Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hello again!

You know how you lose touch with a friend, for no particular reason, in that "just-happened" sort of way? And then when you finally do meet up, you are a bit quiet in the beginning, because you don't know what to say? (And somehow that inner poet in you also awakens!) That is exactly how I feel right now. It has been some time since I posted anything here. Life suddenly got a bit tumultuous. A lot of change, a lot happening......... and, so, amidst all that, I just did not have that urge to write anything. Oh, did I just hit that little curiosity button in you?!

Well, it is time to get back to doing things that make me happy, and so, hello again! 

About a month ago, we visited my brother and sister-in-law, and as ever, had a wonderful time. All we did was eat, laugh, eat (that's right, my next book, and movie!). A made some excellent Salmon Chettinad and Y made this wonderfully delicious veggie biryani. I watched them cook, and I must say that I was quite impressed with their team-work, and of course, by their culinary skills.

Salmon Chettinad:

My brother had marinated some beautiful salmon filets in olive oil and some "secret" spices the previous night.

Salmon filets, marinating in olive oil & "secret" spices
He prepared the masala/curry base by using a gazillion different spices, roasted them and then ground them up in the blender, along with some grated coconut. The end result was this delightfully spicy and fragrant chutney. Now I did watch while he cooked, but unfortunately, I do not recollect the exact list of spices he used. So, brother, if you happen to comment, I sure would appreciate it if you jot down those spices for me. Thank you very much!

He then pan-fried the fish filets, just enough to brown them up on both sides.

Pan-fried salmon filets
And then, he took a pan, poured in some cooking oil, threw in some chopped onions, ginger-garlic paste and chopped tomatoes. He sauteed it all, until the onions were translucent. And then into this, he poured in that spicy, fragrant chettinad curry/sauce and brought it to a boil. At this point, he had his sous-chef (my SIL!) pour in some tamarind juice into the curry. And finally he folded in the pan-fried salmon filets into the chettinad curry and let it all simmer for a few minutes. Mm, mm!

Chettinad curry/sauce into the onions+tomatoes+ginger-garlic

Sous-chef adding tamarind juice

Folding in the salmon filet(s)
Salmon chettinad, simmering away....... mm, mm!
Meanwhile, the sous-chef, my sister-in-law, was busy working on her veggie biryani. She first got all her vegetables ready. Look at the picture, and you will get the idea:

Veggies for the biryani
She also had some basmati rice going on the stove. The rice was to be just partly cooked. Once partly cooked, she drained away all the water.

She also chopped up a bunch of mint.

Mint leaves
And she soaked a few strands of saffron in some water.

She took a nice huge pot, and poured in some oil and got the heat going. Then she added a few whole spices, such as bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, etc. The delightful aroma was already in the air.

Whole spices
She then added the veggies one by one into this pot, fried them, added salt and a special spice mix, and also added a cup of yogurt.

Veggies+spice mix+yogurt
And then she began the layering. She first added a layer of the cooked veggies, followed by a layer of the partly cooked rice, and then a thin layer of the mint leaves. She did this, very patiently, I must add, until all the rice and the veggies and the mint was used up; and err, the pot was quite full! She finished off by drizzling that saffron water.

Layer of veggies over rice
Layer of veggies spread out over the rice
One more layer of rice
Final layer of rice spread out evenly
Finishing touch- saffron
After all the layering was complete, she closed off the pot with the lid and allowed this to simmer away on the stove for a good 15-30 minutes. The yogurt in the mixture allowed the partly cooked rice to get completely cooked. In the end, when she opened that lid, that aroma and the look was insanely appealing and I just couldn't wait to eat dinner!!

Vegetable biryani waiting to be eaten!
Perfect Layers
The flavorful veggie biryani and the hot and spicy, as well as tangy Salmon Chettinad were just fabulously delicious.

Salmon Chettinad over a bed of Vegetable Biryani
Thanks, A and Y, for that amazing dinner. It truly was superb. The lovely little song we came up with, was/is also truly genius. "Tinta irbeku, tinta irbeku, tinalla andre nammage ishta illa!"

Cheers to that, and can't wait for our next eat, laugh, eat rendezvous!