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Winner of Channel 4's 'Come Dine With Me' (West London) 'Bronze' winner in professionally judged 'AA Home Cooking Competition 2009' Appointed resident cookery columnist for Foodepedia

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Sunday, 7 June 2009


This weekend i had planned to bring you my story of visiting a lovely Afghani restaurant that i had been wanting to visit for a long time... "Mapquest" told me the journey would take me 30 minutes and after 90 minutes of driving, we finally, if not painstakingly, arrive at 'Masa'. Why Afghani food? Well, when i was a kid, i used to spend summers in Lausanne, Switzerland staying with my Mum's best friend who was married to a man named Nehad from Afghanistan. Nehad's mum, would cook for us and the memory of one special dish stayed in my mind and never left it... Afghani Polow (Polow meaning rice). Its a rice dish, very similar to that of Indian Biryani, but in my opinion, far more interesting.

From what i remember, there was a particular layer of spicing that made this dish so special. I recall fresh green chillies, cinnamon, ginger and of course bountiful chunks of wonderfully tender lamb. Anyway, sadly to my great disappointment, the restaurant menu was unspecial, the staff were not very helpful and despite my phonecall in advance to ensure they have this dish, i failed in my mission to re-visit childhood nostalgia 'Afghani style'. So alas i have no exotic tales to tell you, but watch this space as i've decided to get the spice mix from my Mums's friend and i will be making that special dish, one day very soon! So stay tuned!

In the meantime i have, of course, been up to my own cookery exploits and in the name of trying to make my diet more interesting, i have come up with a couple of very simple ways to make your average chicken breast much more exciting... and i wanted to share it with you. The first recipe is for Asian Pesto chicken and its so quick to make and so here goes! Using a hand blender (or processor) whizz up 3 inches of ginger, 2 fat garlic cloves, half a roughly chopped onion, 2 whole green chillies, a large handful of coriander (stalks n' all), 4 tablespoons of fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of soya sauce, juice of half a lime and a heaped teaspoon of sugar to balance all the saltiness from the fish & soya sauce out. You simply slice 1-2 chicken breasts and sautee them in a pan (with a tiny bit of oil) on a high heat until they cook through. At this stage i toss some chopped spring onions in the pan (about 2 inches long) and then i add the Asian pesto mixture and allow it to cook for about 5 minutes, before serving with some basmati rice. Zingy, fiery, delicious, almost zero fat and extremely non-boring for your average meal at home!

The second recipe is for a quick sweet chilli chicken wrap, which starts by crushing 1 fat garlic clove and grating 3 inches of ginger into a pan on a low heat. Low heat is a must to prevent the garlic and ginger from burning and turning bitter. Then slice a chicken breast (across the width) and turn up the heat in the pan to a high heat and sautee the chicken breasts until cooked through, but not too brown. At this stage add 2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce and a squeeze of lime, and you will notice that the mixture will start to caramelise and encrust the chicken (almost burning) but dont panic, because this is what you want. Just ensure you keep moving the chicken so you arent actually burning it and instead trying to draw all the chilli sauce onto the chicken. Remove from heat. Take a Tortilla wrap, spread it with Greek yoghurt (i use 'Total 0%' fat) and then place the chicken in the middle lengthways, chop some onions in to half moons, add some chopped tomatoes and some coriander and roll it up ready to eat! Go and sit down, preferably alone somewhere (to prevent the embarassment of public juicy messiness!)... and enjoy it, because its now high on my list of treats and no doubt will pretty high on your list too! (See pic at top right)


  1. I love Afghan food you will have to make the rice dish and post it, great recipe for chicken lol

  2. Ariana (my daughter) had been nagging us to take her to the restaurant Ariana just off Harrow Road for some time now. We finally gave in and did so this week. Turns out it is a Persan/Afghan restaurant. The staff definitely speak Persan with an interesting accent. I think it is Afghan but do not know.
    They had Kabuli Pollow (rice with carrots, pistachios and raisins covering a lamb shank) and Mantoo (they said it was Afghan Lazagna, though it was looked more like dumplings filled with meat).
    We had never had Afghan food before so we ordered both. The lamb shank was very good so was the rice. So a definite thumbs up to the Kabuli Pollow. The Mantoo was great too. At least in my opinion. Mikayo was less enamored of it though. We got joujeh kabab for the kids. A perenial favourite so always a safe order.
    Net net the food was good, the dough was pretty good and the service fine (then again we were the only ones there at 2:30 PM on a Saturday).
    Have you tried the place?