Lahore lamb biryani
Here is a wonderful lamb biryani that is fairly simple to prepare. As biryanis are served on special occasions, this recipe makes a somewhat larger quantity than do most in this book. Persian prunes, which are black in colour and sweet and sour in taste, are often added to biryanis for extra flavour. They are sold in South Asian shops as Persian prunes or "aloo bukhara". If you find them and wish to add them, remember that they have a hard stone, so be careful when biting into them. Kewda…
Stir-fried pork neck with pineapple and vegetables (muc xao khom)
This Vietnamese stir-fry features classic sweet and sour elements. Make sure to use pork neck as it has a little bit of fat running through it, this gives great flavour while still being essentially quite a lean cut. Be sure to slice the pork very thinly. Serve as part of a shared meal.
Caponata agrodolce with grilled lamb
Hailing from Sicily, there are as many recipes for caponata as there are Italian nonnas. Eggplant and other vegetables are slow-cooked in an agrodolce, or sweet and sour sauce. In this version, the sweetness comes from sugar, currants and the slowly stewed vegetables, while the acidity is lent by the tomato paste and vinegar. We’ve served the caponata with grilled lamb, but you can serve it with any other meat, poultry or fish, or simply eat it with crusty bread.
Sweet and sour bread salad (panzanella agli ortaggi in agrodolce)
This is a twist on the traditional panzanella, a classic cucina povera dish which is usually made with tomatoes and bread. In this recipe I have used a variety of vegetables and cooked them with sugar and vinegar to give them an extra kick! If you can find fresella, the Pugliese hard double-baked bread, in your local deli, I suggest you use it, otherwise good country bread slowly cooked in the oven will do. This dish can be served warm or cold and, if you increase the quantities, makes a…
This is the freshest tasting salad – crunchy fruit and vegetables with fried tofu in a sweetly sticky, slightly sour dressing, sprinkled with roasted peanuts. It includes some unusual ingredients, but they can be found at Asian grocers. Yam bean (also called jicama) is a pale brown tuber with crisp white, slightly sweet flesh. Water spinach (called kang kong in Malay but common throughout Asia) is a crunchy, hollow-stemmed green with long pointed leaves. Fried dough sticks are deep-fried…
West African peanut stew (mafé)
Ubiquitous across West Africa in countries such as Senegal, Gambia and Mali, this stew takes on many guises. The meat, vegetable and spice components are all variable so feel free to experiment, using sweet potatoes, cabbage, beef, fish, eggplant or a dash of cayenne, as the mood strikes you – the dish can also be entirely meat free. Some versions are soupy with ingredients cut small and others, as here, are more chunky. Although peanuts originated in the New World (it’s thought Peru is…
Matzo ball soup
Matzah, matzoh, matza… there are as many ways of spelling this New York classic as there are ways to cook it: several small balls versus one big ball; dense balls versus light and fluffy ones; vegetables in the broth versus broth only, and the list goes on. This recipe makes 12 medium-sized matzo balls that are light and fluffy, with some carrots and parsnips in the broth for sweetness. You can start this recipe a day ahead.
Matzo ball soup
Matzah, matzoh, matza - there are as many ways of spelling this New York classic as there are ways to cook it: several small balls versus one big ball; dense balls versus light and fluffy ones; vegetables in the broth versus broth only, and the list goes on. This recipe makes 12 medium-sized matzo balls that are light and fluffy, with some carrots and parsnips in the broth for sweetness. Many Jewish New Yorkers serve matzo ball soup at their seder dinner to mark the start of passover. The…
Jerusalem artichoke broth
I have fond memories of my mother making a version of this soup. This is how I now prefer to make it, the intensity of slow-cooked vegetable sweetness shot through with a balancing measure of white wine vinegar.
Lamb stuffed with trahanas and wine grapes
Trahanas has been popular in Greek, Turkish and Persian cuisine for 8,000 years and is made by combining cracked wheat with fermented milk or yoghurt. This mixture is then allowed to dry before being coarsely ground. Trahanas is usually made into a thick, nourishing soup with the addition of liquid and vegetables. The sweet version is usually eaten for breakfast, but, here, it counteracts the acidity of the wine. Burghul, couscous, quinoa or even rice are good substitutes; however, you can…
Black and blue corn tortilla soup with bacon and pumpkin
Black bean soup is a classic for a reason. It’s comforting, hearty and one of the most versatile soups you will ever come across. You can add your favourite vegetables and herbs and spices to complement and liven up the earthy nature of this soup. This version uses bacon and ham hock to develop a really solid base and is served with pumpkin (winter squash) and goat’s cheese crema for sweetness and balance.
Pumpkin soup with Chantilly and onion confit (velouté au potimarron avec du Chantilly et les oignons confits)
Onion soup is pretty much a staple on every French alpine menu. But, listed just underneath, a pumpkin soup sneaks in more often than not and I was fortunate enough to be served an exemplary version at the little bed and breakfast I stayed at in the Savoie region after a long day on the slopes. Unlike the dark, golden brown-hued onion soup, its pumpkin counterpart is altogether different; a vivacious bright orange it looks a little out of place between the drabber winter fare which is…