Soy bean and tofu stir fry with pickled cabbage, better known as BBC.

The ingredients.

We all know and love the BBC from Ying Chow- don’t we? Well I have had a few requests for this dish and Sarah spotted it in the background of the last post on smoked duck so I thought I would give you my recipe made up from eating there so many times, and from frequent cooking, it is shaping up to be quite good. My freak of a vegan sister loves it and out of anything (I can cook) in the whole world she asked for BBC for her birthday ‘treat’. Weird.

Anyway, instead of buying fried tofu I buy firm tofu, slice it like haloumi, dry it in paper towel and fry it in peanut oil to get a nice golden colour and texture happening. After more time on paper towel to absorb the oil I slice it into the size shown in the photo below for the dish.

I should clear up the BBC thing, it stands for broad bean, bean curd dish, even though they mean soy beans.

To the recipe:

2 1/2 tbsp peanut oil

1 cup pickled cabbage, rinsed well and squeezed dry in paper towel

½ tsp sugar

2 (roughly) 6 x 6cm pieces of firm tofu, sliced into rectangles 5mm thick, press onto paper towel to remove moisture

1 tsp ginger, finely chopped

2 spring onions, white part only, sliced

1 cup fresh soy beans, (they come frozen in Chinese supermarkets)

1/2 tbsp soy sauce

1 fresh birdseye chilli, sliced (optional garnish)

Heat 1/2 a tablespoon of the oil in a wok and fry the pickled cabbage for a minute. Add the sugar and stir until incorporated. Tip the cabbage onto a plate and put aside for now.

Heat another tablespoon of oil and fry the tofu slices until golden brown, remove and slice ready for the dish.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and fry the ginger for 10 seconds then add the spring onions and fry for another 10 seconds. Add the soy beans and stir fry for a minute then add the soy sauce. Return the cabbage to the wok and stir through then put the tofu into the wok, give it a stir around then take it off the heat once the tofu is hot enough and has absorbed some of the flavours. Serve straight away with smoked duck, or not. If you are vegan, just have it with a nice glass of water and some brown rice.


Spinach and potato curry.

I found myself home with an almost completely empty cupboard tonight, I had frozen spinach, potatoes and rice. That’s pretty much it. So I made up a new Spice Road recipe, it was my only choice really and sometimes I like to humour the vegetarians.

What I did was fry a chopped onion, some ginger and garlic, then about 1 tablespoon of the Spice Road to India paste. About a cup of cooked and chopped spinach,  5 baby potatoes peeled and halved or quartered, a cup of water and a teaspoon of tomato paste went in. I simmered this until the potatoes cooked and the liquid was almost gone then added some halved cherry tomatoes, cream, salt and a bit of sugar. Simmered this a bit longer. The rice was steamed with stock and saffron.

Nehari, Palak paneer and Naan.

You know how you often make an Indian curry and think it would be really super special to have naan bread like they have in Indian restaurants with it? Well you can’t have it, unless you get some take away from an Indian restaurant that has a tandoor (or you have a tandoor at home). The naans you get in supermarkets are like eating thongs, so I have been playing with recipes and cooking methods to produce some semi decent naans at home. I also want to pass on Nehari, a slowly cooked, rich, almost dry curry served always with a garnish of fresh herbs and spices.

Naan bread: 3/4 cup warm water to which you add 1 tsp powdered yeast and 1 tsp sugar, leave for 10 minutes until a froth forms on the top. In a bowl add 2 cups of plain flour, 1 tsp salt, a pinch of baking powder, 2 tablespoons of oil, grape seed or vegetable, mix this through with your fingers. Add 3 tablespoons of yoghurt then the yeast mixture, mix with your hands until you have a sticky dough. Knead for a bit adding more flour if it is sticking to your hands too much. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for 3 hours.

What I learned from naan trials: The dough is quite sticky and soft, there is little kneading because of it, just bring the dough together in a ball. Before you let it rise, oil your hands and work the oil through the dough for another couple of kneads. Once risen by half, sprinkle flour on the dough and make 6 balls, if you don’t flour it it is too sticky. Roll the balls in flour again before making the naans. I pushed the naan into shape by hand but you can use a rolling-pin. Have your oven on as high as it goes with a pizza stone on the middle rack. Wet your hands, pick up a naan then fling the naan from one hand to the other as you take it to the oven. The water on your hands helps stretch the dough and indent it like the ‘real ones’. Put the naan on the pizza stone, I could only fit 2 at a time. They take about 5 minutes to cook. Brush with butter (optional but better) and eat straight away.

I have made palak paneer from the SBS Food safari web site. It is quite authentic. I use the Food safari web site often for traditional standards recipes. I trust the site for recipes that work and are authentic as I say (I am a stickler to tradition), the recipes are demonstrated by the chefs or home cooks of the cuisine, and Maeve is fabulous. Mine looks (quite) different to the food safari recipe, I didn’t puree my spinach enough but it was still really good. Paneer can be bought from Indian supermarkets, an alternative would be firm tofu. Likewise the fenugreek that is sprinkled on top at the end, don’t skip the fenugreek, it makes the dish.

Nehari can be beef but I have always cooked it with lamb, it is preferably cooked over night and eaten with bread in the morning. I never serve it with rice, always bread and used as a scoop for the nehari. The origins of nehari are Lucknow way in the northern part of India near the Nepalese border, a very old city of Moghul vintage. The dish was taken to Pakistan after independence and has become the National dish of  Pakistan. The word nehari means the opposite of night, I guess that would be day, which is probably why it is eaten in the morning after 8 hours of cooking. These days you could cook it in a slow cooker while you are at work. I have made this dish many times and you will love me for the recipe.


2 tbsp grape seed (or other) oil

2k leg or shoulder of lamb cut in large chunks

1 1/2 tbsp garam masala

4 medium onions, blend in food processor

2 tsp ginger, minced or finely grated

2 t garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

2 tsp chilli powder, 1 tbsp coriander, ground, 2 tsp nutmeg, 1 1/2 tbsp fennel, ground

1 cup yoghurt

1 cup tomato puree (peeled and pureed fresh tomato or a passata from a jar)

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp paprika (spanish mild)

fresh coriander

3 long green chillies, chopped

more finely chopped ginger and onion for the garnish

Heat the oil in a heavy pot with a lid and brown the lamb in batches, sprinkle over half the garam masala to flavour the lamb as it browns. Remove the lamb, add more oil if needed, lower the heat and cook the onions gently for about 15 minutes. In a bowl mix the ginger, garlic, salt, coriander, nutmeg, fennel, yoghurt, tomato puree and remaining garam masala. Once the onions have had their time return the lamb, give a stir around then add the yoghurt/spice mixture and simmer a minute to blend. Add the bay leaves and paprika, sprinkle with a handful of coriander leaves and 1/2 of the chopped chillies. Stir through, put the lid on and cook in a low oven (140ish degrees) for 3 hours or more.

The garnish is like a gremolata, mix the rest of the chopped chillies with more chopped coriander and about a teaspoon of ginger and 2 teaspoons of onion. Wedges of lemon are also served on the side. The garnish lifts the flavours of the dish after such a long cooking time (very important, don’t skip it).