Many years ago I found my first Slater book, Real Fast Food, on a sale table somewhere and picked it up on spec. I didn't know his name, but the book looked liked something I might like and be well worth the 20 guilders I paid for it. It definitely was.
To welcome Slater, I had a look to see what needed to be used in the freezer, found some lamb chops, and found the recipe for Lamb Sirloin Chops with Yogurt and Mint (p240) in my first Slater book. This is vaguely Indian, with the lamb rubbed with a mix of yogurt, garlic, fresh mint leaves, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Not sure if mine were sirloin chops as the recipe asks, but they did quite well. Following some of Slater's accompaniment suggestions, I served the chops with "a cucumber salad dressed with white wine vinegar and chopped fresh dill" (that's the whole recipe) and Fragrant Brown Basmati Rice (p203).
The lamb chops were good, and the same sauce could be used for grilling chunks of lamb on a skewer perhaps. The rice was disappointing, but I'll try it again before I write off the recipe. Interestingly, he has you parboil the rice, then drain it and add it to a pan of fried spices for the final cooking. A bit more complicated than similar recipes. But, he has you toast ground turmeric with whole spices (cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamon pods, and bay leaf), for the same time. I had burnt turmeric before the other spices were smelling brightly. I dumped the contents of the pan, gave it a swipe with a paper towel, then started again. This time I added the ground turmeric with the rice. The final dish had an odd taste, either there were remains of some burnt turmeric or the turmeric really wanted to be toasted for a little bit, just not as long as the whole spices. (The recipe says it serves four. I made a half recipe for two, but it was still too much. I think the recipe as written will serve six.)
I started by getting the lamb chops rubbed with the yogurt sauce and letting them sit to marinate. Then I made the cuke salad, which also didn't complain about a chance to marinate. Then I started the rice. When that was off the fire, I zapped the chops under the broiler. A nice meal, real food, pretty fast, even if the rice was a bit off.
Some people criticize Slater's books because the recipes are a bit vague, sometimes they are only ideas for dishes rather than a finished product. But I find that the whole point of the thing. It's up to me to match the idea with my own experience, taste, and pantry content. I'm looking forward to trying more of these ideas in the coming months.
Visit this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs to see how other people have welcomed Nigel Slater to their kitchen.