When people ask what my blog is about, I don’t have to think twice before replying that it’s a collection of recipes; strangely enough, though, my recent posts were mostly reviews. Sure, I’ve been out and about a lot, but I also can’t deny that the home cooking has been scarce in the past few months. Meals have often felt like an afterthought, squeezed at the back of long hours of job hunting. More than once, I’ve caught myself wishing I could simply curl up on the sofa, and let someone else sort out my dinner; a comforting thought that became utopia the very second I moved out of my parents’ home, far too many years ago. So I’ve been sticking to the basics, cringing at the sight of the uninspiring foods laid out in my shopping cart week after week, and dreaming of better days. Life’s no bed of roses, but it isn’t all ready meals either.
On a brighter note, the few evenings I ditched my laptop and treated myself to a nap on the sofa have been absolute bliss. I’ve been writing, too; I just haven’t cooked enough to keep up with my monthly recipe round-up. And you know what? That’s not half as bad as it sounds. Trying four new recipes in two months may not be the most amazing achievement, but all my experiments were a success. It’s now time to share the results with you, and I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.
1. Monica Bhide’s Super Simple Chicken Curry
You’ll like this if: You’ve toyed with the idea of making curry at home, but felt intimidated by the long lists of unusual ingredients in most recipes.
You’ll turn up your nose if: You don’t like to stray from your favourite curry house’s menu. This dish doesn’t have the nutty notes of chicken korma, or the rich flavour of butter chicken, or the fieriness of vindaloo. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, proof that there’s no need for complex marinades or long cooking times to make good curry at home.
My experience: One of the great things about Monica’s recipe is that the words “super simple” are no understatement: this is the quickest and most fuss-free curry I ever made without taking the shortcut of spice mixes. On weary weekday evenings, this is a gem of a recipe to have up your sleeve.
2. Olive Magazine’s Artichoke and Bacon Tart
You’ll like this if: You’re partial to the make-ahead dishes that sort out two meals in just one sitting. This quiche is ideal to feed two or three people: portion up half of it when it’s fresh out the oven, and eat the rest on the next day.
You’ll turn up your nose if: You’re a lover of light meals. This recipe features four eggs and generous helpings of bacon and cream – definitely not what you’d call “diet food”.
My experience: While I’m a lover of light meals, I’m also addicted to everything pastry, and couldn’t resist the temptation to try this interesting pairing of bacon and artichokes. Using two eggs instead of four was enough to silence my nagging Healthy Eater Conscience. If, like me, you find yourself worrying about overeating from time to time, I recommend this little trick: you’ll get a really lovely quiche without missing out on flavour.
3. Selina Periampillai’s Tandoori Chicken
You’ll like this if: You’re a tandoori fiend without a tandoor oven, and with little sympathy for takeout meals. Selina’s excellently developed recipe may well be the cheat you’re looking for: it’s so simple and straightforward, you won’t believe your luck until the first bite!
You’ll turn up your nose if: You don’t get why you should be cooking tandoori chicken, when you could ring your favourite takeaway joint and get some delivered right to your door.
My experience: I’ve been wanting to make tandoori chicken for ages, but this was the first recipe I felt confident enough to try. The taste test was positive on all counts: the sauce gives the meat a nice spicy flavour, and the chicken comes out of the oven tender and juicy, proving that the cooking time is truly spot-on. I’ve always enjoyed Selina’s cooking, but recreating it at home takes the whole experience to a new high.
4. The Sugar Hit’s Oven Chips
You’ll like this if: You want to enjoy the taste of fries more often than on the odd “cheat night”. Why get fast food, when you can make this ingenious side dish?
You’ll turn up your nose if: The guilty pleasure of junk food is the reason why you like chips in the first place. Everyone deserves a cheeky treat, and piping hot, crispy, deep fried chips are yours.
My experience: Although a little time-consuming, this healthier take on french fries is a winner. The only challenge is cutting the potatoes evenly, so that your chips look prettier and bake better; but hey, who said that looks are important? I believe in the sweet ugliness of homemade, in the imperfections that make handmade dishes really unique. I loved every single one of my oven chips: the slightly charred one, the perfectly baked one and the soft, not-quite-cooked one. Give the recipe a try, and you will, too.