Mamta’s Indian Lamb Meatball Curry | The Keema Sutra

PARTNEREDPOSTYesterday I shared the news that my mum Mamta is one of the two Keema Nans working with Simply Beef and Lamb on their latest campaign, The Keema Sutra. Two of mum’s most delicious keema recipes are in the Keema Sutra flipbook , along with many of her tips for cooking Indian food.

Watch her show you how to make her Indian Lamb Meatball Curry in this short video and then have a go yourself.

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Mamta’s Indian Lamb Meatball Curry

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: Under 30 minutes

Lamb mince makes delicious kofta (meat balls) which can be added to any curry sauce that you like. This meatball curry is really delicious, perfect to serve for a special meal. Despite the long list of ingredients, this curry is easy to make and relatively inexpensive too.

These meatballs can also be served plain as a snack or starter – you can even squish them into flat burger patties and serve in mini burger buns. Just shallow fry in a pan and serve with a fresh green chutney or your choice of condiment.

For the curry, the meatballs are dropped into the curry gravy raw and simmered until cooked through.

If you like, make double the quantity of meatballs and freeze half to use another day.

For the Meatballs
450g/1lb lamb mince
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 slices white bread (2 small or 1 large slice), roughly broken up
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1.25cm/½ inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 green chillies (adjust to taste. If you do not have green chillies, add red chillies to taste)
1½ tsp salt, or to taste
½tsp freshly ground black pepper
A few fresh coriander leaves (or mint if you prefer)
For the Curry Sauce
30ml/2tbsp vegetable oil, for cooking
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
2.5cm/1 inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 large cardamoms, broken slightly with a mortar
6-8 whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
5cm/2 inch piece of cinnamon stick or cassia bark
½tsp ground coriander
½tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground chilli powder, adjust to taste
1 tsp mild ground sweet paprika, for colour
Salt, to taste
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped, or use 200 grams chopped tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
¾pint water (adjust for how thick you want the curry to be)
1 level tsp garam masala (see note)
2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander leaves

Note: Mamta recommends making your own garam masala for a more intense and aromatic flavour. Her homemade garam masala recipe is here.


To make the meatballs:

  • Place all meat ball ingredients, except the lamb and egg, in a food processor and process finely. If you do not have a food processor, grate the bread, great or finely chop the onion, ginger, garlic and chillies and then add the other ingredients.
  • Place the lamb in a large bowl. Add the onion mix and the egg. Mix well by hand or with a large spoon. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight to marinate. This helps the flavours to infuse.
  • Shape the mixture into 20 walnut-sized balls. Wetting your fingers and palms with water helps.

To make the meatball curry

  • Heat the oil in a pan, then add the whole spices – cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cardamoms.
  • When the cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add the curry sauce onion, ginger and garlic.
  • Fry until golden to dark brown. Be patient, this stage can take a while.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, ground coriander, turmeric, chilli powder, paprika and salt. Cook until the oil separates or the mix looks shiny.
  • Add the water, bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer.
  • Add the meatballs one by one to the simmering (not boiling) sauce.
  • Allow to simmer without the lid for about 20 minutes or so (closing the lid sometimes makes the meat balls break up), gently turning the meatballs over and shaking the pan from time to time.
  • When meat balls are ready, any oil will separate and float to the top of the sauce. Add half the coriander leaves and garam masala, stir gently and transfer to a serving dish.
  • Garnish with remaining coriander and serve hot with freshly made chapattis, steamed rice or plain pilaf rice.


To serve meat balls as a snack heat a little oil in a shallow pan. Add a few meat balls at a time and fry them on medium heat, turning over frequently, until they are nicely browned and meat is cooked through. Garnish with salad and serve with mint and coriander chutney, chilli sauce or tomato ketchup.

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Do visit the Keema Sutra flipbook for more wonderful keema recipes that will show you how delicious, versatile and family-friendly keema can be.

Save this recipe to Pinterest for later using this handy collage image.

The Keema Sutra - Mamtas Indian Meatball Curry Recipe

More keema recipes from other bloggers joining in with the keema sutra campaign:

Kavey Eats and Mamta’s Kitchen were commissioned by Simply Beef and Lamb to participate in this campaign. Photography by Simply Beef and Lamb.


My Mum is a Keema Nan!

PARTNEREDPOSTFor the last few months, mum and I have been keeping a little secret! Together, we’ve been working with Simply Beef and Lamb on their latest campaign to remind the British consumer how delicious, affordable and versatile lamb is through the delicious Indian dish, keema.

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The keema nans! Mamta and Pervin

Mum (who is the home cook behind is one of two ambassadors for the campaign along with Indian restaurateur Pervin Todiwala. Together, they are the Keema Nans! Yes, a groan-worthy but rather glorious pun… but wait for it, we have another one for you… the campaign itself is called the Keema Sutra!

As Mamta’s daughter, I come from a family that loves lamb and mum’s keema and other lamb mince dishes are a firm favourite.

During these last couple of months, I’ve been helping mum to prepare two recipes and lots of handy cooking tips for inclusion in the Keema Sutra, popped into the photography studio to watch the professional food economist, stylist and photographers create gorgeous recipe images and went with mum on the day she was filmed making one of her two dishes.

I know I’m biased but I think mum is brilliant in the videos and I know her recipes are utterly delicious. I really hope she helps more people give the Keema Sutra keema recipes a go.

Studio Shoot
Fascinating watching professionals at work, choosing props, cooking and styling, shooting the image and checking on screen

The other part of the message is to know what you are buying. Mum rails against the myth that spices are used to disguise poor quality meat and has always been a firm proponent of the message that when it comes to meat, you should buy the best you can afford. Simply Beef and Lamb supports the Red Tractor Mark which confirms that rules about food safety, animal welfare, traceability and environmental impact are followed. They also run the Quality Standard Mark, which ensures that all beef and lamb marked with the logo meet very high quality standards. Look out for these logos when you shop.

Come back tomorrow for mum’s delicious Indian Lamb Meatball Curry recipe!

Kavey Eats and Mamta’s Kitchen were commissioned by Simply Beef and Lamb to participate in this campaign.


Leg of Lamb & Pearl Barley Braised in Red Wine & Balsamic Vinegar

PARTNEREDPOSTFor the last few weeks my mind has been firmly on comforting, one-pot dishes using lamb and beef. We produce really excellent quality meat in the UK and it’s a pleasure to cook dishes that make the most of it.

I recently shared a tasty beef goulash recipe that uses shin of beef, a very affordable cut. I love this kind of stewing cut – long slow cooking can be so convenient, allowing us to put a dish in the oven earlier in the day and come home to a delicious meal later on; it also turns a cheaper cut into something utterly delicious – it’s an almost magical transformation! My favourite cut of beef for this kind of cooking is beef cheek (also known as ox cheek); it becomes so tender after a few hours of cooking and has such a wonderful flavour.

Check out my guide to which cuts of beef are best for which type of dish or cooking method.

For today’s recipe, I decided to splurge a little on a half leg of lamb, which currently costs less than £10 a kilo at most supermarkets and generously feeds four.

This one pot dish is very straightforward to make; it’s comforting yet a little different to the typical stew, and smells absolutely gorgeous too. The red wine and balsamic vinegar give a wonderful flavour which is just so good with lamb, a genius combination that I learned from Genevieve Taylor in her book, Stew!, published a few years ago.

Leg of Lamb and Pearl Barley Braised in Red Wine and Balsamic Vinegar on Kavey Eats (2)

Leg of Lamb & Pearl Barley Braised in Red Wine & Balsamic Vinegar

Serves 4

1 kilo half leg of lamb on the bone
5-6 medium white onions, peeled and quartered
2 heaped teaspoons crushed garlic
1 heaped teaspoon dried rosemary
350 ml red wine
150 ml balsamic vinegar
vegetable oil
150 g pearl barley
250 ml water

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  • Preheat oven to 150°C.
  • Measure wine and balsamic vinegar into a measuring jug and set aside.
  • In a large casserole dish that can also be used on the stove, heat a little vegetable oil, then brown the lamb on all sides. Remove the lamb from the dish and set aside on a plate.

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  • Add more oil only if needed, then cook the quartered onions in the same dish until some of the edges char to brown, stirring occasionally. The wedges usually break into one or two pieces during this stage.

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  • Add the garlic and rosemary to the onions, stir well and then place the browned lamb over the top.

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  • Pour the wine and vinegar mix into the casserole dish, over the lamb and onions.

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  • Place a lid over the lamb and put into the oven.
  • After two hours, take the dish out of the oven.

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  • Add the pearl barley and water and stir well. It may be easier to remove the lamb first and then put it back in after you’ve added the barley and water. Turn the lamb other side up, to allow the rest of it to submerge in the cooking liquid.

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  • Return to the oven for a further hour, removing the lid for the final 15 minutes.

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  • At this stage, the pearl barley should be plump and cooked through, and the lamb will come away from the bone easily with a fork or spoon.

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  • Serve with some fresh green salad or green vegetables.

Note: If you’d like to make this recipe without the pearl barley, omit both pearl barley and the water that is added with it. Do stir and turn the lamb over at that same point, and if the volume of liquid remaining is high, remove the lid for the final 30 minutes instead of 15.

Simply Beef and Lamb is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. It supports the Red Tractor Mark and the Quality Standard Mark which provide consumers with confidence in what they are buying. The Red Tractor Mark covers food safety, animal safety, traceability and environmental impact. The Quality Standard Mark, as its name suggests, is all about the quality of the meat itself, and requires that all beef and lamb awarded the mark meets very high standards throughout the food chain, from farm through to meat counter.

Leg of Lamb and Pearl Barley Braised in Red Wine and Balsamic Vinegar on Kavey Eats (1)

This post is part of Simply Beef and Lamb’s #LivePeasant campaign, encouraging us to embrace a more rustic approach to cooking, and to think about traditional recipes using beef and lamb.

You may also enjoy these #LivePeasant recipes by fellow bloggers:

This post is a paid commission for Simply Beef and Lamb and part of their #LivePeasant campaign. Visit their website for more great beef and lamb recipes and detailed nutritional information.

Which Cuts Of Beef Are Best For…?

It’s been a gradual (and on-going) learning process over the years to work out which cuts of beef are best suited to which dishes or cooking methods. Although I’m pretty confident about the cuts to buy for my favourite meals, I am still getting to grips with others and constantly on the look out for new ways to get the best out of them.

When I asked a few friends for their thoughts recently, it quickly became clear that choosing which cut of meat to buy isn’t an easy task for everyone. And of course, buying the wrong cut for your dish often leads to disappointment, which makes people even more nervous the next time. Says my friend Matt Gibson, “I’ve never really got the hang of the cuts, especially for beef. Basically I just buy whatever looks nice in the shop without thinking too hard about it”.

That comment spurred me on to create my guide to choosing the right cut of beef. The suggestions below are based not only on my own favourites but also incorporate recommendations from fellow bloggers, food writers and chefs.

Beef cuts diagram via


First, Lessons from a Master Butcher

Having been a butcher since he was 14, Martin Eccles – Master Butcher at Quality Standard Beef & Lamb – reckons that memories of bad experiences in the past also linger; during a private butchery class he explains that “plate waste” was once common when buying a chop or steak to cook at home – that’s the pieces of tendon or gristle left uneaten on the plate – but today’s butchers are moving to reduce that by cutting meat differently.

A big part of Martin’s job for Quality Standard Beef & Lamb is working with butchers to train them on adapting the way they breakdown carcasses to better suit today’s consumer. He advises them on how to to optimise “carcass utilisation” and how best to create modern cuts and smaller roasting joints to suit singles, couples and smaller families. The organisation also works with farmers and supervises the Quality Standard Beef and Lamb marks.

What does Martin mean by modern cuts? He shows me a large rump of beef and explains that it consists of three distinct muscles. Because a steak is best when cut across the grain of the muscle, he separates the three rump muscles, completely removes the silver gristle and then cuts the muscles into individual steaks. Where traditional rump steaks consist of all three muscle types held together with connective tissue, the three new cuts – picanha (aka rump cap) steaks, prime rump steaks and bistro rump steaks – are each comprised of just one muscle. They are easy to cook, tender and with no plate waste.

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Martin breaking a rump into different muscles and cuts of steak

Incidentally, here’s a quick Kavey lesson for you: Raw meat is made up of muscle, fat and connective tissue – the muscle is what we think of as meat; the fat melts or crisps during cooking, adding flavour and moisture; collagen-heavy connective tissues (such as tendons and ligaments) also break down if cooked for long enough; but other connective tissues (such as cartilage and membranes) don’t break down and are what we subsequently label as gristle. Note that while we have a preference to avoid gristle in Western cooking, the stretchy and chewy texture is prized and enjoyed in some cuisines.

Back to Martin’s lessons on newer ways of cutting beef. Whipping out a long lump of meat from the shoulder blade, he tells me that this was (and still is) commonly cut and sold as feather steak. But the feather has gristle running right down the centre, meaning that every steak has a piece of gristle at its heart. Another option is to cut the long blade into two thin pieces, remove the gristle completely and then divide the two long flat irons, as they are known, into individual portions.

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Martin cutting feather blade into two, removing membrane and creating flat iron steaks

Martin also tells me how butchery changed in the years following World War II; beef was far less readily available and animals were older and tougher too so butchers broke the meat down into smaller cuts, separating the tender ones from the tougher ones, to allow for different cooking. Now that we have access to top quality beef again, there are still cuts that benefit from long, slow cooking, but it is also be very straightforward to choose quick-to-cook, tender cuts.


Kavey’s Guide to Beef Cuts & Dishes


Although it’s not really a cut so much as (usually unspecified cuts of) beef ground through a mincer, mince is one of the most popular ways we buy and eat beef.

Restaurant chef Mat Follas often cooks mince at home as his kids love dishes such as “burgers, meatballs and lasagnes”. Bloggers Alicia Fourie, Laura Scott, Karen Burns-Booth and Kathryn and are also fans, praising its versatility and adding dishes such as meat loaf, chilli, spagbol, cottage pie and keema to the list. My husband Pete makes a mean ragu, letting it cook longer for a more tender texture.

Alicia’s recently purchased a mincer attachment for her stand mixer so may switch to making her own; I hope she’ll share tips on which cuts are best for which dish.


Braising / Stewing – Shin of Beef, Ox Cheek, Brisket, Chuck, Oxtail, Short Rib, Flank

Everyone I spoke to loves braising beef – cooking it long and slow in liquid until even the toughest cuts become tender. Collagen is your friend here, as it breaks down into a gelatinous sauce that adds flavour and richness.

Blogger Sally Prosser (a Brit transplanted to Dubai) loves “slow-cooked casseroles with red wine, bay leaves and carrots or a beef stew with dumplings” at “any time of the year, even the height of a Dubai summer”. Food blogger and journalist Neil Davey buys “the low and slow” stuff (listing several braising cuts) more than anything else as he likes “no fuss hearty cooking”. At this time of the year, he uses the slow cooker a lot. “While these are no longer the bargain cuts they were, you still get a lot of bang for the buck”. He uses these rather than mince for dishes like chilli, cottage pie and pasta sauces.

Food blogger Helen Best-Shaw recommends “shin of beef for long slow cooking, it is so rich and also very affordable”. Laura agrees, telling me beef shin is her favourite “as it makes the most tender yet fully flavoured stew. It does need lots of cooking time” but she reckons its worth it.

Karen and Alicia favour brisket; Karen says it’s her “number one cut for flavour” and recommends “Hunting Beef – an old English recipe where the beef is marinated for 4 days in a spiced salt rub”. This cut is also a popular choice for making corned beef, salt beef and pastrami.

Alicia and Neil are the only ones to mention my personal favourite, ox cheek which is still an underrated (and therefore bargainous) cut. I adore it in dishes like beef cheeks bourguignon and Chinese-style braised ox cheek, but it also works beautifully substituted into recipes such as balsamic and red wine braised lamb or beef carbonnade with mustard toasts. Make sure you (or your butcher) remove(s) any remaining membranes before cooking cheeks whole or cubed. Incidentally, I’m really not sure why beef cheeks (and tails, liver and blood) are often labelled as ox – the term more commonly refers to cattle used as draft animals rather than for food. I guess it’s one of those language hangovers…

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Shin (bone in, boneless, cubed) and rolled brisket

Roasting – Rib, Picanha, Sirloin

When Martin told me that Brits roast far less than they used to, I didn’t believe him and yet only two of the friends I spoke to listed a roasting joint in their top three cuts.

Neil, Karen and I are in complete agreement that the best joint for roasting is a (fore) rib of beef. As Karen points out, it would be her number one beef purchase if the cost weren’t so prohibitive, and likewise Neil does a rib roast a couple of times a year. There’s no question in my mind that beef rib is the tastiest choice – the texture of the meat, the marbling of fat through the meat, contributing to its superb flavour. But yes, this is an expensive joint. Cooking for two, I often buy a boned and rolled rib, but if cooking for more, bone in is gorgeous.

Topside and silverside are two very common roasting joints. Usually significantly less than half the price per kilo of rib joints, this makes them very popular, and a decade ago these were the joints Pete I usually bought; we took supermarkets on their word that these cuts were great for roasting. Eventually we realised we were more often disappointed than happy with their taste and texture, and decided we’d rather have really fabulous roast beef once every few months than mediocre roast beef every couple of weeks.

Another cut that I think makes a fantastic roast is the picanha (aka rump cap). Picanha is the cut’s Brazilian name, by the way, and it’s a highly prized piece of beef. Here, it’s often cut and sold as steaks, but ask your butcher to sell you the rump cap in one piece and try it for your next roast.

My other choice, when there’s no rib available, is a very thick slab of sirloin. The meat counter in our local supermarket cuts sirloin steaks to your preferred thickness; instead of asking for steaks, I have them cut me one piece about 7-8 cm thick, which makes a quick two person roast (with leftovers for a tasty sandwich).

Where I don’t want to stretch budget to one of my three preferred roasting cuts, I’d rather roast a chicken or lamb, or cook a braising joint long and slow, in liquid.

I certainly recommend avoiding beef sold only as a ‘roasting joint’ without any indication of cut, like a recent example from our local supermarket, bought when the meat shelves were unusually bare. Sadly, for all the label’s fancy talk of Hereford Beef and 30 days dry aging, it was enormously disappointing.

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Fore rib of beef (bone in and boneless) and boneless sirloin


The two front runners for choice of steak are rib eye followed by sirloin.

Rib eye is my own favourite, and our number one purchase for a perfect dinner of steak and triple cooked chips – Pete’s in charge of those and they’re super!

At home, Mat also chooses rib eye because “it has flavour, unlike most other cuts, from lots of fat”. Neil agrees. A few years ago he attended a comparison session between rib eye, fillet, rump and sirloin. He says, “Fillet is boring as, sirloin and rump are both very good, but a well marbled piece of rib-eye, cooked somewhere around medium-rare / medium so that there’s a char and all that fat is starting to melt? That’s what it’s all about.” Laura too loves a rib eye, “well marbled with a good layer of fat”, adding that it’s “the fat that provides the most flavour when it comes to a good steak”. She’s also a fan of wagyu (high quality, highly marbled Japanese beef) for the same reason.

Sirloin is the steak of choice for Sally, as it offers “the perfect balance of fat to meat ratio for a fat-averse family”. She also buys 3 kilo whole sirloins for the barbecue. I don’t find it as flavoursome as rib eye but if you can find a longer aged piece, that helps.

What about other cuts?

Steaks from the rump are usually very good, though I’d recommend seeking out the newer cuts Martin describes above, where the three rump muscles are separated and then cut into steaks individually.

Kathryn reckons that “ribeye and rump give you quite a lot of ‘bang for your buck’ particularly when it comes to flavour”. She also finds rump “is a bit more forgiving when it comes to timings and you can cook it for a little longer and it doesn’t get ruined”.

Incidentally, when it comes to cooking any of the fattier steaks (such as rib eye) I recommend taking them to medium rare (or even medium if that’s your preference) rather than rare; this allows the fat within the meat to melt and the larger pieces of fat to brown.

Flat iron, another cut that I talked to Martin about, is another tasty and somewhat more affordable choice, though I rarely see it in supermarkets; a butcher is your best bet. It’s cut from feather blade piece but divided into two to remove the central gristle, which leaves two long thin pieces that can be portioned into three or four steaks.

If you’ve ever travelled to France you’ll be familiar with onglet and bavette, two popular cuts served in restaurants across the country. Karen (who spends much of her time in France) loves rump for flavour but in France she’ll usually opt for bavette, which offers flavour at a great price. So what are onglet and bavette in UK terminology? Onglet is known here as hanger, skirt or butcher’s steak, cut from the plate (diaphragm) area and with a really deep flavour. Bavette is flank steak, taken from just behind the onglet and is also dense and well flavoured. Both are best cooked fast on a very hot griddle, medium rare to rare. Overcooking these can result in dry or tough steaks.

Flat iron, onglet/skirt and bavette/flank are also great choices for marinating before cooking.

Fillet is known as the most tender cut, but it has very little fat and lacks the flavour of the other cuts; I would never choose it myself. (For American readers, this cut is what you guys call tenderloin).

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Skirt (onglet) steak


Buying British

Perhaps it’s a function of who I asked, but everyone I spoke to makes an effort to seek out British beef and lamb.

Mat, being a kiwi, has an excuse for choosing New Zealand lamb, though he also points out that British lamb is sold in early spring when it’s not had much time running around in fields and is too young to have developed enough flavour. When it comes to beef, he buys British. For his restaurant he buys from a butcher or wholesaler, for home it’s a split between butcher and supermarket. He says he’d “rather spend a little more for quality and have less quantity”, echoing my own thoughts on enjoying a fabulous beef rib roast every now and again rather than an inferior roast every fortnight.

Karen buys British when she’s in the UK and French or New Zealand when in France, preferring organic, locally sourced meat with a known provenance.

Neil explains that although he’s “been known to happily devour USDA steaks at Goodman”, when cooking at home, he buys British, noting that “we produce some of the finest meat in the world; the fall out of the BSE problem and Foot & Mouth has been a massive improvement in farming standards and improved labelling”.

Laura has been to visit two animals farms (something I’ve also done) and believes “our meat is of a high standard”. She buys organic or Freedom foods meat, keeping an eye out for special offers which she stores in the freezer.

Alicia always seeks out British, and if there’s none available, she doesn’t buy. She says that although “Rayner makes a compelling case for New Zealand lamb, for [her] it isn’t about the food miles so much as supporting British farmers and creating food that has a sense of the place we live in”. She doesn’t “understand steak houses that open here making a virtue of the fact that they use American beef – the British beef I have had is the best I have had anywhere”.

While Matt may not yet have much knowledge of cuts, he does “pretty much avoid buying non-British”. As he hates the “overall big supermarket experience” he buys most of his meat from local independent butchers, which he has within walking distance. When “it’s a choice between rubbish ‘local’ supermarkets who aren’t good for meat, or fabulous, friendly independent butchers who really know what they’re doing, it’s no surprise I end up in the butchers”.



Alicia Fourie
Helen Best-Shaw
Karen Burns-Booth
Laura Scott
Mat Follas
Matt Gibson
Neil Davey
Sally Prosser

With thanks to Quality Standard Beef & Lamb for arranging a private masterclass with Martin Eccles and giving us some delicious British beef and lamb to take home. Further information about British beef (and lamb), including quality assurance, nutrition, cuts and carving advice can be found at the Simply Lamb & Beef website. Additional images courtesy of Quality Standard Mark and Shutterstock.

Cooking from French Food Safari

Sometimes I fall behind in writing about cookery books I’ve accepted for review. There is always a stack of books waiting for my attention, and I often feel vaguely guilty that I have already covered books that came in more recently than books that have been waiting a while. So I was delighted when a new friend agreed to take one from the pile and write a guest review about how she got on cooking from it. She chose French Food Safari by Maeve O’Meara and Guillaume Brahimi. Over to Tara Dean and her friend Dawn.

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I met Kavey through a friend when we needed somewhere to crash for the weekend whilst we went to Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park. I had heard much about Kavey, it was a delight to eventually meet both Kavey who eats and Pete who drinks. I live in Bristol and keep myself very busy. I work for an international sexual health company, run my own sports massage business and am studying for my Masters in Occupational Psychology which I will complete early next year. In my spare time I do Bikram yoga, go to the gym and spend time with my amazing friends.

Whilst at Kavey’s I raided her sweet and chocolate box, as a blogger she gets sent lots of samples and so I had a great time, we inevitably got to talking about food and blogging. Kavey had been sent a recipe book to review and was finding her time limited, I was excited and up for the challenge so she asked me to take the book, cook, eat and review. So here we are, I hope you enjoy reading about my experience.

I have a wonderful friend called Dawn who writes the dessert part of this review, we met a few years ago as we both started out our studies in Psychology. As a fellow northerner, she’s from the east I’m from the west, we both love good homely food that fills your belly and makes you feel nice and warm inside. I take my food seriously and don’t like to eat too much junk food. I am known in the office for my interesting concoctions, when I work late on a Thursday my manager stops by the kitchen specifically to inspect what I’m eating. I’ve often been asked at work if I’m vegetarian even when there is meat in the dish because I am eating something homemade which contains vegetables. People are taken aback when I start work at 8am and I have managed to cook a curry or soup for my lunch before arriving. Life’s too short to eat food that does not taste good. I pride myself in making quick, inexpensive and healthy meals. Now that’s not quite how things happen when you cook from a French cooking book. My point is I can relate to people taking food seriously.

I cooked the main and thankfully Dawn did the dessert. We both thought we had picked a fairly easy none complicated dessert for her. One of the phrases I remember from the evening was from her husband Marc when she asked him to help her with the puff pastry. His reply was ‘No. I’ve made puff pastry once’. He meant you only ever made fresh puff pastry once, learn your lesson, and then buy pre-made ready to roll forever more. Knowing that, there are far more fun and less stressful ways you can spend your Saturday afternoon.


Lamb Navarin

I chose the Lamb Navarin recipe which in our terms is a French Lamb Stew. First stop was the butchers. The recipe calls for 1kg boned lamb shoulder and 1kg forequarter lamb racks, cut between every second rib. After showing my butcher the recipe book we decided it would be half the price, more meat and much easier to have 2 kg of lamb shoulder which he boned and then I could dice. This was very simple to cut and led to a much less messy eating experience and left me with more money to spend on red wine which fits into my northern values. The recipe says to use chicken stock for which it provides a recipe for – ain’t no one got time for that – or water – I compromised and used stock cubes which I do not think took any flavour away. I had never heard of Kipfler potatoes and neither had the assistant at my local greengrocers. I did a quick internet search and up popped a picture of a long nobbly potato. We ended up with Anya potatoes which hopefully did not take anything away.

I found the recipe well written and easy to follow other than wrestling with Dawn for page viewing. There is a point in the recipe which instructs you to strain the sauce through a fine sieve. I really did not see the point of this and as I was cooking in a piping hot, very heavy, cast iron casserole dish I declined to follow. The result was a beautiful navarin with succulent meat and flavoursome sauce. The celeriac puree containing almost a full pack of butter was the perfect accompaniment. As much as the guests enjoyed the navarin the puree enjoyed the most praise. One guest commented that if I made it again he would like to be on the guest list.

Along with preparation you are looking at a good 3 hours to make this meal. That is without an dessert or starter. The recipe claims this dish can serve 8 – 10 people. We had 7 people to feed, no one behaved like a piglet and overfilled their plate and we had very little in the way of leftovers. I think the writer has been overly optimistic. Unless in France they have extremely small portions to allow for the many courses you would normally expect at a dinner party, which of course is entirely possible, however as a northerner I would like my main course to feel like a main. We did serve cheese between the main and the dessert. Although I have always experienced cheese to be served after dessert the author of French Food Safari says any French person knows that the cheese is served before dessert. Not wanting to appear as amateurs we stuck to tradition.

The book itself is well presented and inviting. There are sections on cheeses, meat, and very fancy desserts which you need specialist equipment to attempt. The recipes do look very inviting and I’m looking forward to trying some more…….. maybe for the next dinner party!

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Tarte Tatin by Dawn

A super friend of mine called Tara invited me to do a joint review of the new ‘French Food Safari’ and with the chitchat of good friends it was quickly decided: there would be a dinner party and it would be held in my kitchen. I offered to make dessert since this is a dish I always feel I do in a hurry when I have a dinner party. The idea of oodles of time without distraction from other dishes to prepare, felt like finally, without neglect, I was in a position to consider this dessert’s every need!

The dessert? Tarte Tatin…The perfect antidote to the autumn air. This is a dish I have enjoyed without fail on numerous occasions during my time spent living in France as a student in the 90’s. My husband is part French and always holds a certain nostalgia for this dessert since his French grandmother would often make it.

On first sight, the recipe seemed fairly straightforward. I have, on several occasions baked a Tarte Tatin so thought it near impossible that I should find myself in troubled waters. Oh how I was wrong! The recipe required me to make puff pastry. Although I have experience of making shortcrust pastry I knew straightaway that to make puff pastry you need inherent qualities such as patience, determination and time. With a flick of my hair I decided I had time on my side and should not focus on the aforementioned qualities!

Some points regarding the recipe quantities: the pastry recipe required 500ml water, 250 ml of which needed to be ice-cold. After 250ml water I found my dough to be all pasty and did not even dare to add the next vat of water. I became a little disheartened at this and wondered how on earth I could possibly inject more water into it, considering all my quantities again-had I put too little flour in? All the quantities were right so with deep breath and without further ado I made a pledge to move on and get cracking with peeling the apples. With an eye on the time and my pastry in mind, I looked forward to what I thought had to be the more straightforward part of the recipe.

After peeling, de-seeding and coring the apples I made the caramel. On the previous occasions I’ve made Tarte Tatin I have added the sugar and butter to the fruit at the time of cooking so i was a little surprised that the caramel was made separately but appreciated trying out new methods! I know that you have to e very attentive to a caramel to stop it burning so I gave it my full attention despite the knowledge my pastry was going to be crying out for affection in the fridge before long. Unfortunately what I found is that there was not enough direction in the instructions. i was starting to feel concerned about the caramel bubbling away for 8 mins with apples and then being turned up to full heat until the apples became caramelised. I was also using a cast-iron pan which does, of course, retain a lot of heat in comparison to other materials.

The apples looked golden and caramelised and picture-perfect. Time to return to the pastry again…

I started to become aware of time: with guests arriving at 8pm I was not going to have this dessert done and dusted before their arrival even though I had started at around 5:15pm. I estimated that by 8:15pm the Tarte, pastry in tow, would be ready to put in the oven. One aspect which would have really helped in making this pastry… photos. There weren’t enough photos of the various contortions this pastry required during the rolls. A picture of all four corners folded in would have been welcomed with open arms.

Three hours and 15 minutes later saw the birth of my Tarte Tatin. It looked amazing.

The taste was disappointing. Everyone agreed it tasted a little burned. A slightly burned caramel sullied the whole dish and those melt in your mouth apples were suddenly left without a plan B. The pastry was ok but nothing special, not quite what I’d expect from having toiled and troubled over it for hours… I kicked myself for not buying ready-made pastry. At least I would have had an easier time coming to terms with a burnt caramel not to mention extra time to prepare for guests.

With more handholding I could have tackled this dessert. I cook and bake a great deal with 2 small children and a husband to feed but this recipe needed a chef (as well as more photos, directions and bags of time) and that, I hasten to add, I am definitely not.

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With thanks to Tara and Dean for their review, and to Hardie Grant for review copy of French Food Safari.

Using Leftovers: Lamb & Spring Onion Hoisin Lettuce Wraps

Roasting an enormous shoulder of lamb (1.6 kilos) for just three people meant we had a lot of leftovers. More than half, actually! All gently infused with garlic and the merest hint of rosemary.

Some went into sandwiches and some into a beautifully rich and meaty ragu that Pete cooked up.


The rest I turned into lamb and spring onion hoisin lettuce wraps, a quick and delicious mid-week evening meal.


Lamb & Spring Onion Hoisin Lettuce Wraps

Serves 2-3

300-400 grams leftover roast lamb, approx. 1 cm dice
3-4 spring onions, halved lengthways and cut into 4 cm batons
Approx. half a jar supermarket hoisin sauce
1 head iceberg lettuce
Sesame oil, to fry (or any vegetable oil)
(Optional) quarter of cucumber, cut into thin 4 cm batons

Note: I used half a 240 gram jar of Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients hoisin sauce, which is not as strong as the hoisin I buy from the Oriental supermarket. If using the stronger stuff, reduce amount of sauce by a third to a half and add a tablespoon or two of water, if needed, to help it coat the lamb.


  • Carefully peel the leaves away from the head of lettuce, wash thoroughly and leave to drain.
  • Wash and cut the cucumber and spring onion batons and dice the leftover lamb.


  • Heat sesame oil in a wok or large saucepan and add the diced lamb. Stir regularly.


  • Once the lamb has started to heat up, add the spring onions and continue to fry, stirring regularly, for another couple of minutes.


  • Once the onions have softened to your liking, pour in the hoisin sauce and stir thoroughly, until the lamb is evenly coated and piping hot.


  • Serve by placing cucumber batons and hoisin lamb into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the leaf around the contents and enjoy!


Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm. For reader discount code, see end of previous post.

Time for a Classic: Garlic & Rosemary Roast Lamb

The lamb we were sent by Graig Farm is truly fabulous. The joints in particular have been a joy; one lamb leg roasted with za’atar and sumac and the other roasted plain. The lamb is as tender as could be, yet full of flavour too.


When it came to the turn of the enormous shoulder of lamb, we decided to keep it classic and pair the lamb with garlic and rosemary. This lamb has such wonderful flavour that we knew it would stand up to the two strong flavours without being overwhelmed.


Garlic & Rosemary Shoulder of Lamb

1 x 1.6 kilo shoulder of lamb
3-4 heads of garlic
4-5 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Note: Adjust quantities for smaller joints.



  • Preheat the oven to 180 C.


  • Cut the tops off 3 heads of garlic.
  • Retain the main part of the garlic heads and wrap each one in foil, sealed at the top.
  • Retrieve the pieces of garlic from the tops of the 3 heads and break open the remaining head of garlic and peel all the cloves.


  • Cut deep slits into the lamb.
  • Push the large chunks of garlic deep into the slits.


  • Tie the rosemary over the joint.
  • Place the foil-wrapped garlic heads in the roasting dish, around the lamb joint.


  • Pop the lamb into the oven to roast. For medium, I give 25 minutes per half kilo plus 25 minutes; for this 1.6 kilo joint, I roasted it for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • Take the lamb out of the oven, cover loosely with a sheet of foil and leave to rest for about 20 minutes. (We crank up the heat on the roast potatoes for those last 20 minutes).


  • Cook your veg, make your gravy and serve.

Tip: Keep the sweet, sweet roasted garlic from the foil-wrapped garlic heads aside to enjoy smeared over toast the next day, stir the roasted garlic into your gravy, or just serve a head per guest and let them squeeze it out and enjoy it with the lamb.


A classic roast dinner that is hard to beat!

Coming up soon, a great recipe for leftover lamb…


Discount Code

Try Graig Farm organic Welsh lamb (or any other meat such as beef and pork) yourself with a special discount code for Kavey Eats readers:


The code gives you 20% off orders over £50 and also includes free delivery. It’s valid until June 30th 2013 and can be used three times per household. Of course, you can pass the code on to friends and family, if they’d like to place an order for themselves.


Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm.

Za’atar & Sumac Crusted Roast Leg of Lamb


Whilst there’s something to be said for leaving well alone when you know the quality of the meat is good, sometimes it’s nice to add a little extra flavour to a roast dinner. I made a very quick and simple za’atar and sumac rub for this beautiful half leg of organic Welsh lamb from Graig Farm. It worked very well, creating a spicy and robustly flavoured crust but allowing the flavour of the lamb to shine.

I still have lots of Abu Kassem’s za’atar from the trip we made to his farm in Lebanon back in 2011. Follow that link to read more about how he selectively bred from wild herbs and how he now produces za’atar that is sold across Lebanon, from his farm in the south of the country. The za’atar mix he sells includes the herb itself, dried sumac berries, toasted sesame seeds and salt.

I’m not sure of the identify of the green plant Abu Kassem calls za’atar. It’s often translated as wild thyme but the term refers to several herbaceous plants including different oreganos, savouries, marjorams and thymes. Of course, all of these herbs work well with lamb.

I added more sumac as I wanted to bring out the lemon-citrus flavour of this element of Abu Kassem’s blend.


Za’atar & Sumac Crusted Roast Leg of Lamb

1 kg half leg of lamb
2 tablespoons za’atar spice blend
1 tablespoon powdered sumac
2 tablespoons olive oil

Note: For larger or smaller legs of lamb, adjust the volume of the spice and oil rub accordingly.


  • Combine the za’atar, sumac and oil and mix well.
  • Rub the spice and oil mix all over the surface of the lamb joint.
  • Roast according to your normal temperature times. (I roasted for half an hour per 500 grams in a fan oven pre-heated to 180 C and my lamb was cooked to medium).
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.



Discount Code

Try Graig Farm organic Welsh lamb (or any other meat such as beef and pork) for yourself with a special discount code for Kavey Eats readers:


The code gives you 20% off orders over £50 and also includes free delivery. It’s valid until June 30th 2013 and can be used three times per household. Of course, you can pass the code on to friends and family, if they’d like to place an order for themselves.

If you haven’t decided what to have for your Easter Sunday roast, get an order in fast for a superb joint of lamb. The boned rolled shoulder was gorgeous roasted with garlic and rosemary, and the leftovers made wonderful hoisin lettuce wraps and a delicious ragu with pasta.


Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm.

Organic Welsh Lamb from Graig Farm: Garam Masala Marinated Lamb Loin Chops

With ever rising populations and land pressure, I’m not being controversial when I state that we need to reduce the amount of meat in our diets and increase the volume of grain and vegetables we eat.

But for those of us who love eating meat, this is easier said than done.

There are two ways to do this: the first is to use smaller portions of meat in each meal, such as a 50 grams of bacon used to give flavour and texture to a pasta dish or a fresh vegetable salad with a handful of leftover roast chicken or a stroganoff with lots of mushrooms and only a little steak; the second way is to balance a couple of meat-heavy meals a week with several vegetarian ones. I tend to waiver between these, and don’t eat as many vegetarian meals as I should, which is a shame as I adore tofu and enjoy cooking our home-grown vegetables.

If you opt for the second approach then, budget permitting, it makes a lot of sense to enjoy the best quality meat you can afford – a little of the good stuff rather than a lot of the mediocre.

In a recent article in the Guardian, Alex Renton says:

Lamb is a green dream: the most gentle, ecologically, of all the farmed meats we eat. There is no animal more naturally-raised – it’s all free range and the feed just grows at their feet. Sheep don’t need water in the vast quantities cattle require and farming them is in itself a form of recycling: they graze hills and marginal land, recovering nutrients from poor grass and weeds other livestock won’t eat.

The land that will support one cow and calf can take as many as seven ewes and their lambs. And the grassy downs of modern England look as they do largely because of grazing sheep.

The lamb we produce in Britain is spectacularly good. Our climate seems well suited, both in terms of landscape and weather and the resulting meat is a delight.

A couple of months ago, I was sent a selection box of organic Welsh lamb by Graig Farm. Based in Mochdre in Montgomeryshire, the farm has been run by the Rees family since the 1940’s and has been certified as organic since 1999. Jonathan Rees is committed to producing great food “without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, growth promoting drugs, routine use of antibiotics, and the large amount of additives often used in ‘non-organic’ methods”. Their sheep and cattle graze in grass, clover and herb pastures and their pigs are able to forage in the woods. Ten years ago, they built a processing plant on site, and do all the butchery and processing themselves at the farm.

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Delivery was straightforward. The meat was neatly packed in a large polystyrene box and kept nicely cooled with ice packs, however I’d have preferred more ecologically-friendly packaging options such as the British sheep-wool insulation that Paganum use.

My box contained 2 half lamb legs, 2 lamb leg steaks, 4 lamb loin chops, 1 boned & rolled lamb shoulder, 2 lamb chump chops and 1 rack of lamb, all organic, of course. This box is priced at £89.

People often dismiss spending the extra on organic with complaints that organic produce tastes no difference to non-organic. In many cases, that’s true. But there are a host of other reasons to consider organic, including the environmental impact of pesticides and fertilisers, the fact that organic farms are far friendlier to wildlife and, on a more selfish note, the vastly reduced use of additives. And farmers who can’t resort to the easy option of pumping their animals full of drugs focus much more strongly on keeping them healthy by more natural means. That added care and attention often does make itself evident in the taste. Of course, there are regulated controls on feed too, which also have an impact on the final product.

Every cut of Graig Farm lamb we’ve eaten has been absolutely superb. The meat is tender but not mushy, the flavour is sweet and rich, and there’s enough fat running through to keep the meat moist as it cooks. I really could not be happier with the quality of the meat.

For the lamb loin chops, I made a very simple marinade and then cooked the chops in a hot oven for about 25 minutes.


Garam Masala Marinated Lamb Loin Chops

For the marinade, I first combined 4 bay leaves, a piece of cinnamon bark about an inch wide and long, 1 brown cardamom pod and a couple of small green ones, 6 peppercorns and 3 cloves. These were powdered using a spice grinder and then mixed into approximately two cups of full fat yoghurt. I marinated the chops for a couple of hours before cooking.

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Discount Code

Try Graig Farm organic Welsh lamb (or any other meat such as beef and pork) for yourself with a special discount code for Kavey Eats readers:


The code gives you 20% off orders over £50 and also includes free delivery. It’s valid until June 30th 2013 and can be used three times per household. Of course, you can pass the code on to friends and family, if they’d like to place an order for themselves.

If you haven’t decided what to have for your Easter Sunday roast, get an order in fast for a superb joint of lamb. The boned rolled shoulder was gorgeous roasted with garlic and rosemary, and the leftovers made wonderful hoisin lettuce wraps and a delicious ragu with pasta.


Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm.

Celebration Feasting | Tandoori Leg of Lamb

When asked me for alternative ideas and twists for a Christmas day dinner I knew just the recipe – my mum Mamta’s Tandoori Leg of Lamb. It can be served with all the normal roast dinner trimmings, as we do in our house, or as the central dish to an Indian feast. It’s ideal for an Easter menu too.


My video recipe is now live on their site, as are other delicious ideas from fellow bloggers. Check them out too!

Mamta’s Tandoori Leg of Lamb

Leg of lamb, approximately 2 kg
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and 2 halved
1.5 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons besan (gram) flour (leave out if not available)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
A few strands of saffron, soaked in a tablespoon of warm water
3-4 bay leaves
1 inch stick of cinnamon
3-4 cardamoms
6-7 black pepper corns
5-6 cloves
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 tablespoons good quality oil
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 small carton of creamy, natural yoghurt
Salt to taste

Note: You can replace the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamoms, black pepper corns and cloves with 1 tablespoon of good quality garam masala. Home made is best, as cheap ready made ones are bulked out with other, cheaper spices.


  1. Make slits in the leg of lamb, insert a few halved cloves of garlic into a few of the slits, and set lamb aside.
  2. Optional: Grind the whole spices (see Hints & Tips).
  3. Place all ingredients except yoghurt into a blender and blitz until smooth.
  4. Transfer paste to a bowl, add yoghurt and mix well.
  5. Taste and adjust spices. Remember that the spice paste has to give enough flavour to 2 kg of meat, so it has to taste a little over-salted and over-spiced at this stage.
  6. Spread the spice paste over the lamb, ensuring that some is worked into the slits.
  7. Leave to marinade at least overnight. For best results, 24 to 36 hours.
  8. Place on a baking tray and cover with aluminium foil.
  9. Cook at 375 F, 190C for 1 1/2 hours for pink meat (or 2 hours for well-done meat).
  10. Baste from time to time and leave uncovered for last half hour, so that the spices and meat turn brown.

Hints & Tips


  • Make sure you use full fat yoghurt for this recipe as low fat yoghurt often splits when heat is applied. Thick Greek-style yoghurt works well.
  • If using frozen lamb, defrost thoroughly and drain resulting liquids before applying marinade.
  • Instead of buying tiny jars of spices from the supermarket, it’s more economical to buy in slightly larger quantities from Asian grocery shops. However, spices fade over time, so if you don’t use them up quickly, they’ll lose their intensity of flavour. I’d recommend storing a small amount of each one in easy-to-access spice jars, keeping the rest in your freezer and replenishing as and when you need to.
  • Fresh ingredients such as ginger, coriander and other key ingredients for Indian cooking are also often cheaper in Asian and other ethnic grocery shops. If you don’t have an Indian or Pakistani shop near you, look in stores specialising in Chinese or Caribbean food, as there are many cross-over ingredients.


  • If your food processor or blender is not very powerful, grind the whole spices in a spice or coffee grinder first, before combining them with the other ingredients. If you have a powerful food processor or blender, add the whole spices with the other ingredients and grind in one step.


  • You can use this marinade recipe on any meat or fish from larger joints or whole chickens, to smaller cuts such as lamb shanks or individual portions of chicken. It also works well on whole fish, though will need far less marinating time.

Serve with

  • We love this tandoori roast lamb with traditional British trimmings – roast potatoes and parsnips, carrot and swede mash, savoy cabbage and gravy. We serve it with either a mint raita or mint jelly. For Christmas, we add chipolatas and stuffing and brussel sprouts for my sister who adores them…
  • Of course, the lamb leg also works as the centrepiece for an extravagant Indian feast. I recommend my favourites such as chicken curry, stuffed aubergines, an additional vegetable dish such as cauliflower and potatoes, a daal or red kidney bean curry, some chapatis and rice on the side. To start, maybe pakoras or samosas and afterwards, a vermicelli kheer, similar to rice pudding but made with vermicelli pasta. Recipes for these dishes can be found on my mum’s site, Mamta’s Kitchen.


  • Use leftovers just as you would with those from a plain lamb roast – make shepherd’s pie, lamb hot pot, a simple lamb curry, lamb and potato cakes or enjoy it sliced cold in sandwiches or wraps, with some of the minted cucumber and onion raita.


The introductory segment was filmed right at the end and it was after 11 pm by then, so I’m blaming my odd bounciness in that bit on my tiredness, but the rest is not as cringe-worthy as I feared!

I hope you enjoyed it.