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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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Fish tagine

Spicy pumpkin tagine

Lamb tagine with tomatoes and eggs (or labna)

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