Striving for balance

It’s been quite a week! A trip to friends and a night out taking two young girls to their first concert (Little Mix) at the weekend, capped off with a glorious roast beef Sunday lunch in Baslow.  For my birthday (which was Wednesday) I was taken out for the most juicy burger imaginable and there has been cake – believe me, there has been cake.

So, for dinner tonight I’ve made a veg curry to balance out my meaty week, but because it’s Friday I still feel the need to mark the weekend with a treat.  I can’t claim that my vegetable curry is wholly virtuous, but hopefully it will taste good and still rack up my five-a-day.

Friday nights for me are the chance to relax over a meal, take it easy and enjoy the experience.  Any food that can be served in a bowl is a winner for me, and although rice is my go-to carb, I love a one-bowl curry that can be served with a piping hot chapatti to scoop up the chunks and also mop up the sauce.  That’s what I wanted tonight and when I remembered a half-used block of paneer in the freezer I knew that veggie was the way to go.

I started off by browning the cheese in a dry pan and then putting it to one side whilst I got on with toasting nigella seeds, cumin seeds, garam, cardamom and turmeric in a little sunflower oil.  Once I could smell the spices I added some chilli powder and the onion and garlic.  At this stage I add salt as I once read that salt will ‘release’ the water from onions and, as I try to use less oil, this seems to be an effective way at ensuring things don’t stick to the pan.  Once the alliums were coated and starting to soften, I squirted in a tablespoon or two of tomato puree and let all of this meld together before adding in diced potatoes, carrot and my (not-so) secret ingredient: a tablespoon of Geeta’s Mango Chutney.  A glug of water and the lid went on to give the potatoes and carrots a head-start for 15 minutes or so before I added some chopped cabbage –  red, because that’s what was in the fridge, but doesn’t it look purdy??

I then added a little more water and covered the pan, letting the vegetables cook through.  Once they were soft and tender, I put the browned cheese back in and left it all to sit for a bit so that the cheese could absorb some of the flavour.  A bowl of this, with a couple of chapattis and that’s my Friday night sorted.

Author: Sophie Elkan

Writer, Mother, Academic WAG. Pic by Flo Perry

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