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
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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.


Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta Recipe

Calamari Tomato & Basil

I’ve been enjoying the summer weather lately, and been loving the entertainment opportunities that presents too. When I have guests though, I like having pre-prepared, or quick to prepare meals as I don’t like spending ages in the kitchen! That’s just one of the reasons I really enjoy this Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta: it’s easy to prepare before hand, leaving just 10 minutes cooking time required.Calamari Tomato & Basil

I prefer to use fresh pasta when pasta is the main part of the meal, so I’ve used fresh pasta in this recipe. Dry pasta works, but needs to be cooked for longer. It can also be served in a salad, or with quinoa or other starch of your choice.

Use a good quality squid for this recipe too – nothing worse than leathery calamari!

Now, if you want to prepare this meal for later cooking, chop the garlic cloves, wash and dry the cherry tomatoes – halve them if they are the larger variety – wash the squid, clean it and cut it into rings, and chop the basil leaves roughly. Store all the items in the fridge till about 20 minutes before you’re going to cook them, leaving it to warm to room temperature a little.

If your calamari loses a lot of liquid in the cooking, you can pour it out about before adding the cherry tomatoes.

Serve immediately – and if you’re having wine, Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta pairs really well with a dry white wine, like a Pinot Grigio – a wine I don’t normally like, but it works fantastically with this. Another alternative is Riesling.

Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta
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There's a lot of flexibility in this recipe, with room for adaptations to make it your favourite. You may not like anchovies, but don't miss them out as they really add to the flavour of this dish.
Serves: 4
  • Pasta for four people
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, washed and dried
  • 450g squid, cleaned and cut into rings
  • bunch cut basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  1. Prepare the pasta as per brand instructions. Set aside. (I bring 1000g water to boil in the Thermomix® - Varoma/8 mins/ speed 4 - then add the pasta in the internal steamer for 3 - 4 minutes / Varoma/speed 4)
  2. To a heated pan, add the oil, garlic and anchovy to a frying pan and heat till the anchovy sort of 'melts'.
  3. Add the squid and fry for 1 - 2 minutes, tossing them as you do.
  4. Next, add the cherry tomatoes and fry them for 3 - 4 minutes, till they begin to soften and leak juice - I prefer the cherry tomatoes to still have some bite to them, but it's personal choice, really!
  5. Test the squid to make sure it's nice and tender, then add the basil, salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with the pasta, or as a salad with green leaves.


Amazing Pumpkin Parmesan Dip

Pumpkin Parmesan Dip

Another fantastic centrepiece for a party, a pumpkin filled with Pumpkin Parmesan Dip looks great and is versatile for crackers and veggies alike. You can adjust the amount of parmesan, or even substitute for a cheese you prefer – I can’t imagine there’ll be too much difference to the end result.

Pumpkin Parmesan Dip

My kids are particularly antsy about raw garlic – they can pick it out of anything – so if you prefer, you can saute the garlic for three minutes at 100C. I only do that if I’m making it, especially for my children.

Pumpkin Parmesan DipI decided to put the dip into a bowl and hover the bowl inside the mouth of the pumpkin. I don’t know if that’s necessary or if you can just put it in the pumpkin, but I decided it would be easier in this instance to keep cool, and that the pumpkin itself was reusable for a number of days and other recipes if not. Also, if you’re particularly skilled at carving (I’m not!) a fake candle inside, under the dip could look very pretty too.

Pumpkin Parmesan Dip Recipe:

Amazing Pumpkin Parmesan Dip
Prep time
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To cook the pumpkin, add 400 - 500 g chopped raw pumpkin to the internal steamer. Fill water to the 1-litre mark. Thermomix® 15 minutes/Varoma/speed 4. Once finished, leave to drain and cool for a while before making the dip
Serves: 600g
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 50g parmesan
  • 100g cream cheese (I use full fat)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400 - 500g cooked pumpkin
Thermomix® Instructions
  1. Add 1 clove garlic 5 seconds/ speed 5
  2. Add parmesan 10 seconds/speed 10
  3. Add cream cheese, paprika, salt and cooked pumpkin 30 seconds/ speed 4
  4. Scrape down sides 1 minute/ speed 10
  5. Set aside to firm up again, and serve
Regular Instructions
  1. Finely chop the garlic, or crush it and add to a food processor
  2. Grate parmesan and add to the garlic.
  3. Add cream cheese, paprika,salt and cooked pumpkin
  4. Mix following your food processors instructions till it's all well blended and smooth.
  5. Set aside to firm up again, and serve.

Try these Halloween recipes too!

The cheese biscuits in the images are round versions of these cheese straws.


Pumpkin & Parmesan Soup

Pumpkin Parmesan Soup

Pumpkins in the UK have been a bit of an education for me. Where I grew up, pumpkins came in one size: big. And they had thick, hard-to-cut-through skin and bright, dark orange flesh, and tasted… well, like pumpkin. Here I find pumpkins come with thin skins, and light flesh that doesn’t taste like a whole lot of anything, so I normally try to mix some butternut squash in for a bigger hit of flavour if I’m making a soup.

Pumpkin Parmesan Soup

I think it may vary again in other places because I have read on US boards that they say the smaller pumpkins have more taste than the bigger ones, but this certainly isn’t my experience. In South Africa, we used to make pumpkin fritters, and they definitely were bright orange and tasted of pumpkin!Pumpkin Parmesan Soup

The smaller pumpkins are very easy to cut, though, and to scoop out, so they make a convenient soup bowl if you’re making this recipe for two – three people.
Pumpkin Parmesan Soup

I love fresh sage, lightly fried in butter to crumble over this, but I can’t always find fresh sage. Never mind. If you like chillies you can add some spice to this soup too, and if you have a bit of spare time, sautee an onion first and add it at the start with the rest of the ingredients. If you have fresh or homemade chicken stock, that’s even better than a stock cube too.


Pumpkin and Parmesan Soup
If you're able to find fresh sage, lightly fry the leaves in butter till the edges go brown, and sprinkle over the soup for a crunchy, tasty topping. 2
Serves: 3 servings
  • 700 - 800g Pumpkin or Butternut Squash, cut into cubes
  • 20 - 50g Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Chicken or Veggie Stock Cube
  • 250g Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Sage
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Granules (or 1 Fresh Clove of Garlic, crushed and sauteed)
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • Pepper to Taste
  1. Add everything except the pepper to the Thermomix® Bowl
  2. Put the MC in place, and hold it down while you liquidise - 30 seconds/ speed 10
  3. Turn the heat up to Varoma/15 mins/speed 3. Keep the MC in.
  4. When it's done, serve and top with pepper.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 419 Fat: 16 Carbohydrates: 55 Sugar: 19 Sodium: 3568 Protein: 26


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
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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

Deconstructed Butternut Squash Soup

Deconstructed Butternut Squash Soup

This soup came about because I really don’t like a chunky soup. Contrary to popular belief this isn’t because of the texture, but rather is because I get bored half way through a bowl of same tasting bite after bite. And by the time you’ve boiled your vegetables long enough to extract the flavour into the broth, every bite tastes the same.

I prefer a deconstructed soup. It’s still hearty, filling, healthy, but it looks much prettier since everything retains it’s colour and shape, and every bite is a mini-adventure.
Deconstructed Butternut Squash Soup

Take this soup for example. Butternut soup with lardons, sage and Grana Padano cheese.

The first bite has a little bit of lardon and a small sliver of sage. It’s tasty. The next bite,  has a hint of garlic, and a bit of onion along with the butternut, and tastes homey. The following spoon picks up a large piece of melted cheese, and the rich full flavour of Grana Padano accompanies the butternut down my throat. The next spoon hits a pocket of sage butter, and provides a whole other taste to any of the previous bites – and next it’s just a plain spoon of butternut, that almost cleanses your palet. And so it goes, on and on.

Grana Padano Butternut Squash Soup

Well, it works for me, and I hope you like it too!

For this soup I like to roast the butternut squash. While you can just go ahead and make it from an uncooked butternut squash, which gives it a fresh flavour, I find a roasted butternut squash has so much more depth to it. It’s definitely worth the extra 40 or so minutes.

Deconstructed Butternut Squash Soup
Prep time
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It may seem a little fiddly, but for this soup you need to roast the butternut squash. Once it's cooked, boil the soup for 15 minutes, while at the same time cooking the lardons and sage leaves for 10 minutes each. Slice up the cheese and everything should be ready at the same time.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 3 -4
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 1 Onion
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 30g butter
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 75g pasta
  • 140g bacon lardons
  • 50g Grana Padano shards
  • pepper to taste
  • olive oil to drizzle
  1. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Peel four garlic cloves and put them inside the hollowed out butternut squash.
  3. Drizzle a good quality olive oil over the butternut squash, place on an oven tray and bake at 200C for about 40 mins till it's soft all the way through. Set aside to cool slighly, then chop into rough chunks. If it's a young butternut squash you can keep the skin, but if it's older, discard.
In the Thermomix®
  1. Add the onion and baked garlic cloves to the Thermomix® and chop 3 seconds/speed 4.
  2. Cook for 3 minutes/100C/Speed 1
  3. Add the chicken stock and butternut squash, and cook 15 mins/speed 4
  4. Meanwhile in a pan, fry the bacon lardons until they are crispy, about 10 minutes.
  5. In another, smaller pan, melt 30g butter, and add the sage leaves. Gently fry for about 10 minutes on low heat until the butter is browned and the leaves are crispy.
  6. Thinly slice 'shards' of the Grana Padano cheese.
  7. To serve, dish up the soup, making sure to get some pasta in each bowl and sprinkle cheese over. On the side, serve lardons, additional cheese chards and the sage leaves.
  8. Drizzle the sage butter over the butternut squash soup, and serve.
Regular Instructions
  1. Chop and slice the onions and garlic, and saute for about 10 mins in suitable suit pot, till translucent.
  2. Add the chicken stock and butternut squash, and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Meanwhile in a pan, fry the bacon lardons until they are crispy, about 10 minutes.
  4. In another, smaller pan, melt 30g butter, and add the sage leaves. Gently fry for about 10 minutes on low heat until the butter is browned and the leaves are crispy.
  5. Thinly slice 'shards' of the Grana Padano cheese.
  6. To serve, dish up the soup, making sure to get some pasta in each bowl and sprinkle cheese over. On the side, serve lardons, additional cheese chards and the sage leaves.
  7. Drizzle the sage butter over the butternut squash soup, and serve.