My Bangladesh Kitchen – a new cookbook from Saira Hamilton
Bangladesh is a land of contrasts, from busy cities to the verdant and fertile countryside, with fish ponds, lakes and rivers at every turn. The cuisine reflects the abundance of vegetables and fish, and has a distinctive taste defined in particular by tamarind, the ubiquitous mustard oil, and the spice blend called panch poran. In this book Saira has brought together her much-loved recipes, with 100 everyday classics, regional specialities, street snacks, and impressive celebration food too. It is packed with background detail and anecdote, vibrant photographs of every dish, and an informative introduction describing the ingredients and cooking techniques of Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh is a country everyone has heard of, but few people know. On one hand, you have the high-energy bustle of the city, enveloped by the dusty, smoggy air, diesel fumes and heady street-food smells. At the other end of the scale you have the beauty of the countryside, with its reddish heavy-clay soil, lush greenery, and the abundance of water in ponds, lakes and rivers. The Bangladeshi connection to the land is still incredibly strong. There are many years and many memories held within these recipes from across the range of Bangladeshi cuisine. These dishes will introduce you to some of the ingredients and cooking techniques which make Bangladeshi cuisine what it is, and I hope that they will become as familiar and dear to you as they are to me.”
Saira Hamilton, 2019
Saira Hamilton is a chef, cookery demonstrator and food writer, specialising in her Bengali-inspired food. Saira reached the finals of MasterChef 2013, and during the competition won high praise for her delicious dishes and deft spicing. Saira’s family settled in the UK but always maintained a close relationship with the country, and spent many holidays in Bangladesh. Saira’s love of cooking was inspired by her mother Nadira, and the passion she kindled in her for the food and culture of their motherland.
Please contact Joanna on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, reviews and features.
£20.00 / $35.00 288 pages, 255 x 208 mm, hardback ISBN: 9780754834502
It’s time for a recipe. I’ve been working on an exciting project with a charity called Find Your Feet which runs a brilliant campaign called ‘Curry for Change’ every year. This encourages anyone who can cook, from top restaurant chefs like Vivek Singh to supper club hosts and food bloggers, to hold events to raise money for people suffering from food poverty in Asia and Africa. Click on the link to find out how you can join in!It’s a great campaign that I have supported in the past and this year I am helping them with a new angle to the campaign which encourages home cooks to host a dinner party at home. This is called ‘Host at Home’ and what with my ambition to get everyone cooking authentic Indian food and curries from scratch, at home, it was a no-brainer for me to offer my services to help them.
So watch this space for my Host-at-Home recipe pack, which will come with full recipes for a 3 course meal and step-by-step instructions on how to deliver a fabulous evening with a minimum of stress and fuss. As I was working on my recipes, I realised that there is one recipe I use probably once a week during the summer that I haven’t shared for quite a while.
Sheek kebabs are traditionally made with minced meat, often mutton but they can be made with beef, lamb, pork, turkey or anything else you like to eat to be honest. If I can’t get mutton, my preference is to use a mixture of lamb and beef mince, as I think you get the depth of flavour from the beef and the nice juiciness that comes from the higher fat content in the lamb.
The recipe is in fact terribly simple. Shove all the ingredients in a bowl together and mix them really, really well. I don’t mean just move them around in a clockwise direction, I mean really get in there and squish it all together so that every mouthful of the finished kebab is soft and yielding, and has a good mix of all the flavours and spices. And then you grill them. Simples!
The mixture can be made well ahead of time (24 hrs in advance if necessary) and stored in the fridge. At the last minute add the lemon, form the kebabs on skewers and the grill on a pre-heated barbecue for 6-8 minutes. Job done! Served with yoghurt raitha and some salad, these kebabs will enliven any BBQ spread. Much more interesting than just the usual burgers and sausages. So give this super-simple and delicious recipe a try and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Recipe: Sheek kebabs
600g minced beef or lamb (or a mixture)
2 tsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric
1½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 red onion finely diced
1½ tbsp garlic paste (crushed or grated fresh garlic is perfect)
1½ tbsp ginger paste (crushed or grated fresh ginger is perfect)
2 green chillies, finely chopped
big handful of chopped coriander (or mint and parsley)
1 egg, beaten
zest and juice of half a lemon
Place the minced meat in a large mixing bowl, and add in all the other ingredients. Mix together really well, with hands is always best! If you can leave the mixture to develop the flavours for an hour or two, the resulting kebabs will be better. If the mix feels too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it is too dry you may need to add more egg. If you are preparing the mixture in advance, leave out the lemon zest and juice and only add this just before cooking.
Divide the mixture into 16 equal portions, by dividing the mixture in half and then half again until you end up with 16 balls of kebab mix. Take each portion and roll into a long thin sausage shape; the easiest way is to crimp it around a metal or bamboo skewer. Wet your hands between each ball for a smooth finish. Press the mixture together well whilst shaping the kebabs to ensure you have a good texture to the finished product.
Once formed, cover with cling film and allow the kebabs to rest in the fridge until you are ready to cook them (at least 30 minutes). When you are ready to cook, pre-heat your BBQ to a medium-high heat. Carefully place the kebabs onto the BBQ and grill. The kebabs will need to be turned several times, but wait until they have a good caramelised colour on one side before turning to avoid them breaking apart during cooking. They should only take 6-7 minutes, but always check the meat is cooked to your liking before serving. Serve with raitha and lots of salad dressed with lemon juice, oil and a pinch of salt.
* if you need to make these gluten-free you can use GF breadcrumbs or gram flour instead