It will probably come as no surprise that I know my way around romantic comedies and fluffy television series. And if there is anything that I have learnt from watching the Zoe Harts, Carrie Bradshaws and basically all the movie characters Katherine Heigl has ever played, is that it is one of the most awkward and embarrassing moments in your entire life to show up at an event without a so-called “plus one”. Fancy gallery openings, grand weddings and even stupid office parties: no one wants to go to these things alone.
I can’t blame them, though. Even I – as a non-fictitious person – would never want to end up at the singles’ table at my cousin’s wedding, forced to make friendly conversations with Garry, the crazy uncle with the often acute viscous coughing fits, and funny Margret, who believes that wearing corduroy pants is the prerogative of chemistry students. *
However, apart from these horrid events, there are moments when I think that not having a “plus one” is actually pretty awesome: when you are cooking.
Without a plus one, you can cook whatever you like. You can empty your entire pantry, throw in your whole spice cupboard, without having to worry about the dish being too spicy or too “all over the place”.
More importantly, without a plus one, you don’t need to share.
So yes, having a “plus one” can indeed be wonderful, comforting, loving and all that fuzzy, heartwarming jazz. But when it comes to food, I like being selfish.
I am a greedy chef.
And I am guessing there are some greedy foodies among you – my dearest readers – too.
So how about we start our own new movement? Instead of promoting “plus one”, let us advocate “plus none” instead.
Who is with me?
*note: the people in this fragment are purely fictitious, so any resemblance to actual people is nothing but a funny coincidence.
Fragrant Mango Curry
Your entire spice cupboard in one dish: Fresh, fragrant, healthy and 100% vegan
Ingredients (serves 1 greedy chef):
- ½ mango, diced
- 70gr white beans (cooked)
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 1 red chili, sliced
- 1cm piece of fresh ginger
- ½ red pepper, cut into thin stripes
- Handful of bean sprouts
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- Fresh coriander
- Fresh Thai basil
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp asafetida
- ¼ tsp nigella seeds
- Pinch of cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
- 125ml coconut milk
- Juice of ½ lime
- fish sauce
- Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and add all the spices, together with the shallot, red chili and ginger. Let it sauté for a couple of minutes on a low heat until all the fragrances of the spices transform your kitchen into an oriental bazar.
- Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the flavours have multiplied. Now toss in the red pepper, white beans and mango and let it simmer for a further 5 minutes until everything is heated through.
- Finally, stir through the beans sprouts, spring onions, the juice of half a lime and the fresh coriander and Thai basil. Season with a splash of fish sauce.
Moroccan-style fried eggs with sumac and spicy tomato sauce
The definition of comfort food. Delicious fried eggs seasoned with tangy sumac, served on top of a bed of steamy tomato sauce with carrots, onions and peppers. The soothing comfort of the tomato sauce and the runny egg yolks works wonders with the freshness of some mint and coriander.
Ingredients (serves 1 greedy chef) :
- 2 eggs
- Pinch of sumac
- 1 can of tomatoes
- 1 carrots, finely diced
- ½ red pepper, finely chopped
- ½ green pepper, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp za’atar
- Drop of rose water
- 1 tsp honey
- Pinch of chili flakes
- Fresh mint and coriander
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in pan and add the vegetables and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Add the can of tomatoes and honey and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is fragrant. Just before serving, add a drop of rose water and stir in some chopped mint and coriander
- Fry the eggs in a pan and season with salt, pepper and sumac.
- Serve the eggs on top of the tomato sauce and finish with some extra mint and coriander.