Have you noticed something? It's Spring! There's light and sunshine, longer days, and brightness. Right now it feels like a novelty (especially the sunshine we're currently enjoying here in London) and I'm stepping ever so cautiously away from my usual dark mood and embracing the freshness and lightness. It feels very different because I'm definitely more "at home" in the dark images, subdued tones, subtle shades, and quieter photography. It's no coincidence I suppose, since I'm one of those people who actually like November, I love early evenings and foggy mornings. I know the novelty of bright and sunny days will wear off fairly quickly for me. I guess it's quite telling that I decided to make the UK my home many moons ago instead of some sunnier shores...
So this, to me, is "loud" and "out there". But it also says Spring, freshness and light, and fits in perfectly with those early days of the season when everything outside is fresh and bright and before the scorching summer sunshine gives it all a more subdued hue. There's also another, possibly more personal reason for some brighter images. It's the fact that I don't want to be put into some sort of box by what is expected. It can happen very quickly I think. We post one style of images, people like it, and suddenly we find ourselves posting the same stuff over and over and over again, because, hey, that's what people want to see and we're yearning for approval! Doing something different might not be as well received and might cost us some "likes" or followers. It's a safe route, one that perceived success can be built on, but it feels like there's no room for development, no room for growth, nothing new. We're becoming a one-trick pony churning out images and posts that are totally interchangeable. I guess, in a way, I want people to see an image and remember the food, the recipe, possibly the thoughts written in the post, but that won't happen if they all look the same. Change, in this case, is good. It means growth, it means learning, and stepping out of our comfort zone means expanding our repertoire and being able to adapt our art, work, and imagery whilst still keeping our own style. Because "our style" doesn't necessarily mean that all images have to look the same. Our style is the way we put an image together, the way we interpret food and tools, the way we look at ingredients and how we use our camera. It means working on our craft.
So this is my "Sunday roast - Monday curry". And yes, this is yet another flat-lay despite having decided for myself to "step away from the flat-lay". However, "flat" items photograph quite well in this setup (besides, curry isn't exactly the most photogenic food to begin with, so it needs all the help it can get to elevate it to something close to pretty), so it makes sense to me to use this setup in this instance. But again, it's something I'm deliberately getting away from as much as possible because of sheer over-saturation. It's a successful formula, but it feels a little like painting by numbers, knowing that this "works for likes" and it's therefore repeated indefinitely. There's of course nothing wrong with knowing what works, but it's important to me to regularly explore and work with different ways to set up and shoot images.
So now for this curry. Last year I wrote this post where I mentioned that it was important to me to cook good, basic food that doesn't require 20 obscure ingredients you'd only find in London (if you're lucky) or had to trek to some remote monastery far in the Himalayan mountains for. It still holds true for me that what inspires me on Chef's Table (god, I love that program!!!) is not necessarily what I'd serve up on a daily basis at home. Whilst I might draw inspiration from such programs and do love to experiment with different flavours, ingredients, and textures, it also needs to be realistic and down to earth. And to be honest, sometimes it just needs to be tasty and filling with the least possible fuss. That "sometimes" usually translates to Monday evening. It is then quite lucky that I love to make a roast chicken on a Sunday. Winter or Spring, I just vary what accompanies it to keep it seasonal and it always seems to be very fitting for a Sunday. That also means that, since there's only three of us and I always buy a big chicken from the butcher, there's always plenty left over after dinner. Since I'm loath to wasting any food, never mind half a chicken, it has become somewhat of a tradition for me to turn our Sunday roast into a Monday curry. One chicken, two meals. This curry is quick and easy and you can find all the ingredients in your local shop. I do, however, need to mention that I don't claim for this to be authentic or Indian in any way, shape or form. It's just my interpretation for a quick and healthy(ish) chicken curry dinner that needs to work with Monsieur's 'six-food-elimination diet'.
Since this is a "leftovers" dish and leftover chickens will vary in size, all the ingredients are approximate measures. The key here is for you to taste it and play with the flavours accordingly. This should feed around 4 people.
- roughly 1/2 leftover roast chicken (without legs, as they're never left!), meat shredded
- roasting juices kept from the day before, possibly a little extra oil if needed
- 1 tin of coconut milk (400ml)
- frozen petit pois (small peas), around half the weight of the chicken meat
- around 200ml chicken stock
- 1 courgette, cut into small cubes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2(ish) tablespoons of medium curry powder mix (adjust quantities to taste)
- one medium bunch of fresh coriander plus some for decorating
- green chillies and spring onions to garnish
- basmati & wild rice to accompany
How it's done:
- finely chop the onion
- put the roasting juices into a large pot and heat them up over a medium heat
- add the chopped onion and sweat until translucent
- add the curry powder and stir until you have something of a paste
- deglaze with the chicken stock
- put the garlic cloves through a press and add to the stock
- now add the shredded chicken to the mix and bring to a simmer
- the stock should roughly cover the chicken, if it doesn't just add a little more
- add the peas and stir
- now add the coconut milk and stir it into the mix
- taste the curry to determine whether you might need a little extra curry powder
- add the chopped courgette
- roughly chop the coriander and add
- leave it all to simmer for 20 minutes
- whilst it's simmering, prepare the rice according to the instructions on the packet
- serve the curry and rice together with some green chillies, spring onions and fresh coriander for decoration