Aromatic spiced beef & tomato polow with peas
One-pot cooking is the saviour of so many occasions and is just the ticket when you want to feed a hungry mob quickly and economically. While I’ve used beef, minced lamb, pork, turkey or chicken also work well. I love this served with some natural yogurt on the side.
1 large onion, finely chopped3 heaped tbsp tomato purée4 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced2 handfuls of frozen peasMaldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Select a large frying pan with deep sides or use a large saucepan. Place over a medium-high heat and drizzle in a little oil. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent.
Add the minced beef and immediately break it up as finely as you can to prevent it cooking in clumps. While still uncooked, add the tomato purée, all the spices and bay leaves and stir to coat the meat well. Add the garlic, peas and a very generous amount of salt and pepper (as you are seasoning a whole pan of rice), then add the rice and butter. Stir all the ingredients together until the butter has melted and blended in.
Pour in the cold water, cover the pan with a lid and cook on a gentle heat for 30 minutes, or until the rice on top is tender. Fluff up with a fork and serve with natural yogurt. This needs no accompaniment.
Chicken & cucumber salad with pul biber & tahini lime dressing
Salads, for me, need to have bags of flavour. This is a nod to chicken satay salads but using the Middle Eastern staples of tahini and cucumber.
1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into thin batons or strips using a vegetable peeler2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded (or use chicken thigh or leg meat)3 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally from root to tip1 tsp pul biber chilli flakes (see tip)handful of salted peanuts or cashew nutshandful of fresh coriander leavesMaldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing
Arrange the cucumber, chicken and spring onions on a large platter and season with a little salt and pepper.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over the salad.
Sprinkle with the pul biber, scatter over the nuts and coriander leaves and serve. This needs no accompaniment.
Tip Pul biber chilli flakes (also known as Aleppo pepper) have a mild and slightly fruity flavour. They are available at Waitrose, amazon.co.uk and souschef.co.uk
Fried feta parcels with honey
I first had this dish at a beautiful hotel on the beach in Kefalonia. I was so taken by the simplicity of it. The only thing I have done differently is to cut the feta block into four pieces rather than keeping it whole, so there is more pastry to enjoy.
vegetable oil, for frying200g block of feta cheese, cut into quarters1 sheet of filo pastry (about 48cm x 25cm), cut into quarters2 heaped tbsp clear honey
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, pour in about 1cm vegetable oil and bring to frying temperature (the oil must not be too hot: add a little piece of filo pastry – if it bubbles gently the oil is hot enough, if it sizzles aggressively the oil is too hot).
Line a plate with a double layer of kitchen paper.
Wrap each rectangle of feta in a piece of filo and use a little oil or water to seal the seam on the underside. Gently lay the parcels in the hot oil, seam-side down, and fry them for a couple of minutes until you see the pastry on the underside turn golden and bubble up a little. Then very carefully turn the parcels over and fry the other side until crisp and golden brown.
Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to the paper-lined plate to drain, then serve on a plate drizzled with the honey.
Lamb & aubergine kebabs
My two favourite ingredients are combined in this twist on a charcoal-grilled classic. Just ensure your aubergine is cooked and soft to the touch. I like to serve these on flatbread or tortillas so they absorb the juices for an added treat.
2 small-medium aubergines500g minced lamb (20% fat)½ tsp bicarbonate of soda4 spring onions, thinly sliced from root to tipabout 30g dill, finely choppedMaldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
pul biber chilli flakes
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
Keeping the aubergines whole, stalk included, make four evenly spaced cuts in each one, without cutting all the way through to ensure they stay intact. Lay the aubergines in a roasting tin.
Put all the other ingredients, except the oil, into a mixing bowl with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Using your hands, work them together for a couple of minutes until you have an evenly combined paste.
Divide the meat mixture into eight equal portions, roll each into a ball and flatten gently.
Brush the exposed flesh of the aubergines with the olive oil, then place a portion of meat mixture in between each cut until both aubergines are filled. Push a wooden or thin metal skewer (at least 26cm long) through the centre of each aubergine, from stalk to base, to hold everything in place, then roast for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and, using a pastry brush, baste the aubergines with the pan juices. Turn them over and roast for another 20 minutes until the aubergine flesh is soft.
Serve immediately with flatbreads, parsley, sliced onion and chilli flakes.
While the classic recipe uses walnuts, I prefer the crunch of roasted hazelnuts. I cut corners by using ready-roasted peppers in brine. Muhammara can be used as a dip, a crostini topping or a sauce served either warm or cold, making it incredibly versatile.
480-500g jar roasted red peppers in brine100g chopped roasted hazelnuts2 garlic cloves, finely minced½ slice of white bread, torn into small chunks3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzlingabout 30g flat-leaf parsley, finely choppedMaldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black peppertoasted bread or toasted mini pittas, to serve
Drain the roasted peppers well then pat dry with kitchen paper to remove as much excess liquid as possible.
Put the hazelnuts, garlic and peppers into a food processor and blitz together.
Add the chilli flakes, bread, olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper then blitz again until smooth.
Decant the mixture into a bowl, add the lemon juice and parsley then mix well, and adjust the seasoning to taste.
Drizzle with olive oil and serve with toasted bread or mini pittas.
TIP If you can’t find chopped roasted hazelnuts, roast whole blanched hazelnuts in an oven preheated to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 for 8 minutes. Leave to cool.
Pan-fried spiced prawns
When I find the really big prawns, of which you need only two or three per person, they are spectacular with a simple spice coating. I can’t resist tandoori prawns – they’re one of my all-time favourites, so this is my little nod to that spectacular dish.
6 giant raw prawns (ideally about 70g each, but you can use a larger quantity of smaller prawns), peeled but tails left on2 lemon quarters, to serve (optional)
For the marinade
generous squeeze of lime juicevery generous amount of Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the prawns and turn until well coated.
Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and, once hot, drizzle in a little vegetable oil. Add the prawns to cook for a couple of minutes or so on each side until opaque and firm to the touch (smaller prawns will need a shorter cooking time).
Add the lemon quarters, if using, to the pan and fry the flesh sides.
Serve the prawns immediately with the fried lemon quarters for squeezing over.
Peanut butter and banana soft serve
Every time I buy a bunch of bananas, inevitably one or two remain uneaten and ripen too much. Once you’re tired of making banana bread, what do you do with them? Cut them into slices and pop them into the freezer, because this is one of the best ways to use them.
2 very ripe bananas, chopped and frozen solid2 tbsp smooth peanut butter½ tsp vanilla bean pasteoptional extras: ice-cream cones or wafers, grated chocolate, toasted nuts
Remove the frozen bananas from the freezer and set aside for 5 minutes.
Put them into a food processor with the other main ingredients and blitz until smooth.
Serve immediately in dishes, topped with the chocolate and nuts if you wish, or serve in ice-cream cones or in between wafers.
Sesame & spice roasted salmon
This is a Ghayour house go-to classic – I have the spice mix ready blended in a jar. Cooking the salmon in this recipe is easy and foolproof – you don’t even need oil, as salmon is fatty by nature. Leftovers are great at room temperature for lunchboxes the next day, or perfect for flaking and adding to salads and cooked grains.
4 salmon fillets, about 125g each
For the spice mix
a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and line a roasting tin with baking paper.
Combine all the spice-mix ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the flesh of the salmon fillets, then season well with salt.
Place the salmon in the lined tin and roast for 10-12 minutes (depending on how hot your oven is). Serve immediately with nice big wedges of lemon for squeezing over.
Photographs: Kris Kirkham
Now buy the book
Persiana Everyday by Sabrina Ghayour will be published by Aster on 4 August, price £26. To order a copy for £22.10 with free UK delivery until 14 August, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.