2 dried bay leaves

For the curry:

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 tomatoes, chopped

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced

2 chicken breasts, diced

100g cream cheese

A fistful of roughly chopped coriander leaves

2 roasted red onions, chopped

  1. Cover the saffron with warm water and add a splash of oil to a pan with a lid over a high heat. Add the cardamom, cumin, cloves and bay leaves and stir-fry for 1 minute before adding the rice with a pinch of salt. After a further minute add 200ml water, the saffron and bring to the boil. Pop a lid on, turn the heat down low and leave for exactly 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile in another pan heat a little oil and add the garam masala, chilli, garlic, tomatoes, ginger and chicken. Stir fry and season with salt. When the chicken is coloured all over turn the heat down, add the cream cheese, a splash of water and pop a lid on.
  3. Whe the rice’s 10 minutes are up, turn the heat off and leave for a further 10 minutes. Don’t remove the lid!
  4. When the chicken is cooked through add the onions and stir thoroughly. Check for seasoning. When the rice is ready grind over a little pepper and garnish with the coriander. Serve the rice with the curry on top.

express espresso chilli

express espresso chilli

It’s long established that cocoa bean flavours work really well with chilli, such as mole, and coffee is often added out in Mid-West America to “a bowl of red”. So as part of the Lavazza Coffee, Set, Match challenge I thought I’d chuck some in a chilli today! It lends the spicy meat a dark and fruity tone, a really interesting character.

It was also handy using espresso for this chilli as this was all about speed: I got in late and needed to fix up a chilli on the quick. I used a couple of shortcuts to help me get there, caramelized onions and hot sauce to get me a few steps ahead.

To be in with a chance to win one the fantastic Lavazza Wimbledon prizes look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter online at Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

Express espresso chilli (serves 4):

800g beef mince

200g caramelized onions

2 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon chilli powder

100ml espresso coffee

1 tin tomatoes

200ml beef stock

  1. Get a large casserole pan really hot and add a splash of oil. Brown the mince, in batches if necessary. Add the onions, crush in the garlic and add the spices. Stir fry for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the coffee, tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, pop on a lid and simmer for about 20 -30 minutes until thick, rich and tasty – you may need to add a little salt or vinegar to balance out the flavours (or more chilli if you’re so inclined). Serve with flour tortillas, creme fraiche and a zingy salsa.

11 minute chilli

11 minute chilli con carne

I’m a big fan of chilli, I’ve probably cooked it more than anything else. I particularly like ones that sit there and blip away under their own steam for hours. I was looking forward to cooking a chilli tonight.

But I’d had a rotten evening. Little Miss Spud was rotten sick and was in no mood for going to bed. There were many changes of clothes (for me and her), things to wash, bottles to fetch… Eventually she dozed off, and it was time to cook. I reached for the takeaway menus… but didn’t. I had planned on doing a chilli and gosh darnit, a chilli I was going to make.

I floated the idea on Twitter about cooking a chilli in 10 minutes. “Not enough time”, scoffed Gary Dickenson. “It can’t be done!” wailed Food Urchin. “Keep us posted” urged Simon Loves Food. Well, that was that – no turning back now. I had to do it.

The problem is to develop those flavours does take time. There needed to be some sneaky shortcuts in there to amp it up and cut down the cooking time, hence the ingredients list is fairly long – but generally full of store cupboard stuff. The hard bit is that it’s one of those dishes where you keep adding stuff but by bit and each part needs to come back to the simmer. So I drew together some ideas that I’ve flirted with before: frying mince to release the oils and then add the onion to that, and creating a thick tomato paste packed with flavourings to form a flavour base. So I cooked these parts separately and combined them at the end.

And I have to say it was really tasty, and really worth it. Of course it’s not the same as a slow-simmered chilli ticking away for hours, and it would’ve been nice to stick some kidney beans in there (I just didn’t have any to hand) to nod back to the ‘usual’ recipe. But it’s a good alternative and great for busy weekday evenings. Oh, and it came out at 11 minutes rather than 10, but I can live with that.

11 minute chilli (serves 2):

400g beef mince

Two cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tin of tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 onion, peeled and sliced into half-moons

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon oregano

A large handful of tortilla chips

150ml boiling hot beef stock

Mushroom ketchup

Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or other chilli sauce you like)

  1. Preheat your oven to top whack, and get two frying pans over a high heat.
  2. Add a splash of oil to both pans. Pop the mince in one of them and let sizzle and stir occasionally to colour all over. Meanwhile in the other pan crush in the garlic and 10 seconds later throw in the tomatoes, puree, and paprika. Keep stirring this too when you have a minute. Both pans should be bubbling fairly furiously.
  3. When the mince is coloured all over it will probably have released some fat. Throw the onions into this along with the cumin, coriander, chilli powder and oregano. Add a pinch of salt and keep stirring.
  4. Scatter the tortilla chips in one layer and pop in the oven for a couple of minutes to warm through and become really brittle.
  5. Now add the beef stock to the mince and again keep stirring and shaking. By now the tomato paste should be quite thick and pulpy, so add this to the mince mixture.
  6. Keep the heat high as you bring it all together and allow it to reduce naturally. Add a shake or two of both mushroom ketchup and hot sauce and check for seasoning. When you’re happy with it serve with the tortillas, grated cheese, soured cream, guacamole, etc. etc. whatever things you like to serve with chilli.

red hot lamb burgers

red hot lamb burgers with mint mayonnaise

There’s no shortage of burger recipes on this blog, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for one more.

I was sent a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot sauce in the post. It’s not a condiment I usually use but after a little taste I found it really interesting – very hot of course, but with a very pleasant fruity taste. I thought it would work really well at cutting through the richness of lamb in these burgers, and if it all proved too much then the mint mayonnaise rushes in at the end to put out the fire. A great combo, and I’m definitely converted to hot sauce!

PS. I’ve been pointed to this bonkers competition of Frank’s, where you can win a “massive” TV. 

Red hot lamb burgers (makes 4):

400g lamb mince

1 tablespoon Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped

200g mayonnaise

1 beef tomato, sliced

4 soft rolls

  1. Combine the mince with the sauce and a good pinch of salt. Form the lamb into 4 patties but try not to compress them too much – you want to keep a nice loose texture.
  2. Preheat a frying pan to pretty darn hot. Add a splash of oil and fry the burgers for 3-4 minutes each side.
  3. While the burgers are cooking mix the mint and mayonnaise together. Lightly toast the rolls.
  4. When the burgers are browned on both sides, slam into a bun, layer on a tomato slice, slather with minty mayo and gobble up.