(Lima) Beans and Delhi Cha(a)t

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cooking for Love...And a bit of Celebration


First up, a bit of bragging. This may not be the relevant space to discuss it, but I can hardly restrain myself from sharing the good news with the readers of this blog. I am on my way to becoming a published writer. :P. My debut book, titled Making Out in America, is slated for release in the coming few months. The book happened as a result of my personal experiences with American slang and colloquialisms at an online writing chat room. My publisher, Cavern Press was so nice as to provide me with a website . It’s my joy to share it with you.


So that was the celebration part. As for love, well it’s the singular element that governs the entire universe. Isn’t it love to see a fresh new morning everyday; isn’t it love to see squirrels jumping jolly, scurrying for nuts in the park; isn’t it love to see an infant smile without any apparent reason; isn’t it love to see your cat throwing mock tantrums; isn’t it love to see seasons change so seamlessly, spring after winter, summer after spring, refreshing monsoon showers after the searing summer heat?

Love can also be silly, impulsive, impractical. For it was the love of food that led Cesar and me to start this blog. We had no readers apart from each other back then, but we had no remorse over that either. Because silly is a whole lot of fun! It is also better any day than serious and somber.

So when I saw love to be Meena’s theme for From My Rasoi (FMR) this month, I knew what I had to cook. It had to be something my family members loved to eat; it also had to be something my blog partner would pounce upon, given the opportunity. Of the numerous treats I have shared with Cesar virtually, he voted most spontaneously and vigorously for two things—momos and biryani. The second choice is a family favourite (tell me one non-vegetarian who doesn’t like biryani) and hence it wasn’t tough to decide my entry for this month’s lovable FMR event.

This is the first time I was attempting biryani. Also the first time I was going to make Mirchi ka Salan with it—the uniquely Hyderabadi spicy concoction that is such an integral accompaniment to biryani in the southern region.

I had made preparations (at least mentally) for cooking this combination, days in advance. For this, I fished out the recipe that looked authentic (in terms of the spice blend and the cooking method). I must say the result was excellent. For your perusal, this is the link.

And this is what the salan looked like:


For the biryani, since I am such a greenhorn to the kitchen premises, I looked for an easily manageable recipe. After going through a lot of online ones, I finally settled for one that was in the catalogue of the new pressure cooker we recently bought! It looked pretty doable for my liking, and even though biryani could be daunting even to seasoned practitioners, I was confident of dishing out decent-tasting mutton-rice preparation.

And so I followed to recipe to the hilt. I marinated the mutton with all of these for four hours: Beaten curd, ginger-garlic paste, cumin powder, garam masala, lime juice, chopped tomatoes, caramelized onion, chopped green chillies, and salt.


4 hours later:

Took the mutton out, lightly fried some sliced potatoes, and added to the mutton mix.

Next I put the cooker on heat, boiled water and added whole green cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, a bayleaf and the rice to it. Brought it to full pressure on high heat and removed from fire immediately. Drained it into a colander and cleaned the cooker, wiping it dry. This was the point when my mother warned me that I should not cook the rice on full pressure. I defied her. And suffered. Coming to that later…

It was time for the mutton. I heated oil and ghee in the cooker and put the marinated mutton mix. Stirred it for a while and added a little water. Removed it from heat, placed the ¾ cooked rice even over the meat, added saffron-milk and closed the lid. Now I brought this to full pressure on high heat and cooked it for another 10 minutes on low heat.

Opened cooker and yup, my mother’s heeding glared at me. The rice was overcooked, appearing more like khichri than biryani. My day-long venture in the kitchen had met with a mini disaster. But wait! The taste was brilliant (no credit to me, the spices did the trick) and it was very well received at home.


So does that count as a legitimate entry? I hope so. Even if the rice grains were not well apart as is must for true biryani, the preparation had love. All those hours I spent in the kitchen were so joyful, just because this was going to be a hearty treat—a treat from the heart. And what if the end result wasn’t picture perfect? Ultimately, cooking for love is cooking with love. And in that respect, I did a good job.

With love :)

Sury

22 comment(s):

Awesome Sury!! Hearty congratulations to you on the book!! :o)

By Anonymous Meena, at 11:54 PM  

Wow! All this while I have been reading the delicious recipes you post never knowing an author is hiding behind the cook as well! Congratulations! It must be a very proud moment for you. I hope we get the book in the U.S. soon :-)

By Anonymous Ashwini, at 12:49 AM  

Didn't know that you were a writer.. Congratulations.. Do I get an autographed copy??

By Anonymous tony, at 7:30 PM  

Congratulations on the book. Will love to read your book.

By Anonymous Shilpa, at 10:45 PM  

Heyyyy! That's great news! :) Congratulations on the book! This calls for celebration!

The biryani and mirchi ka salan looks very inviting!

By Anonymous Kay, at 12:50 AM  

It was the first full pressure that broke the rice, it was the second full heat... you should have put the rice after cooking the mutton toalmost done, added the rice and cook only in low heat.......

One more thing about cooking rice in a cooker, just put enough water so that you don't have to drain... you will get used to the water quantity after a lil hit and trial.... sayeth the maharajah of ...... lol

By Anonymous tony, at 1:42 PM  

Congratulations, Sury!

By Anonymous Indira, at 7:51 PM  

Thanks everyone, for the best wishes! It means a LOT to me.

Ashwini, my publisher is American, so the book will be out in the U.S. before it reaches me :)

Anthony, an autographed copy? Sure! At discounted price you mean, right? lol. Also, thanks for your tips on the pressure cooking; that's exactly what Ma told me. Thanks maharaja!

By Anonymous Sury, at 12:16 PM  

hi sury
i was thrilled to read the news about your book. hearty congrats indeed. it will be the fruition of a lot of hard work, i'm sure. i can't wait to get a copy and read it because i love your writing voice.
cheers!

By Anonymous lulu, at 4:38 PM  

Congrats Sury! i did suspect a writer from reading this blog of yours :) will definitely pick up a copy when i can lay my hands on it. and biryani! you bet is an all time favourite. and you surely are right. 'Cooking with love' makes the food all the more tasteful which can only come from giving it a part of your soul, when one cooks.

By Anonymous Parna, at 6:58 AM  

Wow !!! Congratulations!!!Iam looking forward to read your book...

By Anonymous BDSN, at 8:22 AM  

Sury, The dish is simply Awesome, guess the taste is what that counts..:)

By Anonymous Lera, at 8:33 AM  

BTW, Congratulations on the Book!

By Anonymous lera, at 8:35 AM  

Thank you, thank you :)

Lulu, with a six-day-week full-time job along side the writing, it sure was a bit of hard work, but with compliments and heartwarming good wishes such as yours, all that seems so worth it. Thanks :)

Aww, thanks, Parna! Isn't that so true about the element of love in cooking? Will surely keep you posted on the book :)

Thank you so much BDSN! I hope we all get to see the book in print soon :)

Lera, thanks a million for the kind words; on the food and the book :)

By Anonymous Sury, at 9:05 AM  

A book and a Biriyani , and Mirchi ka salan to top it all- now what can beat that?
congratulations Sury:)

By Anonymous reshma, at 8:18 PM  

Thank you so much, Reshma! I admit that combination doesn't hurt at all :)

By Anonymous Sury, at 6:52 PM  

hi sury! finally found your blog! just wanted to add my congratulations -- that is awesome and exciting news. you are an inspiration:)

By Anonymous stef, at 2:11 AM  

Thanks for taking the time to comment and for the kind words, Stef. Means a lot to me :)

It's good you dropped by; I don't know how I missed your superb blog for so long either! Now that I discovered it, I will be adding it to our links and hopping over there much more often.

By Anonymous Sury, at 8:54 AM  

Your site is so very entertaining !!! This is a such a great job !!

By Anonymous Mythili, at 10:54 PM  

Thanks, Mythili, for dropping by and commenting. Your blog looks great too, and I am adding it to our links right away. Keep visiting :)

By Anonymous Sury, at 9:57 AM  

Congratulations Sury! I am so proud of you!! Best wishes with the book, and wishing you many more to come.
And the mirchi salan looks very tempting too :)

By Anonymous Nupur, at 5:01 PM  

Thanks, Nupur! The best wishes mean the world to me. Thanks for the kind words on the salan too :P.

By Anonymous Sury, at 8:04 PM  

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