For too long our spices sit unused on our cupboard shelves, when a sprinkling of cumin or a dash of turmeric can turn everyday food into an explosion of tastes. Old friends Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh know just about everything there is to know about spices. Taken from their new book, The Incredible Spice Men, they have taken the best British produce and added their own twist to some classic and best loved dishes like this recipe for Splendidly Spicy Beef Burgers >>
(Makes 4 large, or 6 medium burgers)
For the burgers:
800g (1lb 14oz) lean minced beef
1tbsp sunfl ower oil or rapeseed oil, plus extra for brushing
1 large onion, finely chopped
2cm (¾in) piece fresh root ginger, very finely chopped or ground to a paste
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped or ground to a paste
1 green Thai chilli, seeds removed, very finely chopped
2tsp ground cumin
3tsp ground coriander
1tbsp tomato paste or purée
2tbsp chopped fresh coriander
½tsp garam masala
1tsp black peppercorns,crushed
For the spicy potato wedges:
1kg (2lb 4oz) potatoes, unpeeled, cut into wedges
1tbsp rapeseed oil or vegetable oil
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp red chilli powder
1tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 heaped tsp mango powder (optional)
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onions on a medium heat, stirring frequently, until soft and slightly coloured. The small amount of oil used in this recipe means the onions may stick to the pan at some point; if necessary, deglaze with a splash of water.
2. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli and continue to fry until cooked and any liquid has evaporated. Transfer the mixture to a plate, spread out and allow to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ gas 6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the potato wedges. Boil for fi ve to six minutes, then drain. Place the parboiled potatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with the oil, then toss to coat. Put the tray in the oven and roast for 20–25 minutes until golden and crisp. Mix the ingredients for the spice blend together in a small bowl and set aside until you serve.
4. Put the minced beef in a mixing bowl, add the onion mixture and all of the remaining ingredients, and mix well. (Mixing makes the meat more malleable; the more you work it, the smoother it gets.) Shape into four or six burgers.
5. Heat a griddle pan, hot plate, frying pan or barbecue to hot. Brush the burgers with a little oil and cook: four minutes each side for a medium finish for six burgers, a little longer if you have made four larger burgers.
6. Rest the burgers for a few minutes while you sprinkle the cooked potato wedges with the spice blend. Serve the burgers in buns, with the wedges alongside and some ketchup for dipping.