Artichokes with AIP Bagna Cauda (Instant Pot/Steamer)

I seem to have a real problem – I have become totally addicted to artichokes!

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Artichokes are an edible variety of thistle.  They are high in fiber, and are a good source of niacin, potassium, phosphorus, copper, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese.  They have a large number of health benefits – they are very high in fiber, and contain more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables.  They are reputed to be able to prevent cancer and to be good for the heart.  They can help to reduce blood pressure and can function as a liver tonic.  These are just a few of this amazing vegetables benefits – they truly are a wonderful vegetable that everyone should be eating!

The first time you cook or eat one of these spiky looking vegetables, they can be very intimidating.  How are you supposed to get down to the delicious tender heart.  What do you do with all the spiky thorns that may be present on the ends of the leaves.  How are you supposed to cook it?  And more importantly, how are you supposed to eat it?

Don’t be afraid – once you know how, they are very easy to cook.

You can cook them in a steamer or an Instant Pot (which is what I did) I will give you full instructions on how to do this in the recipe below.  It is very simple.

To eat them, you pull off a leaf, dip the base in a tasty dip – I used Bagna Cauda in this recipe, and then you scrape off the fleshy part of the base with your teeth, discarding the rest of the leaf.  As you get closer and closer to the center, more of the leaf is edible.  Once you get to the center, you will find the hairy “choke”.  This part is not edible.  Use a spoon to scrape it all off, and what you have left is the delicious choke.  This can be cut up,  dipped in the dip and eaten.  You can eat the stem – it is a personal preference.  It can taste a little bitter, so some prefer to trim it off.  I like to keep it on my artichokes and nibble at it to see how bitter it is – it can also be very fibrous, so even if you leave it on, you may need to discard it anyway.

It always surprises me that you end up with a HUGE pile of leftovers after eating artichokes!

When selecting artichokes, try to buy ones that are tightly closed – if the leaves have started to open they are old and will not taste as good.

This gets messy fast – drippy, oily – expect it to drip on your clothes and your chin…..  lots of napkins are recommended!  Maybe even finger bowls if serving to “company”!  There is no “dignified” way to eat artichokes!

This is a very hands-on, tactile, sense-driven way of eating – something that I absolutely LOVE!

 

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Bagna Cauda is Italian in origin, and translates to mean “Hot Dip” or “Hot Bath” depending on which website you believe.  It is a blend of Olive oil, butter, garlic and anchovies, that is served warm.  Obviously, because it contains butter the original recipe for Bagna Cauda is not AIP unless you have successfully reintroduced butter – and given my anaphalactic dairy allergy, this is something that I will never be able to do.  So I decided to come up with an AIP version of this deliciously savoury dip.

Don’t just keep Bagna Cauda for artichokes – it is delicious with all vegetables – dip steamed carrots, fennel, celery, asparagus and anything else you can think of into this warm, delicious and salty bath.  Or drizzle it over a perfectly cooked, rare, sliced steak.  Have fun with it and be adventurous.!

This recipe serves 2 as an appetizer or side dish, but I am a greedy piggie, and I ate it all to myself!  You can share the bagna cauda from the same dish if you like or divide it between 2 separate small ramekins or dishes.  It is also easily multiplied up to feed more than 2 people – in-fact, if you are feeding a crowd, with an instant pot this would make the simplest appetizer!

 

Artichokes with Bagna Cauda (AIP)

(serves 2 unless as greedy as me!)

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Ingredients

For the Artichokes:

  • 2 artichokes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 of a lemon
  • a lemon cut in half

For the Bagna Cauda:

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup AIP approved fat – I used bone-marrow fat for this recipe, but bacon fat would make a delicious substitute.  You could also use a good quality coconut oil or home-rendered lard.
  • 3 anchovy fillets (read ingredients to ensure they are preserved in an AIP approved oil if canned.  If salted, rinse the excess salt off)
  • 3 cloves of garlic

Method

The first thing that you need to doo is to trim your artichokes as these are going to take the longest time.  Take the artichoke and cut off the end of the stem – I do recommend that you leave some stem on, because while it can taste bitter and can be fibrous it can be edible, and you cannot tell if it is until after it is cooked).  Take a vegetable peeler and peel the stem around all its girth, removing any small and loose leaves.

Next, put the artichoke flat on a cutting board and using a very sharp knife cut an inch off the top of the artichoke – this removes a lot of the spiky bits that may be present.  Check the remaing  leaves for sharp points and if you find them, but them off with a pair of scissors.  Rub all the exposed areas with a cut lemon to prevent browning.

If you are using an Instant Pot, put the trivet in the bottom.  Add 1 cup of water, the bay leaves, the lemon and the garlic. Add the trimmed and prepared artichokes.  Turn on your instant pot and select Manual.  Press the + button to 20.  Let it run for 20 minutes, the  do a quick release of pressure.  Remove the cooked artichokes and test for done-ness by pulling off a leaf – if it does noBat pull off with minimal pressure/strength cook for 5 mins longer.  Keep warm until the Bagna Cauda is ready.

If you do not have an Instant pot, put the lemon, bay and garlic in a pot with a cup or two of water.  Place a steamer basket over the top and add the trimmed artichoke hearts. cover with a lid, and cook for 45 minutes.

Once the cooking time is done, if using an Instant Pot, do a fast steam release (I like to put a cloth over the vent to stop any damage to my ceiling and kitchen cabinets). check that the  artichokes are cooked by pulling a leaf out.  It should pull out easily – if it is not cooked, you need to give it 5-10 minutes more.

Keep the artichokes warm and make the sauce.

To make the Bagna Cauda, put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Transfer to a pan and heat up.  Simmer for 2 minutes (do not worry if it appears to curdle that is because of the protein in the anchovies).  Transfer to heated serving dishes (ramekins for single servings, a heated fondue pot for larger portions if you have multiplied up).

Serve at once as a dip…..

Shared at: Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable

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This blog-entry does contain affiliate links that help support my blogging activities.  If you click on a link, you will never be charged more than the regular price for the item, but I may receive a small reward as a result.  Please rest assured that all of the items or ingredients I recommend in this post I have used personally.

 

Is Paleo Safe For Kids?

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My simple answer to the above question is this:

Yes it is!

You only have to look at the pictures of my children to see that they are thriving and full of energy!

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There are a few caveats however…  if your children are normal weight, healthy, active kids, they do not want to be on the very low-carb, weight-loss program that you might be following (over-weight and obese kids are a different matter – they need the low-carb diet in order to loose some of the excess weight (1), but they also need plenty of healthy fats to fuel their growing and developing brains).

Active, healthy kids need extra carbs to give them the energy they need and to prevent them from loosing too much weight.  And they need plenty of healthy fats to help with brain development (at least 60% of the human brain is composed of fats, mostly the omega-3 variety, but saturated fats are also vital for brain development as they are important for forming the cell membranes of the nerve cells)

Daughters 3 and 4 - J & B

Daughters 3 and 4 – J & B

So don’t be afraid to give your kids sweet potatoes and other starchy veg.  And don’t be afraid to give them the healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, coconut, oily fish and even animal fats (100% grass-fed or pastured meat only) all count as healthy fats).  Let them eat plenty of fruit as well…  I always have a fruit-bowl on the kitchen counter that the girls know that they can snack from freely.

If they are lethargic, lacking in energy or actually loosing too much weigh, up the carbs in their diet and up the healthy fats as well, and that should solve the problem.

When you think about it, 50,000 years ago, stone-age mama and papa did not cook a hunk of meat for themselves and then pull out the wheaty-puffs for the stone-age kidlets…  they fed the kids exactly what they ate.  And those kids thrived – if they hadn’t, the human race would have died out way back then.

And even today, most cultures feed their kids on what they eat – spicy foods, fatty foods, veggies, you name it.  If the adults can eat it and thrive, the kids can to.  It is only in the West that we feel that we should be feeding our kids special “kid-friendly” food. And usually, this “kid-food” is pretty unhealthy stuff – high in insulin spiking carbs, lots of sugar, lots of salt, lots of food-colourings, artificial flavourings and sweeteners and laced with trans-fats – exactly the opposite of what growing bodies and brains need to eat.

So will giving up grains harm your child?

Not at all…

No one needs to eat grains.

And calorie for calorie, grains, even whole grains, are lower in nutrient density than fruit and vegetables.   There are some useful graphs in this post that show the percentage of vitamins and minerals found in grains compared to vegetables, demonstrating that those veggies are the clear winner.  And your child can obtain plenty of carbs from fruit and veggies….  and as a side-bonus, they will benefit from the larger amounts of nutrients.  A Paleo diet almost consistently contains in excess of 100% of the RDA of all vitamins, with the exception of vitamin D, and the same is true of the vast majority of essential minerals as well.  This post demonstrates this fact..  And whole grains are not necessarily the best source of dietary fiber either.  Fruits and veggies contain at least as much fiber as whole grains do, so don’t worry that your child will lack for fiber or become constipated if they are not eating whole grains.  As long as 50% of their plate is filled up with veggies they will be fine.

And when you consider the anti-nutrients in grains and pulses, you have even more reason to feed your children on a paleo diet.  Most of our immune system is based on our gut flora and intestinal mucosa.  The anti-nutrients in grains and pulses can damage the gut mucosa leading to leaky-gut syndrome, and it can alter the balance of the healthy gut flora (the friendly bacteria that live in our guts and help with immune function).  For a child with an immature immune system, this can be bad news as it can lead to impaired immune development and even food sensitivities, intolerance and allergies later in life. (take my example – I developed a serious allergy to dairy in my mid 30’s and non-celiac gluten intolerance in my late 30’s early 40’s).

Gluten and lectins in grains and legumes damage the intestinal mucosa.  This can prevent full absorption of the vitamins and minerals in your childs diet meaning that you child is not getting the full benefit of the food they are consuming.

And then there is the little matter of phytate.  Also known as phytic acid, phytate is a form of phosphorus naturally found in plant materials.  Grains and legumes (beans, peas etc) are naturally very high in phytate.  The problem with this form of phosphorus is that it forms insoluble, and indigestible, complexes with many of the other vital minerals in the diet (most notably calcium, magnesium and zinc) which means that both the phosphorus, and the other minerals cannot be absorbed at all and pass unabsorbed through the gut and into the faeces…. (2, 3)

This can be a real problem for a whole-grain eater who is relying on their fortified breakfast cereal with milk to provide them with many of the minerals they need in their diet…  phytate in that “heart-healthy wholegrain cereal” will bind the calcium in the milk and most of the minerals that the cereal is fortified with…  total loss, and tbh a total waste of time eating it.  You might as well feed your kids the cardboard box! (anyone remember that anecdotal scientific study that was done where they fed one group of lab rats a popular breakfast cereal, and a second group the box the cereal came in?  Supposedly the group fed the cereal died, while the group fed the box thrived….  But I have never found a single paper to verify this…  if anyone knows if one exists, I would be grateful if you could point me to it!)

Either way, there is plenty of evidence out there that eating phytates is not good for you (even the subject of my Doctorate showed this, albeit in laying hens, which is not really relevant here as I was looking at how it affected egg-shell quality – and to the best of my knowledge humans don’t lay eggs…)

Despite what people may tell you, giving up grains will not mean that your kids will be lacking in carbs…  not only can children manage perfectly well on a ketogenic diet, they can thrive on it.  They actually use this kind of diet to help control drug resistant epilepsy and other neurological disorders in kids.  And those kids on a ketogenic diet remain perfectly healthy, with no weight gain or heart disease.

Besides, if you allow them free access to fruit, they will get more than enough carbs (fruit is very high in fructose).  And you can always supplement with the more starchy veggies if you feel the need.  I have yet to meet a kid who does not love sweet potatoes!

Giving up dairy is not a bad thing either (although some paleo parents feed their kids dairy as a part of a more primal way of eating if they tolerate the dairy well).  This post by the Paleo Mom explains why dairy is not necessary to provide the calcium your kids will need to grow and thrive.  And when you think about it, humans are the only species of animal that eats milk beyond infancy, and we are the only species that consumes the milk of another species as well.   Contrary to what the milk marketing companies would like you to believe we don’t NEED milk in our diets!  There has even been some evidence that consuming large amounts of dairy could have a negative effect on bone health (4, 5)

So why not give it a try?

Gradually replace the harmful foods in your child’s diet with Paleo and see how they do.   If you are lucky enough to be a pregnant paleo-parent, you have it easy – you can just feed your child paleo from the get-go and avoid a lot of the problems us parents of existing kids who are used to eating a SAD (Standard American Diet) have!.  But even the most resistant toddler will eat this way eventually – kids won’t let themselves starve, believe me… when they are really hungry they will eat.  And there has been plenty of research to show that given a free choice of available foods, young children will naturally select a balanced diet (6)…  so young kids can and WILL eat veggies, fruit, meat, healthy fats especially when they see their parents eating and actively enjoying them…

J likes the look of her dinner!

J likes the look of her dinner!

And my experience is that the older the kid, the easier it is… teens may be resistant at first, but they are also self-aware enough that they will realize that when they use their allowance to by a large mocha from the coffee-shop along with a huge donut, they feel like c**p the next day…  And that Big Mac or Teen-Burger also makes them feel ill…. after a few sessions of this, they suddenly develop an aversion to those foods that make them feel ill….  And teens are old enough to read the books, look at the websites, understand the reason why eating a SAD is bad news.

Teens are also old enough to take a turn with the cooking, and I know no better way of getting kids interested in food than to encourage them to cook a meal of their own devising.

Proof that teens can cook....

Proof that teens can cook….

And  no matter what age the kid is, they love the slightly mess aspect of cooking, especially when they get to be hands on with the food…

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But even littlies can help out in the kitchen and cook simple foods:

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Even if you have toddlers, you can get them to do really simple stuff like mixing up salad ingredients with their hands… and while they are doing it, encourage them to sample the individual veggies….  while it may not be perfect on the hygiene front,  it is getting them to try stuff… besides it is your families bugs – you will be exposed to exactly the same bacteria when you kiss them good-night!  Sadly I no longer have a kidlet of toddler age, so I can’t illustrate the last with a photo.

Despite this, I don’t advocate an all or nothing approach… if you totally ban non-paleo foods they become forbidden fruit… the minute your child has access to them (at a birthday party, at a school event, snack-time at school/playgroup etc) they become all the more desirable.  OK, don’t allow them in the house, but don’t outright ban them unless there is a food allergy or intolerance to that particular food ingredient.  Let your child sample the non-paleo foods at social events (birthday parties etc), then talk to them about how they made them feel (even a toddler can understand that that food was not as tasty as mummy’s home-cooked food!).  If they feel ill, they will gradually realize that eating them is not worth the suffering!

One other solution is to make them paleo versions of the food that they are used to.  You can “bread” chicken or fish with coconut or nuts to make a paleo version of chicken nuggets and fish sticks.  Make cauliflower “rice” and zoodles or spaghetti squash in place of pasta.  Make paleo treats on occasion to replace the pancakes, the cookies and the muffins.  You can make paleo bread for pizzas or burger buns as well.

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By having a few easy go-to recipes that you can pull out when you need a paleo substitute for your kids favourites you can make that transition so much easier.

And seriously, when your kids are young, it is YOU that controls the food that they eat.  If your child is overweight or suffering from a food related illness, it is down to you.  You are the one buying the food they eat.  If you don’t buy it, they can’t eat it.

Things do get a little more complicated once they reach the teenage years, true (Yes your teen will slink down to 7-11 occasionally to buy a Big-gulp, but hey, once in a while is not going to kill them! – C went to a friends house the other day and spent her allowance on a cheesecake!), but if you educate your children on healthy eating habits (and a HUGE part of this education is them seeing their parents eating and enjoying healthy foods – family mealtimes RULE for this!), then they will know how to make healthy eating choices for themselves in the future.

Surely that is one of the best gifts you can give your children!

Goat Meat Curry

I love goat meat – part of it I think stems from when I used to keep goats…

My parents had a sheep farm, and growing up around animals meant that I wanted some of my own…  When I was about 15 years old I plucked up the courage to bid on a couple of female goat kids at the Hawes Farmers Auction Mart, and I won!  I paid for those 2 tiny goat kids with my allowance (we called it pocket money back then in the UK) and I raised them up to full grown nanny goats.

Then I found someone with a billy goat and got them pregnant….   My original 2 nannies gave birth to a couple of kids each – all nannies, and I started milking the mama goats – not too much, I didn’t want to deprive the kids – but just enough to provide some milk for us to use.

And from that point my goat obsession took over…

I realized that I needed a billy goat of my own if I was to be serious about breeding and keeping goats…

Enter Gruff – my pedigree Angora Billygoat… (yes it is sad…  I owned a billy-goat called Gruff!)  he was gorgeous and expensive,  but stank to high heaven.  But his offspring more than paid for the expense of purchasing him!

By the time I was in my last year of secondary school (ie high school for the US readers), at 18 years of age, I had 15 nanny goats, one billy goat (Gruff) and I was hand-milking 8-9 goats twice a day – once before school, once after (each milking session took around 2-3 hours in total).  I was supplying several local businesses (including my parents bed and breakfast guesthouse) with fresh goats milk.  I also sold the female offspring for premium prices as they were half-breed angoras, great for milking and for producing angora wool (mohair)….  and of course I sold some of Gruff’s mohair…  Some I also used myself.  I still have a Gruff-scarf that I made – mohair that I harvested from my own goat, spun by myself on my spinning wheel, dyed by myself (in shades of blue and pink) and then I knitted it into a very long scarf….  I even showed him at various agricultural shows….  never won anything, but it was an experience!  I was also charging stud fees for Gruff to mate other peoples female goats.

Of course keeping goats and breeding them means that you have to deal with the tricky issue of what to do with the unwanted male offspring…  there is a ready market for female kids – you can sell them at the auction mart, much like I bought my originals…  but male kids?  they are not wanted to the same degree…  yes Gruff’s offspring were valuable – they were half-breed angora…  but the males were not really worth the money of raising them and selling them was hit or miss.  Unwanted female kids could be sold easily however.  Normally, goat breeders kill the unwanted males at birth…  I didn’t want to do that.

What we used to do with the males was raise them up to adulthood (I used to foster them on to another goat who was also raising another male kid – a female goat can easily raise 2), slaughter them and put the meat in the freezer…  originally, the idea was that it would provide food for the stock dogs (being sheep farmers, my parents always had 3-4 well-trained border collie sheep-dogs).  But then we discovered that goat meat was pretty darn tasty if a little tough…  and from that point the dogs did not get a look in!

My one regret is that I have virtually no photographs from that period – it was before the days of digital cameras and cell-phones….

Anyhow, the aim of that long, long story is to explain my love of eating goat meat…

And the nice thing about goat meat is that it is almost always grass-fed.  Sure it may have a little grain finishing at the end, but goats don’t do well in CAFO type situations.  And the meat is very nutritious.

While it is very high in cholesterol, we know that dietary cholesterol is not implicated in raising blood cholesterol and it has been shown to not be linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease.  (1, 2, 3).  And in fact we actually need some cholesterol as it is used to make steroid hormones including testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.  And if we don’t eat enough in our diet, our livers will simply make more.

It is rich in protein, and relatively lean.  And is an excellent source of iron, B vitamins (mostly Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Niacin (Vitamin B3),  and Vitamin B12), and is also a good source of phosphorus, copper, selenium and zinc.

So you can imagine why I was thrilled to find goat for sale at Basha foods at a really good price!

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That price was for 3lb of goat meat…. the big question was, what was I going to do with it?

Goat Curry!  Going to university in Leeds led me to a love of curry, goat in particular (goat meat is cheap – and goat curry from a curry house was well within a students budget!)..

It was the obvious thing to make with my find from Basha Foods…

This recipe is an AIP stage 4 reintroduction because it contains chilli which is a nightshade.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Goat Curry 

serves 6

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3lb goat meat – cut into 1-2″ cubes (some of my goat was on the bone, some was just the meat)

2 tsp ground turmeric

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion – peeled and chopped

1 bulb of garlic, divided into cloves (roughly 10 cloves), peeled and chopped

a 1″ cube of fresh ginger root – peeled and chopped

2 tbsp fennel seed

1 tbsp cumin seed

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp hot chilli powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 red chilli – chopped (I used a fiery hot habanero chilli for this!  Use a milder one if you don’t like the heat)

1 pint (2 cups) water

170g block of creamed coconut

1 lemon – juiced

Place the goat meat in a bowl and add turmeric, salt and pepper.

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Mix well so that all the pieces of meat are coated in the spices and then sit it in the fridge for an hour or two to allow the meat to marinate.

Place the fennel and cumin seeds in a dry skillet and toast – they will smell much more aromatic once this is done. Do not allow them to burn.

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Grind the toasted seeds to a coarse powder in a pestle and mortar

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Place the onion, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and blend to a coarse puree.

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Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan, and when hot add the onion/garlic/ginger paste.  Cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the toasted ground seeds, chilli powder and cinnamon.  Toss around and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.  Then add the goat meat.

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Toss that in the spice mixture, allowing it to cook slowly for 5-10 minutes.

Now you add the water.

Grate the creamed coconut and add that too.

This is the brand of creamed coconut I use:

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It is just pure coconut with no additives at all.  What it looks like when you open it is a large white block:

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But by grating it, you can help it disolve in the liquid faster.

So grate that coconut and add it to your curry.

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Next you need to deseed and chop your chilli.

I mentioned earlier that I used a really fiery hot habanero chilli for this curry because I was so disappointed with the heat of my last curry, the Pork Vindaloo.

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Seeing that this was such a hot chilli, I made sure I wore a pair of vinyl gloves while chopping it.  Even then, some of the heat seemed to seep through the gloves because my fingers were still hot and spicy when I licked them!  I did wash them well afterwards, honest!

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Toss that spicy baby into the curry and give it all a good stir.

Now you are going to let it simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking on the bottom of the pan.  By the time it is done, the goat meat should be tender.

Add the lemon juice, stir well and serve with cauliflower “rice”

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I used a cauliflower rice that I tossed with some spinach for this meal…

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It was spicy, but not overly so…  just enough heat to give a pleasant tingle in your mouth.  And the flavour of fennel, cumin and cinnamon worked really well with it.

This is very definitely one I will be making again!