Be generous with your spicing; onion, ginger and garlic
done just right; something to give it body.
– Mamta Gupta –
This morning the rain was lashing the windows, wind and weather swirling about. It was definitely a day for curry, a day for heat and colour in our food. And so: we need chopped onion, a couple of large carrots sliced but not too small, just manageable. This is to be a root vegetable curry. So, some potatoes peeled and cubed, and quite a few sweet potatoes peeled to add as well. I love sweet potatoes in a dish like this. Love the way it becomes meltingly soft. These are the root vegies I always have in the house and really hereabouts those are what is readily available.
I start the onion off in my big pot with some vegetable oil and at least one or two cloves of garlic and a nice bit of grated ginger. But no hanging about, as soon as there is some heat in the pot, in goes the good stuff. First two teaspoons of curry powder and that can easily be doubled. Then a teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of cumin and a generous amount of pepper. I held back with the cumin because this was to be a curry more in line with my culture and with that of Cape Malay cooking. Spicy but leaning towards sweetness. I used dry bay leaves because I was all out of fresh. I added some vegetable stock cubes, water to cover the vegetables generously and a few tablespoons of tomato paste. And salt. Taste to see if more tomato is needed in there and then a good dollop of apricot jam. A handful of fresh coriander and now it needs to be on a low flame to become amalgamated, to have everything lose its separateness and its sharp edges.
I had made up my mind somewhere in the day that I wasn’t going to serve this on rice. No, I felt like making something I have not made in years! I was going to make naan bread. So, bread flour, salt, sugar, oil, and yoghourt. Yeast in warm water so I could see if it was active because during covid I went slightly mad like so many of us did and over stocked on yeast! But thankfully I can smell straightaway that the yeast is alive and kicking and soon it is foaming and into the flour it goes. I love mixing dough; it always feels like it won’t come together and then suddenly you’re there and it can be kneaded. Always there is the magic, the dough sits under a cover to have a good think and then in an hour or so it’s all puffy and ready to become something else.
I did not want to cook my naan breads on the stovetop. I do not have a reliable pan, so some baking trays went into the oven to heat while I divided the dough in eight pieces and rolled them out. I tried to do the tear shapes but not too seriously. And then they were in the oven for 10 minutes. I had melted butter with garlic in and anointed the lovely naan breads the minute they looked as if they were ready! Oh, it was a good moment! My one sadness was that I didn’t have my French boy in the kitchen to test drive them! Next time!
It was a happy thing to cook this, and it was good to eat. I shared it with some family and there was more than enough leftovers for another fragrant meal to warm us.
Just as this food serves us, may we be of service
to the world in our own way.
– Jennifer Healy –