Did you know that the average British family eats the same six meals week after week? If you’re a bit bored, stuck in a rut and find yourself reaching for the ‘same old’ reliable recipes again and again I’ve come across a great idea.
I knew that the British have not always been known for their culinary expertise in the past. However I thought with all the cookery shows, gastro pubs, cookbook sales etc. there had been a real shift towards more experimenting, more unusual ingredients and just generally a more ‘foodie attitude’ in the last years. Am I really so misguided?
According to a headline grabbing Daily Mail article, over 30% of people questioned couldn’t be bothered to search through recipe books and couldn’t remember how to cook anything else! You may wish to take these shocking figures with a small pinch of salt (if you pardon the pun), but there is definitely truth in this article. Based on a survey of 1440 families, their research showed that 78% of these British families bought the same ingredients in their weekly shop to cook the following:
1. Roast Chicken
2. Spaghetti Bolognese
4. Sausage and Mash
6. Pork Chops
Chances are (if you’re reading this) you probably do have a keen interest in food and enjoy the variety of fun, inspiring recipe ideas already. But even for creative cooks, there are those days when we all reach for the quick and easy. I’m certainly guilty of my repeated Pasta a la ‘chuck-in-veg-and-beans’ combo when the kids are starving and we’re all tired.
While I was putting together my Top 10 Gifts for Foodie Valentines I came across a Bath-based company called The Spicery which offers the perfect antidote to meal plan boredom.
James Ransome, a chef by training, founded the company in 2005 and has made it his mission to ‘make cooking with the freshest, highest quality spices easy, fun and accessible to all’. With individual recipe kits as well as monthly subscriptions for unusual meals from around the globe, I could find lots of choices that I found inspiring. Many of the recipes are not vegetarian or vegan but I noticed that they would be very easy to adapt. Butter, yoghurt and milk can simply be replaced by non-dairy alternatives and there are some tasty meat substitutes on the market.
The Spicery kindly sent me a couple of samples to try and the Pav Bhaji recipe was both super-easy to follow and utterly delicious. I spent a couple of months travelling through India and Pav Bhaji is one of those staples foods you’ll always find at food carts and makeshift restaurants along the road. Tasting this meal took me right back to a hazy February morning in Gujarat where my boyfriend and I tucked into a steaming bowl of this aromatic curry for breakfast (yes really!). Even though I’m not the biggest fan of white bread rolls, spread with vegan margarine and then fried, they make a great and authentic way of serving up this curry.
The list of fresh ingredients needed was simple and I found cooking the recipe kit a bit like a game. I called it ‘cooking by numbers’ as it’s so simple and straight-forward to achieve a delicious result – no matter if you are a novice or a pro chef.
If you do try this kit, I should probably warn you that I questioned my measuring at one point. I did weigh the potatoes (as ‘medium sized’ is always relative!) but found that the colour of the dish looked all wrong – a strange pale creamy tomato colour. As soon as I added the last spice sachet (which included a good dose of turmeric) it all came together though! The portion size is on the generous side but that’s okay with me!
Maybe I will let you in on a little secret… don’t leave leftover curry around where I can get to it. Cold curry for breakfast is just THE BEST 😉
I wonder if you ever find yourself stuck in a rut. Do you go searching through blogs, magazines, cookbooks…? What is it that gets you inspired with new ideas?
With thanks to The Spicery for sending the samples – all rambling opinions are most certainly my own.