Fuss Free Midweek Curry

Midweek Curry

In a world where we are constantly aware of our levels of connectivity,  it has never been easier to be disconnected.

Seeking hotspots and gateways to the virtual world as we go about our everyday lives, can lead us to feel detached and oblivious to what is right in front of us.

I stopped to talk to a woman doing a survey in the street yesterday and I realised that I knew her from a local networking group.  It wasn't until I got home that I realised we were FB 'friends', yet I knew very little about her.

If this is my experience as an adult, how is this scenario for our children? Already I hear stories of teens who are basing their self-esteem on the number of likes achieved on a social media post, or who have 'Friends' who may not even say hello in the school corridors.  It's must be confusing to try and work out how these 2 worlds operate....the 1 hard enough to navigate back in my day.

It is though, a double-edged sword that is difficult to ignore. Without this virtual world, my building of the FFF would not have happened this quick, so for that, I am grateful.  But it's probably not until you unplug, and totally connect and tune in to what surrounds you that you realise the hold the virtual world has.

Connecting to those 'real' things make me feel balanced, that everything is OK and that life is good. Getting out in nature, forgetting what I 'needed' to do to play a game with the kids or setting aside the bottomless list of to-dos and doing something for me. (Funnily enough, the list is still there when I get back!)

In connecting with others and ourselves we connect inwards to our hearts' true desire and not what is going on in our heads; Which can be logical and often fuelled with beliefs of what we feel we 'should' do. If we do this, it is the best example we can show our youngsters.

As half term starts, I intend to connect with my immediate world and look forward to unplugging a little... I hope you will enjoy that too!

Happy holidays! Lisa

FUSS FREE MID WEEK CURRY

Serves 2-3

2 tbsp Patak's curry paste (Madras, Korma, Rogan Josh)
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp grated ginger root
1 red or green chilli, sliced (optional seeds in or out!)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, chopped into quarters
200g potatoes, diced
200g frozen spinach
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
200 ml water
2 tbsps olive oil
Optional prawns/chicken/chickpeas

1. Put the olive oil into a medium-sized pan on a medium heat.

2. Add the ginger and chilli, and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and frying until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms to the pan, and fry on a high heat to extract the water for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the tomato, curry paste, and stir. Add the potatoes, spinach (frozen)and add the water. If you are using chicken or chickpeas add them at this point and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. If it is too thick add a bit more water.

4. Once the potatoes are cooked and you are nearly ready to serve, add the prawns.  If they are already cooked, just warm them through until piping hot, for a minute or 2. If they are raw, cook them for 5-7 minutes until they turn from blue to pink and cooked through.

5. Serve with boiled rice. Enjoy!

With this curry I would usually use, mushrooms and a red pepper, so feel free to mix up what you use by clearing out the fridge in the process! I would halve the amount of spinach I use if doing mushroom and pepper and omit the potato.

Doing a Meg Ryan…..

Moong Dhal with courgettes

I've got a new rule. When opportunities come knocking, I'm just gonna say yes! The cool thing with that is I don't have to let my brain get involved....and here's why. It totally means well, and is only trying to protect me, keep me safe and be logical by pointing out what could go wrong but that can take over from what my heart desires, and that's where the spark, excitement and joy can be in life. If I say yes, and it's meant to happen, it will. It just takes the control right out of my hands, and I'm OK with that!

So one of those 'Yeses' meant today I addressed 150 year 10, 11 and 12 students at a local girls school about my journey so far as the Fuss Free Foodie. Slightly daunting thought. A room full of eyes, being able to hear a pin drop and only my voice reverberating around the room. My head could've found many reasons why not to do it! But I did not allow myself to even get into my head about it. What's the worst that could happen!?! Sometimes its great just to bite the bullet and do it anyway and in the words of a well-known trainer company...Just do it! So let's see what comes up next that I have to say yes too!

I feel very blessed that so many of you are saying yes to the Fuss Free Foodie too, which I am so grateful for! Thank you! This week I've been hearing more of you giving my recipes ago, and even better you're families enjoying them as well! It's so easy to get stuck in a rut with the same 1-2 week recipe cycle, and we all experience that at some point and need to change things up!

This weeks recipe is still helping me use my yellow courgette glut (you could leave them out if you wanted but all part of your 5 a day!) and using those ingredients that lurk at the back of the cupboard. A fuss-free fast food, and is great for making ahead and reheating. Let me know how you get on! Lisa.

Courgette Moong Dhal

1 cup of Moong Dhal/yellow split lentils, well rinsed in water and drained
Heaped tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric
3 1/2 cups of water
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2-3 medium courgettes, sliced

 

Temper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 red/green chilli, sliced
1-2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5-6 tbsp butter/ghee/oil
Salt
(Optional 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp chilli powder)
I did it without and was still delicious

1. Put the lentils into a medium-sized saucepan with 3 cups of the water (retain the rest for later). Add the turmeric, tomatoes, and ginger. Stir, and bring to the boil and then return to simmer. Stir occasionally and add more water if it dries out or starts to stick.
2. This should take about 30 minutes until the lentil are broken down and the dal has a porridge consistency. Add the courgettes at this stage and let them cook in the dal for 10-20 minutes. Add a little water if is drying out. Season with a good pinch of salt. It's not going to do any harm cooking it for longer, just keep adding bits of water if needs be.
3. In a separate frying pan, add the oil/butter and raise the temperature to medium to high, so that you can add the cumin seed and fry for a couple of minutes with the shallot. It is OK to get the shallot brown, but turn down to a medium to low heat when you add the chilli and garlic. This doesn't want to be brown, just cook for a further minute or 2.
4. Add the tempeh to the lentil mixture, stir in thoroughly. Check the seasoning for any more salt, and serve with chapatis, rotis, naan or rice. I only had pittas and that worked well too!!

Remember if you love the Fuss Free Foodie, maybe you're friends will too, so please remember to keep liking and loving to keep me in your feed! Lisa x

Aubergine Curry

Aubergine curry

I never thought that being vulnerable would leave me feeling so strong. But it has. Vulnerability to me has always seemed like showing weakness. Like you were not able to work it out by yourself and that having to ask for help or for what you need just showed your flaws to the world.  However, it turns out that by being vulnerable actually shows your authenticity, the world views you in a more authentic way and will invite back much more than what you asked for.

I feel this has definitely been my growth point this week, as I couldn't decipher whether I was being vulnerable or what being vulnerable meant. I think I've always struggled to ask for help, and I think my natural mechanism in the past has been to shut down, rather than to open up; Trying to deal with things myself, cutting myself off from my friends and then falling in a downward spiral whilst I tried to sort myself.

So it turns out this is not the most successful strategy!! (Shock!) All those feelings, struggles and emotions that we have, most of the time just want to be heard, listened to or doused with tears. They want to feel validated, acknowledged and then they can move on.  When they are pushed down, and ignored and locked in a box, they come back so much bigger, with way more volume than before because they want to be heard!

I guess our transient lives have meant that to spend a lifetime in the same place, with a best friend, or mother or sibling who knows you inside out, who hears all of our troubles is far more unlikely today. And if we are not being vulnerable and letting new people into our lives, it's unlikely that we can find new people to do this with.  I think for me this has been a consistent inconsistency since teenage years, but the biggest change in the last 6 months.

I have spoken out when I needed help, ask questions when I felt unsure and reached out to people in an honest way and said, I need to get this out can you listen. By unlocking this part of me that had been closed for SO long, has allowed a whole new energy to flow.

So where I thought before that it was important to be strong, infallible and like a rock, it turnouts that the opposite is true. Being vulnerable takes courage and a fearlessness to allow people to see the true you and for you to love what you see in the mirror regardless.... because that is the authentic you.

This week I wanted to share this recipe that I found in a Sainsbury magazine 11 years ago by Nigel Slater....I've made it fuss-free considering you make your own spice paste, and appropriate in #nationalvegetarianweek and in respect to my teenage years as a veggie!

As always, please remember to give a little like, share or comment to keep the FFF in your feed and spread the fuss-free love. If you'd like to catch up on my videos to date, take a look at the Fuss Free Foodie FB page or subscribe to my channel on YOUTUBE. Have a great weekend, Lisa.

Aubergine Curry

Serves 3-4

Spice Paste

It is possible to make this paste in a large pestle and mortar, but definitely easier in a blender/spice blender.  To ensure a smooth paste I like to pestle and mortar the seeds before I add them to the blender, but not obligatory.

  • 5 birds eye chillis/2 large red chillis, roughly chopped
  • 5 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
  • Golf ball sized knob of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 green cardamom pods, smashed into powder in pestle and mortar
  • 1 tbsp groundnut or rapeseed oil
  • 25g fresh coriander

For the curry

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • 6 medium tomatoes, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk
  • 25g fresh coriander leaves (optional), chopped
  1. To make the paste, roughly chop the garlic, chillis, spring onions and ginger. Grind the seeds and cardamom in a pestle and mortar.  Add the chillis, spring onions and garlic to the blender and blitz. Then add the ginger and cumin and coriander seeds and cardamom.
  2. Add the oil, coriander leaves and stalks and blitz until smooth. Keep pushing the mixture down and re-blitzing until smooth.  I sometimes add a tbsp of water to help the process.
  3. If you have more time you can griddle your aubergines on the BBQ but normally I will chop them into 1-inch squares and fry them in the wok in oil on a medium-high heat and get some colour on the aubergines.
  4. Take the aubergines out of the pan and add the other tbsp of oil.  On a medium heat add the spice paste, letting it sizzle. Stir with a wooden spoon then add your tomatoes. Add in the aubergines, coconut milk, stir and simmer.
  5. I like to simmer this for up to 30 minutes so that the tomatoes start to break down, although you could simmer just for 15 minutes and serve. All personal preference! I've been cooking this recipe for 11 years now and I like it broken down and authentic
  6. Serve the extra coriander leaf stirred through if you like, with rice.

Don't forget to pin, post or tweet this recipe to your timeline, use the buttons below. Lx

Leftovers: Lamb Biryani

Lamb Biryani

New Year's day catching up with my old bookselling pals (see About!!) the table is spread with lots of homemade delights including my pea and ham soup, ...but when offered leftover lamb from their NY eve dinner.....I quickly say yes!

Instantly my brain scans to this amazing Jamie Oliver recipe (Save with Jamie) and I cannot wait to cook this up! It's a great recipe to use up leftover roast lamb shoulder, but equally keeping things fuss-free, lamb shank, the leg would equally work as well. I wouldn't let the cut of meat stop me from making this!

Biryani (according to my Brummy husband) is renowned for being a high-fat dish. But this one for me is hearty, comforting but not a fat-laden dish, so great for new year health efforts. If you follow my fuss-free steps, this dish can be a great one to make ahead and then pop into the oven when you are ready.

There looks like quite a few steps, but to make it more fuss-free, rather than cooking my rice, I picked up two 200g plastic of pre-prepared basmati rice from Aldi and rather than making my own stock for this one I just used a chicken stock cube. This cut out 2 time-consuming steps and means you can cut to the chase! After writing this piece this morning, I have just reheated the leftovers....still lush!! Enjoy!

Incredible Lamb Biryani
Serves 4-6

400g basmati rice (prepared if wanting to make fuss-free)
250g leftover lamb, shredded
500ml lamb, chicken or veg stock
2 medium red onion, small dice
6 cloves, finely chopped or grated
2 inches ginger, finely grated
1 fresh red chilli, sliced
450g frozen spinach (or x2 bags fresh)
2 heaped tsp curry or garam masala powder
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp mango chutney
Splash of red wine vinegar (I used sherry vinegar!)
A handful of flaked almonds
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven at 200 deg c. Grease a dish (approx 25cmx30cm) with butter and set aside.
  2. Put 2 pans on the hob and put a lug of oil in each pan on a medium heat.
  3. Put half of the onion, garlic and ginger in one pan, and the rest in the other.
    Cook slowly for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Add the frozen / fresh spinach to one pan with a splash of water. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. In the other pan, add the chilli, curry/garam masala powder, flour, mango chutney and a splash of vinegar. Stir, and then add the lamb.
  6. Pour in the stock, stir and simmer for 20 mins until the sauce is thick.
    Season, and then sieve the mixture over a pan to catch the delicious gravy. SO the meat and gravy are separate now.
  7. Layer half of the rice in the bottom of your baking dish. Followed by all the spinach mixture and the meat mixture from the sieve. Finish by layering the rice on top.
  8. Sprinkle with the almonds. Cover with foil, bake for 20 mins, then take off the foil and bake for 20 more mins until hot through.
  9. Heat the sauce/gravy. Serve and pour over with a flourish of yoghurt and coriander if you so desire...I don't.

DHAL-icious and Fuss Free!

Red lentil Dhal

Meat free Monday is a regular occurrence in our house, as we tend to eat more meat at the weekend! Maybe it's the frustrated vegetarian inside of me from those long-suffering veggie days back in the 80's, that just wants to try out some beautiful vegetarian recipes available at my fingertips. But it must be good, as even my husband is on board!

As well as skipping meat once a week, when the weather gets chillier, I tend to go on a spice offensive to feel warm from the inside out. Everything gets spiced up!! Even my morning smoothie goes from chocolaty, to pimped up roasted squash with cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg. Soups have a hum of chilli and fresh ginger and curry is a weeknight staple.

That's why I've started a not so secret love affair with delicious Dhal. It has so many facets to its personality and a combo of all things wonderful and attractive! Meat-free, spicy, soupy, stewy, comforting and let's face it when you find a recipe you are happy with, it's pretty fuss free, as it's the ultimate 1 pot dish.

There are many recipes for Dhal out there, as it can be made from boiling different pulses: lentils, peas or beans, along with onion, tomato, spices. You can add a mix of tempered spices at the end, which means that you fry off (normally) whole spices in oil/ghee to release their oils and flavours and then you stir it through the dhal once it is cooked before you serve.

It adds a different dimension to the Dhal, but for me at the moment whilst I'm trying to make the kids tea, make Panforte for the school teachers and my head in a hundred different places...a fuss-free recipe that's tasty is best and a great one to start with if you've not made it before.

Tonight I had this with some pittas for simplicity, but equally would be lovely with chapatis, naan bread or boiled rice. Another warm hug in a bowl!

Split red lentil Dhal

300g red lentils washed and drained
1.5 tbsp cooking oil, coconut oil or ghee
1litre of water

1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger (leave the skin on)
1 tomato, chopped
2 small red chillies or 0.5 tsp. dried red chilli flakes (optional)

1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
0.5 tsp ground cumin
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
salt & pepper

1. In a medium pan, add the oil, and then the onion, cooking and stirring until it is soft and translucent.

2. Add the garlic, ginger and fresh chilli to the pan (if using dried red chilli flakes, add them later with the spices) cook for 1 minute, until just fragrant.

3. Add the curry powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and dried red chilli flakes (if using). Stir for about 30 seconds.

4. Add the tomato and the lentils, stir until all completely mixed together.

5. Add 800ml of the cold water, bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook, partially covered for up to 30 minutes until lentils are very soft and the stew is thick. Add another 100ml of water if getting too thick, but stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

6. Season with generous salt and pepper, to bring out the flavour of the spices.

For the full recipe with pictures visit:
http://www.mattersofthebelly.com/daal-indian-spiced-lentils/