Can you see that on the horizon? Squint a little, sometimes the sun gets in the way. You see it now? Towers of bricks, dried cement, paint fumes and sweating construction workers will be taking up residence in the Creative household. Well not literally taking up residence, but building plans and decisions regarding floor and surface finishes will be featuring strongly in our lives over the next few months.
You see, we are in the throes of having our first property built. I say property, because we have earmarked it as an investment and not as a house. Aaaah how wonderful it must be to build your own house - imagine, you get to choose the size of your kitchen (bigger is better, trust me), the layout of all the rooms (optimal) and the use of cupboard space throughout your dream home (ample of course). One day, right?
Overseeing the plans for an investment property is almost as exhilirating, even if it won't be for our personal enjoyment. Well not our direct enjoyment at least. Of course, building a house, for whatever purpose it is, comes with more than just architect plans and starry-eyed dreams. It generally involves the flow of hard-earned cash. Mostly yours. And mostly in an outward direction.
And it is with this in mind that the executive decision makers in the Creative household has deemed it necessary to tighten the purse strings a wee bit for the next few months. Which obviously includes food as well. And as much as I love to splash out on decadent foodie treats (dried porcini mushrooms anyone?), I know when reality is biting me in the behind.
Fortunately I also know when to bite back. Starting today I'll be embarking on a mission to prove that foodie dreams can come true even when you are on a budget. Does this mean dull, bland meals? Definitely not. I mean, have you met me?
Enter my love of spices. I don't have an ounce of Indian blood flowing through me (that I know of at least) and yet I find myself as if by some unknown force drawn to the complex blend of spices so prolific in Indian cuisine. I think it's rather amazing that a few spices can enliven the plainest of foods. Take this Channa Masala for example - it essentially boils down to a simple dish of chickpeas and tomatoes and yet you'll keep going back for seconds. No-one will even suspect that you have morphed into Ms F. Rugal - they'll be too busy shoveling spoonfuls of chickpeas in their mouths. Not bad for being a cheap ass.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
4 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tsp ground turmeric2 tsp mild paprika1 tsp garam masala1 x 410g (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes2/3 cup water2 x 410g (14 oz) tin of chickpeas, drained & rinsed1 tsp salt1 tbsp lemon juice
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chili flakes and saute, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened.
2. Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, garam masala and fry for another minute until fragrant, then add tomatoes, water and chickpeas.
3. Bring to the boil, cover and cook for 10 minutes, then add salt and lemon juice and cook another 10 -15 minutes uncovered or until sauce has thickened.