Slow-cooked biryani – India

Dumpukht in Lucknow or dumpokht in Hyderabad describes a way of slow­cooking in an airtight pot (handi), which can be earthenware or metal, covering the pot with a sealed lid or a sheet of pastry (as in this recipe). The word dumpukht comes from the Persian – dum meaning ‘breathe in’ and pukht meaning ‘to cook’. The method is traditionally associated with the Awadh region of India, once ruled by the Muslim Nawabs, with the origins of dumpukht assigned to the reign of Nawab Asaf Udd-­Daulah, who ruled from 1748 to 1797.

I learned to make this biryani in the garden of Begum Mirza (Begum is a title given to noblewomen deriving from the word Bey, the title given to noblemen) in Hyderabad, and even though the Begum was quite old and not so mobile, she had organised a perfect mise en place and was very precise and attentive to details as she proceeded through each step of the biryani. Begum Mirza used mutton, which means goat in India, saying it is the preferred meat there; but goat in India seems to be a lot more tender than goat in England or even America, so I am suggesting lamb. As I watched the Begum cover the raw marinated meat with the uncooked rice, I wondered how the meat was going to cook in the same time as the rice. She assured me it would, explaining that the green papaya she had added to the meat marinade was a natural tenderiser.

4 small onions (about 400g in total), finely grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped green papaya (optional)
Seeds from 2 black cardamom pods
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 whole cloves
Good pinch of saffron threads
1kg boneless shoulder or leg of lamb, cut into medium chunks
Sea salt
500g plain yogurt

500g long-­grain rice, soaked in lightly salted water for 15 minutes
500g plain yogurt​
Sea salt
150g ghee or unsalted butter, melted
125ml organic whole milk, infused with a good pinch of saffron threads

To marinate the meat, mix together the onions, green papaya and spices in a large bowl. Add the meat and season with salt to taste. Mix well. Add the yogurt and mix again, then leave to marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably longer. To make the biryani, drain and rinse the rice and put into another bowl. Add the yogurt, 160ml water and salt to taste.

Food and drink news

Food and drink news

Britain consumes more chocolate than any other country

Most people love chocolate but it turns out no one does more than the Brits – with the average Brit found to have consumed 8.4 kg of chocolate in 2017, according to new data. Chocolate consumption around the world is on the rise, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), which found that in the past year alone, Easter chocolate production has risen by 23 per cent

‘Easter eggs should be banned for children under four’

Dr Becky Spelman, chief psychologist at Harley Street’s Private Therapy Clinic, is calling for Easter eggs to be banned for consumption for children under the age of four, claiming that giving them the opportunity to binge on chocolate so young will give them an unhealthy relationship with food later on. “This is a nightmare situation for parents of this generation as they have no idea how to teach their children to delay their response to cravings,” she said, explaining that too many young kids binge on these chocolates because their parents don’t know how to stop them. “Once a child starts overeating behaviour at a young age it’s very hard to turn things around for them in terms of food and their eating habits moving forward, leading to obesity from at very young age,” she added

Pineapple overtakes avocado as the UK’s fastest-selling fruit

According to Tesco, pineapple has overtaken avocado as the UK’s fastest-selling fruit, with sales increasing by 15 per cent in 2017. In comparison, avocado sales rose by just under 10 per cent last year. The popular supermarket says the surge in popularity comes as shoppers buying the versatile fruit are beginning to use it as a main ingredient in everything from curries and barbecues, to juices and cocktails

Healthy living makes us more inclined to binge, research suggests

Gluten-free breads, dairy-free milks and other plant-based products have been some of the most favoured foods in British supermarkets this year. However, while we’re busy filling our shopping trolleys with gluten-free goodness, we’re also jamming it with junk food and alcohol, new research suggests

Marks & Spencers launches stoneless avocados

Rather than the result of genetic modification, the avocados are formed by an unpollinated avocado blossom. The fruit develops without a seed which in turns stops the growth, creating a small, seedless fruit. What’s more, the skin is actually edible, unlike a regular avocado. The flesh is much like that of a normal avocado – smooth and creamy, pale in colour and rich in flavour

Office teabags contain 17 times more germs than a toilet seat, reveals study

The average bacterial reading of an office teabag was 3,785, in comparison to only 220 for a toilet seat. Other pieces of kitchen equipment also stacked up highly in their findings, with the bacterial readings averaging at 2,483 on kettle handles, 1,746 on the rim of a used mug and 1,592 on a fridge door handle

New study shows drinking more coffee leads to a longer life

There is good news and a final hope for coffee addicts and lovers. You will now be able to drink coffee for longer as new study shows its can lead to a prolonged life. Scientists showed that those who drank between two and four cups of coffee a day had 18% lower risk of death compared to non-coffee drinkers.

Coke Zero is replaced with Coke Zero Sugar

Coca-Cola is pulling the plug on its Coke Zero. The much loved drink will be replaced with a ‘new improved taste’. The move, backed with a £10 million campaign, is said to come from Coca-Cola supporting people to reduce their sugar intake. Coca-Cola want people make this move while not sacrificing sugary taste of Coca-Cola.

Starbucks introduce new avocado spread

The avocado craze has grown from hipster brunch restaurants to Starbucks. Starbucks have introduced their new avocado spread earlier this year and it has the internet in debate. Some argue that it not a spread but guacamole while others question if there is any avocado in there at all. When buying the new spread you can also buy an optional toasted bagel. It is a must try for all avocado connoisseurs.

New Mars chocolate bar

The iconic British chocolate bar is about to get its partner in crime. The new bar, named Goodness Knows, will replace the gooey caramel goodness of the mars bar with oats. It is said to be more like a Florentine biscuit with a thin dark chocolate bottom. While being moderately healthy Mars says that is has ‘good intentions’. One pack has 154 calories and will sell for about 90p.

Wine prices could increase because of Brexit

Wine lovers across the UK might soon have to shell out close to a quarter more for their favourite tipple after Brexit, as a weaker pound and sluggish economy takes its toll, a new study shows

Chocolate may be good for the heart

A new study, published in the British Medical Journal: Heart, found that moderate chocolate intake can be positively associated with lessening the risk of the heart arrhythmia condition Atrial Fibrillation

Brits throw away 1.4 million bananas each year

British families are throwing away 1.4 million bananas that are perfectly good to eat every day at cost of £80m a year, new figures have shown

Rosemary sales spike over exam time

There has been a surge a surge in sales of the herb rosemary after a recent study found it helps improve memory. According to high street health food chain Holland & Barrett, sales of the herb have increased by 187 per cent compared to the same time last year

Gluten-free diets ‘not recommended’ for people without coeliac disease

Avoiding wheat, barley and rye in the belief that a gluten-free diet brings health benefits may do more harm than good, according to a team of US nutrition and medicine experts

Starbucks launches two new coffee-based drinks

Starbucks is launching two new coffee-based drinks in the UK, as it strives to tap into consumers’ growing appetite for healthy beverages. The Cold Brew Vanilla sweet cream and the Cappuccino Freddo, will both be available in stores throughout the UK from the start of May

Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Tiffin is making a permanent comeback after 80 years

The Cadbury Dairy Milk Tiffin, first produced in 1937, is making a permanent comeback to the UK. The raisin and biscuit-filled chocolate bar is being launched after a successful trial last summer saw 3 million chocolate treats – at the cost of £1.49 for each 95g bar- purchased by nostalgic customers

Pizza restaurant makes ‘world’s cheesiest’

‘Scottie’s Pizza Parlor’ in Portland Oregon has created the world’s cheesiest pizza using a total of 101 different cheese varieties.

Facebook/Scottie’s Pizza Parlor

A pizza joint in Portland Oregon has created the world’s cheesiest pizza using a total of 101 different cheese varieties. Why not eating before a workout could be better for your health

A study published in the American Journal of Physiology by researchers at the University of Bath found you might be likely to burn more fat if you have not eaten first

New York restaurant named best in the world

A New York restaurant where an average meal for two will cost $700 has been named the best in the world. Eleven Madison Park won the accolade for the first time after debuting on the list at number 50 in 2010. The restaurant was praised for a fun sense of fine-dining, “blurring the line between the kitchen and the dining room”

Why you crave bad food when you’re tired

Researchers at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago recently presented their results of a study looking into the effects of sleep deprivation upon high-calorific food consumption. Researchers found that those who were sleep-deprived had “specifically enhanced” brain activity to the food smells compared to when they had a good night’s sleep

Drinking wine engages more of your brain than solving maths problems

Drinking wine is the ideal workout for your brain, engaging more parts of our grey matter than any other human behaviour, according to a leading neuroscientist. Dr Gordon Shepherd, from the Yale School of Medicine, said sniffing and analysing a wine before drinking it requires “exquisite control of one of the biggest muscles in the body”

British dessert eating surges after people ditch healthy eating in February

: In heartening news for anyone feeling guilty about quitting their New Year diet, it seems lots of us have given in to our sweet tooths once again. New data from nationwide food-delivery service Deliveroo reveals there was a surge in Brits ordering desserts in February compared to the first month of 2017

US congress debates definition of milk alternatives

A new bill has been created that seeks to ban dairy alternatives from using the term ‘milk’. Titled the DAIRY PRIDE Act, the name is a tenuous acronym for ‘defending against imitations and replacements of yogurt, milk, and cheese to promote regular intake of dairy every day’. It argues that the dairy industry is struggling as a result of all the dairy-free alternatives on the market and the public are being duped too

Cadbury’s launches two new chocolate bars

UK confectionary giant Cadbury has launched two new chocolate bars, hoping to lure those with a sweet tooth and perhaps help combat some of the challenges it faces from rising commodity prices and a post-Brexit slump in the value of the pound.The company’s new products will be peanut butter and mint flavoured. They will be available in most major super markets as 120g bars, priced at £1.49, according to the company

You can now get a job as a professional chocolate eater

The company responsible for some of your favourite chocolate brands – think Cadbury, Milks, Prince and Oreo – have officially announced an opening to join their team as a professional chocolate taster. The successful candidate will help them to test, perfect and launch new products all over the world.

MSG additive used in Chinese food is actually good for you, scientist claims

For years, we’ve been told MSG (the sodium salt of glutamic acid) – often associated with cheap Chinese takeaways – is awful for our health and to be avoided at all costs. But one scientist argues it should be used as a “supersalt” and encourages adding it to food.

Lettuce prices are rising

Not only are lettuces becoming an increasingly rare commodity in supermarkets, but prices for the leafy vegetables seem to be rising too. According to the weekly report from the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a pair of Little Gem lettuces had an average market price of £0.86 in the week that ended on Friday, up from an average of £0.56 in the previous week – that’s an almost 54 per cent increase.

Food School

Kids celebrate Food School graduation with James Martin – a campaign launched by Asda to educate young people on where food comes from. New research has revealed that children across the UK just aren’t stepping up to the plate when it comes to simple facts about the food they eat – with almost half of children under eight not knowing that eggs come from chickens

‘Do-It-Yourself’ restaurant

To encourage more people to cook and eat together, IKEA has launched The Dining Club in Shoreditch – a fully immersive ‘Do-It-Yourself’ restaurant . Members of the public can book to host a brunch, lunch or dinner party for up to 20 friends and family. Supported by their very own sous chef and maître de, the host and their guests will orchestrate an intimate dining experience where cooking together is celebrated and eating together is inspirational

Ping Pong menu with a twist

Gatwick Airport has teamed up with London dim sum restaurant Ping Pong to create a limited edition menu with a distinctly British twist; including a Full English Bao and Beef Wellington Puff, to celebrate the launch of the airport’s new route to Hong Kong

32/33 Zizzi unveil the Ma’amgharita

Unique pizza art has been created by Zizzi in celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday. The pizza features the queen in an iconic pose illustrated with fresh and tasty Italian ingredients on a backdrop of the Union Jack

33/33 Blue potatoes make a comeback

Blue potatoes, once a staple part of British potato crops, are back on the menu thanks to a Cambridge scientist turned-organic farmer and Farmdrop, an online marketplace that lets people buy direct from local farms. Cambridge PhD graduate-turned farmer, Adrian Izzard has used traditional growing techniques at Wild Country Organics to produce the colourful spuds, packed with healthy cell-protecting anthocyanin, which had previously disappeared from UK plates when post-war farmers were pushed towards higher-yielding varieties

Britain consumes more chocolate than any other country

Most people love chocolate but it turns out no one does more than the Brits – with the average Brit found to have consumed 8.4 kg of chocolate in 2017, according to new data. Chocolate consumption around the world is on the rise, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), which found that in the past year alone, Easter chocolate production has risen by 23 per cent

‘Easter eggs should be banned for children under four’

Dr Becky Spelman, chief psychologist at Harley Street’s Private Therapy Clinic, is calling for Easter eggs to be banned for consumption for children under the age of four, claiming that giving them the opportunity to binge on chocolate so young will give them an unhealthy relationship with food later on. “This is a nightmare situation for parents of this generation as they have no idea how to teach their children to delay their response to cravings,” she said, explaining that too many young kids binge on these chocolates because their parents don’t know how to stop them. “Once a child starts overeating behaviour at a young age it’s very hard to turn things around for them in terms of food and their eating habits moving forward, leading to obesity from at very young age,” she added

Pineapple overtakes avocado as the UK’s fastest-selling fruit

According to Tesco, pineapple has overtaken avocado as the UK’s fastest-selling fruit, with sales increasing by 15 per cent in 2017. In comparison, avocado sales rose by just under 10 per cent last year. The popular supermarket says the surge in popularity comes as shoppers buying the versatile fruit are beginning to use it as a main ingredient in everything from curries and barbecues, to juices and cocktails

Healthy living makes us more inclined to binge, research suggests

Gluten-free breads, dairy-free milks and other plant-based products have been some of the most favoured foods in British supermarkets this year. However, while we’re busy filling our shopping trolleys with gluten-free goodness, we’re also jamming it with junk food and alcohol, new research suggests

Marks & Spencers launches stoneless avocados

Rather than the result of genetic modification, the avocados are formed by an unpollinated avocado blossom. The fruit develops without a seed which in turns stops the growth, creating a small, seedless fruit. What’s more, the skin is actually edible, unlike a regular avocado. The flesh is much like that of a normal avocado – smooth and creamy, pale in colour and rich in flavour

Office teabags contain 17 times more germs than a toilet seat, reveals study

The average bacterial reading of an office teabag was 3,785, in comparison to only 220 for a toilet seat. Other pieces of kitchen equipment also stacked up highly in their findings, with the bacterial readings averaging at 2,483 on kettle handles, 1,746 on the rim of a used mug and 1,592 on a fridge door handle

New study shows drinking more coffee leads to a longer life

There is good news and a final hope for coffee addicts and lovers. You will now be able to drink coffee for longer as new study shows its can lead to a prolonged life. Scientists showed that those who drank between two and four cups of coffee a day had 18% lower risk of death compared to non-coffee drinkers.

Coke Zero is replaced with Coke Zero Sugar

Coca-Cola is pulling the plug on its Coke Zero. The much loved drink will be replaced with a ‘new improved taste’. The move, backed with a £10 million campaign, is said to come from Coca-Cola supporting people to reduce their sugar intake. Coca-Cola want people make this move while not sacrificing sugary taste of Coca-Cola.

Starbucks introduce new avocado spread

The avocado craze has grown from hipster brunch restaurants to Starbucks. Starbucks have introduced their new avocado spread earlier this year and it has the internet in debate. Some argue that it not a spread but guacamole while others question if there is any avocado in there at all. When buying the new spread you can also buy an optional toasted bagel. It is a must try for all avocado connoisseurs.

New Mars chocolate bar

The iconic British chocolate bar is about to get its partner in crime. The new bar, named Goodness Knows, will replace the gooey caramel goodness of the mars bar with oats. It is said to be more like a Florentine biscuit with a thin dark chocolate bottom. While being moderately healthy Mars says that is has ‘good intentions’. One pack has 154 calories and will sell for about 90p.

Wine prices could increase because of Brexit

Wine lovers across the UK might soon have to shell out close to a quarter more for their favourite tipple after Brexit, as a weaker pound and sluggish economy takes its toll, a new study shows

Chocolate may be good for the heart

A new study, published in the British Medical Journal: Heart, found that moderate chocolate intake can be positively associated with lessening the risk of the heart arrhythmia condition Atrial Fibrillation

Brits throw away 1.4 million bananas each year

British families are throwing away 1.4 million bananas that are perfectly good to eat every day at cost of £80m a year, new figures have shown

Rosemary sales spike over exam time

There has been a surge a surge in sales of the herb rosemary after a recent study found it helps improve memory. According to high street health food chain Holland & Barrett, sales of the herb have increased by 187 per cent compared to the same time last year

Gluten-free diets ‘not recommended’ for people without coeliac disease

Avoiding wheat, barley and rye in the belief that a gluten-free diet brings health benefits may do more harm than good, according to a team of US nutrition and medicine experts

Starbucks launches two new coffee-based drinks

Starbucks is launching two new coffee-based drinks in the UK, as it strives to tap into consumers’ growing appetite for healthy beverages. The Cold Brew Vanilla sweet cream and the Cappuccino Freddo, will both be available in stores throughout the UK from the start of May

Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Tiffin is making a permanent comeback after 80 years

The Cadbury Dairy Milk Tiffin, first produced in 1937, is making a permanent comeback to the UK. The raisin and biscuit-filled chocolate bar is being launched after a successful trial last summer saw 3 million chocolate treats – at the cost of £1.49 for each 95g bar- purchased by nostalgic customers

Pizza restaurant makes ‘world’s cheesiest’

‘Scottie’s Pizza Parlor’ in Portland Oregon has created the world’s cheesiest pizza using a total of 101 different cheese varieties.

Facebook/Scottie’s Pizza Parlor

A pizza joint in Portland Oregon has created the world’s cheesiest pizza using a total of 101 different cheese varieties. Why not eating before a workout could be better for your health

A study published in the American Journal of Physiology by researchers at the University of Bath found you might be likely to burn more fat if you have not eaten first

New York restaurant named best in the world

A New York restaurant where an average meal for two will cost $700 has been named the best in the world. Eleven Madison Park won the accolade for the first time after debuting on the list at number 50 in 2010. The restaurant was praised for a fun sense of fine-dining, “blurring the line between the kitchen and the dining room”

Why you crave bad food when you’re tired

Researchers at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago recently presented their results of a study looking into the effects of sleep deprivation upon high-calorific food consumption. Researchers found that those who were sleep-deprived had “specifically enhanced” brain activity to the food smells compared to when they had a good night’s sleep

Drinking wine engages more of your brain than solving maths problems

Drinking wine is the ideal workout for your brain, engaging more parts of our grey matter than any other human behaviour, according to a leading neuroscientist. Dr Gordon Shepherd, from the Yale School of Medicine, said sniffing and analysing a wine before drinking it requires “exquisite control of one of the biggest muscles in the body”

British dessert eating surges after people ditch healthy eating in February

: In heartening news for anyone feeling guilty about quitting their New Year diet, it seems lots of us have given in to our sweet tooths once again. New data from nationwide food-delivery service Deliveroo reveals there was a surge in Brits ordering desserts in February compared to the first month of 2017

US congress debates definition of milk alternatives

A new bill has been created that seeks to ban dairy alternatives from using the term ‘milk’. Titled the DAIRY PRIDE Act, the name is a tenuous acronym for ‘defending against imitations and replacements of yogurt, milk, and cheese to promote regular intake of dairy every day’. It argues that the dairy industry is struggling as a result of all the dairy-free alternatives on the market and the public are being duped too

Cadbury’s launches two new chocolate bars

UK confectionary giant Cadbury has launched two new chocolate bars, hoping to lure those with a sweet tooth and perhaps help combat some of the challenges it faces from rising commodity prices and a post-Brexit slump in the value of the pound.The company’s new products will be peanut butter and mint flavoured. They will be available in most major super markets as 120g bars, priced at £1.49, according to the company

You can now get a job as a professional chocolate eater

The company responsible for some of your favourite chocolate brands – think Cadbury, Milks, Prince and Oreo – have officially announced an opening to join their team as a professional chocolate taster. The successful candidate will help them to test, perfect and launch new products all over the world.

MSG additive used in Chinese food is actually good for you, scientist claims

For years, we’ve been told MSG (the sodium salt of glutamic acid) – often associated with cheap Chinese takeaways – is awful for our health and to be avoided at all costs. But one scientist argues it should be used as a “supersalt” and encourages adding it to food.

Lettuce prices are rising

Not only are lettuces becoming an increasingly rare commodity in supermarkets, but prices for the leafy vegetables seem to be rising too. According to the weekly report from the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a pair of Little Gem lettuces had an average market price of £0.86 in the week that ended on Friday, up from an average of £0.56 in the previous week – that’s an almost 54 per cent increase.

Food School

Kids celebrate Food School graduation with James Martin – a campaign launched by Asda to educate young people on where food comes from. New research has revealed that children across the UK just aren’t stepping up to the plate when it comes to simple facts about the food they eat – with almost half of children under eight not knowing that eggs come from chickens

‘Do-It-Yourself’ restaurant

To encourage more people to cook and eat together, IKEA has launched The Dining Club in Shoreditch – a fully immersive ‘Do-It-Yourself’ restaurant . Members of the public can book to host a brunch, lunch or dinner party for up to 20 friends and family. Supported by their very own sous chef and maître de, the host and their guests will orchestrate an intimate dining experience where cooking together is celebrated and eating together is inspirational

Ping Pong menu with a twist

Gatwick Airport has teamed up with London dim sum restaurant Ping Pong to create a limited edition menu with a distinctly British twist; including a Full English Bao and Beef Wellington Puff, to celebrate the launch of the airport’s new route to Hong Kong

32/33 Zizzi unveil the Ma’amgharita

Unique pizza art has been created by Zizzi in celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday. The pizza features the queen in an iconic pose illustrated with fresh and tasty Italian ingredients on a backdrop of the Union Jack

33/33 Blue potatoes make a comeback

Blue potatoes, once a staple part of British potato crops, are back on the menu thanks to a Cambridge scientist turned-organic farmer and Farmdrop, an online marketplace that lets people buy direct from local farms. Cambridge PhD graduate-turned farmer, Adrian Izzard has used traditional growing techniques at Wild Country Organics to produce the colourful spuds, packed with healthy cell-protecting anthocyanin, which had previously disappeared from UK plates when post-war farmers were pushed towards higher-yielding varieties

Put the marinated meat into the bottom of a large pot. Pour 125g melted ghee or butter over the meat. Add the rice mixture and 250ml water. Wrap the lid with a clean kitchen towel and place over the pot (wrapping the lid stops the steam from the rice from falling back, which keeps the rice fluffy and the grains separate). Place the pot over medium­high heat and bring to the boil, which should take about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Uncover the pan and sprinkle the remaining melted ghee or butter over the rice, along with the saffron milk. Place the lid back over the pan and cook for a further 15 minutes, or until the meat is completely tender and the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is tender and fluffy. Serve immediately.

Saffron fritters – Arabian Gulf

Traditionally, l’geimat (saffron fritters) are served drizzled with date syrup, but many Arabian cooks sweeten them with a sugar syrup flavoured with saffron and cardamom, as I have done here. You can also serve these drizzled with date syrup, if you prefer.​

For the fritters 120g plain (white) flour
120g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon fast-action dried yeast
1 tablespoon caster sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
125g plain yogurt
 organic egg
Sugar syrup (below)
Vegetable oil, for deep-­frying

To make the fritters, mix together both flours, the yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the yogurt and 125ml water. Add the egg and mix until you have a very loose dough/very thick batter. Cover with clingfilm and set aside to rest for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Pour 5cm vegetable oil into a large frying pan and heat over medium heat until very hot (if you drop a piece of bread into the oil, it should immediately bubble around the bread).

Wet your hand and, with the tips of your fingers, pinch off bits of dough. Drop the fritters into the hot oil and fry them, stirring all the time to colour them evenly, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown all over. Remove to a sieve so the excess oil can drain. Serve immediately or soon after frying, drizzled with sugar syrup.

400g golden caster sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 small cinnamon stick
Pinch of saffron threads
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put the sugar into a medium pot and add 250ml water. Add the cardamom, cinnamon stick, saffron and lemon juice and bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer, stirring every now and then, for about 30 minutes, or until you have a thick syrup. Take off the heat. If you are not going to use the syrup straightaway, store it in an airtight glass jar in the fridge, where it will last for a few days.

Spicy baked fish in a tahini, herb and nut sauce – Lebanon 

At the Silver Shore restaurant in Tripoli, they prepare this fish using a large sea bass that feeds four, but I suggest making it with fish fillets, which are easier to eat with the sauce, with no need to pick out any bones or discard the skin.

50g pine nuts
100g walnuts
250ml tahini
8 cloves garlic, crushed to a fine paste
Juice of 3 lemons, or to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying
1kg white fish fillets (4–6 pieces)
80ml extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions (about 300g in total), finely chopped
1 medium red pepper, finely chopped
½ bunch fresh coriander (about 100g), most of bottom stems discarded, then finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan. Spread the pine nuts and walnuts on separate non-stick baking sheets and toast in the hot oven for 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl. Wait until the walnuts have cooled, then chop them coarsely.

Put the tahini into a large mixing bowl and add the garlic. Add the lemon juice and start mixing it in. At first you will notice the tahini thickening instead of thinning, but do not worry, it will eventually thin out as you add more liquid. Slowly add 180ml water, stirring all the time, until you have a sauce the consistency of double cream. Set the tahini sauce aside.

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and pour in enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom. When the oil is hot, slide the fish fillets into the pan, skin side down, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and golden and the fish just done. You don’t need to flip the fish as it will finish cooking in the tahini sauce. Transfer to a plate.

Wipe the pan clean. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and red pepper and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the onions are golden and the pepper completely softened. Add the fresh coriander and stir until wilted. Add the chopped walnuts, ground coriander, Aleppo pepper, cumin and salt to taste. Stir in the tahini sauce. Bubble gently, stirring regularly, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until you see a little oil rise to the surface. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Slide the cooked fish fillets into the sauce, skin side up, and gently shake the pan to coat the fish with the sauce. Simmer for a couple of minutes, or until the fish has finished cooking. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and serve hot or warm.

Extract taken from ‘Feast’ by Anissa Helou (Bloomsbury, £45) is out now. Photography by Kristin Perers

This content was originally published here.