Category Archives: cumin

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.

sledgehammer chicken

roasted chicken with dry rub

I’ve cooked a few whole birds on the barbecue before, such as southeast spatchcock and slathered with BBQ sauce. But with getting a drum-style barbecue this year I could try grilling a whole one for the first time.

sainsburys vertical chicken roasterThis chicken came about from trying Sainsbury’s new chicken roaster. It’s a metal stand which holds the bird in a vertical position while it roasts. Assembled it’s rather phallic, but once you look past that you have a metal prong over a tray which all hooks together. The pieces come apart and you are able to fold it away to pretty much nothing. You’re cooking a chicken to a similar principle as a beer-butt chicken which I’ve always wanted to try but just don’t like the taste of beer (the quickest my face goes from happy to sad is noticing there’s onion rings on the menu, then spotting they’re beer-battered onion rings. Horrid yeasty aftertaste, yeeuch).

I rubbed the meat all over with a sweet spice mix and awkwardly impaled the chicken on the spike. And now it looked like it had waltzed off Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer video, hence the name.

Peter Gabriel dancing chickens sledgehammerSpot the difference

I started mine off on the BBQ with the lid down, but after 70 minutes the bird had barely started to warm up and it just wasn’t feeling right. I brought it into the oven and finished it off there. The flavour was great and it had taken on some smoke so not all was lost. Carving into it the flesh was moist and tender.

Is the roaster worth it? I’m not quite convinced. You could go down the beer can route on the BBQ, and in the oven it takes up a lot of space being vertical. Being able to put liquid underneath (I used white wine) means a natural mist is retained going up into the cavity but the skin stays crisp. That said as long as time allows I’ll be sticking to my preferred Heston technique. The roaster is a fun gadget, but not essential.

Thanks to Sainsbury’s for sending me the roaster to try out.

Sledgehammer chicken (serves 4 – 6):

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch of chilli powder

Olive oil

1 medium chicken

Splash of white wine

  1. Mix the spices together and blend with enough olive oil to make a gloopy paste. Smear all over the chicken and make a real mess of it. Impale the chicken on your chicken roaster and fill the tray with wine.
  2. Light the BBQ. Once the flames have died down and there is a thin coating of white ash over the coals, place your chicken into the BBQ and close the lid. Roast there for 2 – 3 hours until the chicken is 70°C at the thickest part (always use a probe thermometer, it’s the only way to be sure). Or if your BBQ isn’t quite hot enough, transfer to a 180°C oven. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. I served mine with potatoes roasted with chorizo.

hei hei wedges

hei hei wedges

I found myself in GBK at the weekend. It was supposed to be family lunch at Las Iguanas, but a few seconds of appalling customer service had me trundle a few steps down Lakeside’s Boardwalk to the burger parlour.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed it – a tasty “Capital” cheeseburger with standard accompaniments, a choice of brioche or regular sesame seed bun and all the monkey nuts you can eat. But the shoestring fries were great, particularly when you shake over their hei hei salt. Pretty much all American diner-style eateries in the UK coat the fries in a salty concoction, and I’d been meaning to make one of my own for ages. Serving up wedges this week meant this was a great excuse.

If you’re looking for an interesting salty-spicy mix to dust your chips or wedges, this is a great place to start. You can then of course add or remove other spices to your taste – a curry powder would be nice.

There’s two levels of seasoning here; in my experience of roasting potatoes the salt flavour simply disappears (where does it go?). So the initial salt is merely grist to combine the ingredients, whilst the second salting is the true seasoning of the wedges. You should really use garlic salt for hei hei seasoning but I prefer to have more granular (ha!) control over the seasoning.

Hei hei wedges (serves 2 as a side dish):

4 – 5 medium potatoes, Maris Piper or other fluffy variety

For the marinade:

2 cloves of garlic

¼ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1 ham stock cube (chicken would be fine)

Large pinch of salt

Olive oil

For the seasoning:

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Slice the potatoes into wedge shapes.
  2. In a pestle and mortar, combine all the marinade spices and pound withe garlic until you have an orangey-brown paste. Add oil until you have a gloopy mixture and coat the wedges liberally. Arrange cut sides down on a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes, turning every ten minutes, until crisp and cooked through.
  3. Combine the seasoning ingredients and shake over the fries as you serve. You’ll probably have excess seasoning for another day.

southeast spatchcock chook with booze-braised sweetcorn

southeast spatchcock chook

For Mrs. Spud’s birthday and the weather hitting decent heights at last, I wanted to come up with a BBQ featuring some special treats. I thought about cooking a whole chicken and grilling some sweetcorn.

Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Bible

Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible

Thankfully experimenting with the barbecue is really taking off in this country. We’ve always lacked the predictable weather and sustained dry spells to really explore but we’re gradually catching on. The explosion of diner-style and burger / rib joints, with even Jamie Oliver getting in on the act is further proof of the growing interest. In particular it’s worth listening to our American cousins who pretty much have nailed down this cuisine as their own. With dozens of regional variations in cut, technique, rub, baste and flavouring there’s plenty to study. If you want to know more about American BBQ I recommend checking out Steven Raichlen, and I strongly recommend his Barbecue Bible book which is packed with great inspiration. It’s from this book that my chicken recipe started to take shape.

spatchcocked chicken with spice rub

all rubbed, ready for the fridge

I’ve had fun with dry-brining before. The meat juices are drawn out by the salt element, the flavourings dissolve in the liquid that breaks down muscle proteins and get reasorbed back into the meat. The repetition of this process leaves the meat wonderfully seasoned and keeps it juicy, so I was definitely going to use something similar here. Pulling together some of my favourite spices to combine into a rub I left the chicken overnight. In honour of my corner of the country I’ve called it Southeast style. Spatchcocked to cook reasonably quickly and evenly, and allowed to scorch on the BBQ it gave a smoky, sweet flavour with spicy depth. Really tasty. And my top tip for grilling white meat? Get one of those spray bottles from a garden centre. Fill it with apple juice, and with one squirt you can cool off flare-ups and leave behind a sweet glaze into the bargain.

I paired it with some grilled and braised sweetcorn. With undertones of Bourbon and meaty to boot, my first attempt at barbecuing corn was one I’ll be doing again.

Sponsored link: I’m entering this recipe as part of a John Lewis BBQ recipe contest. You can check out their range of barbecues at the John Lewis barbeque page.

southeast spatchcock chook with boozy-braised sweetcorn, potato salad and panzanella

Southeast spatchcock chook with booze-braised sweetcorn (serves 4 with plenty of leftover chicken):

1 medium chicken

For the rub:

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon brown sugar

½ tablespoon dried oregano

½ tablespoon smoked paprika

Grated zest of ½ a lemon

For the sweetcorn gravy:

500ml chicken stock

1 tablespoon BBQ sauce

10g butter

20ml Southern Comfort

4 corn-on-the-cob

  1. Free the chicken from its packaging, remove any string and open the chicken out. Turn it over so the breast is face-down, and use a strong pair of scissors to cut down the spine. You can then turn the chicken back over the other way and press down firmly on the breastbone until you hear a sickening crunch. Use two skewers, each corner to corner to hold it open. Combine all the salt ingredients and rub all over the bird. Leave in the fridge uncovered overnight.
  2. The next day, light your barbecue and once the flames die down and the charcoal is covered with white ash place your chicken over the grill. Turn and rotate often to cook evenly. It will take between 40 – 60 minutes to cook depending on about a hundred variables. You can only be sure if it’s done with a meat thermometer reading 75°C. I recommend the Heston branded one, but any will do.
  3. While the chicken cooks make your sweetcorn gravy. Combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer (you may find this quicker and easier to get this started on a regular hob). Dip your sweetcorn in the gravy and transfer the corn and your pan to a hot BBQ. As it starts to char and pop you’ll want to turn it, but just before you do give it a dip in your gravy and then back on the grill. Repeat until charred on all sides, then place them in your gravy pan and cover for 5 minutes to cook through. Strain off the liquor to serve on the side, carve the chicken and serve with a panzanella and potato salad.

chicken katsu with oyster noodles

chicken panko katsu on oyster noodles

I do love panko breadcrumbs. The ridiculous extra crunch the Japanese breadcrumbs give is so satisfying. So I was really looking forward to chicken coated in panko when I got home.

Until I realised I didn’t have any eggs. The typical pane station is flour, egg, breadcrumb. But with no eggs what was I going to do? I figure all it needed was something for the breadcrumbs to stick to. So why not the chef’s friend cornflour? My only problem was avoiding that gluey taste that cornflour can give, so I added some ground spices to mask the flavour. Seemed to work pretty well. To the point in fact where I don’t see the need to waste an egg on breadcrumbing again!

This is an easy to rustle-up, easy to multiply dinner that is a great combo of crunchy chicken and slurpy noodles. You could use any sauce you like with the noodles – even a splash of soy would do.

Chicken katsu with oyster noodles (serves 2):

2 chicken breasts

1 teaspoon cornflour

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander


A little plain flour

Panko breadcrumbs

4 noodle nests

1 litre chicken stock

Large handful of broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces

A pinch of chilli flakes

1 carrot

A pinch of sesame seeds

  1. Get a large pan with shallow oil over a medium heat, and a saucepan for your noodles over a high heat.
  2. Lay out a sheet of cling film and dust with salt and pepper. Put the chicken on this and lay another piece of chicken on top. Using a rolling pin, bash the chicken to approx 1cm thin.
  3. In a bowl combine the cornflour, cumin and coriander. Add milk until you get a thick, sludgy paste. Set up a breading station, with one bowl of plain flour, your cornflour sludge, and the breadcrumbs. Dust the chicken with flour, dip in the cornflour paste and then in the breadcrumbs. Make sure they are well coated.
  4. Lower the chicken into the oil gently. When done on one side flip over until done, then drain on kitchen paper.
  5. Get the chicken stock on to boil in the saucepan and add the noodles. After 3 minutes or when the noodles are done, drain them and rinse well with cold water.
  6. Add the broccoli back to the noodle saucepan, add the chilli along with a splash of water. Peel the carrot and use the peeler to shave into strips into the broccoli. Jam the lid on and cook fast. After about 3 minutes the broccoli should be tender, so add the oyster sauce and toss well. Cook for a further minute and then add the noodles back to the pan, tossing well to mix. Serve in a bowl topped with sesame seeds, and top with the sliced chicken.

tuna with greens and coconut rice

tuna with greens and coconut rice

I’m certain people who cook a lot, like me, ponder something along these lines: when you really enjoy a dinner, one that you made, what made it special? Was it the choice ingredients, or the exotic technique you used… or was it the company? Heston talks often about this theory – the atmosphere of a meal – and how you can recapture it. It’s often impossible.

I love having friends over for dinner. This occasion was a reunion of very old colleagues who had been through various trials together and come out as good friends on the other side. I took the rare opportunity to cook some fish and heaved a great pile of broadly-Asian-flavoured tuna and rice in front of us, and we all dug in. I know I cooked it, but I really enjoyed the meal. And I’d like to think it was the rare tuna, the fruity rice, or savoury greens, but I suspect that took a sideline to tales of disastrous bike rides, hasty pool tournaments and broken chopsticks. That’s what I enjoyed.

Tuna with greens and coconut rice (serves 3):

1 large mugful of rice

1 heaped tablespoon instant coconut milk powder

450g diced tuna (sustainably sourced, please)

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

A few mixed green crunchy veg, e.g. tenderstem broccoli, sugar snap peas

1 large bag of spinach

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

Soy sauce, to serve

Bunch of coriander, chopped

Chilli flakes, to serve

Lime wedges, to serve

  1. Get a saucepan over a medium heat and add the rice, coconut powder and twice the amount of boiling water to rice. Cover and simmer while you do everything else. When the water has subsided taste and check for seasoning.
  2. Get another frying pan very hot. While it heats up, crush the seeds along with salt and pepper together lightly. Scatter on to a chopping board and roll the tuna pieces all over to cover. When the pan is hot add a dash of oil and then stir fry the tuna for about 90 secs, until all sides are coloured. Remove to one side.
  3. Add the crunchy veg to the pan and toss for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and add the oyster sauce, and then the spinach. Toss together briefly until the spinach wilts. Serve everything in a great pile, adding a drizzle of soy sauce and a sprinkle of coriander to everything, and plonk chilli and lime on the side for guests to pimp their own.

keema chana curry

keema chana curry

This was completely inspired to the ideas I’d been absorbing from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. Keeping a few pans on the go, everything cooked separately and brought together, powerful spices to give the flavours a kick… It’s exactly in keeping with the way some of the Jamie recipes work.

I do have one ingredient in there I’m not convinced Jamie would approve of… frozen mince and onion. But I can’t ignore the time-saving this offers me.

If’ I’d have had coriander leaf to scatter on top, it would’ve been perfect. But I was happy enough.

Keema chana curry (serves 2):

250g frozen mince and onion

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 red onion

1 clove garlic

1 tin tomatoes

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 tin chickpeas, drained

2 sweetcorn cob halves

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

  1. Get two frying pans and a saucepan on pretty hot. Get the kettle on to boil.

  2. Add a dash of oil to one of the pans and add the cumin seeds and turmeric. After a minute add the mince and onion and stir often.

  3. Get your blender ready, and whizz up the onion, garlic, tomatoes, nigella and garam masala with a pinch of salt until liquid. Add to the other pan and allow to bubble. After a couple of minutes add the chickpeas.

  4. Fill the sauce pan with boiling water and add the sweetcorn. Simmer for 10 minutes until tender, then drain. Return to the pan and add a knob of butter, a pinch of smoked sea salt and paprika. Pop the lid on and toss well.

  5. Serve the mince on top of the tomatoey chickpeas with the sweetcorn on the side.