I’ve had awesome vegetarian dishes that I would have never have imagined. Recently I went to 26 grains in Covent Garden, London and asked them to recommend their best dish, which was a chickpea curry and I was amazed by the flavour. It was a dish with brown rice with an fragrant Thai coconut chickpea curry sauce with soft kale and large succulent pieces of aubergine. If you go to a restaurant and you’re not sure what to order ask what they would say is their best dish. I haven’t converted to become a vegetarian, but I am more mindful and conscious of what I do eat.
For me the definition of great food is food that is full of flavour. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be wholesome. I believe that buying good quality produce and cooking from scratch is a probably cheaper than going outside to eat at a fast food joint and will probably fill you up better. Eat less meat, but good quality meat, and by this I mean rare breeds. (If you don't know what a rare breed is, go to a good farmers market, they will stock a good selection of these) If you are to buy bread, buy wholegrain. Try different vegetables, and try to have a rainbow of colour in your cooking.
Try something new and try something different. It might sound urgh but then again it might surprise you. I remember the first time hearing my mother mango mango salsa thinking mango in a savoury salad, you must be joking! But I tried it and I loved it. I also used the same recipe when I was at my university to cook for a friend who was a notoriously fussy eater and to see her taking a second bowlful and to look at her flatmates’ reaction was priceless. I felt a sense of achievement.
I know that for you who have tried to cook for friends and family who are fussy eaters will understand how much of a challenge it is. Rather than asking them what they don’t like I often ask them what they love to eat, what ingredients they love and then to work my way up. The problem of focusing on what they don’t like will often magnify the problem. Try telling someone not to think of a red balloon and what do they think of? A red balloon. Most of what I have learnt from cooking is from books, practise and challenging common assumptions.
I am very meticulous about cooking, attention to detail is essential. Learn the rules but know when to break them if you think that you can do better. I have often taken risks with my cooking and experimented with my presentation, and it is by doing this that my knowledge has improved. I know that the people who are the best cooks are those who love cooking for the people they serve. They are the ones who continually improve and refine what they cook, and to introduce new recipes every season. They are the ones who know the ingredients and flavour pairings.
One of the full benefits of cooking at home is that I have full creative control of what I cook. I don’t know about you but I love the fact that I can control the amount of sugar and salt I add to my culinary creations. A lot of processed food out in the market have had a lot of nutrients and flavour taken out for mass production and and then replaced with salt, sugar, flavourings and preservatives to make up for it.
I have also learnt that not all foods are the same. I have often avoided soft drinks and limited the amount of fruit juices that I drink due to the sugar it contains natural or otherwise. But I have often loved eating fruit even though it contains sugar, but with the sugar also comes nutrients and fibre from the fruit which is better than sugar and water. I often love a sweet snack and I will admit to having a sweet tooth. I recommend that you read cookbooks of different varieties and learn from friends and family who you know make a mean plate of food and you are well on your way to becoming a better cook.
This section of the website will slowly evolve into a recipe blog with food that I enjoy and love to eat. There is something about eating well that I enjoy, I will try to find ingredients that I love to eat or something that I feel or know has a lot of nutritional benefits. I will say as a final note is that there is a lot of advice on what to and not to eat, from friends, from family, from the so-called “health experts” and nutritionalists. What concerns me is that some of those experts have no formal qualifications in health or nutrition yet they feel qualified to advise on health. My advice to you is to try out what they recommend and importantly to go with your gut feeling and what you think is right for you. If you have any questions you can always E-mail me above and I will definately get back to you as soon as I can.