Dear girls,
I agree it’s a tad unfortunate to launch this joint homage to cooking with a picture of what could conceivably be called sludge, but the pretentious photos I took of the plate with a bottle of vino and a candle burning in the background didn’t come out. At least we got some mood lighting in, and an artfully placed basil leaf.

It was -26C when we got up this morning and frost covered the electricity outlets inside the kitchen. (This may pose a hazard.) We begged Maddhur Jaffrey for comfort. The South Indian potato curry and red lentils with ginger that you see slopped before you were hot, spicy, and considerably more delicious than they looked. I would post the recipes here, but as Bill and I are almost entirely uncreative cooks, we followed them word for word and I worry Mrs. Jaffrey might hound her lawyers on me if I were to type them up and post them for the enormous readership of this blog to see. (Wherein lies a conundrum for a recipe-bound cooking blogger…)

The only thing we did that wasn’t in At Home with Madhur Jaffrey was make our own coconut milk for the potato curry. Miz, do you remember how they would make it in the Solomons? Everyone owned a chopping board with a sort of toothed blade sticking out of the end of it – you’d chop a coconut in half, place the chopping board on a bench, sit down straddling the board, and then scrape the inside of the coconut out using the blade. Women could turn an entire coconut into shavings in a matter of seconds. They’d add water to the shavings, let it sit for a bit, and then squeeze it out with their hands, leaving luscious coconut milk.

Bill and I did not do that.

We poured boiling water over desiccated coconut in a blender, let it sit for a few minutes, blended it for a minute, let it sit for a few more minutes, blended it again for 30 seconds and then strained it. It’s a good trick when you find yourself out of cans of coconut milk, though less helpful if you are also out of dessicated coconut. I got it from another of my favourite cookbooks, Lorna Sass’s Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure. One day soon I will introduce you to the wonder of Lorna Sass’s five-minute dishes—though I suppose it goes without saying that they will be as photogenic as today’s.

Flo xxx

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