As I write the rain is pouring down, a summer downpour. I’m looking forward to going out later in the fresh lushness of it all, after the rain when everything smells so good and the plants are so green and alive and hopefully the sun is out. We’re going away tomorrow, which for us and especially me is always an event, as with everything health-wise these things aren’t easy to manage, but I’m really looking forward to the adventure! Watching from the train window as the countryside changes from hills, valleys and trees to the open flat of the Fens with its dykes and wide sky. Seeing my parents and my sister. Meeting new people and helping to celebrate a marriage in the village I went to school in as a teenager. The cogs of life keep turning. Years pass and moons rise and fall. And I am determined to enjoy myself, to not feel sad at my health limitations. I may have to leave a party early, or not go at all, I may not be able to do everything that other people can do or look forward to. I have to compromise. Lately life feels like one compromise piled on top of another, with me underneath fighting for air, and it is just a matter of getting my head around that and accepting it as a fact. As with so many things in this life it is the getting your head around it that is important, the facing in the right direction. Life’s not easy, if we accept this as fact and stop expecting it to be then we can find peace and throw ourselves into problem-solving and doing the best we can, without expectation or disappointment, without fear. Those are my thoughts as I watch the summer rain, now dwindling into a soft haze. I think too of this place we found up in the Peaks this month, where springs come up from the peat and microcosms of plants and insects flourish with dazzling green. How they all must be thriving in the rain.
The apricot curry I am sharing today, with spiced kasha, is a real favourite in our house, it’s one of those special meals that feels like a real treat. Cooking with apricots is such a joy, they’re perfect for a curry too, sweet and tangy. I just love them, they’re so beautifully formed and tactile. I have a lot of pain in my hands which of late has been very bad, and touching something so soft and pretty is just a lovely thing. They remind me of horses noses. Have you ever kissed a horses velvety nose? It’s just my favourite thing to do, though these days I don’t get to do it often. An apricot is as soft, though sweeter smelling (though I do love the smell of horses wildly!). I like to cook apricots best it brings out their flavour, but if you don’t have fresh fruit then you can use dried, just soak them first to re-hydrate and cut down on other sweetness in the dish maybe adding a squeeze more lemon, or lime too.
I often use baked sweet potato as the base for my curries, it easily replaces tomato, a nightshade fruit I can’t eat, when combined with a little more natural sweetness, salt and lemon, and lacks the acidity of tomato, creating a dish that is easier to digest and healthier. Sweet potatoes are packed with goodness, low GI/ GL, they’re truly super tubers!
This curry can be adapted for any time of year, but now with vines laden with green beans, swelling courgettes, broad beans and peas, they’re just perfect to throw in and go beautifully. Use what you have, the fresher the better. I like to use nearly raw peas as a garnish, when they keep their firm sweet flavour and vibrancy.
Spiced kasha is so good! Dan prefers rice, and so we cook him a separate dish, you can follow the same recipe for spiced rice, but kasha is beautiful and light and nutritious, and perfect for those grain-avoiders like me. You could also use un-roasted buckwheat, which will be denser and more like brown rice, and very good also. For a real spread serve with buckwheat flatbread, pea and onion bhaji, cumin poppadoms and coconut raita. Home made mango chutney recipe coming soon!
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 medium onion
- 1 heaped tbsp coconut oil
- 6 apricots, fresh best but if using dried soak in water to rehydrate and reduce other sweetness
- 2 baked sweet potatoes, medium
- 1/2 cup broad beans
- 15 or so green beans or runner beans
- 1/2 yellow courgette, green is fine too
- 1/3 cup peas
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3 heaped tsp mild curry powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander seed
- 2 tsp + natural sugar or even better tangy jam or marmalade (hold back on if using dried apricot)
- 1 heaped tsp finely ground black pepper (more if coarse)
- 2 tsp salt, to taste
- 1/2 lime
- 1/3 cup cashew nuts
- Fried or baked mushroom pieces add texture and savoury goodness sprinkled on top.
- you can garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaf, and a dollop of coconut yoghurt would be delicious too.
- 1 cup kasha groats
- 2 cups water + a dash
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, or other good oil
- 8 or so cardamon pods, crushed and dehusked
- 4 star anise
- 1/ tsp finely ground black pepper (more if coarse, to taste)
- 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick or equivalent in bark
- 6 cloves
- 1 tsp salt
SONG OF THE WEEK Elton John ‘Rocket Man’