Tag Archive for Spicy

Sambal Goreng

A sambal goreng is an Indonesian dish consisting of vegetables or meat cooked in a spicy, red sauce. The one I made consisted of green beans and bean sprouts, but you could use all kinds of other vegetables (cabbage is really nice) or proteins (I especially like this sauce with boiled eggs). By adding more sambal you can make it more spicy, by adding some more tomato and use less sambal it gets more mellow, but keeps it red colour.

Usually, an Indonesian meal consists of rice, at least one saucy dish and one dry dish (one of them with a protein and one of them with vegetables), and usually some sambal and a pickle (atjar) on the side.

Trassi is fermented shrimp paste. In it’s raw state it is incredibly smelly, some people find it so smelly that they refuse to cook with it. But it does give dishes a subtle extra flavour that is really nice, and after you cook it out it doesn’t smell at all. I have found a brand that does give a good flavour, but isn’t too smelly. But in the past I’ve also had a brand that was terribly smelly, the kitchen kept smelling after I cooked with it and I had to wrap the package in a bazillion layers of plastic to keep the smell contained. So it’s worth it to experiment with a few brands.


Sambal Goreng (serves 2-4 persons, depending on what other dishes you serve)
Adapted from “Kook nu eens zelf Indisch en Chinees – Nique van der Werff-Wijsman

1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp sambal oelek
pinch of galangal (dried, ground)
1/4 tsp trassi
1 tbsp oil (coconut, ricebran)
2 tomatoes
250 ml bouillon
250 g ingredient of choice (vegetable/protein)
1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
1/2 tbsp goela djawa
1 cm piece santen (creamed coconut)

Blend the onion and garlic to a paste. Heat the oil in a pan, add the puree, sambal, galangal, trasi and a pinch of salt. Cook until fragrant and the onion starts to caramelize.
Cut the tomatoes in cubes and add to the pan. Cook for a few more minutes. Add the bouillon.
Add the ingredient of choice, and cook until it is done.
Finish the sauce with the tamarind paste, goela djawa and santen. Don’t let it boil any more, it might split.

Note: to make this dish vegan, don’t use the trasi and make sure you use a vegan-friendly bouillon. The sauce is really nice with tofu/tempeh, to make a vegan protein dish.

Pork Rogan Josh

Curry’s are generally not made with pork, normally lamb is used for rogan josh. But lamb is very expensive over here, and I’m not a big fan of the older lamb that is often sold, I find the flavour of the fat too overpowering. I’ve made several delicious stews with pork, so I though, why not try a curry? It worked very well, so I will definitely make this again and will keep using stewing pork instead of beef and lamb.
For me, this is the prototype curry, this is the flavour I think of when I think of curry. When you use all the chilli prescribed by the recipe it will be incredibly hot, I only used 1 dried chilli and didn’t add any chilli powder, and it already scorched my oesophagus. I believe the kashmiri chilli you officially are supposed to use is a bit more mellow than the dried chillies I have, but still, I would advice to take care with adding the chilli and not add the whole lot the first time you make this recipe. When I make it the next time I will use even less chilli than I did last time, I like my curries spicy, but not inedible hot. And using dried chillies can be a bit like a Russian roulette, you never know how spicy one will be.
I like to serve this with rice and a cooling cucumber salad or raita.

Pork rogan josh (serves 4-6)
Adapted from “Rick Stein’s India”

40 g ghee
5 cm piece of cinnamon stick
3 dried kashmiri chillies, torn into pieces
6 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
4 cloves
1 large onion, chopped
15 g garlic, finely crushed
15 g ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp ground mace
1 tsp garam masala
4 tbsp tomato purée (1 small can)
750 g stewing pork
1 tsp salt
300 ml water
125 g yoghurt
50 ml cream
1 tsp garam masala

Put the ghee in a large, sturdy casserole over medium heat. When hot, add the whole spices and fry for 1 minute, then add the onion and fry for 10 minutes until softened and golden. Stir in the garlic and ginger, fry for 1 minute, then add the ground spices and fry for 30 seconds.
Stir in the tomato purée, then add the pork and salt and make sure it is well coated in the other ingredients. Pour in the water, bring to a simmer, then cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the pork is tender. Stir in the yoghurt, cream and second helping of garam masala. Serve.

Chicken Fajitas

A good use for my lovely flatbread recipe. I love the bbq texmex flavour of this recipe, spicy and smokey. It is also a great dish to use only a small amount of meat and loads of vegetables. I just made the flatbread and fajitas, but you could also serve them with additional toppings like guacamole, salsa, sour cream and/or cheese. As a variation, use turkey breast instead of chicken. If you find that your chicken breast gets a bit dry, you could use chicken thigh (boneless, skinless) as an alternative.

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas (serves 2)
Adapted from Taste of Home

1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp seasoned salt (available as chicken spicing in the Netherlands)
3/4 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
150 g chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1 large onion, sliced
3 paprika’s, sliced (I used a red, a yellow and a green)
2 large tortilla’s or flatbreads, warmed

In a bowl, combine 1/2 tbsp oil, lemon juice and seasonings, then add the chicken. Mix and cover. Set aside (refrigerated) for 1-4 hours to marinate, don’t leave it for longer or the lemon juice will start to break down the chicken.
In a large skillet, saute paprika’s and onions in remaining oil on high heat until cooked to your liking (some people like them crisp, some like them well done). Set aside.
In the same skillet, cook chicken (discard any remaining marinade) over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until done. Return paprika mixture to pan and heat through.
Spoon filling down the center of tortillas and fold in half.

Jerk chicken

I’ve had lots of fun growing my own chillies, but didn’t have any suitable recipes to use them. All my spicy recipes use lomboks or rawits, the “standard” chillies of Asia and India. The chillies I’d grown were from a plant that I got as a present, and they looked like madame Jeannette/Adjuma chillies (which corresponds with how I got the plant). But these taste completely different than the “standard” chillies, and this flavour doesn’t work at all in Asian dishes. Luckily I found this recipe, in which the use of this chilli is slightly more authentic, and in which it’s fruity flavour will come out perfectly. You can use other chillies (scotch bonnet is authentic, habanero would work well) for this recipe, but they need to be very, very hot to compensate the sweetness and spices from the other ingredients of the marinade.
Jerk is a traditional Jamaican spice mixture that is used for dry rubs and marinades, and a method of cooking. Both the spice mix and the cooking method in this recipe are not like the traditional recipes, but the result is very delicious. I’ve never had real jerk chicken, so I don’t know how it tastes in comparison. I’ve served the chicken with plain white rice to mop up the sauce and cool the palate, and a refreshing cucumber salad. You really do need something refreshing and cooling because of the spiciness, so a pineapple salsa or something like that would also be nice.

Jerk chicken
From Yvette van Boven – Volkskrant magazine

3 tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp brown rum
2 chillies, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp allspice
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 tbsp ginger
2 tl brown sugar
1 chicken, cut in pieces (or use chicken thighs, or hake/lamb/pork)

Put all in the ingredients except the chicken in a kitchen machine or blender, and purée. Put in a (food safe) plastic bag together with the chicken. Close the bag, mix everything well and put in the fridge overnight. Preheat the oven to 180C. Take the chicken from the marinade and place on a baking sheet. Roast 50 minutes, turning the chicken pieces every now and again. Pour the marinade in a small pan, cook down slightly, add some ketchup and soy sauce, and serve with the chicken.

Note: if possible, cook on the bbq.

Cambodian marinated beef

I’ve been a few times to those wok restaurants, where you can choose all kinds of ingredients and give them to a chef, who woks them together with a sauce for you. Unfortunately, they don’t really work that hygienic (lots of cross contamination of products), so I can’t go there any more due to food allergy. But I’ve kept longing to taste one of those sauces again, the one that is dark, savoury, slightly spicy and salty. I did not exactly know what was in there (and you can’t really ask the chefs, because they generally don’t speak English), so I’d lost hope of tasting it again. Until I made this recipe. It was completely different than I expected, but it tastes just like that sauce of the wok restaurant!
It is quite a strong sauce, so I suggest to serve loads of plain rice with it to soak up the sauce, and a refreshing cucumber salad. On the photo you also see homemade chapatis, but I didn’t like those much with this recipe.

Cambodian marinated beef

Cambodian marinated beef (serves 2)
Adapted from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey

200 g beef that is suited for fast preparation (steak of some kind), in cubes and at room temperature
oil (coconut or vegetable)
1 tbsp sambal badjak or oelek
15 g garlic, pureed
25 g ginger, pureed
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp palm sugar
3 tbsp dark soy sauce or ketjap manis
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the beef cubes and fry until preferred done-ness. Set aside. They will sit for a while, and will be reheated in the sauce, so I would advice to cook them a bit more rare than you would normally do.
Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients together and taste for balance. Not all garlic and ginger are the same, and the taste of sambal/soy/ketjap differs per brand, therefore tasting is really necessary.
Pour the sauce into the pan that you used to fry the beef. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the beef back in, heat through, and serve.

Chickpea stew with chorizo

A delicious chickpea, tomato and spinach stew flavoured with chorizo and spices. It is warming, spicy and full of bold flavours. Serve with crusty bread to soak up all the juices. I expect this to be a great vegetarian/vegan dish as well: don’t use the chorizo, use a flavoursome vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and add a bit more of the spices for extra flavour. This dish is also perfect to feed a crowd and/or to prepare in advance (make the sauce in advance, add the chickpeas and spinach when you reheat the sauce just before serving).

Chickpea Chorizo Stew

Chickpea stew with chorizo (serves 4)
Adapted from Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food

1 tbsp olive oil
200 g chorizo, in chuncks
2 onions, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced very finely
2 red chillies, chopped*
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 can chopped tomatoes (400 g)
1 chicken stock cube
2 cans chickpeas, drained (260 g drained weight each)
400 g spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan (like a Dutch oven). Add the chorizo and fry until it starts to release its fat. Add the oninons and fry until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and chillies, fry for another 2-3 minutes (keep stirring to prevent it from burning). Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, ground cumin and smoked paprika and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, crumble the stock cube over and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. It should reduce and thicken a bit, but add a splash of water when this happens too fast or too much.
Add the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Then stir through the spinach (it should just be wilted). Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately with some crusty bread.

* Adjust this according to your tolerance and the spiciness of your chillies. I substituted the fresh chillies with 1/2 tbsp sambal badjak.

Lentil salad with butternut squash and feta

This spicy, hearty salad is perfect as warming meal on a cold autumn day, so it is perfect for the weather in the Netherlands at the moment. It is winter, but with all the rain, moderate temperatures and storm it seems autumn. It is a delicious, vegetarian main, but also delicious with a bit of fish, chicken or meat on the side (I served it with a little bit of fried salmon). You can eat it warm or cold, and it is sturdy enough to take the leftovers with you for lunch the next day.

Lentil Squash Salad

Lentil salad with butternut squash and feta (serves 3 persons as a main)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup black lentils
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (from about a 2-pound squash)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp pimenton de la vera dulce
1/2 tsp pimenton de la vera picante
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste
salt and pepper
Optional: roasted seeds from your butternut squash

Preheat oven to 200C. Toss squash cubes with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or oven dish and roast 20 minutes. Flip pieces and roast for another, until tender and browned.
Meanwhile, cook lentils in boiling water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes (taste them earlier, because the cooking time of lentils varies greatly).
Combine lentils, squash, any oil you can scrape from the baking sheet, half of the feta, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper and extra vinegar, if desired. Divide among plates and sprinkle with the remaining feta.

Note: to make this recipe truly vegetarian, make sure you use a feta (or similar white cheese) that is suitable for vegetarians (i.e. does not contain animal derived rennet).

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Carrots are a real winter ingredient, they are abundant and cheap right now (although you can get them the whole year, and they are an environmentally friendly choice the whole year as well). Usually I prepare them quite plain, but sometimes I want something else. This salad is perfect for that. It is hearty, comforting and warming, and it is delicious.
It is a lovely side dish for simple meals, for example some rice and a piece of fish or chicken. Because it has all the spices, it can clash with other strong flavoured dishes, or overpower delicate flavours, so keep that in mind when matching it with other dishes. I served it with bulghur cooked in stock, sweet potato with ras el hanout, dried apricots, roasted almonds and feta.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Moroccan Carrot Salad (serves 4)
Slightly adapted from “Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi”

900 g carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium green chiles, finely chopped (use less when you want it less spicy)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped preserved lemon
bunch of parsley or coriander, chopped
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt

Peel the carrots and cut them in cylinders of about 1 cm thick (if you have large carrots make them half moons). Place in a pan and add water and salt. Place on the heat and boil until the carrots are tender, but still have a bit of a crunch.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion until soft and golden. Add garlic and chiles, fry for a few minutes. Add all the spices, fry for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Add carrots, sugar, white wine vinegar, preserved lemon and salt, mix well. Leave to cool; the salad is tastiest at room temperature. At this stage you can place the salad in the fridge for about 1 day, take it out and let it come to room temperature before the final step.
Before serving, stir in the parsley or coriander and yoghurt (you can also dollop the yoghurt on top instead of mixing it through) and serve.

Salad of juliened vegetables with Asian dressing

A delicious fresh salad with a spicy, tangy Asian dressing. I served it with fried duck breast drizzled with honey, which worked perfectly; the spice complements the sweetness from the meat and the honey, while the tanginess cuts through the richness and fat of the duck. You could add some fish sauce to the dressing to make it really Asian, but I find the flavour a bit too pungent for my taste. Another great addition to the salad would be some herbs, like coriander, thai basil or mint. Because the vegetables are already crunchy, I didn’t add peanuts, cashews or roasted rice for extra crunch.

I use sambal in the dressing because it is always the same and I know how spicy it is. I can’t handle heat from chillies very well, so most of them are just way too spicy, and also quite unpredictable. It happened lots of times that a chilli was spicier than expected, ruining a dish for my taste. The sambal that I use is quite mild, so it will give lots of chilli flavour, but only a mellow heat. If you do like it spicy, go ahead and use (lots of) chilli!

Salad of juliened vegetables with Asian dressing

vegetables cut into julienne (for example carrot, cucumber, beet, kohlrabi)
1 tsp honey or palm sugar
1 tsp grated garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp sambal (or some chopped chilli)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp neutral oil
salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and toss it with the vegetables. Serve immediately.

Huevos Rancheros

Originally, huevos rancheros is a Mexican breakfast dish, consisting of a fried egg on top of corn tortilla’s with a spicy tomato sauce, sometimes accompanied by refried beans, slices of avocado, rice or guacamole. If you think about it, it is not dissimilar to shaksuka. I’m completely sure that no-one from Mexico would call my version huevos rancheros, but that doesn’t matter, because it is very delicious and it makes me think of Mexican food. Because of the chillies (from the sambal), the spices and the smokiness of the smoked paprika and chorizo, it is a very warming dish.
The corn tortillas in my supermarket had only trace amounts of corn in them, so I decided to make my own by mixing corn flour (not corn starch!!!) with pinch of salt and enough boiling water to form a dough, leave that to rest for a while and then form it in “tortillas”. The dough was very sticky, probably the reason why most corn tortilla recipes ask for the use of masa harina (a processed kind of corn flour) or some normal flour added, so it was quite difficult to form them in real, flat tortillas. But they still were very delicious!

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros (2 persons)

150 g chorizo, sliced or cubed
1 large onion, cubed
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
125 g mushrooms, quartered
1 red paprika, cubed
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp sambal (I used sambal badjak)
1 beef stock cube
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp smoked paprika powder
pepper to taste
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 can of tomatoes/tomato cubes on juice (400 g)
2 eggs
4 corn tortillas
100 g feta, crumbled
a few spring onions, sliced

Heat a large skillet. Add the chorizo and fry until crisp, stirring occasionally. Take out the bits of meat and leave the bright orange fat that came out in the pan. This has a lot of flavour, so I use it to fry the other ingredients in. Start by frying the onions on low heat until they are soft, then add garlic, mushrooms and paprika and fry on slightly higher heat until softened. Add all the spices and fry for another 1-2 minutes to bring the flavour out. Add the tomatoes and use your spatula to break up the whole tomatoes in pieces. Leave to bubble for 5-10 minutes, or until thickened. Meanwhile, fry the eggs and season with salt. Heat up the corn tortilla’s according to the package instructions. Place the chorizo, feta and spring onions in small bowls. Place everything on the table and let everyone build their own tortilla.