This dish of stuffed and roasted vegetables will be familiar to many of you from Greek holidays, and in our view is even better without meat. Using only rice seasoned with herbs and spices, plus a few veggies such as mushroom or peas in there as well, you can make a satisfying meal which only needs a Greek salad and some crusty bread to keep everyone happy. We’re using peppers here, but beef tomatoes work just as well. You can cook the rice with all its seasonings, but it is easier just to use some rice which you have parboiled in veg stock (it’s a great way to use up any leftover rice too).
This recipe is perfect now big, juicy tomatoes are back in the market. It is pretty simple, and brings out all the flavour of the tomatoes set off by aromatic spice. The marquee spice here is ajowan (also known as king’s cumin and carom), which has a character not too far away from fennel seed, though lacking the slight liquorice flavour fennel has. Ghee is the best base to use but coconut oil works too – the fat is used to fry the masala, then this is poured over the tomatoes before roasting.
Finding veggie food in Spain is easier than it was, but still not easy – a lot of the time, a dish which looks like it is vegetarian will have something hiding in there which isn’t. This lovely tapa of spinach and chickpeas is however always a safe bet. It is particularly common in Andalucia, especially Seville, due to the North African influence in the food there
Eggs for breakfast is a genuinely global phenomenon and there is a dazzling array of recipes from around the world using them. This one is from North Africa (versions of it are popular throughout the Middle East), and the other main ingredient apart from egg is tomato. Various veggies can be added depending on which country’s recipe you are following, but we like it best just adding plenty of sweet peppers, whichever colour you choose. It is spiced with cumin seeds, caraway seeds, cayenne and paprika (our Harissa spice blend does the job perfectly), and is lovely served with a hunk of bread, or a warm pitta bread. Along with the similar Mexican Huevos Rancheros, this is one of our favourite Sunday brunch treats.
One of the mainstays of Mexican (and indeed Californian) cuisine is guacamole, starring the sinfully rich flavour of avocado set off by chilli, tomato, lime and coriander. It is served as a dip, and as a stuffing for tacos, burritos and quesadillas. It is very quick and easy to make (in fact the most difficult part is finding avocados of the right ripeness!), and always a favourite. We find the best avos to use are the wrinkly, dark green Haas variety, but make sure they are still reasonably firm when you buy them – the really ripe, soft ones will work, but nowhere near so well. We season our version with our Spice of the Month, Mexican Chilli Lime, but if you are not a fan of chilli heat simply replace this with some extra lime juice and salt. One final tip – people will often complain that when they make guacamole, it quickly becomes grey or black and doesn’t look very nice. This is because it is exposed to oxygen, so as soon as you have made the guacamole, cover with clingfilm to keep off the air. If your guacamole does discolour, simply giving it a good stir can rectify this.
One of the classic salads, this originated in the French city of Nice, on the sun-kissed Cote d’Azur. In the beginning it was a simple combination of tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil but nowadays there are quite a few versions, and heated discussions about which is the ‘authentic’ one. The recipe here is our favourite way of doing it, and we give it the Spice Mountain touch by adding a sprinkle of our Tomato, Olive and Basil salt, and a smidgen of our Smoked Garlic granules, along with lemon juice and black pepper. You can add a bit of carbohydrate action to the proceedings with some boiled new potatoes if you choose, and this makes for an excellent lunch dish alongside a chilled crisp white wine and a hunk of crusty bread. We like to use fresh tuna, but have no problem with good quality canned (and this is a good idea if you are making a large salad to share).
This is one of the best things you can do with our spice of the month, miso. Apart from the umami thwack of the miso, it also throws in earthy, nutty tahini and sesame seeds, sticky and sweet pomegranate molasses, fresh and zingy coriander and mint – all these combining to jazz up one of our favourite veggies, aubergine. The term ‘food porn’ can be thrown around lightly nowadays, but this is genuinely it.
One of Sri Lanka’s favourite foods, kotthu is genuinely lovely. It is made using chopped up roti/paratha (which if you are lucky enough to have a Sri Lankan/South Indian shop handy can be bought already chopped and frozen) which is then fried up with a selection of veggies, spices including curry leaves and leftover curry. It is quick and easy to make. In Sri Lanka it is a popular streetfood, where it would be cooked on a hot griddle, but in a domestic kitchen it is best made in a wok or a deep frying pan. Our recipe uses two stages, first to make a quick chicken curry to use in it, then the actual kotthu. But if you have some leftover curry you don’t need to worry about the first stage, just use the leftovers. And of course it works just as well omitting the meat altogether.
This is a wonderful, slow-cooked casserole which originates from the Mexican state of Jalisco, and particularly the state capital Guadalajara. In its homeland it is traditionally made with goat, but beef works just as well. It stars Guajillo and Ancho chilli, which gives a warm, fruity and slightly smoky flavour, backed up by the Mexican favourites Oregano and Cumin. The long marination process is essential, as is the slow cooking, but apart from the time taken it is a very easy recipe to prepare. It is perfect for a Saturday night family supper when served with warm corn tortillas and a selection of garnishes and salsas which should include chopped red onion and coriander, and some quartered limes to squeeze over the top. Any leftovers can be used for stuffing tacos or burritos during the following week.
This dish is a way we discovered to use our Spice of the Month, Coconut and Beetroot curry blend, and follows the same principles as a ‘normal’ Tandoori but tastes completely different. It works very well with chicken of course, but an interesting variation is to use fish – try cod, swordfish, salmon or tuna steaks, any firm, meaty fish. The method uses coconut milk instead of the more usual yoghurt, and it is not as spicy hot as a regular tandoori so if you like it hot, add a teaspoon or two of Kashmiri chilli powder. There aren’t many ingredients involved, and of course cooking just involves sticking a tray in the oven, so this is very easy to do if you don’t have much time.