How many times have you prepared a home-cooked meal from scratch in the last month or two? I bet you can count the number of times on just one hand? As the blisteringly cold winter months set in, it's all too easy to get home from work and lounge on the sofa while waiting for the takeaway to arrive. Either that take advantage of supermarket offers on microwave meals. However, delicious home cooked food doesn't always take long to prepare and will save you a fortune on takeaways. Ditch the fast food and make the most of tasty
If the spicy Indian flavours don't warm the cockles this winter, then not much will. Simply adding a hint of
to your meals will spice them up in seconds, it really is very easy to prepare delicious food when you know how. Meaning 'warm spice blend', Garam Masala contains spices, black pepper and bay leaves and is used extensively in Indian cuisine.
Incorporate it into your evening meal by looking up some simple recipes online. The spice can either be stirred into curries at the end of cooking, sprinkled over chicken or pork to enhance the flavour whilst cooking, or shaken over stir fried vegetables like leeks carrots and cabbage before serving. You can even stir the spice into fresh fruit salads or rice to add a sweet, light-spiced flavour.
A chicken and coconut curry containing Garam Masala takes just 35 minutes to cook and is simple enough to make, even for beginners. To create this dish, you'll need 450g of diced boneless, skinless chicken breasts, the juice of one lemon, half a teaspoon of garlic granules and half a teaspoon of ground ginger.
You'll also need: one teaspoon of fenugreek ground; a pinch of cayenne chilli pepper; half a teaspoon of turmeric; one teaspoon of ground coriander; half a teaspoon of ground cumin; two tablespoons of oil; one medium onion, sliced; 300ml of boiling water; 50g creamed coconut; salt to taste; and the vital ingredient, half a teaspoon of Garam Masala.
Ingredients sorted, you can now get started! To prepare, toast the chicken in lemon juice and the seven spices. Next, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion until soft. Add in the chicken and brown, before stirring in the water and creamed coconut and simmering for 20 minutes, uncovered. Finally, stir in the Garam Masala and season to taste.
It's simple to prepare a tasty side dish as well, such as rice or even curry puffs. For aromatic saffron rice you'll need: 225g of basmati rice; half a teaspoon of salt; a pinch of saffron; five cardamom pods; one teaspoon of fennel seed; six white cloves; half a cinnamon stick; three bay leaves; and 25g of unsalted butter.
Don't get flustered in the kitchen trying to juggle too many pans. Rope your partner, flatmates or kids in to help out. If they're going to be enjoying the food, it's only fair they help prepare it.
First, rinse your rice thoroughly in cold running water and then place it in a large pan of boiling water together with the salt, saffron, cardamom, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves. Cook the rice uncovered for 12 to 14 minutes or until it is tender, before draining and rinsing in a sieve with boiling water. Gently stir in the butter until it is melted and then remove the whole spices if desired before serving up. Delicious!
Prefer to skip the rice and opt instead for some popadoms? Prepare this quick and easy mango chutney to accompany your side order in minutes. Serving four to six people, this will take just 20 minutes to prepare.
Ingredients include: 75ml of white wine vinegar; 75g of soft light brown sugar; a quarter of a teaspoon of salt; one teaspoon of Garam Masala; one cinnamon stick, roughly broken; a pinch of garlic granules; a pinch of cayenne chilli pepper; three medium bananas; one medium mango; and 25g of raisins.
This chutney really does make the perfect accompaniment to any Indian meal; just find the recipe online and your dinner party or night in with your partner is sure to go swimmingly.
The good news is there are plenty of tasty options for non-meat eaters too. With more and more
cropping up it's easy to get creative with your midweek meals. Fancy a sweet treat on those cold winter nights sat inside in front of the fire? We tend to enjoy our comfort foods in winter and what could be more luxurious than Allspice Chocolate Truffles? You could even make them as a Christmas gift for friends and family!
Making up to 25 truffles, this is the perfect sweet treat to take into the office and perk up your colleagues with this winter. What's more, these scrummy chocolates are easy to make and require few ingredients.
You'll need: 225g of plain cooking chocolate; 50g of butter; two medium egg yolks; two teaspoons of ground allspice; two tablespoons of dark rum; chocolate vermicelli; and glace cherries for decoration.
If you've managed to avoid eating the scrummy individual truffle ingredients before you start cooking, here's what to do to make the chocolates. Taking just 20 minutes from start to finish, these are the perfect after dinner treat.
First, melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of hot water. Remove from the heat, stir in the egg yolks, allspice and rum and mix well. Next, beat until the mixture thickens. Place the mixture into a refrigerator until it has hardened slightly and then shape into small balls and toss in the vermicelli to coat. Finally, decorate with quartered glace cherries and place in sweet cases. There's no excuse to dash down to the shops for an emergency chocolate bar if you have the ingredients to make this quick mini desserts!