There’s nothing more soul-warming than cooking or eating a dish that reminds you of home. Here, Vogue asked four female chefs to share the recipes for their favourite comfort-dishes, inspired by their culture and heritage.
To this day, no dhal has ever tasted as good as my mother’s. I discovered over the years that her secret is the unconscionable amounts of butter she whips into it. Channa dhal, made with split chickpeas, is one of my favourites because of its creamy texture. I top this easy, traditional recipe with a seasonal wild garlic puree that reconciles my Indian-ness with my British-ness.
Channa Dhal with Wild Garlic Puree
250g channa dal, picked and rinsed several times
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ghee
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 red onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon, grated ginger
3 tomatoes, skinned and finely pureed or chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
For the wild garlic puree:
100g wild garlic, thoroughly washed – any flowers reserved for garnish
6 tablespoons rapeseed oil
1. Place the lentils, turmeric and 1 litre of cold water into a pan, stir well and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that forms on the surface of the water with a slotted spoon. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly, for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender, adding more water if necessary.
2. When the lentils have cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and use a masher to break them down.
3. Heat the ghee in a little oil and add the onion and cumin seeds. Sauté over a low heat until the onions are sticky and caramelised and then add the chilli, ginger and garlic and cook again until fragrant. Next, add the tomatoes and cook until jammy.
4. Add this mixture to the lentils and stir and put it back on a low heat for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Season well. Serve with a dollop of the wild garlic puree and garnish with the wild garlic flowers if you have any. This eats well on its own or with rice, chapattis or bread.
My mother is my greatest inspiration. Of all of my recipes, her Filipino dishes are the most popular, and adobo, the unofficial national dish of the Philippines, is a personal favourite. There are so many ways you can make it – with fish, seafood, vegetables, pork - and it's fantastically garlicky, peppery and vinegary all at once.
Filipino Chicken Abodo
8 chicken pieces (I prefer thighs, skin on)
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
300ml vegetable stock or chicken broth
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
9 tbsp apple cider vinegar
5-6 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste
A pinch of chilli flakes
Serve with a bunch of spring onions, finely sliced.
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and combine everything but the spring onions together in a very wide, oven-proof frying pan (so that the chicken pieces are on a single layer).
2. Pop pan into the top shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, then turn up to 230C. Turn over & bake for 15 mins until the skin is browned & chicken cooked through. Taste for seasoning – you could add a little more tamari/sea salt & vinegar at this point & stir through. Top with spring onions.
3. The sauce should be salty, vinegary and garlicky. For those who want more sauce, add ½ a mug of hot water, tamari and vinegar, and whisk in the pan juice and simmer for 5 minutes. For those who want less sauce, reduce it down on the stove with the chicken taken out.
As a Mexican chef, I love delivering beauty in all my dishes – even in comfort food. These tostadas have a wonderful, smoky, chile flavour that tastes just like Mexico – powerful, sensual and "picante". As they’re bite-size, you can indulge in as many as you like! I prefer to plate them with contrasting colours to create a “fiesta” feeling and serve them with a citrus agua fresca.
Butterfly Crunchy Tostadas with Salmon and Chile Jalapeño
4 maíz tostadas shaped as butterflies (with a cutter)
40g chile chipotle mayonnaise
240g salmon and chile jalapeño strips in pickled sauce
60g avocado, peeled and cut in half
8g radish, thinly sliced
Edible flower petals, for decoration
For the Chipotle Mayonnaise:
1 egg yolk
20g Dijon mustard
500ml vegetable oil
20ml lime juice
12g chile chipotle in adobo sauce, pureed, or to taste
Salt, to taste
1. Combine the egg yolk and Dijon mustard in a bowl. Whisk until blended and bright yellow.
2. Gradually add the olive oil in very slow thin stream, whisking constantly, until the mayonnaise is thick.
3. Add the chile chipotle and lime juice. Adjust seasoning. Transfer the mayonnaise into a dispensing bottle. Store in the refrigerator.
80ml extra-virgin olive oil
120g green chile jalapeño peppers, cleaned and julienned
4 bay leaves
2 allspice corns
50g white onion, julienned
20ml white wine vinegar
250g salmon filets
100ml orange juice
60ml lime juice
30ml soy sauce
6g chile ancho powder
2g chile pasilla powder
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the green chile jalapeño strips, with the bay leaves and allspice. Once the chile jalapeño strips are soft, add the onion and continue cooking. Season with salt.
2. Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the white wine vinegar. Continue cooking until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and cool down and remove the bay leaves and allspice. Set aside.
3. Slice the salmon filets in 5cm strips, approximately 0.5 cm thick. Combine 50ml of the lime juice, the orange juice and salt in a bowl and marinate the salmon strips in this mixture for 8 minutes inside the refrigerator. Drain and set aside.
4. Combine the marinated salmon strips and pickled green chile jalapeño in a bowl. Season with olive oil, the remaining 10ml of lime juice, soy sauce, and chile ancho and chile pasilla powders. Store in the refrigerator.
1. Scoop a generous amount of chipotle mayonnaise onto each butterfly maíz tostada.
2. Using a perforated spoon, put a spoonful of the salmon and chile jalapeño strips in pickled sauce in each maíz tostada.
3. Put a slice of avocado on top and decorate with the radish slices and flower petals.
My favourite dish is Singaporean Hainanese chicken rice: poached chicken with steamed rice, cleverly cooked with braising stock and served with lots of dipping condiments on the side such as garlicky chilli sauce or slices of cucumber. The hot stock can be served as a soup too, finished with plenty of ground white pepper and spring onions. It’s clean and lean but, most importantly, delicious.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
1 whole free-range chicken
4 pandan leaves, tied into knots - 2 for the chicken, 2 for the rice
1-inch fresh ginger
1 tbsp fine sea salt
4 spring onions – split into green and white parts
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp finely ground white pepper
For the rice:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced into paste
1-inch section of ginger
720g jasmine rice or long grain rice
720ml reserved chicken poaching stock
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp chicken fat - from inside the chicken*
For the chilli sauce:
2 limes, juiced
2 tbsp reserved chicken poaching stock
2 tsp caster sugar
4 tbsp sriracha chilli sauce
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp ginger, peeled and sliced
1 bunch of fresh coriander
2 baby gem lettuce hearts – washed and separated into leaves
A handful of finely julienne spring onions (reserved white parts)
1 cucumber - thinly sliced or cut into batons
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1. Heat up a pan or wok with the oil and slowly render the chicken fat. In the meantime, mince or finely crush the garlic into a paste and add into the hot rendered fat along with the ginger to sweat. Don’t colour it too much, as you’re aiming to infuse here.
2. Place rice into a large bowl and fill with cold water. Use your hands to move the rice around in the bowl. Rinse with water, refresh with new water and do this two more times until the water becomes a little clearer. Drain and add the rice to the wok and sauté for a minute.
3. If you're using a rice cooker, add the rice, garlic and ginger mix into the rice cooker and set aside for later. If using a pan, place this into a pan ready to use when the chicken stock is ready*.
4. For the chicken, remove the wishbone and rub generously with salt inside and outside. Stuff with the green parts of the spring onion (setting aside the white parts for garnishing the dish), 2 pandan leaves, ginger and garlic.
5. Heat up a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Carefully place the chicken into the boiling water and poach for 25 minutes or until the meat reaches 73c on the bone. The time it will take to reach this temperature will depend entirely on the size of your chicken.
6. Once it’s reached the temperature, turn the heat off completely and cover the pot with a lid. Set to poach for another hour. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the garnishes and sauces. For the sauce, add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
7. Remove some of the stock water from the poached chicken and finish cooking the rice. Add the stock to the rice cooker and set to cook. If you're using a saucepan, bring the stock and rice mix to a boil, turn it down immediately to low, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, still covered, let it steam for 5-10 minutes or more. Give it a ruffle at the end to make it fluffy.
8. Remove the chicken carefully (don’t hold onto the legs as they will most likely fall off) and place into an ice bath to tighten the skin.
9. Carve the chicken by removing each the legs, then slicing down the crown to remove each breasts and wings. Slice and drizzle some sesame oil on top.
10. For the soup, strain the stock and heat up a portion in a saucepan with the white pepper. Season with salt if necessary. Add baby gem lettuce to the soup at the last minute. Serve with the chilli sauce, finely julienne ginger and spring onion, soup, dark soy sauce, cucumber, coriander and fresh rice.
* If your chicken doesn’t have much or any chicken fat reserves inside the cavity, you can buy some extra chicken skin, or wings and render the fat from them.
If you don’t want the chicken to be served cold, carve when you remove from the stock water. I tend to heat up the chicken soup and drizzle a little over my meat before I serve to give it a warmer edge. Make sure the chicken is just about covered with the water by an inch.