It’s been hard to track exactly how much each dish costs thus far, thanks to my reliance on a large number of store cupboard ingredients and the fact that I buy most of my food from the local greengrocers and they don’t issue receipts. Obviously I know how much I have spent in total, but as I usually buy elements for two or three dishes at once, I don’t know what cost what, if that makes sense.
This time however, I bought the ingredients for one dish, and one dish only in a supermarket. The total came to £7.79, which, divided by the number of portions, is £1.56 per person, plus rice. I usually buy basics long grain rice, 40p for 1kg. I make that 2.4p per 60g portion. I used a drizzle of sunflower oil to fry the lamb and a tbsp of fish sauce from the store cupboard. Let’s call it £1.70 per portion.
Granted, buying fresh ingredients in a supermarket is in direct contravention of my frugal kitchen commandments, but I was in Uckfield killing time before the train back to London after a house viewing. I also wanted to check that the local supermarket had a good selection of world foods.
It’s also out of character for me to use a pre-prepared curry paste (too expensive) but a) I knew I wouldn’t get home until late b) I had a horrid summer cold, a craving for some real heat and I was feeling too sorry for myself to spend hours cooking and c) It’s cheaper, in this instance, than the individual ingredients.
300g lamb, cut into chunks – I used neck fillet, as this was the cheapest cut available
200g massaman red curry paste (To make from scratch: 1red chilli, 1 stick lemongrass, 5 Thai basil leaves, 3 cloves garlic, pinch of salt, a generous shower of grated nutmeg, 1 inch ginger, 1 banana shallot, 2 tbsp shrimp paste, 3 tbsp tamarind sauce, half tsp cinnamon — blend to a paste, then wrap a bay leaf, star anise, clove and cardamom pod in muslin and throw in with the coconut milk)
3 tbsp palm sugar
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 red onion, chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into chunks
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 small pack cashew nuts
Oil for frying
In a casserole or large saucepan, brown the lamb, then bung in the onions and fry until soft. Add the massaman paste, and continue to fry for a couple of minutes – make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Add the coconut milk, palm sugar and fish sauce and stir well. Bring to the boil, then add in the potatoes, squash and half the pack cashew nuts. Simmer for an hour, until both the meat and vegetables are meltingly soft and the sauce is thick. Garnish with the remaining cashew nuts and chilli flakes to taste. Serve with rice.