I love the smell of slow cooking in the house, it is magical. But don’t worry if you don’t have a slow cooker, both of today’s recipes can be done low and slow in a casserole dish. The first is a tasty vegetarian dish with a nice curry flavour (you could add shredded chicken or prawns if you like). I am using tinned chickpeas in this recipe, as although dried chickpeas can cook beautifully in the slow cooker, by the time they’re done the aubergine would have lost all of its wonderful silky texture. If you are looking for a preserve to serve, Wexford Preserves do a very good sweet mango chutney with a kick.

Although I have made this tagine recipe with chicken, I always come back to the lamb, because lamb shoulder is a great value cut. If you can marinade the lamb the night before, it makes a huge difference. I love this sweet spicy taste.

Recently when I was filming Irish Food Trails for RTÉ 1, I had the opportunity to visit Kilmullen Farm in Newcastle, Co Wicklow, where a third generation of Bourkes are raising Quality Assured lamb. I was delighted to meet Margaret Hoctor and her husband Eamon Bourke – fabulous people who were so welcoming to our crew. Their website kilmullenfarm.ie is well worth a look. Kilmullen will feature in my TV series next year.

Happy Cooking,


Aubergine and chickpea rogan josh

Serves 4–6

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 aubergines, trimmed and cut into 5cm (2in) batons

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 5cm (2in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 x 400g (14oz) tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 x 400g (14oz) tin of Italian chopped tomatoes

300ml (½ pint) vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)

250ml (9fl oz) coconut cream

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish:

roughly chopped fresh coriander

To serve:


mango chutney

shop-bought tzatziki

1 Preheat your slow cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If your slow cooker has a sauté option, you can use this; if not, use a large sauté pan on the hob over a medium-high heat.

2 Add the oil, then add the aubergines and sauté for 8–10 minutes, until lightly golden but still firm. Stir in the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for another 2–3 minutes, until evenly combined and the onion has started to soften. Stir in the spices and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant.

3 Place in the slow cooker (if you have used a separate pan). Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, stock and coconut cream, then season with salt and pepper.

4 Cover and cook on low for four hours, until the aubergine is meltingly tender but still holding its shape. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the coriander.

5 Serve with poppadums, mango chutney and tzatziki, if liked.

Moroccan lamb tagine with green couscous

Serves 6–8

2 tbsp hot paprika

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground turmeric

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1.5kg (3¼lb) lamb shoulder, well trimmed and cut into 4cm (1½in) chunks

3 onions, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2.5cm (1in) piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

450ml (¾ pint) tomato juice

450ml (¾ pint) chicken stock

2 tbsp clear honey

225g (8oz) Medjool dates, cut in half and stones removed

For the green couscous:

350g (12oz) couscous

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

600ml (1 pint) chicken stock

1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 bunch of fresh coriander

handful of fresh mint leaves

50g (2oz) shelled unsalted pistachio nuts, toasted and roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Mix together the paprika, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and pepper in a large bowl, then tip half into a small bowl and set aside. Add the lamb to the large bowl and coat it in the spices. Cover with cling film and chill overnight, or for up to two days.

2 Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/gas mark 3).

3 Place the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor and pulse until finely minced.

4 Heat a large heavy-based casserole. Add half of the oil and brown off the marinated lamb in batches. Add the remaining oil to the pan, then add the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Stir in the reserved spice mixture and cook for another minute or so, until combined.

5 Pour the tomato juice and stock into the pan, then add the browned lamb and the honey, stirring to combine. Bring to the boil, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for two hours, stirring in the dates halfway through, until the lamb is completely tender and the sauce has thickened and reduced. Season to taste.

6 To make the couscous, place it in a large bowl and add one tablespoon of the oil and all the lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the grains are completely coated. Heat the stock in a small pan and season generously. Pour the hot stock over the couscous, then cover tightly with cling film and allow to sit in a warm place for 6–8 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed.

6 Strip the herbs from their stems and place in a food processor with the remaining five tablespoons of the oil, then blitz to a paste. Stir the herb paste and pistachio nuts into the couscous and arrange on warmed plates with the lamb tagine. Scatter over the remaining pistachio nuts to serve.

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