Chicken, Chickpea and Spinach Biryani

 I’m not sure whether I can legitimately call this a ‘Biryani’… It’s a copy of something Jamie Oliver calls a Biryani, but I’m not entirely convinced! After watching one of his programmes on how to make the most of left overs to make a whole new meal, I decided to give it a go!

I made some chicken and chickpea curry in the pressure cooker for a quick mid-week meal and didn’t quite have enough left over to feed us for another night. So I decided to give this biryani rice dish a whirl… 

This recipe basically involves boiling some rice, defrosting some frozen spinach and then layering it all up with the left over curry. Any curry can be used, so this meal can easily be vegan, vegetarian, gluten free etc. Here is what I ended up with…

Ingredients

  • Left over chicken and chickpea curry (about 300g)
  • 5-6 balls of frozen spinach (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • Boiled rice (salted for flavour)
  • Cashew nuts (for sprinkling on top)
  • Smoked Paprika (for sprinkling on top)

Method

  • In an oven proof dish: Put half of the boiled rice in a layer at the bottom of the dish
  • On top of the rice, all the curry in a single layer
  • On top of the curry, add all the spinach in a single layer
  • Add the rest of the rice on top of the spinach and ensure none of the filling is peeking out
  • Sprinkle the top of your layered biryani with the cashew nuts and smokes paprika
  • Bake in a medium oven (around 180 degrees C). Keep it covered for the first 20 minutes so the filling steams inside the rice, then uncover for the final 15-20 minutes to crispen up the top layer
  • Serve with a dollop of minted yoghurt and pickled cucumber (or whatever you feel like!) 

 

When serving this meal the layers don’t really hold together so not great presentation wise, but it tastes lovely! 🙂

The crunchy cashew nuts and crispy rice layer are a great contrast against the soft chicken and chickpeas. And the spinach really lightens the whole dish so it doesn’t feel so heavy!

This recipe is great when you have a little left over curry and some left over rice too, but it might just be worth the effort to make everything from scratch anyway!  

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Afghan Beef and Bean Soup: Shorwa e Ghosht

This recipe has been another one of my experiments. These days I have really struggled to make nutritious and interesting evening meals as I have been distracted by various things that life throws at you. My partner and also have very different preferences when it comes to food, he likes very heavily spiced foods, red meat and lots of carbohydrates! I prefer white meats, like a balance of sweet, bitter, savoury and spice in my food and am trying to loose a little weight at the moment…

One way around this is to make separate meals, every so often. This isn’t ideal as it takes away some of the magic brought by communal eating. However there are the odd occasion when I’m not going to be home for dinner, so this is when he gets to eat meals I wouldn’t normally want to eat!

For this Shorwa e Gosht I took inspiration from Humaira at ‘‘Afghan Culture Unveiled’ who makes the recipe in a pressure cooker. I decided to do the opposite and make it in a slow cooker, kind of like a stew. I also didn’t have some of the ingredients required so made some substitutions. 

Ingredients

  • 500g Diced Lean Beef 
  • One Red Onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai Chilli, chopped
  • 2 tbs Olive Oil
  • 3 tbs Tomato Paste
  • 2 tbs Ground Coriander
  • 2 tbs Ground Cumin
  • ½ tbs Ground Turmeric
  • 1 tbs Salt
  • 1 can Water
  • 1 can Kidney Beans
  • 1 can Chickpeas

     

Method

  • Sauté the onions, garlic and beef in a frying pan until lightly coloured
  • Add all the spices, salt, chilli, and tomato paste and stir to evenly coat all the meat
  • Add kidney beans and chickpeas and reuse a can to add the water
  • Mix it all up and transfer to a slow cooker, cook for at least 6 hours on ‘low’ or 3-4 hours on ‘high’
  • Serve with some yoghurt drizzled on top and some crusty bread or Nan

 

After all those hours of slow cooking the beef was extremely tender and melt in the mouth. The ‘soup’ was more of a thick sauce, hence being more stew like. However if you would prefer a soup, just add more water before slow cooking. 

I think I earned a few brownie points after this meal! 😉

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Anyone who is familiar with my previous cake posts know I admit to being a terrible cake decorator! This cake is no exception… 🙂

It was my sister’s birthday in early June and I offered to make a cake. We were undecided whether to have a lemon drizzle cake or a carrot cake, so I made both! I also wanted to try out a new cake tin that I’d bought a while ago so ended up making a two tier cake of a strangely uneven size…

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting with Chocolate Drizzle and Gold Accents

Another recent purchase of mine has been a metallic gold edible ink pen. So just to add a little bling, I decided it was time to try it out. I quite liked the results, although my sister who is the least ‘blingy’ person I know thought it was a bit over the top! 😀

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

for both layers of the cake I used Mary Berry recipes from her book ‘Mary Berry’s Baking Bible’. I previously posted a post using the carrot cake recipe that I had used to make cupcakes and the lemon drizzle cake recipe is a firm favourite of mine. As the cake tin for the lemon cake was only 18cm, I used half amount of ingredients stated in the recipe.

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The cream cheese frosting worked very well with both cakes and the bitter dark chocolate drizzle on top was added a tiny contrast to counteract all that sugar!

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Let the experimenting continue… 😀