Recently we’ve been on the move again. In case you didn’t know; if you’re one of those enviable people that’s always stayed put, always been contented and just grateful for what you have right now, it’s really hard to keep up proper cooking in kitchens only inhabited transiently.
When you don’t feel really familiar with the space and have all your stuff on hand, what tends to happen is you keep walking in circles around the kitchen wishing you’d bought that special ingredient that you had in your hand but put back thinking you’d never use half of it before you leave.
Well, complaining over, I have actually got better at cooking on the fly. Within a few days of moving in to our current place I was even baking bread and cakes, surprising not least, myself. Then the first weekend I managed to plan a West Indian meal for us adapted from the World Food Café cookbook (2).
This one is much better than the first, or maybe I’m just looking for different things. I must say a moment I wasn’t proud of was when I told the author of the first edition that the pictures in the book were better than the recipes. Maybe not quite so bluntly, but it more or less just slipped out when I went into the (just recently closed) Café in Covent Garden, London to give a reference for a friend applying for a job there. She got the job, I guess despite of me, but did also confirm that she wasn’t overly impressed with the food there. To end this topic, I have to say I never actually ate there, but this second recipe book is really good.
Please excuse the rather domestic photo of our makeshift dining table and serving bowls. Not the best, but you get the idea and I promise to try a bit harder next time. But I hope I can make it up by giving you pretty much a whole meal in this post; well, we did have a chutney and salad too, but I’ll leave those extras down to you. Do try to do it all. The combination works really well together.
Peppers stuffed with cashew nuts in a coconut
Sauce (serves 2 – going on the fact you’ll have one each)
2 “banana” peppers
¼ cup cashew nuts
1 tbs desicated coconut
2 tsp Sri Lankan Curry powder (recipe to follow)
Juice of one lime
3 tbs vegetable or any other flavourless oil
1 green chilli finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger finely minced
2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp tumeric
2 tbs chopped fresh coriander
1. Slice the peppers down the middle of one side, leaving the top and bottom intact and remove as many seeds as you can.
2. Blend the cashews, coconut, 1 teaspoon of the curry powderand juice of half the lime in a small food processor or coffee grinder adding a tablespoon of water and maybe a little more if necessary to make a smooth paste.
3. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet or frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of the oil and saute the peppers for a few minutes until they colour a little all over. Set aside to cool.
4. In the meantime heat the remaining oil over a low heat and add the ginger and chillies. Stir for about a minute and add the coconut milk, tumeric and salt. Turn to a low simmer for five or so minutes.
5. Whilst the sauce is cooking stuff the peppers with the cashew mixture. Now add these to the coconut sauce and cover the pan with a lid or tin foil. Allow to simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes more until the peppers are really soft.
6. Stir in the rest of the curry powder,fresh chopped coriander and the rest of the lime juice and serve hot with rice.
Sri Lankan Curry Powder (makes about 4 tbs)
This is a really interesting curry powder. I have to say I’ve never really tasted any blend quite like it before, so it won’t be the same, but if you can’t be bothered/don’t have time to make this, you could substitute any other curry powder. The most similar I think is the Madras. I would try to make this though as it’s a show-stopper and you can use it as the spice mixture in any other coconut based curry you might want to do. It stays fresh for a month easily.
2 tsp white rice
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp desicated coconut
1 inch piece of cinammon stick
1 tsp mustard seeds
Dry roast all the above in a small frying pan over a low heat until they start to smell aromatic and brown a little. Set aside to cool and then grind in a clean spice mill.
Carribean Chickpea, Pumpkin and Mango Curry (serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as an accompaniment)
1 tbs butter or ghee
½ a scotch bonnet chilli finely minced (handle with care – very hot!). Or just subsitute a regular red chilli.
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
¼ tps cinammon powder
½ tsp turmeric
2 fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
1 cup pumpkin or butternut squash cut into small cubes
1 ½ cups coconut milk
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
½ mango chopped into small cubes
1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper
juice of half a lime
2 tbs fresh chopped coriander
1. Over a low heat melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the ginger, chillies and celery and stir for a minute.
2. Now add the mustard seeds and when the start to splutter add the rest of the ground spices. Stir briefly to mix.
3. Now add the tomatoes and pumpkin and adding a little more butter if it starts to stick, saute the pumpkin until it starts to colour.
4. Tip in the coconut milk, chickpeas, mango and a half cup of water and simmer over a medium low heat for another twenty minutes, partially covered.
5. Finally add the salt, pepper, lime juice and fresh coriander. Remove from the heat and serve hot.
Thyme and Lemon Rice (serves 2)
1 tbs butter
grated zest of ½ a lemon
1 tbs chopped fresh time or 1 tsp dried
1 cup basmati rice
1 tsp salt,
½ tsp ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1. melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then add all the other ingredients and saute for a couple of minutes.
2. Now add 1 ½ cups of water and when it begins to boil turn to very low and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes.
3. Take a fork and gently fluff the rice quickly. Then cover the pot with a clean tea-towel and place the lid over this to seal. Leave for another five minutes so it absorbs a little more steam and then uncover and serve.