Tag Archives: Cardamom

What is a Brownie? – A Recipe

What is a Brownie?

Young girl that achieves things and then gets badges, normally on a Wednesday evening giving Mummy and Daddy alone time to [as William Smith of Fresh Prince and Wild Wild West fame once sang] get jiggy with it.

No. Not what I was talking about.

Erm. Jamaican Batty Boy? uh-huh. Oh ok. You must mean the old Eastman Kodak cameras lovingly referred to as Brownies then. Nope sorry wrong again.

Right I have it, you mean a Gaelic mischevious fairy also know as an urisk. Do I win anything?

No prize for losers sorry.

Oh. I give up.

This is a food blog, remember? I’m talking about the cake type thing, small square and chocolatey…

I’m assuming that when they had their tea party in Boston, Mass. they served some brownies, as it is one of the earliest recorded places to have a recipe for this somewhat dense and chocolatey cake. There are COUNTLESS recipes and versions for Brownies – I have three that I like. My favourite is closer to what seems to be a more original recipe – using molasses sugar.

It is a complicated beast – The Brownie – somewhere between a cake, pudding, chocolate bar and a ….well cake again, it can be mucked around with and be very handy for many different situations. In my book it should always be sticky and have a crisp outside. Those are the two essential qualities, the rest is up to you – chocolate chunks, nuts, fruit or my personal fave –  marshmallow

I like to make mine in a loaf tin and a bit thick then slice them thickly so you get a nice gooey middle and a good amount of crisp outside.

I have just made a batch and sent them over to @MathildeCuisine for a tasting, one where she will no doubt be quite sick of brownies forever.


200gms Molasses Sugar (Billingtons does the best sugars)

100gms Golden Caster Sugar

225gms Butter

225gms Plain Flour

200gms Plain Chocolate

1tsp Vanilla Essence

1tbs Cocoa Powder

1tsp ground Cardamom

1/2 tsp sea salt flakes

Handful Pecans

Handful Marshmallows

Handful Sour Cherries


In a large bowl, cream together the molasses sugar and the butter, till light and soft. You may find that not all the sugar incorporates itself, don’t worry a few lumps are good in this case.

Take the chocolate and break it into pieces and add the sugar and butter mixture in a bain-marie. Melt it all together and then cool.

Take the eggs, the remaining sugar and the vanilla essence and beat till light and frothy (about 5-6 minutes) then fold in the sifted flour, baking powder, cocoa, salt and cardamom – then the chocolate mixture – do not overwork – if there is a lump or two don’t sweat.

Chop up the Cherries, Mallows and pecans and fold into the mix.

Line a loaf tin (or two!) – or just butter and dust with cocoa – and bake at 180c for about 35mins.

Take out and cool on a rack. When cool discard the ends (or just eat them yourself) and slice about 2 inches thick.

Eat cold or warm through and dollop on some ice cream or yoghurt.

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Curried Lamb Mince (Keema) and Butternut Squash – A Recipe

I should really come up with a better name for this dish. The end result does not look that pretty so at least the name should have some pizazz. I will have a think, but I will come round and make it at your house if you can come up with a better one than me – mail me

I went on a bit of post-Christmas shop yesterday and found my self with lots of Lamb Mince. The first thing I wanted to make was Shepherd’s Pie, I love it and have not made it for quite a while – however the Mrs is not a fan of potatoes and tonight is an evening devoted to making her happy.

Keema – Indian Lamb Mince and thoroughly good for you. It is a staple at WNC, seeing as today is a Wednesday I thought it would be a good idea. I had a squash sitting there all-lonely-like and to decided to pop some in. It adds a little bit of colour and a soft texture to the mince, which can be quite monotonous. I usually add some peas as well right at the end. The mix if made a little drier is perfect for samosas.

Curried Lamb Mince and Butternut Squash

500g Lamb Mince

200g Butternut Squash

2 Tomatoes

1 Large onion

2-3 Cloves of Garlic

2 inches of ginger

2 Green Chillies

1tbs Cumin Powder

1tsp Cumin Seeds

1tbs Coriander Powder

1/2 tsp Coriander Seeds

2 Cloves

2 Cardamom Pods

1 Small Stick of Mace

4 Black Peppercorns


Thinly slice the onion and fry in a large deep frying pan till soft and just turning golden. Add the pasted ginger, garlic and chilli. Fry for a minute till they are cooked through. Add all the spices and fry till the smells start to come out of the pan. Add the meat, tomatoes and the squash. Mix everything together on an high heat and brown the meat.

Once the meat has broken down and is brown at enough water to cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Serve in pitta breads or on rice.

Garlic Confit - Curried Lamb Mince and Butternut Squash

What shall we call you?


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Late Night Chai – A Recipe

As I left the in-laws on Boxing Day, a VHS sized package of foil (amongst other food based items) was shoved into a Sainsbury’s bag for life. When the various leftovers were unpacked the ‘Video’ was not a classic film but a chunk of Christmas cake.

The Mother in-law is a master baker. Our wedding cake was VERY pretty and moist, in addition to the actual cake there were also little boxes with a chocolate cake inside. The Christmas cake was icing and marzipan-less and very fruity. Light enough to actually be eaten and not consigned to an old biscuit tin for the month of January and then fed to the birds.

After the cinema last night the Mrs needed a cup of something hot and a bit of cake, mainly to counteract the unsatisfying ‘return to form’ of the Coen Brothers new release, A Serious man. We were out of fresh mint and had no more fresh ginger either (I must do some shopping) and so I thought I would make a variation of my Masala Chai. Traditionally Masala Chai is sweet and rich, so not the ideal thing to have before bed, especially with the old stomach problems.

I have a constant supply of Black tea from Nilgiri in the house and I always use it for Chai as it is perfect, big rolled leaves, none of this dusty rubbish you get from the big manufacturers. If you can get some real tea use it, otherwise use a good Assam varietal or blend. As it was a late/lighter alternative I thought it best to use the milk of the devil, Semi-Skimmed, and to use a little less sugar but a bit more spice. The cumin makes it ever so savoury and a totally different drink. It works very well with Christmas cake and as a bedtime soother.

Late Night Chai

A good handful of Black Tea leaves

500ml water

250 ml Semi Skimmed Milk

12 Cardamom pods

1/4 nutmeg

6 Cloves

6 Black Peppercorns

A pinch of Cumin Seeds

2tbs of Brown Sugar

Peel of half a clementine


Pop all the ingredients except the milk in a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15mins. Pop in the milk bring back to the boil, Strain to serve.

spicy tea

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Mutton Curry – I said MUTTON – just in case you could not hear me… A Recipe

To those who are well versed in cockney rhyming slang you will know that : Mutton = Deaf.  All related to an old british cartoon duo called Mutt and Jeff.

What has that got to do with the price of meat? Well, I am always hard of hearing when I am in the butchers because I never hear the them trying to sell me mutton. I always get sidetracked and pick up some lamb and forget to grab me some mutton.

I have been feeling ill of late, nothing serious, just the usual. This means that I had been struggling to get everything done during the day, the weekly online delivery was missed and I had not been out to the local shops either. I opened the fridge and t’was bare. I could have made a very simple dinner of roasted sweet peppers and baby tomatoes on toasted pitta with a side salad of basil, coriander, mint and pickled lemons, but I thought that was a Fridge Challenge too far.

I popped across the road to Al Hayat a melange of cornershop, butcher(halal), greengrocer and all things middle eastern. It is a genius last minute life saver, and anyone that live  in the general vacinity of one of these will know how great they are.

The fruit and veg is of great quality and they had some big juicy aubergines, so I grabbed one. Inside they had tons of chicken wings, lamb neck, brains, liver – in fact most things you can think of. Seeing as it was still early-ish and he had one chunk left, I took the mutton. I had no idea what I was going to do with it and as I wanted to eat in the not too distant future I got out of there quick.

I stood in the kitchen for a few minutes and had a think abut what to make. I chopped the muttton up into bite sized chinks and did the same with half of the aubergine. I did this without any real thought of what was coming….but i know it was going to be curry. I have been making curry since before I could walk (that may be due to being Indian) and whenever I have no brain space or am in need of comforting ,out comes the Ginger, Garlic and Chilli.

Mutton and Aubergine Curry

350 g Mutton (whatever cut you prefer, leg for me)

Half a Large Aubergine

3 tbs Yellow Split Peas (Chana Dhal)

1 onion

1 tbs chopped ginger

1tbs chopped garlic

2 green chillis (small, hot ones – the supermarkets call them finger chilis)

Big Handful of baby Tomatoes

1 tsp cumin seeds

1tbs cumin powder

1tbs coriander powder

1/2tsp turmeric

1tsp salt

small stick of mace

2 green cardamom pods

6 black peppercorns

Handful fresh coriander


Thinly slice the onion and fry it till good and golden in a sucepan. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and when they are toasted  – add the rest of the spices (except the salt and fresh coriander) . Chop the aubergine and the mutton into bite size chinks and add to the spiced inion mix. Whack up the heat and brown everything and mix well.

You should get a great smell coming out of the pan. Add the baby tomatoes (halved) and the lentils and incorporate on a high heat. Add double the amount of water needed to cover the contents of the pan.

Leave simmering for just under two hours – check it every half hour an if needed add a little water. By the end, all the water should have evaporated and made the mutton nice and soft; You should end up with the aubergine pieces breaking down to form a very thick sweet sauce.  It should look like this:


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Masala Chai – A Recipe

It got cold today. The morning cup of tea did not really cut it, and the stomach issues mean that coffee is off the agenda for a while. There is only one thing for it – Masala Chai.

There are literally hundreds of recipes for Masala Chai, The Kashmiris make it with gunpowder tea, the east of India don’t use black pepper the Southerners sometimes add rose petals. I have experimented many many times and tasted many many cups of chai. I think that Star Anise is  a little overpowering even in small amounts, the sugar should always be brown and soft, I always use Jaggery if I can (unrefined sugar) and for special occasions I finish it off with some condensed milk for a little extra richness and sweetness.

Masala Chai

An handful of Black tea (I use Nilgiri)

600 ml water

300 ml Full fat milk

Rind of half an orange (or all the skin of a satsuma)

Stick of Cinnamon

14 Cardamom Pods

8 Black Pepper corns

6 Cloves

1/2 a Nutmeg

1/2 an inch of Fresh Ginger

3 heaped tbs Jaggery (or soft brown sugar)

3tbs Condensed milk (optional)


Put all the ingredients, except the milk (and the condensed if using) in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the het down and simmer for 10-15 minutes. you can leave it for longer if you wish, don’t do it for over an hour or the tannins in the tea tend to get a little bitter.

Add the milk (condensed as well if using) and then bring back to the boil.

Taste for sugar and add a little more if needed. Then put into a teapot and serve using a tea strainer, or pop it in a cafetière and plunge.

spicy tea

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