October 17, 2014
The new portfolio career, means new cookery projects. Where there is a chef, a gorgeous professional cook, there is clearly a spot for yours truly flying the diversity flag for the ordinary person. One Indian dish at a time.
The first was the Fish of the Dish campaign for Seafish UK, the seafood authority. The task: to popularise the use of fish and seafood in every day cooking. A worthy initiative, with a number of amazing health benefits. So I rolled up my sleeves and dived right in.
Walking into Hearst Magazine HQ with a celebrated chef, his man Friday/ Sous Chef and a trunk load of ingredients was bad enough. Entering Good Housekeeping Institute’s kitchen next sent my head reeling back to mother’s collection of treasured 70s & 80s editions on our Kolkata bookshelf. No pressure. No none at all.
While man Friday got to work under the sharp eye of the esteemed chef, I reapplied war paint. Who needs sharp knives when you have lipstick?
I got started with prep, leaving the PR lady in charge of eggs. In a cupboard the size of an airplane hanger, induction pans were nowhere to be found. One gas hob was already doing its thing. It soon transpired, said PR lady couldn’t even boil an egg. Literally. As chunks of boiled egg peeled off with the shell, the client stepped in to help and the lovely chef took mercy on the housewives in the corner and sent man Friday in to rescue us.
Meanwhile, the odd raised eyebrow at the kitchen entrance had been replaced by a steady stream of more inquisitive punters from Hearst UK. It was edging close to mid day and the sizzled cinnamon, roasted cumin and smoked fish had done their magic. Before I could say “eat more fish”, there were 22 journalists in front of me waiting for their lunch to be delivered.
Lunch was served. Kerala-style Monkfish Curry, with tamarind and coconut, and Kedgeree. Kedgeree is my go to crowd pleaser: a cousin of the khichdi, with an Anglo Indian twist from way back when. My favourite way to serve this is for a giant brunch that the whole family, and visiting relatives, can tuck into. Where this one’s concerned, fish really is the dish. Now to increase my repertoire!
500gm basmati rice, cooked
5 undyed smoked haddock fillets (about 500gm)
1 pint whole milk
1.5 cups frozen peas
2 small onions
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp coriander cumin powder
Half tsp turmeric powder
4 tbsp butter/ghee
Salt to taste
Handful of fresh coriander (optional)
Cook the eggs by placing them in cold water, bringing to boil and cooking for eight minutes. Drench in cold water, peel and halve/quarter. Bring the milk to boil, and then lower to simmer and poach the haddock by cooking it in the milk for two-three minutes. Drain, reserve the milk and keep the haddock aside. Peel and chop the onions into small pieces.
Next bring the butter/ghee to high heat in a large wok. When it sizzles around a wooden spoon, toss in the onions and sauté for five minutes. Add the turmeric and coriander/cumin powder, the tomato puree, the frozen peas and sauté for another minute. Then stir in the rice, with the reserved milk, mixing well until the rice is coated through with the onion mixture. Gently fold the haddock in, watching it flake but not crumble.
Stir in salt to taste, and served your Kedgeree topped with the fresh coriander, if using, and eggs.