Sunday, 17 July 2011
Day 17: Flavours from the Near East
Everywhere we went, we ate pretty much the same thing: hummus, falafel, baba ghanoush, pitta breads, and all sorts of little dishes of this and that. I lived on this stuff for a week, and I never once got sick of it. Even more importantly for present purposes, it was most wonderfully cheap.
So what to do upon my return but try to recreate some of these dishes? Hummus, for example. It is ruinously expensive in the supermarkets - at least £1 for one little tub. There has to be a cheaper way.
Now, I have actually made hummus before. It was for a church social to which I had to bring along a savoury dish designed to feed four. I followed a Jamie Oliver recipe that time, loading the required amount of dried chickpeas into my slow cooker and soaking them over night.
Disaster! There must have been something wrong with the quantities listed, because the chickpeas swelled and overflowed (overflew??) my little slow cooker. Twice. The mass of them just kept swelling and growing and oozing across the kitchen counter like a monster from a 1950s horror movie. I did finally succeed in cooking the chickpeas in a very large pot, after which I whizzed them (in about 10 batches) in the food processor, and then added the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. The result was unutterably bland. At this point I knew for sure that the quantites were all messed up, and emptied an entire bottle of lemon juice into the mixture along with a full bulb of crushed garlic. This resulted in a dish that was faintly flavoursome. But it had to do. Off to the church social I went with a portion that would have fed 12 hearty eaters, leaving at least the same proportion behind in my fridge. It took me a fortnight to work my way through it.
In terms of cost, I spent a half hour in Tesco's recently, darting excitedly around their World Foods aisle. For this is what I discovered:
That there are in this world people like me who dabble in a little Indian or Middle Eastern cooking here and there. They can pick up a Tesco's own 500g bag of dried chick peas for 78p. But if you actually are Indian or Middle Eastern, then chances are that a wee 500g bag of chick peas isn't going to take you very far. So Tesco has introduced in its World Foods aisle a whopping great 2kg bag of chickpeas for only £2.39. That is a saving of 73p! Granted, it will probably keep me in falafels for an entire year, but that's okay. What's more, the World Food aisle also has massive bags of spices, such as a 400g bag of paprika for only £1.69. You would have to buy 8 jars of Tescos own paprika to equal that, at a total cost of £5.52. I am not sure that I would ever use such a quantity of paprika, but it might be worth sharing out among friends, for example. Because I resent these wee jars!
So anyway, there's my frugal tip for the day: check out Tesco's World Food aisle. And maybe other World Food aisles in other supermarkets. While chickpeas take over my kitchen.
Total Expenditure: £12.21 (on enough food to last me for a fortnight or, in the case of the chickpeas, for a year.)