What’s for dinner tonight, Indira?
My husband directs Q&A on the ABC, so Monday nights are always my night. He’s not into pastry and not into eggs, which I love … so Monday tends to be my spinach and pie night.
So he’s proof that real men don’t eat quiche?
I think he started that cliché, and he actively discourages people from eating quiches.
What’s good to eat from your balcony garden this spring?
I’ve put in beetroot, beans, peas, lettuce, carrots, radishes and tomatoes and re-sown some herbs. The basil should be lush and thick, so that’ll go into fresh pesto, and the beetroot leaves in salads. The strawberries have just kept fruiting … they’ve been so good, they just disappear while I’m watering the plants!
In a nutshell, what’s your philosophy on cooking?
Food writer Michael Pollan was probably one of the first to inspire me to reconnect with food and where it comes from. One of my favourite sayings of his is “Eat food. Not much. Mostly plants”. I also like “Don’t eat anything that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise”.
You were raised on your mum’s South African-Indian cooking. Is there a favourite dish?
It would have to be the one I’ve included in my book (Selvie’s chicken curry with curry leaves). It takes an hour from go to whoa, so it’s something you can even do after work.
Your go-to dish for dinner parties?
For me, it’s important for the host to be relaxed so the conversation flows … so it’s almost always a slow-cooked affair. Even in summer I’ll do a slow roast and then dress it up into a salad. There’s also a twice-baked cheese soufflé with warrigal greens, which has turned out to be my favourite recipe in the book. I thought I’d never go near soufflé, but you can do it in two stages and it’s so “wow”, so delicious.
What are the pantry ingredients you just couldn’t do without?
I always have anchovies, capers, chilli flakes and polenta, and I always have lots of little jars or pastes and sauces that I can quickly add to something.
Race me through a typical day …
I naturally wake up at 4.30-5am, which is why late-night news used to exhaust me! I’ll do my reading, emails and bits and pieces then some gardening til about 5.30 ... by the time my husband wakes up I have already basically finished half the day’s writing. Then I’ll go off to do my talks or other projects. I usually like to be in bed by 9pm – I’m a real nanna!
Indira Naidoo is the author of The Edible Balcony: How to grow fresh food in a small space (Lantern, RRP $39.95). She is curating a kitchen garden at the Australian Garden Show (Sept 5-8); for information in this and other projects go to her blog saucyonion.blogspot.com