• frozen ingredients: garlic/ginger/onion/green chilli/okra http://www.tajfoods.com/
• garam masala
• 250g red lentils
• 2 tins toms
• small tin coconut cream
• veggie stock
• 1 carrot
• 1 sweet potato
• juice of 1 lemon
I was craving a curry, a vegetarian one that would tick all the flavour boxes. We were on our annual trip to St David’s http://www.caerfaibay.co.uk and tried out the local Indian restaurant Saffron . I read the menu, for a change, instead of chanting the usual mantra of chickentikkamasalawithpilaurice. Serching for a veggie option, I chose a mixed vegetable dansak with sides of aubergine and saag aloo. It didn’t disappoint; this was one of the best Indian meals I’ve ever had. How on earth do they manage to create that luxurious texture with such ordinary ingredients: root vegetables and lentils?
The craving returned at home in my kitchen – it was time to experiment. The frozen ingredients from TAJ http://www.tajfoods.com are very handy, and I chucked a packet of the following onto melted butter into my biggest saucepan: garlic, ginger, chopped onion, and a quarter of a packet of green chillies.
I read somewhere that patience is a virtue at this stage; the longer the onions are left to slowly disintegrate without browning, the better your curry will be. A week in St David’s makes you chilled, helps to put things into perspective and calm the mind. I was reminded of the wise words of Canon Patrick Thomas who said how absurd it is that the Cathedral in St David’s was built on a boggy marsh in a valley beside a river. But, he went on, despite the awkwardness, there is a definite sense that the Cathedral is where it is because it has to be there.
Time to add a good layer of garam masala over the delicious mash and half a packet of red lentils with enough stock for them to swell; about two pints should do it with two tins of tomatoes. It was far too fiery – I should have held back on the chilli, so I added coconut cream – a small tin from M&S http://www.marksandspencer.com/s/food-to-order with some lemon juice to get the sourness I desired.
The fridge was a bit empty – we’d been away, but I found a carrot and sweet potato that seemed to blend in well with the lentils before adding frozen okra and spinach too. I had cooked enough to feed an army. Far too much; and even though it wasn’t as good as the restaurant in St David’s, it satisfied my craving for the time being.
As Canon Thomas said, we can easily become disappointed, or frustrated with the difficulties that we face, unless we gradually become aware that, despite everything, this is where we are meant to be, like the Cathedral in St David’s.