Recently, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather – sometimes, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I think its my workload that’s getting to me – all the marking and planning for my lessons at school eating into my free time are really taking a toll on me and I’m finding myself needing another holiday, a mere 3 weeks after getting back from my previous one!
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately. I’ve been thinking (sometimes aloud) about how much we work, how much of our time, effort and mental well-being we sacrifice for the necessities of life, such as our houses, the up-keeping of our houses and our food – not at all factoring the little luxuries in life, like the occasional meal out. I was discussing with a colleague from work the other day how much of a struggle it is to afford our houses and bills here, in the capital of the country and how much easier our lives might become if we simply packed our bags and moved a bit up North, towards Leeds or Leicester. With the cheaper houses and rent over there, we said, perhaps we could afford a house with a lower mortgage and perhaps we could get away with working fewer hours and spending those hours doing more of the things we love, such as spending time with our families and friends, cooking, writing and learning new things.
London has been popping up in the news a lot lately, namely due to its ever rising living costs. This article and this article on Buzzfeed came up on my Facebook page just a few days ago and it really made me wonder whether life in the city is really worth the money it’s asking for. Is it? Is the hustle bustle of Central London which is 15 minutes away, a busy nightlife and that fact that ‘there’s-always-something-to-do’ worth working so long and hard you don’t have the energy to take advantage of those ‘somethings-to-do’?
All thoughts aside, the moment I come home and open the fridge, thinking ‘What shall I cook today?’ all my worries and stresses simply wash away. As soppy as it may sound, I feel a little glimmer of light somewhere deep in me. When I start to chop the ingredients, open up my spice cupboard and begin sauteing away, fully immersed in my cooking, I am completely at peace. I am happy. In those moments, I forget about the pile of 46 English books I need to mark, or the 5 lessons I still haven’t planned for tomorrow. I begin to think ‘Hmm, perhaps life isn’t as hard as I’m believing it is. At least there is one thing I truly and thoroughly love, and it’s something I can do everyday. ‘
Having one thing I love to do which I can do everyday is a true blessing. It is something that gives me a few moments of relief from my frustrations at the bills and rent or the deadlines I need to meet. When I am cooking, I feel there is no rush in browning the onions, sauteing the meat or softening the vegetables, unlike the rest of my life which is always in a hurry. That feeling is one of the most calming things in the world.
I get a lot of comments and questions from readers who ask me ‘how do you manage working and cooking everything you cook? As a teacher, isn’t it difficult?’
My answer to this is always, ‘if you love something, you will always make time for it.’
The truth is, everyone is busy. Very few of us do nothing but cooking all day – we have jobs to go to, families to look after and studying to be doing. But it is also true that once you are fully in love with something, once you realise it makes you feel happy and re-energises you, then my friend, you will always find yourself stumbling towards it, no matter how busy your day is.
This Lamb Dopiaza is one of my favourite recipes for a busy weeknight. It requires a lot of onions, but no frying or sauteing of them. This is, for lack of better words, a ‘dump-and-go’ recipe. You throw all the ingredients into a pot, put the lid on and allow everything to simmer away for 1.5hrs, allowing you the time to do all those important things you need to do. The recipe is finished when, after 1.5hr, you take off the lid and all all the water to dry out, leaving you with a thick gravy made entirely of onions and tender, juicy lamb infused with garlic and plenty of aromatic spices. There is very little to complain about with this Lamb Dopiaza. This recipe was inspired by Rick Stein’s Lamb Dopiaza from his book ‘Rick Stein’s India’, with a few adaptions. This is a definite favourite with the family, even on a weekend, and I’m very certain you’ll enjoy this too.
Enjoy, with love xox
My new book, ‘The Clueless Pakistani Cook’, is now available to purchase! ‘The Clueless Pakistani Cook’ is a guidebook written for people who want to get started in the kitchen and learn how to cook Pakistani food, but aren’t quite sure where to begin. It includes information about what you should have in the kitchen, spices, cooking a masala, rice, desserts, common Q&As and 5 recipes to get you started! It is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn Pakistani cooking! Click here for more information about ‘The Clueless Pakistani Cook’ and here to purchase it!