Nigella Express


#7 Quick Chilli by Nigella Lawson (from Nigella Express)

For someone who isn’t a ‘Chilli Head’, I start to sweat even looking at a bottle of the ubiquitous Sriracha sauce, I fucking love a Chilli! My last chili review was actually an unorthodox Gizzi Erskine variant (with chicken) that was delicious nonetheless. I’m tempted to add a whole section dedicated to them here on Pigley’s Kitchen, or maybe just a specific chilli-fangirl blog. One of my favourite things about Nigella Lawson is that with each new book comes a new recipe for chili. I’ve cooked all of them to date, her aptly named Quick Chilli from Nigella Express completing my research.

I’m not usually one for cheat ingredients – it’s a bit Joe Wicks for me – so looking at Nigella’s Quick Chilli I was a little apprehensive. Ingredients include: Ready-made chunky vegetable pasta sauce; tinned mixed beans in spicy sauce; sweet chilli sauce. I couldn’t actually bring myself to buying a jar of pasta sauce especially, as I have a glut of onions and endless tins of tomatoes. I made my ‘chunky pasta sauce’ by sweating off onions and garlic as normal. It probably added 5-10 mins to the cooking time, not the worst result. I did actually have a tin of the beans in spicy sauce from a grandparental care package, so that came in handy. I always have the inexpensive ‘Healthy Boy’ sweet chilli sauce in the fridge and there was an open pack of chorizo that needed using.

You’re never safe from being surprised until you’re dead.

Well I had to eat my words with this recipe. This Quick Chilli had unexpected depths of flavour. Just spicy enough. Just sweet enough. Just reduced enough. The sweet chilli sauce helped to add a stickiness to the chilli that belied the short cooking time. Honestly, I’ve painstakingly slow cooked chillis in a casserole for hours with pieces of beef shin and had results less satisfying than this one. It’s not fair.

After lecturing people for years about the necessity of slow cooking, I went days without pausing for breath. Constantly raving about this Quick Chilli, breaking only to snaffle more leftovers. I also feel bad for doubting Nigella. That’ll learn me. For your own chilli-based life lessons, you can find the recipe for Quick Chilli here or in Nigella Express.

P.S. No photo on this occasion – a chilli rarely photographs well with artificial light at nighttime. It looked brown and wet.


#6 Curry in a Hurry by Nigella Lawson (from Nigella Express)

I cooked this recently, wanting to use up the tamarind paste that’s sat unused since the first time I cooked this recipe. However, after buying all the ingredients, arriving home and opening Nigella Express only to realise that I hadn’t in fact cooked Curry in a Hurry before. I had confused the recipe with Nigella Kitchen’s South Indian Vegetable Curry. My dusty bottle of tamarind paste will have to languish in the ‘exotic’ cupboard for another day.

Focusing back on Curry in a Hurry, what a success! As a recipe from Ms. Lawson’s most time-efficient tome, Nigella Express, you would expect this Thai-inspired curry to be a dream to whip up. From getting the chopping board out to dinner table in 30 mins. The Curry in a Hurry was ready before my Jasmine rice had cooked. Express indeed.

Nigella Lawson Nigella Express Curry in a Hurry

You can see the error of my over-reducing ways here.

Not all curry pastes are born equal.

It’s also a perfect store cupboard meal. It required very little shopping beyond picking up some chicken thigh fillets. I often have some green Thai curry paste in the fridge begging to be used up and the green vegetables are interchangeable. Not all curry pastes are born equal, I bought one from the Asian section of Tesco and it was a lot hotter than the westernised Tesco one. In terms of veggies, I usually use a combination of frozen peas and broccoli as I ALWAYS have both in. Broccoli also has the benefit of being cheaper and having more substance than green beans. A thrifty substitution! Oh and sod the soy beans. I’ll stick to a double portion good old frozen peas. On my first attempt I over-reduced the curry, aiming for a thick British gravy consistency. The curry is quite wet, intentionally so. Don’t make the same mistake as me, it will be unpalatably salty and remove the hurried element of the curry. Luckily I rescued that attempt at Curry in a Hurry with some more coconut milk. That said, the ‘authentic’ thinner broth is delicious to finish off with a spoon or continue to dip some prawns crackers into.

Fresh. Fast. Delicious. Great for reheating. You can find the recipe here.

Nigella Lawson Curry in a Hurry Food Photography

The finished dish, complete with some veggie spring rolls.