SLEEP ON IT-One of the simplest ways to flavour food is to marinate it.

There are certain ingredients that you almost have to treat like a sponge. Take a simple, insipid chicken breast for example; it can be totally transformed with the addition of a few herbs & spices and a couple of hours marinating before being cooked.

 Although the main purpose of marinating is to add flavour, in some cases it can also help to tenderise meat, chicken and fish. Marinades can even be used on some vegetables, including aubergines, courgettes and artichokes. Part of the trick is to plan ahead so your food has time to absorb the flavours. The best way to do this is to marinate the night before and sleep on it.

Most marinades combine an acid, like lemon
juice, yogurt, or vinegar, with some oil and flavoring ingredients like salt, pepper, herbs, spices, fruits, and mustard. To make a paste a paste, although sometimes a dry rub (such as a simple herb and spice mix) can really do the trick. You can also mix and match flavours to create your own blends.

Always marinate foods in the refrigerator and cover them with cling film. And don’t use liquids that were used to marinate raw meat, poultry or fish on cooked food. Instead, boil used marinade before using on cooked food or set aside some unused marinade for a sauce.

As marinades usually contain an acid such as lemon juice, wine or vinegar. Use a glass, ceramic or stainless steel container, maybe a re-sealable plastic bag — but never aluminium as this reacts badly in contact with any type of acidity.

There are many different types of marinates including Asian teriyaki mixes, Portuguese Piri-Piri, Thai Satay’s and a plethora of Indian curry blends such a Tikka Masala.

One of my favourite dry rubs is an Egyptian blend of sesame seeds, spices & hazelnuts called Dukkah. It not only adds great flavour but also texture to so many dishes, it can also be used as a little appetiser with olive oil and bread at the start of a meal.

The Spanish have a wonderful lamb recipe where shoulders of lamb are marinated with pomegranates. The pomegranates act as a tenderiser and also a rich, deep red colour to the lamb. Pomegranetes are coming into season soon so try it out. I guarantee, you will not be disappointed! 


Ingredients:         serves 8

            4           Chicken breasts

2 tbsp Chopped, fresh red chillies

50ml      lemon juice

50ml       olive oil

1tbsp      paprika

2 tbs.'s    chopped, fresh coriander


Cut the chicken breasts, lengthways, into 4 even pieces.

Place the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend to a puree.

Pour over the chicken pieces and marinate in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours.

Heat a griddle pan and fry the chicken pieces over a fierce heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove and place in a hot oven for 3-4 minutes to finish cooking.

Serve the chicken pieces with a big green salad and the avocado-yoghurt sauce for dipping. 

Avocado-yoghurt sauce

2 avocados, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tbsp Greek yoghurt

2tbsp milk

Juice of 2 lemons

Salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a puree.


Ingredients. Serves  4

500g chicken breast, skinned & diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the chicken breast in the food processor. Blend to form a fine mince and season.

With wet hands, divide the seasoned chicken into 8 equal portions and mould each one around a wooden skewer into a long sausage shape. Roll the chicken skewers in Dukkah to coat evenly and marinate for a least one hour.

When ready to cook, heat a griddle or grill to its highest setting. Place the chicken skewers on the griddle or grill and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with baba ganoush.


150g sesame seeds

135g coriander seeds

100g hazelnuts

75g   cumin seeds

         Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly roast the seeds and nuts in a hot oven until they begin to colour and release their aroma. Put them in a food processor and grind them to form a dry mixture. Do not over work them.

Baba Ganoush (Aubergine Dip)

Ingredients          Serves 8

2       large aubergines
2       garlic cloves
½ tsp         salt
2 tbsp        lemon juice
2 tbsp        sesame seeds

         pinch ground cumin
         Pinch ground white pepper
2tbsp         natural yogurt
         Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
2tbsp         Chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat the grill to high. Prick the aubergines with a fork and grill them, turning occasionally, until the skin blisters and blackens all over. When cool, peel off the skin. Leave the aubergine flesh in a colander for 15 minutes to drain off excess liquid.

Pound the garlic and salt in a food processor. Add the aubergine flesh, lemon juice, sesame seeds, cumin, pepper and yogurt. Blend to a thick purée. Adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with parsley and serve with Dukkha crusted ckicken skewers.


Ingredients:                  Serves 4

2                shoulders of lamb       

150ml                  Pomegranate juice

6                cumin seeds
100ml                  Dry red wine
2                 Large red onions
1                 Lemon (chopped)
3                Cloves garlic
10              Black peppercorns (ground)
10              fresh basil leaves (torn)

Pinch of salt


In blender, combine pomegranate juice, red wine, onions, lemon, garlic, pepper, basil and salt. Rub some of marinade well into lamb. Place the shoulders in shallow glass or enamel pan. Pour the remaining marinade over meat. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, wipe off excess marinade.

Roast the lamb shoulders in a hot oven (200cº/400fº/gas6) for 20 minutes.

Reduce the heat to a moderate (160cº/220fº/gas 4) heat and cook for 40-45 minutes, basting now and again with the marinade.

Leave to rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.


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