January blues … reds, greens, limes, pinks and purples


The best advice I can give anyone in January is don’t give up anything. It is the most miserable month of the year in the UK. Not only is it bitterly cold and grey but the twinkling lights of the festive season have disappeared and no one has any money! So take this month to make small changes and don’t beat yourself up. There is nothing better than a long walk with a good friend on a frosty, sunny day but why drag yourself out when the rain is sideways and the temperature is just above freezing? Curl up with a cozy blanket and treat yourself to a few glasses of port from the festive stash:) Our Christmas bar has more spirits now than it did before the 25th and I don’t see any reason to punish myself with dry January; moderate January and February and dry March seems a much better way to soothe my soul and give my liver a break!

Lastly, eat yourself healthy with a rainbow of colour and lots of spice, it’s the best remedy for grotty weather. Try homemade roasted butternut squash soup or make some Thai curry paste and explore a world of warm spicy dishes that remind you of the Tropics. This recipe for tomato masala has a beautiful blend of spice with the sweet sharpness of tamarind. It is filling and warming, which makes it perfect for the January blues!

Tomato and red onion in sweet tamarind masala

This is a wonderful blend of hot, sweet and sour flavours which makes the dish very moorish.  A firm favourite at Eliane; a comforting main for vegans, which is often nabbed by the meat eaters as well!

Serves 6

2-3 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
1 large onion, finely chopped
2cm (1”) chunk fresh ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 red onions, thinly sliced
8-10 large vine ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
6 tbsp desiccated coconut
4 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp coconut nectar
3 tsp tamarind paste
Himalayan pink salt and pepper, to taste
A small handful fresh coriander, chopped

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy based, deep frying pan over a medium heat.  Tip in the seeds and fry for a few minutes to release their aroma, be careful not to burn.  Next add in the ground coriander, onion, ginger and chilli, turn down the heat a little and fry until the onion is soft, add a little water from time to time to stop everything from sticking.  Once the sauce is well combined, add the red onion and continue to fry until the onion is just beginning to soften.  Next tip in the tomatoes, desiccated coconut, raisins, coconut nectar and tamarind paste.  Stir well, cover and simmer on a low heat for ten minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, a little coconut nectar and tamarind paste until it is to your liking.  The sauce should be thick, a coating rather than a soup; if the sauce is too thin, uncover the pan and turn up the heat to cook off some of the liquid.  Scatter over the fresh coriander and serve.