Tabbouleh with radishes

Photography by Kris Kirkham, Styling by Olia Hercules

Photography by Kris Kirkham, Styling by Olia Hercules

This was inspired by my friend Linda’s recipe. I am nuts about radishes and they always add an interesting texture, juiciness and pleasantly bitter notes to a salad. I used freekeh, which is a type of toasted wheat and has an ace smoky flavour.

Tabbouleh is fun to play around with though. Add pomegranate seeds, torn cherry tomatoes, finely chopped cucumber. As long as there are bags of finely chopped herbs and a little bit of grain (tabbouleh should be mostly herbs with a little bit of grain) – you are there.

You can use any grain you have knocking about in your house – pearl barley, cous cous, brown rice, the traditional bulgar. The key is not to overcook it (the grain must have a bite) and to soak it in seasoned lemon juice while still warm.

The first time I tried tabbouleh was in Cyprus, where I lived for five years as a teenager. We used to go to The Syrian Club – our local in Limassol, I’ve never had better Arabic food anywhere. The bulgar shards in their tabbouleh were very much al dente and very zingy.

Try not to bruise the herbs while chopping. I will post a video showing you how to chop big bunches of herbs shortly.

Tabbouleh with radishes

100g freekeh
2 lemons, juice only
1/2 tsp Maldon salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil

1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of mint, finely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped
100g cherry tomatoes, torn with your thumbs (catch juices in a bowl)
150g radishes, finely chopped

1. Cook the freekeh in lots of boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes. It should still have a little bit of a bite.
2. Mix the lemon, salt and sugar, let them dissolve and add the olive oil. When the freekeh is ready stir the lemon mixture through the freekeh and let it cool.
3. Mix the rest of the ingredients and stir the cool freekeh and tomato juices through. Adjust the seasoning to taste and add more lemon juice and olive oil if the salad needs it. Serve with slow-cooked lamb and a flagon of Lebanese white wine.


Blood orange, pomegranate and feta salad

Blood orange, mint, pomegranate, feta salad

Photography by Kris Kirkham Styling by Olia Hercules

Blood oranges are coming to the end of their short season. If you can still find them, get them and make this salad that has been inspired by my friend Emma Franklin. She served it with a ten hour pulled lamb (which she cooked with some pigs fat on top – hells yeah!) and Chinese steamed buns. That’s what I call the best kind of fusion. A truly memorable meal. If you can’t find blood oranges, use some regular ones.

This gorgeous photograph is from my test shoot with Kris Kirkham, a rising star and a beautiful person.

Blood orange, mint, pomegranate and feta salad

Serves 2 as a side

1 blood orange
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch mint, leaves only (large ones torn)
1/2 pomegranate, seeds only
100g feta, crumbled


1 tsp of lime juice
2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp honey

1. To take the skin off the orange, slice off a little bit off the top and bottom to make it stable. Then stand it up and slice the skin off, taking off the pith as you go along. Then slice it into rounds and set aside.

2. Next make the dressing. Place the lime juice in a jar and add a pinch of Maldon salt – the acid will help it dissolve immediately. Then add the rest of the dressing ingredients and shake the jar. Taste it – the dressing should be sweet, tart and slightly salty. Add more pomegranate molasses, honey or lime juice to taste.

3. To assemble the salad place some large torn mint leaves on a plate. Then arrange the blood orange slices on top. Sprinkle the pomegranate molasses and feta over, then scatter some small whole mint leaves and onion slices on top. Finish with a drizzle of the dressing. Serve as a starter or with some lovely pulled lamb, pork or fish.


Preserved lemon and herb lamb

PulledLambRaw copy

Preserved lemon lamb

Middle Eastern lamb

Photography by Kris Kirkham Styling by Olia Hercules

1 large bunch of coriander, leaves and stalks~
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
30g ginger, peeled
10 small preserved lemons, rind only
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1/2 tbsp Maldon salt
1 leg of lamb (or shoulder)

200ml of lamb stock or water

1. Place the first six ingredients into a food processor and blitz to a paste.
2. Rub this all over the lamb and leave to marinade for a couple of hours or overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 150C. Place the lamb and all its marinade into a large baking tray. Pour in the stock and cover tightly with foil.
4. Cook in the oven for 4-5 hours or until the meat is tender and pulls away easily from the bone. Pull the lamb meat and mix it with a ladleful of the sauce. Serve in a warm pita bread with the blood orange salad and a tabbouleh.

Photography by Kris Kirkham Styling by Olia Hercules

Photography by Kris Kirkham Styling by Olia Hercules

Traditional Ukrainian red borsht

Photograph by David Munns Styling by Olia Hercules

Photograph by David Munns Styling by Olia Hercules

It is wonderful to see how much debate our green borsht video on The Guardian has generated!

Just a quick explanation – a traditional Ukrainian borsht is beetroot red (even though my mum says that the colour should be dusty pink rather than bright red!).

Green borshch, which is also sometimes called green shchi in Russia is a sorrel broth garnished with egg. It does indeed have very little to do with the traditional red borsht. Yet, this is what we call it – zeleniy borsht, green borsht.

My grandmother never added beetroot to the green version but it’s nice to add some beetroot leaves or stalks if you have some knocking about. People don’t realise that many a leaf is edible. If your radishes have fresh leaves – add them to a salad. You can cook with cauliflower leaves and Brussel tops!

Anyway, I digress! Here is a traditional Ukrainian red borsht recipe! Of course there are many a version. This is what my mother taught me.

Ukrainian red borsht
Making a good beef or chicken stock is hugely important here. I am a recent convert to slow cookers. Simply put some chicken bones, a piece of fatty brisket or chuck steak, bay leaf and a whole onion in the slow cooker and leave on low overnight. The broth will have a rich meaty flavour. You can also buy good stock or go vegetarian. The rest of borshch is dead easy to prepare.
Serves 4-6
1.5 L beef stock made with a large piece of brisket or chuck steak
300g beetroot, peeled and chopped into sticks
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, roughly grated
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 pepper, chopped
1 beef tomato roughly grated
200g potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 white cabbage, shredded
1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
1/2 bunch of dill, chopped
100ml sour cream to serve
1. Bring the stock to a simmer. Add the beetroot. True Ukrainian borshch is not bright red. The beetroot we use in Ukraine turns borsht a gorgeous deep pink colour. British beetroot is really red, but it just will have to do.
2. Add potato to the borsht.
2. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook over a medium heat, stirring until the carrot starts caramelising. This is a distinctively Ukrainian ‘sofritto’ technique called ‘smazhenie’. Add the pepper and the tomato paste, cook it out for 2 minutes, then add the grated fresh tomato, stir, reduce slightly and add all this to the borshch.
3. Finally add the shredded cabbage and the kidney beans and cook for 7 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, loads of chopped dill and pampushki.