Roast beetroot with labneh, nectarine and cumin

roast beetroot with labneh nectarine and cumin text

There is nothing that shouts out autumn to me more than beetroot. You might have gathered by now I’m ever so slightly addicted to this perfectly purple vegetable and I reckon the best way to eat it is simply roasted, when it goes all sticky and sweetly caramelised. Just delicious.

Roast beetroot is the predominant ingredient in this gloriously robust salad. It is inspired in part by a recipe by Tom Hunt’s from his brilliant cookbook The Natural Cook and also by a Riverford recipe which partners the roast beetroot with slices of nectarine, which is just the most brilliant pairing. Continue reading “Roast beetroot with labneh, nectarine and cumin”

The Spice Trail: cumin round-up

spice trail badge long

It’s always so much fun deciding on a spice-theme for this challenge, and then sitting back and waiting for the entries to drop into my inbox. And last month in particular was a very exciting month, providing an awesome list of delicious cumin dishes to work my way through in the weeks ahead.

So if you’re up for a little cumin-based culinary inspiration, let’s take a look through those entries…


After hosting a brilliant vanilla-themed Spice Trail challenge back in May, Solange from Pebble Soup was quick off the mark with her gorgeously Crunchy Palak Paneer. I’m a big fan of paneer with spinach and this dish looks absolutely bursting with flavour, featuring lots of fresh ginger and garlic as well as a whole host of spices – including, of course, cumin.

potato and cumin curry
Next up we have Marwardi Aloo Pyaj ki Subji from Home Cook Food, which is a glorious Rajasthani style Potato and Onion Curry, and ideal served with puris, rotis or rice.
jamaican patty pie

I always love the way Seasonal Shaheen presents her food and these Jamaican Patty Pies are as pretty as a picture, and that pastry looks oh so good. They’re filled with summer vegetables and lightly spiced with cayenne, all-spice and of course cumin.

split white gram lentils

I try to use pulses as much as I can when I’m planning our meals as they’re such a cheap food and I think these Split White Gram Lentils from Home Cook Food might be appearing on one of our meal plans very soon. The spicing sounds absolutely heavenly.

mango curry

I’m intrigued by the idea of this Raw Mango Curry, a third entry from Home Cook Food, as it’s a dish I haven’t come across before. It sounds to me like a cross between a curry and a chutney and it sounds absolutely bursting with flavour. Definitely one to bookmark!


This dish of Cumin-roasted Beetroot and Chickpeas from Helen at Family-Friends-Food is exactly the kind of dish I like to experiment on my family with. And just like Helen, I’m likely to get a pretty mixed reaction. I think it looks absolutely delicious and I reckon my oldest would gobble it up, although I’m not so sure my youngest and my husband would be quite so keen. But the important thing is we keep experimenting and pushing their taste boundaries! I’ll certainly be giving this one a go.

toor dal curry

This Toor Dal Curry with Spinach from Janet at The Taste Space looks like such a healthy, hearty dish, and a beautiful combination of textures and flavours. And as ever, Janet’s photography is simply stunning.

I’ve only just discovered On The Flavour Road, a blog by Italian Ema who now lives in Sydney, Australia, but I know I’m going to be a frequent visitor. Ema has entered her Lamb & Eggplant Light Curry into this month’s cumin challenge, which is made using a curry-infused macadamia oil and served on coconut mashed potatoes. A very unusual dish and one I must try soon; I’m very curious to taste mashed potatoes with coconut milk!

Louisa from Eat Your Veg is a master at encouraging children to eat their greens, and her Feta & Courgette Fritters  are another wonderful example. She serves them with a yoghurt, mint and cumin dip, which sounds just gorgeous and I’m intrigued by her suggestion that you can also serve the dip with strawberries. That’s just got to be tried!

vegetable and chickpea tagine
Next up we have a gloriously vibrant and wonderfully healthy Vegetable & Chickpea Tagine from We Don’t Eat Anything With a Face. Piled high with tasty veggies and an array of herbs and spices, you know this dish is going to do you good as well as tasting good.

chicken satay
It’s the season for barbecues and my Chicken Satay  take just minutes to cook over the hot coals. They’re served with a delicious coconut rice that’s oh so easy to make, and an incredibly moreish peanut sauce.

Lamb with aubergine is one of my all-time favourite combinations and so I was thrilled when I saw this next entry appear in my inbox. It’s a Mint-Cumin Roast Lamb with Moutabal from the extremely talented Lass in the Apron. The lamb looks incredible tender, while I adore the sound of the nutty, earthy moutabal, a Lebanese puree of roasted eggplant (aubergine) with tahini, garlic, and lemon.

spicy falafel
Falafel are always my food of choice when we’re at a summer festival, but do you know what? I’ve never actually made my own at home. Such a travesty! But I have no excuse now, as I think I have discovered the perfect recipe. Don’t these Fabulously Spicy Falafel from Cooking for Kishore look fantastic? Emily describes them as a great “throw together meal” and I can’t wait to throw some together myself!

Dips are extremely popular in our house and we always seem to have a bag of carrots to use up, so this Roasted Carrot Dip from Searching for Spice is an ideal recipe for me. Especially as it also features lots of tahini, one of my all-time favourite ingredients, and lots of lovely spices and garlic. Yum!

Another delicious looking entry next from Helen at Family–Friends–Food. Here are her Spice-roasted Butternut Squash and Halloumi Fajitas and I so want to reach into my hand into the screen and grab myself a wrap. Roasted squash is a simply magical food, and Helen has smothered hers in lots of cumin, cumin seeds, coriander, oregano, cayenne, lime zest and olive oil to really pack it full of flavour. And I love the fact any leftovers taste great cold the next day.

cumin crackers
Last up are these beautiful Cumin Seed Crackers from Lapin d’or and More, flavoured of course with cumin and taken to extra heights of crispness with the addition of semolina flour. We work our way through boxes and boxes of shop-bought crackers and I think it’s high time I had a go at making some of my own. I know exactly which recipe to start with!

And the winner is…

anjumSo there you have the cumin recipe round-up; an inspiring selection, don’t you think? But who will be crowned the cumin queen? (No entries from potential kings this month.) Who will win this month’s prize: Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian courtesy of Quadrille Publishing, a collection of 80 recipes from the fabulous Anjum Anand?

Well, the prize has to go to…

Helen at Family–Friends–Food for her Spice-roasted Butternut Squash and Halloumi Fajitas. We seem to be addicted to anything served in a wrap in the Bangers & Mash household and are on the lookout for new filling inspiration, and Helen’s spicy squash with halloumi is right up our street.

A copy of Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian will be on its way to you very soon, Helen. Congratulations!

And thank you so much to everyone that took part in the cumin challenge. July’s Spice Trail is well underway, and the theme this month is Summer Spice. You can choose any spices you like, just so long as your dish has a seasonal summery feel! The closing date is 29 July 2014.


The Spice Trail: cooking with cumin

cooking with cumin

Win a copy of Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian in this month’s challenge!

Thanks to Solange over at Pebble Soup for doing such a brilliant job hosting The Spice Trail in May. If you haven’t seen her Wow! Vanilla round-up yet, do pop over as there are some wonderful vanilla recipes all ready for bookmarking.

This month our featured spice is cumin, which just happens to be a particular favourite of mine and appears in so many of my dishes.

As usual, I defer to the Leon book of Ingredients & Recipes for a little background information on cumin seeds…

Cumin’s origins are thought to be in Eastern Europe and North Africa, where it was very well-loved in the cookery of antiquity, but it now grows rampantly all over Asia. As part of the intercontinental ingredient swap instigated by Colombus, the Spanish took it to the Mexicans, who loved it as one of their own. Cumin is of the parsley family, recognizable by its feathery leafery and umbels of whitish flowers – but it is definitely the bolder cousin with its easily overpowering flavour. That strong, warm aroma sits extremely well with pulses, fish, roast aubergines, grilled lamb, grains, and generally crosses borders and cuisines very easily.

So how do you like to use cumin in your cooking? I can’t wait to see  your ideas. And if the title of Spice Trail champion weren’t incentive enough, I have a fantastic prize for this month’s lucky winner: Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian, courtesy of Quadrille Publishing.


Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian is a collection of 80 recipes inspired by Indian flavours, showcasing Anjum’s evolving tastes with the use of surprising ingredients such as chorizo and ricotta.  Anjum shows you how to create a delicious meal in just 20 minutes, with tips on ‘cheat’ ingredients and hints on how to make cooking Indian at home as easy as possible. I rather like the sound of her Vietnamese crab spring rolls and quick masala dosas.

What are you waiting for? Getting cooking with cumin and share your dishes with The Spice Trail!

How to enter The Spice Trail

spice trail badge square

  • Display the The Spice Trail badge (above and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  • Up to three recipe links accepted per blogger, so long as they each feature cumin in the list of ingredients.
  • Feel free to link up recipe posts from your archive, but please add the information about this challenge to the post and The Spice Trail badge.
  • Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Monday 30 June 2014.
  • If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see.
  • As entries come in, links to these will be added to the bottom of this page.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a copy of Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian, courtesy of Quadrille Publishing.
  • The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries.
  • Entries from bloggers all around the world are accepted, but unfortunately the prize can only be shipped to a UK address.
  • All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board.

I’m really looking forward to seeing your delicious cumin dishes. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

June’s entries

  1. Crunchy Palak Paneer from Pebble Soup
  2. Potato and Onion Curry from Home Cook Food
  3. Jamaican Patty Pies from Seasonal Shaheen
  4. Split White Gram Lentils from Home Cook Food
  5. Raw Mango Curry from Home Cook Food
  6. Cumin-roasted Beetroot and Chickpeas from Family-Friends-Food
  7. Toor Dal Curry with Spinach from The Taste Space
  8. Lamb & Eggplant Light Curry from On The Flavor Road
  9. Feta & Courgette Fritters with a Greek Yogurt, Cumin & Mint Dip from Eat Your Veg
  10. Vegetable & Chickpea Tagine from We Don’t Eat Anything With a Face
  11. Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Coconut Rice from Bangers & Mash
  12. Mint-Cumin Roast Lamb with Moutabal from The Lass in the Apron
  13. Fabulously Spicy Falafel from Cooking for Kishore
  14. Roasted Carrot Dip from Searching for Spice
  15. Spice-roasted Butternut Squash and Halloumi Fajitas from Family – Friends – Food
  16. Cumin Seed Crackers from Lapin d’or and More

Middle Eastern chicken salad with hummus dressing


We get through a lot of hummus in our house, whether it’s the supermarket variety or the incredibly garlicky and insanely zingy homemade kind. The children love it. When they need a little snack in between meals, it tends to be a pot of hummus I reach for, plus a handful of chopped vegetables or breadsticks for dipping.

The other week I borrowed a recipe book from the local library called Make It Moroccan by Hassan M’Souli, and came across a tasty looking salad smothered in a hummus-based dressing. I’ve never thought of using hummus as an ingredient in anything before, so thought I’d give it a go. M’Souli’s original featured falafel and haloumi cheese but I’ve used marinaded chicken breast in my version instead, and it works a treat. The chicken breast is butterflied and cooked quickly in a griddle pan, so it is beautifully moist and succulent, while the hummus, chickpeas and toasted pinenuts give the salad a lovely, satisfying nuttiness.

Middle Eastern chicken salad with hummus dressing

Serves 4-6

4 chicken breasts, skinned, butterflied and flattened (cover with cling film and bash with a rolling pin)
a squeeze of garlic puree
handful of fresh thyme, picked
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp hummus
1 tsp cumin seed, dry fried and crushed
½ preserved lemon
1 head of lettuce, washed and roughly torn
large handful of green and black olives
large handful of sundried tomatoes
½ tin chick peas, rinsed and drained
handful of pine nuts, dry fried

Place the flattened chicken breasts in a dish and add the garlic puree, thyme, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub the marinade ingredients into the meat and then leave for around 20 minutes.

Whizz up the hummus, cumin and preserved lemon in a food processor with the remaining olive oil until well combined and runny. Add a little more oil if you like to get the right consistency.

Throw the lettuce leaves into a large salad bowl with the olives, sundried tomatoes and chickpeas.

Heat a griddle pan over a fairly high heat and fry the chicken pieces for two to three minutes on each side. Slice into strips and add to the salad.

Drizzle over the hummus dressing and toss it all together. Finally, sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts and serve.

And as this recipe features fresh thyme, I’m entering it into this month’s Herbs on Saturday blog challenge, devised by Lavender & Lovage and hosted by me, Bangers & Mash.