This is a heady condiment, a bit like a pickle, which keeps in the fridge for a few days. It's great with grilled meat or fish, or to add to sandwiches and salads. Serves six.View Recipe
20g dried ancho chilli, stalk removed and deseeded
½ tsp dried aleppo chilli flakes (or, if using very hot chilli flakes, just a pinch) 2 small cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
½ tsp ground cumin
⅛ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp caraway seeds, toasted
1½ tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp sunflower oil
1½ tsp caster sugar
3 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
5-6 small turnips, stalks removed but unpeeled
90g preserved lemon, halved, flesh and skin thinly sliced, seeds removed
15g coriander leaves, chopped
Put the ancho chilli in a small bowl and add enough boiling water just to cover. Leave to soak for 30 minutes, until soft, then squeeze out some of the moisture from the chilli. Set aside two tablespoons of the soaking water and discard the rest.
Put the ancho chilli in the small bowl of a food processor, along with all the remaining ingredients up to and including a teaspoon of salt. Add the reserved chilli water, blitz to a rough paste, then transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
Bring a medium pan of water to a boil, add the turnips and blanch for three minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water, pat dry and cut into 1cm-wide wedges. Stir these into the chilli paste, along with the preserved lemon. Cover and leave to marinate for at least an hour. Sprinkle with coriander and serve.
I love dishes that feature the various shades of a single colour, making you stop to check what's in there. Spring and early summer are the time to do this with green, as now we have artichoke, rocket, asparagus, broad beans, watercress, samphire, peas, cabbage, all kinds of lettuce, runner beans, broccoli, spring onion, chard, spinach and many, many more to choose from. When you put a few of these in one bowl, you get the most glorious celebration of colour and spring. Serves four to six.View Recipe
300g asparagus, trimmed and sliced on a sharp angle into 3-4 thin spears
200g french beans, topped
300g broad beans (fresh or frozen)
50g baby spinach leaves
1 shallot, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 red chilli, finely diced
½ tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp nigella seeds
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the asparagus for two to four minutes, depending on thickness – you don't want them cooked to very soft. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. Add the french beans to the boiling water, blanch for five minutes and transfer to the asparagus bowl. Drain both well, then dry with a clean kitchen towel. Blanch the broad beans in the same water for two minutes, drain, refresh and dry, then remove and discard the skins by pressing each bean gently between finger and thumb.
Put all the greens in a large bowl and add all the remaining ingredients and half a teaspoon of salt. Stir gently, taste, add more salt if you like, and serve at once.
These rice-spiked dumplings look rather extraordinary, but you'll be smitten after the first bite. The dried lime makes this dish, so do try to get hold of some. Sun-dried black limes have a complex, distinct taste – sour-citrus, aromatic, slightly fermented – that's well worth getting to know. Either buy the lime powder, or make your own by halving a few whole dried limes, blitzing them in a spice grinder and passing through a fine sieve. This recipe is adapted from Gideon Kalimian's The Persian Kitchen. Serves six.View Recipe
100g basmati rice, washed and drained
500g minced beef
2 medium onions, peeled and finely grated
30g fresh tarragon, picked and chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried Iranian lime powder 20g
6-8 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
2½ litres chicken stock
2 whole dried Iranian limes, pierced with a knife
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 5cm x 0.5cm batons
400g tin chickpeas, drained
¾ tsp turmeric
10 cardamon pods, lightly crushed
20g basil leaves, roughly shredded
20g mint leaves, roughly shredded
Bring a small pan of water to a boil, add the rice and cook for four minutes. Drain, refresh with cold water and drain again, shaking the sieve to get rid of all the excess water. Tip into a large bowl and add the beef, onion, tarragon, cumin, lime powder and dates, as well as two teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix, then shape into small balls weighing about 40g each (you should have 26 or so in all). Cover and put in the fridge for half an hour, to firm up.
In a large pan, put the stock, limes, carrots, chickpeas, turmeric, cardamom and a teaspoon of salt. Put on a high heat, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Carefully lower the gondi into the liquid and simmer gently for 30 minutes, until the meat and rice are cooked and the stock has reduced by about half; cover the pan if it reduces too much, but make sure the soup doesn't boil rapidly, otherwise the gondi will break up (if they do begin to disintegrate, carefully lift them from the soup and set aside until ready to serve). Towards the end, press the limes with the back of a spoon, to help them release their juices.
Divide the gondi and veg between six bowls, spoon the soup on top, sprinkle on the herbs and serve.
Butter bean purée with dukkah
There are two beautiful recipes here. You could just make the butter bean purée and keep it in the fridge for up to a week – it's a handy sandwich spread. You could also prepare just the dukkah, an Egyptian condiment that will easily keep for a month in an airtight container and can be used to sprinkle over salads, rice and almost anything else. I would make both, though. The spice and crunch of the dukkah give the purée heaps of character and, I promise you, can easily turn into a favourite. When making the dukkah, make sure you do not burn the seeds – remove them from the heat as soon as they begin to pop – and do not overprocess them with the pestle and mortar, so they keep their texture.
Dukkah is also available to purchase ready made hereView Recipe
250g dried butter beans, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water with ½ tbsp bicarbonate of soda
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2½ tbsp lemon juice
120ml olive oil
Fine sea salt and black pepper
10g parsley, roughly chopped
2 free-range eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
For the dukkah:
70g hazelnuts, with their skins
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp dry green peppercorns (or white, as an alternative)
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1½ tbsp sesame seeds
½ tsp nigella seeds
½ tsp Maldon sea salt
1 tsp paprika
Heat the oven to 140C/285F/gas mark 1. Drain the soaked beans and put them in a large saucepan. Cover with lots of fresh water, bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 45 minutes and up to an hour and a half, until completely soft. Drain, retaining the cooking water. While they are still hot, put the beans in the bowl of a food processor and add the garlic, lemon juice, 90ml of the olive oil, 80ml of the cooking water, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Blitz for a couple of minutes to a very smooth purée, transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with clingfilm and leave to cool down.
While the beans are cooking, make the dukkah. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Add the sunflower seeds to the tray halfway through, keeping them separate from the nuts. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while you toast the seeds.
Put a cast-iron pan on medium heat and leave for five minutes to heat up well. Spread the fennel seeds inside and dry-roast them for 30 seconds. Add the cumin seeds and cook for another 30 seconds, or until they start to pop, then tip both into a little bowl. With the pan back on the heat, roast the peppercorns until they start to pop, about 30 seconds, then transfer to a separate bowl. Cook the coriander seeds for up to a minute, until they start to pop, and tip into a third bowl. Reduce the heat to low and cook the sesame and nigella seeds together, stirring occasionally, until the sesame turns light brown, then remove from the pan.
Rub the hazelnuts between the palms of your hands to discard some of the skin. Use a pestle and mortar to chop them coarsely, then transfer to a medium bowl. Lightly crush the cumin and fennel seeds, and add to the hazelnuts. Repeat with the coriander seeds, followed by the peppercorns and then the sunflower seeds. Add these to the nut bowl, along with the sesame and nigella seeds, add salt and paprika, and mix well.
To put the dish together, remove the clingfilm from the purée, stir well and add salt to taste. Spread out on a large platter and use the back of a spoon to create a wavy pattern. Drizzle over most of the remaining oil and sprinkle with about two tablespoons of dukkah. Scatter over the chopped parsley, then coarsely grate the eggs and sprinkle on top. Finish with a final drizzle of olive oil. Store the remaining dukkah in an airtight container.
Chermoula-basted halibut with farro
Farro is an old Italian wheat variety that's said to be the same as emmer or spelt, though I'm not so sure. It can be eaten by some people who are normally intolerant of wheat and is sold pearled or whole. Serves four.View Recipe
380g podded broad beans, fresh or frozen
4 halibut fillets, about 150g each
1 tbsp dried lime powder
5 tbsp olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and black pepper
1½ tbsp picked dill
4 lemon wedges, to serve
For the chermoula:
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp dried lime powder
1 small garlic, crushed
2 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon skin
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
2½ tbsp olive oil
Simmer the farro in plenty of water for 20 minutes to an hour – the cooking time will depend on the brand; you want it tender with just a little bite. Drain and set aside.
Cook the broad beans in salted boiling water for two minutes, drain, refresh under cold water, then remove and discard the skins.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Mix the chermoula ingredients and season well. Put the fish in a heatproof dish or oven tray lined with baking paper, brush with the chermoula, and roast for eight to 10 minutes, until just done.
Mix the farro, beans, Iranian lime, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium pan, heat up gently and divide among four plates. Top with the fish, garnish with dill and serve with a lemon wedge