Today some ideas for a simple but special meal for family or friends that can be made a day ahead. This lamb rogan josh is full of flavour and this improves overnight. Shoulder of lamb is very good value and also tastes wonderful.

The chicken korma is a much milder curry and is a favourite with our family. It is ideal if you have someone who does not like spicy food. I particularly like to use Thai Gold coconut milk.

The turmeric adds a little taste and lots of colour to the rice. Scattering a few fresh coriander leaves makes it look well.

Creamy chicken korma. \ Food styling: Janine Kennedy. Photography: Claire Nash

This coconut and lime meringue pie is my twist on the classic lemon meringue pie. It is crumbly and is delicious to eat but delicate to handle. If the pastry begins to break up when you are rolling it out, try coarsely grating it directly into the tin and then quickly press the pastry up the sides and into the shape of the tin. You probably won’t have any of this beautiful dessert left over, but if you do it will keep in the fridge for a day or two.

Happy cooking,


Lamb rogan josh

Serves four

4 tbsp rapeseed oil

675g (1½lb) lamb shoulder or neck fillet, well trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces

6 whole cloves

1 small cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

2 large onions, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

5cm (2in) piece of root ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 tbsp bunch of ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp paprika

¼ tsp ground cardamom

15g (½ oz) bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped, reserving enough to garnish

200ml (7fl oz) thick Greek yoghurt, plus extra to serve

1 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

100g (4oz) red lentils

300ml (½ pint) chicken stock

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

Fragrant yellow rice, see below


Mango chutney

  • 1 Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large pan. Add half of the lamb and stir-fry until nicely browned all over. Transfer to a plate and fry the rest of the meat. Set aside.
  • 2 Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the pan, then fry the cloves, cinnamon stick and bay leaves for a few seconds. Add the onions and stir-fry for 6-7 minutes, until nicely browned. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and fry for 2 minutes, then add the ground spices with the fresh coriander and fry for another minute, stirring. Add the yoghurt 1 tbsp at a time, frying for about 30 seconds between each addition and stirring constantly.
  • 3 Return the lamb to the pan and stir in the tomatoes with the lentils and stock. Season to taste, cover and simmer very gently for about 1 hour, until the lamb is meltingly tender but still holding its shape and the sauce has reduced and thickened.
  • 4 Spoon the lamb rogan josh onto warmed plates with the fragrant steamed rice and add a dollop of yogurt to each one, then garnish with the coriander leaves. Hand around poppadoms and mango chutney separately.
  • Creamy chicken korma

    Creamy chicken korma. \ Food styling: Janine Kennedy. Photography: Claire Nash

    Serves four

    2 tbsp rapeseed oil

    2 onions, finely chopped

    2 garlic cloves, crushed

    1 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)

    2 tsp finely grated root ginger

    1 tsp garam masala

    1 tsp ground turmeric

    ¼ tsp chilli powder

    400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes

    2 tbsp mango chutney, plus extra to serve

    1 tsp tomato purée

    400g (14oz) can coconut milk

    4 x 175g (6oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5cm (1in) cubes

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    4 tbsp water

    To serve:

    Steamed basmati rice

    Handful of fresh coriander leaves as garnish

    Warmed naan bread or green chilli and coriander flatbreads

  • 1 Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat and fry the onions and garlic for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown.
  • 2 Stir in the green chilli, if using, and the ginger and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
  • 3 Add the garam masala to the pan with the turmeric, chilli powder and a pinch of salt and cook for another minute, stirring. Add the tomatoes, chutney, tomato purée and 4 tbsps of water. Stir well to combine, then bring to a fast simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce is so well reduced that it is almost sticking to the bottom of the pan, stirring occasionally.
  • 4 Stir the coconut milk into the pan and then stir in the chicken. Slowly bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and completely tender.
  • 5 Season to taste. To serve, arrange the basmati rice and chicken korma on warmed plates and scatter over the coriander leaves to garnish. Place the naan or green chilli and coriander flatbreads in a separate dish to pass around at the table along with the mango chutney.
  • Fragrant yellow rice with cashew nuts and peas

    Serves four to six

    100g (4oz) cashew nuts

    Knob of butter

    1 small onion, very finely chopped

    1 tsp mild curry powder or paste

    1 tsp ground turmeric

    350g (12oz) basmati rice, well rinsed

    Pinch of salt

    50g (2oz) coconut cream

    75g (3oz) frozen peas

  • 1 Heat a non-stick frying pan and toast the cashew nuts for 4-5 minutes, until golden, tossing regularly to ensure they cook evenly.
  • 2 Heat the butter in a medium-sized pan and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Stir in the curry powder or paste and turmeric and cook for 1 minute more, stirring.
  • 3 Add the rice to the onion mixture with a good pinch of salt and pour in the coconut cream with enough freshly boiled water so that it comes about 2cm (½in) above the top of the rice – 600ml (1 pint) of liquid in total is about right. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to really low and simmer gently for 8 minutes.
  • 4 Remove the rice from the heat and tip in the peas and cashew nuts, then set aside to continue to steam for another 4 minutes. Fluff up the grains to serve.
  • Coconut and lime meringue pie

    Coconut and lime meringue pie. \ Food styling: Janine Kennedy. Photography: Claire Nash

    Serves six to eight

    For the pastry:

    100g (4oz) butter, chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing

    175g (6oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

    50g (2oz) caster sugar

    A pinch of salt

    1 egg yolk

    ½ tbsp double cream

    For the filling:

    Finely grated rind and juice of 3 limes

    1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out

    400g (14oz) can coconut milk

    175g (6oz) caster sugar

    4 tbsp cornflour

    4 tbsp water

    50g (2oz) butter, softened

    4 egg yolks

    For the meringue:

    2 egg whites

    100g (4oz) caster sugar

    Whipped cream, to serve

  • 1 To make the pastry, place the butter, flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and blend for 20 seconds. Add the egg yolk and cream and blend again until the dough just comes together. Do not over work or the pastry will be tough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour.
  • 2 Thinly roll out the pastry into a buttered 20cm (8in) fluted loose-bottomed flan tin that is 3cm (1 1/4in) deep. Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork, then chill for about 20 minutes.
  • 3 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). Line the pastry case with tin foil or non-stick parchment paper and a thin layer of baking beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4). Remove the pastry case from the oven and carefully remove the foil, then return to the oven for 3-5 minutes until lightly golden.
  • 4 While the pastry is baking blind make the filling. Place the lime rind and juice in a pan with the vanilla seeds, sugar and coconut milk, then heat gently until sugar dissolves. Mix the cornflour in a small bowl with 4 tbsp of cold water, then stir into the coconut mixture. Bring to the boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and then leave to cool slightly. Finally beat in egg yolks and butter and return to the heat to cook gently for 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick and coating the back of the spoon. Pour into pastry case and leave to cool completely.
  • 5 Once cool make the meringue. Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk into soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time to make a stiff glossy meringue. Spoon on top of the filling, spreading it out to make sure it makes a good seal with the pastry edge. Swirl the top of the meringue with the tip of a knife and bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden and crisp on top. Leave to cool slightly and then carefully remove the tart from the tin and leave to cool completely before chilling for a few hours or overnight until completely set. To serve, cut into slices and arrange on plates with whipped cream.
  • Coconut and lime meringue pie. \ Food styling: Janine Kennedy. Photography: Claire Nash

    For Ciara's wine pairings for this dinner spread, click here.