Last weekend was #BawaSam’s birthday. It was also the weekend when we found out that #BawiMummy’s leukaemia had relapsed and the same weekend when I just flew into NZ to be back with the family.
For those who don’t know, #BawaSam is my loving step-dad and tech guy extraordinaire who is always helping me out with the blog’s backend work. Given that #BawiMummy was set to go to the hospital on Monday, the mood at home was very Last Supper-like and no one felt like celebrating. However, given how much #BawaSam does for me, I decided that if we couldn’t go out, we could at least have a special night at home. And, whenever I am in Kiwi land there’s only two possible foods that really cheer me up – steak or salmon.
I decided to go with salmon and given that I chose the protein #BawaSam got to decide what I’d do with it. Like a perfect bawa, he chose pulao! There wasn’t a recipe that I could find for a Salmon Pulao so I looked up a few fish pulao recipes and then decided to combine my favourite Parsi spices to make it my own. Looking back, the salmon worked beautifully as it’s rich flavour really complemented the saffron rice. Also, the fatty nature of the fish meant that you can make the entire Pulao with practically no oil.
For all of you based in India, I know it can be hard to find pink Salmon there so you can try replacing it with small pieces of Rawas. Do keep in mind though that Rawas is not as strongly flavoured or as fatty as pink salmon so you may need to adjust some of the spices to give the pulao a bit more flavour – ingredients at the bottom of the post as always!
To start, dry roast the coriander seeds and jeera until you can smell the aroma wafting through your kitchen. Roughly tear a few mint leaves and add them in too roasting everything for another 30 seconds.
Using a mortar and pestle, grind everything roughly to make a dry marinade
Chop the salmon meat into small 2 inch squares and marinate it with the spices. Also add in the oil, salt and ground pepper and mix everything together. Let the salmon marinate for about 15 minutes.
Brush a pan with a little oil and add in the salmon. Fry the fish briefly for about 2 minutes each side and then keep it aside – you don’t need to cook the salmon all the way through as it will also cook in the pulao gravy later. Given that salmon is quite fatty, there will be a lot of oil that will seep out from the fish. Keep this oil and use it for the next step when you fry the onions for the pulao gravy.
Next, heat up the oil from the fish in a bigger saucepan and add in the onions and ginger-garlic paste. Fry the onions until they are golden brown.
Once the onions are ready, add in the turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala, salt and green chillies. After a minute, add in the chopped tomatoes. Stir everything together and add in the salmon. Turn the flame on low, cover the pan and allow the gravy to simmer away for about 10 – 15 minutes.
While the pulao gravy is cooking, bring a big saucepan of water to boil and add in the rice, star anise, shah-jeera and cloves. Let the rice cook for about 12 minutes and drain out the water once the rice is ready.
To stain the rice that nice yellow colour, take a pinch of saffron and combine it with the lemon juice and a few mls of hot water. Let the mixture steep for 10 minutes to get that rich yellow colour. Now, gently pour the saffron mixture into the rice stirring everything well to ensure most of the rice is stained.
Before you begin assembling the dish, think about the toppings for the pulao – you can either add some fried almonds or some fried onions or both! Based on what you choose, prep that too. Now, in a deep dish add a little pulao gravy at the bottom and top it with a layer of rice. Top this with a layer of the fish gravy and keep alternating until you reach the top. Garnish the pulao with your toppings and cover the pan with some foil. Keep the pulao warm in the oven at around 150 degrees celcius removing it when you are ready to serve.
While the pulao tastes fabulous by itself, you can also serve a yogurt raita on the side if you are a raita kind of person. Enjoy the pulao with a chilled glass of white wine!
To make enough for 6 you will need:
For the fish:
500 gm skinned and boned salmon cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tsp dhana (coriander seeds)
2 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
4 – 5 mint leaves roughly torn
1 tsp crushed peppercorn
2 tsp oil (1 for marinading fish and 1 for frying fish)
Salt to taste
For the pulao gravy:
1.5 onions finely chopped
About 1.25 cans of chopped tomato or about 500 gm of fresh tomato chopped finely
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp garam masala
4 green chillies finely chopped
For the rice:
2.5 cups rice
5 gms saffron strands
Juice of 1 lemon
30 mls hot water
3 star anise
8 – 9 cloves
1 tsp shah jeera
Salt to taste