A Meal Fit for a Maharajah

What with the girls at school yesterday and Sindy off for the morning, I found myself flitting between the little ones, television, art class and the Aga. We played various games throughout, but I find if I give 100% of my undivided attention for several hours to Thor, Aaliyah and Caleb, there’s usually a few more skirmishes than needs be! If I divide my time with all three and separate one on one, plus another project to think about, things run a lot more smoothly. And due to my love of cookery, that project usually ends up being dinner. Now, I’m not huge on baking, partly due to the fact that only 2 of the 4 ovens on the Aga actually work and the one fan assisted of the 2 isn’t that even in heat distribution!

Okay, I love my hob. That was all I had to work with from my time spent in Mumbai and that is where I perfected my ability to cook a damn good curry. I have spoken about cooking various curries throughout my writing of this diary and today I am just going to reiterate on last nights dinner for both the children and indeed ‘Daddies and Dadda’s Dinner’.

As ever you need to start with a good, tasty gravy (curry sauce). Blitz onions until pulp and fry in a little oil. Add your spices and cook out. My favourite combo is garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin, coriander leaf, garam masala or Madras mix, turmeric and salt. Add tomato purée, cook out further, then add stock (Knorr cubes are fine). You want a slightly thickened consistency and this I regulate purely with the volume of onion and tomato purée to stock! Cook for 30 – 40 minutes in a low heat or until the rawness of the spices have morphed into that sweetness and harmony of fragrant spice that is all a good curry should be!

Now come your options! I usually cook at least a litre of sauce and freeze some but yesterday I used the whole lot and made a feast. Pre-soaked yellow lentils were simmered with some of the sauce plus the addition of extra turmeric and garlic, cooked on the hob for maybe 2 hours. The longer you cook, the more sumptuous the lentils become. I always use a potato masher towards the end of cooking! Bombay potatoes are just way too simple! I tried a few recipes from the internet way back but settled on just steaming cubes of potatoes, cooling and placing in a freezer bag and covering with some of my curry sauce. Tie the bag, give it a squish and put it in the fridge. I actually put all of my curries in a freezer bag once cooled and lay them alongside each other in the fridge until service. It makes cooking multiple curries a real doddle to serve up. Just heat one after the other in a microwave before serving up! There’s usually a bit of squishing of the bags to regulate heat and some re-microwaving to get everything to the same temperature – but that’s half the fun of ‘curry night’. I also microwave the dry poppadoms for 20 seconds, turn, then a further 20 seconds. Perfection and so much healthier than shallow frying. But if you much prefer the taste of the fried, just use a pastry brush and lightly brush the dry poppadom with cooking oil on either side before microwaving.

Okay, the other dish’s last night were tandoori boned and skinned chicken thighs and mutter (pea curry). The thighs were 3 hours marinated in garlic, ginger, chilli, salt, lemon juice and a pre mixed tandoori spice mix. No red food colouring like your local Indian takeaway might use! The chicken was cooked in an oven dish covered in foil for 20 minutes, then dry heat for a further 15. Moist and tender was the result. The last main dish of mutter had a variation to it last night as I added green beans to the peas – cooked with some of Dadda’s curry sauce, a tin of tomatoes and a little extra salt – divine ‘Amrit’ (manna) indeed.

My rice was of course cooked in the microwave – see earlier entry for 100% perfect basmati rice and our nibbles on the side were homemade onion bhaji’s and pakoras. I’m pretty sure I have covered those in an earlier diary entry, but if not, do let me know – they’re so simple to make and so tasty. The children love them!

A meal fit for 5 little Maharajahs (and a daddy and a dadda).

Back to School

So proud of the girls today. Decked out in their new school uniforms and looking the part. Model students, brimming with enthusiasm. I can only hope the same applies to the little ones on Monday morning. Overall their behaviour was good today. They met with the reception year teacher, her number 2 and the TA. They are all three great teachers and well accustomed to the needs and fancies of little people, so we are very confident that our three little people do us proud.

The girls had a great day with their new teacher and getting the low down on all of their friends summer holidays.

Did I say that I was really proud of them?

School Night for the Girls

The children all upstairs in bed. Some sounds of activity, but settling down a bit since a few shouts up from me, reminding the girls that this is in fact a school night. Sindy has gone home, her final assertion of the day, laying out two school uniforms for the girls to adorn in the morning. John in London tonight, so just me sat here in the company of Remus and Gracie. They look relaxed.

I made a mushroom lasagna earlier, I thought about giving it to the children, but none of them are great lovers of mushrooms. To be honest, it would be wasted on them. A bechamel made with minced mushrooms and reconstituted home dried and fresh chestnut mushrooms make the ‘meat’ of the filling. By using a combination of both, you get a tasty and meaty texture. Baked with a cheesy topping, then liberally dusted with freshly grated Parmesan on service. Proper grown up lasagna I would say.

The guys spent a couple of hours at the park with friends this afternoon and all came home feeling ravenous. Home made smokey bacon burgers in a bun with fries was had for dinner and freshly picked raspberries (the last of) and blackberries picked from the brambles at the end of the driveway for dessert. I also spent some time in the orchard this afternoon picking a mass of apples that should make their way to becoming an apple and blackberry crumble tomorrow and of course, apple pulp for my next Jammin session.

An update in the morning regarding the girls setting off for school. I am so very proud of both Amritsar and Tara. Here’s looking to next Monday when we finally see all of our not so famous five, heading out to ‘Big School’. The end of an era for sure…

Preparations for ‘Back to School’

The girls return to school is tomorrow. The house is a buzz with activity. Caleb, Aaliyah and Amritsar have all had their hair trimmed and Tara and Thor are heading out a bit later this morning for their haircuts. At present Tara and Ritzy are opening the packaging of their new school shirts and our nanny Sindy is giving them a press with the iron in the kitchen.

The little ones are running a muck here in the living room. Thor has tired and is presently snuggling into my arm with his beloved MiMi as he has just stated that MiMi is tired.

Breakfast was a couple of rounds of Dadda’s jammy toast. Caleb is singing away using sounds, not words and Aaliyah is hugging both Gracie and Remus in turn. She really will be a vet or a kennel worker I think. Or is it still going to be a jockey like Tara! She has just finished entombing Gracie with all of the cushions and has informed me that Gracie is in her house.

The little ones start their ‘School Days’ on Monday. But for now they are enjoying their last days of the summer holiday. Aaliyah has just said ‘This is Rubbish’ to one of the CBeebies programs, Justin’s house and stormed out of the room, quickly followed by Caleb snacking his head on the large Onyx vase besides the TV after shaking his head to the theme music to the program. All rubbed better now!

Thor has just leapt up and is headed to the front door with Tara. Time for their haircuts me thinks!

Maybe more from me later!

An Early Night For The Children

What with my being in London last night, I returned to stories of theft! It would seem that at around 10pm last night, daddy asleep on the sofa, Tara and Thor descended the stairs and sneaked past the open living room door where daddy was snoozing and surveyed the kitchen for booty. The others were sleeping upstairs. Now, moving on to this morning, Aaliyah awoke to a squashed flat peach stuck to her bum (not pleasant) and Caleb devoured his surprise manna with gusto. Amritsar did the right thing and gave hers to our nanny Sindy to return it to the fruit bowl. Tara and Thor said that they were sorry for their actions…

The story continued on my return to the house and whilst cooking their dinner I looked for dessert options. The cupboard was bare on that front so I ventured into the housekeepers cupboard where lies (in a bag) several chocolate bars and a dozen mini packs of Haribo fruit gums. One of the 200g chocolate bars was open and half nibbled and four of the Haribo packets were empty of their contents!

It also seemed that Amritsar’s peach that was replaced in the bowl had also once again been stolen, no one came forward so at dinner tonight when it came to dessert, I placed the half eaten chocolate bar and empty sweet packets on the table. Tara and Thor were quite bold but both declined to comment on the matter. When I said that there would be no dessert tonight due to the situation, Caleb decided to hurl his drinking cup towards me. Thankfully it was both empty and he missed (due to his aim not being that great). ‘Okay, that’s it’ I exclaimed ”off to bed, everyone’! Lots of screaming and a few ‘sorry Dadda’s’ later, they all marched up to bed.

I don’t really have a ‘summing up’ of the situation. But I hope that my decision to send them up to bed resonates in the form of the guilty parties not doing it again as it does affect everybody – doesn’t it?