Monday, 5 January 2015

Machli ka salan (and a new #ReadCookEat)

"I made my contented way home... But somewhere down the middle of the sloping lane of Rue Mouffetard, I stopped in my tracks. I was not quite sure at first, not quite trusting my senses. I again sniffed the moist midnight air. Could it be? But there it was, the unmistakable aroma of my youth, joyously coming down a cobblestone side passage to greet me, the smell of machli ka salan, the fish curry of home, from so long ago" (The Hundred Foot Journey, Richard C.Morais)

I bought The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C.Morais long before it was adapted to a feature film. The story follows Hassan Haji from his grandparents' modest restaurant in Mumbai to the highest echelons of French haute cuisine. The book narrative is bursting with colours and flavours.
His family is boisterous and overbearing, the kind that would suffocate you with love and affection, and feed you until you burst. They find their home in the most unlikely of locations, a small village Lumiere in the French Alps. And that's where the complete transformation begins. Hassan becomes apprenticed to Madame Mallory, an illustrious chef who sacrificed everything in her life to achieve those elusive Michelin stars. From there on, all the roads are open to Hassam...
I expected to like this book more than I did. I love the mix of food and fiction, but there was too much carnage in this book, which made me quesy, and I'm not even a vegetarian. What Hassam found fascinating, was way too grisly. I couldn't relate to all the gourmand food descriptions.
I found it truly fascinating, but it also left me quite antagonised. I realised that I don't like convoluted cooking. All that perfection for feeding a few with a deep pocket. I am not a gourmet enough to appreciate the intricacies of cooking a Siberian ptarmigan, with the moss extracted from his stomach being added to the final dish.

The book is full of food descriptions and references, you would have thought a paradise for a foodie linky like ReadCookEat, yet almost none of the foods mentioned appealed to me.
In one of the final scenes the hero travels in the early hours, when the pungent smell of an Indian dish machli ka salan takes him back to his childhood.
I was curious to find our the recipe. Having searched online, I came across a lovely recipe for Machli ka salan on Mayaz's Food Recipes blog. I have slightly adapted the recipe to suit the ingredients I had and also the quantities.

Machli Ka Salan (Fish curry)
700g+ haddock
60ml olive oil
2tsp mustard seeds
1 onion, chopped finely
450g plain yogurt
2tbsp smooth peanut butter, heaped
3tbsp coconut milk powder (I used Maggi)
1tsp ground cardamom
3tsp ginger and garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric, ground
1/2tsp chilli paste
30g tamarind paste
2tsp curry powder (or more)
1tsp zeera or cumin, ground

Add the oil to the deep frying pan and once it is very hot, add the mustard seeds and chopped onion, cook stirring for a few minutes. Mayaz cooks her cardamoms at the same time, but as I didn't have whole cardamoms, I added some ground cardamom to the yogurt curry paste later. Add the pieces of haddock and fry on both sides until slightly golden.
In the meantime mix together yogurt with the peanut butter, coconut milk powder, ground cardamom, ginger and garlic paste, turmeric, chilli, tamarind, curry powder and cumin. Pour over the fish, cover the pan with the lid and cook for 20+ minutes. Keep adding some water, a bit at a time, so that your curry sauce has not gone all too thick.

Serve with rice, either pure basmati or basmati and quinoa mix. Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh coriander or parsley. It was a lovely fragrant curry. It didn't have the same glorious yellow colour like Mayaz cooked, but then I didn't have whole cardamoms. I would love to make it again, following the original recipe more closely.

I bought both the ginger and garlic paste and tamarind paste from Tesco, but I think all the major supermarkets would have their own versions.

I haven't done the link for the last two months, as I'm afraid life took over. This doesn't mean I gave up on the idea. In fact in the last months I have read so many books with food descriptions that I could cook up a whole encyclopedia.

Have you read a book recently which inspired you to run to the kitchen and cook to your heart's content?

Chris from Cooking Round the World and I are inviting you to recreate a meal, inspired by books and join in our #ReadCookEat challenge.

The idea is to choose a book, either a world classic or modern fiction, or even memoirs and pick up a dish mentioned or described in that book and then recreate it in a recipe. Please say a few lines about your chosen book, and maybe even do a quote from the book.

If you decide to take part, please add the badge to your post and link up back to Chris and me, and either use a link-up tool or add the url of your post as a comment. Alternatively, email me with the link to your post (my email is sasha1703 at yahoo dot com).

I promise to Pin all blogs posts taking part in this challenge, as well as RT and Google+


  1. this is a book I would love to read, your fish curry looks tasty as well. Will see if I can join in this month

    1. If you want, I can always post it to you. And yes please to joining in

  2. very tempting.. can u please me the whole platter ? ;)

    1. Thank you Monu! It was a new recipe for me, which we all enjoyed.

  3. Yay, I finally have an entry for Read Cook Eat ! :)