Food writer and cook Nigel Slater takes a tour of the diversity in modern British home cooking. Nigel discovers three one-pot dishes with origins from around the world.
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I've grown up with food that says home.
Dishes that mean a lot to me are part of who I am.
But while it's comfortable to stick with
what you know in the kitchen, I want to explore new ways of cooking.
There you go, you can carry that.
Are we going to cook in the garden?
In the garden, yes, like it used to be!
'I'm going on a tour to meet home cooks all around Britain...'
Oh, look at that.
'..who are mad about their food.'
I'm just one boy who loves to cook.
'To find out what culinary secrets they can teach me.'
-Well, you need a chicken, don't ya?!
This is my excuse to see what makes other cultures tick.
And to meet distant cousins of my favourite recipes.
It's home and abroad.
Dishes that share the same basic idea,
but with origins and ingredients a long way from our shores.
My journey will take me around the world.
The beauty is I won't even need a passport.
And as a thank you, I'll invite everyone I meet to a meal
that puts all their dishes on one table in a celebration
of what makes us different, and what brings us together.
One of the most ancient forms of cooking was to put
everything in one pot and cook it very slowly.
These steaming feasts of slow-cooked treasures allow individual
flavours to mingle, making real one-pot wonders.
Made across the world, many hotpots are much-loved family recipes,
but before I meet the talented people who will show me
their signature slow cooking, I want to make one of my favourites,
that speaks of old-fashioned Britain, the Lancashire Hotpot.
I can't think of anything more welcoming to come home
to on a winter's night.
There's something very easy about it, very good-natured.
I think of it as a very uncomplicated thing
in a complicated world.
Traditionally, this could use any cut of lamb,
but I like chops. Searing the meat intensifies the flavour.
The real magic happens when all the ingredients come together.
Celery, onions, carrot and swede just say Britain to me.
This is OUR hotpot. It's the one that we're most famous for.
So, when the lamb's brown on both sides, I'm going
to put it into the pot.
Brown the onions, followed by the celery and chunky carrot.
With every hotpot, you look at the ingredient list
and it's an ingredient list of the landscape, it's that area,
it's totally connected to where it's come from.
And that happens throughout the world.
Just a couple of tablespoonfuls of flour, you really don't need much.
I know it's unfashionable to use it but I like a thick, rich sauce.
A couple of bay leaves in, a few sprigs of thyme.
To pull everything together and make a gravy, you need liquid.
I'm using a jellied beef stock.
It will draw out the individual flavours,
making it much more than the sum of its parts.
And, yes, of course, you can use water if you want to
because you've got masses of flavour there already.
Season it well, bring it up to the boil, then turn
the heat down a bit and leave to simmer for ten minutes.
When it's thickened a little, spoon into a deep casserole
and leave on a lowish heat.
This is the bit I really love. It's the topping.
Sliced potatoes that go crisp on top
and underneath they soak up some of the gravy.
So this has been simmering away for quite a while,
it's got really thick,
a lot of the flavours have come out from the meat into the gravy.
There's no need to boil the potatoes or peel them,
I like to leave them nice and rustic.
A few thyme leaves, it's not particularly traditional, that's
just me, and then, just so it gets really golden, some melted butter.
It's now that the hotpot comes into its own.
An hour or more to slowly cook in a low oven, allows the meat
and veg to give it all they've got.
Patience isn't just a virtue, it makes the best hotpot.
It's my Lancashire Hotpot.
You know, there are some dishes that follow you throughout your life
and this is mine.
The simplest recipe imaginable.
It has nothing to do with the cook,
you just stir a few ingredients together, put it in the oven,
and they all get on with things themselves.
Sometimes, I think that that is actually
the best dinner in the world.
For me, this is a rustic classic for any day of the week.
But hotpots vary across the globe and for some cultures, it's
a dish for celebration.
I've come to North London to find out about an Iranian hotpot
made for very special occasions.
-Yasmin, I'm Nigel.
-Nice to meet you, Nigel.
Lovely to meet you. What a fabulous shop!
Isn't it gorgeous?
'Born in Britain, Yasmin spent her early years
'and summer holidays in Iran, and continues to cook dishes
'celebrating ingredients of her ancestral home.'
Now, you're going to tell me off about pomegranates
because shall I tell you something?
-I buy them ready done.
-What you miss, Nigel, is the real joy.
It's proper fruits of your labour stuff because actually what I
love about a pomegranate is you kind of have to work at it a bit.
Do you know what I mean? It's not like biting into an apple.
You have that little ceremony around opening it
and getting the seeds out.
How many do we need?
I think two will do us.
'We're going to use these pomegranates to make a dish
Fesenjan is an exciting duck or chicken
hotpot often served on special occasions. It has a wonderful blend
of sweet and sour flavours that melt together during hours of cooking.
So, this is actually a very simple recipe, just a few ingredients.
Three is the magic number, pomegranate molasses,
walnuts and chicken, cooked down in a casserole
and that pretty much sums up Iranian food.
-And tell me again - fesenjan.
-I'll get it.
-You'll get it by the end.
What's the first thing?
OK, well first thing we want to do is grind up the walnuts.
'Like pomegranates, walnuts are plentiful in Iran.
'Finely ground, they're mixed with nothing but water to become the
'backbone of Yasmin's rich hotpot, brought to a boil and simmered.'
So, I want you to just have a look at the colour.
This is something that's going to change over time.
Yes, this is porridge colour.
It is, isn't it?
Sort of colour of oatmeal right now.
The longer you cook them,
the more flavour is released and the more the oils are released.
So, that's all you need to do, goodbye for now.
'This dish comes from Northern Iran, where Yasmin spent long summers
'and celebrated Iranian New Years in the 1980s,
'a time when political unrest shook family life.'
Gran cooking outside.
You know, say if we were making fesenjan,
she would get a local duck from the land, bring it up and we'd
all help her pluck it, she'd have the walnuts from her walnut trees.
She'd have the pomegranates from the pomegranate trees.
-Eat local, and I love that.
'Iran's revolution in 1979, saw the monarchy overthrown
'and an Islamic regime take power.
'It was a turbulent time for many people.'
I remember being four years old and going to visit my uncle, who
was in prison at the time for political activity,
and we all went to visit him and the prison guards wouldn't let us in.
It was a really, really painful thing for the family,
My grandmother not being able to see her son
and so I said I wanted to go in. And I was always a bit bolshy,
and so the prison guards let me in, so all my family waited outside.
Because it was New Year, I really wanted to take my uncle
something, and so I had a little bit of Iranian nougat,
wrapped up, which is a very traditional Iranian sweet,
made with rose water and pistachios, and I remember going in
and obviously, you know, prison guards wouldn't search
a four-year-old, they wouldn't think I had it
and I was able to take that in.
I was able to give it to my uncle.
It felt really special.
That little symbolic gesture of taking someone a special food to
mark a special day, can mean so much.
Even in those troubled times.
Although it's been 30 years since Yasmin settled in Britain,
she is more determined than ever to share the evocative flavours
of her childhood, the essence of Iranian, or Persian, cuisine.
For me, right now, one of the things I'm most
enjoying about exploring Persian food here in the UK, sharing it with
my friends, with people who've never had it before, people like you.
It's because I get to connect to Iran through something positive.
And a simple thing like having a cup of fragrant tea with a nice
bit of saffron sugar just reminds me
of all the positive experiences that one can have in Iran.
-The good stuff.
-The good stuff. Yeah.
Oh, glossy, really glossy.
'Two hours on the heat has thickened the sauce,
'intensifying the taste, ready for a fruity element.'
-I know what that is - pomegranate.
That's...wow, two, three tablespoons.
'The sharpness of the pomegranate is sweetened with cinnamon
'and brown sugar, and enhanced by powdered angelica root.
'A spoonful of tomato puree, and finally the chicken,
'which will slowly take on these ancient flavours.
'Preparing pomegranates the proper way is part of what makes
'this dish authentic.'
Grand! This is so much darker!
It's rich and it's glossy
and it's completely changed in the time it's been in the pot.
'The rich, dark sauce of the fesenjan is bejewelled with
'the gemstones of the pomegranate.'
Oh, how absolutely gorgeous.
And it is just walnuts and water?
It's just walnuts and water, that's all that is.
-Gorgeous. It's really quite fruity.
-It's very fruity.
And that lovely sweet, sour thing going on.
Do you know what this tastes of to me? My Christmas.
Yeah, I'm thinking nuts, pomegranates,
slow cooking, chicken.
It's got a very festive, festive taste to it.
Yasmin's fesenjan is about so much more than its classic Iranian
ingredients, it's full of a heritage she's proud of.
Oh, thank you so much for this. It's just so beautiful.
'This is an ancient dish, reminiscent of happy celebrations,
'and it makes me think of another country where family
'and friendship is at the very heart of their cooking.'
Brazilian brothers Anderson and Andre moved to
the UK as teenagers, but their love of Latin flavours came with them.
'They're going to cook me THE national dish of Brazil - feijoada.
'This carnival of a hotpot uses ingredients we're all
'familiar with now, but which originated in South America.'
And the most important part obviously is the black beans.
-Ah, the black beans.
-That's what forms the feijoada.
These have been soaked overnight.
And just to add a bit of Brazilian heat, we've got
Grandmother's special chilli sauce.
That's your grandmother's?
Yes, she made that one.
'These aren't just Grandma's ingredients - feijoada is
'a recipe passed down through generations of Brazilian families.'
That's the main inspiration for our cooking,
our grandmother, she's a big part of our life,
she was always around, helping my mum, raise both my brother
And we have her to thank for this recipe.
We do, yes.
There's my brother and I on the beach, enjoying ourselves,
sporting the famous Speedos, as you do when you are on Copacabana beach.
And that is the reason why my brother
decided to learn how to cook.
The girls. Yeah, just to score some extra points with
It was one of the reasons.
It's a good enough reason.
'The word feijoada derives from the Portuguese for beans,
'but, if anything, Andre
'and Anderson's recipe seems to be an homage to pork.'
I just can't believe how much you've got, it's awesome.
So, a mixture really of both fresh meats and cured.
Yes, the cured meats give it a really nice flavour.
When would you normally eat this, I mean traditionally?
You will avoid eating this during the week because it's
quite a heavy dish. I remember my father would eat this on the weekend
and then he would go to the sofa and have a nap for a couple of hours.
It is a heavy dish, but worth the time and effort you put in to it.
What really intrigues me here is the size of the pieces.
This is a seriously rustic dish, isn't it?
-There's no finesse.
-There's no finesse.
-Oh, who wants finesse?!
This is home cooking at its best.
The pork ribs are caramelised along with a bit of chopped onion
and garlic, to give a sweetness to the feijoada.
Throw a little bit of water in.
Not much, and we're going to put the lid on and just let them
sweat for a little bit.
This is really quite a new method for me,
I've not seen that before, adding water at that point.
The way my mum cooks ribs at home,
she'll do the same process and then she'll repeat these water,
let the water evaporate maybe five, six times, and then at the end
you have the softest ribs you've ever had in your life.
-Yes, it's delicious.
-I can't wait.
Now the reason why we started cooking... In Brazil there's
a macho feeling there, cooking is the women's job to do...
-..so you don't get the men in the kitchen.
Different school of thoughts.
But we grew up cooking, my dad used to cook a lot
so he influenced me a lot as well.
Do you miss Brazil?
I do, but England has become my home now.
I love it when I go back - it's fun, it's amazing,
you just switch off for a couple of weeks
and then, you know, believe it or not, I get homesick.
I miss London, yeah, yeah, I do.
'Once the mountain of pork is tender,
'it's transferred to a huge casserole, with more chopped onions
'and garlic and finally the essential black beans.'
You know, I've got to be honest,
I don't cook with black beans very often.
All of the other beans I do cook, but not these and they're beautiful.
Yeah, very nice, and you'll see once the dish is done, it's like
the sauce becomes not quite black, but it's a dark-coloured sauce.
So we'll just throw the beans with the liquid that is left on,
it doesn't matter.
'It's only when these meats are cooked slowly
'together that the real joy of this dish emerges.
'Distinctive on their own, put together the flavours sing,
'like a reflection of the cultural diversity in Brazil.'
The thing about these hotpots, the thing that attracts me
to them, apart from the fact that it's a whole load of flavours
all mingling and getting to know one another,
cooked for a slow time, is the fact that they tell a story.
They do, yeah. It's beautiful, simple food.
'Andre and Anderson's three-hour feijoada gives you that
'uniquely comforting glow only a slow-cooked dish can deliver.'
Look at that. Thank you very much.
That is beautiful.
This is good, guys.
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
It is seriously good.
It's worth the wait!
'The brothers may have brought this rich, smokey,
'purple-hued feijoada to Britain,
'but it's still Brazil's national dish.
'There are however, some exotic hotpots,
'so popular here, they've practically become our own.
'I'm talking curries.'
I've come to Cardiff, where there's a thriving Bangladeshi
community, to meet Enam, who moved here as a three-year-old
but has never lost his love for traditional Bangladeshi cooking.
Enam's part of one of the oldest Muslim communities in the UK,
and his family opened one of the first Indian restaurants in town.
I adore a bit of spice, and I want Enam to show me his authentic
curried hotpot, a special one-pot dish fit for honoured guests.
Tell me what we are cooking?
Today, we're going to cook the traditional chicken korma.
Kurma, we call it in Bengali, so it's a Bangladeshi korma.
It's korma without the cream, and the milk and the sugar,
so you get natural sweetness coming from the onions and garlic
and ginger being slow-cooked over two hours.
First thing, we're going to make the garlic and ginger.
Wash the ginger with the skin on the ginger.
We're leaving the skin on? Because I've always peeled ginger.
I don't know why you've done that,
we've always kept the skin on the ginger.
Now I love it when someone tells me
I've been doing something wrong for 40 years.
There's no wrong in cooking, really.
'The korma we're making is to celebrate Eid, the end of Ramadan,
'a month of fasting observed by Muslims across the world.
'But that's not until tomorrow, and I'm already hungry.'
This isn't the only thing we're eating, is it?
-Actually, when are we eating?
Because I'm, I'm confused here.
When are we eating?
When are WE eating or when are YOU eating?
When are we all eating.
I'm not going to eat without you.
OK, normally, because it's the month of Ramadan,
it's sunset, so today it's close to a quarter past nine, I think.
-That's a long time to go.
I mean it really is. And what about water? What about drinks?
No, we're not allowed to have no water, no liquid.
-It's a test.
And korma, is, I mean is that the traditional dish for Eid?
Do you always make it?
Korma is not only for Eid.
We are cooking it because the children love it as well.
It's mild, its delicate flavours.
I think of it as being quite a gentle, almost sophisticated dish.
It is. You can't rush a korma.
You can't rush a korma.
-A little bit of oil.
-And then a little bit of water, yes?
Yes, that's right.
'Like Yasmin's fesenjan, this is a special hotpot.
'The invested effort from the cook making the dish that bit sweeter.'
-Quite a soft, almost silky paste?
-That's right, yes.
Smells really nice.
So as you're smelling that, it occurs to me
that if you are cooking all day but you're not allowed to eat at
this point, and I taste everything,
all the way through when I'm cooking,
but you can't?
I know, but when you're fasting,
your senses are heightened, especially your sense of smell,
so everything seems more pungent, more aromatic.
-So, we have onions.
Plenty of onions.
Now for the chicken. This is halal chicken.
That's right, yes.
-Are we cooking this on the bone?
-On the bone.
We're going to heat the pan, put the ghee in, just enough to cover
the base of the pan. So we're going to put just over half of that in.
-About like that?
'You'd expect to find spices at the heart of a curry, and in this korma,
'whole bay leaves, cinnamon and my favourite, cardamom, are the stars.'
Who taught you to make this chicken korma?
My mother taught me and my nan,
she taught my mother, so it's been passed on.
So what age are we talking about?
I used to help my mother out when I was probably ten.
So was it a case of being encouraged to cook or did you feel you
kind of had to?
Not had to, I wanted to.
In my house, I enjoy cooking.
If I cook for you, if you're happy, I'm happy!
'The intensity of this dish comes from the way Enam cooks his onions
'and spices so slowly, nothing like the korma you get from a takeaway.'
So all those little bits that have stuck on the bottom?
Now, this is actually helping to get them off.
That's right, it just comes off easily.
Is that enough?
Yes, you can put the lid on it now.
How come there was ever these westernised recipes?
I think it was the original restaurants
when they came it was more to suit the Western palate,
as the Western palate at that time was more sort of roast dinners
and fish and chips and nowadays, look at it, you just go on to
-any high street, you've got Mexican, Thai...
..African - all sorts.
I tell my children this, I say we're at a time where this country
and maybe a few other countries in the world where you can go to
the supermarket and get any vegetables
from any part of the world.
We're blessed and grateful for that as well.
Yeah, I'm with you there, definitely.
It's time to put the chicken in now.
I know that I've got a recipe that
I call my quick korma, and I reckon you can do it in about half an hour.
I mean, I think it's quite delicious.
Well, if yours is a quick korma, this should be called a slow korma!
We put the lid on and put the heat up.
'Enam's slow-cooked curry takes nearly two hours.
'As I've learned, you can't rush a korma.
'Ramadan gives Muslims a renewed appreciation of food
'and when Eid finally arrives, a shared feast with family is
'the best way to celebrate the breaking of the fast.
'Taking some traditional sweet treats is the least I can do.'
Thanks very much, come in.
This looks to me like you've been cooking all day and night?
This is just normal. You've got this fish...
You've got cupboards full of stuff.
Carp cooked with tomatoes, garlic, onions, coriander.
Lamb chop bhuna.
Meat or chicken pilau.
This looks just completely awesome.
This is family and friends and me. Thank you!
You're most welcome.
'Enam's traditional Bangladeshi korma couldn't be more
'different to the takeaways I'm used to.
'The intense and sophisticated flavours of those slow-cooked
'onions have redefined korma for me.'
These hotpots may have come from all over the world, but wherever
they originated somebody discovered that if you cook what you
have around you very slowly you will never be disappointed.
These dishes share a common DNA,
but each one has its own unique identity.
As a contrast to their meat-rich recipes,
but inspired by their slow-cooking techniques, I'm going to
create a one-pot celebration of vegetables.
Enam's onions, that he cooked down for so long with that little
bit of water, and they became soft and translucent.
See, just starting to go golden on the edges.
I love the touch of velvet that aubergines bring to the party.
Big wide frying pan. Plenty of olive oil.
Aubergines adore oil, they just drink it up.
I just want them to colour a little bit,
so as soon as those are golden and soft, I'll whip them out.
And I've got courgettes as well,
and they'll be adding quite a bit of moisture to this.
Tomatoes. Just chop these up.
These will break down so you don't need to cut them
into pieces that are too small.
I've got these lovely little golden ones here,
but you can use anything you've got.
I've put quite a few of these in because they're providing us
not only with the juice but also masses of flavour.
So the onions are really soft, and into there, I'm going
to put all these tomatoes.
Again, low heat and a lid.
All of these dishes are about nourishment,
they're about filling people, and I've chosen beans.
Not the soaked and long-cooked beans that Andre and Anderson used,
but canned beans, and I'm using a mixture.
Some haricot beans and my favourite little beans, flageolet.
Into that I'm going to tuck the courgettes and the aubergines
and, you know, if you want to put garlic in now do.
I'm not going to because I want these flavours to sing
and garlic can be a bit of a bully.
There's something enchanting about that moment
when Yasmin broke the pomegranate over the top of her fesenjan
and suddenly the dish came to life.
We don't grow pomegranates here, but beetroots and carrots we do,
and they are my jewels to adorn this dish.
And there we are. That's my hotpot.
There's a little bit of all my friends in that.
Every idea they've given me, from the jewelled crust,
the slow-cooked onions and those boys' beans.
It's all in there.
An hour in the oven lets it soak up the heat and soften.
Great things happen when ingredients meet
and spend a bit of time together.
No matter where in the world you
go home to, it's like a hug waiting for you when you open the door.
Hotpots are one of the simplest and most rewarding dishes to cook,
you just have to take your time.
-That's for you.
Well, listen, thank you
all very much for bringing your lovely food.
I just cannot tell you what I've learnt
and the pleasure I've had from cooking with you all.
And, um, this is to you all. Thank you.
MUSIC: Ho Hey by The Lumineers
Nigel's tour of the flavours of Britain takes him from the old classic Lancashire hotpot to three melt-in-the-mouth one-pot dishes with origins from around the world.
He meets Yasmin, whose special Iranian fesenjoon takers her back to her childhood in Iran, he gets a lesson in Brazil's national dish feijoada from brothers Andre and Anderson, and he discovers the delicate flavours of a traditional Bangladeshi korma as he joins Enam and his family to celebrate Eid.
Inspired by their dishes, Nigel creates a luxurious bean hotpot bejewelled with beetroot and carrot.