I came this close to asking you to vote for me in the big blog awards thing that sweeps America this time of the year. This close. I thought about when I was in Goa, on one of my walks. I psyched myself up and said I would do it. I said I would list the things that would make me an ideal candidate for “Best whatever”. Of course, I would not be the best. There is no such thing. But for the sake of getting past these inner demons that tell us we’re inadequate, I’d do it anyway.
Then people died. It was all “deeply regretted“. Black men were murdered. The police who swore to protect them were shot. Women were killed for owning their womanhood instead of shutting up about it. People are turned to dust and everyday corporate news media makes the stagnant decision of ignoring it. All of it is man-made (literally).
And I was considering asking you to vote for me so my blog could win an award. F that.
As much as I view food as a form of sustenance – a routine more appropriately – I can’t forget how much of a statement it makes each time people come together. It’s the first thing we think about when gathering in a space – Will there be food? Will I get hungry? It’s also the cause of much of my cultural appropriation (inner) rage and confusion (I’ll rant about this some other time). It highlights my privilege in this country and the homeland too. I find it hard to separate what I eat with all of this heavy stuff. It’s not my reality. Because food has become such a huge part of how I see the world, I am often left wondering why I got so lucky in relation to what’s on my plate each time.
I have become a better person for it though. I can still find immense joy at the bottom of a bowl of rice and soy sauce (I’m living out all my years deprived of good soy sauce). A lot of what I make might seem fancy through the photos but trust me when I say it’s all drawn from a place where I hope to feel the most connected to you, to my family and to my being. If not through the food, then maybe the writing. If not through either then maybe you can tell me and we can talk about it. I want you to tell me if you think I feel like a fake. Heck I feel like it all the time (womanhood amirite). If you’re moved, say that too. I don’t want this space to be sterile. It’s not fun if we’re always comfortable.
I know I say a lot about what I want this blog to be in many different ways each week. I love it when you read and share not because it gets me more views. I don’t care about that and in a way, that’s my downfall. I won’t be as successful as the other food bloggers because I have a difficult time understanding how/why ads drive content. I just know I want to write. I want to sit down with all of you who has ever connected with me through here and eat with you. I want to do this so badly. I promise I’ll do better at figuring out how. That’s when you can give me an award. That’s when I won’t need it.
- The marinade, yogurt sauce and roti dough can all be made a day ahead.
- I doubled the quantity for the yogurt sauce in the recipe below. It’s so delicious that I figured you would like having extra for at least a week.
- The marinade gets less spicy after sitting in the hot oil and then cooling down in the fridge. You only get a very light kick of heat once the fish is cooked. It mellowed out even more with the yogurt sauce. Dairy, remember? If you’re still skeptical, use a dried chilli that has less heat. I’ve linked the brand I used in the ingredients list.
- I gave you a recipe for the roti but you can easily use this chapati recipe, store-bought pita or naan or serve over your salad/grain of choice.
- The salmon can be cooked on a skillet indoors but make sure the pan is hot before the fish hits it. It needs to make a loud sizzling sound immediately as it hits the pan. You also won’t need skewers if you go this route
For the kebabs
- 5 dried red chillies, seeds removed
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 medium cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp rock salt or kosher salt
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp agave or honey
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2.2 kg/1 lb salmon, skinned and cut into 1 inch cubes
Place a skillet on the stove and let it heat up on medium heat. Add the chillies, cumin seeds and coriander seeds to the skillet and dry roast for 3-5 minutes, tossing the spices as you go. Once the ingredients start to get fragrant, take them off the heat and let them cool slightly.
Move the ingredients to a mortar or a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Add salt to the mix. If using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic in the spice blend, add the apple cider vinegar and agave and mix well. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid.
If using a spice grinder, transfer the ground spices to a glass jar. Grate the garlic on a small holes of a grater. Add the cider vinegar and agave and mix well.
Measure out the vegetable oil in a small saucepan and heat till the oil starts to get a sheen on the surface. Pour the hot oil into the glass jar, stir and let it cool slightly. Cover the jar and let it sit the fridge overnight or for about 4 hours.
Spoon half of the spice marinade on to the fish and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. Set out of the fridge 10 minutes before grilling and arrange the salmon on skewers.
Heat a grill on medium-high heat and brush with an oil soaked cloth or paper towel. Cook the salmon for 6 minutes on one side and about 4 minutes on the other side. If the salmon is a little difficult to pull away from the grill, it is not ready to flip.
Place the prepared salmon on a plate. and then serve hot with the herb garlic sauce and fresh veggies.
For the herb garlic sauce
- 2 cups cilantro, loosely packed
- 14 mint leaves
- 2 large or 4 medium garlic cloves
- 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
- 2 cups Greek yogurt (if you can’t find Greek yogurt use plain)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
Pulse the the cilantro, mint, garlic and ginger in a food processor or high speed blender until it’s chopped and combined. Add the yogurt and process for 15 seconds until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
For the roti (optional step)
Recipe adapted from Food Like Amma Used to Make
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour + more to roll
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ghee + more to fry the roti
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup warm water
Scoop the cup of flour into a bowl. Remove 2 tbsp of the flour and put it back in the bag. Replace those 2 tbsp of flour with 2 tbsp of cornstarch and add the salt. Sift the flour mixture back and forth into another bowl at least 5-6 times.
Add the ghee to the flour and mix in with your fingers. Add a 1/3 cup of warm water to the flour and bring the dough together. If you need more water, add a little at a time. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it’s too sticky, dust with a little more flour. Let the dough rest in a covered bowl on the counter for 5 minutes.
Dust a working surface with flour and divide the dough into 4 balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and then using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a flat, round circle of 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thickness.
Heat a tawa or skillet on the stove on medium-high heat and add ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add the rolled dough to the tawa or skillet and cook for 20-30 seconds on one side. The dough should puff up a bit and be brown in spots. Flip it over and then cook for 20 more seconds and then place it on a plate under a tea towel. Add more ghee on top if needed.
- Spinach, arugula or greens of choice
- 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- Medium red onion, halved and sliced thinly
- Lime wedges, to squeeze over (optional)
Place the roti on a plate. Spread some yogurt sauce in the centre. Add some of the spinach, carrot and cucumber on top. Place the salmon kebabs and top with more sauce. Sprinkle some onions and top with lime.