My dirty little secret…

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[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] Y[/dropcap]ou know that icky, ‘guilty’ feeling you get when you haven’t been 100% honest in a particular situation? Well, I’ve had it for a while now.

So I thought I’d start the new year by coming ‘clean’ because as my Mum taught me, honesty is always the best policy.

What’s this dirty little secret?

It all began a few years ago when I had just finished working on the first eCookbook version of ‘5 Ingredients 10 Minutes’, which is being published as a real print book soon! But I digress…

As I wrote at the time, I kept being amazed how delicious my food was when I used 5 ingredients. And surprisingly when I let more ingredients creep in, the results tended to be disappointing.

So I made a public pledge to only cook recipes with 5 ingredients.

What I didn’t realize at the time was the two limitations of this approach…

1. Constantly counting ingredients can be a pain.
Counting ingredients caused more hassles than if I was cooking without an ingredient limit. Rather than making life easier, I found myself stressing out when I was making a simple salad for lunch. Not ideal.

2. Most cookbook recipes have more than 5 ingredients.
Which meant I wouldn’t be able to follow other people’s recipes. As much as I adore coming up with my own creations, sometimes it’s nice to follow a recipe (with the added bonus of having someone to blame if it doesn’t taste great).

So over time, I stopped being so strict with myself.

If I was creating a recipe for Stonesoup, a new eCookbook or the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School, I’d (mostly) stick to my self-imposed 5 ingredient limit. But when I was cooking for myself, I’d just let what happened happen.

When I wanted to follow a cookbook recipe, I’d follow it.

Which worked fine, except I’ve been feeling guilty about not sticking to my ‘pledge’. So I’m sorry for not ‘fessing up sooner. I’m also sorry for being a bit self-indulgent here.

But I’m feeling a whole lot better now. So thanks for listening reading…

So what does all this mean for Stonesoup?

Now that I’ve got this off my chest and snuck in a recipe with ten (!) ingredients below, we can go back to ‘business as usual’.

Yep, I’m going to keep the 5 ingredient recipes rolling each week. With a focus on delicious, healthy meals that can be prepared in minutes.

black pepper curry-2

Black Pepper & Chickpea Curry

Takes about 20 minutes

While this curry has a mostly Indian vibe with the ground cumin and mustard seeds, it was actually inspired by a Thai curry. If you’ve ever had a real jungle curry, it may surprise you to know that the heat actually comes from peppercorns not chilli.

I’m a massive fan of black pepper so decided to try the same idea out using black pepper in a chickpea curry. I love the rounded warmth you get from the pepper – much more subtle than chilli but in some ways even more delicious.

This recipes uses quite a bit of pepper, so if you have a spice or coffee grinder, it’s worth getting it dirty. If you don’t, be prepared for a workout to grind 2 tablespoons with your pepper mill.

enough for 2-3
1 large onion, peeled & chopped
1/2 medium cauliflower, chopped into small florettes about the size of a grape
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, optional
1 can tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), NOT drained
2 handfuls mint leaves, optional
4-6 tablespoons natural yoghurt

1. Heat a little oil in a medium saucepan. Cook onion covered over a medium low heat until soft, about 8 minutes.

2. Add cauliflower, pepper, cumin, turmeric and mustard seeds, if using. Stir to combine.

3. Add tomatoes and chickpeas and the juices from both cans. Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes a little.

4. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes on a medium heat.

5. Stir. And continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is no longer crunchy. If you want a thicker curry leave the lid off, if you’re happy with the consistency, leave the lid on.

6. When the cauli is tender, taste and season with salt and more pepper if you need more heat. Serve with mint leaves, if using and a big dollop of yoghurt.

5 ingredients – skip the onion and replace the pepper and spices with 2 tablespoons garam marsala spice blend. And skip the mint leaves too…. you’ll need to change the name to ‘chickpea curry’ but it will still be lovely.

carnivore – replace the cauliflower with finely sliced chicken thigh fillets or breast, about 450g (1lb). You may need to increase the cooking time to ensure the chicken is cooked all the way through.

dairy-free / vegan – serve with coconut yoghurt instead of the natural yoghurt. OR serve with lime wedges instead of the yoghurt to give a hit of freshness.

different veg – most veg will work well here. Zucchini, red capsicum (bell peppers), peas, broccoli can all be added with the cauliflower. Root veg like sweet potato, beetroot, parsnip or potato can also be used but makes sure they’re cooked until tender first.

greener – stir in a few handfuls of chopped kale or baby spinach leaves with or instead of the mint.

hotter – replace black pepper with a few finely sliced small hot red chillies with the seeds left in.

Video version of the recipe.

5-Ingredients, 10-Minutes Update!

My new print book will be on sale in the UK from the 14th March!

And I’m super excited that it’s now available to PRE-ORDER from and (my favourite book supplier because they have FREE shipping anywhere in the world!).

Happy New Year!

With love,
Jules x


  • Looks delicious! I’ve just printed it for inclusion in my attempt at meat free Mondays this year.

  • Ah yes, limits are good but they’re also, well, limiting. Given that you have such a huge collection of remarkable five-ingredient recipes, I’d think that you could just create a special place on your site that makes them easily accessible … and then go on as you like, some times adding to the five-ingredient collection, some times not. I’m sure you’ve given this decision much thought, much discussion but add this to your soup pot …

    I’m remembering my mother’s friend Grace who would immerse herself and “get good” at one thing (refinishing furniture, painting, etc.) and then move onto another.

    • Hi Alana
      Yes the problem with limits being ‘limiting’!

      Thanks for your suggestion.. I’m actually happiest writing and thinking up 5-Ingredient recipes for Stonesoup.. it was more the ‘all the time’ thing that caused me grief. I think I’ve come up with a best of both worlds solution.

      And your mother’s friend Grace sounds like she was onto something :)

  • I think what I like best about 5-ingredient recipes is that they show that one doesn’t need to use a ton of ingredients to get a tasty dish. However, I use many recipes that have more than 5 ingredients.

    • Thanks for sharing Sally!
      I also like that there aren’t many places you can get 5-Ingredient recipes… so someone has to do it!

  • Looks like another winner. Mrs. tVM are looking forward to giving this a try and we will report back. On a side note, we’ve used more recipes from you than anyone in 2012, and each recipe was a winner. Thanks for all you do. tVM

  • Looks yum Jules! Would it work with other types of tinned legumes… lentils? White beans etc? Hubby is ‘allergic’ to chickpeas… = )

    • Hi Anthea
      Yes it will work with lentils or white beans or black beans for that matter. And you could use canned or home cooked legumes.
      I would die if I had a chickpea allergy.. I love them so!

  • Hello Jules
    Sounds delicious, will try soon. I know your chopped tomato with garam masala and chicked peas recipe well. Sometimes I add a cooked egg, or mozzarella or feta cheese, whatever is in the fridge–but separately. I have a seven-year old (picky eater) daughter and a two year old (rather adventurous eater) daughter to feed. When I made the recipe for the first time, neither of them even touched the food. But I thought it was so delicious, I made it again shortly after. I am still open-mouthed when I think about this:they both ate it—all of it! In the meantime the chicked peas recipe has become one of their reliable favorites. I have been reading blogs for a long time, but have never written a comment anywhere. What I am saying is: thank-you!!! However you call your recipes, however many ingredients, I am continuously inspired by them, thank-you.

    • Deb!
      Love the story of your children and the chickpeas… brilliant!
      And thanks for taking the time to comment… I really appreciate it!

  • Will definitely be making this recipe this week. Jules will your book be available in Australia soon or should I order through Amazon UK. Just love your recipes. And as for your dirty little secret, if you can produce recipes like this who cares, just keep them coming!

    • Glad you liked it Olannah!

      I’m not sure when it will be released in Australia. If you are going to order online it will be much cheaper to get free shipping from the Book Depository rather than Amazon UK. And quicker too…. I buy most of my books from the book depository these days..

      • Cooked the Black Pepper and Chickpea Curry for lunch today. Wow! Cheated and used ready ground black pepper which might have tipped the heat over, but still good with the yogurt added. Definitely a keeper! Ordered the book and feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to arrive lol.

  • Looks tasty. I certainly hope you stick to the 5 ingredient recipes. Perhaps you can offer options to take the base recipes to new directions with extra ingredients. You could list these options as a ‘footnote’ to the recipe, sort of like how you’ve made suggestions for the vegan, veggie, gluten free, halal, kosher, dairy-free audiences.

  • Oh, yay! Your wonderful 5-ingredient recipes in print. I’m not very good at using/searching for/saving online or digital recipes, so I’m thrilled that I can get yours in print. Congrats on the coming book! I’ve preordered. And thanks for the intro to Book Depository, which I had never heard of.

  • I made the garam masala version of this recipe last night, and added some small cubes of pumpkin as well. It was delicious! I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes now!

  • I just made this for dinner. It tastes quite yummy and looks beautiful with all the color, but I’m wondering about using so much black pepper. I hesitated to add two full tablespoons of black pepper and now I’m nearly coughing with every bite. I like the *heat* overall, but not how much black pepper I feel like I’m inhaling. What do you suggest I try next time?

  • I love the way you suggest alternatives for your recipes! I am going to make a version of the chickpea curry tomorrow….I don’t have canned chickpeas or tumeric and only a little black pepper but I am sure someting good will happen! Veggie foods…great idea as we cannot afford to buy much fish or meat. Ideas for leftovers would be appreciated! Things that we can bung in together and then maybe I can plan a weeks menu with a proper leftover day! My gran could make amazing meals out of scraps….Thanks for your ideas and inspiration!

  • I made this last night, and it was wonderful!! I posted it over on my blog with a link to yours. I love your recipes and am excited for your book! I just preordered it – shipping to NY is almost as much as the book, but you have such great recipes that I’ve been cooking for years that I just know it’s more than worth it :) Good luck with sales!

  • Jules, I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and have made several of your recipes. I’m a huge fan! I’m one of those people who will follow a recipe to the letter, until I feel comfortable improvising. Fortunately, that process doesn’t take long with your recipes, since you provide so many modifications. It’s completely changed my approach to cooking. So for that, thank you!
    Anyways, I made this curry the other day and it’s one of the heartiest meatless meals I’ve had…it’s definitely staying in my repertoire. Today for lunch, I heated up the leftovers and threw in some frozen peas….delish!

  • Hello Jules! Congratulations for this recipe (and for your complete and so interesting blog). I loved the way that you offer alternatives for carnivores, vegans, etc. and simplify the recipe. It looks delicious and easy to prepare, i´ll try it soon!



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