Glue. That’s what a bowl of oats meant to me growing up in boarding school. At breakfast, I could turn the bowl of porridge over my head and nothing. The gloop would hold its ground, strong and tenacious. I almost always never touched it. Oat porridge re-entered my life later on when I overcame my memories to try new oats recipes – both sweet and savoury. I’m partial to a bowl of savoury oats because I think it is incredibly versatile. It would so gladden my culinary cockles if this post encourages cooks to look beyond pre-flavoured instant oats (loaded with sodium and preservatives) to create their own imaginative oats recipes.
Crab curry with rice on a lazy Sunday afternoon with my family is a quiet affair. The cracking of shells and the sucking of juices the only sounds. A big bowl sits at the centre of the dining table, filling up fast with remnants of soft, chewed-up shells, and vermillion shards of hard shells; every tender crabby morsel having been patiently prised out. Crab curry, in my home, is normally cooked for lunch on a holiday, to be eaten patiently and meticulously so that the soul along with the belly is fully satisfied. This is slow food – spices roasted and ground up and cooked with artful care and taking time to savour and enjoy the meal. This feast is almost always followed by a nap.
Big fish are overrated if you ask me. The giant tuna, sea bass and kingfish filets and steaks may be meatier but it’s the small fry that score big on taste, nutrition and sustainability. Fish recipes must focus on everyday catch that have traditionally been a vital part of our diet but are largely ignored these days for more expensive, imported, boneless, supermarket fare. This post on Fresh Anchovies With Coconut celebrates the little denizens of the ocean.
This is one of my favourite prawn recipes. My Firecracker Prawn 65 is inspired by the the undisputed big daddy of Indian bar snacks – Chicken 65. This crimson-hued, deep fried, hot and tangy chicken dish even has its own (ever-growing) lore woven around its intriguing name. Why 65 you ask? Well, the straightforward stories speak of 65 chillies in the marinade, other tall tales tell us of a marination period of 65 days and some even more imaginative ones say the age of the chickens has to be 65 days – no more, no less! But the real story is a little more staid – Mr.Buhari, the enterprising owner of Chennai’s iconic Buhari restaurant created this cracker of a dish, which appeared on their menu in 1965.
Four days of incessant rain have brought with them a deluge of memories of monsoons back home in India. Pewter clouds, fecund greenery, cool caressing breezes, drenched afternoons reading romances, spindly-legged white cranes, ageing, moss-clad walls, swarthy silhouettes stealing kisses by the seaside and of course steaming cups of fragrant chai with pakoras ( fritters made with onions or a variety of vegetables dipped in a thick, spicy batter of chickpea flour). Having lived by the sea for most of my married life, monsoons by the coast hold a precious place in my heart. Somehow, despite the water logging, resulting traffic jams, wet laundry and omnipresent moisture in every surrounding surface, the rains have always evoked in me a sense of timeless longing, romance, nostalgia and renewed burst of urgency and inspiration to write and cook.
A special prawn and rice dish for Sundays, holidays and even dinner parties. Ever since I picked up Pratibha Karan’s Biryani, my husband and son have been waiting for a biryani to pop out of the pages onto their plate. Their patience has been wearing thin and after months of broken promises, I decided to roll up my sleeves and grant them their wish.
Comfort in a bowl – that’s the reason I make this one-bowl stir fry. My boys enjoy it every time, no matter how frequently they have to eat it and I use whatever seafood I have, calamari, any firm white fish or a combination of seafood. I think if you don’t care too much for seafood, boneless chunks of chicken thigh or cooked duck or just about anything would work in this recipe. Vegetarians could use nice, meaty mushrooms instead. So no rules, just some ingredients and a very doable recipe.