1. Charcoal & Sunshine: The Barbecue culture of Pakistan

    For National Barbecue Week, we thought it would be interesting to look at barbecuing from the sub-continent. New Great British Chefs guest blogger, Sumayya Jamil better known as the Pukka Paki,shares two of her favourite Pakistani BBQ recipes - and a delicious recipe for barbecued corn. 

    Blog post & photography by Sumayya Jamil aka Pukka Paki 

    When most people think Pakistani cuisine they think heavy slow cooked curries, deep fried pakoras and maybe the occasional chicken tikka starter; but what many people don’t know is that Pakistani cuisine is really big on barbecue - in fact some of the main specialities in Pakistan are grilled meats - barbecued lamb, fish, chicken and mutton, paneer and vegetables as well. 

    The meats are marinated in either spicy marinades or mild yet fragrant ones, reminiscent of Mughal traditions. Much of the barbecue culture in Pakistan has its roots in the Mughal and Turkish influences in the sub-continent. These were extravagant traditions of hospitality, and use rich ingredients and fanfare. Many of the exquisite barbecued dishes you now find in Pakistan are also inspired by the many migrants from India who were from Lucknow, Dehli, Bihar. These are people who celebrate a real barbecue culture with very special and unique recipes. However, the barbecue culture runs through Pakistan regionally as well,  always using organic produce, simple or rich spices and the use of wood chips or coal to cook to perfection.

    My best memories of eating barbecued food in Pakistan are at the ever popular “BBQ Tonite”, an open air restaurant which is a haven for all BBQ lovers - here you can sample some of the best grilled food of the region - Barbecued fish from the Arabian sea, simple and delicate Afghani kebabs, Karachi-style spicy chicken tikkas, and some Mughal inspired barbecued meats. These are always served with an abundance of freshly cut salads, tamarind chutney, mint and coriander chutney and freshly baked Tandoori breads, deep fried parathas and hot naans - washed down with cooling lassi or ice cold seasonal fruit juices (raw mango, pomegranate, sugar cane to name a few!).  This is an experience that can not be forgotten.

    In honour of National Barbecue Week in the UK, I have included two of my favourite BBQ recipes - as well a Pakistani street food style grilled corn on the cob. The chicken skewers recipe has a Mughal twist, using saffron, cream/yoghurt, garam masala and browned onions. This gives it a haunting aroma and flavour, which is quintessential of Mughali food. Secondly, I’ve included a  lamb chop marinated in a green chutney with tamarind and jaggery - a balance of sweet, savoury, hot and salty.

    Finally, a bit of nostalgia is thrown in with one of my favourite street foods - Barbecued corn “Bhutta”,  you find this on the streets of Pakistan, cooked till the kernels are charred and served with a rub of  lime or lemon dipped in salt and red chili - simple yet mouthwatering. 

    Now back to the UK - the sun is shining, it’s National Barbecue Week  and there’s no excuse not to light up and slap some meat and vegetables onto that grill!

    Barbecued Chicken skewers marinated in saffron, garam masala, Greek yogurt and lemon

    Serves about 3-5 people and takes about 20 minutes to cook (minus marinating time)

    500 grams of chicken breasts, cut into cubes
    1 - 1 1/2 cup Greek yoghurt, whipped or 1 cup of fresh double cream
    1 pinch of saffron (soaked in a tsp of hot water for 15 minutes, before adding to marinade)
    1 tsp garam masala
    3/4 tsp ginger paste
    1 tsp garlic paste
    1 tsp salt (or to taste)
    1/2 cup browned onion paste (fry about 1 big onion until brown, drain on kitchen paper and mince. This can be made in advance and kept in the fridge)
    1/2 lemon, squeezed
    2 tbsp vegetable oil (not olive or rapeseed oil as these will alter the subtle flavour of this marinade)

    1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whip into a thick marinade, add the oil and whip further. 
    2. Pop the chicken pieces in and marinate 2-6 hours or overnight.
    3. String chicken on to skewers and barbecue until done (you can put some vegetables on either side if you wish). Serve with a tomato chutney and naan breads.

    Barbecued Lamb chops marinated in green chutney with tamarind and jaggery

    Serves about 3- 5 people and takes about 5-10 minutes to cook (minus marination time)

    500 grams meaty lamb chops

    Make the green chutney:
    1 large bunch of fresh coriander leaves
    1/2 bunch mint leaves
    1 tsp garlic paste
    3/4 tsp ginger paste
    1 cup Greek yoghurt
    1 tsp of cumin seeds (dry roasted in a pan until light brown) or use ground cumin powder
    1 tbsp tamarind paste
    1 tbsp jaggery (can be found in most big supermarkets, but if you struggle, use brown sugar)
    1 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 tsp salt or to taste

    1. In a blender, place all the ingredients for the green chutney and whizz into a smooth thick paste. Add the marinade to lamb and marinate 2 hours to overnight.
    2. Grill on barbecue until cooked to taste. Serve with tamarind chutney and paratha breads.

    Barbecued Corn on the cob, rubbed with lime, salt and red chilli

    1-2 corn on the cob, cleaned and boiled for about 5-8 minutes in hot boiling water
    Vegetable oil for brushing
    To serve:
    Slices of lime and lemon 
    mixture of salt and red chilli powder in equal quantities 

    1. Grill the corn on the barbecue, keep brushing with oil until all the sides are slightly black and the corn is cooked through.
    2. To serve, dip the lemon or limes in the chilli salt and rub all over. Enjoy as an accompaniment to the meat dishes above!

    Blog post & photography by Sumayya Jamil aka Pukka Paki 

    Which vegetables have you barbecued?  What sort of marinade and sauce do you use?  Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.

  2. Making Josh Eggleton’s Venison Burgers

    With a long Bank Holiday and summer on the horizon, our thoughts turn to barbecues. With so many good home made burger recipes around, why should we buy them ready made from the shops?  Great British Chefs blogger Chris Osburn tried his hand at making put Josh Eggleton from The Pony & Trap's tasty venison burgers.  Let's see how he got on ….  

    Blog post & photography by Chris Osburn 

    Aside from the joy of eating something yummy that I actually cooked from scratch myself, there were a couple of aspects about Josh Eggleton’s homemade venison burger recipe that I really liked. 


    One, the recipe showed how quick and easy it is to make my own pickled cucumbers. I always reckoned it was a pretty basic process but also assumed it would be time consuming and that I’d have to wait aeons before getting to eat my ‘tanged’ up cucumbers. Well, yes there certainly are those types of pickling recipes out there. But the essentially two-step pickling instructions Josh lays out for his burger take hardly any time at all and can be done very easily while going about completing the rest of this simple recipe.


    I was pleased with the results of my having a go at the pickles alone and continued nibbling on them for quite awhile after frying up the burgers. I’m all about DIY pickles now and hope to find a chance soon to ferment all sorts of other things. I’ll probably even try one of those ‘wait aeons’ recipes. Yay.


    The other thing I thought was so cool about making these burgers was that they had a robust and intriguing flavour. The minced bacon, the cumin, lots of coriander and parsley made for a bit of an exotic blend and gave the meat patties some flair without masking what makes venison so tasty.

    I’d recommend trying these burgers or your own variant of them at your next barbecue. But don’t tell anybody they’re venison. I think it would be fun to see what people think they’re eating and if anyone could guess it was venison upon first bite. I’m sure all would agree these are a lot more interesting than the everyday ordinary beef burgers we’ve all become accustomed to.

    As simple and delicious as these burgers are to make, there are a few things to consider before deciding to serve them. Obviously, venison isn’t something you can easily find to the same extent as beef. Make sure you know where to get yours well ahead of time. I had to scramble to find venison when what I thought was a reliable source fell through.


    Also, the recipe calls for four slices of streaky bacon, minced. Unless you’ve got your own mincer this might prove difficult to come up with. I simply diced my bacon into tiny chunks and was more than pleased with the texture and flavour it added to the burgers.


    One hundred grams of parsley and another hundred of coriander seemed like a lot to add to the recipe’s 720 grams of meat. It ended up tasting absolutely wonderful, but I found it a little challenging to form the sort of patties I’d hoped for without much green sticking out of them. Practice makes perfect I suppose … and this means more opportunities to eat these gorgeous burgers.

    Will I make these bad boys again? Oh yes. And I’m definitely taking my own advice and doing up some patties next time there’s a barbecue to attend. 

    Blog post & photography by Chris Osburn

    Have you made your own burgers?  What are some of your favourite ingredients and seasonings to add to them? Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.