Indian Night to the Rescue

Unlike the residents of the nearest village who are offered a plethora of dining options during this period of social distancing and isolation, we have none. Down at that village seven kilometres away, every coffee shop, take-away, fine dining restaurant and catering business has published their menu online to tempt families, couples and the non cooking brigade, setting times for parcel pick ups, sourdough bread days, couple’s date night in, and more. They all seem to have adapted to the new normal, competing for the same disposable dollar. They appear to be doing well enough.

I’m not prepared to brave the queues or drive at night to pursue those options. The last time I went out, everyone was too close for comfort. There’s no rest for the lockdown wicked. I get quite cantankerous in the kitchen these days, especially if I’m the only one contributing to the decision making about meals. There’s trouble in paradise. It usually goes like this:

Me “What would you like for dinner?”

T  “Hmmm, what do you feel like?”

Me “No, I asked you first. I’m sick of thinking about food”

T  “Maybe a stir-fry?”

At which point I pour myself a glass of wine and turn on Netflix. A stir-fry is not the answer I was hoping for. It’s a recipe for disaster, usually resulting in some hodgepodge dish doused in a collection of pantry Chinese sauces and condiments, the plating resembling a dog’s dinner, with little thought given to ethnic origin or finesse.

I usually cook Italian food, which is second nature to me, but if I’m straying at all, I’ll choose between Indian, Lebanese, Turkish, and Greek cuisine. We’ve now resolved the problem with the advent of cuisine theme nights, where we both test new recipes from my wall of cookbooks. On Indian nights, which seem to be occurring rather frequently of late, we make one curry each, starting quite early to allow the curries to settle a bit before rewarming them for dinner. There’s usually enough leftover to stash in the fridge for another meal, given that most curries improve with age. We rate our new concoctions, and if they get the nod of approval, they’re scanned, then popped into a folder. Our Indian nights include dressing the table with Indian fabric and playing some romantic ghazals by that old crooner, Jagjit Singh. Who needs to dine out? It’s a fine solution for those who take self isolation seriously.

I hope to share our tried and true Indian recipes this week, in case you need some inspiration for some Indian take away made at home. Recipes will include two good versions of pakhora, muttar paneer, prawn curry, dhal, potato, pea and yoghurt curry, pumpkin curry, rajma and naan bread. Stay tuned.

eggplant pakhora with coriander and mint sauce.

32 thoughts on “Indian Night to the Rescue”

  1. Those Indian dishes look wonderful and may inspire me to try your recipes. Indian food us so warming to the spirits. Your dishes and photos are a constant joy to me, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my, such a wonderful read!!
    Thank you so much Francesca,
    I look forward to your theme meal recipes.
    I really am doing well through this strange time due to Celia,Lorraine and you!
    Thank you for your gracious writing and sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your photo of naan bread on Instagram already inspired us — we had an Indian night. Just didn’t know what you call it. We made naan bread using discard from sourdough starter, and a red lentil curry. So thank you, and I’m looking forward to the recipes. Cooking and blogging are definitely legal in lockdown!

    be well… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Naan bread is such a wonderful addition to Indian nightd, it’s worth the effort. Nice to know we’re on the same wavelength Mae, even though nations apart. Yes, cooking and blogging seem to go very well while in lockdown. Stay well.

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  4. My greatest source of aggravation: “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know. What do you want?” “No, I asked you first.” What do they not get?? Funny enough, stir fry was on my agenda for tonight. Eggplant and peppers are what I have on hand, so that is dinner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sort of pleased that I’m not the only one. Wouldn’t it be nice if the ‘others’ found the eggplant and made a lovely eggplant involtini, or stuffed the red peppers with couscous and surprised you? we can live in hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this post. Middle Eastern and Indian are my favourite dishes. I also hate that what to eat dance and always get the same bangers and mash reply. I then pour a vino and usually end up with toast. There are more books there than I have in my entire collection, including my bread books. Pass the mutar paneer please!

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    1. Haha, so good to find friends who exprerience that tiresome evening dilemma. And the vino is the onky answer. Sometimes the answer is pasta napoli, which also drives ne to the vino and couch.
      My cookbook collection dies shock a few people if they ever make it to that room…. yes, a room full. When going through my Indian collection, i found a few to chuck out. And some double ups. All except a handful were bought second hand.

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  6. Late on the scene with a smile ! At last finding out what your delightful IG dishes were all about ! Yes, love Indian and cook a lot of Middle Eastern . . . but, as a mostly single, hate to tell you I love stirfries above all and have such for lunch or dinner at least 3-4 times a week. Have never made two exactly the same in some five decades . . . and most have pleased the palate . . . OK, with that glass or three of a dry white alongside . . . be well . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great idea Francesca. Your Indian dishes look delicious. I love to cook but these lock down times can leave me feeling rather un-creative at the end of the day when it comes to dinner options. I am looking forward to your recipes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s just a simple question but too hard for some. These days I rattle off a few suggestions. And care less. Stir fry… I wish. The answer, as I hinted above to Maree… is always bloody meat and potatoes. I barely ate potatoes before I met the G.O. Now I can appreciate them, good quality, cooked well… they have a place. Meat, yeah ok but there’s more to food. The G.O. would love the Indian meal… so long as the spices were mild, and no rice. Maybe I can persuade him to pitch in… but theme nights I fear are a horizon too far.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha. If only I ate meat, life would be a lot easier. I love good quality spuds to and will travel far and wide to get nicolas or Dutch creams. Love them all ways. And now that you’ve mentioned them, I’m going to do Bombay potatoes for dinner. Maybe with some yoghurt. M of my Indian meals are mild. Nothing lije a chapatti or naan bread to wipe up the juices.

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    2. What absolute delicious fun getting to know one another ! Oops, I better mind my p’s and q’s and not knock on the door if driving past 🙂 ! Reading your comment just figured out I have not bought any potatoes bar my beloved sweet ones.for than a year . . . and having learnt to eat and love curries in Thailand in my 20s . . . they come out hot enough to raise beads of sweat onto plates in this house . . . what fun !!

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  9. Francesca you are such an inspiration but i am really glad to hear that you get frustrated with thinking of what to cook – it gives more hope. i lost my cooking mojo a long time ago and am slowly getting some of it back. i have been doing baking during the school hols and this year (who hasn’t). I have just broken my wrist and had a metal piece inserted so a bit incapicated at the moment. really this year has been all too much on many fronts for me. HOWEVER i was given a sourdough starter yesterday and with help I am having a social distanced private class with a friend in large kitchen on Monday and so my sourdough journey begins…. oh – i just read your beautiful sourdough post and will pass it onto my book club who are all jumping on the sourdough band wagon. Francesca, stay well. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Louise, Good to hear from you. So sorry to hear about your wrist and metal in hand- on top of everything else this year. Yes, 2020 will go down as a very bad year AND the year that everyone took up baking sourdough bread. I hope you enjoy your first class today. I have been tutoring a few new beginners with photos and instructions via email and messenger. It’s great to see their early passion and results. Some keep it up and get better, others do it for two weeks then lose the urge. I’ve been making sourdough bread for 7 years now and I still think there’s plenty to learn. I bake bread at least twice a week when at home and some loaves are excellent, while others are a little wonky. Once you’ve had a lesson, it’s a good idea to watch a few youtube videos. The hardest part is timing the fermentation and shaping the loaves. These two factors have infinite variables on any given day. Good luck.

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