Quarantine cooking. Means simply making the most of what we’ve got!
This was last nights dinner in the BHK,
I can’t think of a much easier, less fuss-free way of preparing a curry.
This was such a hit over on our vegan cooking group, we had to share it. Thanks so much for all the continued support and enthusiasm. Your kind wishes here and on Instagram etc are really inspiring. It sounds like you’re mainly positive about this ‘new normal’ that we’re all finding ourselves in. Most countries around the world are on ‘lockdown’, and most of you are finding time to get cooking at home, which is great. Hang in there!! Let’s eat healthy:)
This is probably not the most enticing of recipe titles, but it’s pretty accurate! What can we do?! Cook with what’s at hand and hopefully this curry does just that, using only ground spices and a few simple ingredients and veg. You can use any veg in fact, the sauce/ masala is the key. Getting it well cooked, nicely spiced, with a nice hit of fruity sweetness to tickle the tastebuds.
We need less than we think to cook delicious food!
Making the most of what we’ve got
Really, the best way to cook is making the most of what we’ve got. Always. Not just now. So this could be the time we get into some really good kitchen habits. Learning new skills to take humble ingredients and give them a makeover. Make them shine! Good food is not fancy or expensive, it’s cooked with care, with passion and focus.
We very rarely buy anything especially for a recipe, we just cook with what’s local, seasonal and in the cupboard/ spice rack. It’s where I get my inspiration as a cook, a window to get creative and challenge myself. Let’s see these restrictions as a chance to try new things, new flavour combos, new textures and techniques, and always minimising waste.
This is what the proper chefs do. I remember when I was training to be a chef, one of the senior chefs (with a big funny hat on) would always stomp around and check our bins (our bins!!), and we’d get a very gentle, constructive word in the ear if we had more than a few scraps in there. Don’t waste a thing. The maximising profits mantra in commercial kitchens and just a really sound idea for home cooks. We love cooking and buying food, partly because it is such a precious resource. I’m lucky, because Jane is a storage expert! An amazing stock rotator and tin stacker!! Never a rubbery carrot wasted in the BHK.
Keep it spicy!
So here we’ve got dried spices, not fresh ginger, onions, chilli or garlic, which is normally where I start most curries. Try to use as fresh spices as you can, but this is quarantine curry, swap and choose as you like. If you’re short of cumin or coriander, sub with a little more curry powder. If you don’t have fenugreek, no probs, just add a little more cumin or curry powder. They’re really the base notes for the flavour and in time, you’ll get your favourite balance, you’re own perfect masala mix.
Keep your spices in airtight containers, out of the way of damp and sunlight. As fresh as you can. Keeping them spicy! If you have whole spices, toasting and grinding your own is the way to go. I realise that’s a bit of a luxury, but you can’t beat those gorgeous flavours.
Up on the hill
We’ve had a brilliant weather for the past few weeks and are feeling settled up here on Tiger Hill. We live in a tiny village and people are in their gardens and taking daily walks more than ever, which is really nice to see. Even though we can’t get close, it feels good to just exchange waves and smiles. Bringing the village together. It’s never been truer than now, we’re all in this together!!
Somedays we’re feeling the sheer scale and global suffering relating to this situation, and on others, enjoying the newts and birds in the garden. We’re basing our days around focusing on those we love what makes us feel grounded and inspired. Cooking has always been a place where I can relax, retreat and focus my mind, a release at these times. We will be sharing our wellness tips in a post very soon.
We’re keeping healthy and in a positive frame of mind. This feels like just the beginning of something, so we’re trying to chill, be open minded and ride it out. Good food always helps!
I hope you like these photos, we’ve been taking our walk around the hill at sunset and there’s been many a firework show! Looking out across the Irish Sea towards Ireland, the Llyn Peninsula (the sticky-out eyebrow of Wales) and beautiful Anglesey. We feel VERY lucky, everyday, to be together up here, with a garage full of lentils.
Sending you all the best of bestest wishes, good health and sensational spiceX
Chilli! How’d you like it? I’ve gone for mild here, but add another 1/2-1 teas if you’d like to feel the fire.
The same goes for the mango chutney. Many people like a sweeter style curry, it’s one of the tricks in curry houses, making your curries slightly sweeter (and also richer) than at home.
Vegetable wise, you can use any similar quantities of cooked vegetables. Steamed, roasted, pan-fried, however they come. This curry is an ideal home for leftover veg, a good meal for the day after a roast dinner. I’ve cooked in loads of restaurants in India and this is quite normal. A banging sauce, pre-made, then add your vegetables and maybe a few more spices and fried garlic or ginger, a little yoghurt/ coconut milk, a sprinkle of fresh coriander…. It’s such an easy way to approach making curry, and the foundation is always a tasty masala sauce. Having a masala sauce ready for action in the fridge is a cooks dream!
Frozen spinach is a great idea. Frozen vegetables and fruits are still filled with nutrition and flavour. We always keep a good stock of frozen fruits for smoothies (they even sell frozen avocado now!) and veg for stews and soups. Fresh is best. Most of the time. But not always. Frozen does have benefits. It’s right there, ready, and like I said, it’s normally picked ripe, so there is even more nutrients than lots of frozen produce.
Quarantine Curry – Quick Spicy Tomato Masala with Cauliflower, Potatoes and Spinach
Vegan, gluten-free, oil free option
The Bits – For 4
Fragrant Tomato Masala
400g passatta or tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tbs tomato puree
1 tbs mango chutney
300ml vegetable stock
4 teas good quality curry powder
1 1/2 teas garlic powder
1 1/2 teas ground ginger
2 teas ground coriander
2 teas ground cumin
1/2-1 teas chilli powder
1/2 teas ground fenugreek
1 teas sea salt
300g frozen spinach leaves
300g cauliflower florets
400g boiled/ steamed new potatoes (cut in half)
2 tbs cooking oil (I use cold-pressed rapeseed oil)
In a sauce pan, add all of your masala ingredients, bring to a simmer and pop a lid on. Leave to cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. That easy!!
In a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the oil on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add your cauliflower and potatoes and cook for 8 minutes. Turning the veggies occasionally, getting some nice caramelised edges.
Add the spinach to the pan and pour the masala sauce over the vegetables, gently stir, careful not to break up the vegetables. Pop a lid on and leave to bubble for a couple of minutes, cooking until your spinach is soft and vibrantly green. Check seasoning, adding salt and chilli as you like.
Ideally, serve with basmati rice, a simple raita, pickles and warm chapati’s. It’s thali time!
If you’d like to make this recipe oil free, simply cook your vegetables without oil! Steamed vegetables is a great option.
Jane’s fav. Potatoes! Spuds are full of good stuff. A sprinkling of good protein and fibre with nice minerals, like potassium, and plenty of vitamin C. Leave the skins on and the nutritional value shoots up. This goes for most vegetables.