Last week in Athens has left me with so many mixed feelings. As I earlier mentioned in my last post that my friends are visiting me. And they have finally arrived here yesterday. We set our journey to receive them at the airport on the half empty highways at half past nine with excitement in our hearts.
The room I arranged for both my friends, one named Klara the young blonde energetic woman who is here to enjoy her summer and the other an English teacher in her mid fifties. She has been a dear friend and my only friend when I moved first to Czech Republic. Anyway, the room I found through airbnb had a fantastic authentic Greek feel to it and I loved it.
The owner being a Greek was pleasant, sweet,and an highly educated woman in her late fourties! She in fact did an fabulous arrangement for her guests to have an comfortable and extravagant stay in the heart of the city of Athens. I must say I was very much pleased and contented.
When I met my friends the day next day, they were really happy that I arranged such a wonderful stay for them. And like a holiday planned, we set out today to do some heavy sightseeing in almost thirty eight degrees Athens. We had a heart warming breakfast and set out our day by foot to Acropolis! The one monument you cannot miss whilst your stay at Athens.
So now they are out there doing all the study and enjoying the historical monument while I wait at the foothills of the Mighty Acropolis, having the oppurtunity to write a post and share my final week events with my dear friends in Athens. But unfortunately to my awe, I forgot to put in the micro card to my camera hence I promise to share you some pics along with my journey.
So stay tuned, though the days are few, the journey is long! 🙂
Tomorrow is my 27th birthday! And I am here sitting in the forested park alone, trying to fight back those tears from falling so the passer bys won’t find me awkward. I cried for a full ten minutes and realised my tears would not come out anymore. All I have is grief, pain and some terrible accusations from my partner. Sitting here clock ticking to 9:30pm and mosquitoes biting the shit of me, I am thinking if really I am what my partner accused of me to be? If I am, how come I am not cold hearted, how come I can’t hold back those tears, then why do I feel the pain? I must have done something wrong to feel so miserable. Usually when there is a fight, I know I cannot control my temper and blurt out few unnecessary things I don’t mean! But to my awe does my partner also blurt out stuff he does not mean? Like I am not a good mother? I have been living the life of a motherhood leaving all the other fantasies behind for the past 19 months without close family near by nor any friends whom I can make a family from! Just me and my soul to whom I can ask questions to when I get frustrated and sad. My life isn’t all what I just described, there are days I am so content with my whole life especially raising my daughter whom I love the most. She has become my only strength when I fall. I have been 15 minutes away from her and my curiosity level has build to a level where I just want to go be beside her while she sleeps peacefully as the night grows. I am so upset that today is when I am supposed to be celebrating the day may be sipping on wine, having a date night with my love, having a fun day with my baby! But I guess all those birthday desires are not relevant anymore. I hate being in the dark, but I feel I got no one else to whom I can share this pain to. No one I put put my shoulder on and cry my grief out. Life has been really unfair! Should I begin a new chapter? Should I leave all this behind and find a true salvation? Leave the pain and find happiness? But where should I begin and how should I ? I wish I had a manual to my life to make it easy.
My love for Biryani goes back to a few years ago, before leaving India to work in Maldives. Coming from the Land of Nawabs, Hyderabad, I always had the immense adoration towards it from the time I first tasted it, which I still remember and it had gotten more aged like the wine, when I left India, which only made me crave for it and forced me to learn to master the art of this recipe. I remember eating a lot Biryani as a child, for every occasion be it marriage, Christmas, new year, Easter, birthday, you name it! It is by far considered the food of rich in India. coming from a cultured heritage and a long known tradition of Indian food, the recipe I am going to share with you will surely inspire you to try out your own hand at this delicious recipe. This recipe is lets just say a family traditional recipe passed on to my mother and from her to me but with my own twist added to it. 🙂
Since, I currently live in Greece, i was able to gather all the ingredients that I need for this recipe, without further ado, I pushed myself to prepare this one pot meal. People often say that cooking a recipe with so many spices and flavors is a tedious job, but the recipe I am about to share you would only leave you with a delicious, mouth melting Biryani. but, I would recommend a bit of patience when it comes to certain stages of this recipe such as gathering all ingredients, marination and especially the cook time.
First, I would like to let you know, this recipe is a ‘Kachchi’ meaning its raw and cooked on a layered form allowing it to take time and cook in its own steam known as ‘Dum’. This recipe calls for fresh ‘mutton’ meaning goat meat, marinated in spices overnight to tenderize the meat and cook the meat faster than its required time. I say do not rush, if you rush, you would just mess it up, take it like a therapy. It will only help for a final fascinating result. So, Let’s begin our therapy, but carefully follow every bit of the recipe to produce the best Biryani you ever tasted:
For the Meat:
I used Mutton as this recipe calls for goats meat.
Note: Tsp = Teaspoon Tblsp = Tablespoon
Mutton – 1 Kilogram
Salt – 1 Tsp
Coriander powder – 2 Tsps
Roasted Cumin – 1/4 Tsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder – 3/4 Tsp
Black Pepper – 1/2 Tsp
Cumin Seeds (Jeera) – 1/2 Tsp
Cardamom – 4 Pods
Cinnamon Sticks – 1 Inch
Bay Leaves (Bit Crushed) – 2 Leaves
Cloves – 4
Green Chillies (Crushed) – 5
Ginger Garlic Paste – 3 Tblsps (Must)
Lemon Juice – 4 Tblsps
Mint Leaves (Do not Chop) – 5 Leaves (Must)
Coriander Leaves – 8 Leaves
Greek Yoghurt (or) Thick hung curd – 5 Tblsps
Fried Onions – 3 big Onions chopped and fried in oil.
Ghee (or) ground nut Oil – 5 Tblsps
Ensure to wash the meat twice. place it in a clean bowl which preferably has a lid to close, ensure to gather all the ingredients together in order not to miss any. Place all of the above ingredients along with the meat and mix well, preferably with your own sanitized hands. Add the oil/ Ghee and Mix until it looks like the below mentioned picture, and store it into a refrigerator for a complete marination of up to 8 hours.
For the Rice:
Ensure to use quality Basmati Rice for that fall apart grains once cooked. you don’t want to eat a soggy and sticky riced Biryani.
Rice – 500 grams
Salt – 1 Tblspn
Fresh water to Boil.
Wash the rice thoroughly, I recommend thrice for the removal of extra starch and Soak the rice for approximately 30 minutes so that the rice can cook faster and elongate it’s size while boiling. Bring the rice to boil. remember when placing the rice to cook, that’s when you add the salt. the moment you see the water boil, pull out a spatula, bring out a few grains of rice and break the rice grain into two. if it breaks immediately, it means its cooked 40%. remember the rice has to be cooked only 40% and the rest 60% would be cooked in the skillet with the meat and the rest of the ingredients. Immediately drain the water and set aside the rice.
Assemble / Layering:
Boiled eggs: 3 (Optional) but taste Yum!
Fried Onions : a handful
Mint Leaves – 5 leaves
Saffron infused milk – 3/4 cup
Ghee (or) Groundnut Oil : 4 Tblsps
Heavy based Pot
Aluminum foil for DUM
In the heavy based skillet, add a Tblspn of Ghee and spread the marinated meat evenly without having any space. then, add another 2 Tblspns of Ghee on the top of the spread marination then, layer the rice and spread it evenly once again ensuring that there are no gaps and lumps. Place the 3 boiled eggs on top of the rice. Sprinkle the fried onions, spreading it across, Add the Mint leaves, then, sprinkle the Saffron milk around the prepared dish. Once that’s done, add the last tblspn of Ghee over.
Now, what i am going to say is very important and this is where the moment of truth appears for the dish, Cover the pot with 2 layers of Aluminum foil and then place the lid on top of the pot and wrap around the lid another layer of aluminum foil to ensure that the steam wouldn’t escape the pot while the dish cooks. this is called the ‘Dum’. Turn the gas on to high, Place the pot on the burner and let the dish cook for over 10 mins on high flame and then reduce it immediately to a low flame and let it cook for about 30 minutes. I used a timer and suggest you do the same. once the dish has cooked passed 40 mintues in total. turn the gas down and remove it off the gas and let it rest on the kitchen counter for 5 minutes before you open the pot.
Once you have opened the pot, take a fork and gently fluff the rice, the aroma that fills the house is so pleasing and trust me you would be so satisfied with the cooking.
You may serve the biryani with soft melt in mouth chunks of meat with either, Baigan ka Bartha ( A dish comprising of Brinjal/ Aubergine), Mirchi ka salan (A dish prepared with chillies) a must have Dahi Raitha (Yoghurt based Chutney) and some fresh cut lemon and circled onions.
It has been 23 years since we left you, I can hardly remember your face. I was 2 years when mom held me in her hand and my sister (months baby) in her arms and fled from the home which is supposed to be ours. we grew up hearing from my mother not to meet you ever again, I grew up without you being there to hold my hand when i would fall, I grew up without you being there when I first has my period, when I first had a crush, when I fell in love, when I graduated from school, when I first took a plane, when I had a job for the first time. You were never there when I wanted to cry holding on to your arms. you were never there when all the other kids had both their parents on parents meet, or graduations. I grew up in pain because you were there far far away, away from me, away from everything you would see of me and be proud of me and for everything else which isn’t right to be there and guide me. I had to lie to the world that you were dead, not literally but I accepted in my heart that I would never see you again. Would never know how you would look when you grow old. I am now a parent myself, and have a daughter, I can never imagine how it would be without being a part of her. I missed you as a parent, the alpha parent. the guider, adviser, the care-taker, the first love, and my king. I grew up to the saying to another man I would be a queen but to my father, I would always be his princess. Even Gods didn’t want our meet to happen, I travelled around the world, made several of my own decisions,but deep down i always wished I had someone like you to be there for me always. Since I haven’t met you in such a long time i always imagined how it would be when I see you. I thought of you to be kind and gentle. respectful, loving and have all the best qualities of a dad. Because after hearing all the bullshit i grew up with from my mothers parents, I did not believe it in my heart but i lived with the bitter sadness that was it really the man that they mention as the monster, my dad? I recollect a incident at school, when i shared about you to whom i thought of to be my best friend, that you were still alive, she shared it with others, and they all mocked at me saying I am a fatherless girl having a father. There are several such moments in my life that left me feeling bitter. but you know, I never gave up on you, like you never did. In your heart, I heard from a relative, that your daughter, that is me, would come and meet you one day and be with you and share all the pain and joy that we couldn’t for those damned 23 years. and they say dreams can come true, the day I met you, so unexpectedly, thanks to my partner for persuading me to meet you, I was not convinced at the beginning but then after listening to my heart several times, I decided I will meet you, after all, I am a part of you as you are to me. I loved you Dad all my life, even those countless days and outnumbered times I haven’t been with you. The day finally arrived, after 23 effin years, that late afternoon, I did surprise you right? din’t I? I am sure you were excited. I was, trust me. My heart pounded when I saw you in a far distance, and when i came to you, held your hands in my mine from that moment, I knew I was never alone in my thoughts. The joyful tears i shed i will never forget. I was the happiest that day. I had several mixed feelings. Even words cannot explain what I felt that day. so many unanswered questions, so much to talk and share. and many more. but I knew this wasn’t the only day, as from now on you will always be there for me and I for you. I am so thankful to the Almighty to answer your prayers and bond us into that unbreakable love we always had. Now we cannot be divided or separated. we are one and always will be. I love you, Dad. I will forever.
I write my thoughts and bring them out of my mind and create words which give me understanding to what I put down and when these words I write get to be appreciated by my 33 followers, I gotta make it up to all my followers by saying a simple thank you for taking time out and providing your thoughts and joining them with mine. it’s like making a instant connection to where ever you all are.
Though I never write regularly, I am grateful to all of you bloggers who come visit my blog and share thoughts with mine.