In a previous life I had an office in the centre of Manchester at a splendid address: 59 Piccadilly, which overlooked Piccadilly Gardens. To be fair the rent I paid reflected that my view wasn’t of the gardens but of ‘Back Piccadilly’ – a rather squalid view. And if you are wondering why I am still not there enjoying the view then it wasn’t by choice but no worry, karma is in place.
Anyway, at this business I employed a young Bangladeshi girl on a part time basis who was studying at Manchester University. Her name was Raz.
Raz was one of the best employees I have ever had the pleasure of employing. I showed her something once and she’d say; ‘got it, got it’ and the best part was that she did get it.
Commuting from Cumbria to Manchester was a 3 hour round trip by rail for me which wasn’t always convenient and as I could conduct my business by internet; having Raz meant that she could do the ‘hands-on’ and I could have a lie-in.
One evening and completely out of the blue she rang to say that her granny had died in Bangladesh and her father was scooping all of the family together and taking them back to Dhaka. Now, apart from traditional Bangla dress, Raz was as western and Mancunian as they come. She regarded Denton as home not Dhaka.
Some many weeks later I got a call from Raz to say that she was back and getting married, unfortunately she would not be able to return to work as her future husband lived in Wolverhampton. I was invited to the wedding reception being held at a restaurant in Manchester’s curry mile. Regrettably I was in Spain on her wedding day.
On one occasion when we were both in the office at the same time I spoke to Raz about food. Asian food… she told me her Mum was the best cook in the world and she was taught by her mother but Raz only had time for boys and western music so she had no interest whatsoever. A few weeks later when we were both in the office she gave me a scribbled note. I thought it was her notice to quit but it was actually a recipe for egg curry – Dimer Kosha.
This is my version and I cooked it this evening and thought of Raz and her arranged marriage. I hope she is happy.
Dimer Kosha – for ONE
2 boiled eggs, shelled
1 green chilli sliced (deseed if you like)
½ whizzed up medium onion
1 dollop fresh ginger and garlic paste (whiz up fresh ginger, garlic and a little water)
1 ripe tomato, chopped
Small piece cinnamon or cassia bark
Pinch mustard seeds
Good pinch turmeric
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds (toasted)
¼ teaspoon cumin (toasted)
1 clove (toasted)
2 cardamom pods (toasted)
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
Small bunch fresh coriander (leaves and stalks separated)
1 teaspoon plain yoghurt
Handful frozen peas
Handful frozen green beans
Handful tinned sweetcorn
Oil of choice
Grind the toasted spices.
Heat a good splodge of oil in a wok/korai/frying pan over medium heat until it shimmers then throw in a pinch of mustard seeds. When they start to pop and crackle add cinnamon bark and turmeric stirring for a few seconds. Now add onion mixture and coat with the spices and cook for 2 minutes before turning the heat down to low so there’s just a plop, plop sound.
At this point pour yourself a glass of Rioja. After a slurp or two add the remaining spices and bay leaf – stir… add a little water if things are becoming too dry.
Add chopped tomatoes and green chilli – stir gently. Cover with lid or foil and enjoy the rest of your wine only lifting the cover making sure things are not drying out too much.
After 5 minutes or so chop the coriander stalks and add those.
Continue cooking until the tomatoes are soft and everything looks a good colour – I’ll leave that to your judgement.
It is now time to add the frozen vegetables which should take another five minutes if you like them al dente.
Finally add the shelled eggs and yoghurt giving everything a good shake. Replace the cover and cook for another 2 minutes – it should be done now so season to your taste then sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with rice or naan, or both even. Oh, and a big spoonful of mango chutney.
Cooking for ONE but eat it with love all the same.