How I Get Out of My (Cooking) Rut

Yoghurt & Kofta Curry

Ever had that feeling where you’re bored with cooking?

Well it may surprise you but even though I’m completely obsessed with food, there are times when I do feel a little ‘meh’.

Bored even.

This doesn’t happen often. But it does happen.

Like last week when Fergal was sick and I was running on less than 3 hours sleep a night.

What do I do when I’m uninspired?

1. Open the fridge.
Usually I’ll see something which inspires me enough to get cooking. It could be leftovers or an ingredient I’d forgotten about.

But when this doesn’t work, I try one of the following.

2. Consult an expert.
This could be flipping through a food mag like Australian Gourmet Traveller or picking up a cookbook from my shelf.

Current go-tos are ‘Four Kitchens’ by Sydney chef Colin Fassnidge, ‘Kitchen by Mike’ by another Syd chef Mike McEnearney and ‘Mr Hong’ by Dan Hong (to complete my trifecta of Sydney chef books).

And there’s always ‘A Platter of Figs’ by David Tanis OR ‘The Kitchen Diaries’ by Nigel Slater when I’m in the mood for some smooth food prose.

Or I open up my Instagram feed or check out the blogs I follow via email.

3. Visit the markets.
An early Saturday morning pilgrimage to my local farmers at EPIC in Canberra never fails to inspire.

Even on these frosty morning when we are rugged up with scarves, hats and gloves. There’s something about seeing all that fresh produce and fellow food lovers…

What do you do when you’re in a rut?

I’d love to know!
Share your tips in the comments below…

Yoghurt & Kofta Curry-2

Yoghurt & Kofta Curry

Inspired by an Emma Knowles recipe in a recent edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller. I’m always a little nervous about yoghurt splitting in cooked dishes but in this case the results were just so tasty! And I loved the tangy flavour and chunky texture of the curry sauce.

My Irishman even said it was the tastiest thing he’d eaten in ages. And he doesn’t say such things lightly…

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes

2 onions, peeled and sliced
450g (1lb) lamb mince (ground lamb), or beef
3 teaspoons garam masala
250g (9oz) natural (unsweetened) yoghurt
1 bunch coriander (cilantro)
cauliflower ‘rice’ or steamed rice, to serve

1. Place onion and a little oil in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook on a medium heat until the onion is soft. Stir every now and then to make sure it doesn’t brown too much.

2. While the onion is cooking, season the meat well and roll into little bite sized balls.

3. When the onion is soft, add the garam masala and cook for a minute or so. Add yoghurt. Stir then add the meatballs.

4. Pick a few of the coriander leaves to serve and reserve them. Chop the remaining coriander leaves and stems and add to the pot.

5. Bring the meatballs to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until just cooked through.

6. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve meatballs and sauce on a bed of cauli ‘rice’ or steamed rice with the reserved coriander leaves on top.

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extra flavour – drizzle over a curry oil to serve (to make the oil warm 2 teaspoons curry powder and 1 chopped green chilli in 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan until hot to touch).

curry leaves – if you have access to fresh curry leaves, add a handful to simmer in the sauce.

dairy-free – replace yoghurt with coconut milk.

vegetarian / vegan – replace meat with canned or home cooked chickpeas. You’ll need about 450g (1lb) cooked chickpeas. OR try these lentil balls.

paleo – replace yoghurt with coconut milk and serve with the cauli ‘rice’ (raw grated cauliflower).

different meat – feel free to use chicken, turkey or even pork mince.

different herbs / spices – you could use mint instead of coriander (cilantro) and your favourite curry powder if you don’t have any garam masala. Hot heads might like to add some chilli.

Big love,
Jules x

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  • Hey Jules,

    I do the same sort of things you do. If those fail me, I make a veggie bowl with eggs. That gives us all protein, fibre, and good fats. Easy and uses up some vegggies.

  • I’m a fan of googling the handful of ingredients I find in the fridge/pantry “+ recipe”. Always turns up some interesting options. Sometimes I go back to the recipes I’ve posted for clients/readers on my website – you know how you have a dish on high rotation for a while and totally forget about it? Am surprised at how often I’ve rediscovered an old recipe and fall in love with it all over again.

  • My standard go-to when I just can’t stand the thought of cooking, in this order:
    1. Eat out.
    2. Take out.
    3. Bowl of granola with fruit and almond milk.

  • Start another diet.. go vegan for a week and discover whole new things about food you never knew before.

    Or just buy something new and investigate what you can do with your knew found treasure. (I was amazed what happened the day I first bought fennel)

    Or choose a country and go from there. At one time our national team had to play against some countries so we ate their opponents meals.. Italian, Russian, Greek, …

    But usually it’s freezer / pantry diving and googling something to cook with whatever I find.

  • Hi Jules,
    I’m in a (shallow) rut but have been inspired by this recipe (koftas)! I feel like making it vegetarian – I love how you always offer other options- if made with lentil balls could they be put in to cook with the curry?
    Thanks. Cass

    • Yes they could Cass
      The only thing is the lentil balls are very fragile so be super careful and try not to stir until they’ve had a chance for the egg to cook.

  • This is probably not the healthiest thing to do, but it works well – especially with three children. I keep super easy/not so healthy meals (i.e., pasta, pita pizza, or grilled cheese) out of our regular diet. That way, if I’m really feeling ‘meh’, I default to making one of them. The children are super happy because they think it’s a treat (which helps alleviate my so so mood) and food is ready in a pinch. I know, not super exciting or exotic as an approach…

  • I am a collector of recipes on my laptop, so, if I feel I am in a rut, I look to see what I have and do a search on my laptop for those foods.

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