There are some foods that, as you grow up, take on an almost mythological status. It’s those recipes that only mums can make, or the foods that come in jars and which you couldn’t even start to put together from scratch. They’re the mysteries of the culinary world, giving mothers and chefs hero status if they’re able to knock them up without even looking at a recipe. A distant dream.Although the list is dwindling, there are a lot of things that come under this category for me. I could never make the “fluffy cloud”-like custard my mum has mastered, for example. On the other hand, some of these miraculous foods have come within reach as every kitchen accident adds a little clue as to how to really cook.
It seems to me that this is the best way to learn, by picking up clues and taking risks. Recently, for the first time, I made a curry. I probably didn’t do it right – I picked out spices according to a vague notion in my head of what should go in, chucked it in and hoped for the best. But goodness me, it was delicious, and brilliantly quick. Three cheers for improvisation!
Odds and Ends Chicken Curry
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Fresh ginger, around the size of a 10p piece and half a centimetre thick, finely chopped
3 chicken breasts, cubed
1 tin of chopped or plum tomatoes
350ml coconut milk
3/4 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp mild chilli
1/2 tsp garam masala
Juice 1/4 lime
Handful of frozen peas
Olive oil or Fry Light
1) Add a splash of olive oil, or a few squirts of Fry Light, to a large pan over medium heat, and fry off the onion, garlic, ginger, and chilli, until the onion is soft. Add in the chicken cubes and fry until golden brown.
2) Put the tinned tomatoes and coconut milk into a food processor, and whizz until smooth.
3) Add the tomato and coconut mixture to the pan, along with all the spices and the lime juice. Stir well and simmer for around 20 minutes, to reduce the sauce slightly.
4) Add the peas, and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Serve with rice.