These potatoes are neither radioactive nor laced with the sort of E-numbers that will keep a three year old awake for a week. It is in fact, my new friend tumeric, which I’m sneaking into everything these days. It has a squillion medicinal properties (and Mum, according to Wikipedia it repels ants if you sprinkle it in the garden), a delightfully earthy sweet flavour, and stains your food pleasingly, eye-scorchingly yellow.
Panchphoran Aloo, or potatoes with whole spices, comes from Nigella’s seminal text How To Eat and is what I made for dinner tonight. HTE is so densely packed full of wonderful recipes that with initial reads it is impossible to take everything in. It took me a while to pick up on this fabulous potato dish but now I’ve made it so many times that I don’t even use the (tumeric-smudged) book anymore. What you want to do: Get lots of floury potatoes, scrub them and then parboil for five-ten minutes. Nigella doesn’t instruct you to do this, but it makes them a lot easier to cook. Drain and dice the potatoes, then toss them into a hot, non-stick pan, stirring occasionally still somewhat golden. Add a spoonful or so of the following and stir: cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek, fennel seeds, mustard seeds…tumeric. There’s a bit of standing and stirring involved but it’s really simple to make and tastes marvelous, especially with plenty of sea salt.
This is a very cheap meal for me because I have all those spices to hand (including a 500g catering-sized pack of cumin seeds that I’ve made surprising headway with) but I can see why the lesser-stocked amongst you might freak out at an ingredients list like that. I find health food stores really handy for cheap bags of spices and things if you want to start somewhere. There’s one on Cuba Street which has all manner of enticing wee bags of things…that I am quite embarrassingly addicted to purchasing. Last time I was there (on the way to The Dark Knight) I walked out clutching 2 bags of quinoa flakes, a bag of kibbled rye, a bag of ground linseeds and a bag of bran. It’s addictive I tells ye.
By the way, I apologise for the harsh photography. I’m having ongoing camera issues, which, coupled with the total lack of natural light here (it has rained for about 3 weeks straight) does not good food porn maketh. I also apologise if this post is lacklustre…these assignments are keeping me stressed and busy, instead of stressed and stationary.
With the rain and the sleet and the damp and the cold comes a couple of benefits. For example: steamed pudding. I first bought my pudding steamer in the infant days of this blog (back when I had permanent poor exposure and no depth of field, ah, circularity) and it occurred to me that it hadn’t gotten any use in a while. A casual flick through Nigella’s delicious How To Be A Domestic Goddess (while I should have been doing something more productive) had me longing suddenly to introduce butter to its amigos sugar and flour. You have to get going in advance – the whole two hours steaming thing – but apart from that these things practically make themselves. And they’re so delicious, not stodgy at all, but miraculously light. And I love the way a fat, golden jammy slice of this pudding slowly soaks up the milk pooling in the base of the bowl…I highly recommend you look up all your very old cookbooks, you know, the sort that have recipes for salads set with gelatine, and make yourself a darned steamed pudding. Unless you’re in the northern hemisphere in which case maybe wait a few months. It’s one of the best things about this weather.
If I can’t be perky, nothing livens things up like the neighbourhood cat – seriously, I defy you to view this and not feel the slightest stirrings of mirth in your soul.
Above: This isn’t our cat. If the landlord is reading, this isn’t even a cat, it’s…a teddy bear (ceci n’est pas un chat?) But seriously, it’s this kitteh that hangs round our ‘hood and occasionally stands by the door looking cute and vulnerable and what would you do? Turns out that its most natural, ideal sleeping position is…face-planted. Did you know cats can breathe out their ears?
Next time: I’m not sure, again, so I’m also not sure why I persist with this “next time” feature. I bought some brisket though, with a view to cooking it slowly somehow…any suggestions?