At a certain point in January, a little light clicks on in my head. It usually happens about the time I run out of the chocolate and candy amassed from Christmas. When my pants start to fit a little bit tighter – I think these must have shrunk. When I find myself, as I did today, standing in the kitchen holding the empty wrapper to the last bar of chocolate. The one that I finished yesterday. I must have left the wrapper there as a memento, a little keepsake of a time now distinctly behind me. Because I can’t think why else my yesterday self would’ve chosen to torment me like that.
For a moment, holding the empty wrapper, I felt as though I might cry – because hormones will do that to you when you are expecting chocolate that isn’t there. And then the light clicked on. The one that says, put the chocolate bar wrapper down. So I did. And then it told me to open up the fridge and look into the vegetable crisper. So I did. Vegetables. Oh yes, those things.
It isn’t that I hadn’t been eating vegetables (can you detect a note of defensiveness here?), but that I had forgotten to be excited about eating them. To be honest, I’d really forgotten to be excited about eating in general lately. I was in a funk. I’d been making and eating a lot of popcorn – a lot of semi-conscious trips into the kitchen to eat a bit of chocolate – a lot of crackers and peanut butter. Occasionally, I’d remember my health and put a carrot beside my crackers. That isn’t a way to live. Things were going to go down hill if I kept it up.
So thankfully for me, my mid-January lightbulb went on and told me to get a hold of myself – told me to eat my vegetables – and told me to enjoy it. I’m not sure why or how it is that I forgot to do the things in life I enjoy. What have I been doing with my time? But fortunately the little light in my brain lets me know when I forget. Oh yes, cooking. Oh yes, vegetables. I pull out the cookbooks and start to feel like myself again.
And by the end, I feel better about the chocolate being gone. Really, it’s probably for the best.
- 1 cup dried white beans, soaked in cold water overnight
- 1.5 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- seeds from 5 cardamom pods
- half teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 -2 fresh red chiles, minced (or 1/2 - 1 tsp chile flakes)
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, minced
- 2 x 12 ounce (340 g) cans chopped plum tomatoes
- 3/4 cup (200 ml) coconut milk
- Pinch of sugar
- Juice and zest of 2 limes
- 3 tablespoons tamari
- 1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch kale, leaves pulled from stems and roughly chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- Drain the beans and place them in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes to an hour, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Place the coriander, mustard, cumin, cardamom and peppercorns in a dry pan over medium heat. Warm until they release their fragrance and begin to pop and jump around in the pan. Tip into a mortar and pestle and grind to a course powder, mixing in the turmeric.
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and soften over moderate heat, letting them colour slightly. Add the chile, garlic and ginger along with the powdered spices and a pinch of salt, stirring well.
- Add the cooked beans, tomatoes and coconut milk to the pan. Leave to simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.
- Add the pinch of sugar, lime zest and juice and tamari and stir well. Taste the broth to check for seasoning. Now is the time to customize the curry to your taste buds - add more citrus, salt, heat or sweetness depending on your preferences.
- Just before serving, steam the kale or blanch briefly in boiling water (I place the kale in a colander in the sink and pour a full kettle of boiling water over).
- Fill a third of the bowl with the curry, a third with kale and a third with the cherry tomatoes. Top the curry with the cilantro leaves and serve.