Lunch: Veggie bento box from Aji Sai
Dinner: Spinach, chickpea and eggplant curry with lentil dhal and rice
The sushi place near my work is pretty amazing; or rather, the amount of food you get for $6 is. The only problem is that the self-righteousness that comes with giving up the pleasures of sashimi is totally ruined by the guilt about the amount of packaging they give you. Aji Sai, you’re killing my smugness!
Many people over here don’t believe me when I say that curry is now the national dish of the UK, but anyone who’s been to Brick Lane or Manchester’s Curry Mile, or Birmingham, wouldn’t dispute that. Many dishes now available in the UK actually originated there, created by Punjabi or Pakistani immigrants to appeal to more western (read: bland) tastes. Chicken Tikki Masala, believe it or not, comes from Soho, or Glasgow, depending on what you read.
More than this, curry is cheap, healthy and easy to make. It lasts forever in the freezer, so a big batch can feed you for a while. Tomato-based curries can be very low in saturated fats, and almost any vegetable can be used in them. The mixture of spices is also said to be a very strong aphrodisiac, although the excess gas that they also produce tends to cancel this out, in my experience.
This is not my recipe; I wish I could remember where it was from, but if you’re looking for more curry ideas you could do a lot worse than checking out Madhur Jaffrey’s dishes on the BBC Food website.
1 kg fresh spinach
2 red onions, chopped
200g chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 red chilis, sliced
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsbp cumin seeds
1 eggplant, diced
400g chopped tomatoes
Boil the spinach for 2 minutes
Drain, rinse with cold water and then squeeze
Blend to a puree
Cook the onion, chickpeas, garlic, chili and spices for 5 minutes over a high heat
Add eggplant and cook for 10 minutes
Add tomatoes, cover and simmer for 15 minutes
Stir in the spinach puree and serve
Jasmine rice and lentil dhal go fantastically with this, and I wish we’d had some peshwari naan to go with it.
As ever, this tastes better after a day in the fridge, so your next-day lunch will be amazing.
Oh, and here’s that fantastic Goodness Gracious Me clip, as it's both relevant and hilarious.