By Imogen Smith
To quote a Disney favourite, Ratatouille, ‘anyone can cook’ – more like, anyone can cook with a recipe in front of them. It can be tedious making the same things all the time, and so a little international inspiration goes a long way in making cooking more enjoyable. Despite loving a good cookbook (LEON Fast Foods is a favourite), I often find recipes online on sites such as bbcgoodfood.com and deliciouseveryday.com. It also doesn’t hurt to have a healthy looking spice rack.
The first dish I think you should try cooking is fried garlic, mushrooms and chorizo. This combo is pretty much the only way I can eat mushrooms, as usually, it’s an avoid at all cost situation for me. It can be eaten as tapas, with rice, or with pasta and red pesto, but personally, I think it’s best on buttery toast with poached or fried egg as a pretentious but easy Spanish inspired breakfast/brunch.
First, melt a generous 1 tbs of butter in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Second, add 1 chopped clove of garlic. Gently fry for about 1 minute. Lastly, add 6+ thickly sliced mushrooms and about 6 slices of chorizo shredded or chopped up. Cook until the mushrooms look done, roughly 5 minutes. And you’re done. It’s that easy. If you’re able to get hold of some proper chorizo sausages, dice 1-2 into 1cm cubes and add to the frying pan for roughly 5 minutes before adding the garlic and mushrooms.
Lentil Dahl is cheap, cheerful and one of my favourite Indian meals to cook. First of all, It’s delicious. Also, once you’ve bought all the dry ingredients you can make it again and again without really spending any money. You can customise it to how you like and if you’re missing a couple of the more obscure ingredients it doesn’t make too much of a difference. The recipe probably makes about 5 portions and keeps really well in the fridge or freezer as well as miraculously tasting better over time. Plus it’s healthy, vegan and gluten-free.
First, You’ll need to heat up about 2 tbs of olive/coconut oil in a large pot on medium heat. Then add 1 diced onion and tomato, some grated ginger, 1 chopped red chilli (add more if you can handle the heat), and if you’ve got fresh coriander; chop up a handful of the stalks and throw them in there. Add some salt and cook for around 5 minutes until onions are soft and golden. Then, to that add 2 tsp of ground cumin and 1 tsp each of mustard seeds, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric (also a few curry leaves are a nice touch). Add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook till it smells really good- some would say fragrant. Next, add 1½ cups of red lentils, about a litre of vegetable stock (add more if it starts looking a little dry later on) and a tin of coconut milk. Let it start to bubble and then reduce the heat. Then let it simmer for roughly 25 minutes until creamy- which happens when the lentils start to break down. Finally, you want to put in some salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste and top with some of that fresh coriander if you’ve got it. Serve with rice or naan bread and you’ve got yourself a meal.
If reading these recipes has left you feeling adventurous, I would suggest googling some of these dishes: Shakshuka- eggs poached in chilli and tomato sauce, Saag Paneer/Dhansak- both delicious Indian dishes, Curried Sweet Potato Soup, Chicken Paprikash- comfort food in the form of Hungarian stew or Fish en Papillote- it sounds fancy but it just means ‘in a bag’.