We all enjoy eating out on holiday but one of the many pleasures of self-catering is being able to spend a relaxed evening in the cottage with the facilities on hand to prepare your very own culinary delight using locally sourced ingredients.
Whether you have booked a bijou cottage with limited facilities or a luxury pad with a state of the art kitchen, it is likely that you will want to spend your holiday time relaxing, socialising and being out and about exploring the area. So we wanted to share with you some of our favourite receipes that are easy to cook and taste every bit as good as something you would have in the local pub or restaurant. Recipes that need only a few ingredients to make them fantastic; require little equipment (ideally one pot wonders!); and dishes that can be left to their own devices while you get on with enjoying your holiday.
Our first is one of the finest and easiest curries we believe you are ever likely to cook – ideal if you are away for the weekend and cooking for friends, want a hot & spicy meal for two or fancy a hearty family supper at the end of the day (you may want to reduce the chillies if the kids don’t like spicy food). For me, this lamb dish is just what a curry should be – packed full of flavour; medium in terms of heat (but feel free to add more chillies if you feel brave); slightly creamy and lots of onions and sauce to mop up with your rice and breads. We discovered this favourite in Rick Stein’s ‘India’ cook book (Lamb Dopiaza on page 238) and as he says himself, once you have cooked it, you question why you bother spending time grinding and frying pastes and ingredients required for other more labour intensive curry dishes. It really is a case of throw it all in one pot, stir it around and leave it for a couple of hours to get on with itself – allowing plenty of time for some ‘sundowners’ with friends, a bubble in the hot tub or a long walk to work up an appetite for the pleasure that awaits upon your return!
We have made a few ‘tweaks’ to the recipe with the aim of making it as easy as possible to cook in unfamiliar surroundings whilst away from home.
Ingredients for an adapted version of Rick Stein’s Lamb Dopiaza
The recipe is meant to feed four but we have found it good for two greedy people with a healthy appetite (having a little sauce and onions left over). If you are cooking for four big eaters then you may want to increase the lamb to 1 kilogramme (per four people) and use one and a half quantities of the other ingredients below so there is plenty of meat and sauce to mop up for everyone.
- Lamb Shoulder (500 grammes) diced into nice bite size pieces – definitely the best cut for this ‘melt in your mouth’ dish (you could also use mutton or goat).
- Onions (1 kilo – lots!) simply cut into quarters (no fine chopping!).
- Fresh ginger (15 grammes, basically a nice fat thumb length piece) skin removed and finely chopped) – you could probably use jarred or ginger paste if you really can’t get fresh but try to get the real thing, even if it means taking it from home.
- Yogurt (500 grammes) – this is equally as nice (or possibly nicer) with sour cream or a combination of the two.
- Garlic (6 cloves) finely chopped.
- Butter or ghee (3 tablespoons) – the recipe actually calls for 6 but if you are conscious of your waistline then go for less (3 seems to be every bit as good from a taste perspective and means there is no fat to spoon off on top once cooked).
- Water (250ml).
- Spices: coriander seeds (4 teaspoons); tumeric (1 teaspoon); cumin seeds (2 teaspoons); cloves (1 teaspoon); cinamon stick (10 cms in length); Kashmiri chillies (5-10 large dried chillies left complete – the recipe calls for 10 but if nervous, 5 gives a good warmth and if you cannot get the Kashmiri variety, look for large deep red dried whole chillies but not the little ‘birds eye’ ones as they are incredibly hot!); peppercorns (1 teaspoon left whole); salt (1 1/2 tablespoons) and green cardamon pods (6 bruised). To make this even easier whilst away, take all of these spices from home and put them into a small jar or freezer bag together. Then when it comes to cooking, there’s no measuring out, just put them straight into the pot with the other ingredients.
Method: This takes apx 15 minutes to prepare. Simply put all the ingredients into a large casserole pot, give it a stir, bring it up to simmering point, then put the lid on and put it into the oven for approximately two hours at around 170 degrees celcius (if you wanted it to cook for longer and slower just turn the heat down). You can also cook this on the hob as recommended in the recipe, over a low simmering heat with the lid on for 2 hours but the oven option is hassle free and leaves you to get on with your holiday activities whilst cooking. Some holiday cottages have slow cookers and this recipe would work equally as well via this method, leaving you free to go out for the day and come home to the wonderful aromas of curry!
Basmati rice, onions bhaji’s and breads (chapatis, naans or whatever you can source from the local shops) make the perfect accompaniment, as do some ready cooked popadoms (most shops sell these) to nibble on beforehand with some mango chutney.
Whilst this isn’t exactly what you would call a local dish, it is one that can beautifully incorporate local produce. If you are holidaying in the Lake District, make sure you source Herdwick Lamb which is readily available in the area and delicious; if you are in the Gower, Salt Marsh Lamb is a must; the Scottish Blackface Lamb takes some beating or if you are holidaying in Kent, try the Romney Marsh Lamb. Most areas have their own breed they are proud of so use your holiday as an opportunity to eat like a local.
Whether you are cooking for your friends, partner or family, this dish is sure to be a holiday favourite and is perfect for popping in the oven while you stroll down to the pub to sample a pint of the local brew!
We hope you enjoy the first of our hassle free holiday recipes and please do leave any comments, tips or share other recipes with us below.