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Ravinder Bhogal’s recipes for cooking with peaches

Ravinder Bhogal’s chicken and peach pilaf.

If you luck out with a peach that is rosy, unblemished and ripe, sink your teeth into it and enjoy its sublime sweetness immediately, without any adornment. There is little you can add to a perfect peach to improve its unrestrained juiciness, fragrant perfume and luscious flesh, but peachy perfection in the UK is a rarity, because imported fruit is generally picked before it’s ripe, to prevent bruising. For those pesky peaches that refuse to soften, apply heat: griddling, poaching or roasting will help eke out their natural honeyed sweetness and aroma.

Grilled peach and feta fattoush (pictured top)

This is a reworked classic salad that uses stale bread for frugal sustenance. Bolstered by the addition of warm, griddled peaches and salty feta, it feels especially luscious.

Prep 20 min
Cook 5 min
Serves 4-6

About 250ml rapeseed oil, for frying
2 Lebanese day-old flatbreads or pitta, cut into shards
3 white peaches, stoned and cut into wedges
Sea salt and black pepper
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
, plus 1 tbsp for drizzling (I love Zaytoun’s unfiltered one)
300g grape tomatoes or small cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Lebanese cucumbers, chopped
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 small bunch mint leaves, picked and coarsely chopped
8 radishes, thinly sliced
200g feta
1 tbsp sumac
2 tbsp lemon juice

Put the rapeseed oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat and, when it’s hot, add half the bread and fry for 15-20 seconds, until golden. Drain on absorbent paper, and repeat with the remaining bread.

Get a griddle pan very hot. Season the peaches and drizzle with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, then grill on both sides until charred and striped, and set aside to cool a little.

Mix the grilled peaches in a large bowl with the tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint and radishes. Coarsely break up the shards of bread, crumble the feta and toss both with the salad ingredients. Sprinkle over the sumac, season to taste, then dress with the remaining extra-virgin olive oil and the lemon juice. Mix gently to combine and serve immediately.

Fragrant chicken and peach pilaf with cashews

The marriage of sweet peaches and juicy chicken thighs is a fragrant revelation.

Prep 10 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 6

2 tbsp ghee
800g skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced into crescents
100g cashews
1 cinnamon quill, broken up
1
tbsp honey
3 peaches
, stoned and quartered
1
tsp each ground ginger, coriander and cumin
300g basmati rice
Sea salt, to taste
750ml hot chicken stock
1 big pinch saffron threads soaked in 60ml warm milk

To serve
1 handful crisp shallots
1 handful finely chopped coriander

Melt a tablespoon of the ghee in a casserole pan on a medium-high heat, then brown the chicken pieces all over. Transfer the chicken to a plate, then put the onions in the pan and fry on a low heat until caramelised. Add the cashews and cinnamon, and cook, stirring, until toasted, then transfer everything to a plate.

Add another tablespoon of ghee and the honey to the pan, let them bubble for a minute, then carefully add the peaches and cook for about three minutes, turning halfway, until caramelised and softened but still holding their shape. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Tip the chicken and the onions mix back into the pan, stir in the ground ginger, coriander and cumin, and fry for about two minutes, until fragrant. Scatter in the rice, season and toast for about two minutes, until it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, then pour in the hot stock, cover the pan, turn the heat down low and simmer for 10 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the stock. Remove the pan from the heat, return the peaches to it, cover again and leave the rice to steam for a further three or four minutes.

To serve, drizzle the saffron milk over the top, so some of the rice is stained and some still white, and scatter over the shallots and coriander.