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Ultimate comfort food recipes

by Marina Hopkins

published on 18 January 2019

The phrase “comfort food” means something different to everyone, and is inextricable from each person’s deeply personal associations and memories. In general, though, there are a handful of unifying factors. Comfort food tends to be unapologetically indulgent, ideally involving copious amounts of carbs, cheese, or chocolate. It often requires minimum effort, and if it does call for a bit of extra time or concentration, the cooking process is likely to be relaxing rather than mind-boggling. And, finally, it has that indefinable, mood-boosting quality that simply puts a smile on your face. Here are some of our all-time favourite comfort food classics that tick all the boxes, from coconut noodles to sticky toffee pudding.

Madhur’s Chicken Tikka Masala

Madhur’s Chicken Tikka Masala

The warming flavours and rich creaminess of Madhur Jaffrey’s classic chicken tikka masala make for a deeply comforting, home-cooked meal. This recipe is ideal for weekends when you have time to marinate the chicken for a few hours. Madhur recommends serving this with Indian breads, rice, or a black dal.

Jamie Oliver’s Allotment Cottage Pie with Root Veg, Porcini Mushrooms, Marmite and Crispy Rosemary

Jamie Oliver’s Allotment Cottage Pie with Root Veg, Porcini Mushrooms, Marmite and Crispy Rosemary

Feast your eyes on Jamie Oliver’s meat-free cottage pie filled with lentils, porcini mushrooms, and root vegetables in a rich gravy, all topped off with a fluffy cloud of mashed potato.

Macaroni Cheese

Macaroni Cheese

Mac and cheese, in all its creamy glory, is a failsafe way to combat the blues. This particularly luxurious recipe from Hawksmoor at Home uses not one but three types of cheese, giving it a ludicrously oozy, fondue-like consistency, plus a perfectly crispy golden top. 

Coconut Chicken Noodles: Ohn no Khauk Swe

Coconut Chicken Noodles: Ohn no Khauk Swe

Enriched with coconut milk and flavoured with a combination of paprika, ginger, and lime, this Burmese-inspired dish from The Rangoon Sisters is guaranteed to lift the spirits, especially when topped with handfuls of crispy fried noodles.

Winter Nights Chilli

Winter Nights Chilli

Combining the delicious flavours of brisket and pork belly, Jamie Oliver’s wintery chilli is one of those hearty, warming recipes that was made for a cosy night in. This satisfying dinner is perfect for a lazy weekend when you’ve got time to leave it bubbling away all afternoon. 

Jessie and Lennie Ware’s Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

Jessie and Lennie Ware’s Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

by Jessie Ware, Lennie Ware

According to podcast hosts and authors Jessie and Lennie Ware, chicken soup “most definitely has healing qualities”. Also known as ‘Jewish penicillin’ this clear, golden broth is served with fluffy matzo balls for a truly restorative supper.

Nigella Lawson’s Spaghetti Carbonara

Nigella Lawson’s Spaghetti Carbonara

Mac and cheese is by no means the only pasta dish that’s earned a place in the comfort food hall of fame. Nigella Lawson’s spaghetti carbonara is everything you could want in a comforting recipe: silky pasta coated in a creamy sauce, dotted with bites of salty pancetta.

ZFC Fried Chicken

ZFC (Zuu Fried Chicken)

by Big Zuu

Nothing quite says comfort food more than perfectly crisp fried chicken. Big Zuu shows us how it’s done with three twists on the classic recipe – one coasted in crushed Doritos, another seasoned with Maggi, and a third fried with Rice Krispies.

Gujarati Dal with Peanuts and Star Anise

Gujarati Dal with Peanuts and Star Anise

Inspired by her Gujarati heritage, Meera Sodha describes this dal as “a taste of home”. Subtly flavoured with star anise, curry leaves, and lemon, the dish is finished with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and toasted peanuts.

Aubergine, Chickpea and Tomato Bake (Musaqa’a)

Aubergine, Chickpea and Tomato Bake (Musaqa’a)

by Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley

This hearty bake takes its inspiration from the rich flavours of moussaka; with cinnamon, cumin, and chilli, it makes for an easy and comforting vegan supper.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes

by Chrissy Teigen

Try Chrissy Teigen’s blueberry cream cheese pancake recipe to get your stack fix. The perfectly fluffy buttermilk pancakes are filled with pockets of melted cream cheese and sweet blueberries, and topped with a sprinkle of Digestive biscuit crumb.  

Wintry Apple Bake with Double Ginger Crumble

Wintry Apple Bake with Double Ginger Crumble

A perfectly soft, spiced apple base is topped with a buttery, ginger-spiked crumble in this recipe from Deb Perelman.

Jane's Patisserie Triple Chocolate Brownies | Easy Baking

Triple Chocolate Brownies

by Jane Dunn

When all else fails: chocolate. These incredibly chewy and fudgy brownies from Jane’s Patisserie are studded with dark, milk, and white chocolate chips. To ram up the comfort food factor, serve these brownies warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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