I am a recipe book junkie. I simply can't resist a new cookbook - I have several hundred of them. In fact if I were to use all the recipes I have around the house in books and magazines (let's just forget about the humungous number available online) at the rate of one a day, it would probably take me several thousand years to use them up.
And these books take up space - all the bookshelves in my study are full, with books piled on top and on the floor (OK, not all the books in the study are cookbooks - only about 60% of them), they are crammed into the cupboard under the kitchen sink, my bedside cupboard is full of them and there are probably as many again in the loft.
It's time for action! I'm pretty strict with fiction - once I've read a book (Mark, too, if it's something he would like) then off it goes, passed on to friends, family or a charity shop. But I find it hard to part with a cookbook, even one I've never used.
So I have a plan. I know I have favourite books I turn to time and time again. They have earned their place on my shelves and they are keepers. The rest - well, one by one, I plan to take one I've not cooked from before, make three recipes from it and then decide whether it's a keeper or time to say goodbye.
The first one (because it was on the floor and I stubbed my toe on it) for trial by tastebuds is Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation.
Now, we both love curries and I have a LOT of curry recipes, yet I seem to turn to the same few time and time again, so this time I decided to try some dishes that were completely new to me. I put together a menu of dished that probably wouldn't be served together - the chaat, in particular, is more of a snack or street food item, but they sounded good together to me!
The menu was
Chana Aloo Chaat (page 14) - Spicy chickpeas, potatoes and beans in a tamarind sauce. I left out the potatoes, so it should really be called Chana Chaat, because I was using potatoes in another dish. This was delicious, easy and could be prepared in advance. I had no chaat masala but there was a very good recipe for it in the book.
Chilli Champ (page 28) - Chilli lamb chops, marinated overnight in spices then baked in the oven. These were amazing - I used ordinary supermarket lamb chops and they came out really tender, juicy, succulent and packed with flavour.
Aloo Gobi (page 108) - Cauliflower with potatoes. The recipe suggests deep frying the potatoes and cauliflower before finishing them in the spicy sauce, but I decided to parboil them instead because I was worried that the meal would be too fatty when I served this with the lamb chops. It was a really delicious dish and the potatoes made a very pleasant change from rice with the curry. I was particularly impressed with the addition of the cauliflower leaves and stalks to the sauce, making this a very low-waste dish and adding extra flavour and texture.
Not the most carefully styled of photos, because I only thought about writing all this down just as I was about to tuck in!
Of course I can't share the actual recipes, as they are copyright, but take it from me if you, too, have this book on your shelf, these three dishes are very much worth trying, and if you're thinking about buying a copy, I heartily recommend it.
The meal was a brilliant kitchen clearer too, as I had half a tin each of chickpeas and red kidney beans in the fridge along with a couple of tomatoes and a third of a cauli that was looking rather tired, and the veg rack contained a red onion that was starting to sprout and a couple of potatoes in the same condition. And it also used a fair number of last year's chillis from the freezer, that all need to be finished before this year's are ready, and gave me something to do with that part-jar of amchoor that was lurking at the back of the cupboard.
I'll be back soon with another Power of Three post, but for now I'm going to pop over to Madhouse Family Reviews and join in the monthly Kitchen Clearout link-up.