Monday, April 11, 2011

Cooking on a budget - Indian

I have been having a bit of a whinge lately to some of my friends about the cost of living and how much our weekly shopping bill keeps increasing, so after much talk I decided to search for some new recipes that are both easy and cheap.  Both myself and my hubby enjoy eating Indian food (he's more daring spice wise than me though) and while it may not seem like an expensive option for takeaway food (between $10-$14 per main), by the time you add the rice, the naan bread and times that by 2 (or more if the kids eat their usual of chicken tikka) you don't end up with much change out of $50.
In recent times I have been buying the Sharwoods pastes from the supermarket and using a lamb rump to make Rogan Josh, or chicken fillets for Tikka or Tandoori.  Yum.  Granted I don't expect the jar version to be on the same level as a freshly prepared curry paste, but in the scheme of things it's pretty close.  We eat a fair amount of chicken meals already, so we normally save the lamb for our Indian dish.
The crazy part it that our country was built on sheep farming (and largely still is along with cattle grazing), yet it has gotten to the point I have just about crossed lamb off our list.  It is so expensive - especially since most cuts include bones that you pay for in weight but can't exactly eat.  I used to be able to buy my lamb rump for $11 for almost a kilo, which I then diced into my RJ, but in the past month it has risen to $18.  No more Rogies as our once a week/fortnight.
Chicken breast is almost as bad - if not worse.  Unless you shop around and can get a special, the supermarkets are selling them for over $15 per kilo. Ridiculous.
During our conversation one of my friends said that they often have a meat-free night.  I don't think we had ever had a total meat-free night.  I would consider eggs to be non-meat, but even if I make something with eggs it usually also has bacon - which is meat.  So, of course I had to ask what she makes that is totally meat-free.  Curry.  Yep, no problems except one of the few things my darling other half won't eat is pumpkin or sweet potato - one of the usual main ingredients in a vegetarian curry.  I didn't give up though, so I searched for a curry that was potato based.  I came up with a recipe for Potato and Eggplant curry.  I don't think I have ever cooked with eggplant, but I decided to just work with what I had instead.

 Vegetarian Non-Creamy Korma

The ingredients included potato, carrot, zucchini and onion along with a tin of diced tomatoes... 1/3 cup red lentils + a cup of chicken stock (which I saw from another recipe and thought I'd add in too) and Sharwoods Korma paste.  I didn't have any coriander on hand so I just left that out.  The variety of potatoes I had/used were quite waxy which meant they needed extra cooking time, but curries always taste better the longer they cook.  I have to say, it probably doesn't win any points for being low-carb, but it was tasty and filling and I will be making it again.  I ended up getting 4 adult serves out of it and the total cost would have been no more than $6 including the steamed rice I cooked to go with it.  Not bad at less than $2 a serve.
Probably the only down side is you can't very successfully freeze potato, so I couldn't freeze leftovers for take-to-work lunches.

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