Normally, when I have a dinner party, I cook Indian food. The main reason for this is that most of my friends love Indian food, and they tell me it’s nice for them to get a chance to eat home-made Indian food. Second, I think I cook it better than I do any other kind of cuisine. After Indian food, Italian food is probably my favourite type of food, and most of my Italian recipes are heavy on the cheese :), like risotto, or gnocchi in a gorgonzola and walnut sauce.
Earlier this week however, I found myself in a bit of a quandary. One of my friends was coming over for dinner, and she’s not a fan of either spicy food or heavy, creamy, fatty food. The thing is, every Indian recipe I know, is one or the other, often both. And every Italian dish I’ve ever made was either smothered with cheese or drowning in butter, sometimes it was both. So I decided to make her something different, something, non-Indian.
“What could I cook?” I wondered frantically on my way home from school. It was a tough question; after all, what is delicious and neither spicy or fatty/buttery/cheesy? It seemed like a truly insurmountable, unsolvable problem.
And then it hit me, I should cook something sweet! So I settled on a sweet themed dinner: grilled salmon marinated in a brown-sugar and lemon sauce served with roz bi zaffaran (saffron rice). (I made the saffron rice based on a recipe from ‘The Book of Jewish Food’ by Claudia Roden.)
The meal turned out rather well; the rice and fish complimented each other well. Another surprising upside was: the whole meal was really easy and quick to make, and the kitchen-clean-up involved was minimal.
If you’d like to try it, here’s what you will need:
For the Grilled Salmon:
1 pound salmon fillets
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4th cup of brown sugar
1 tbsp dry white wine or water
1/8 th cup olive oil
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
1 tbsp butter
Salt to taste
2-3 pinches saffron threads
A handful of toasted flaked almonds
3 handfuls of golden raisins soaked in a cup of hot water
Mix all the ingredients for the salmon (except the salmon itself), stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Place the salmon fillets in a small baking dish and then pour the marinade over the fish. Cover with the dish with a lid or foil and let the fish marinate for a bit. Turn the oven on and pre-heat it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the meantime, grind the saffron threads with a mortar and pestle into a fine powder. Next, boil the water, oil and salt in a deep pot. When the water begins to boil, add the rice and saffron powder. Stir, lower the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let the rice cook. Check on it periodically, stirring.
While the rice is cooking, place the fish in the preheated oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. Every 5 minutes, bast the fish with the extra marinade in the baking dish.
The fish ought to be ready around the same time that the rice is cooked. Take the fish out of the oven when it’s slightly browned on top and flakey. Once the rice is cooked, fluff it, and mix in the raisins and almonds.
Serve the fish and rice up on a plate, with a few springs of fresh oregano and maybe a slice or two of bread. If you’re feeling like eating a healthier, more balanced meal, toss some spinach with some chopped strawberries and blackberries, and a lemon-honey vinaigrette (3 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp honey, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp poppy seeds and salt and pepper to taste). Throw in some toasted almonds and walnuts for some extra deliciousness. The salad goes perfectly with the sweet-theme of this meal. You won’t even want dessert 🙂