Tuesday 19 November 2019

What Blarney: the uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms

Sophie White wonders if the 'fragrant' side effects of her bean curry caused the lack of baby-bump attention?

Bump touching - a major side effect of pregnancy. Photo: Getty Images.
Bump touching - a major side effect of pregnancy. Photo: Getty Images.

Sophie White

Pregnancy comes with myriad symptoms – some uncomfortable, some downright bizarre.

One girl I know got a strange rash on her hands, which swelled to insane proportions, rendering them useless for anything but waving.

Oddly, towards the end of my pregnancy, I was plagued by persistent nasal congestion, which made spending more than 10 minutes in my company unbearably irritating (according to Himself). To listen to pregnant women, however, there seems to be one side effect more ubiquitous than all the rest: bump touching. I've heard accounts of complete strangers touching a pregnant belly in the street, on public transport and at social gatherings.

People seem to think the bump is a bit like the Blarney Stone, and should be made available to tourists sporting bum bags, and the public at large.

Anyway, you're not going to find a lengthy rant about people touching my belly here, because it didn't happen to me. Frankly, I started to worry that my bump was somehow inferior because of this lack of attention. I was feeling a bit rejected, to be honest. And so I set about trying to make my bump more inviting, with perfumes and T-shirts with helpful instructions, such as "Place hands here", but my bump just didn't seem to have that mainstream star quality.

To console myself, I started touting the analogy that my bump was really an acquired taste for the more discerning palette. The thinking-man's bump. Perhaps my bump was not in possession of the approachable girl-next-door appeal, but something edgier. Maybe my bump was just more aloof?

It is probably pertinent to note that flatulence is also a common ailment of pregnant women and, perhaps, it is no coincidence that I was devouring vast quantities of this deliciously fragrant bean curry. Perhaps I was emanating more than just edgy vibes and that was keeping my bump admirers at bay?

Fragrant Butter Bean Curry

Serves 6.

You will need:

2 onions, diced

4 tablespoons sunflower oil

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

3 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds

Seeds of 10 cardamom pods

2 red chillies, finely sliced

1 aubergine, diced

1 green pepper, diced

16 curry leaves

16 lime leaves

2 x 400g (14oz) tins of chopped tomatoes

4 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

1 x 400g (14oz) tin of butter beans

1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, chopped and roasted until tender

400ml (14fl oz) coconut milk

Rice, to serve

Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

In a large saucepan, sweat the diced onions in the sunflower oil over a medium heat until soft, then add the sliced garlic. In a dry frying pan, lightly toast the coriander seeds, the mustard seeds and the fenugreek seeds, then, along with the cardamom seeds, finely grind them in a pestle and mortar. Add to the onions and the garlic in the pan, along with the sliced chillies, the diced aubergine, the diced pepper, the curry leaves and the lime leaves. Cook for a few minutes, until tender, adding more oil if the curry is drying out too much.

Add the tined tomatoes and stir in the fish sauce and the soft brown sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until thickened. Drain and stir in the tinned butter beans, the roasted butternut squash and the coconut milk. Season with a little more fish sauce or sugar, if required. Serve with rice and the chopped fresh coriander.

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