THE GUARDIAN – I enjoy cooking with limitations; fitting a few ingredients into the puzzle of a recipe, making sure each one earns its place, adding, swapping and retesting so each ingredient sings.
I remember hearing the musician Chilly Gonzales say he wrote some of his best music only using one octave of the piano.
Limitations test your creativity in the best possible way.
These are the fruits of my labour: two recipes that work well together or stand proudly alone. The first is a quick curry that uses the clever blend of garam masala and tamarind to give it a sweet- sour kick. I use sweet potato, but squash, or regular potato, would work too. And a kachumber salad, which is, to my mind, proof of a recipe that’s more than the sum of its parts. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.
SWEET POTATO AND TAMARIND CURRY
This is a stripped-back curry that tastes as if it was a lot more complicated. While it is very good on its own, I love it with the five-ingredient kachumber salad below. Alternatively, top with a squeeze of lime and some coriander, should you have some.
Prep 10 min
Cook 45 min
Oil (I use coconut)
Two onions thinly sliced
Two tbsp garam masala
800g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3cm pieces
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
Two tbsp tamarind paste
Heat a little oil in a large, deep saucepan, add the onion and cook for 10 minutes until soft and sweet.
Add the garam masala and cook for another couple of minutes to toast. Add the sweet potato, coconut milk, 500ml water, tamarind and a good pinch of salt, and leave to simmer on a low heat for 25-30 minutes, until the sweet potato is
cooked and the sauce is rich and thick. Taste, and add more salt or tamarind, if the curry needs more of a sour kick. Divide between four bowls and serve with brown rice or chapatis, if you like.
I have been making this on repeat all summer, and I will not stop until the British tomatoes run out.
Prep 15 min
Cook 5 min
Serves four as a side
½ tsp cumin seeds
500g mixed tomatoes
Zest and juice of one lime
One small bunch coriander, finely chopped
One red onion, finely diced
Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Salt and black pepper
Start by toasting the cumin seeds in a hot, dry frying pan, then set aside to cool.
Roughly chop the tomatoes, and mix in a large serving bowl with the toasted cumin seeds, lime zest and juice, chopped coriander and red onion.
Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, season, then give everything a good mix and serve.