Just like mom used to make it...

I bang the pot down on the stove, using a bit more force than I should have and glance at the array of spices on the counter.
I think back on my list of ingredients, ticking them off one by one and find myself strangely
relieved that I havent forgotten anything.
Reaching for my cookbook I smile at how worn and stained it is and run my fingers over the scribbled comments in the side collum.
“yummy nummy,” it reads, “add more stock to prevent sticking”.
I shake my head, suppressing a laugh and read the first steps.
Pouring oil in the pan, I lift the handle towards me allowing the oil to run over the bottom of the pan.
With speed and concentration I peel the onions making sure not to wipe my face as I feel my eyes getting blurry.
I peel a garlic clove, smelling it to see how strong it is.
Shrugging to myself I peel three more cloves, determined that taste will win over the state of my breath.
I roughly chop the cloves and narrowly miss slicing my finger.
The cloves are tear shaped and firm, and their smell mingles with the heating oil as I toss them into the pan with the onions.

The vegetables sizzle in a satisfying way as they hit the pan. They smell fresh and savoury. The flavours combine together and the onions caramelise and become sweet and golden.
I measure out the spices and tip the different coloured powders into the pan.
I cough as the potent smell of paprika and masala hit my nostrils.
Stirring the pan with a well worn wooden spatula I allow the spices to soak up the flavours and toast slightly on the heat.
The cubes of beef lie on the table top. In the soft flourescent lighting they are slightly crimson coloured, and lie in a heap waiting to be thrown into the pot.
I chop the peices smaller hoping that I can fool myself into thinking there is more than what there is.
I look at the pile and decide to add a few extra carrots to bulk out the pot.
The meat sizzles as it hits the hot oil and turn ochre in the toasted spices. I stir the pot scraping the bottom of the pan to get the cubes evenly browned.

Holding the tins of tomatoes over the pan, I slosh the contents into the pan shrieking slightly when a splosh of the juice lands on my T shirt. I pat the stain with a wet cloth and get annoyed with myself for making it worse by rubbing it into the fabric.

Sighing aloud I look in the fridge for the bottle of chutney. Holding the bottle upside down and giving a shake I manage to loosen the rest of the contents. I open the bottle and shake it into the pan.
I pour a little hot water into the bottle and shake it around. Pouring the dregs into the pot I mentally remind myself to buy another bottle, even if it is cheaper to fly Mrs Balls out to the UK. I open the fridge again looking for a chutney replacement. A sad little apple looks at me from the shelf and I decide to stray from the recipe.

Having broken the rules already, I throw the remains of a pot of cranberry jelly into the pan. Deciding to go along the Cape Malay route I pour a stream of honey into the pot. The honey comes from a forest in Italy and has a deep golden colour with a smoky flavour.

I bought the honey on a whim and it has sat in my store cupboard for three months. It tasted herby and wild when spread on toast so I imprisoned it on the middle shelf of my cupboard to use in sweetening dishes.
The curry sits in the pot, raw and warm on the stove. The flavours and colours mix as I stir it and turn the stove setting up.

Small bubbles burst on the surface of the stew, the spices and fruits combine as steam rises from the pot.
The window by the stoves steams slightly. I smile as I remember making little happy faces on the misty windows. I remember the steam floating up from a pot of Mulberry jam and in my mind I can see my mother standing by the kitchen stove, stirring the pot slowly while the jam bubbles and spits and small blobs of sticky red fruit fall onto the stove top.

I smile sadly at the small blonde girl standing by the stove. I see her smile and look up at her mother, her eyes dart to the small blobs of red syrup on the stove.

Before my mother can stop me my hand reaches out and I scoop the hot syrup into my mouth. The taste of sweet berries fills my mouth and the heat of the burning syrup blisters my lips. Tears fill my eyes as the pain increases and a small blister forms on the tip of my tongue. My mother looks down at me and tries hard not to laugh and tell me off. She looks into my eyes and I calm as she reaches for a pack of ice from the freezer.

I watch with greedy eyes as she spoons the jam into the hot jars from the oven, my tongue stuck to an ice cube.

I pick up the spoon from the stove and stir the curry in the pot. I pick a small peice of meat from the pot and pop it into my mouth. It burns slightly and I laugh at myself thinking how some things can change and how some things dont change at all.

The meat is still slightly chewy and will need a good couple of minutes. I throw the chopped carrots into the pot and stir them into the liquid. I fill a pan with raisins and scoop some white rice into the smaller pan. I fill a cup of water and spash it into the pot. A dash of turmeric turns the liquid bright yellow and I turn the heat up on the stove.
The curry is bubbling nicely on the stove, and I turn it up so that it will be done by the time the rice is cooked.

I steal another peice of meat from the stove, wishing it to be cooked. There is no one but me waiting for the curry but it is past 8 o’ clock and I am hungry.

Soon the meat is tender and it breaks slightly when I stab it with a fork.
I drain the rice and scoop spoonfuls onto a plate.
I spoon some of the curry onto my plate, and smile as the smell reminds me of home.
The spoon scrapes the bottom of the pot and I look at the black flecks on the spoon.
I laugh to myself as I look at the burnt scrapings on the bottom of the pot.
“Just like mama used to make it”, I think.

Perfect Rotis (make 12 large, 16 small)
250ml boiling hot water
500g cake flour
5ml salt
30g Butter
60ml Sunflower Oil

Add the oil and salt to the flour.
Add the boiling hot water, and mix together until combined with a spoon.
Knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes.
Leave to cool and relax in the fridge (covered in clingfilm)
When cooled enough (say an hour) roll out to 1cm thick on a floured surface. Spread with a thin layer of sunflower oil. Dot with the butter and dust with flour.

Roll up to form a sausage (long and 1 inch thick). Then roll into a snail shape. Leave to cool for another hour in the fridge (so the butter hardens and makes rolling out eaier)
Take golf ball size peices and make into a ball. Roll out to 1mm thick and pan fry in a hot, dry pan until golden brown on both sides.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the awsome recipes Lara, keep it up!!!!!!