Quick Chickpea Curry

I’ve got 2 Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and a packet of Minstrels in the fridge and I’m feeling guilty so thought I’d knock up a healthy veggie curry for lunch that could double up as one of my weekday packed lunches leaving enough sauce to spare to make something quick and spicy for tea in the week – multi tasking food, you see that?  What more do you want? Anyway by my wonderful diet logic if I eat one healthy meal that means I can deffo have eaten at least one of those creme eggs by the end of the day, it’s a simple balanced equation right?

This curry is quick and simple to knock up and is pretty much made with store cupboard ingredients, in fact if you don’t have chickpeas, a tin of beans, some lentils or whatever veggies you have lurking about in your fridge would all make welcome additions to this spicy sauce.

So here we go…

Serves 2 with left over sauce for another meal in the week


  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of medium curry powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of garam masala
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • A dessert spoonful of mango chutney
  • 1 tin of coconut milk (I used half fat – cus this is like diet food innit)
  • 1 tin of chickpeas


Soften the onions in a pot with a tablespoon of oil until translucent, add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or two.  Add the spices and let them fry for a further minute then add the tomatoes and let it bubble down for about 5 minutes, stirring now and then to prevent it from catching.  Add the chutney, salt and  coconut milk, then blitz with a hand blender (or in a machine), return to the heat and bring to the simmer.  This is where you can now syphon off half the sauce and stash in the fridge or freezer until a later date. Now add the drained and rinsed chick peas to the pot.  Simmer the chickpeas for a further couple of minutes until everything is heated through then serve.  I served mine with a gluten free pitta for lunch and I’ll be having the other portion for lunch on Monday with a bit of tonight’s left over roast chicken dinner stirred in, I love a bit of leftovers don’t you?

Back to Fat Club….oh and some pretty (ish) pictures of food…

After nearly a year of blogging here at ‘What Isla Ate’ my once loose-fitting jeans have become quite uncomfortable and after trying (and giving up very rapidly) running, it’s not for me, I’ve decided to join Fat Club again.  I did it a couple of years ago when my daughter was about 1 and I lost a whopping 4 stone so I know it works if I stick to it.  However it does seem to make recipe conjuring a little more difficult.  But fear not dear readers, I shall endeavour to still post some yummy food and in the meantime I’m sure I have a couple of dishes knocked up in the last few weeks I haven’t posted yet. And with my birthday coming up there will have to be some little lapses in the diet regime in which I will gorge on delicious, naughty things and will have to report back.

Right this is rather boring isn’t it.  Anyway I have been using Instagram a lot lately, I love the vintage Polaroid style, it makes everything a little more romantic and wistfu.  So for a little something pretty to look at here is my food week (last couple of weeks) in instagram (btw I got this lovely idea, well stole it, from the lovely Rosalilium she puts up beautiful pictures of her week and I’m pretty addicted to having a nose so I hope she won’t mind me stealing the idea and making it a little more food focused):

This was a couple of weeks ago now but Tamatanga is in Nottingham, it's a great concept, sort of 'fast food' indian style in a Wagamama set up, we ordered the Thali with a choice of curries as well as the statutory veggie ones, rice, poppadom (and naan if you want) with a drink for a meal deal, well worth a visit...

Holiday activity, my little lady creaming the butter and sugar for a gluten free victoria sponge...

...the sponge layers out of the oven...

...viccy sponge, recipe courtesy of the Doves Farm flour packet (baking is a science you know!)...

Picnic in the sunshine the other day, the lovely victoria sponge, a quinoa, mackerel and mango salad and some fresh ripe raspberries and mango, mmm

Gorgeous fried onions for a feast of hot dogs in a gluten free baguette.

And finally doughnut peaches fresh from the market poaching in a honey vanilla syrup, an attempt at a healthy dessert, more to come!!

Right so bye bye for now, if perchance you’ve been a member of fat club before (you know the one I’m talking about, it involves points) then please suggest some recipes to keep me going and in the meantime I’ll get my healthy brain switched on and get thinking… x


Barbecue Butter Beans

Beans, beans they make you…ok well let’s just say they are very good for you, in fact butter beans can help reduce your cholesterol and are generally full of fibre and good stuff to keep you healthy.  Personally, I just like the look of them, they are like giant baked beans and that is how they were described when a suddenly fusspot 3 year old told me she didn’t like butter beans, however when described as giant beans to help you grow big and tall (thank you Mr Green Giant) she was super keen and wolfed them all down.

Serves 2/3 or 4/5 as a smaller side


  • 1 tin of butter beans
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped and softened
  • 1 chunky clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tin of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 packet of smoked bacon lardons (200g) or use some good streaky bacon
  • 2 dessert spoonfuls of balsamic vinegar (cheap stuff)
  • 1 dessert spoonful of soft brown sugar
  • 1 dessert spoonful of Worcester sauce
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper


Fry your lardons in a saucepan in a little oil until crispy and brown.  Add the softened onions and garlic and fry until starting to turn golden.  Add the tomatoes and all the other ingredients and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse your beans.  Add beans to sauce and cook on a low heat for a further 15 min.

I served mine with some grilled good quality gluten free sausages but they make a great side for all kinds of dishes.

Cherry Cola Ham, Sticky Balsamic Onions and Coleslaw

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Quick post of some food I made over the Easter weekend, I’ve got loads of preparation to do for my next two weeks of lessons at work and also have another deadline that needs some serious brain power so I’ll try to keep this short. 

Anyway, I had heard of this Cherry Cola Ham before, I think I may have seen Nigella Lawson do it some time and then I heard AThriftyMrs tweeting about how amazing hers was so I wanted to have a go.  I did a bit of research, well I surfed the net, and then came up with my own adaption and this is how it goes:


A small half a gammon joint (clearly you can go bigger, I don’t have too many mouths to feed)

A big bottle of Cherry Cola

Half an onion

2 Tablespoons of cherry jam

A heaped teaspoon or two of smoked paprika

2 capfuls of red wine vinegar


Soak your ham/gammon for a an hour or two then drain and then fill pot with water and bring to the boil. Then drain again. This helps get rid of excess salt.  Then put ham back in pot, add half an onion and a big bottle of cherry coke, you might need more if you use a bigger joint, but I’m sure you could top up with water.  For my little ham, I just simmered the joint for about an hour and a quarter then left to sit for a further 15 min.  Whilst the ham was sitting I pre heated my oven to 220 degrees, lined a tray with foil (trust me you’ll thank me when you do the washing up) and mixed together the jam, vinegar and paprika. 

I then took the ham out of the pan, put it on the tray and removed the rind.  I scored the fat in a criss cross, diagonal diamond pattern then smothered on the glaze.  Then cook in the oven for about 15 min.  Take out and leave to cool and serve with salads, new potatoes (we had Jersey Royals, the onions pictured, the coleslaw and some salad leaves and tomatoes.  Delish!

Right that’s all for now, I might post the onion recipe later but I have got to do some work!

Enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday, roll on the next one!!

BBQ Glazed Sausages, Spinach and Potato Salad and Home Pickled Onions

So for dinner tonight (ok I know it’s early but we were hungry!) we had the above and the below. 

For the potato salad:

Boil some new potatoes

Mix some mayo and creme fraiche (I used half fat) with plenty of salt and pepper.  Add in the cooled potatoes, some finely chopped spring onions and some shredded spinach.  Stir. Done.

For the sausages:

Mix up some BBQ sauce, basically combine ketchup, hoisin sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcester sauce and some agave syrup together.  Then roll your sausages in it then cook in the oven for about 15/20 min depending on sausage size.  You can go back to them and re glaze half way through cooking. 

I think this may be a bit of cheats pickle, I kinda browsed the t’internet for ideas and then went out on a limb, I’m not too knowledgeable about pickling so I think this kinda thing will only last about a week in a jar, but it’s lush, and suddenly you’ll be pulling out bits of cheese and cold meats just so you can have a yummy snacking partner for this piquant treat.

I basically had a go at microwave sterilising the jar first (an old jam jar) but I figured I couldn’t do the top (it’s metal) so just washed that in extremely hot water and decided we’d eat it fast and not worry too much. 

Then I half filled the jar with half red wine vinegar and half cider vinegar and a couple of spoonfuls of caster sugar.  I stirred this well and tasted to check, I like a sweet pickle you might want to adjust.  Then I sliced a smallish onion and packed it into the jar and poked it down so it was covered by the pickling liquor.  I left it for a little while then couldn’t resist and snacked on some with some cheese, then later we had it with this dinner and went extremely well and I’m sure there may be more pickle action later but you’ll just have to watch this space.  I think ideally this needs to stand for about 4 hours but do as you will…

Curry Goat

I have been meaning to make a deep, dark lamb curry for ages but I couldn’t decide on how to approach it or what recipe to choose and then I remembered this recipe from a great little community publication Urban Feast.  The book was created by a bunch of local Croydonites and students from a local school.  I think it was orignally a free book given out from the library and an old colleague of mine passed on several copies of it to use with my students as reading actvities.  I have used it several times and it has a great dvd accompaniment that shows each dish being made and sourced round Croydon. 

Anyway I marinaded the meat last night and left it in the fridge until mid morning today then cooked it off.  The recipe can be found here http://www.croydon.gov.uk/contents/departments/leisure/pdf/urbanfeast in an electronic copy of the book.  Please have a look as it is a really interesting read full of wonderful recipes ranging from traditional Pie and Mash to the delicious Curry Goat.

This worked out really well, it’s an intensely spiced, dark and flavourful curry.  I chickened out and omitted the Scotch Bonnet Chilli, and it still tasted amazing.  I might even temper the left overs with a little coconut milk and serve it up to my two year old later for dinner.  Do try this and don’t forget to check out the book….

Sausage and Pepper Pie

I think this dish is very probably inspired by my Dad’s Sausage and Mash, and most importantly the onion sauce he does with it, it’s not so much a savoury gravy as tradition might dictate but a sweet and sour-ish little number packed with sweet onions and soft deep  vinegar flavours from the balsamic.  Anyways I’ve basically tweaked it a little and put it into a pie with peppers.


8 Gluten free or otherwise sausages

1 large onion sliced

1/2 a , sliced (I only threw this in because I saw it looking forlorn and forgotten in a corner)

2 red peppers (other colours are cool but reds are my favs)



Balsamic vinegar

Tomato ketchup

Worcester Sauce

A teaspoon of smoked  paprika

a teaspoon of veg bouillon (or half a stock cube)

Some agave syrup or sugar

Some water


Boil the potatoes and swede together (enough to top your dish you decide).  Mash when done, add butter, season and set aside to cool.

Soften onions and leeks in a pan or microwave and set to one side.  Chop sausages into chunks, fry until browned.  Add sliced pepper and softened onions and leeks.  Fry for about 5 or so minutes until everything is soft and starting to brown.

Add about 6 tablespoons of balsamic, 6 tablespoons of ketchup, a generous shake or two of worcester sauce, a tablespoon of syrup or sugar, a teaspoon of paprika and bubble and taste.  Sprinkle on a teaspoon of bouillon or stock cube and add some water enough to make a little sauce for your sausage mixture to sit in.  Bubble away again and taste this, my measurements as usual are vague it’s really a matter of taste and balance.

Pour/spoon sausage mixture into a casserole dish. Top with mashed spud and swede mix. Fork top for extra crunch.

I’ve done this and put it on the side until dinner time, then I’m going to put in the oven for about 30/45 min until it’s heated through and the top is crispy.

If you wanted to stretch this out a bit I reckon a tin of beans and a tin of tomatoes would go well with the sausage mixture and if you fancy a bit of extra indulgence sprinkle a bit of cheese on the top before you put in the oven.

I’m hoping to post a picture of this cooked when it’s ready later…

What Isla’s Dad Ate…

I think my Dad is trying to add a bit of class to my humble site, please tell me if you try this…

Langouste a la Sétoise 

Elisabeth David’s book French Provincial Cookery provides a recipe for Langouste Comme Chez Nenette. Mrs David writes that this dish has its origins in Sete.  Sete is port and a seaside resort on the Languedoc- Roussillon coast, just southwest of Montpellier.  A number of powerful tasting shellfish/fish casserole dishes are associated with Sete.  These are part of that family of seafood casseroles found along the western shore of the Mediterranean, which include bourride, bouillabaisse, caldereta de llamàntol and burrida

Like most chefs, when presented with a recipe I have to start fiddling with it.  So below is how I prepare Langouste in the style of Sete, which probably the good people of the area would not recognise, using Elisabeth David’s recipe as starting point.

Langoustes, in English Spiny or Rock Lobster or Crawfish, are part of a worldwide group of lobster type shellfish without claws. This shellfish is rarely available for sale in most United Kingdom fishmongers.  I have found them for sale occasionally in the Bullring Market in Birmingham, for over a year at my local supermarket frozen – £10 for two, a remarkable bargain and through the internet. In the recipe below, I use frozen langouste tails due to the opportunity to buy them fresh and whole being rare. Other shellfish such as lobsters and langoustines/scampi you can use for this dish.

For four people

  • Four x150g                        Langouste tails                                    Four x 6oz
  • 100g                                Finely sliced onions                            4oz
  • 100g                                Finely sliced fennel                            4oz
  • 100g                                Sweet red pepper, roasted,                     4oz

skinned and finely sliced

  • 50g                                          Celery peeled and finely sliced              2oz
  • 450g                                Tomatoes peeled, seeded               1lb

and chopped

  • 15g                                  Finely shredded basil                                ½ oz
  • 125ml                              Garlic mayonnaise                    5floz
  • 50ml                                Extra virgin olive oil                             2floz
  • 125g                                Reduced shellfish stock                      5floz
  • 50ml                                White wine                                        2floz
  • 25ml                                Brandy                                                           1floz
  • 25ml                                Aniseed based liquor                                 1floz

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Sweat onions, fennel, celery and peppers until very soft in the 25ml/1ozolive oil
  2. 2.    Add tomatoes, shellfish stock and white wine – note: depending on the quality of tomatoes you may have to add some tomatoe puree
  3. Reduce to a thick sauce
  4. Stir in brandy and aniseed based liqueur
  5. Slice langoustine tails in to two cm/½ inch roundels
  6. Sauté roundels in remaining olive oil
  7. Add sauce, bring to boil
  8. Take of heat
  9. Blend in garlic mayonnaise and add basil then serve in a hot dish


Shellfish Stock

450g             Lobster, crab, prawn, shrimp shells    1lb

50g               Chopped fennel                        2oz

50G              Chopped celery                                      2oz                       

50g               Chopped onion                                       2oz

50g               Chopped leek                                        2oz

100g             Chopped tomatoes                    4oz

2                  Cloves garlic crushed

25g              Parsley stalks                                       1oz

1                  Bay leaf

12                White peppercorns

50 ml           Olive oil                                   2floz

Two             Star anise

1 litres          Water                                                   2 pints

125 ml          Dry white wine                                    ¼ pint

  1. Fry fennel, celery, onion  and leek in the olive oil to golden brown( do not burn) in large pot
  2. Remove the vegetables from the pot
  3. Fry shells in the pot stirring all the time for five minutes
  4. Add the fried vegetables, tomatoes, garlic,  parsley stalks, bay leaf ,peppercorns and parsley stalks, then cover with the water
  5. Bring to the boil, skimming regularly.
  6. Place on to low heat.  Allow stock to cook gently – barely simmering for one hour
  7. Strain stock and reduce by gentle boiling to 125ml/5floz


Garlic mayonnaise

  • 125ml                Extra virgin Olive Oil                          5floz
  • 1             Egg yolk
  • 4             Cloves of garlic – crushed
  • I/2 tbsp    Water

Salt and pepper to taste


1                              Blend garlic, egg yolk and water together

2                              Whisk the mixture in a figure of eight motion gradually adding the olive oil