In our household, Saturdays are about making the most out of all this city has to offer - movies, art, food, parks, the river. Sometimes Sundays are like this too, but as the weather slips into Autumn and the skies darken, our Sundays become more about taking it easy - staying local, chilling with a DVD or the papers or a novel, going for walks in our neighbourhood and slow cooking.
I love the smells that filter out from our kitchen on a cold Sunday afternoon. Whether it's a roast in the oven or a stew on the hob, nothing signifies a late Sunday afternoon in Autumn better than savoury aromas and the sounds of sizzling, bubbling and frying.
On Sunday, I cooked two dishes for dinner. The first was a slow cook spiced lamb. In a heavy pan I sauteed a diced onion until it was translucent, then added 500g of diced lamb and browned it for a few minutes. I stirred in an inch of diced ginger, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric, a teaspoon of red chilli powder and 3 chopped green chillis. I fried the mixture until the spices had released their aroma, then I added enough water to cover, the diced flesh of 4 vine tomatoes, half a teaspoon each of salt and sugar, and 3 bay leaves, then brought the mixture to the boil and turned the heat down. Covering the pan, I simmered on a low heat for an hour.
After an hour, I added four peeled and diced potatoes and 3 teaspoons of garam masala. I brought the curry to the boil again, then simmered on low with a lid on for another 30-40 minutes. The lamb should be tender and falling apart, the gravy should be reduced, and the potatoes just crumbling.
I served with Basmati rice.
I had never made vegetable upma before. In a heavy pan, I popped a teaspoon of mustard seeds and a teaspoon of urad dal in some oil then stirred in an inch of diced ginger, a dried red chilli, 3 chopped green chilli and half a teaspoon of salt. I threw in a handful each of cashew nuts, frozen peas, chopped green beans and one chopped carrot, then covered with an inch of water and boiled for 7 minutes until the vegetables were cooked. Then I gradually folded in 200g of coarse semolina until the grain had absorbed all the water. If the mixture became dry, I added more boiling water until the upma was dough-like but moist. I was surprised at how quick and easy this moreish semolina dish is. Some people serve with a spoon of ghee on top. I didn't have any, but it was delicious anyway.
And for dessert? M scooped out the centre of a papaya and filled it with juicy blueberries.
It's 7.15am now and I have to set off to work. Usually it takes me 30 minutes to get into work from where I live. Today, if I leave now it'll take an hour and a half to get through the syrupy traffic on the bus. This Tube strike is doing my head in! And I can't even read on the bus.