Trying and troubling times

This has been a strange year – what with the drought, then the bush fires, followed by floods and now the dreaded Corona virus. Could things get any worse? I hope this will pass soon and wish everyone a happier, peaceful and calmer time ahead and that we can soon look back on these sad times. I guess every one is now affected by this current problem and we are all making the most of these troubling times. Hopefully it won’t last long.
Many Asian cultures use and rely on natural herbal ingredients for various ailments. These have been passed down through generations and used extensively along with modern medicines. I remember the herbal remedies of my childhood: ‘Kotthamalli’ (coriander tea) a brew of boiled coriander seed and ginger sweetened with jaggery or sugar as a remedy for colds and coughs, ground fresh ginger and lime juice for upset tummies, honey and ground cumin for a sore throat, there were many of these remedies and now in Sri Lanka these are mass produced and packaged for convenience. Various leaves, plants and herbs are used both cooked or raw to treat ailments. Ginger, turmeric, garlic and honey are said to have health benefits, and I’ve been using these both in cooking and immune boosting drinks. One drink I have regularly is a teaspoon each of grated fresh young ginger, fresh turmeric root and organic raw honey with hot water. To make it easier to grate I store the cut pieces of ginger and turmeric in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer.
I recently bought some fresh garlic bulbs which had vivid purple markings and one rainy day I decided to illustrate these. Garlic too has many health benefits and whilst painting these beauties I was trying to decide on what to cook with them. I remembered a garlic curry that I had on a visit to Sri Lanka, and researched various recipes when I came across one in a cook book that belonged to my mum. The original recipe used 6 – 10 bulbs of garlic and a whole lot more of chillies, but I decided to cut down the quantities and used two whole bulbs and just 2 green chillies. You can always add more or less to suit your taste. I also cut the bigger cloves in half to keep them all to almost the same size and used about 32 cloves in total. The result was delicious – a very easy to do dish, the harshness of the garlic had mellowed to a nutty almost cashew like taste. I cooked them for about 20 -25 minutes so that the cloves of garlic were just tender and not too soft, and creamy and mild. It was something we loved and for the two of us there was enough left over for another meal.

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