Category - Food

Mogal-E-Azam Boarded Up

Outside night shot of Mogal-E-Azam restaurant
Photo credit: Momina Iqbal

This is bad news (but note the updates at the end of the story).

Whenever I go to a gig at Rock City, it is automatically followed by a curry at the Mogal. It’s been that way for the last 30 or more years. But it appears that the Mogal has gone into liquidation and is now boarded up. A sign on the boards says ‘Under New Management’ – though precisely what that means is unclear right now.

It was always a little unclear figuring out who actually owned it. The article refers to Sheikh Assab, and he was certainly managing it prior to the Covid pandemic – I didn’t realise he was an owner. He was a really friendly guy, and the food was top notch most of the time. Things changed a little about five years ago. Sheikh Assab told us they had ‘a new chef’ – it seems the original chef was Sheikh Sujat, and I think he was one of the owners. With the new chef, the Pilau Rice had sweetcorn and peas in it, and tasted more like some sort of chicken-flavoured packet meal (we complained, and it was proper Pilau the next time). And the Chicken Tikka starter used to consist of chunks of Tandoor-cooked chicken on a sizzle plate on a bed of fried onions, and scattered with fresh Coriander. With the new chef, it became bite-sized pieces covered in odds drizzles of sauces – one of which was a green Coriander puree – which tasted nothing like Chicken Tikka (we complained about that, too, but it remained). But the main curries were always pretty good.

After Covid, when we started going again, all the staff were strangers, and not as friendly as before. We asked if ownership had changed, but they said ‘no’. We knew something had happened, because it was so different, but everything was so secretive you just never found out the truth. I am guessing that the tough financial times had brought retirement forward for some members of the family, and the younger ones just weren’t interested anymore. My guess is that Sheikh Sujat had already retired when the ‘new chef’ came in. It’s a shame.

I hope Sheikh Assab is all right (and Sheikh Sujat) – as I say, he was a really nice guy, and sometimes we’d talk to him the whole meal (when the idiotic Brexit result came about being one such example).

Being situated next to Rock City and the Royal Concert Hall, it used to be where many of the performers went if they liked curry. As a result, one of the walls was filled with signed photographs of celebrities who had eaten there, many of them A-listers. We’ve seen several bands in there after we’ve been to a show.

The thing about the Mogal – at least until around 2015 – was that it was old-school. It was what an Indian restaurant should be like. Heavy wooden seats, traditional décor, and proper curries. None of this brightly neon-lit ‘contemporary’ crap so many other restaurants move into, or attempts to produce works of art on the plates. Although the décor didn’t change, the food most certainly did at the Mogal – that Chicken Tikka I mentioned was a prime example, and although the chef no doubt thought it looked good, it didn’t taste as good as the original (and proper) version.

Anyway, the big question is: what happens to the place now? The boards say ‘under new management’, but that doesn’t mean anything in Nottingham. The ‘new management’ could easily be a student letting company, and it would come as no surprise to see the place turned into student flats – Nottingham City Council has done that everywhere else in that area, so a restaurant is a bit of an anomaly there.

Surprisingly, Nottingham City Centre doesn’t have many normal Indian restaurants – they’re all ‘contemporary’, or have some ‘angle’, where the chances of getting a decent Vindaloo or Madras are zero, you can’t get Chicken Tikka (but you can get Ostrich Tikka or Salmon Tikka), and the prices are double what you pay anywhere else. And they are a 20 minute walk away, instead of the sub-1 minute trip to the Mogal.

Even if it remains a restaurant, there’s no guarantee it will be an Indian one, and even less guarantee it won’t try and go contemporary.

Fingers crossed.

Update September 2023: The Mogal-e-Azam website has been stating that it is closed for refurbishment for some months. And news from this week reports that they are currently hiring staff (use an ad-blocker for that link).

Update October 2023: Latest news is that it is now reopened.

The Best Roast Potatoes

Crispy roast potatoes

Once again, the time of year is upon us when everyone starts off on ‘the best…’ routine concerning Christmas dinner. The best carrots, the best sprouts, the best turkey. And so on. That usually translates to ‘how much extra stuff can I add so I can get lots of hits on Instagram and become a talking point?’

For me, I’m not bloody interested in the tinsel and presentation aspects. I want decent turkey, decent potatoes, decent carrots and sprouts, decent cabbage (we always have that too), decent stuffing, decent gravy, and then just to chow down when it is ready.

I don’t want sprouts or carrots cooked in bacon and tossed in butter, then sprinkled with sesame seeds. I don’t want them roasted, grilled, or barbecued. Or coated in a honey glaze. I want them boiled in salted water until they’re soft (and ditto the cabbage). It takes about 20 minutes (give or take for the particular vegetable involved). They taste like carrots and sprouts (and cabbage) if you do that, which is the whole point. Quite frankly, the way I was brought up with veg, it was a case of ‘if it crunches, it ain’t cooked’. I stick with that for Christmas dinner – even if I do like raw carrots and cabbage much of the time.

But with so much to prepare, timing on the day is always the main issue.

This year, I wanted to get prepped ready to cook dinner Christmas Day quickly, so I started looking at preparing ahead. Every year, my biggest issue is timing the potatoes and veg due to the variable cooking time of the turkey or other bird. In particular, I wanted really crisp but soft in the middle roast potatoes.

After some experimentation, I came up with this method for make-ahead roast potatoes.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of potatoes you use. I use Maris Piper or Marfona (they’re two of the most widely available ones in the UK), but King Edward or Desiree work just as well.

Step 1

Peel about 1 kg of potatoes and cut them into roughly 5cm/2 inch chunks. Leave any small ones whole, but you want each roastie to be about the same size for even cooking. I chose 5cm as a typical size – any size will work, though you will have to reduce the cooking time in Step 4 if you go for smaller pieces. Put them in cold salted water, place on the hob, and bring to the boil. Cook for exactly six minutes once boiling. Any longer any they’ll break up. They are not fully cooked through at this stage.

Pour them into a colander to drain, and allow to stand for a few minutes to dry off.

Step 2

Toss a couple of times to roughen them slightly, then tip gently into a large bowl. Sprinkle on 1-2 tablespoons of plain flour, season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss or gently mix with a spatula (don’t break them up). Now add either Rapeseed Oil or melted Goose Fat – enough to coat them – and again mix gently. It doesn’t matter if you add a bit too much oil, as it will just drain to the bottom. Simply turn the potatoes to make sure they’re coated in the fat/oil.

Step 3

Place a piece of baking parchment paper on a flat tray, then line up the potatoes neatly and not touching. Place in the freezer until they are frozen solid. You could do this on a plate or saucer if you don’t have enough space in your freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag and store in the freezer until needed.

You can do all of this up to three months in advance. So you can store batches for when you need them.

Step 4

When you want to cook them for serving, put some Rapeseed Oil or Goose Fat in a baking tray and put it in a preheated oven at Gas Mark 6 (200°C) to sizzle. When ready to go, place the required amount of frozen potatoes (don’t defrost) into the hot oil and cook for 20-25 minutes. Turn the potatoes over and cook for a further 20 minutes.

The result is the crispiest golden roast potatoes you could imagine, with a floury soft middle. And trust me – I may have taken that picture with my phone, but they are cut-your-gums crispy, and floury inside.

I’ll be using some I made on Christmas Day.

Oh yes. And they don’t necessarily have to be frozen. You can prepare them up to Step 2 and let them cool right down, so they are cold (this is critical for getting crispy potatoes). Store them covered in the fridge until you need them. Then, when you’re making your dinner, proceed with Step 4, allowing about 35-40 minutes in total to finish them off.

What oil should I use?

In all honesty, pretty much any oil or fat will work if it has a high smoke point. I use Rapeseed (Canola) or Goose/Duck fat, and both give a crispy result – though I’d give the nod to Rapeseed if I was rating crispiness. In the past, I’ve got crispy potatoes using Olive Oil and Sunflower Oil. Just make sure it is sizzling hot before placing the cold/frozen potatoes in it.

Do I have to freeze the potatoes?

No. The secret to getting crispy potatoes is that the parboiled potatoes are allowed to cool right down before being roasted in your chosen oil/fat. So you could parboil in the morning, then let them sit in the fridge until you need them. But not for too long (i.e. days), as they might dry out.

The reason I have frozen them is so that they can be quickly prepared whenever I want them without having to worry about timing everything else to get it right for the meal.

Why do you toss them in flour?

It helps crisp them up. You can leave it out if you like.

Berlinki Hot Dog Sausages

Classic hot dogs, Berlinki sausages- Morliny - YouTube

This is an old article from 2010. It has seen a surge in popularity recently, so I updated it.

I was in Asda recently getting something for my dinner, and as I walked past the cooked meat cabinet, I noticed a new product line: Berlinki Classic Hot Dog Sausages.

I have a bit of a weak spot for cooked meats and continental sausages, so I bought a few packs.

Now, the product is vacuum packed just like you see in the picture. And just like other products of this nature usually are. So, when I got home, I opened a pack and took one out to try it. I bit into it and thought “these are a bit tough”.

After a few seconds of chewing something didn’t seem right. It wasn’t becoming more… chewed. So, I spit the mouthful out – it was still quite unchewed in comparison to the way these things usually are at this stage. I then realised that the bloody sausages are also individually wrapped – and I mean tightly – in a plastic skin! You need a pair of scissors to snip into it, then you can peel it off – it’s like a condom on the damned things!

I mean, why?

They are nice, though.

Note: I initially thought the plastic skin could be a manufacturing fault. I was watching a documentary on Discovery, and they were making hot dog sausages on there. The plastic skin has markings on it which are used for quality control purposes and are usually removed.

Edit: No, it isn’t a fault. They’re supposed to be like that and the pack as of 2022 states clearly that all plastic must be removed.

How do you cook Berlinki hot dog sausages?

Someone found the blog on that search term. Well, they’re already cooked and you only need to reheat them. The best way is to put them in a small amount of boiling water (salted if you prefer) – take that plastic off first – for a few minutes to let them heat through. This is the same for all the Frankfurter-type hot dog sausages you buy in jars or tins (in brine). In fact, for these use the brine they’re in, boil it, then put the sausages in it for a few minutes.

Why are they wrapped in plastic?

My guess is that the plastic is used as a “skin” while they are being manufactured, so they hold their shape as the meat mass is being extruded. They they’re cut to length and cooked/packed as they are. I don’t know for certain. However, see my edit comment above – they are supposed to be like that!

Cost Of Living Crisis

Before the Covid Pandemic, I always bought Cravendale Milk from Asda. It tasted perfect, but the main thing was that due to how it is processed it lasted much longer than traditional milk.

Once the Pandemic first started we were not allowed out (or it was a major risk if we went out for legitimate reasons), and getting milk became an issue. Even if you risked going to a shop everything had been panic-bought anyway. So I signed up to Milk & More, which is as close to a traditional ‘milkman’ you can get these days.

They were a lifesaver. Milk (and eggs and fresh vegetables, plus plenty more) were delivered three times a week. The ‘plenty more’ wasn’t all exactly my taste (much of it was vegan nonsense), but they supplied fresh onions and fresh carrots, which were. Yes, it was more expensive than from Asda, but it was available by regular delivery without having to go out.

Now, I am a person who likes to stay faithful to a supplier unless they annoy me somehow beyond a certain point. So when they stopped doing onions I didn’t move away from them. And the fact that some deliveries of carrots involved things that were as limp as an uncooked Frankfurter just meant I stopped buying them. And the additional fact that some specialist eggs (as well as normal eggs) were sometimes not delivered due to ‘stock issues’ still didn’t deter me. As I say, they were a major help during the Pandemic.

Even when the price of a 2 pint bottle of milk (my main reason for sticking with them) went up from £1.50 to £1.62 I didn’t flinch.

But I have discovered today that the price of milk from Milk & More has now increased to £1.95. And along with a change to the delivery schedule – which wouldn’t have been a problem in itself – that is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I can buy 2L (4 pints) of Cravendale from Asda (and most other places) for £2.10. That’s half the price per litre. So I am afraid my loyalty has run out of steam.

Part of the problem is that I also get groceries for the old lady who lives next door. She has all the signs of early dementia – she forgets she’s not given me a grocery list every week, then forgets she’s given me one when I’ve chased her for it, then she forgets the Carved In Stone weekly Asda delivery every Wednesday even after I’ve ordered (even though I purposely gave her a laminated card with strict instructions on it many months ago, which she has on her hall table but never reads). Every single delivery (and every handover of a bottle of milk) she asks ‘how much do I owe you?’, no matter how many times I explain that I give a her a fortnightly bill to avoid her cheque book running out too quickly. And every time I hand over a delivery, she asks ‘will a cheque be all right?’, and so I explain it all again.

In spite of all that, she is a demon for ‘Use By’ dates. I arrange the milk in my fridge in date order, and since I know that milk is perfectly fit to drink as long as it hasn’t curdled I am happy to use it a week or more after the ‘Use By’. But she isn’t, even though I have explained it to her numerous times. Some deliveries only have a ‘Use By’ which is a day or two after the present, and she doesn’t even like that. To make matters worse, my dad – who is almost blind and is 93 years old – is usually the one who deals with her on the milk front, and no matter how many times I have told him that the most recent milk is on the bottom shelf on the right, he insists on giving her a bottle from the top shelf on the left (the oldest) when she comes round. So she will come back several times, which annoys him and causes problems. If he just gave her a bloody bottle from where I’ve told him it wouldn’t happen.

So on the one hand, buying Cravendale again – which is good for ten days when unopened, and seven once it is – is going to be good for me. But on the other hand, I am not looking forward to explaining it to the lady next door. Because I just know she will remain rigidly fixed on the concept of the previous 1L bottles and shorter shelf life every couple of days, and wont be able to adjust to 2L of much longer shelf life milk once or twice a week.

Shiny Side Up… Or Down?

Roll of aluminium foilAs most people will know, aluminium cooking foil has a shiny side and a dull one. This is not deliberate, and is simply a result of the shiny side being in contact with smooth rollers when it is manufactured.

Personally, I prefer the shiny (smooth) side to be in direct contact with food because it seems logical that the smooth side is likely to stick to food less than the dull (and rougher) side. I have no evidence for this, and I am not claiming it is true – because it quite possibly isn’t. It just makes sense to me as a Chemist.

Another thing that makes sense is that if the dull side is rougher, then it has a greater surface area, so contact with anything acidic might result in more aluminium getting into the food.

About a month ago there was a story in the media where the chef Tom Kerridge claimed the shiny side should always face towards the food ‘because it radiates more heat back’.

I immediately thought that this was nonsense. If you are placing something in a metal tray, and lidding it with more metal, radiant heat is not really in the equation while cooking it. Yes, the shiny side will reflect more radiant heat than the dull one, but you are only using radiant heat to a significant degree in the oven if the food is uncovered and directly facing the flame or heating element. The rest of the time you are using conduction and convection heating – mainly the latter. There is certainly no radiant heat (as infra-red waves) trapped inside your foil parcel.

Incidentally, you can purchase non-stick foil. This has a coating on it which reduces sticking to food. Interestingly, they put the coating on the dull side – presumably because it sticks better to the rough side during manufacture of it. The packaging for this product specifically tells you to use the dull side against the food solely because that’s the side with the coating on it.

The funny thing was, I was listening to Planet Rock this afternoon and I heard Darren Redick ask Wyatt about this and they didn’t know. They asked people to email in with the answer, but I was just about to start a lesson so didn’t get to find out what had been said. Though I can guess.

The answer is that it doesn’t matter what side you have facing the food as far as cooking and heating is concerned. However, the shiny side might be less sticky and react slightly less with acid foods. And with non-stick coated foil, the side with the coating should be in contact with the food.

Well, I NEARLY Made It Right!

Crab Meat White Hand Picked - 454g

I’ve mentioned this topic before, but you have to laugh at some of the ‘reviews’ for online recipes.

I was scrolling through a few the other day – you have to scroll, because standard food blog technique is to write about 6,000 words on how your grandmother used to catch mackerel by hand whilst blindfolded and swimming naked under pack ice, and only give the recipe in the last 50 words – and found one for Crab Cakes in an air-fryer. It calls for fresh Crab meat, Red Pepper, Spring Onions, and a few other bits and pieces.

Someone right at the top in the comments had added Cayenne Pepper and an egg white – and those are not in the recipe list as written. And another had used ‘imitation crab legs’ (i.e. not crab at all), green pepper instead of red, plus a totally different seasoning blend. Whatever it was they had made was apparently worth a five-star rating. Others have left out ingredients because they ‘didn’t have any’ and still rated it as five stars. Another had had a power cut and didn’t get to cook them, so used the raw mix as a sandwich filling instead – and still given it five stars. And another states he uses different ingredients in his recipe for Crab Cakes, but still gave this one five stars in spite of never having made it.

Another had used waxed paper in the air-fryer instead of the stated parchment paper and then complained about the cakes sticking to it. And someone else had apparently almost had a fire when they put the parchment paper into the air-dryer and tried to pre-heat before adding the Crab Cakes to hold it down.

A Food Recall – Monty Python Style

I get food recall alerts from the Food Standards Agency (FSA). There are usually at least several a day.

Sometimes, you have to wonder at what the world is coming to. The one I just received concerns Ben & Jerry’s Moo-phoria Peanut Butter Cookie Dough ice cream – and the recall is because… it has ‘undeclared peanuts’ in it’!

Apparently, one batch being sold at Sainsbury’s has the wrong lid on it and it says ‘Salted Caramel’. It reminds me of the case a few years ago where Lidl had to recall bags of roasted peanuts because they contained, well, peanuts – but weren’t labelled in English. And the one where Milbona had to recall a brand of yoghurt because it didn’t declare it contained milk.

If I had an allergy, I’d be a lot more careful. Like that tragic case a few years back where someone who was mortally allergic to sesame bought a Pret-a-Manger baguette which had sesame in it. I mean, sesame is not an unusual ingredient – and ‘Peanut Butter cookie dough’ does seem rather self-explanatory to me, as does buying a bag of things that look like peanuts when you are allergic to them, but are labelled ‘erdnüsse’ instead.

Make Your Own Doner Kebabs

Doner Kebab meat being slicedI first wrote this in 2017, but it’s had a run of hits lately. And I’m just making another batch, so an update seemed in order.

I like cooking, and I especially like to be able to reproduce food that I would normally end up paying an arm and a leg for if I went out and bought it from a restaurant or takeaway. I can make curry that tastes almost identical to those you get from an Indian Takeaway, and I can make pizzas which are also identical to takeaway ones.

Doner Kebabs (or ‘gyros’ if you’re in the USA) were always on my ‘to do’ list, but my previous attempts weren’t successful. Membership of various local cash & carry outlets means that I have access to the kinds of things you wouldn’t find on supermarket shelves, and I’ve seriously considered buying a whole doner leg (that’s one of those big things that slowly turn around in front of the grill at the kebab shop). If I’d have been stupid enough to do it, God only knows what I’d have done with 10kg of cooked doner meat – and yes, even the thought of buying a proper doner grill passed through my mind more than once. But genuine satisfaction could only come from being able to make doner meat from scratch.

The few goes I had were a hell of a palaver. It was all about mincing lamb breast twice, forming patties, pushing them inside an empty tin can, cooking it, then using a blow torch whilst turning the mini-doner leg on a fork and slicing layers off. Even the pictures that accompanied one of the recipes I tried (and note that the flavour of this was very good, if you’re wanting to make your own seasoning mix) showed that the final slices of meat were coarser-textured and nothing like a proper slice of doner meat. That’s how it turned out for me – the taste was pretty much spot-on, but the cooked meat was crumbly and had no ‘bite’ to it (and frankly, I wan’t that interested in farting around with a mini-doner leg, I just wanted the meat) The worded version of that same recipe suggested that commercial preparations ‘probably’ use transglutaminase – or meat glue – to hold the texture. That sounded somewhat plausible and I’d planned on trying it, when out of the blue the answer came from… bacon. Why bacon, you ask? Well, I had started curing my own bacon and I needed some curing salt. Whilst searching, I came across Surfy’s Home Curing website as a source. While browsing Surfy’s site I noticed that he also sold Doner Kebab Seasoning, and with my previous failed attempts in mind, I asked a few questions about the texture problem I’d experienced. That’s where the key piece of information came from: temperature.

In a nutshell, the most critical part to getting the texture right when making doner kebab meat is the temperature you do the mixing at. It has to be very, very cold, almost freezing – but not quite.

I can vouch for Surfy’s Kebab Seasoning, but you can get other brands. Some of them are commercial mixes so they should be fine.

Making Doner Kebab Meat

Surfy’s Kebab Seasoning, comes with a handy recipe for doner meat. The recipe is so simple that I couldn’t believe it was going to work, but I decided to give it a go exactly as it was written to see what happened.

I bought two 500g packs of lamb mince from Asda and stuck them in the freezer along with a bowl of water. When the water had just started to freeze (therefore acting as a crude thermometer), I threw the mince into my Kenwood Chef fitted with the K blade, added 50g of the kebab seasoning, and mixed on a medium-high speed until it became sticky and of a uniform texture (just like pink bread dough, in fact). Then I added 50g of the ice-water and mixed for a minute more, also on medium-high speed. Apart from the hour or so in the freezer beforehand, it took less than 10 minutes to produce the meat mixture in accordance with Surfy’s Recipe.

As I said above, I wasn’t in the least interested in producing a weird shape I’d have difficulty cooking and handling, so I packed the mixture firmly into a non-stick loaf tin by hand. Rather than just roast it, I decided to use a crude bain-marie, so I placed the loaf tin inside another tin and half filled that with boiling water and placed it in a pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 4. Using my Meater probe (any thermometer will do), I let it cook until the inside temperature reached above 75°C. Once removed from the oven, I drained off the rendered fat and let it cool a little.Slab of cooked DIY kebab meat

As soon as I cut into it I could immediately tell that I’d cracked the texture problem. It was firm and held together perfectly. And when I tasted it, it was identical to shop-bought kebab meat in both taste, smell, and texture. Once it was completely cool, I used my bacon slicer to slice it up into strips. The cooked loaf was about 220mm x 110mm x 65mm (i.e. slices were about 2½ inches wide).Slices of cooked kebab meat ready for reheating or freezing

I rolled the strips between parchment paper so that I could remove as many as I needed, and froze the roll for future use.

Making The Actual Kebabs

Re-heating can be done under the grill, in a pan, or in the microwave. Just don’t do it for too long, otherwise the strips dry out (though you might prefer your doner meat that way). Personally, I like mine juicy, so 30 seconds or so in the microwave gives you perfect moist strips.

I’ve typically like my kebabs on Pitta Bread, but I always find it a bit hit-and-miss over whether a pitta will puff up or not. Recently, Asda has started selling Naan Wraps, and these are absolutely perfect. They’re now my preferred bread for kebabs (until Asda stops doing them, as is their wont).

One of my kebabs will therefore be a naan wrap, 3 or 4 slices of meat with my favourite sweet chilli sauce on top, then finely sliced red and white cabbage, onions, peppers (that’s my own addition), onions (red or white), tomatoes, cucumber, and Iceberg lettuce. You can put as many vegetables on it as you like. And that’s it.


I estimate that 1kg of lamb mince produces enough doner meat for up to ten kebabs – admittedly, perhaps not if you put the same amount of meat in you get from takeaways, but that’s probably a good thing because they are usually into pig-out territory anyway. At £8 per kg of mince, plus £0.60 for the seasoning, each serving of meat comes to about 85p. With all the other stuff, you’re looking at well under £1.50 per kebab – and it’s a full, healthy meal. You’d be looking at £5-£6 in a takeaway, and a lot more fat.


No one is ever quite sure what goes into commercial kebab meat. Even taking away concerns about the actual animal the meat in them comes from, they are loaded with additional fats (often trans fats) that have been added eat during manufacture. And since we’re looking at commercial production, chemical additives (sodium phosphate, in particular) are used, quite possibly along with synthetic flavourings in some cases. In short, you simply don’t know what you’re eating – just that you’re eating a lot of it (and you know you shouldn’t).

The only fat in this homemade meat comes from the lamb. The Asda lamb I bought contains less than 20% fat in the first place, and a lot of that is rendered out during cooking (which I pour away). It contains nothing except lamb and the seasoning.

I estimate that each homemade kebab weighs in at no more than 800 calories, even on a large naan (less on one of the Asda wraps I mentioned). On a pitta it’s closer to 500 calories. Indeed, the majority of the calories come from the bread and not the meat. It’s no more than a typical meal, and a lot healthier since it contains a lot of vegetables.

If you were on a 2,000 calorie diet, you could have up to three of these as your main meal without any worries. A shop-bought kebab, on the other hand, could contain the full 2,000 calories in one go.

Could you cook it over a grill like they do in the shops?

Yes, of course. As long as you made sure it was properly cooked as you sliced it, the raw mixture could be formed on a spit, and rotated over or in front of an open flame to cook it. I haven’t tried it and have no desire to, but if you packed it tightly and then chilled it I’m sure it would be firm enough to put on a spit. Come to think of it, that’s how a takeaway I used to use many years ago did it – I watched him one day taking handfuls of meat mix out of a bowl, forming them into discs, and then throwing them on to the skewer of the large spit as he formed the ‘elephant leg’ a layer at a time. If you really, really want to go for the poseur approach, you can buy devices to do it. I’m not quite crazy enough to go this far, though I am crazy enough to have been tempted. Sorely tempted, I assure you.

Can you freeze cooked doner meat?

The recipe given above is cooked from fresh ingredients. If it is frozen quickly afterwards it’s fine for freezing. Just don’t let it hang around too long before you slice and freeze it. And never re-freeze it once thawed.

Freezing doner meat you bought in a kebab from a shop is definitely out. It was probably frozen to begin with, and you have no idea what the hygiene standards were when you were sold it. You don’t need me to tell you what the insides of kebab shops are like, and eating fresh from them is OK, but leaving it around for too long is asking for trouble.

Is it possible to buy doner meat already made?

Yes. Some cash & carry outlets sell tubs of cooked meat frozen. You can buy it in some supermarkets in smaller packs. It tastes fine, but it is relatively expensive compared with DIY.

What gives doner kebab meat its texture?

It’s all in the preparation. The meat has to have about 20-25% fat and it has to be very cold – almost freezing – when you do the mixing so that it can emulsify (i.e. the meat and fat are no longer separate). When you press it down into a mould or tray and cook it as described above, the texture is just right – not at all crumbly, but firm with a definite bite to it.

The REAL One And Only Rice Cooker You Need

Cooked riceAt the moment, my newsfeed is filled with stories about ‘the best rice cooker’ – probably as a result of my browsing history, I admit.

They’re all-singing, all-dancing electric things that do far more than you actually need. Now, I know that a lot of Asian people swear by electric rice cookers, but they tend to be fairly simple machines. In the West, we try to incorporate functions that are useless – like being able to play Netflix movies while you’re controlling the central heating. Stuff like that.

I can tell you now as an absolute fact, the only rice cooker you will ever need – assuming you have a microwave oven – is the Sistema Rice Cooker. All you do is put one measure of rice in the pot, add one and three quarters (or two) measures of water, and a little salt, and microwave on high for 9-10 minutes. Give it a stir, let it stand for another 5 minutes, and you have perfect rice. Period.

And it’s about a tenth of the price of the fancy ones. Sistema make some good food storage containers, too.

Support The Cornish Fish Industry

Wing of St Mawes logo

During the lockdown, some items were extremely difficult to get hold of – and still are, unless you’re prepared to go into shops and markets.

My dad likes crab meat, and in the past I’ve always bought it for him at Makro, where they have very good fish and meat counters. But right now there is no way I am going in those sorts of places. And then my dad decides he wants some crab meat!

I started looking around and came across Wing – The Cornish Fishmonger. They’re recommended by Rick Stein (among others), and that’s good enough for me. Better still, the fish is actually fresh and all recently landed (at the very least, freshly prepared). So I ordered some hand-picked fresh crab meat, a whole Cod fillet (as I suddenly got a hankering for some when I saw the website), and some kippers (my dad likes those, too).

Fresh cod

Items are shipped in polystyrene chill box, and you pick the date you want – usually within 24 hours if you order in the morning. For example, I placed another order late today – Wednesday – and it’s coming on Friday. The quality of the first order was excellent – Cod fillet as long as my arm, crab meat sweet, and apparently the kippers (which I don’t like) were ‘just like the ones you used to get’ (they’re whole butterflied fish). You don’t have to order whole fish fillets, as you can specify portions and it is prepared for you, but you can also buy whole fish if that’s what you want – and all the funky kinds you’d never see in Asda or Tesco. The shellfish are supplied live. And they also sell genuine Cornish Pasties, though I haven’t tried those yet.

Wing points out that buyers are supporting the Cornish fishing industry, which is struggling right now with everything that’s going on. They also have a 5-star rating on Trustpilot.