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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Michelin-chef Creates Dish Designed To Improve Mood As We Enter Into The Darker Months

The Perfect Mood-boosting Thai Recipe.

The dish uses heat, colour and lean proteins to trigger the release of feel-good endorphins and boost serotonin levels.

  • One in three Brits to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as the clocks go back and the winter weather arrives*

  • Dish uses heat, vibrant colours and lean protein to scientifically improve mood

  • Chef Sebby Holmes’ Jungle Curry of Beef Cheeks, Green Peppercorns and Sweet Basil is bound to deliver a blow against the winter darkness

As the nights get darker, more and more people across the UK will start to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. With the clocks set to go back this weekend (Sunday 29 October) it’s easy to start to feel a little more downcast than usual.

Michelin Thai chef Sebby Holmes, the mastermind behind Farang and PAYST, is on hand to offer a delicious recipe that contains ingredients proven to boost your mood. Is this the perfect recipe to cook this season to keep your mind happy and healthy?

The recipe brings heat, colour and lean proteins together to ensure people are doing everything they can to keep those negative thoughts at bay.

The Science:

Heat: It’s reported that even a whiff of ginger can improve your mood. No Thai curry would complete without a healthy amount of ginger and garlic, but it’s fresh chillies that really pack a punch. Capsaicin, a chemical compound found in chillies, triggers the release of endorphins that can boost your mood, and may even reduce stress and anxiety. Increase the heat levels to give yourself a boost, and to keep warm when the cold weather kicks in.

Colour: Our brains respond to colour by stimulating glands which regulate hormones, including serotonin. Research has shown that bright colours can trigger the release of serotonin, which is responsible for making us feel happy and satisfied.** The bright reds of Holmes’ Jungle Curry signal excitement to the brain, whilst orange and yellow hues are the feel-good colours of the rainbow, eliciting feelings of happiness, optimism and hope.

Lean proteins: It’s no secret that protein is vital for a balanced diet. According to mental health charity MIND, diets high in protein can support your mental health.*** Protein contains amino acids which your brain needs to produce neurotransmitters - these help regulate thoughts and feelings. Beef cheek is inexpensive and packed with protein, it works perfectly in Holmes’ Jungle Curry.

Here’s everything you need to cook this mood boosting curry:


Serves 2 / GF

1 pot Payst jungle curry

2 tablespoons, vegetable oil

2 tablespoons, coriander roots, washed and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons wild ginger, krachai, peeled and roughly chopped (regular ginger can be used instead)

½ tablespoon coarse sea salt

200g, beef cheek, trimmed (any slow cook beef can be used)

2 whole stick lemongrasses, bruised in a pestle

20g, galangal, bruised in a pestle

4 kaffir lime leaves, torn slightly to release flavour

2 tablespoons, table salt

1 whole garlic head, sliced in two across the cloves

4 banana shallots, chopped in half

1 tablespoon, caster sugar

2 tablespoons, fish sauce

10g, hot mint, Vietnamese mint (optional)

10g, betel leaves (optional, spinach can be used instead)

10g, coriander,

10g, Thai sweet basil

10g, fresh curry leaves

30g, new potatoes, chopped in half

30g, green beans

1 head pak choi, core removed and chopped into bite sized pieces.

Fresh chillies to taste


  1. Firstly, braise the beef cheeks. In a large oven proof pan submerge the beef cheeks in water and then add the lemongrass sticks, bruised galangal, lime leaves, banana shallots, table salt and whole garlic. Cover the surface of the liquid with parchment paper and the pan with tin foil to protect from the direct heat of the oven and then cook in a pre-heated oven at 100 degrees centigrade for 8 hours, this is best cooked overnight. Check the beef cheeks before removing from the oven, they should easily be chopped with a spoon with tenderness. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to one side to use immediately.

  2. In the meantime, cook out the paste. When cooking a jungle curry, it is fried in 2 stages and then boiled, this is for depth of flavour. To start, pound the coriander root, wild ginger and garlic cloves to a paste, using the sea salt as an abrasive.

  3. Next heat the vegetable oil in a wok or non-stick pan and then proceed to fry out the paste, scraping and stirring constantly. When the paste begins to darken slightly, add the jungle curry paste and continue to cook out the paste, making sure it doesn’t stick and burn, at this point add the kaffir lime leaves and the lemongrass from the beef braising stock. Continue to fry the paste until it begins to darken in colour and then add the sugar and fry for a further minute until the sugar has caramelised and the paste has darkened a little more.

  4. Next de-glaze the pan with the fish sauce, 300ml of beef braising stock and bring to a simmer. Once simmering add the potatoes and continue to simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are beginning to soften. At this point add the pak choi, green beans and beef cheeks and use a little more braising stock if needed, then continue to simmer until all ingredients are softened and edible.

  5. Lastly add all the herbs and gently toss them through the hot curry and then serve immediately, the curry should be loose, yet rich and spicy with a salty edge. Serve the beef cheek jungle curry in bowls with steamed jasmine rice, if you like top with crispy garlic, shallots and fresh chillies.


All PAYST products are available to purchase via the PAYST website


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