South Indian red lentil dahl

It had been a gruelling process.

Caught in a seemingly never-ending circle of temporary employment contacts, one of the agencies I was registered with suggested putting my CV forward for a post in a big shiny law company. By this point, I was well-versed in the process. I ironed my smartest dress, borrowed that jacket from my Mother, located a matching pair of heels and bought a new pair of 10 denier tights. I have a whole drawer full of 10 denier tights.

I read up on the company and prepared a presentation. I emailed my presentation off in good time, I saved a back-up on a USB and I even emailed a copy to myself. Just in case. As I say, by this point, I was well-versed in the process.

I sat in front of the panel, smiling my brightest, giving my most well thought-out answers. I gave realistic answers to difficult questions, I detailed why I would be a good fit. I smiled one last time, thanked the panel and left. I handed in my visitor’s pass. I rushed back to the office, thankful that this time I didn’t have to feign an emergency appointment. The waiting was to begin.

I may have been well-versed in the process, but this was the part I couldn’t settle by buying a new pair of tights, or donning my brightest smile. This part, this waiting, was always so hard. Every buzz of my phone or ping of my email resulted in a somewhat nervous twitch. I had mentally run through every possible outcome, from blank rejection all the way through to trading in my visitor’s pass for a shiny staff ID.

This time, the outcome was different.

So bright was my smile, and so well-versed in the nuances of IT training, I was to come back to interview for a different post. An Important Person In Charge Post.

This process I was not so well-versed in.

Instead of a mere pair of tights, I bought a whole new suit this time.

Instead of reading, I met up with an old schoolfriend who worked there to talk me though the company.

My two (yes, two) presentations were rehearsed, emailed and saved in every format known to mankind.

I did online tutorial after online tutorial on house styles and legal jargon. I read legal magazines, IT journals and article after article on just how the Microsoft suite can be tailored. 

I even watched the CEO of the company’s annual speech.

I was ready.

And, much as it would be hilarious to say that the interview itself was a disaster and I laddered those precious 10 denier tights, that would be a lie. I did my presentations, one via video-link. I answered their questions, I smiled as brightly as I could and I realised I was somewhat out of my depth.

This time, Jo, one of the interviewers walked me to the front door. She told me that I should set up my own business, that I had a lot of skills to sell. She told me that there was something very different about me, and if I kept doing what I was doing, that it would all work out.

The next day I got the call. The gruelling process was over.

The messenger told me that the panel thought my creativity would be stifled by suits and the corporate world but that they were very, very impressed. She sent through the feedback, and I read it in floods of tears, ashamed of my quirks. I considered dying my hair brown and painting my kitchen cream and pretending to be conventional.

Except I couldn’t forget those words.

Keep doing what you are doing, and it will all work out.

Over the past year, I have worked my arse off to create my very own food business. It is such hard work, and this city is flooded by so many amazing food businesses I frequently panic, but keep doing what you are doing, and it will all work out. One of the victims of this work, this effort, these 14 hour days for weeks on end has been my writing, where the Little Pink Kitchen all started.

I miss it.

I miss talking shite and sharing recipes and wondering if everybody else has the same mental train of thought that I do. I miss taking pretty pictures and reassuring people that actually making soup really is not that difficult.

I miss doing what I do.

And so, in the spirit of New Year’s resolve, I plan to keep doing what I do.

And for now, that is write.


A soupy lentil curry, which makes a really tasty lunch with some naan. If you really can’t be arsed to make it yourself, its on the lunch menu this week, so you can totally order some.


South Indian red lentil dahl

Serves 2. Cooking time 25 minutes.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or light olive oil
  • 2 cm piece ginger
  • 2 handfuls red split lentils
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • 2 tsp dried cumin
  • 2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • Fresh coriander and plain yoghurt, to serve
  1. Heat the oil over a low heat.
  2. Finely chop the onion and add to the oil. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Finely chop, grate or blitz the ginger and chilli (and a food processor or pestle & mortar).
  4. Add the cumin and coriander to the pan, cooking for a minute.
  5. Add the ginger and chilli mix to the pan.
  6. Add the lentils, stirring well.
  7. Add the coconut milk and stock, cooking for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Serve, garnished with coriander and yoghurt if desired.
Sarah Patterson