Things in Jars

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These are for the rushed ones. The breakfast-in-the-car eaters. The early-start- endurers. The I-don’t-have-time-for-breakfast-but-damm-I’m-hungry’ers.

They say you shouldn’t eat on the run. They say you should sit down, meal on a plate, focus completely on the food, chew each mouthful ten times. Swallow, then take a breath before your next bite.

They don’t know how funny they are.

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Keep all your glass jars. The standard sized ones fit into your car cup holders and so are perfect for eating on the run without a food-in-car mishap. Take in mouthfuls during red lights. Sip between pathetic releases of the foot brake during the maddening shuffle of peak-hour traffic. It’ll keep you from mouthing expletives at the other drivers. A hunger cure and road-rage cure in one.

Once you are done, you can pop the lid on and deal with the smell later when you have to wash the thing after it’s been in the hot car all day. Keep all your glass jars and dedicate a shelf to them. Buy things in glass jars just so that you can finish it, wash it out and use it for meals on the run. The pasta sauces, the peanut butters, the honeys and the jams. Ask relatives for their glass jars. They’ll think you’re cuckoo and it’s mostly worth it.

Then make one or two of these options, either the night before or in the morning. A couple of these need a fancy-pants food processor, but some need very little equipment. Each recipe makes one serving, but you can easily double them to set yourself up nicely for the next 2 days. As you are rushing out the door, grab the jar of yum, grab a spoon and GO GO GO!

Jars to spare? Use ’em for nut butters, piquant quick mango picklelemon curd or apple & ginger relish.

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Thing 1: Mango Avocado Whip (freezes well)

1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango flesh
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup milk of choice
1-2 scoops protein powder
Handful of baby spinach, washed
1/2 tsp vanilla powder or paste
Seeds of 2-3 cardamom pods or ¼ tsp cardamom powder (optional)

Place all ingredients in food processor bowl, blitz until homogenous mixture. Top with coconut, berries, nuts, seeds, chocolate or whatever tickles your fancy. To turn this into a smoothie, add a little more liquid (milk, coconut water, water).

Tip: Place the ingredients (apart from milk and avocado) in small snap-lock bags and freeze in single serves, ready for blitzing in the morning.

Thing 2: 1 Minute Pesto Eggs

2 eggs
1 tsp pesto of choice
Small handful baby spinach
Oil (optional)
Shredded cheese (optional)

Spray or brush the bottom of the jar with oil (optional, makes for easier cleaning). Place eggs and pesto in jar and whisk with a fork or small whisk. Fold through baby spinach leaves. With lid off, microwave on high for 40 seconds to start with, then another 20 seconds. Sprinkle a little shredded cheese over the top before the second microwaving session if desired.

Thing 3: Choc, PB and Banana Smoothie (freezes well)

1 ripe banana
1 heaped dessert spoonful peanut butter
1 tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder
1-2 scoops protein powder
¾ cup milk of choice

Place all ingredients in food processor bowl, blitz until homogenous mixture.

Tip: Peel and freeze and bananas that are in danger on over-ripening before they are eaten, to use in this recipe later.

Thing 4: Anne’s Overnight Oats

2 tablespoons of chia seeds (white or black)
½ cup rolled oats
One decent-sized ripe banana
¾ cup milk of choice
1/2 tsp cinnamon or vanilla (optional)
Honey or other syrup to serve (optional)
Fruit, seeds, nuts, shredded coconut, chocolate chips to garnish (optional)

Mash banana in jar. Add chia seeds, oats, milk and cinnamon/vanilla. Stir well. Store in fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Top with toppings of choice and sweetener. If using.

Adapted from a recipe by Anne who writes here.

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Scrambled Eggs, Indian-Style

Hello there….I was wondering when you’d arrive.  I thought I’d make us some breakfast, although I think most normal folk would call this brunch-time.  I hope you like eggs?

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Sit on that stool and chat to me while I chop these tomatoes.  I’ll pour you some orange juice.  Oh yes, you can grind those spices if you feel like it.

What’s that?  No, no it’s easy.  Just a sizzle of spices, a stir fry of some veggies and then the eggs.  It’s the sort of thing that’s done on a tiny kerosene stove in a stall on Juhu beach on a balmy Mumbai evening.  Then the whole fragrant, spicy, steamy  mess is piled onto some buttery bread to be devoured standing up amongst a crowd.

There, it’s done already.  Butter that toast, will you?  I’ll get you some cutlery but it really is better just to use your fingers, Indian style.

So then….tell me what you’ve been up to……

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Egg Bhurji (Indian-style scrambled eggs)

Serves 2 with toast

Get:

1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp butter + more for bread
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 small green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
1/4 – 1/3 capsicum, diced
4 eggs
Salt
1 tomato, diced
Small handful coriander, chopped
Bread, toasted and buttered

Make:

In a large non-stick pan, dry roast 1/2 tsp cumin and the coriander seeds until fragrant.  Grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.  In the same pan, melt the butter and add 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds.  When the seeds have popped, add the spice powder and turmeric, frying for a couple of minutes on low-medium heat.  Add the chillies and onion and fry until the onion is softened.  Add the capsicum and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs with 1/4 tsp salt.  Add the eggs to the pan and stir continuously to scramble.  When the eggs are half-cooked, add the tomato and more salt according to taste and stir until the eggs are fully cooked.

Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve on buttered toast.  Dousing with chilli or tomato sauce is optional but recommended.

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Home-laid eggs and their fate (Egg Curry)

The other day one of my bosses came to work with cartons and cartons of eggs.  It turned out that the 12 hens that he keeps in his inner-city backyard had been on a laying frenzy and he had been faced with an eggy surplus.  I of course, was helpful enough to take a dozen of them off his hands and find good use for them.

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Now being an Indian kid brought up by city slicker parents, freshly laid eggs were never really part of my upbringing.  While I was growing up, most of my parents’ friends were like us- Indian immigrant urban professionals who didn’t even have a cat, let alone chickens running around in their backyards.  So imagine my delight as these gorgeously imperfect thin-shelled things landed in my hands.  Eggs of different shapes, deeply yellow yolks and smudged with dirt for authenticity.  Eggs without dates stamped on them!

What to do with this unexpected produce? I certainly didn’t have the heart to bake them into anonymity in a cake nor did I want to beat them into submission to make an omelette.  No, these eggs called for a starring role in their own dish, a trailer with gold star on the door and their own stunt men (stunt eggs?).  Surely, these eggs needed to be in an egg curry. An egg curry that is inspired by one my friend Sailaja made us when I visited her in Chicago last year.  Creamy, hard boiled eggs floating happily in a lightly spiced sauce with the bite of onions and the tang of tamarind.

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Of course, if you don’t have a boss who provides you with charmingly wonky home-laid eggs, I suppose the ones from the supermarket (preferably free range) will work just fine.

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Egg Curry

Feeds 4

Get:
1 quantity spice mix
8 small eggs or 4 large eggs
1 tomato
Small red onion
Small chunk (about 3cm cubed) of dried tamarind
1 hot green chilli
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 chubby garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup passata
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 cup baby spinach leaves, firmly packed
Small handful chopped coriander

For the Spice Mix:
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp black pepper
The insides of 3 cardamom pods

Make:
Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover well with water.  Bring to the boil and simmer until eggs are hard-boiled.  Drain water, allow to cool and cut eggs lengthways into halves for small eggs and into quarters for large eggs.

Soak the tamarind in 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Once the water cools, squeeze the tamarind with your hands or with a fork. Strain and retain water.

For the spice mix, place all the spices in a non-stick pan and toast over low heat until slightly browned and fragrant.  Grind using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to a coarse powder.

Place 1/2 onion and whole tomato chopped roughly, half of the ginger and garlic, green chilli chopped roughly and 1 tbsp of the tamarind water in a food processer.  Whizz until pureed.

Chop the other half of the onion finely.  In a non-stick saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat.  Add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp mustard seeds.  Once these are popping, reduce heat and add turmeric, chilli powder and spice mix.  Fry, stirring for about 2 minutes and add curry leaves (stand back as these will sizzle!).  Once curry leaves are browned, add ginger, garlic and the chopped onion.  Sauté the mixture until the onion is translucent, then add the pureed mixture, passata and the remaining tamarind water.  Add salt to taste, about 3/4 tsp.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 mins, adding water if necessary to maintain a gravy consistency.

Reduce heat and add spinach and stir mixture until spinach wilted.  Add eggs by gently placing into gravy.  Stir gently, spooning gravy over eggs.  Allow to simmer gently for 4-5 mins.

Serve on steamed or boiled rice with coriander sprinkled over the top.

Notes:

I realise not everyone wants to be grinding spices after being at work all day.  To simplify this, you can use about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of garam masala instead of making a spice mix, but of course IMHO, freshly ground spices always taste better.

Dried tamarind is available at Indian grocery stores.  If you can’t find it, you can use about 1 tsp of tamarind paste, but this may give you a darker curry.

This makes a reasonably spicy curry, so feel free to leave out the fresh chilli if your spice threshold is on the lower side of if you are feeding little ones.

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