Indian Delights on a Weekend

Here in the North of England people tend to refer to all Indian Cuisine as ‘curry’. It’s still popular amongst many to go out drinking or to an event followed by a late night curry, especially after a week of hard graft.

I stopped doing this a long time ago and fell out with meaty, excessively hot dishes served for British palates, finding them all too rich and filling. I also discovered that ghee didn’t agree with me.

Instead I turned to perfecting the art of cooking Indian dishes  – vegetarian and vegan – with the help of Madhur Jaffrey.

Long-time favourite has been Saag Aloo, then Chana Masala, Baingan Barta and absolute supremo – Aloo Gobi Masala. I am lucky to live in a diverse place where spices and all kinds of vegetables are readily available, from around the world, at good prices. Stocking up, from turmeric to cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and more, has always been a delightful aspect to my grocery shopping here. Not forgetting large bundles of coriander!

To accompany I go for either brown rice fused with whole spices – cinnamon sticks, cardamom, start anise, saffron – or chapatis. Sometimes there are samosas, pakoras. Always minty yoghurt and mango chutney to make the palate tingle.

Essentials – onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, sunflower oil, turmeric, chilli. Then whatever grabs you. I learnt to be generous and adventurous when it came to Indian cuisine over the years. My early attempts were dreadful. I became less fearful of what I was creating and it stopped being a brown mush and slowly became full of heady aromas.

Fear doesn’t make for good cooking, like everything else in life. Love and savour every ingredient of everything made, when you can.

 

madhur

Autumn Moon

September and I’m editing the story – the book – the novel – the whatever – aka Butterfly Coffee. Third in to fourth round. A change of main character, of emphasis. It has been helpful to have others crit my work and me. Asking me why I am compelled to tell this story, what I can do to improve it and me.

It’s not been an easy process. I lost it once. Retrieved some of it. Some of it written by hand or printed. This turned out to be a blessing as it made me evolve the tale, it made me let go. and I do not let go easily, of anything.

I had a bit of a scare this week and was sent to hospital where I spent the day being shunted around on a wheel chair ( I could have walked!), monitored here and there, waiting for results. Eventually they let me away – they could let go – ruling out another escalating MI. The pain, they concluded, was muscular – not my heart, but other muscles. Asked if I had taken painkillers I replied no. So they stuffed some in my pocket and home I went – on the bus! I wondered if knitting could have done it. I certainly don’t do many strenuous weight-lifting style things any more. No more logs to stack!

It dawned on me as I sat in a corridor that my father died of his second heart attack on 24th September – six months after his first, the same hospital. Let’s not go there, hey. I went to visit his grave today – he’s looking pretty much okay, says all is fine. the aroma of Turkish coffee and Woodbines lingered, as always. I came across the artist Alexandra Dvornikova recently – this image reminds me of me and my father. He was definitely a bear, a very protective one.

I like the transition from summer salads to autumn vegetables – red cabbage for coleslaws, a hearty green cabbage salad, nuts and apples, soups, casseroles, crumbles. I am in a purple mood – my knitting is all purples at the moment, I’m liking purple fruit and vegetables too!

aubergines

From wildgreensandsardines.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m also interested in playing a balalaika – giving it a shot – if I can. I’m learning Italian again, watching Samurai films, exploring Nordic patterns. Books – arriving in the post from far away places. The Slavic in me is a strong force, a flow I have to go with. My father knew what he was doing when he taught me so much before I went to school. It’s always left me straddling two worlds and having an interest in many places and cultures.  I have come to accept that’s how I am. Many not few.

There ends my weekend burbling. Why do I write here? I write everywhere. This is only one part of the story!

Balalaika come to me…

balalaika

A Veggie Bolognese Recipe – (also vegan and gluten free)

This one works the best for me – it’s my own invention.

You will need the holy trinity of soup and savoury-ness:

One leek

One large stick of celery

One large carrot

All finely chopped and lightly sauted in a pan with a tblsp of olive oil

Then add

One chopped and deseeded red pepper

Four small blocks of spinach (I Iike the Taj frozen ones – they come in a box)

 Three fresh tomatoes, chopped (not tinned)

One cup of red lentils

Half a cup of minced Quorn (this isn’t vital btw)

A good pinch of  dried oregano and basil

One heaped tsp of veggie stock – i.e. Vegeta

A tblsp of tomato puree

Seasoning

Stir all the ingredients then add enough water to cover them. Simmer and watch for half an hour, adding water when necessary  – the lentils will expand, but the veg will give water too.

Cook for a further 15 minutes whilst you boil  a pan of water for the spaghetti – I use Sainsbury’s Free From – it’s free of everything *and* made in Italy from rice, maize and quinoa flours!

This amount of bolognese can make 4 servings (depends on how much you like  – ratio of bolognese to spaghetti is important and a personal preference).

Or it’s possible to later add a small can of kidney beans, some cumin, chilli flakes and a piece of dark chocolate. Then you have chilli for the next evening. Served in tacos or with brown rice – very nice.

photo from food blog Italian Feelings