Domini Kemp: The 13-minute curry

That’s the shopping time limit, not the cooking time, but it’s still a quick and tasty supper

Aubergine Curry with tangy chutney.Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Aubergine Curry with tangy chutney.Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Every year it’s the same. The clocks go back and what little evening light that was left is gone overnight. Winter is here, and my thoughts – food-wise at least – turn to all things warming, comforting and, yes, lazy.

In the kitchen, lazy does not have to mean “can’t be bothered”. But for me, the worst part of making dinner is going shopping. I certainly like the idea of sauntering up aisles, blissfully unaware of time, sniffing my way through piles of fabulous looking vegetables, but the reality is somewhat different for most people I know. It’s a little more: “Can I leg it through this supermarket and be out the far side in 13 minutes?”.

Invariably, we all know that might be a little ambitious, but with a recipe like the one below, it’s very possible.

And while I often say that I am a lazy cook, it’s in exactly this sense that I mean it. If there’s a shortcut, bypass or hot tip that means I can save energy or time in any way whatsoever in the kitchen, then I will be the first to recommend it – and heartily. Definitely unhurried, with a distinct whiff of the domestic goddess, but without the hint of a rubber glove – or even an oven glove, for that matter.

It’s why I try and keep a decent store cupboard of dry and canned ingredients and my freezer full of chillies, lemongrass, peas and spinach. Because when I need to cook and time – and perhaps someone’s temper – is short, I am better prepared.

And that is the key really: being prepared. The least bit of readiness can be the difference between you feeling like cooking and you feeling like throwing in the (kitchen) towel entirely. And when you are trying to cook at home day in, day out, that’s important.

For my first recipe this week, an aubergine curry, being prepared meant having all the spices, even if it was in the deepest recesses of the cupboard. The tomatoes, too, were in the cupboard, and I can always root out some garlic and ginger. So all I had to buy was aubergine and some coriander. You can definitely do that in 13 minutes.

It was the same for the chutney that I made to go with it, too. Everything was on the shelf or in the fridge, and wow, is it worth making. This is good stuff, really worth the 15 minutes or so it takes to chop and simmer the ingredients. It’s really excellent with the curry, but I also found it goes very nicely with a strong Cheddar or similar cheese. dkemp@irishtimes.com

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