Archive for January 2012
It’s cold and dark and I am alone and dreaming of summer.
So I am looking at this frock from Swonderful in New Zealand, where the seasons are topsy-turvy and therefore it is already summer there.
I love this blue, so pure and intense, and the print is gorgeous with its swirls and birds and touches of one of my favourite hues of yellow. The broderie anglaise is also adorable. It has cheered me right up.
Costiness: $245 (New Zealand dollars) or around £153 at the current UK exchange rate from Swonderful
Thanks to Fuel My Blog and Wish, I have a 6 month subscription to Curry Recipe Kits from The Spicery. My first box arrived just before Christmas, so we decided to cook it for our special New Year’s Eve meal (we never go out).
The box itself arrives in the post, rather like a smaller but more colourful Graze box (use code 3M826CQ if you’d like to try Graze for free, tasty snacks delivered to your door). It contains all the fresh spices – ground, whole, toasted etc – in sturdy and easy-to-open little packets for each stage of the meal. Also included are detailed recipe cards and clear instructions on additional ingredients required. The cards build into a sort of mini recipe book, using a nifty screw fitting to tie the cards and covers together. If you want to cook a recipe again, the website gives details for repeat quantities of the spices.
This month’s curry is the Syrian Christian curry, with side dishes of Kosambari (a salad) and Spicy Fruit Chutney. From the information about the recipes:
The Syrian Christian population in Kerala, Southern India are descended from the arrival of St Thomas the Apostle in AD52. These Christians later intermarried with various other traders and missionaries who’d also settled in the area and a vibrant community emerged with an equally exciting cuisine. The cooking used the local produce such as coconuts and limes, but combined it with flavours, ingredients and techniques from further afield. This simple curry is a perfect example of this style of cooking in that it’s a classic Keralan coconut milk curry with a tangy fresh Kosambari salad, but also echoes back to dishes from the Middle East and Europe with the addition of the sour vinegar and sweet dried fruit chutney.
I like getting a bit of background to the recipe, and cooking things new to me, so I appreciated this detail. No boring standard dishes here. It’s not something I would ever have thought to cook, despite enjoying coconut-based sauces in the past.
The shopping list for the chutney asked for figs or dates. ASDA had a jumbo pack of figs for just £2, and I prefer them, so in they went. It’s quite a sweet, hot chutney and I thought it complemented the meal well. I also intend to have a dollop with stilton and maybe with some grilled aubergine. The method was simple – soak the fruit in boiling water, add salt and the spices, whizz to a coarse puree. So we did that first.
Next I marinated the meat in spices and vinegar – the vinegar being key to the slightly sour taste of the final curry – and got on with the Kosambari. Unfortunately, shopping over the holiday season meant that despite visiting an array of supermarkets, we were unable to obtain white cabbage or a lime. Red cabbage (closest in texture, looks quite festive) and bottled lime juice (no lemons available either) had to suffice. The salad wasn’t entirely successful, perhaps due to the substitutions, it tasted a bit odd. However, a dollop of crème fraîche turned it into a very nice sort-of-coleslaw.
The curry itself was simple enough. Soften an onion, add whole spices, chuck in ginger and plenty of garlic, then the ground and toasted spices, then meat (we used chicken) followed by liquid. Easy peasy. Except the coconut milk we bought was rubbish, not at all thick and creamy even when shaken vigorously. So it required a little more cooking than stated and I chucked in a handful of dessicated coconut for good measure.
Crispy onion, toasted coconut and more whole spices meant that the basmati rice served with the curry was extremely tasty. The final meal was lovely. I really enjoyed the curry, rice and chutney, especially together, and the salad was OK in the end. It all looked great on the plate, too (if you ignore the fact that I didn’t go for poshing up the rice or wiping round the plate in Masterchef style, I was hungry). The recipe and spice quantities served 4. We made a full batch of everything bar the rice so we have another meal to look forward to later. Can’t beat leftovers.
I recommend the kits as a gift, based on this first experience. The ordering process via Wish is simple, as with most of the “experiences” offered on their site – you order from them, an attractive box is delivered with a shiny voucher and instructions and the recipient just has to activate the voucher online and then send a quick email to the very friendly folk at The Spicery with their voucher number and whether they want veggie or non-veggie recipes. The first kit is sent out ASAP. I’m looking forward to January’s box…