What happened was, my family signed me up for an Indian-cooking class. On Thursday Nasreen taught us Chicken Biryani and so I thought I might try to enrich early-2014 Cottage Life with it.

Biryani, well, it’s complicated. This version’s payload featured chicken, peas, yogurt, potatoes, onions, and loads of spices (there are variations including excellent veggie choices). Then you build up layers of rice, payload, caramelized onions, sliced peppers, and pour some magic over them. Nasreen’s recipe described it as a “lively, multitasking” dish and yeah, it’s not the kind of thing you’re going to whip up on impulse at short notice.

Our cabin has limited cooking vessels and an old-school electric stove; I ended up putting in a solid hour just chopping and frying and mixing and shaking and toasting and assembling; even used the ancient electric frying pan that came with the place — do they even make those any more? The task was eased considerably by the view, and by 2007’s Robert Plant/Alison Krauss outing Raising Sand; it’s worn well, a fine piece of work, and our cheap & cheerful cabin stereo did good.

Nasreen’s husband told us that Biryani is a fairly recent invention, and that they called it a “royal” dish because there are so many ingredients, and so elaborated. The mess was considerable, but then there was this.

Biryani on the table at the cabin

My daughter, whose turn it was to set the table, was having a temper tantrum and expressed her feelings with the silverware placement. Let’s fill in the backdrop a bit.

Biryani on the table at the cabin

And here’s what you see when you look up.

Looking up from the dining room table at the cabin

All the pictures so far have been with the Nexus 5, but I’m a serious photog, you betcha, so here’s one with a “real camera”. Makes all the difference, doesn’t it? That’s looking more or less straight up from dinner.

Looking up from the dining room table at the cabin

I’m including these for purposes of disclosure, so that when I say that the dish was damn tasty and greeted with general applause, you realize that the audience may have been affected by the ambience.

No, I’m not going to be making any kind of biryani on a routine Tuesday-night-dinner basis. But as showpieces go, it’s a contender.



Contributions

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From: S Rose (Jun 23 2014, at 08:24)

Seems like the opposite of what you want to be making for a cottage meal and precisely what you want for a winter time meal at home, where you have all your ingredients at hand and the right mindset for fussing about. Having said that, may I please send my dabbawala around to pick up a serving?

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June 23, 2014
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