Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A vegetable Curry- almost our cheapest meal.

Lots of blogs mention meal plans and I'm always surprised that so many people, including those purporting to be frugal, eat meat almost everyday.

For financial, health and 'green' reasons we are always being told that we should eat less meat. Most weeks here we eat probably 3 meat meals and 3 without. (  I rarely cook on Sundays, we make do with scrambled eggs or something similar). When we have a chicken week or a ham week then  we eat more meat, but stretch it to last for several days.

The veggie meals we have regularly are pizza, omelet, macaroni cheese, vegetable quiche, egg and chips,vegetable curry, tomato and herb sauce over pasta, vegetable chow mein, cheese and onion pasty, veggie burgers, and less often - cauliflower cheese, aubergine and pasta bake, leek fritters. Our fish meals, are fish and chips (using frozen fish and home made chips) which we have maybe once a month, mackerel fillets, pilchard lasagne, tuna and tomato sauce over pasta, fishcakes, tuna, pasta and broccoli bake, and for a special meal, salmon( Sainsburys value  bits) parsley and cream sauce with tagliatelle.

Of all these, our home made veggie curry must be one of the cheapest. We have this about once a fortnight. This curry always starts with an onion and an apple, then depending on the time of year I add courgette, leek, cauliflower, squash or pepper or a combination. In winter or the hungry gap then dried fruit such as prunes and apricots are used or even a banana, with broad beans from the freezer and cooked potato.The other ingredients are a knob of butter, a dessertspoon of curry powder and 3 of flour, a good dollop of any home made fruity chutney, a teaspoon of sugar, black pepper, pinch salt and boiling water.
This is served with rice and homemade naan bread and sometimes onion bhaji too.
The ingredients for today ( the plate at the back is for the onion bhajis) were


part of a damaged squash, a courgette too big to sell, 2 windfall eating apples, part of a red pepper too damaged to sell and parts of two onions that are ones sorted to use first as they were rotten on one side. If you were to read that as a list of ingredients you would probably think they were heading for the compost bin!
But after melting the butter, softening the chopped apple and onion, adding the flour and curry powder, cooking for a few minutes, adding the boiling water, bringing back to the boil adding everything else, it looks like this. The pepper was very mouldy inside so only a tiny bit was usable.
This pan full made enough for 2 meals tonight and 2 for the freezer.

Cook for twenty minutes. Cover and turn it off.
Then later re-heat and serve with rice.( Curry is always best re-heated) and naan bread. My naan bread recipe is HERE.

If I get round to it we have onion bhajis too. My home made bhaji mix was invented after reading the ingredients of a packet of bhaji mix from Approved Food, sent to me by my friend S, so I could test it out.
Bhaji Mix
To each 100g of chickpea flour add 1 tsp turmeric,1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chilli powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp bicarb., 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, half tsp salt. ( The packet mix also contains dried onion, black onion seed and dried jalopeno pepper. As I didn't have any of those, I've left them out.)
I mixed up a big tub full, gave it a good stir around and the each time I use it I tip 75g into a bowl, stir in 2 large or a 4 small onions - thinly sliced. Then add water a little at a time until it all sticks together. Drop tablespoons full in hot oil, turn over and press flat. This is not exactly like a bhaji from an Indian take away,as it's not so hot, but it's a lot cheaper. The crunchiness is a good contrast to the curry.

2 delicious  plates full of vegetable curry, onion bhajis and naan bread. All home made and costing very little.