I made this up for Diwali last year when I wrote the recipe column for ‘The Star’ newspaper. There was Paneer Makhani, Burfee, Chana Magaj, Fish and Prawn Breyani plus delicious ‘Diwali Inspired’ Burfee Macaroons. Yes, my fans were thrilled but then there were the odd few who took offense to non vegetarian recipes being prepared on Diwali. I spoke to my friend, mentor, and long time colleague not to mention food editor, Jenny Kay and her response was rather matter of fact…’You cant make everyone happy!’
It sort of got me going…and there is nothing that annoys me more than people who nominate themselves to speak on behalf of a whole community. Who nominated these people who proudly speak on behalf of others…where is the research to back up their arrogance? For the record, my family have never observed a vegetarian fast on Diwali. Each family has its own traditions and my family (although a broken one) chose to feast. In most ‘Andhra’ homes or Telugu speaking ones, this was not uncommon! Some people fasted, others didn’t and what was really special was that whether you were a vegetarian or not, we all got to light our fireworks together!
So, who do we blame for Indian weddings and occasions adding more traditional stuff to our everyday lives….BOLLYWOOD. Why do some South Africans think that Bollywood depicts Hinduism or even ‘Indianism’ (if there is such a word) – So we sit through an extended version of anything Indian while the breyani gets cold! Where is the fun in that and how ‘Indian’ is cold breyani???
There is also this misconception that being a vegetarian means that you are higher up in the greater scheme of things than if you are a non vegetarian. Says who, I ask??? It’s just a matter of opinion and for me personally, being helpful and not harmful to others tanks everything else! I have met vegetarian villains and non vegetarian ones too. It is simply how life is!
The idea behind writing a column for a newspaper is to cater for everyone, not just people who are observing a fast or those who aren’t. I received a message from Lobashnee Govender this morning who requested this recipe and it reminded me of this delicious breyani! It also reminds me of one of my favorite people from Isipingo that loves masala fish as much as I do! This recipe combines my love for rice, masala fried fish and prawns!!!
I always do seafood on Diwali and that isn’t going to change anytime in future. There is also a range of vegetarian specialities on offer in my home….like the traditional ‘Diwali’ curry with 7 vegetables…to bless our home with abundance. It’s a feast…it’s a celebration, it’s a tradition but it’s also up to you to decide how to celebrate it!
Fish and Prawn Breyani
1kg linefish steaks
15ml red chilli powder
Salt to season
1kg prawn tails
Sunflower oil to fry fish and prawns
4 potatoes, sliced into rounds and fried
65ml sunflower oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
5ml cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
7ml coarse salt
20ml crushed garlic
30ml red chilli powder
400g chopped tomatoes
10ml ground cumin
10ml ground coriander
125ml fresh cream
250ml cooked lentils
900ml cooked basmati rice, cooled
100g butter, melted
250ml boiling water
Rub the red chilli and salt over the fish steaks and leave to marinate in the refrigerator.
Heat the sunflower oil in an AMC pot, add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
When the spices are fragrant, add the cumin seeds.
Once the seeds splutter, add the onion and salt.
Saute until the onion is light golden brown.
Stir in the crushed garlic, stir for a few seconds, then add the red chilli powder.
Add the chopped tomatoes followed by ground cumin, coriander and turmeric.
Simmer until the tomatoes soften.
Add the fresh cream, layer the potatoes and halt the lentils over the tomatoes.
Next add the cold basmati rice and the remaining lentils.
Drizzle the melted butter over the rice.
Steam on low until the rice heats through.
Heat the sunflower oil in an AMC chefs pan and fry the fish until golden brown.
Place the fish steaks over the rice and cover.
Lastly heat 30ml sunflower oil and saute the prawn tails for a minute just before serving.
Season the prawns with salt and scatter them over the rice.
Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and leave to infuse for a minute.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve immediately.