Chowder originates from the New England region of the US, and is a potato based soup made with milk to give it a lovely creamy flavour. It can be made with chicken, clams or fish, but this corn version is easy, quick and will please more or less everyone. It is great served as a starter to an American themed meal, and also makes a great lunchtime soup together with a sandwich or just some of your favourite bread. The Spice Mountain touch is achieved by the addition of our Cajun blend to the recipe.
One of the most popular vegetarian curries of all, aloo gobi is a fairly dry dish consisting of spiced potatoes and cauliflower. Originally from Punjab, it is a veggie staple in India, and one of the most chosen side dishes in British Indian restaurants. Typically it is a very mild curry, but don't be afraid to chuck a bit of chilli its way, it will taste different but just as good. We like to serve it as part of a vegetarian thali alongside chappati, roti or paratha bread.
The ever-popular Spanish omelette makes for a filling and tasty lunchtime treat, and of course is perfect as part of a tapas table for a dinner party. While parboiled potatoes work fine, if you have the time cut the spuds into dice and fry slowly in olive oil with onions and garlic before adding to the tortilla pan. Spanish tortilla is generally very 'basic', so for this recipe we have added a few touches of our own – purists of course may skip these steps.
There are as many ways to make rice pudding as there are grains in a bag – it is a popular dessert in one form or another all over the world. This version however is as basic as it gets, and is the one my Nan made when I was a kid – Saturday lunchtimes when I went to stay there were either Shepherds' Pie or Lancashire Hotpot, with rice pudding to follow, and I looked forward to it all week. The smell of the nutmeg as it was lifted from the oven is something I remember to this day. The amount of nutmeg used may seem a trifle excessive, but it is absolutely essential – no other seasoning is required! Serve as it comes, or with cream, and a drizzle of honey does it no harm whatsoever.
This is an old-school French classic, country food which is found on many Bistro and Brasserie menus (often served as a side to duck dishes, or as a main with smoked sausage) and is also available canned in any decent supermarket over there. It is easy to make, and a wonderfully warming supper when served with some hot crusty bread and a crisp green salad. While no self-respecting French cook would ever leave out the lardons, vegetarians obviously can do so, and it is still just as tasty. It is one of those dishes which can be made and stored for later, as it gets better every time it is reheated.
This really is one from the memory banks! While in Hongkong in the early '80s one of our favourite restaurants was a little place in the Wanchai district, called SMBS. Its calling card was curries from around the Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, and the menu ran to over 50 dishes, many of which we hadn't come across before and haven't encountered since. This gorgeous mutton curry is one which has stuck in the mind. It's not a million miles from a Rogan Josh, to be honest, but redder and considerably hotter! (Note that if you do not enjoy the strong flavour of mutton, this curry can be made just as well with lamb, although we would point out it is tastier when using meat on the bone.) On returning to Hongkong for a visit in 2005 we found SMBS to be long gone, so in its memory give this one a try. You won't be disappointed!
Quick Caribbean style Chicken curry
This quick, basic and easy curry is perfect for a midweek supper, and a real taste of the Caribbean. It is a fairly mild curry, but can be beefed up by the addition of a couple of dried Scotch Bonnet chillis if you are a fan of the hot stuff! Coconut cream makes the curry rich and creamy, and alllows the flavour of the Poudre de Colombo to shine through. Serve with rice, or if you can get them, some real West Indian roti bread.
Classic Argentinean Steak Chimichurri
This is quick, easy and a real taste of South America’s cowboy country, the pampas. Argentina is rightly famous for its steak, which is traditionally accompanied by this Chimichurri sauce where the main flavours are derived from garlic, chilli and herbs. The sauce is served cold, so can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge. Take out from the fridge an hour or two before it is needed, to bring the sauce back to room temperature.
When we came up with this one, we were thinking along the lines of a traditional English rabbit stew reimagined in the Atlas Mountains, we guess! A great suppertime dish on a freezing evening, the rabbit really takes on the exotic flavours of the spices, remaining juicy and succulent with a slight zing of chilli, the sweetness of mint marrying well with the warm, aromatic spices. The end result is a delicious meal, and a wonderful smell in the kitchen! If you are not a fan of rabbit, this dish would work just as well with chicken thighs or even pork chops. Steamed couscous goes particularly well with this dish, but feel free to serve with rice or mash if you prefer.
One of the very best things ever to come out of America, Mac & Cheese has been a Spice Mountain favourite for as long as we can remember. As one of the most satisfying comfort foods it has been a midweek staple, and that oozingly cheesy flavour is only improved by the judicious addition of spice. There are differing schools of thought on whether Mac & Cheese should be finished in the oven – we say it depends if you're in a crunchy mood, or a saucy one! Dare to be different, and rotate between both. Mac & Cheese can be enjoyed alone, with a crunchy salad, and it is amazing served alongside the Beef Brisket featured in the previous recipe.