Tag Archives: cinnamon

Tropical Fruit Salad with Chilli, Star Anise, Cinnamon & Lime Dressing


This gorgeous fruit salad comes from spice master John Gregory’s Smith‘s book, Mighty Spice. Inspired by his travels around the world, John wrote the cookbook to show how you can use spices to add amazing flavours – including spicy, zingy, fiery and tangy – as well as delicious aromas. Instead of having to use a whole load of different spices, John uses a total of only 25 spices – and a maximum of only 5 spices for each recipe. And there’s a wonderful selection of dishes from all over the world. Brilliant!

This recipe literally took no time at all to prepare. I cheated (!) and bought a pre-prepared tropical fruit salad. So I simply made the syrup and mixed it into the papaya, pineapple, mango and passion fruit. So easy. And the flavours here are stunning – a combination of fiery chilli, zesty lime juice, and sweet, aromatic cinnamon and star anise – all mixed into the different fruit flavours. We ate this after a beef stir-fry, making the whole meal a fantastic mix of tastes and aromas. It’s wonderful to find new inspiration for fruit and this is fast becoming a new favourite in our house!

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes     Cooking time 10 minutes

  • 90g/3¼oz/heaped ⅓ cup caster sugar
  • 5cm/2in cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • juice of 2 limes
  • seeds and pulp of 3 passion fruit
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ pineapple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 papaya, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
  1. Put the sugar, cinnamon, star anise and chilli flakes into a large pan with 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Stir continuously for 1 minute, or until all the sugar has dissolved, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, for 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced to a thin syrup. Transfer the syrup to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool. Remove the cinnamon to stop its flavour overpowering the dressing, but reserve for decoration.
  2. Once the syrup has cooled, pour in the lime juice and passion fruit and mix well. Add the mango, pineapple and papaya, then toss together so that the spicy, sweet-sour flavours of the dressing coat the fruit. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Jewelled Persian Rice

Last weekend Peter, Zoe and I went to stay with a friend (also called Peter) who lives near Saffron Walden in Essex. It was wonderfully sunny and we swam outside for the first time this year (hard to believe now, after the gales we’ve had this week…) Huge thanks, Peter, for a truly lovely weekend – full of great fun and delicious food!

We wandered around Saffron Walden itself, too – a medieval market town that was originally called Chipping Walden. Initially the town’s primary trade was in wool but in the 16th century and 17th century saffron became widely grown in the area. This precious plant was used in medicines, as a condiment, a perfume, an aphrodisiac, a yellow dye, and a (luxury) ingredient. This industry gave its name to the town and Chipping Walden became known as Saffron Walden.

When I came home I wanted to make a recipe using saffron – and found this one for Jewelled Persian Rice.

This recipe comes from the recently-published New Vegetarian Kitchen that has been named one of the top 10 vegetarian cookbooks by The Independent. Written by Nicola Graimes, an award-winning cookery writer and ex-editor of Vegetarian Living, it’s full of truly inspirational recipes that prove that there’s a lot more to vegetarian cooking than pastas and bean burgers!

It’s always great to find a new way to cook rice as it’s such an important staple on a gluten-free diet. The wonderful flavours of the saffron strands, with the cinnamon and cumin seeds, give the rice a lovely exotic flavour and the onion, courgette, dried fruits and nuts add even more delicious flavours and textures. And this method is wonderful – you get light, fluffy rice that’s absolutely not stodgy or watery – and with a slightly crunchy crust. Lovely! I couldn’t find dried barberries locally so I used dried cranberries instead.

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, seed-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes, plus 1 hour soaking the rice if you like     Cooking time 20 minutes

  • 250g/9oz/1¼ cups basmati rice
  • ½ tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • ½ tsp saffron strands
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 courgette, diced
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 60g/2¼oz/⅓ cup unsulphured dried apricots, chopped
  • 55g/2oz/⅓ cup blanched almonds, chopped
  • 35g/1¼oz butter
  • 3 tbsp dried barberries
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. If time allows, soak the rice for 1 hour, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Put the rice and salt in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 4 minutes. Drain again and set aside. Clean the pan.
  2. Put the saffron and 4 tablespoons hot water in a small bowl and set aside to infuse. Meanwhile, heat half of the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and fry the onion for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the courgette and cook for another 3 minutes, then stir in the orange zest, cumin seeds, cinnamon, dried apricots and almonds. Add the saffron and its soaking liquid, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  3. Heat the butter and remaining oil in the cleaned saucepan over a medium-low heat. When melted, add half of the rice and top with half of the vegetable mixture, then layer again with the rest of the rice and then the vegetable mixture. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke five holes into the rice and pour 1 teaspoon of boiling water into each. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a low heat for 10–15 minutes until the rice is tender and there is a light golden ‘crust’ on the bottom. Sprinkle with the barberries and serve.