I’m enjoying the benefits of my new rental immensely, namely: bills included and the heating always on. There’s even a TV, which means I just have to get my programming fix the old fashioned way, by watching it as it goes on air. The one thing I do miss is my kitchen, which right now is packed in boxes and waiting to be moved into TMM’s (and my) future home. I’ve held on to my frying pan and a knife, but otherwise I’m adrift in a ready-meal ready space.
The only cutting board in the house is a wooden bread board, which makes my onion and garlic laden cuisine a bit anti-social to prepare, so I’ve resorted to good old dinnerware as a chopping surface. It’s not recommended, but I’ve never been one to prep everything ahead of time, so the only disasters involve turning the onions off because they’re softened before my next ingredient is ready.
With the weather looking better, feeling warmer, and the days getting longer (a relative phrase, when darkness descends at 4 pm in the winter) it means I can eat a bit lighter, though unfortunately for my impending nuptials, I still can’t bring myself to eat less. The past two weeks I’ve made a batch of something like sloppy joes. The secret ingredients are ketchup and pav bhaji spice. There’s also inspiration from some delicious curry mince in a vetkoek I nipped a bite off of while in South Africa.
American palates sometimes have a hard time with sweetened ‘ethnic’ meat dishes, but we really don’t need to look any further than a passion to slather on barbeque sauce or ketchup to think we might be missing out. Although I’m using ground beef in this, if I wasn’t prevented by my allergies, this would be absolutely delicious with beans for protein instead.
Jet-set sloppy joes (or, “Bachelorette Chow”)
250 g ground beef
1 can chopped tomatoes
Two large carrots (diced)
1 large potato (diced)
2 bell pepper (1 green, 1 red, chopped in big chunks)*
2 or more cloves of garlic, to taste
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp coriander
pav bhaji or garam masala (at least two tsp + to taste)**
1/4 c ketchup (+ to taste)
1/2 tsp allspice
Crushed red chili to taste
Brown the ground beef, mixing through with masala. Set aside. Sautee onions in oil until softened, add garlic. After a minute, add carrots and then dry spices; the mixture will get very thick, so have the canned tomatoes open. Add canned tomatoes, fill the can with water and add to mixture. Season with ketchup, chili and more masala, all to taste. Add ground beef, mix through and cover, simmering on low stirring occasionally. When the carrots are done, or close to it, add the peppers and some more water if needed to loosen the mixture.
Serve as you would like. I’ve been alternating between mixed with a whole bunch of shredded lettuce, in a pita at work or cold and straight from the fridge on “lazy days.”
*Vegetables: As with any dish, this is a perfect opportunity to add in more veg and maybe replace the meat altogether. Celery is an easy one, just do a mirepoix. Peas would be nice, or if you were feeling adventurous, some (well salted and drained) eggplant.
**Masala: There’s a difference in the different masala blends. Garam masala is all purpose, but I prefer pav bhaji for this because it brings out the sweetness.