I once attempted to become a vegetarian. After purchasing a ready-cooked chicken for dinner I noticed a dangling broken leg. I stood staring at the chicken, wondering if it’s leg had possibly been broken while it was still alive and in a cage and could not bring myself to eat it.
Desperately wanting to save the earth and animals I immediately stopped eating meat and subscribed to PETA magazine to aid my cause.
Suddenly I was surrounded by meat. Biltong and Boerewors rolls at rugby, lamb chops on the braai and chicken served at every dinner party or book club. Two months later, we departed for Italy on a skiing holiday, and every single evening I had to walk past the most unbelievable charcuterie at the all-inclusive buffet but with determined resolution headed straight for the ripe cheese and draught machine instead.
I lived on vegetables, pasta, bread and a sense of achievement, until that one day.
It was three months into the meat free lifestyle and one morning (3kg heavier from all the cheese and pasta) I woke up with the most ludicrous craving. Without batting an eyelid I drove like a mad woman to purchase a cooked chicken and ripped the skin off, devouring it until I felt ill.
I drove home shattered, but with new resolutions: I would only eat free-range, local meat (and try to convert my daughter instead). I would introduce meat free Mondays, only meat once a day and opt for fish when eating out. I would stop eating pork (that lasted for another 6 years until I fell pregnant again and craved bacon) and I would not permit mass produced take-away meals in my home (to this day my husband hides take away packets under his car seat).
BUT if I had succeeded this dish would have been my “Sunday lunch”, my “Seafood Platter” or my “Chef’s special”.
It is hearty, addictive and delicious. Do not be put off by the list of ingredients, it’s quick to prepare. I adapted the recipe from a very old Fair Lady recipe and it was a popular addition to my Bollywood Bombay course.
Baked sweet potato and butternut curry with coconut cream (6 as a main, 10-12 as a side or second dish).
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon Jeera seeds
- 3 large onions quartered and sliced
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons Durban masala
- 2 teaspoons garlic
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 500g ready cubed butternut and 500g ready cubed sweet potato
- 1 tin of lentils, drained and rinsed
- Juice of 2 oranges and peel or zest of 1 orange (no pith)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tin (400ml) coconut cream
- 1 bunch coriander, chopped
- Heat oil and add the first lot of ingredients
- Add the onions and cook for about 5-8 minutes, till soft
- Add the ginger, garlic, masala and salt and fry for about 5 minutes
- Lightly oil a heatproof casserole dish
- Layer all the vegetables with the onion, add orange juice and peel/zest, cinnamon, and drizzle over the coconut cream. Sprinkle on the cinnamon.
- Cover with foil and bake covered at 200 ˚C for 40 minutes, remove foil and bake for a further 30-50 minutes (or longer depending on your oven) until browned on top and thickened…
- Scatter with coriander
Cook’s notes: A tin of butterbeans (with the juice) can be added to the bottom of the casserole dish.