Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish

There shouldn’t be any rules with savoury rice dishes. You can pretty much add what you want – prawns, chicken or whatever. Some recipes call for chorizo but I find the flavour of that tends to dominate the whole dish. I prefer to use bacon and to substitute some of the chorizo flavour by adding garlic and smoked paprika.

This dish is easy to prepare and has the added benefit that you can make it well ahead and simply reheat it in a microwave when you are ready to eat it.

For a vegetarian and/or vegan version of this dish, omit the bacon and use an appropriate stock.

2 tbs olive oil
6 rashers of unsmoked back bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 peppers (1 red and 1 green), deseeded and chopped
1 large courgette, cut into small dice
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
6 fl oz long grain white rice
12 fl oz chicken stock
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small tin sweet corn, drained
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika

Heat the oil and sauté the bacon until cooked and coloured to the point you want to eat it. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate to drain on kitchen paper. Add a little more oil to the pan if needs be then sauté the onion until softened and starting to colour, approx. 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the peppers, courgette and chilli, turn the heat low, cover and sweat for 15 minutes by which time the vegetables should be softened.

Stir in the rice and heat through. Add all of the other ingredients (don’t forget the bacon), cover and simmer until the rice is cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.

At this point the jambalaya can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed, then reheated in the microwave.

Red Kidney Bean and Vegetable Curry

Cumin Seeds

Serves a hungry 2

Hello! I’m back from my holidays and ready to start blogging again.

Here is a delicious curry that’s quick to prepare and, depending on the curry paste you use, it is vegetarian and/or vegan. I will soon be posting a recipe for a vegan home-made curry paste. In the meantime, this recipe uses Patak’s Madras Curry Paste which is vegetarian.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp freshly grated ginger (or use shop-bought minced ginger)
2 tablespoons curry paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Splash of boiling water (optional)
2 courgettes, cut into small batons
2 peppers – 1 red and 1 green – deseeded and cut into slices
400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Heat half of the oil – 2 tablespoons – in a large pan. When hot, add the cumin seeds and stir fry for 30 seconds. Stir in the sliced onions and sauté until softened and browned, approx. 15 minutes. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the ginger and continue to stir-fry for another minute.

Add the curry paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne, black pepper and salt. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar. Bring everything up to a gentle simmer, adding a splash of boiling water if the sauce looks too thick. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needs be.

While all this is going on, you can multi-task by preparing the vegetables. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or wide based pan and stir fry the courgettes until softened and starting to brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl lined with kitchen paper. Add the peppers to the wok and stir fry until they too are starting to soften and colour. Tip the peppers into the bowl with the courgettes.

Add the courgettes, peppers and kidney beans to the curry sauce and stir to coat everything evenly. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

At this stage the curry can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed. To serve, just bring it back to a gentle simmer and make sure it’s piping hot.

As with most curries, I like to serve this with plain boiled white rice.