GUEST BLOG #9 - by Parveen Ashraf, aka The Spice Queen SaveCo Online Ltd

Festive Food Part 1

My Winter One Pot Wonder

The clocks went back last weekend and I don't know about you, but for me that definitely signifies the end of summer. Sometimes, when the sun shines, I kid myself that it is still summer but the carpet of golden crisp leaves under my feet and the nip in the air are a dead giveaway. Winter is here. My pink summer Mac in now packed away in the back of my wardrobe and out comes my red winter coat (yes, I do love my spice queen colours!)...By the way a quick tip of remembering how the clocks change...They fall back in winter and spring forward in summer. O.K. back to the subject in hand - FOOD and in particular celebratory winter food.

The winter months are cold, dark and we spend far too many hours with our curtains drawn but there are things we can look forward to. Even with all that is going on in the world, I always try to look at the positives. For me that means cooking food that is hearty, warming, comforting and of course celebratory. In the next few weeks, there are several festivals coming up; Halloween, Bonfire Night, Diwali and of course Christmas and New Year! I know with the '3 tear' system, as I call it, and the rule of 6 we may not be able to be with our loved ones, but we can still cook celebratory dishes and enjoy the food because we all need to eat.  

Certain foods are synonymous with certain festivals but it's not just the food itself. It's the aroma as the food is being cooked and prepared. When we enjoy food, it's not only our sense of taste that we use - we also eat with our eyes and sense of smell. In fact I would say smell is probably more important than the look of the dish but that's just me, as my sense of smell is very acute, I acquired that super power when I was pregnant with my daughter, but I have to say it bodes well for me given my chosen profession. Anyway, smells evoke such memories for us, for example, cloves and cinnamon at Christmas, elachi (cardamom) sweets on Diwali, toffee apples, parkin and lamb bhuna together with the acrid smell of used fireworks on Bonfire Night - WAIT!!.... hang on, parkin and lamb bhuna??!...Oh, that must be just me...Yorkshire parkin is like a gingerbread, dark rich and sweet and as for the lamb bhuna, allow me to explain...

I grew up in Yorkshire in the 70's and in those days when it was bonfire night, my brothers and I had such fun. During the day, we would dress up one of my brothers' unsuspecting friends as Guy Fawkes; throw him into an old wheel barrow and run round the streets collecting 'money for the guy,' Then in the evening, we would all gather around a real fire, remember this was in the days of pre risk assessments, and we would actually stand so close to the fire that we could feel the heat on our faces. Looking back now, it was probably quite dangerous but quite exciting too. We would light our sparklers and enjoy our toffee apples and parkin. As the fire would die down, we would warily wander home, full of sugar and smelling of smoke. On entering the house, we would all get a good clip round the ear with some choice punjabi swear words from mum, get thrown into a hot bath, scrubbed to an inch of our lives...Then, she would serve up her amazing lamb dish with hot buttered chappattis - OMG, the food was divine; the hot spicy lamb and soft buttered chappattis was heaven after all the sweet sticky stuff we had overdosed on....After dinner,  squeaky clean and with our full tummies, we would all settle down under our blankets with hot water bottles and watch the latest episode of The Sweeney or Dallas. 


So, as you can see although not typically traditionally bonfire night recipes - it reminds me of those winter nights. Try my winter one pot wonder, stay safe and enjoy bonfire night.

Parveen Ashraf



There are many different recipes for this dish but I find this the easiest, just throw everything into a pan and cook through! You can use mutton if you prefer, it has a stronger richer flavour. Just add 50 minutes to the cooking time at step 2.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves approx. 4 to 6 





  1. Add all ingredients (except the coriander) into a large stock pot.
  2. Bring to the boil, cover with lid and then simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium and cook the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. The meat and sauce will now have a shiny appearance with the oil separating. Stir continuously for 10 minutes. If sauce sticks, add a splash of water. Do not leave at this point, the flavour and richness of flavour comes from cooking the meat in the sauce or 'bhuning' as I would call it.
  5. Add the coriander and 200ml of boiling water, stir and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. 


Enjoy with hot buttered chappattis, naan or rice.
For more of Parveen's recipe you can purchase her book from SaveCo or her website.
For more hints and tips..Watch her video tutorial on YouTube 
Parveen ashraf - the spice queenRecipeRecipes

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