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Indian, Egyptian, Iranian and Japanese; September has been a great month for variety and experimentation, but only three to-be-repeated dishes from two books, both of which didn’t even come from any of the cookery books whose existence I was trying to justify, having never been previously used, with this month’s challenge.

1.Lamb Biryani (Persiana, Sabrina Ghayour). Fairly high faff for low joy levels,servescof 6-8 which meant too many leftovers meals, good crunchy rice base but too much salt (not entirely my error) and all round disappointing.  Won’t be using this recipe again.

2.Coorg-style Chicken Curry (Lemongrass and Ginger, Leemei Tan). Not too challenging to make but I can’t even remember if I particularly liked it.  I think it was nice but lacking excitement.  Won’t be using this recipe again.

3. Sea Bream on Rice, Sea Bream Sashimi Salad and Seaweed Salad (as one meal) mde(Tokyo Cult Recipes, Maori Murota). Having lived in Japan for two and a half years, the ingredients seemed authentic and familiar.  I liked the dressing on the seaweed salad, the sea bream that was on rice was fairly nice but I was reminded that there are a lot of Japanese flavours and ingredients I don’t care for.  I wasn’t enamoured by this meal.  Won’t be using this recipe again.

4. Kushari (Egyptian pasta, rice, lentils and tomato sauce) (Lonely Planet, The World’s Best Street Food). In fairness, I have used and enjoyed two or three recipes from this book before.  This dish is one I’ve eaten out and loved.  Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed this too, including all leftover incarnations.  The tomato sauce is amazing and I will use that for other dishes.  I will also make kushari again.  I will be using this recipe again.

5. Mother-in-Law’s Tas Kebab (a Middle Eastern comfort food dish of chicken, vegetable, potato and fruit casserole of sorts) (Snackistan, Sally Butcher).  Basically a casserole with a lot of good ingredients that lent itself very well to two varied leftovers meals.  Tasty, good for making as a massive dish to use for other meals.  Not as exciting as the number of tasty ingredients would suggest, but a nice dish.  I liked the layering with celery, onion and leek on the bottom then chicken, veg and prunes.  I would use this recipe again if I had lots of vegetables to use up.

6. Ringan Mattar (aubergine and pea curry) and Coriander Rice (Hansa’s Indian Vegetarian Cookbook). I made these dishes on 1st October, but I’d bought the ingredients and planned it in September so I felt that it counted as part of my September challenge.  I had low expectations from a simple aubergine and pea curry with a mere 13 basic ingredients (including water) but I loved it.  I don’t care for rice, never have, so had even lower expectations for coriander rice, which is basically cooked basmati rice briefly fried in ghee, garlic, cumin seeds, fresh coriander, onion and salt.    I loved it.  A rice dish.  I can barely contemplate plain boiled rice without the extra stage of cooling then re-heating with the other ingredients.  Seriously, that good.  I will be making both dishes again.  Hansa’s restaurant in Leeds is one of my favourite places to eat in the whole world, I don’t know why I have only ever made one recipe from this book (I didn’t have some of the ingredients so my plan B recipe, as I recall, wasn’t particularly memorable).  I will be using these recipes and this book a lot from now on.

October’s challenge has emerged from my looking at cookery books and experimenting with new recipes.  As with my photo-sorting challenge, putting favourite recipes into one place has always been something I’ve been “meaning to do for ages”.  So October’s challenge is to collate recipes I either love and/or regularly use and to add those I like the look of.

I went through a phase for up to two years of buying lots of food magazines.  They are currently piled up and rarely used.  If I get time (hmm), I’d like to cut out and keep the recipes that interest me and throw out the magazines.  I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s Joy of Tidying so I am on a bit of a stuff-sorting mission, but I think it’ll take a while to go through them in addition to sorting the c200 books I have.  Who knows, maybe I’ll surprise myself with my productivity for this challenge, particularly as it genuinely is something I’ve wanted to do for years.

Hopefully, by November I will have two recipe folders (I have a barely started large folder and a small folder, though I should possibly think of a reason for using one or the other based on something more scientific than “big recipe pages” and “small recipe pages”) full of my favourite and most interesting recipes.  I will then be ready for a decadent month of doing something majorly treaty and not as time consuming in November.

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