How to Banish Melancholy


a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause.

Autumn is that time of year when I come alive and begin to have some kind of structure to my days and nights. I don’t like the heat. Australian summers are HOT and they annoy me, I just can’t function properly. Today is an overcast, cool day with a high of 18 degrees.  Yes, I have the heater on, I’m cold. It’s not really ‘heater’ weather yet but I need socks and 3/4 sleeves and something hot and bubbling away on the stove.

The last few days have been a bit heavy for me mentally and yesterday my energy levels were at an all time low. I knew that I had to banish this today if I wanted to make the most of my day off work. This week I’ll be working 40+ hours and I need comfort food to see me through the late nights home, when all I want to do is relax.

Aloo Matar! Potato and Peas curry.

As part of our ‘Meatless Monday’ household, this vegan dish is comfort, flavour and bliss in a bowl. Socks all the way to the knees, curled up with a great book (currently reading Circe by Madeline Miller), can allow me to feel present while laundry is laundering and spices are spicing up my dinner. Adulting can be a bit rough for me so I adopt the art of Hygge and concentrate on the present.

For me, when I have to start coming out of my melancholic state it’s all about effort and taking things slow… appreciating the small things. The house is clean -ish, warm and smells amazing with spicy aromas wafting through the house. I’m pretty lucky actually. I have created this bliss. The fact that melancholy darkens my door every now and then is not even an issue really. Melancholy should be fleeting. Something that comes, tries to stay but will never be stronger than me and my need to take each day as the blessing that it is.

So, it’s time to get up, wash your hair, put some clothes on and head out the door to buy the freshest ingredients.

The recipe requires only a few things, most of which are staples in my house. It’s cheap and can feed many mouths, making it a winner in my recipe box.

You will need:

2 Tbls oil, (I use Rice Bran)

1 teas cumin seeds

1 teas black mustard seeds

1 teas turmeric powder

1/2 teas chilli powder

1 teas garam masala

1 Tbls coriander powder

2 onions, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 inch ginger, grated

4 tomatoes, roughly chopped

4 med-large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

300g fresh or frozen peas

approx 500 ml boiling water

salt to taste

chopped fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Down to the local food store to buy supplies (avoid busy, autonomous supermarkets when you’re trying to slide out of melancholy), then back home. I scrubbed and cleaned the potatoes, tomatoes and peas, dosed out the spices and pulled out my huge dutch oven so that I could make a big batch of this to not only feed the five adults tonight but to have some left over for the week, so I doubled the recipe. A bowl of this will certainly banish melancholy by a thousand feet. It is a simple, quick recipe that is perfect for mid-week dinner and it keeps well for leftovers. Curries taste amazing the next day.

On medium-high heat, begin by heating the oil and adding the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Let them sizzle to release their aroma and add your onion. Cook until golden brown.

Add garlic and ginger and tomatoes, stir thoroughly, place lid on the pot and cook gently on med-low heat for about 10-12 minutes, until tomatoes have softened and caramalised.

Add you spices, turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder and salt, stirring for a minute before adding the potato and peas. Add boiling water, simmer for about 30-35 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve over a bowl of fluffy rice.

Enjoy and happy cooking.


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