Day 15- Homemade Gift Time

Experimentation began in our house tonight, testing out a recipe from Saturday’s Weekend Guardian for a curry paste. I LOVE the Feast magazine, but confess that I don’t even get it open some weeks before it gets chucked in the recycling. It couldn’t escape my notice this week though as it was chock-full of recipes for curries and dhals, and got me thinking to Christmas gifts. I’ve a friend in Leeds who makes a mean Thai curry paste, which he prepares in huge batches which keep his family and several families in his locale going for about 3 months.

It can be time consuming enough making your own pastes though, and once you’ve touched your eye with chilli’d fingers it can put you off doing it again. (My eye is still smarting after earlier carelessness.) It’s a great idea then to triple the recipe and whizz up a few servings in the one go. Make a few labels (I actually used part of a tissue box here), add some ribbon and you have some pots of loveliness at the ready. It’s best to keep them in the fridge, so if you’re using cardboard labels perhaps keep to one side. Pastes and chutneys are a fab solution to a last minute gift or an unexpected guest who arrives and you think: ‘BUGGER. Not a thing have I in the house for this person.’

A nice idea is to include the link to a recipe on the back of the card and if you have the time or inclination, you could even stock up on coconut milk so you can give that as well. It’s an ideal gift to ensure turkey doesn’t go to waste after the big day.

Sadly my photo doesn’t do justice to the concoction I just made, with the addition of tamarind giving it a sort of sewage-y colour, which is something one usually avoids. However, we have just eaten it for our dinner and substituted the pumpkin for broccoli (I still to be honest, haven’t made peace with pumpkin after the deluge we had at the start of the month) and it was an exceptionally good curry. Took me straight back to Hanoi, in fact.

I remember finding my first Christmas with two babies extremely stressful. Sleeping at night was an anathema to them, and I seemed to exist in a perpetual state of bewilderment.  Anyway, a friend arrived with jars of homemade cranberry sauce and a mango chutney, and my mum had parcelled up turkey and ham and bloomer bread. For two days we feasted on soup and the most phenomenal deli-style sandwiches, and I recall feeling totally cherished, as though people had just honed in on exactly what we needed.

So it may SEEM like a simple, frugal sort of an offering, but I think folk really appreciate a homemade gift, and if it’s delicious and useful, then what’s not to love? Here’s the recipe I used this evening, and another cracker of a paste is from a BBC Good Food Tikka Masala Recipe. It boasts a fine, orangey red hue, so looks a bit more festive. Maybe go with that one….