Recently I made some Georgian shashlyk and as you may have spied from the final photograph I served this with my take on the traditional Georgian red pepper sauce. It doesn’t have to be served with shashlyk as it would go well with any grilled meat dish. It’s really easy, all you need is a food processor or blender!
6 red peppers (bell or pointed)
2 red chilli peppers
3 medium sized tomatoes (or a selection of smaller ones)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp fenugreek seeds, ground
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
Bunch of fresh coriander
Peppers in the UK never taste quite as nice as peppers abroad so in order to get a bit of extra flavour I put mine in a foil dish in a low-heated oven (about 150 degrees centigrade) and warmed them for 15 minutes
Cut the peppers, removing the middles, into chunks and place in food processor (or into a pot if you are going to use a hand-held blender) with all the other ingredients except the fresh coriander
Whenever I discuss what I do for a living, most people say in amazement, “Surely the cuisine of the region is no more exciting than meat and carbohydrates?” I spend hours explaining just how varied the food is across Central and Eastern Europe. When I talk about former USSR countries, such as Georgia, people are truly shocked how fabulous the traditional dishes are. However, there is nothing wrong with some basic meat recipes such as shashlyk skewers of meat. These are popular, in some form, in many countries, Turkey for one, but for me, they will always remind me of a wonderful meal in Ket in St Petersburg. Shashlyk can be served with a variety of sauces but they key is to get the meat tender and charred. Here’s my easy, cheap, recipe, inspired by the people of Georgia…
500g cubed meat (this can be chicken, beef – though make sure it is not stewing steak or it’ll be tough as old boots – or pork)
2 large white onions cut in quarters
4 bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
Pinch of salt
100ml white wine vinegar
50ml Georgian white wine
150ml cold water
Put the all the ingredients into a large bowl and leave to marinate for at least 3 hours
Rinse meat under tap to take away any harsh acidic taste of vinegar
Put meat on skewers (metal work best but as you can see from the photographs, wood will work too, just ensure they have been thoroughly soaked in water to prevent them burning)
Either put on a barbecue/hot coals to seal the outside of the meat for a minute on each side
Heat a griddle pan until it’s steaming, add a teaspoon of rapeseed oil (or vegetable oil but NOT olive oil) and seal the meat for a minute each side
Place in a hot oven (at about 180 degrees Centigrade) and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until cooked through but still tender
Serve on a plate with a sauce of your choice, buckwheat kasha and salad
There is much more to Hungarian cooking than the stereotypical goulash, porkolt for one. Porkolt is an easy, one-pot, family dish and can be made with cubes of pork shoulder or veal. Just fry off the onion, add in the pork to seal the meat, add in the other ingredients, stir and leave to cook for a few hours on a low heat. Just serve with gnocchi or polenta. Super easy, super delicious!
This is a really tasty and healthy dish originating from Bulgaria. It’s super quick and requires few dishes so the washing up is limited! The chicken is smothered in a rich, herby sauce. Serve the chicken with rice to mop up all the wonderful juices.
I love food. I love eating. However, I am also prone toward being rather lazy, and as a poor graduate have to make the most from the little I can afford. As a result, I am all for one pot dishes and am particularly fond of my slow cooker. However, if you do not have a slow cooker, this recipe is still for you as it can be cooked either on the hob or in the oven, which ever you desire!
Goulash is by one of the more familiar dishes from Eastern Europe. Made with sweet paprika, it is typical of many traditional Hungarian dishes. It would normally be cooked in an iron cast pot on top of a fire, but living in a studio flat in London makes this is somewhat impossible. Instead, I opt for cooking either in my casserole dish for at least three hours at 150 °C, or alternatively, in my slow cooker for between four and five hours on high. However, as I said, you could cook this on the hob, but with three jobs, I prefer to not have to keep too much of an eye on things!
You can just chuck everything into the pot and go but I try to make it a little more authentic. Onion, for example, is one ingredient which never quite has the same effect having been put in raw to the slow cooker.
First, prepare the ingredients which can be placed into either the casserole dish or slow cooker. Peel a carrot and parsnip and place into the dish. Leave them whole as they are just for flavour, not for eating. Peel and cut a large white potato into cubes and place this in the dish too. Add a bay leaf (two if they are small) and some parsley tied together so it can be easily removed (if you do not have string, use some foil).
Dice a large white onion and cook in a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Traditionally, goose fat should be used, but I find this can make the sauce too greasy. Cook the onion until it is translucent (not brown!), add in the chopped garlic for one minute, and then add half the paprika. Pour the onion, garlic and paprika into the pot with the carrot etc.
Sprinkle the stewing beef chunks with a little corn flour (though plain flour can also be used) and place into a frying pan over a medium heat. Do not brown this too much, just a little, to seal in the juices. Sprinkle on the rest of the paprika and cook for a further minute and then add this into the pot.
Add two teaspoons of caraway seeds into the frying pan and heat gently for two minutes. Put these into the pot and then rinse out the frying pan with a little of the beef stock. I add this and the remaining stock into the pot.
Cut two medium sized tomatoes and two sweet peppers into chunks and place these into the pot with two or three teaspoons of tomato puree.
Cover and heat either in the oven, in your slow cooker, or on top of a hob.
The stock may need topping up if a lot evapourates/is absorbed.
I serve this with gnocchi and a sprinkle of parsley in a nice large bowl.
Ingredients to feed 2 very hungry people:
500g stewing beef chunks
500 ml beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 large white onion
1 large white potato
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium sized tomatoes
2 sweet red peppers
2-3 tsp tomato puree
4 tsp sweet paprika
2tsp caraway seeds
2 handfuls of parsley
Gnocchi to serve
3 hours on low heat on hob
4 hours 150 °C oven (although, the longer the better!)
4-6 hours on high in slow cooker (again, the longer the better!)
Hard work? Well, I will not lie, any form of cooking requires effort and drive but here is the washing up I was left with – hardly a mountain!
And to prove you do not need a mansion in order to cook for yourself, this is my small kitchen in my studio flat. If I can do it, so can you!