Comfort food: Manisha’s story

“I love nothing more than browsing through new recipe books, indeed our living room has an entire bookshelf dedicated to all my recipe books. My current favourite cuisine is Persian, having recently visited a newly opened Persian restaurant on Whiteladies Road. But for all the different food cultural influences in my life, I always come back to Indian vegetarian food as my comfort food. That’s what I reach crave on a cold, wet and windy winter’s day, or at the end of a ‘bad’ day at any time of the year! The simplest is a potato and pea curry, made in 20 minutes, and guaranteed to give you a warm glow!

When you look at the recipe, it might seems like a very long list of ingredients for a seemingly simple recipe, but ingredients 5 – 15 are very standard cupboard ingredients for an Indian kitchen. I often buy fresh ginger and green chilies in large quantities and freeze them. Simply wash the ginger well to remove any mud, dry it with kitchen paper and chop into approx. 1 inch pieces and freeze them. You will never end up with dried, shriveled and forgotten pieces in the bottom of the veg box in the fridge! The same process applies to the green chilies. When you need them, remove them from the freezer 10 minutes before you need to use them. The ginger can then be easily grated and the chilies chopped, with their flavours remaining intact. I also often make myself a ginger tea with grated ginger, hot water and a bit of sugar .. a lovely, warm comfort blanket for your tummy on a cold evening!

My Mum was way ahead of her time in the early 1970s when we first came to England, and fresh ginger and chilies were not always easy to obtain, so that you tried to make the most of them. She used to crush them in a blender with a bit of water and put them into ice cube trays, popping a couple into the curries as needed! Nowadays, you can buy these ready frozen at the Bristol Sweet Mart, and if you cook a lot of Indian food, they are a godsend!

As in a lot of cooking passed on from generation to generation, the measurement of spices is done by eye rather than by spoonfuls or weight measurements, so feel free to adjust your spices to your taste!

 Nisha’s Pea and potato curry for 1 (multiply as necessary)
Ingredients:

1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 bowlful of frozen peas, defrosted in warm water and drained
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 cup of water
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
salt to taste
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated or chopped very finely
2 thin hot green chilies, chopped coarsely, use less if you prefer
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, optional
Dollop of natural yoghurt, optional

Method:

1. Heat the cooking oil in a small pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds
2. When the seeds start popping, add the ginger and chillies and fry for a minute
3. Add the potatoes and stir
4. Add the ground cumin, coriander, and turmeric and salt, and stir well
5. Add the water and tomato puree and cook the potatoes for 15 mins
6. Add the peas, and cook for a further five minutes
7. Check the potatoes for softness and add a bit more water if the vegetables are sticking to the pan
8. Sprinkle with the fresh coriander if using, and serve with yoghurt

Enjoy and share!

Nisha

Photo: 91 Ways Cook and Converse lunchtime session at local law firm Osborne Clarke. Manisha is on the far right-hand side

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