Since last year when I took my pledge to only every cook recipes with 5 ingredients or less for the rest of my life, I often get asked the same question. The conversation tends to go something a little like this.
FRIEND: ‘Hey Jules. Love what you’re doing on Stonesoup these days. Brilliant idea to focus on 5 ingredients 10 minutes’
FRIEND: ‘But tell me, you aren’t really only ever cooking with just 5 ingredients? Are you?’
ME: ‘Absolutely. I couldn’t lie to my readers. Even for Christmas dinner I made it all 5 ingredients: 5 ingredients ham, 5 ingredients turkey, 5 ingredients brussels sprouts. But the best part is, my cooking has never tasted better. I keep surprising myself. It’s really exciting!’
The other common comment is from people that cook a lot of Indian food, saying that they could never simplify like that. Which of course, inspired me to make delicious curries. I just use a curry paste, or a spice blend and make my own. Too easy.
I’m super excited about my latest favourite which demonstrates this – a chicken vindaloo. If you’re in the mood for cooking a few curries at a time, I highly recommend trying it with my butter chickpeas. So good.
8 tips for 5 ingredients success
use spice blends
Either make your own, 5 ingredient spice blend or use a commercial one.
use commercial sauces or make your own
Curry pastes, pesto, ketchup (tomato sauce for the Aussies), mayonnaise are all wonderful ways of getting more from each ingredient.
ditch the onion or garlic
While I know the smell of frying onion is one of the most divine things ever, the habit of always starting a dish by frying some onion or garlic can make it difficult to keep your ingredient count down. Not to mention minimising the time it takes. I tend to only use one or the other these days and sometimes I use chives to get that oniony hit without the cooking time.
use self-raising flour for baking
I’ve actually been toying with the idea of including baking powder as another ingredient not counted like salt, pepper & olive oil. It’s really more of a baking aid than something that ends up in the finished dish. The other option is to use self raising flour rather than adding flour and baking powder separately.
serve more than one dish as a meal
Most of the recipes in my e-cookbook 5 ingredients 10 minutes are pretty much designed to be served as a meal on their own, but when I’m cooking for myself, it’s rare that I would serve just one dish as a main meal. A green salad is my go-to recipe, but other salads or vegetable dishes are a great way to go.
If you don’t try, you’ll never know how it tastes. Challenge yourself to try cutting back to 5 ingredients. Mostly you’ll be amazed at how great (and complex) simple food can taste.
use compound ingredients
While I don’t use them often, mixed frozen vegetables or mixed salad leaves are a great trick for getting a lot of variety and nutrition into one ingredient.
only use one type of each ingredient
If a recipe calls for mint and basil, choose only 1 herb to use. Same goes with sauces or vegetables.
[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
serves 3 -4
If you didn’t want to serve the curry with rice, I like to use canned lentils with wilted spinach to get some more veg into my meal.
And don’t feel constrained to chicken. Beef, lamb, tofu, chickpeas or lentils would all be delicious.
There are 2 ways to get tender meat in a curry. Either gently simmering in the sauce for hours OR stir frying finely sliced pieces of meat over a high heat to brown the outside of the meat, then removing the meat from the pan, making the sauce and adding the meat at the end to just heat though. In my experience, simmering for 1/2 hour or so usually gives tough meat.
Of course, if you have access to great commercial curry pastes, feel free to use them instead.
And as always when cooking with chilli, leaving the seeds in makes it hotter. And it’s better to err on the side of being not hot enough – you can always add more!
2 chicken breasts,(approx 500g / 1lb) finely sliced
4 tablespoons vindaloo curry paste (recipe below)
2 cans tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
4 -6 large green chillies
natural yoghurt, to serve, optional
1. Heat a few tablespoons peanut oil in a large frying pan or wok over very high heat.
2. Stir fry chicken, moving it constantly around the pan until it is no longer pink. Remove from the heat and place chicken in a clean bowl.
3. Return the pan to the heat. Add curry paste and stir fry for about 30 seconds.
4. Add tomato, crushing to break them up a little.
5. Add the chilli. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the sauce looks a little thickened. Taste and season.
6. Return chicken and and juices to the pan and allow to heat through.
[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
vindaloo curry paste
makes about 4 tablespoons
If you can’t find curry powder, substitute a mixture of equal quantities of ground turmeric and ground cumin. I just used Keens brand from the supermarket and was really chuffed with the results.
If you don’t have a food processor, just chop everything by hand. It will be a little chunkier but that will be fine.
The curry paste will keep for a week or so in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want to, you could make a bigger batch and freeze for later use.
2 – 3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
1 thumb-sized piece ginger
1 whole bunch coriander (cilantro), washed well
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1. Pop all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until everything is finely chopped.
2. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil and whizz again until just combined.
video version of the recipe
10 Minute Simple Soups
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