Be kind to your wallet this February…
BREAKING NEWS: Christmas is hard on your wallet…tell us something we don’t know. But, when January comes around, it just seems to get worse, especially when you failed at alcohol abstinence as epically as we did. So, come February, we often don’t have the cash to flaunt on the things we like, you know, like cocktails, sushi lunches and expensive ‘superfoods’ that taste as disappointing as your bank account. It starts to become rather difficult to be social, and winter suddenly seems all the more depressing. In times like these it is critical to spend time with the people you love and keep morale high. Summer is just around the corner, but in the meantime, get friends around the dinner table and cook something delicious. We’re biased, but we think that’s the only recipe for happiness.
“We promise it will keep a smile on your face until payday.”
Below is a recipe for Dhal, come on you know Dhal… the Indian lentil dish rather than the Welsh author. Dhal is perfect for a quick supper at home with your favourite people. The dish is effortlessly simple, delicious and has that wow-factor. It’s one of those meals that’s the best value for money; working out less than one pound per portion. It is quick to prepare, perfect for mid-week dinners and for those with busy schedules. Not only is it vegetarian, but its vegan as well (without the yoghurt), and seriously healthy, if you still have the will-power to care this far past January…
Keep a simple striped back look with the table; lots of candles, simple linen and some music playing on low in the background to keep things laid back and calm. Your guests should be your best decoration this week, there’s no need to over complicate things, let the food do the talking.
There’s still a few end of season sales knocking around in the slightly pricier shops. This is a great time for stocking up on things you usually couldn’t afford, don’t worry our tastes don’t always match our bank balance either. So if you want to start entertaining more its a ideal time for stocking up on bits and bobs. We had a poke around John Lewis and came across a cute brand called ‘Potter’s Workshop’ – they’re a little brand set in the Cape Town Suburb of Muizenberg. Potter’s Workshop is a collective of South African artists known for their signature bead-like patterns. To translate their unique process into dinnerware, they work with artisans in China to hand paint each piece. The price point is extremely affordable; at £9 per plate for the larger plates, it’s already one of the more affordable brands in John Lewis. But we got this plate at an absolute steal – £2.70, as well as 59% off all the crockery we got from their brand, so it really is worth stalking the sales. Some of our smaller dishes are from good ol’ Sainsbury’s homeware, you really can’t go wrong for affordable crockery when browsing some of the supermarket brands.
“Matching music with food is almost like pairing a dish with a nice glass of wine.”
Each week we’ll bring you some music in the form of an album or Spotify playlist to accompany your evening, we’re all about the whole package, and what’s entertaining without some tunes? So this week, we would suggest some relaxed Buddha Bar (there are hundreds of these playlists on Spotify). Or if you want to get specific perhaps some Indian inspired music by the Beatles such as ‘Norwegian Wood’ or ‘Within Without you’ because it is chilled out, atmospheric and the sitar carries the asian vibe to adhere to the cuisine. Trust us, music is so important in creating the correct vibe for an evening, and matching it music with food is almost like pairing a dish with a nice glass of wine.
So, without further ado….
Two Lentil Spiced Dhal with Charred Aubergine
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced finely
Thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
x1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 tsp. medium curry Powder
200g dried red lentils
390g can green lentils
500ml fresh vegetable stock
2 large aubergines
1 tsp. garam marsala
Pinch of chilli flakes
Salt, pepper and olive oil, to taste
To serve: yogurt, coriander and warmed flatbread
Chop the aubergine into large chunks (5-6cm). In a bowl add 2 tbsp. of olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, chilli flakes, and garam marsala. Leave to marinade for half an hour. Pre heat your grill to 200 degrees and once marinaded, grill the aubergine for 20 minutes, turning occasionally to guarantee even coverage. Keep an eye on it but you’re looking for it to be charred.
Meanwhile, heat up a heavy based casserole dish and add a dash of olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli and fry over a medium heat until fragrant. Once the flavours are nicely sweated add the curry powder. A shop bought one is fine, but you can make your own by mixing two teaspoons of cumin and coriander, one dessert spoon of turmeric and half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chilli flakes, mustard seed and ground ginger. Combine in a food processor or in a pestle and mortar. It will keep for weeks in an air tight container in the fridge.
Fry the curry powder with the onion, garlic etc. for three to five minutes. Rinse the red lentils and add to the pan along with the green lentils and their liquor. Stir together until all the flavours coat the lentils. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and add the stock and leave to simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cooked, it should have the consistency of porridge.
Serve in bowls with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, flatbread and chilled beers. We recommend Singha beer; It might be the best selling beer in Thailand, but it pairs beautifully with this Indian dish. For your friends who’re boring and continuing dry January into Feb, don’t sweat it. Serve with good old fashioned milk to cleanse the palette (more beer for you…)
Be kind to your wallet, and your stomach this February with a gorgeous steaming bowl of spiced lentil dhal. We promise it will keep a smile on your face until payday.
See you next Thursday.
G & T