Once in a while, men catch something called ‘man flu’. Many of you will be familiar with this phenomenon. It is not a cold like you or I get, mind. It is a whole new strain of illness which affects only those with the Y chromosome. ‘Man flu’ can be identified by the following symptoms – chills, increased grumpiness, self pity, loud sighing, the feeling of impending doom, conspicuous consumption of Day/Night Nurse and maybe a runny nose here or there, depending on the severity. While I was making fun of the afflicted party, I was warned very sternly by a normally quite jovial uncle against making light of what is actually a ‘very terrible illness’. He then proceeded to commiserate on behalf of said party, sending greetings and well wishes and sympathy for his affliction, as though he were greeting a fallen soldier. The bro code is still strong among men, obviously.
Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot pretend to understand how men have collectively managed to raise the profile of the common cold so high as to deserve its own nomenclature (man flu); however, I do understand that having a cold can make you feel a bit blah, and that when that is the case, you need lots of comforting food that serves as eye candy to re-awaken your appetite, and something wholesome to replenish your body. In other parts of the world, a hearty chicken soup is believed to be a great cure for colds. In Nigeria, our own cure is light pepper soup. With this I was going for a hybrid soup, both hearty and light, the delicacy of broth, with the character of a substantial soup; not quite traditional pepper soup, and not quite chicken soup either. I also thought that they huge hunks of lamb would gladden the heart of this particular male recipient, who is known to approach all meals with the question ‘but where’s the meat though’ hanging in the air…
- Lamb cutlets (I got these New Zealand ones from Delis on Akin Adesola)
- Lots of fresh veg (fresh spinach, fresh peas, coriander, basil, ginger, garlic, spring onions, fresh chilli pepper or ata rodo) which I bought from the veggie stand on the Adeola Odeku end of Idowu Martins
- Brown Rice, barley, lentils are store cupboard staples, I already had at home – do you like my yin and yang pattern? 🙂
- Seasoning (I used, cloves, nutmeg, coriander powder, salt, black pepper, a bit of stock, a small splash of Thai Fish Sauce and of course a squeeze of lime)
- Put a large pot of water on the cooker, and drop in the lamb
- Add salt and pepper and garlic, and let the water come to the boil; then when the lamb is cooked but not yet tender, add your pulses, half of your chopped pepper, ginger and then season.
- Let the lamb get really soft. The bulk of the cooking time is dedicated to the lamb. Once it is juicy and tender, add the peas. Once the peas are just cooked, remove the pot from the heat and mix in your spinach, the remaining chilli, giner, the spring onions, a handful of coriander, and half a handful of basil. You can chop the fresh herbs roughly before you add them, but leave the spinach whole so that it doesn’t disappear as it wilts in the heat.
- Adjust seasoning one last time if you need to, and then serve up in large bowls. Super easy, and incredibly yummy – the lamb is juicy and tender, and the veg is fresh and alive.
You can make this with any meat or seafood you like, and any combination of veggies in your fridge. Throw in some mushrooms or sweet potato cubes for a bit more texture, or use chickpeas and assorted beans instead of brown rice and barley and lentils. If you are making this for a man like Fred Flinstone who has man flu, then perhaps skip the posh lamb cutlets and use a few large turkey drumsticks instead….