In ‘Food of Love’ I invent a word ‘Communessence ‘.
It means when we eat together we come together. It is inspired by the Sikh practice of ‘langar’ which in Punjabi means ‘kitchen’.
Gurdwaras have kitchens, which serve meals to all free of charge, regardless of religion, caste, gender, economic status, or ethnicity. It symbolises equality.
There is a recipe at the end of each chapter of Food of Love. It starts with my mother’s scones but the recipes get ever more diverse as my family and friends are spiced up by immigration.
For Christmas we have a fairly traditional meal with roast potatoes and parsnips etc but I can’t resist spicing up the spuds by adding a little turmeric and garam masala to the parboiled potatoes as well as fresh rosemary from the garden when I put them in the oven. Those I roast on the day. Amita will bring a chicken for the meat eaters. They’re not keen on turkey.
Today I’ll prepare some dishes in advance –it takes the pressure off.
We enjoy some non- traditional dishes that go well with a roast .
I’ll prepare a nut roast -oven ready for Sunday.
Bharta is an Indian dish of roasted aubergines mashed and then cooked with spices. Given the energy crisis Ill speed up cooking the whole aubergines by using the microwave rather than the oven. Peel them and mash the flesh and put aside.
Heat oil in a pan on medium heat, fry some cumin seeds, then add chopped garlic, ginger and green chili. Once they start changing colour, around 2 minutes, add 2 small or one large chopped onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. I stir in a teaspoonful of turmeric and ground coriander or garam masala. Then I add a can of chopped tomatoes and mix them together.
Add the mashed aubergines sprinkled with salt and simmer for 15 minutes. On Christmas Day, I’ll cook it for another 15 minutes and garnish it with fresh chopped coriander and ground black pepper .
I like my carrots to have a bit of oomph. I slice them and love the purple as well as the yellow and orange varieties. I warm up a saucepan of water, add salt, ground coriander and the juice of a lemon . I stir in a teaspoonful of mango pickle and cook the carrots in the spiced water for 10 minutes. I‘ll put the carrots in the spiced water in the fridge or a cool place and finish simmering them on Christmas Day. That water and the water from the spuds I’ll parboil on Christmas Eve will be my gravy stock.
If you ever visit Delhi go to the Central Gurdwara and experience langar in practice They feed hundreds of people every day. You need to be able eat sitting on the floor.