January gets a bad write-up but it’s a time of year I love – a time to gather thoughts to let the holiday glow slowly dim. I let it run until about the 15th, when I gently lay down some intentions for the year ahead. This year, it’s eating breakfast every morning and spending as much time as possible with my little boy.
Though I try to avoid the prescriptive January mania surrounding food, there are a few things that I like to at this time of year that work for me. I’ll start with some proper breakfasts – yes we’ve all heard it a million times, but it sets the tone for how you want your day to be. If I start off right, then the rest of the day often falls into place, even if it’s only something small eaten with intention.
I crave bold flavours in the dark winter months, so my Guardian column has focused on homemade curry pastes (great for freezing to make quick dinners throughout the week) and some flavourful soups too, with fresh, punchy flavours.
To round it off, I’ve also shared my most popular ever recipe – for a very special dahl – for an easy injection of colour and flavour into a dull January. Finally, there’s my clementine rehydrator, good for after exercising, or, if like my household, you’ve been hit by some winter bugs.
I have come to think of porridge in the same way I think of soup – a wonderful warming bowl of gentle goodness – but that’s not enough for me; I like texture changes and flavour pops in my food, so just as I spend a few extra minutes thinking about how to create toppings, texture and flavour for a bowl of soup, I have started to do the same for my bowls of porridge.
This is a killer dhal, and the roasted sweet potatoes and rose-coloured coconut chutney lift it to something stellar. Everyone I have given the recipe to tells me that this has become their ‘compliment’ dish – everyone loves it. And all from the humble little lentil.
Little packages of paste make a quick and easy flavour base for soups, stews and curries. Making them has become a huge part of how I cook in winter, turning out double batches, then freezing one so that I am only moments away from something really tasty when I want it. If that sounds a bit too Martha Stewart for your liking, don’t worry: all these paste recipes can be used right away too.
A THIRST QUENCHER
This drink is the perfect, natural post-workout thirst quencher. You’ll need lemons, clementines, a pinch of sea salt (we lose a lot salt through sweat when we exercise, so adding salt is only necessary if you’re drinking this after a workout), maple syrup and water. Blend it all together, serve over ice, drink and feel better.