Brilliant Beetroot Biriyani

Beetroot Biriyani

Despite being someone who has never been a huge fan of Indian food, I’m a total convert to this biriyani. Just sitting here writing up this recipe, my mouth is watering and I’m wondering where I could pick up more fresh beetroot on my travels today. I’m sure the family won’t mind eating the same thing again either!Beetroot Biriyani

Cook time is quite long because the beetroot needs to be roasted first, and then rice has to boil, but the hands’ on time is pretty quick, so  you have time to be doing other things in between too. Like prepare the sautéed beet greens to have on the side.Beetroot Biriyani

It’s a great ‘everyone tuck in meal’ and it turned out to be one of those where the pots were scraped clean!

This is a brilliant recipe – quite possibly my favourite beetroot or biriyani recipe – but if you need more beetroot recipes, click here!

Brilliant Beetroot Biriyani
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dinner, Mains
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 5
  • 500g raw beetroot, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • seeds from 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 250g basmati rice
  • 500ml veg stock
  • 100ml plain or Greek yogurt
  • small bunch of coriander or parsley
  • Mango chutney (to serve) (optional)
  • Sautéed beet greens (to serve)
  1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Drizzle oil over the beetroot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then tip into a roasting dish and cook for 25-30 mins or until tender.
  2. While the beetroot is cooking, heat the remaining oil in a deep frying pan (or a wok) with a lid.
  3. Fry the onion over a medium heat until golden.
  4. Add the ginger and half the garlic, and cook for 1 min.
  5. Stir through the bay, cardamom seeds, turmeric and garam masala, then cook for 2 mins.
  6. Stir in the rice and beetroot.
  7. Pour in the stock and place a fitting lid on the pot
  8. Boil for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye on to make sure it doesn't dry out or burn to the bottom of the pan.
  9. Put the remaining garlic in a food processor and whizz, then add the yoghurt till it's well blended. Set aside.
  10. Remove rice from heat and stir through.
  11. Season to taste and serve.


Chicken Broth Stellette Soup

Chicken Stellette Soup

I’ve been struggling with a winter cold for weeks now and while I’m normally an ‘it will pass’ kind of sick person, I’m about at the end of my tether with this particular cold, so it’s definitely time to dig out the big guns – in this case a chicken broth stellette soup.

The chicken in this recipe is already cooked, left over from Sunday lunch and it’s worth mentioning that the ratios of the spring onions, mushrooms, chicken and pasta can vary. It won’t hugely affect the end result, and it’s better than leaving a random mushroom alone in the punnet in the fridge!
Chicken Broth Stellette Soup

Mushrooms are great for colds and flues apparently, containing cytokines that play an important role in defending the body against viral infections and tumours and help boost the immune system. And I’ve read conflicting advice about the consumption of mushrooms, but it seems that in order to get the most nutrition from them, they must be cooked otherwise they’re undigestable.

According to Chinese medicine, spring onion is good for expelling a winter cold, especially if consumed within the first two days of the cold.

Parsley has high levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, and betacarotene that boosts the immune system of the body and protects it from colds, cough, and other infections.

Chicken is rich in a compound called carnosine, and it’s this that studies suggest helps reduce that stuffy, congested feeling in your nose and throat.

I also like using Stellette or Stelline pasta as they are small and don’t require much chewing and small enough to swallow (great when you have a sore throat) and then they are kind of pretty too!

I might try adding ginger and garlic next time too, not only because of the health benefits but because they might add a little extra flavour kick at a time when you can’t taste much!



Chicken Stellette Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup, Broth
Serves: 2 cups
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1-2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shredded chicken breast
  • ½ cup stellette soup pasta
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 3-5 stalks fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the chicken stock and bay leaf in the Thermomix® and heat Varoma/Speed 2/ 2 minutes/Reverse Speed
  2. Add the spring onions, the mushrooms and pasta to the pot and cook Varoma/Speed 2/5 minutes/Reverse Speed
  3. Add dry white wine & parsley and cook for a further 2 minutes/Varoma/Speed 2/Reverse
  4. Remove the bay leaf, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Regular instructions
  1. Place the chicken broth and bay leaf in a pot and bring to the boil
  2. Add the spring onions, the mushrooms and pasta to the pot and boil for 8 minutes
  3. Add dry white wine & parsley and boil for another 3 minutes
  4. Remove the bay leaf, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Click here for more soup recipes

Click here for more recipes containing broth


Slowcooked Chicken & Tomato Stuffed Pepper

Stuffed Pepper

Temperatures are dropping and the days are becoming shorter, so for us, it means the slow cooker has come out of the dark depths of the cupboard. We’re trying out a variety of savoury dishes for Halloween, a season not normally known for its savoury foods, but I want to have some options available, at least! Stuffed Pepper

For this recipe, I’ve used yellow peppers. I didn’t realise until I was cleaning them out that one of the peppers only had two humps on the apex, rather than three, which meant it couldn’t stand on its own. Undeterred, I just cut a small layer off, not so much that the bottom of the pepper was opened up – just enough to make it stand up straight.
Stuffed Pepper

Cutting faces in a pepper is a whole lot easier than it is on a pumpkin. Simply use a sharp knife and carefully pop the cutout parts out. Stuffed Pepper

You can use any filling you like, really. I’ve used a chicken and tomato one. If you want to stretch this meal, add some rice or couscous to the pepper. Alternatively, serve each pepper on a bed of rice. I didn’t bother in this particular meal. Stuffed Pepper

Once stuffed, I felt the peppers could use a bit of help to stand out a little, so I used a finger to pop some homemade tomato sauce into the eyes and mouths of the peppers.

Stuffed Pepper

I love the way the chicken and tomato looks a bit like brains, topping off the Halloween face. It’s simple, and quite effortless and very tasty!

Slow Cooked Chicken and Tomato Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Slow cooked Chicken & Tomato Stuffed Pepper
Serves: 4
  • 500g skinless, boneless chicken
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 30ml (2tbs) dark soy sauce
  • 15ml (1tbs) balsamic vinegar
  • 5ml (1tsp) dried or fresh chopped rosemary
  • 5ml (1tsp) salt
  • 5 fresh tomatoes
  • 4 yellow peppers
  • For Halloween Faces, you'll also need a little tomato sauce
  • Serve with rice or other grain if you are so inclined.
  1. Turn a slow cooker on low for 6 hours
  2. Add chicken, canned tomatoes, soy sauce, vinegar, rosemary and salt , put the lid in place.
  3. With an hour to go, add the fresh tomatoes
  4. With 30 minutes to go, remove the lid so the sauce can thicken a little
  5. After six hours, cut the top off the peppers and remove the seeds. (If you're making Halloween faces, do that now too)
  6. Stuff the pepper, and using a clean spoon or finger, fill the eyes and mouth with tomato sauce.

Find more Halloween recipes here

Shredded Slowcooked Lamb And Mushroom #LivePeasant

Slow cooked lamb and mushroom

Red-TractorHave you ever seen the Red Tractor symbol when you buy meat and wondered what it’s for? Well,  the Red Tractor is a sign signifying that the lamb and beef you’re looking at is Quality Assured. “All beef and lamb carrying the Mark is chosen according to a strict selection process to ensure it is succulent and tender.”

The Quality Standard Mark also tells you where your beef and lamb is from with the St George’s flag indicating meat from an animal born, raised and slaughtered in England or if it is born in Scotland or Wales, it will carry the Union flag.

Red Tractor Beef and Lamb have set us a challenge to create a lamb or beef slow-cooked ‘peasant’ meal that is perfect for busy families.

Here’s what they have to say:

Red Tractor Beef & Lamb has launched a campaign to celebrate the peasant food trend, and inspire families to rediscover traditional cooking techniques, from around the world that are simple, warming and hearty.

With the launch of the #LivePeasant challenge, we want families to reclaim traditional cooking and let the oven or slow cooker do all the work. Using inexpensive cuts of beef and lamb, which are perfect for slow-cooking, dishes can be prepared in advance and left to cook so that delicious, melt-in-the-mouth home-cooked meals are ready and waiting when you are. So take a little time to discover the peasant food trend and enjoy the benefits of a meal with less haste more taste!

I decided on a lamb dish as we don’t often eat lamb, because I always think of lamb as quite expensive, but when I looked at the prices of the slow-cooking lamb shoulder, it worked out at less than £10 for almost 2kg, which seems fairly reasonable – especially since 2kg of lamb is enough for at least 4 meals for our family (1 adult, 2 children).

While I put this meal on in the slowcooker we were able to go about our day – a trip to the park, some grocery shopping, and a quick coffee with friends. Back home, we made rice, and dinner was ready to eat by the time the kids were in their pyjamas.  That’s really the beauty of slow cooked meals. Not only can you use cheaper cuts of meat than you normally might, but they require very little effort. If you have reluctant veggie eaters you can also do a puree of veggies to add to the stock, but I didn’t do that this time (we are moving house this week, so we’ve stopped the veggie box delivery!) Slow cooked lamb and mushroom

For this challenge we had to make something along the theme of ‘peasant food’, which Google describes as dishes specific to a particular culture, made from accessible and inexpensive ingredients, and usually prepared and spiced to make them more palatable. This recipe turned out amazingly well. I actually think it’s one of the most flavourful dishes I’ve made to date, so that part of the brief was achieved, no doubt!

To make this meal you will need:

  • 2kg shoulder of lamb
  • dash of olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 500ml stock
  • 20ml (1 tablespoon) Nam Pla (fish sauce)
  • 1 orange (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh rosemary and thyme – two sprigs each, roughly
  • 2 tbs (about 40ml) corn starch/corn flour
  • 200g chestnut mushroom (or your preferred mushrooms)

You can add as many other seasonal vegetables as you like, really, including potato, courgette or pumpkin, but if I add visible vegetables my youngest won’t eat it, so I generally just steam them and add them on the side. It’ll be hard to get it ‘wrong’ though, so play around with it!

Firstly, heat a frying pan and drizzle a little oil. Place the meat in the pan and cook for about two minutes on each side.Slow cooked lamb and mushroom
Meanwhile, slice onion and place in the crockpot or slowcooker.

Move the meat and any resulting juices into the slowcooker.Slow cooked lamb and mushroom

Make up 500ml stock, then add the juice of one orange, Nam Pla and salt and pepper to your taste. Pour over the meat. Place the lid on, and set on high for 3 – 4 hours (or low for 6 – 8 hours, depending on your slowcooker), and top with the sprigs of herbs. Nam Pla is a fish sauce but it just does something special to meat. If you’ve never tried it, you really should. It brings out the flavour in the most fantastic way.Slow cooked lamb and mushroom

After this time the meat should be falling off the bones, if there are any. Just scoop out the bones, and using a slotted spoon remove the meat.Slow cooked lamb and mushroom

In a separate bowl, add the corn flour, then add a tablespoon of the stock to form a paste, then another two or three tablespoons of stock to make it runny and pour it into the crockpot, on high, and leave it for another hour, adding the chopped mushroom at this point, and make sure to leave the lid off (if you don’t have an hour, pour the paste with the rest of the stock into a stove top pot on low heat and stir until thickened.)

While the gravy is thickening, either roughly chop or shred the lamb – you can do it easily in a food processor on low speed, the meat should be tender enough to just come apart.

Mix the meat back in with the gravy and cook the rice.

Slow cooked lamb and mushroom

Serve topped with fresh herbs, salt and pepper.

Shredded Slowcooked Lamb And Mushroom #LivePeasant
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8 -12 servings
  • 2kg shoulder of lamb
  • dash of olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 500ml stock
  • 20ml (1 tablespoon) Nam Pla (fish sauce)
  • 1 orange (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh rosemary and thyme - two sprigs each, roughly
  • 2 tbs (about 40ml) corn starch/corn flour
  • 200g chestnut mushroom (or your preferred mushrooms)
  1. Heat a frying pan, and drizzle some olive oil
  2. Add the lamb and fry for about 2 minutes on each side to brown
  3. In the meantime, thinly slice the onions and prepare the stock
  4. You can use a prepared stock, or stock cube, or a home made one, whichever you prefer, but make it up to 500ml, then add the juice of an orange, the Nam Plah and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Move the onions and meat into the slowcooker or crock pot, pour over the prepared stock, and add the chopped herbs
  6. Cook on high for 4 hours
  7. Remove the meat - at this point it should be falling off the bones, if there are any
  8. In a separate bowl, mix the corn flour with a tablespoon of the stock to form a paste, then another two or three tablespoons of stock to make it runny, then pour it into the crockpot, still on high, and leave it for another hour, adding the mushrooms at this point, and make sure to leave the lid off (alternatively make a gravy in the way you 'normally' would.)
  9. While the gravy is thickening, shred the meat with a fork, or in a food processor on low speed normally works well too, then add it back into the crockpot till you reach the right level of sauciness.

If you have any left overs you can use them in wraps too. I chopped some locally grown tomatoes and lettuce for our day after lamb, wrapped them in flatbreads and had a fresh, crunchy and perfectly summery lunch.

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post. Opinions expressed are my own.

Welsh Beef Hotpot (Slowcooker)

Welsh Beef Hotpot

Growing up in South Africa, I took for granted that meat was meat. We seemed to always have good meat, when we had meat. Moving to England we found the quality of the meat… less than satisfactory. We’d often have a good meal – even in a restaurant – and comment that the meat was the weakest component of the meal.Welsh Beef Hotpot

It was only a few years later when I got our first organic meat box that I remembered what good meat tastes like – and more recently was introduced to Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, and it’s restored my faith in the yumness of meat.

To create this recipe we were sent a huge piece of Welsh Silverside Beef – probably the biggest I have ever cooked at one time and rather than roasting it, I wanted to do something to make it stretch over a few meals , so I seared the beef, and chopped it into cubes. This may sound like a waste of a perfect piece of meat, but it wasn’t. It was so worth it.

After mixing a few sauces and stock together – see the recipe – I left the meat to slow cook for 6 hours before adding mixed root vegetable.

We ate one round of this delicious Welsh Beef Hotpot immediately, and froze two more meals (two meals of three serves). The smaller portion was mixed with risotto rice to make a deliciously flavoured risotto, and the larger portion was put inside a giant Yorkshire pudding which makes a fantastic meal.

Welsh Beef Hotpot
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 10
  • 1kg Silverside Welsh beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1kg mixed root vegi
  • 400ml red wine
  • 100ml dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 500ml beef or veg stock
  • 2 tbs corn flour
  • Dash of oil
  1. Add oil to a frying pan, along with the onion and sear each side of the meat about 2 - 3 minutes per side. Chop a mixture of root veg into chunks
  2. Move it into a slowcooker
  3. In a different dish, stir together the red wine, soy sauce, sugar and stock and pour over the meat.
  4. Add the vegetables and cook on low heat for 6 hours
  5. Before serving, pour the stock into a saucepan. Put two tablespoons of corn flour and 4 tablespoons of stock together in a bowl and mix it together to make a paste. Add more tablespoons of stock till it forms a runny liquid and there are no lumps then pour it into the saucepan with the rest of the stock. Leave for about 10 minutes till it thickens up then add the meat back in
  6. Serve with rice, Yorkshire puddings or other sweet breads


South African Lamb Bunny Chow

Well, that’s a mouth full, isn’t it? And for those who don’t know, don’t worry – no bunnies are harmed in the making of this South African Lamb Bunny Chow curry. Why it’s called a bunnychow I couldn’t tell you, but since it’s #NationaCurryWeek, I wanted to share a delicious curry recipe with you, made with succulent, tender Welsh lamb.

When I decided I was going to make a bunny chow for my #NationalCurryWeek contribution, I Googled Bunny chow recipes, and one of the first that came to my attention was this one, from my countryman Jeanne from Cooksister, on whose blog you can also read all about the origins and intricacies of this street food dish, while Lavender & Lovage has a different origin story with her chicken bunny recipe here.

Lamb Bunny Chow

One thing I know for sure about curries is that everyone’s tastes differ, even within our own family, so I’ve made a few adaptations, and Thermified the recipe too.

I would definitely recommend that you start this dish off by making your own Garam Masala. I think a fresh batch makes all the difference.  Adjust the curry depending on how hot you like it – I feed two small children, so we don’t make it hot at all. You can even add chillies.

Traditionally you would use a square unsliced bread for the ‘bowl’, but we use whatever bread we have. In the photos we’ve used French bread sticks for smaller meals, and individual giant rolls for bigger meals. I don’t think the bread matters too much, in reality.

If memory serves, you can make a bunny with chicken, lamb, pork or rabbit, as well as beans or root vegetables.

South African (Welsh) Lamb Bunny Chow
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The amount of curry you use in this will depend on how hot you like it. I feed two small children so we only add just about a teaspoon, but you can add more or less. My dad also adds chillies from his garden.
Recipe type: Curry
Cuisine: South African, Street Food
Serves: 4 servings
  • 10g ginger
  • 10g garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 15g vegetable oil
  • 5 - 20g curry powder, depending on how hot you like it
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 green cardamom pods, seeded
  • 5g ground turmeric
  • 200g water
  • 1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3-4 potatoes (1 per person, basically)
  • 1kg lamb, cubed
  • 15g Garam Masala
  • Salt
  • a small loaf of bread per 2 people
  • Fresh coriander
  1. Lightly brown lamb on the hob if you like
  2. Dice the lamb and the potatoes
  3. Add garlic and ginger to the Thermomix® bowl 10 seconds/ speed 5
  4. Add onion 5 seconds/speed 4
  5. Add 15g vegetable oil and sauté 3 mins/90C/speed 2
  6. Add the curry powder, cinnamon, cardamom pods, and turmeric and saute for a further 1 min/90C/speed 2
  7. Add tomato, water and potatoes and cook for 20 mins/Varoma/REVERSE speed 2
  8. Add lamb and garam masala and cook for a further 10 mins/100C/ REVERSE speed 2
  9. While the curry is cooking, cut the bread in half, and scoop out the soft centre
  10. Butter it if you want to - this is contestable, some of our family swear by it, some say it's sacrilege
  11. When the curry is cooked, taste and season if required
  12. Scoop the curry into the hollowed out bread, scatter fresh coriander, and replace the bread on top
  13. Serve while still warm

The Welsh Lamb in this Lamb Bunny Chow was provided to me as part of a promotion to promote Welsh Lamb