Saturday, 6 January 2007

Nice and Spicy



We all have a cold today. Sniffs, coughs and shivers. So a pretty miserable household. Neither my wife nor I have the energy to be knocking up anything other than beans on toast but that just wouldn't be enough on this cold night of fevers. We all need a tonic other than lemon, honey and paracetamol.

For me, a curry is the tonic required, not just when you have a cold. Any time of the year. Not only do the spices seem to lift up the dullness of a fevered brow and bring your senses alive, it contains all of them lovely immune boosting bug fighting goodies (depending on how you have made your curry of course) such as garlic and onions to help you reap a variety of health benefits. Ginger can open nasal passages, soothe nausea and help the immune system too. Tomatoes are of course packed with antioxidants. And there are the powerful complex of carbohydrates you can gain from starches such as potatoes and beans.

With no meat in the house, it was a simple knock up containing the remaining Christmas week potatoes, a punnet of chestnut mushrooms and a few handfuls of frozen peas. Lots of caramelised onions, lots of garlic and ginger, lots of tomatoes and lots of spice. I love to make a curry and tend to not think too much about quantities when I make one (sorry measurement police). For some reason, it always seems to work. And I'm not snobbish enough to not want to add a spice or two at the end if it seems to lack something.

Give it a go. I've named this one the Pea and Potato Cold Buster for no other reason than it sounds corny but actually does do what it says on the tin, as well as taste good. It isn't following any tradition, it is extremely healthy and it is simple to make. Just how I like it. Nice and Spicy.....

To serve 4
5 large potatoes
A punnet of mushrooms (any, I used Chestnut)
4 onions
6 cloves of garlic
A thumb of ginger
Frozen peas
2 tins of chopped tomatoes (or fresh if you don't have a cold and can be bothered)
250ml water
Fresh coriander
Mustard seeds
Garam masala
Chilli flakes
Paprika
3 cardamon pods, seeds removed and crushed
Cinnamon stick
Sunflower or vegetable oil

1 - Finely slice your onions and brown slowly in 3 tablespoons of oil. Peel and grate the ginger, finely slice the garlic and add to the onion with the spices until the seeds pop and the kitchen fills with a heavenly smell.
2 - Peel and chop the potatoes into bite sized pieces, quarter the mushrooms and stir into the onion and spice mixture. If you have your roots intact on the coriander, chop these up fine and add them too. Pour in your tomatoes, water and bring to the simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
3 - Throw in a few handfuls of frozen peas. Season. Server with basmati rice, fresh coriander, breads and chutney and feel your spirits lift.

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