So, almost a month has passed since I sat at my desk to consider the day’s ramblings. It seems in that time my mind, spirit and palate has been over stimulated and is even more informed. My sojourn through the southern third of the sub-continent filled every aspect of my being. The religious tolerance that exists there gave me pause and I appreciate even more anyone’s sense of spiritual belief. The colors of the saris, chalks to draw iconographic images and the rich, lushness of land itself is still brilliantly radiating in my third eye.
As a chef, I am totally re-vitalized and curious to employ many of the ideas I learned, flavors tried and techniques observed. Yes, the best information I walked away with the knowledge of dosa making (a very thin pancake) which was one of the goals I had for this journey. I am an oddity in so far as I am one the few people who travels to India and does not sit in an ashram, take a yoga class or visit a guru for greater understanding. No, it was getting a recipe for sambar (a thin lentil dish), marsala formulation and a biriyani that sent me into greater bliss.
For the truth of the matter one can be a vegetarian Hindu; mutton consuming Muslim, or beef eating Christian every table welcomes the stranger and respects who the are. We here in the west should demonstrate a fraction of this open-mindedness and inclusion has part of our greeting the New Year.
Pineapple and Cashew Biriyani – yields approx. 6
1-tablespoon canola oil
2 onions – thinly sliced
2-teaspoons fennel seed
4 whole cloves
3 whole cardamom
1/4-cup golden raisins
3-cups cooked long grain rice
1-cup diced pineapple
1/4-teaspoon rose water
1/4-cup chopped mint
1/4-cup chopped cilantro
pinch of saffron
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a 4-quart saucepan melt the butter and oil together over a medium heat. Add the onions, and allow the onions to slowly cook and caramelize. Lowering the heat if necessary to prevent them from burning. Then add in the fennel seed, cloves, cardamom, fenugreek, mace and black pepper. Cook the spices for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Once the spices throw off a fragrant nose add the golden raisins and cashews and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat, and mix in the pre-cooked rice, pineapple, rose water, mint, cilantro, saffron and salt to taste.
Wrap the lid to the pan with a damp kitchen towel and cover the pan. Return the pan to a low flame, and cook for 15 t0 20 in order to heat through. Remove from the heat and allow it sit for 5 minutes before serving.