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El ham lahlou (Algerian rice and lamb)

July 1, 2014

Soupurb’s founder Gem is taking a backseat for a while as blogs with more social and political  impact soak up her screen time. She has entrusted the care of soupurb to a guest editor. But thankfully, Ms Soupurb’s cooking is now back on track after a forced retirement,  and we can still share her inspired culinary journeys. Here is one of her latest finds. A North African stew of slow-cooked lamb with prunes and orange blossom. Serves six to eight.

El ham lahlou                          


12 prunes, destoned
200ml orange juice
50g butter
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
1kg lamb neck fillet, chopped into 3cm pieces
400g tin of chickpeas, drained
50g blanched almonds

1 firm pear, cored and chopped

A splash of red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp orange blossom water
Cooked couscous, to serve
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped, to serve
Greek yoghurt, to serve

Pop the prunes in a bowl, pour over the orange juice and leave to soak for one hour.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and stir in the garlic, onion, cinnamon and cumin. Sauté for 15 minutes, until the onion is soft and sticky but not coloured.

Turn up the heat slightly, add the lamb and brown for 2-3 minutes. Season, then tip in the prunes and their soaking juice. Cover with 300ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for one hour.

Stir in the chickpeas, almonds and pear, and simmer for a further 30 minutes. To finish, season and stir in the red-wine vinegar and orange blossom water. Serve on a bed of couscous with the parsley scattered over and a dollop of yoghurt on the side.

Quick banana bread

June 30, 2014

Melt and mix banana breadThe café world seems to be living on banana bread, but it is usefully so sweet and spongy it barely resembles the homemade variety. Here is a quick version that is worth the small effort. I usually add frozen blueberries or raspberries, pecans, walnuts or apricots. Bake it, slice and freeze. And then toast a slice and serve with a dollop of goat’s curd or thick yoghurt.

Quick melt and mix banana bread

375ml sour cream
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g unsalted butter, melted
2/3 – 1 cup caster sugar, or brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line two 10 x 18cm loaf tins with baking paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the sour cream and bicarbonate of soda, set aside for 5 minutes then stir in the melted butter, sugar and eggs. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Gradually fold in the sour cream mixture, followed by the bananas.

Pour the mixture equally into the prepared tins and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top.

Bake for approx 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Set aside and cool in tins for about 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Kale & sesame soba noodles

August 19, 2012

You’ll need:

  • A fresh bunch of kale roughly chopped
  • A clove of garlic (crushed)
  • Half a large chilli very finely sliced
  • Sesame oil
  • Toasted semi seeds (about 2 tbsp)
  • A pack of dry soba noodles
  • A few handfuls of finely chopped red cabbage
  • 4 tbsp of mirin
  • 4 tbsp of soy sauce

Cook the noodles as instructed on the packet, pour over a dash of sesame oil and set aside.

Fry the garlic and chilli in sesame oil for a few minutes, then add the kale. Stirfry for a few minutes, add water as needed.

Place the mirin, soy and sesame seeds in a large bowl and stir. Add in the noodles, kale mixture and cabbage. Stir through.

Pumpkin & Tahini Dip

May 6, 2012
tags: ,

Usually I can’t help tweaking recipes, but this one is perfect. We’ve made it about half a dozen times for parties and everyone always asks for the recipe. I’m putting it here so I can stop emailing to people all the time! Thanks Ottolenghi!

  • A large piece of jap pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 70g tahini paste
  • 120g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1½ tsp date syrup (or honey if you can’t find it)
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander

Chop the pumpkin and roast with the coriander and garlic. Allow to cool then put in the blender with the tahini and yoghurt. Blend until smooth(ish). Garnish with the coriander, sesame seeds and syrup/honey.

Spicy capsicum sauce (or salbitxada)

May 6, 2012

I don’t have a photo of this, so imagine something orange, saucy and delicious. We have taken to using this on just about anything – in pumpkin soup, in vegetable soup, on sandwiches, as a pasta sauce with goats cheese and as a base for pizza. There’s nothing it isn’t great on. 

  • 1 red capsicum
  • 2 red chillies
  • 5 garlic cloves, skin on
  • 40g toasted almonds
  • 4 tomatoes (I’ve found tinned actually makes a nicer richer sauce than fresh)
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1tsp salt or to taste
  • 2tsp olive oil
  • a few coriander leaves

Roast the capsicum, garlic and chillies then remove the skin. Blend the almonds until finely ground, then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. 

(Originally an Ottolenghi recipe, but with some modifications). 

Lamb & pea tagine with preserved lemon

July 3, 2011

Not really the best photo. It’s hard to get a good photo in my kitchen in winter.

You’ll need

  • 750g of diced lamb
  • some olive oil
  • brown onion (finely diced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp of harissa
  • 2 tsp of garam masala
  • 1 tsp of minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • a big handful of chopped coriander
  • a big handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp of za’atar
  • 1.5 preserved lemons (washed and thinly sliced)
  • 300g of peas
  • a little chopped mint
  • a dash of suger

To cook

Brown the lamb, then add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, turmeric and harissa, followed by two cups of water. Add some salt and pepper, za’atar and half the herbs. Cook at 180 degrees for about 2 hours (or until the lamb is super soft). Check every so often to make sure it hasn’t gotten too dry. If it has, keep topping it up with water.

When the lamb is soft, put it on the stove top on a low heat. Mine had become quite dry and I added another 1.5 cups of water. Add the peas, lemon, sugar and the rest of the herbs. Cook for about 10 minutes (gently), adding water until you get a good consistency (saucy but not runny). Season with salt and pepper.

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Adapted from a Tess Mallos book

Empanadas empanadas!

April 3, 2011

When we were in Barcelona we all fell in love with this little empanada shop down the street from where we were staying. For something like 1 Euro they sold these puffy little empanadas with eggplant and gherkins. Yes, gherkins. And they were delicious. In a fit of Sunday afternoon nostalgia we attempted a recreation.


You’ll need


  • 3 cups (450g / 1lb) plain flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 200ml of water
  • 1tsp white vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 80g butter
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • An extra egg, beaten (for brushing over the top)


  • about half a cup of roughly cut gherkins
  • 250ml of tomato puree
  • two eggplants (or one big one) roughly chopped
  • 5-6 button mushrooms quartered
  • handful of peas
  • half a brown onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 5 tsp of mango pickle (see picture below)
  • salt and pepper

After making them, we thought a bit of goats cheese wouldn’t go astray either.

To cook

Mix the pastry ingredients together and knead until smooth. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Fry the onion and garlic in some olive oil. Add the mushrooms and eggplant and keep frying. Once soft, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes until the eggplant is really soft. The mango pickle is critical, you can get it at Indian grocery stores and it looks like this:

Leave the mixture to cool until the pastry is ready.

To assemble, roll the pastry out until it’s half a cm thick and cut into rectangles (or you know, whatever shape you like). Place a little mixture to one side and fold over. Brush with the egg and bake at 180 degrees C until brown.

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Curry puffs for a winter’s day

Thai green mango salad

March 9, 2011
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A delicious salad courtesy of my sister… though I’m wondering where she gets mangoes in Germany.


This salad is my favourite breakfast on truly hot, baking, blistering summer days – the proper kind of summer, 40 degrees plus, 0% humidity and absolutely no chance of sleeping past about 8 o’clock.
It’s not summer over here in germany (not even close) but last weekend I spotted some mangos at 1 Euro each and grabbed one, even though they’d been flown in from Brazil or South Africa or some other hellishly far away land and were no doubt ridiculously ecologically unfriendly. I think I just needed something to remind me that spring was nearly here.

You’ll need

  • 1 large green or under-ripe mango2 cloves thinly sliced garlic garlic1 tbs sliced shallot
  • 1-2 fresh chillishandful crushed peanutsfinely
  • shredded spring onion
  • 4-5 cooked prawns or handful cooked crab meat (optional)


  • 1tbs fish sauce
  • 1.5-2 tbs lime juice
  • 1 tbs palm or brown sugar
  • fresh coriander, thai basil or sweet basil

* Europe doesn’t usually get the same varieties of mango as we do in Australia, and the ones I cook with over here actually tend to be very fibrous and tough when unripe. The flip side is that even when ripe, they’re much firmer, so stand up better to being sliced thinly. So I usually wait until they ripen before using them, which means I don’t get that same tart fruitiness you would with an authentic green mango salad – it has more of a mild, sweet, mellow flavour. But this recipe works either way!

To cook
– Crush the peanuts, if necessary, and set them in a pan on a low heat to toast. Remove and set aside once they’ve started to brown and release their oil.- heat a tablespoon of high-temperature vegetable oil and sautee the garlic and shallots until brown and crispy. Drain on paper.- Now shred the mango, or cut it as fine as equipment and skill will allow (not very, in my case). – shred a bulb or two of spring onion, finely slice the chillis and roughly chop the prawns or seafood (if you like that sort of thing). – mix everything except the fried garlic and shallots together in a bowl, with a good handful of coriander or thai basil (or in an emergency, I even use rocket)- make the dressing by mixing the fish sauce and lime juice together and allowing the brown sugar to dissolve in the mixture- pour the dressing over, and garnish with the crispy garlic, etc.


Cardamom cake

February 28, 2011

This cake here, this is not cardamom cake. This is sad cake. And yes, it looks quite sad in the photo. Sad cake came about when I tried to make Simon’s mum’s really fantastic cardamom cake, but failed because I used too much freshly ground cardamom. It’s sad cake, not just because we didn’t get to enjoy it, but because I made it with our new kitchen aid (thanks Ma) and I now feel like I’ve done the cake, the kitchen aid and Simon’s mum a disservice.

But, in the expert hands of Simon’s mum,  it is a fantastic cake. I think I may have accidentally added a bit more than a teaspoon of cardamom. I also ground up my own green cardamom seeds, perhaps I should have used black ones or pre-ground. So stick to the teaspoon, and avoid green seeds!

You’ll need

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla/almond essence
  • 3 cups of plain flour
  • 1 tsp bi carb
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon

To cook

Mix all the wet ingredients together in a mixer, sift the dry and then mix together. Bake at 180 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I had to turn the oven down to 150 after about 45mins as the top was getting quite brown.

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Earl grey tea cupcakes

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Beetroot & goats cheese salad with balsamic glaze

February 14, 2011


Oops! Yeah I disappeared. Getting married conspired with a moment of insanity upon which I promised to write half my PhD thesis in three months (for absolutely no good reason) and it all got a bit much, quite frankly. I’m back now, and here’s a salad I made.


You’ll need

  • Half a tin of beetroot or a couple of fresh beetroot peeled and roasted
  • 100ml of balsamic vinegar
  • a few big handfuls of rocket
  • a soft goats cheese of your liking (about 50 grams ripped up)

To cook

Simmer the balsamic vinegar until it has reduced by 50% and is slightly sticky. Arrange the rest of the salad then top with the glaze (after it has cooled a little) and some cracked pepper.


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Blue cheese and lentil salad

Butter beans with sumac and rocket

Spiced shankleesh and bulgar salad