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Most of my recipe journeys start with “I found..” , inspiration is everywhere.

My palate has its roots in the spice and fragrance of the place I was raised. Every day there was the smell of ground cumin and coriander frying along with other spices like cardamoms and cinnamon in massive vats of food to be transported elsewhere.

I do love strong fresh fragrant flavours, I love all food but if made to choose between a meat pie and green beans, the beans will always win; I’d just add some salsa verde.

Today sadly I rarely smell cooking anywhere on the streets near my home but I have vibrant cheap markets on my doorstep and lots of little gems of food heaven or intrigue scattered around for me to find, much like a treasure hunt. A myriad of diverse cultural influences can be found in just a short walk in any direction.

On this day however I had only to walk to the fridge. I found some frozen venison then had a thought and popped to my beloved local Turkish shop for some flat leaf parsley, chilli, tomatoes and an aubergine. Picked up some semolina too just because I want to make pasta.

This was the thought.

Kofta and Tomato Sauce
For 3-4 people

Kofta

Kofta

Kofta Ingredients
500g ground venison
1 medium onion, peeled and very finely chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
30g breadcrumbs
20g pine nuts
1tsp red pepper flakes
1tsp allspice
1tsp ground black pepper
1.5tsp fennel seeds
0.5tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp salt
Handful of flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped
Some olive oil

1. Toast the pine nuts and fennel seeds in a dry pan until golden.
2. Add the pine nuts and fennel seeds to a bowl with all the other ingredients and squish together with your hands.
3. Spilt the mixture into portions about the size of a dessert spoon and squish again to form tight kofta.
4. Add some of the olive oil to a moderately hot pan add the kofta and cook them on all sides in batches. I shaped mine with sides (like a toblerone) so that I could just turn them easily. They should take 8-10 minutes.

I served with Tomato Sauce (below), on a bed of spinach and polenta fried aubergine, with yogurt and garlic dressing.

Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce Ingredients
1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
6-8 medium/large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1tbsp tomato paste
500ml water
Some salt
0.5tsp ground black pepper
Handful of flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped

1. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic and let them gently cook for 5-6 minutes, until they are softened and slightly golden.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes, (I don’t bother taking off the skins) and the tomato paste to the pan and season with the salt and pepper, I add lots of pepper because I like the heat.
3. Simmer on a very low heat, without a lid, for about 30-40 minutes, checking that the liquid has not evaporated too much, if it starts to become paste like add some of the water to loosen the mixture a little.
4. Once the consistency is as desired add the chopped parsley and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Serve on your kofta. I like to have it with garlic yoghurt and aubergine.

Inspired by a Turkish repice eaten outdoors on floor cushions in .Turkey, Yotam Ottolenghi, and my currently liking of fennel seeds which can be atributed to my close friend Tina who happened to have some in her campervan one night when we needed a feed.

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