MID-WEEK TREAT: BOMBAY DUCK FISH PIE

I bought a bright, shiny red pie pan approximately a year and a half ago in the hopes of becoming a regular pie-baker. I don’t know if that’s the right term, but you get the drift. I did look up some sweet pie recipes, but was so intimidated that I didn’t venture out into that territory.The tin just sat on the rack where I store my baking supplies calling out for a spin in the oven. Until, one day when I had a crazy day at work and just couldn’t make the time to cook a full Indian meal for lunch.

I looked in the freezer – there were two kinds of fish – Pomfret and Bombay Duck. If Bombay Duck being a fish confuses you, I can relate to it. When I was little, I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept either. It’s a lovely, soft, delicate fish, native only to the waters along the western coast of India. For a seafood junkie, it is love at first bite but it may well be an acquired taste for others.

I’ve always had it the traditional way – shallow fried with a crispy, masala-batter coating. I wondered, if I could make a fish pie out of this delicious catch. A savoury pie didn’t seem as scary. I Googled ‘fish pie’, and chanced upon a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Now is probably a good time to tell you that am a big fan of JO. He is responsible for my obsession with attempting to grow fresh herbs, tomatoes, lemons, strawberries and what-have-you. So far I have succeeded with coriander, mint and a lemon tree is spreading it’s branches in my balcony. Hopefully we’ll have some lemons to sample this summer.

Back to my pie though. JO’s recipe looked so easy (one of the reasons we love him so much), included veggies and was topped with a delicious potato mash instead of a pastry. Looked like a wholesome meal to me. Here’s the original recipe: Jamie Oliver’s Fish Pie.

While JO’s recipe calls for a variety of seafood, I used about half a kilo of Bombay Duck and veggies. Also, you can poach the fish for a few seconds in some boiling water and tease out the bones easily. Since Bombay Duck tends to have a lot of water content, I tossed the meat in some rice flour to avoid a soggy pie. From there on, I pretty much stuck to the rest of the instructions in the recipe.

The baked potato mash on top is glorious. If you do bake this wonder, be sure to coat it with some olive oil to give it a lovely golden finish. We really enjoyed our lunch that afternoon and the leftovers made for a cozy dinner.

What is your fave simple, one dish meal?

BROKEN WHEAT/DALIA SALAD RECIPE

Every once in a while, N and I go on this mad salads and soup spree. Usually it’s triggered by an extended period of carefree indulgence, which bites us in the bum eventually. I love a salad meal, not only is it light, fresh, nutritious but also super easy to whip up in no time. It also means loads of experimentation, since it’s unlikely that you will go terribly wrong with a salad.I came across the idea of using broken wheat (dalia) in a salad on some food site, which I have lost track of. So, unfortunately, I can’t give any links to the original recipe. I’ve adapted and experimented with the ingredients for this one several times, and now it has taken on a new avataar.

This salad is a quick and easy summer-time meal when chilled and a winter one when slightly warm. The broken wheat and vegetables give you a range of flavours and textures, so even a non-lover of broken wheat will be happy to sit down to this meal. I know this because N, who is a fussy eater, loves this salad every single time I’ve made it. In fact, it was a big hit at a dinner party we hosted for 15 carnivores. The bowl was empty and the recipe was shared with several enthusiasts.

Here’s how you can make this lovely salad as a meal or as a first course.

Serves Two | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 2 minutes | Cooling time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup broken wheat (Dalia), preferably the coarse variety
3/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 medium green capsicum, chopped. You may use any other peppers that you may have on hand
1 onion sliced into half moons
1/2 cup roughly chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoons honey mustard salad dressing
1 green chilly, finely chopped
Salt to taste
2 cups of boiling hot water
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons of grated cheese of your choice

Method

Pour your broken wheat into a salad bowl. Sprinkle the salt and pour the hot water over this until the grains are fully submerged. Cover with a lid and leave aside for 20 minutes.

Soak the sliced onion in ice-cold water for 10 minutes. This will get rid of any pungency the onion may have. Keep all chopped ingredients in the fridge until the broken wheat is soaked, so they remain crisp and fresh.

After the grains have fluffed up a bit, drain the remaining water from the bowl. Don’t worry if a little water stays back in the bowl, we intend to cook that out. Now heat a non-stick pan, drizzle some golden olive oil into it and swirl around to cover the surface of the pan. Once the oil is hot, tip in the drained grains and stir gently. It’s easier if you fold the grains in rather than stir vigourously. Over handling the grains will release the gluten and make them sticky. So just toss about gently, for approximately two minutes or until you feel them puffing up a bit.

Turn off the heat, transfer contents onto a metal tray and chill in the fridge if it’s summer. In winter, just bring it down to a cozy warm temperature. Tip the cooled broken wheat back into the now-wiped salad bowl, drizzle the honey mustard dressing and mix gently. Add the vegetables and toss everything together.

Adjust the seasoning and serve with a generous sprinkling of cheese. For honey mustard lovers like myself, add an extra drizzle on the plate!