I've had this post sitting in my drafts folder for a while now. Not because I've not known what to write, or that I'm unhappy with the recipe (side note: most definitely not, this meal is one of my favourites.) It's more that life is abundantly full and busy at the moment, and I'm beyond grateful for it. With my masters thesis all wrapped up (HAPPY DANCE) I've been able to dedicate more time to teaching, practice, and picking up a whole lot of other little things that fall to the side when you're dedicating you life (and brain!) to a single project.
The thing is this: we so often deny or avoid the truth of our stress. It's all too easy to delay, defer, or delete all those little acts of self-love and stress management when we're under the pump, busy or you know, just getting through life these days. The demands of the moment, and anxieties for the future, have a sense of immediacy and urgency that allows us to justify neglecting those things that actually mean the most for our wellbeing. Off the top of my head I can think of at least a handful of things that I've minimised or slowly phased out of my life over the past 2.5 years as work and stress intensified: reading, walking, running, nature, meditation, and perhaps surprisingly food.
Because let's be real here, food is one of my major coping strategies for stress. As it is for so many people. Food is delicious, it is comforting and soothing. Food is great in a moderate dose, every so often, for dealing with a shitty day, or stressful moment. I am happy to admit that I have relied on food to help me cope with the stress of thesis, work(um, LIFE) to the exclusion of nearly all other stress management tools (yoga being my major exception). This dramatically shifted my relationship with food, from something that I celebrated for its ability to nourish, heal and empower my body and being, into something that became a source of negativity and stress itself, for many complex reasons.
I can't sit here and tell you that I feel like today, I've completely healed or resolved my relationship with food, but I'm well on my way. Through an amazing collection of allied health practitioners (psychologist and dietitian included), friends, and time, I've gained so much understanding and am beginning to have glimpses of a more positive relationship to food again. Two things have really helped me, the first was being open about what was happening (with myself, and then with other people) and the second thing was refocussing my stress management away from food and being really fucking deliberate about it. This second part has come a bit later than the first, because it requires time, energy and space. But actively seeking other ways to nourish myself, whilst identifying what was creating disharmony was a BIG deal. Discoveries so far: TV out, reading in. Baths are magical, and should be taken at least every second day. Candles and pretty smells are really important. I need another physical outlet to complement my yoga practice, and running is stupidly fun + affordable. When you're meditating, five minutes magically feels like 20 minutes of sitting and being with yourself. Sugar makes me act like a cranky four year old. It's better to eat wonderful food in a little while, than convenient crap now. Asking other people for help is really nice.
I know that list sounds pretty simple, and it's a reflection of my sparkly new understanding that, for me, it's not about the complexity or scale of the activity, but doing it with deliberate mindfulness and intention.
Phew. If you're still with me, this is a meal for celebrating wins, triumphs and reconnections. It has a few components, but so much of it can be done ahead of time, and it really only requires a bit of coordination at the end. It is satisfying beyond measure.
Big, mindful, well-intentioned hugs to you all. XX
It's not often I'll suggest a workflow, but here I think it's pretty worthwhile:
Boil potatoes for masala -- make the raita -- chop remaining ingredients for masala -- make the batter -- drain potatoes and set aside -- get masala cooking -- make crepes -- finish masala by adding potatoes -- serve and enjoy!
makes a lot
The potato masala, like all the components in this meal, can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until needed. Reheat and serve when desired! Also, this is a very mild masala, please feel free to crank up the heat with an amount of dried or fresh chillies to your liking. I suggest using a starchy potato for this recipe, which gives a creamy, moreish masala, but if you've only got new or baby potatoes, don't let that stop you from diving in, maybe just mash up the masala a little more.
1.5 kg starchy potatoes (dutch cream or sebago), washed and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium (about 200 g) green capsicum, deseeded and roughly chopped
1/2 small (about 200 g) cabbage, roughly chopped
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
a big pinch of curry leaves
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
pinch of chilli flakes
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp sunflower or rice bran oil
In a large pot, add the cut potatoes and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until cooked. Meanwhile, cut up the rest of the veggies and measure out the spices. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and set aside.
Rinse out the potato saucepan, and return it to the stove. Add the oil and heat over medium. Once the oil is warm, add the mustard, cumin and coriander seeds. Cover and once the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the capsicum, cabbage, curry leaves, chilli, ginger and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover, stirring occasionally while you make the crepes.
Once the crepes are cooked and you're ready to roll, turn the heat on the saucepan up to medium-high. Add the cooked potatoes, peas and turmeric. Stir to mix the turmeric and the cooked mixture through the potatoes, warming them through. Stir quite vigorously with your wooden spoon: you absolutely want your potatoes to be a little mangled here. Think of it like a very chunky, Indian flavoured mash potato. Trust me, it will make eating the crepes SO much easier.
When the potatoes and peas are heated through, turn off the heat. Serve straight from the saucepan or transfer into a large serving bowl. Leftovers (hah!) will store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
makes about 12
While I've gone for an Indian-inspired filling here, there's almost no limit to the flavours and vegetables you could use to fill these crepes. For such a simple recipe they are remarkable tasty in their own right, and sturdy enough that I suspect they could be used as a burrito wrapper.
2 cups chickpea flour (also called gram or besan flour)
2 cups mylk of choice (I have used cashew, rice and almond all to great success)
a big pinch of salt
sunflower or rice bran oil, for frying
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, mylk and salt. Whisk together vigorously and set aside for 10 minutes, whisking at intervals to break up any clumps of batter.
Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan (20 cm diameter) over medium heat. Drizzle a little oil into the pan and use a piece of paper towel to spread the oil evenly and soak up any excess. Using a 1/3 cup measure, ladle batter into the fry pan and quickly tilt the pan in a circle to spread the batter evenly around. If your batter does not run around the pan easily, add a little more mylk or water to loosen it. Fry for 1-2 minutes, until the batter is no longer shiny, but matte. Run a long spatula around then entire edge of the crepe, loosening it away from the pan and the flip it over. Fry for 1-2 minutes on this side, then remove from the pan, and cocoon in a dry, clean tea towel to keep warm and moist.
Repeat until you have used all the batter. You will need to re-oil the pan every 2 crepes or so, but make sure to use the paper towel to get rid of any excess. Also: resign yourself to completely mangling 1 or 2. Dedicate them to the universe and keep going.
Cooked crepes can be stored, wrapped in their tea towel and stored in an airtight container in the fridge, until needed, or for a maximum of 3 days. Reheat when needed by giving each crepe and gentle heat on a medium fry pan, or wrapping them (still in the tea towel or paper towel) in aluminium foil and placing in a warm oven for 10 minutes or so.
makes about 2 cups
1 cup plain, unsweetened yoghurt of choice (coconut, cow, sheep, soy)
1 tbsp lemon juice
handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
big pinch of salt
1/2 small (about 3/4 cup) cucumber, diced small
2-4 tbsp water
Mix the yoghurt, lemon juice, coriander, cucumber and salt in a bowl. Add water until your desired consistency is reached (it should be drizzle-able but not runny). Store in the fridge until needed, where it will keep for 2 days.
putting it all together
POTATO MASALA CHICKPEA CREPES + CUCUMBER RAITA
fresh coriander and spring onions, roughly chopped
Have all the components warm and ready to go. Serve everything up on the table and encourage everyone to dig in and make their own way. Use hands or cutlery. Finger licking mandatory.