The simple but tasty recipes NADIYA HUSSAIN cooks at home

Nadiya’s spice story: Simple yet full of flavour, these are the recipes NADIYA HUSSAIN cooks at home


I never ate biryani as a child at home, but it has become something that my kids have grown up eating – and traditions must start somewhere. There are so many variations of biryani; this one is simple, using beautiful, sweet leeks.

Serves 6-8

Prep 25 minutes

Cook 1 hour

For the rice

  • 500g basmati rice
  • 1.5 litres cold water
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1½ tsp salt

For the crispy leeks

  • 150g ghee
  • 200g leeks, sliced
  • fine salt, for sprinkling

For the soft leeks

  • 50g ghee
  • 5 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 200g leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 6 green chillies, pierced
  • 4 tbsp art masala spice mix (see recipe, below)

To serve

  • 6-8 runny-yolk fried eggs

Let’s start with the rice. Put the basmati in a large pan with plenty of room for it to boil. Add the water, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom and salt. Put the pan over a high heat and bring the water and rice to the boil, then cook for 7 minutes. 

Take off the heat and drain into a sieve, leaving the whole spices in there. Rinse the rice under cold water till it is cold, then leave to drain and cool.

For the crispy leeks, take the same pan, dry off any liquid and add the ghee. When the ghee is hot, add the leeks in an even layer. Leave to get crispy without stirring much, turning occasionally so they get golden all over.

Have a plate ready with some kitchen paper and drain off the leeks as soon as they are crispy. Sprinkle generously with the salt so they keep their crispiness.

For the soft leeks, pop the same pan back on the heat with 50g ghee and allow to melt. Fry the garlic till golden. Add the leeks, salt and chillies and cook till the leeks are soft.

Add the art masala and mix through, then cook over a mellow heat for 10 minutes before taking off the heat.

Take a medium nonstick pan and fill half of it with the cooled rice, including any whole spices. Make sure it is an even layer.

Add the soft leek mix in an even layer, then the remaining rice.

Cover the top of the pan tightly with clingfilm, place the lid on firmly and pop on a low heat for 30 minutes. Take off the heat, remove the lid and clingfilm and mix the rice with the leeks.

Serve with fried eggs and sprinkle with the crispy leeks.


This is a great way to cook chicken, getting it tender and moist while it sits in spicy yogurt to marinate. Perfect for dinner; perfect for a barbecue.

Serves 4-6

Prep 10 minutes (plus marinating)

Cook 45 minutes

  • 250g greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 95g ginger paste
  • 95g garlic paste
  • large handful of fresh coriander
  • 6 tbsp art masala mix (see recipe, below)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1kg chicken drumsticks
  • oil, for roasting
  • 100ml water

To serve

  • 5cm ginger, peeled and cut into strips chopped red or green chillies
  • lemon wedges 

For the marinade, put the yogurt and oil in a large bowl.

Put the onion, ginger and garlic pastes in a blender. Tear up the coriander and add that too, along with the art masala mix and salt. Blend to a paste. Now add that to the yogurt and mix well.

Take a sharp knife and cut three slits in each drumstick right to the bone so the marinade can get in. Add the drumsticks to the bowl, making sure to get your hands in to coat them in the yogurt mix.

Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and drizzle some oil into a roasting dish.

Take the chicken out of the fridge, remove any excess yogurt marinade and put the drumsticks into the dish. Drizzle with some more oil and bake for 35 minutes, making sure to turn halfway.

Use up the leftover marinade by adding some oil to a large nonstick frying pan or wok.

Heat the oil, then add the marinade mixed with the water and cook until the mixture is thicker and darker.

Take the chicken out of the oven and toss it in the thick sauce. Sprinkle over the ginger strips and chopped chillies and serve hot with lemon wedges.

TIP Slashing the flesh of chicken pieces on the bone when marinating or cooking not only allows the flavour to permeate through but also helps the chicken to cook faster.


This classic dish needs very little work. Rather than use exotic fish that has clocked up more air miles than the Kardashians, I opt for sustainable fish – whatever has the blue label of approval – and for this recipe use salmon. 

It’s an oily fish that works with these simple spices and onions.

Serves 4

Prep 15 minutes

Cook 12-15 minutes

For the onions

  • oil, for frying
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 green chillies, sliced lengthways
  • large handful of chopped fresh coriander

For the fish

  • 4 salmon fillets, skin on (approx 480g)
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 lime, juice only

Start by frying the onions as they take a long time to cook gently. Pour some oil into a large nonstick pan. Add the garlic and fry till golden. Add the onion slices with the salt and cook over a medium to high heat until the onions are soft and brown.

Meanwhile, on to the salmon: put the fillets on a tray and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle  over the salt, turmeric and chilli powder and use your hands to make sure the fish is covered entirely in the colourful mix.

As soon as the onions are golden, add to a serving dish with the sliced green chillies and sprinkle over the fresh coriander.

Put the same pan you cooked the onions in back on to a high heat. As soon as the pan is hot, add the fish skin-side down – then don’t move it. Pour in any extra oil from the tray. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn over and cook for 3 minutes on the other side.

As soon as they are cooked, put the fillets, skin-side up, on top of the onions.

Put the pan back on the hob, add the butter and let it melt. Squeeze in the juice of the lime and let it bubble up, then drizzle over the salmon and onions.

TIP If you don’t have any lemons or limes, you can use a tablespoon of white or malted vinegar instead.


Everyone needs to have a good masala mix in their repertoire, so I want to share my art masala. When trying to source the spices at the supermarket, don’t forget to make your way to the Asian/World Foods aisle too. It’s a treasure trove of goodies and inspiration!

Makes about 550g

  • 28g cardamom pods
  • 3g bay leaves
  • 34g fennel seeds 
  • 100g cumin seeds or ground cumin
  • 38g ground cinnamon 
  • 100g ground turmeric
  • 44g chilli powder
  • 200g curry powder

Start by using a spice grinder, which is the best tool for the job.

Lots of smoothie-makers also come with a milling blade that works well to really crush down these whole spices. Put the cardamom pods in the grinder, husk and all. (Imagine trying to de-pod that many – you would have given up before you’d even started. I know I would.) Blend to a fine powder, then pour it out into a large bowl.

Now put your bay leaves, fennel and cumin seeds into the same grinder and blitz to a powder. 

If your grinder is small, you can do each spice alone. Just note that it’s always best to blend the bay leaves with the fennel seeds, as they need the seeds to get them moving enough to crush to a powder. Add to the bowl. 

Mix thoroughly, being sure to do this after each addition as it’s important that the mix is well blended.

Now for the cinnamon – I prefer to use ground. Add to the bowl and mix.

Chuck in the ground turmeric, then the chilli powder, mixing with each addition. Lastly, add the curry powder and give everything a good stir.

That’s it. Now you have your very own ninth spice, using ingredients you already have at home. Transfer this into a sterilised jar or jars and you are ready to go!


This recipe is special as it uses a whole lemon, which brings the entire dish together. Thinly sliced beef is cooked to perfection and perfectly spiced. Curries need not be laborious and this one is spectacular.

Serves 4

Prep 15 minutes

Cook 30 minutes

  • 100ml vegetable oil 
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp fine salt
  • 60g garlic paste
  • 60g ginger paste
  • 500g diced beef, thinly sliced
  • ½ small lemon, thinly sliced 
  • 4 tbsp art masala (see tip and recipe, above)
  • 250ml hot water

To serve

  • large handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • ½ small lemon, thinly sliced

The thing that makes this a balti is cooking it in a wok, which changes the way a curry cooks. Unlike in a saucepan that stews, there is more space for the water to evaporate and the sauce to dry up.

So let’s get a large wok and add the vegetable oil. Put it over a high heat, add the onion and salt, and cook till the onion has really browned. Add the garlic and ginger pastes and cook for a few minutes.

Get the diced beef in along with the lemon and the art masala mix, then stir on a high heat till everything is combined.

Add the hot water and keep cooking and stirring till there’s no more visible water. Everything will have thickened, and the sauce should be coating the meat.

Sprinkle over the coriander and lemon slices. I like to serve this dish straight from the wok. TIP I highly recommend making the art masala, but you can also use garam masala you want to use up.


We only ever ate condensed milk when we needed something sweet after a curry. We’d have hot rice and condensed milk and, wow, what a combination. 

But I wanted to make a sweet treat using condensed milk that was a little more than just pouring it out of a tin. These are simply sweet and moreish.

Makes 12

Prep 20 minutes (plus chilling)

Cook 12-15 minutes

  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the trays
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200ml condensed milk
  • 300g self-raising flour, sifted

Start by toasting the desiccated coconut in a nonstick pan over a medium to high heat. Keep stirring and moving the coconut so it doesn’t catch. As soon as the coconut is golden, take off the heat, remove from the pan and leave to cool.

Add the unsalted butter to a bowl with the caster sugar and whisk till the mixture is light and fluffy. Pour in the condensed milk and whisk till you have a runnier mixture.

Now pour in the flour and cooled coconut and mix with a spoon till you have a thick dough mixture. Divide the mixture into 12 equal balls and pop on a tray to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line and lightly grease two baking trays. Pop the dough balls on the trays, spaced out from each other to give them room to spread. Push down on them very lightly to flatten a little.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, till a very light golden brown. Take out and leave to cool completely on the trays. When they are cool, they are ready to eat.

Nadiya’s Simple Spices by Nadiya Hussain, published by Michael Joseph, £26

These can be cooked from frozen if you want to make the dough in advance. Simply put on a tray and bake for 20 minutes.


  • Our recipes are from Nadiya’s Simple Spices by Nadiya Hussain, with photographs by Chris Terry, published by Michael Joseph, £26. 
  • To order a copy for £22.10 until 8 October, go to or call 020 3176 2937. 
  • Free UK delivery on orders over £25.
  • Nadiya’s Simple Spices TV series will be on BBC Two from Wednesday 27 September, 8pm. 

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