Cupboard love: Mark Hix on store-cupboard stars

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Keep your store cupboard stocked with a variety of dried goods, advises our resident chef – they're perfect for creating tasty and thrifty meals

Dried goods are essential if you need to whip up a dinner-party supper in a hurry – and for that reason I always like to make a point of keeping my store cupboard stocked with an interesting array of provisions.

I love trawling around all the Middle Eastern and Asian shops in my neighbourhood and scouring the aisles for all those weird and wonderful dried ingredients, many of which I don't even recognise. They are the perfect base with which to make the following thrifty and delicious recipes.

Whipped butter beans with chilli and coriander

Serves 4-6

I'm a big fan of butter beans, but they do vary in quality, so try to buy the best-quality ones that you can find rather than the cheap ones. You could use the canned version but I think that you get a much better result if you use the dried variety.

150g dried butter beans, soaked in plenty of cold water for 10-12 hours
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
About 1ltr vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
120ml extra virgin olive oil
The juice of half a lemon
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
2tbsp coriander, chopped
Flatbread, to serve

Put the butter beans in a pan with the garlic, bicarbonate of soda and vegetable stock, season, bring to the boil and simmer very gently with a lid on for about 40-50 minutes or until tender and topping up with water if necessary. Drain in a colander, reserving the stock. Keep aside about 20 or so butter beans and put them in a bowl with the chilli, coriander and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil; season to taste.

Blend the rest of the beans in a liquidiser, with enough of the stock to help blend the beans, and trickle the rest of the olive oil in until it is well blended; then season and add the lemon juice to taste. Serve at room temperature spooned on to a large plate or individual serving plates, with the beans placed on top.

Koshari

Serves 6-8

Anissa Helou, the Middle Eastern cookery writer, invited me a few weeks back to taste her Egyptian dish of koshari. I knew nothing about this delicious dish but I was happy to try it as I am endlessly curious about adding new Middle Eastern recipes to my repertoire. Anissa is opening a takeaway called Koshari Street (kosharistreet.com) serving only this rice dish in London's St Martin's Lane in early April – and if the koshari is as good as the one she made for me, it's going to be a big hit.

I loved the combination of the dried pasta, pulses and rice all topped with a zingy tomato and chilli sauce. Anissa also uses her own secret spiced nut recipe scattered f over the koshari, but I've been sworn to secrecy on the recipe; if you want to taste it you will have to visit Anissa's shop.

For the tomato sauce
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, peeled, halved and very finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
250g good-quality chopped canned tomatoes with their juice
2tsp verjuice or vinegar
¼tsp finely-ground black pepper
¼tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

For the koshari
8tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 medium white onions, peeled, thinly sliced
60-70g vermicelli, broken into pieces
100g brown or puy lentils, soaked for an hour in cold water
150g basmati rice, rinsed
120g cooked weight of chickpeas (dried or canned)
60g mini macaroni or similar, cooked
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First, make the tomato sauce. Put the oil and chopped onion in a saucepan and gently f cook over a medium heat until golden. Stir in the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, then add the tomatoes, vinegar and spices. Simmer for 10-20 minutes or until thickened. Blend the sauce in a liquidiser until smooth and keep warm.

While the tomato sauce is cooking, start preparing the koshari.

Put the olive oil in a frying pan and place over a medium heat.

Add the onions and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and spread on to paper towels to drain off the excess oil.

Add the vermicelli to the oil and sauté until lightly browned, then put to one side.

Put the lentils in a saucepan with about five cups of water.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15-30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you are using. They should be quite tender by the time you add the rice.

Add the rice to the lentils. Simmer for another 10 minutes and stir in the vermicelli and the remaining oil; add salt to taste.

Wrap the lid of the pan with a clean kitchen towel, add the macaroni and chickpeas, place the lid back over the pan and remove from the heat.

Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes or until the vermicelli is tender and the liquid has been fully absorbed.

Stir in half the fried onion and reserve the other half for garnish. Use a fork to stir the rice so that you fluff it up at the same time.

Transfer the koshari to a serving dish, then ladle the sauce all over and scatter the remaining caramelised onion over the sauce. Serve hot.

Mushroom, wild garlic and ginger broth

Serves 4-6

I'm a real fan of dried Asian mushrooms and a few weeks ago I went off in search of abalone mushrooms which a friend of mine, Geoff Leong, had told me about. Anyway, I think I managed to find them and they looked rather like pom pom mushrooms. I keep five or six types of dried mushroom in my larder at all times and they can be made into a great, tasty and healthy broth. Some of these Asian mushrooms, such as shiitake and black fungus, can be bought ready-sliced, which makes using them quicker as they re-hydrate in no time.

1.5ltrs vegetable stock
60g root ginger, scraped and finely shredded
2tbsp light soy sauce
40-50g dried Asian mushrooms (black fungus, shiitake, cauliflower fungus etc) soaked for between 30 mins and 2 hours, depending if sliced or whole
4 spring onions, cleaned and shredded on the angle
A handful of wild garlic leaves, shredded
60g udon noodles, cooked

Put the vegetable stock in a pan with the ginger and bring to a simmer. Cut the mushrooms into even-sized pieces and add to the stock with the soy and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until tender, adding the noodles at the end. Add the spring onion and wild garlic, season to taste and serve.

Apricot pudding with pistachio

Serves 6-8

This pudding is another Anissa Helou creation and will be served in the new shop. It's dead-simple to make; but try to use the best-quality dried fruit that you can find. You can buy pistachio slithers in Middle Eastern supermarkets; or else you could just use peeled pistachios.

200g good-quality dried apricots, soaked in cold water overnight
40-50g pistachio slithers

Put the apricots in a saucepan with double the volume of water, bring to the boil and simmer gently with a lid on for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the heat, then blend the apricots in a liquidiser with enough liquid to make a smooth purée (you can use the excess cooking liquid as a drink). Leave to cool. Serve in glasses with the pistachios scattered on top.

Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
VIDEO
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
football
Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
film
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit