Sabrina Ghayour - why I hate January diets

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 January 2020

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham

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January should be all about celebrating food’s juicy joys

Bacon Pittas Photo: Kris KirkhamBacon Pittas Photo: Kris Kirkham

As another year slips through our fingers, I am far from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and I am no way near ready to tackle 2020 and all it has in store. Something about the barrage of festivities and constant pressure to see, do, eat, drink and be merry in the month of December always leaves me feeling like January is one big stinking hangover. It is especially a shame as I do love the quietness of January and its slow pace, but I was born in January, so its perceived misery has a special place in my heart, no matter what.

If truth be told, the one thing I struggle with each and every year is the relentless pressure to reform your eating habits, cut back on food and drink and, my least favourite word of all, 'diet'. I'm not someone for whom hatred comes to naturally but this particular word has caused me so much strife over the last few decades of my life. It's only now that have I learned to come to terms with it by dumping it once and for all - like a lover you know, deep down in your heart, will never be any good for you, will come and go in your life and ultimately cause more destruction than anything else.

So let me break rank and say, stuff the diets in January! Moderate when you can because, deep down, we all know what is truly good for us and what isn't, we all know that the more we move, the more calories we burn and to be honest, when all is said and done… happiness is what keeps you the most healthy and that's really what matters more than anything.

In the spirit of being hungover, I only really know one true cure which truly makes everything seem better and that is bacon. Bacon, the salty gift from the gods; endlessly satisfying, converting vegetarians back to meat-eating for decades and beautifully British because we definitely produce the world's best bacon. Whilst there is no substitute for tradition, there are always nice alternatives when you fancy a change and, I can't lie, my bacon pittas are absolutely cracking and every bit as satisfying when you need a little hangover remedy or just a brilliant breakfast or brunch treat.

BACON PITTAS

Serves 4

Nothing beats a great bacon sarnie for breakfast… or so I thought until I was served a bacon naan in Dishoom restaurant in London. Their bacon naans, generously stuffed with chunky, crispy bacon and a spicy-sweet sauce, are absolutely epic. This is my humble homage to the great bacon naan of Dishoom - a wonderful bacon sandwich at any time of day.

ingredients

For the pitta

5g fast-action dried yeast

150ml warm water

250g plain flour

1 heaped teaspoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons garlic oil

For the filling

6 tablespoons mango chutney

4 tablespoons ketchup

1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely

chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

12-16 slices of smoked or unsmoked

streaky bacon

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

½ small packet (about 15g) of fresh

coriander, roughly chopped

method

First, make the pitta. Dissolve the yeast in the 150ml of warm water and leave the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Combine the flour, salt and garlic oil in a mixing bowl, then pour in the dissolved yeast and blend to form a dough. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes, then cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm and dry to rest for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Put the mango chutney, ketchup, chilli, cinnamon and cumin in a small saucepan set over a medium heat and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring to avoid burning. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 140°C, 
Gas Mark 1.

Grill or fry the bacon according to your preference. I like to fry mine in a preheated large frying pan with a little oil, crisping up the slices nicely on both sides for a couple of minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan, drain, cover it with kitchen foil and keep it warm in the preheated oven while you finish making the flatbread.

After the proving time has elapsed, heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Divide the mixture into 4 dough balls and roll them out to 5mm-thick rounds. Allow them to rest for 5-6 minutes, then place them directly on the dry pan and cook until the edges begin to come away from the pan (about 45 seconds). Flip them over and cook on the other side for 30-45 seconds. Place the cooked flatbreads on a clean tea towel while you finish cooking the remaining dough rounds.

To serve, split open each pitta and put 3-4 slices of bacon inside it. Drizzle in some of the sauce and sprinkle with spring onions and coriander. Serve immediately.

Taken from Feasts: by Sabrina Ghayour published by Mitchell Beazley, £25.

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