Tired of our tasteless bananas picked while green for export, we decided to take matters into our own hands. The result, we think, is surprisingly reminiscent of those bursting with sweetness we gorge on in India and Sri Lanka. Ours have the added sticky tang magic that comes from heating butter and lemon.
Small knob of butter, approx. 2 tsp
2 bananas, sliced into lengthways – we do strips
1 dsp agave, maple syrup or honey
1/2 lemon, juice of
Set butter to heat in a frying pan on a high heat.
Add banana, lemon juice and agave and fry till soft in the middle and sticky and charred on the outside. Roughly 3 minutes on the first side and 2 on the second.
Keeps for 3 days in the fridge.
Serve with yoghurt or creme fraiche, on top of porridge or even with bacon. Anywhere you’d use bananas basically. They’re also delicious mixed into creme fraiche with a dash of vanilla extract as a banana cream to go with cake.
This Middle Eastern strained yoghurt calls for a little patience; loading the piece of muslin first time can be a faff. But that’s pretty much the extent of this recipe, and once you’ve tried it on curries, salads or even toasted rye bread you’ll see exactly why I always have some in the fridge. And why it’s good enough for Mr Ottolenghi and Baker & Spice.
250g natural full fat bio yoghurt
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp za’atar – optional. You can also swap for black pepper or dried chillies (½ tsp max).
Mix all ingredients together and transfer to bowl lined with muslin. Tie the muslin into a sack and suspend over the bowl (I use a chopstick as a bracket).
The idea is to strain all the excess liquids from the yoghurt, so it’s best to keep the sack from touching the bottom of the bowl if possible. Alternatively, you can strain more recently.
Leave in the fridge for 24 hrs (or longer, depending on how thick you want the labneh to be). Drain the bowl daily.
Store in a jar in the fridge and keep as per the use by date on the yoghurt.
Tip: Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix of thyme, sesame, sumac, cumin, coriander, fennel and salt.
We can of course get decent tomatoes in the UK, but it’s not always easy. Either way, these are so much sweeter and full of flavour, bringing even the most simple salad to life. We have to admit, we’re quite proud of the star anise result.
12 medium sized tomatoes – good quality if possible
4 star anise
1 dessert spoon balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp agave / 1 dessert spoon brown sugar
Sea salt & black pepper
Chop tomatoes into wedges and place in a baking tray. Don’t over crowd the tray or you’ll end up with water soaked sogginess.
Mix very gently with the remaining ingredients and cook at 100C for 2 hrs, removing any excess water half way through.
Store in a container in the fridge.
Perfect with leaves, roasted red onion, Basil & passion-fruit vinaigrette