You’re here for the aubergine and tomato curry of course, but first, I have some truly shocking news.
We’ve joined a bloody boot camp. A boot camp! Yes, like all the other New Year New Me fitness wankers. Weirdly, I feel I should explain our actions. We eat reasonably well but we simply don’t do enough exercise. We enjoy the gym, but I find I tend to stumble in my own drool on the treadmill as it faces the boxing class and well, if there’s a particularly brutish looking man getting battered around the ring, I find the emergency stop button being pressed by something other than my hands. Paul’s the same: enjoys the gym, but is very conscious that there’s a McDonalds, a KFC and a Dominos on the way home. It’s altogether too easy to think that you’ve worked up such a sweat punching the number for a Kitkat Chunky into the swimming pool vending machine that really you ought to have a treat. What can I say: I tried but I was weak and backsliding, and now the Devil has come home in the form of swollen ankles and breathlessness when I blink too much.
So: if crippling obesity doesn’t give me pause enough to do more exercise, what will? The lure of money – or rather, the fretting and angst that potentially losing money brings. I’m not going to name the company that I’m boot-camping with as I don’t want it to look like we’re pushing them – we’re not – but they offer a money back guarantee as long as you stick to the classes. If you don’t, you lose your money. All very fair and a great motivator for someone as tight-arsed as me – I’d climb Everest if I thought the guy in front of me had dropped a fiver out of his pocket when reaching for his oxygen tank. We’ve handed over a not insignificant amount of money and committed to six weeks of hell, all in the name of having slightly less fat on our arse when we roll into summer. Paul trembled at the thought of exercise, I sobbed at the thought of having to put my gym trainers back on.
We bit the bullet though and it was with a heavy heart and far heavier tits that we pulled into the car-park on an industrial estate at 9pm, something we never usually do unless we’ve pre-arranged a meeting with a lorry driver whose ‘wife just doesn’t understand him’ and ‘anyway it’s not gay if I don’t touch yours’. At least I think that’s what they say, my ears are usually muffled by thighs at that point. I had visions of walking in and everyone collectively gasping until someone rushed over and threw a blanket over us like one might do with a screeching budgie. I knew we’d attempt one exercise, find it all too much and then skulk out the emergency exit with our ears wringing. Typo deliberate, and I’m quite proud of that. But no: the crowd didn’t consist exclusively of people who looked like they’d been whittled from walnut, but rather an excellent mix of weights, sizes, ages, oxygen saturation levels and fitness. There were no shitty looks, no whispers, no redirections to a dark corner ‘for the best’. In fact, we were treated marvellously – we chuckled our way through the disclaimer (swollen ankles? I don’t know, they’re usually behind my ears out of sight, ho ho) and had our photos taken, front and profile like a mug-shot. Which is fitting, because my gym outfit was a crime to all things sartorial. I don’t care, I’m there to sweat and go blue, not pull. Judge me on my gasping, not my Lidl exercise socks.
Before we even had a chance to change our mind our class was ushered in and it began. What followed was dreadful in the best possible way – great fun, a good mix of exercises and excellent leadership – but you need to understand it’s hard to concentrate when you’re certain you’re about to shit out your own heart through over-exertion. I have genuinely never moved so much in my life: you could set me on fire and I’d still keep a slower pace than I did that night. We ran, we jumped, we threw a ball around, we did lunges and push-ups and press-ups and burpees and kicking and although we couldn’t do many, we bloody tried, and surprised ourselves with exactly how much we could do. There was no pressure: just firm encouragement, which was exactly what we needed. I could have done without the Now That’s What I Call Wrapping A Vauxhall Nova Around A Lamppost playing so loudly but if anything, it kept you moving if only to move away from the speaker.
The biggest revelation: we actually had fun. We both came out (surprise!) full of praise and looking forward to the next one. Who would have thought it?
But, by god, am I paying for it now – I can barely move. I’ve moved muscles that up until Monday night were still worried about the Millennium Bug. I’ve got aches in parts of my body that I didn’t know I had – who knew that the underside of a tit could ache so much? I feel like I’ve jumped out of a moving car. Yesterday wasn’t too bad but today I actually got stuck on the toilet for five minutes. Sat down no problem, sacrificed my dinner to the Sewer Gods without breaking a sweat, tidied up and made to leave only to find I couldn’t actually pull myself up. What to do? Spend the day with a cold nipsy in the vain hope someone would a) rescue me and b) not be repulsed enough by the fetid air that they would decide it was better to leave me to my fate? Unlikely. I had to hoist myself up using the towel rail like an old lady who had taken a tumble in the kitchen. Not just me though: I received a text from Paul this afternoon with the sorrowful phrase ‘I’m stuck on the stairs’ – like a cow, he had gone up the stairs no bother, but coming down meant bending his legs in such a way that was simply impossible. He had to shuffle down on his arse. Watching him walk across our lawn to the house was hilarious – he was walking so gingerly you’d think we’d stuck land-mines in the snowdrops.
Still: another session tonight at 9pm. If anyone wants to visit me in hospital afterwards, I’ll be in the Cramlington cardiothoracic department. You’ll be able to spot me by my cheap shoes and blue lips.
Right, let’s do the recipe for this aubergine and tomato curry, yes? That’s what you’ve come for, after all. It’s an aubergine and tomato curry from Meera Sodha’s Made in India book, adapted slightly for Slimming World. I can’t tell you enough how much I love this book – most of the recipes can be adapted if you’re feeling virtuous but they’re absolutely gorgeous exactly as they are. Plus, I’m yet to find a recipe in there that hasn’t been nice and easy to make. I genuinely recommend: you can buy it from Amazon right here!
to make an aubergine and tomato curry, you’ll need:
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 green chilli, chopped
- 4cm knob of ginger, minced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- 1½ tsp ground coriander
- 2 tbsp tomato pureé
- 1 tsp sugar (1 syn)
- 2 large aubergines, quartered and cut into half-cm slices
One gadget we swear by is a good Microplane grater – this’ll make mincing the garlic and ginger a breeze! No I know, I recommend them an awful lot, but it’s because it is worth having. You’ll use it a lot!
Yeah, we used one syn of sugar in the recipe. Divide between four and that’s quarter of a syn. I mean, really.
to make an aubergine and tomato curry, you should:
- plonk a large frying pan over a medium heat and spray in a little oil (Frylight ruins non-stick coating, so use this instead!)
- add the onion and cook until it’s turning a bit golden, which’ll take about 6-8 minutes
- add the green chilli, ginger, and garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently
- add the tomatoes to the pan and then stick the lid on
- leave for about ten minutes for the tomatoes to soften
- add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and tomato pureé to the an and mix well
- when it’s looking a bit sloppy, add 150ml of warm water and then the aubergine slices
- stir gently until the abuergine is nicely coated, the stick the lid back on again
- cook for another 15-20 minutes over a medium-low heat – you’ll know it’s done when you can cut the aubergine with a wooden spoon
Enjoy? Why not click the vegetarian recipes I’ve provided below and live like a Queen?
- tomato ketchup (syn free)
- rainbow coleslaw (syn free)
- hash browns (syn free)
- sizzling rainbow salad (syn free)
- roasted grapes and goats cheese stuffed sweet potatoes (syn free)
- roasted garlic chickpeas (syn free)
- cheesy smash scones (syn free)
- tomato and nasturtium consommé (syn free)
- baked bean lasagne (syn free)
- minty beetroot raita (syn free)
- mushy pea curry with onion rice (syn free)