I subscribe to posts at Is My Blog Burning, a foodie blog resource. That is how I found out about the Cook’s Book Club hosted by Meena. I finished May’s book mid-month and even cooked a dish inspired by the book the last week of May, but I’m late posting about it, so probably too late to be included in the round-up, but oh well. I really enjoyed the book and I think will need to search for more titles by the author at my public library.
Serving Crazy with Curry by Amulya Malladi is about a family coming together. It starts with Devi, the main character, attempting to commit suicide, but her plan is foiled when her mother Saroj, who has a key to her rented townhome, lets herself in when Devi doesn’t answer so that she can put some mangos in the refrigerator. After leaving the hospital, Devi comes to live with her parents to recover. Not wanting to answer the questions her family is sure to ask, Devi decides not to talk. Instead she starts cooking in her mother’s kitchen. Saroj doesn’t like it, as the kitchen has always been her domain, but she doesn’t do anything about it as she doesn’t want to risk pushing Devi over the edge again. Devi cooks a fusion of south Indian food and a mix of whatever she feels like. In turn, her family rallies around her, enjoying her kitchen creations. They each discover that how they previously defined success and failure aren’t accurate.
Part of the Cook’s Book Club was to cook/bake a dish inspired by the book. Most of Devi’s kitchen creations are Indian fusion dishes, so I thought I’d make make Devi’s Cajun Prawn Biriyani. Never having cooked Indian food before and being fairly limited to taste-testing Indian food, I needed help. So I googled biriyani and came across Route 79‘s Chicken Biriyani dish, which was very useful. Devi’s recipe in the book listed ingredients, but no measurements, so using Route 79’s recipe and my best guess, I came up with the following.
Devi’s Cajun Prawn Biriyani
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon ground oregano (what I had on hand)
- 1/4 teaspoon sage
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon rosemary
- 2 cloves minced garlic, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 pound tiger prawns, shells removed
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 3 1/2 cup water, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cardamon pod, split
- 3 cloves crushed
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I thought I had some cinnamon sticks, but I didn’t)
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
In large ziploc bag, combine onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, white pepper, paprika, ground oregano. Add sage, thyme, and rosemary after pinching between fingers to release goodness of herbs. Add 1 clove minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Add prawns, seal bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.
In a small bowl, combine rice and 1 3/4 cup water. Let sit for 20 minutes. Drain rice, removing as much water as possible. In medium saucepan over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Saute bay leaf, cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon until fragrant. Add onion, saute until softened. Add rice and stir to coat. Add remaining water and bring to a violent boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in large skillet. Add prawns, cook for approximately 3 minutes on each side. Serve over rice
Overall I wasn’t impressed by the dish. The prawns were too spicy for my liking, but not bad. The rice wasn’t what I was expecting and overall I didn’t care for it. My husband, who loves shrimp, didn’t give his nod of approval for a repeat of this dish in our house. I think I will try basmati rice again (partly because I have some left from my purchase), but I think I will try a more traditional recipe next time.
8. How does the relationship between Saroj and her mother, Vasu, compare with the rapport Saroj has with her own daughters. Why does Saroj resent her mother? What is her attitude toward her father?
Saroj and Vasu have a relationship that has a lot of bitterness. Vasu divorced Saroj’s father when she was quite young, because he abused her. Back then divorce was unheard of in India. Saroj’s father committed suicide and so Saroj never really knew her father since he died when she was only 5. All her life, Vasu tries to make Saroj remember the bad things about her father, but it is almost like the more she tries, the more Saroj wants to remember the good things about her father. Later, Vasu starts a lifelong affair with a married man. Saroj resents her mother for this, because Vasu always put her love for Shekhar over the love she had for Saroj. Saroj wants to have the relationship with her daughters she never had with her mother. She stays at her home with her family, not working outside the house like her mother, so she can take care of her family and be there when they need her. It doesn’t work quite as planned, since Devi and Shobha harbor resentment of their mother as well.