Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Britains Best Dish

Well, Well, Well. Shame on me. I seem not to keep my promises. I had promised to come back more often , but I didnt. Was I that busy? No. Just laziness. Plain laziness.

Without much ado, I went on to participate in Britain's Best Dish 2010.  Fantastic experience. The studio people were lovely, the judges were very kind and overall, I loved the experience. Would I repeat? No, I dont think so. Realised that competitions are not my forte. A show of my own? Hmm.... A close friend suggested ''Curry on Seema!''. Hmm.. no harm in dreaming I guess.

The results first: I lost to a britsh man who made 'curry' !!! If its any consolation, he went on to win the seris!

My entry was 'Aromatic Salmon Biriani with cucumber and pomagranate Raita and spicy raisin chutney'. The biriani was well loved by the judges,(no other than John Burton Race, Ed Baines and Jilly Goolden)  they were all very kind with praises, (they absolutely loved it! yipee!!)  but what they didnt like was the combination of Salmon with curry. No complaints, its upto their individual tastes, right? I still vouch by my stand - I think Salmon goes beautifully with curry.

See me in action here: (You get to see more of Jonathan than me, as mine was edited out. I am looking for a fuller version, will upload as and when I find it)

So, here it is!


Scottish Salmon- 200 grams

Basmati Rice – 100 grams

Indian ghee – 50 grams

Fresh Pineapple – 50 grams

Cloves – 2

Cardamom – 2

Cinnamon – 2’’ piece

Fennel seeds – a pinch

Onion – 2

Beef tomatoes – 2

Lemon juice – a few drops


To blend:

Garam masala – 1 tsp

Green chilly – 2

Mint leaves - a handful

Cilantro – a handful

Corriander powder – 1 tsp

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Oil – 2 tb spoon

Garlic – 3 pods

Ginger – 6 grams


Onion - 2

Rose petals – a few

Cashew – 10 grams

Rose water – 10 ml

Saffron- a few strands.


Slice onions and tomatoes.

In a blender, blend together all ingredients together till coarse.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil and fry onions followed by tomatoes. Add the blended paste and cook till the oil comes on top .(This should take about 8 minutes, but don’t go by time, rather wait till the oil comes up which will give a nice hue to the sauce). slowly lower the salmon pieces without breaking. Add salt. Reduce heat to simmer and cook Salmon till done (5-6 minutes). To this add pineapple pieces (the pineapple need not be cooked). Sprinkle lemon juice and let the salmon rest in the sauce (30 minutes) so that it can absorb all the flavours.

In another heavy bottomed pan, pour 3 tb spoons of ghee and fry cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and fennel seeds till the aroma comes up. To this add water (for 1 cup of rice, add 2 cups of water) and salt. When the water boils, add rice and cook till rice is well cooked and soft. Fluff up with a fork.
For garnish, slice the onions very thin and deep fry in ghee till they are brown. Leave aside. In the same ghee, fry cashews. Drain on tissue.

In a small ramekin, take a few teaspoons of milk, add the saffron strands and microwave for 30 seconds. Leave till the saffron gets infused into the milk.

Layering process

Take the fish out of the sauce and keep on one side.Normally the fish/meat is baked with the rice, but salmon is very delicate and it might break in the process, hence this is to be avoided.

In a heavy bottomed pan, smear some ghee, and add a layer of rice, followed by a layer of sauce. Now sprinkle in fried onions, nuts, coriander leaves, saffron flavoured milk and rose water. On top of that add another layer of rice. Repeat the process till all rice and fish are finished. On the top layer, sprinkle onions, nuts . Reserve the rose petals till serving. Cover with aluminum foil.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees and bake for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle rose petals on top and serve the dish.

Preparation – 30 minutes

Total cooking time: 50 minutes.

For Raisins chutney

Raisins – 50 grams

Ginger – 3 grams

Garlic – 2 pods

Malt vinegar -2 tb spoons

Salt- to taste

Red whole chillies – 1

Mustard seeds – 1 tb spoon

Sunflower oil – 2 tb spoon

Flame grill the whole chillies and garlic with skin.

In a pan, pop mustard followed by the other ingredients except vinegar. When the raisins pop up, remove from fire, check salt and blend to a coarse jam like consistency. Add a few drops of water to help with the blending and to get the desired consistency.

Total time: 10 minutes

Cucumber and pomegranate Raita

Greek yoghurt – 1 cup

Cucumber – 100 grams

Pomagranate seeds – 30 grams

Salt- to taste

Peel and chop cucumber. Mix with yoghurt and salt. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top and serve chilled.

Plating up

In a plate, place a medium sized square cookie cutter and press in the rice part of the biriani. On top place a piece of salmon and sprinkle rose petals, a few cashews. Place raisin chutney on one side and the raita on the other side, making sure that the pomegranate seeds come up in presentation.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Rice time

Its quite funny to notice that when it comes to comfort foods people go back to simple stuff. Like beans on toast. Apple crumble. I have never heard of one who cooks up, lets say, loin of venison with a blackberry and sloe gin glaze served with clapshot rosti and parsnip crisps (What?) or Warm wood pigeon tart, rocket salad and goats' buttermilk sorbet with wild garlic dressing (Do normal people eat like this?) or you have got to be Sophie Dhal, who does not mind making an omelette Benedict on a self indulgence day (what about a manicure instead?)

Talking about comfort food, rice is an absolute favourite of mine. That’s like going back to basics as I have grown up eating loads and loads of rice – like a 2 rice servings a day kind of childhood. (plus plenty of vegetables).

Last week, I was getting nostalgic about India. Specifically Kerala. To be more specific about food and sambar. But was not in a mood to go the lengthy way to make a sambar, rice and thoran combo. Instead I decided to try out my own version of sambar rice. Was it a success? Oh boy, see the pics to judge for yourself. Gordon (Ramsey, not Brown) could not have done better!

Here is a pic for you and the way I did it. No claims on authenticity.

For this sambar rice, the ingredients are:

Biriani Rice- 1 cup

Indian Red onion – 1

Big Green chilly (the mild one) – 1

Tesco’s grilled vegetables (frozen) – 1 cup (includes aubergines, courgettes, peppers, onions and cherry tomotoes – so versatile!)

Potato -1 medium size

Tamarind paste – ½ tsp

Asafoetida – ½ tsp

Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp

Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp

Curry leaves – some

Oil – 3 tb spoons

Salt – 1 tsp

And the star of the show, Sambar powder – 2 tsp

(For those who does not have sambar powder, try mixing 3/4 tsp coriander powder, ½ tsp chilly powder, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp asafoetida – but its worth buying a sachet of sambar powder from the asian stores for that authentic taste.)


In a pan, heat oil and pop mustard and fenugreek seeds. To this add chopped potato, green chilly and onions. Fry on low heat for a minute or so. Add asafoetida and curry leaves. To this add 2 cups of boiling water and the rice. Tip in the vegetables, salt, tamarind paste and the sambar powder. Give it a good stir. Close the lid and cook till the rice is fluffy and seperated.

Traditionally, it is cooked till the rice gets soggy. But I preferred a pilaf kind of consistency and wanted the grains separate. So if you like a traditional method, don’t go by this recipe.

But I have to tell you that this is the perfect Sambar rice I have ever eaten!

By the way, did I tell you that I got an invitation for ‘Britains Best Dish 2010’ competition? Details later…

Friday, 8 January 2010

Sinful Carrot Muffins

The festival season is finally over - now there is no excuse  not to stick to diets and try shedding those pounds piled on with binge eating. As the season was drawing a close, I fitted in one more binge eating session with yummy carrot  cup cakes with lemon and cinnamon icing. And realised a few facts of life. Here are the pearls of wisdom:

1. Whoever said cinnamon and lemon do not go well together, lied. They are an absolutely lovely combination.
2. Whoever said you cannot eat 5 muffins at a go, have never met me.
3. Whoever said muffins are not healthy, have not eaten a carrot muffin.

Enough? If yes, here is the muffin recipe. As always with my recipes, you dont have to stick to milligrams and nanograms. Just plunge in with confidence and stick to general measurements and be bold to differ - you will still be fine!

1 1/2  cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar (Just because I dont like them super sweet)
11/2  cup carrots (grated)
1/2 cup oil or butter
2 medium eggs
Few drops of vannilla essence
Reserve quarter cup of milk, if the mixture is too tight.

Mix together the sugar, oil and eggs.
To that fold in carrots, followed by vanilla and the flour.
Whisk till all ingredients are mixed - dont overwhisk!
now, if you feel that the mixture is too tight, add a few drops of milk and whisk to a cake batter consistancy.
Pour into muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes or so (By now we all know to check the doneness of a cake by inserting a toothpick onto them).

For incing, I used 1 cup of castor sugar and a 1 tb spoon of lemon and mixed well. On top of the icing, I sprinkled powdered cinnamon and some slivered almonds.

And have it with a cup of tea - absolute bliss!!