Thursday, 29 March 2012

Keep your eyes open!

Shopping is a chore for some of us, but I find it an enjoyable challenge akin to hunting (shooting and fishing). We may live in an urban environment, but good food and especially good CHEAP food, needs winkling out of its hiding places.

Take a walk down most high streets and you will see the same types of foods offered at different prices. They probably came from the same wholesale warehouse and cost the same initially, but a lot of shops operate a loss leader policy to lure in the shopper.

It works like this ; buy cabbages at 50p each, sell at 49p each when all your neighbours are selling at 75p each. Once the shopper is inside the shop wondering why your cabbages are so cheap, she's filling up her trolley with lots more of your stuff because that's going to be cheap too! - well actually it isn't. It may even be more expensive to make up for the discount on the cabbages.

Even the most mindful of us is going to end up paying more for some things than they need to. Pen and paper are useful if your memory isn't up to the task of remembering what cauliflowers cost at Joe Bloggs and what they cost at Fruity Fruits up the road.

So there I was hunting on the High Street when I noticed that one of the half dozen or so greengrocers had reduced their crisp, fresh cauliflowers to 69p when everyone else was selling at 89p or more. AND they were a larger size! Robinsons, on the other hand had aubergines at 39p each, yes, 39p ..... a curry was beckoning.

Vegetable Curry.

2 onions, chopped
1 cauliflower broken into florets
2 small or 1 large aubergine cut into chunks
1 small butternut squash, peeled, de seeded and chopped
A few button mushrooms, halved
400ml tin coconut milk
400ml home made vegetable stock, or a cube if you must
1- 4 tbls Thai green curry paste (depends how hot you like things)
A bunch of coriander leaves, green leaf part chopped (save the stalks to make stock)

If you have been a frugal shopper, you will have got your green curry paste at about £1 a jar, big enough to last for about 6 good curries. Keep the rest in the coldest part of the fridge.
I grow my own butternuts and onions and still had some in the spare bedroom (best temperature to store them!)
Coconut milk should have only 2 ingredients, so if yours has more - bin it and buy some decent stuff from a chinese grocer.
If you have to use different veg, that's ok as long as you use enough, but be sure to add coriander leaf - that's a must.

Fry the onions in a little oil in a large saucepan until translucent, add all the pumpkin, aubergines and cauliflower and fry for about 5 mins to brown them here and there. The heat needs to be fairly high to do this.Stir to stop them burning. Add the mushrooms and fry a bit longer. Add the curry paste, then 5 mins later stir in the stock and the coconut milk. When the pan comes to the boil, turn the heat down so it just simmers gently until the cauliflower is JUST done. The rest of the veg will be done too, but the cauli takes the longest.

Just before serving, add the chopped coriander leaf and serve with either rice or nan breads in the Balti fashion.
This quantity will be enough for 4 portions, but it freezes well or re heated the next day it is sublime! Why is it that some foods just taste better the next day?

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