My Konkani Paella

 

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The horrid summers are gone…finally. My aim has been to enjoy this pleasant breeze which has been bestowed upon Delhi. The aim has been to make food which is exactly like the weather. The meals need to be fresh, light and still satiate my cravings.  Fish and seafood are the first options I go for and then comes the humble chicken. I have done many food experiments with fish and seafood and thankfully they have turned out the way I have wanted.

Last week I remembered seeing a travel show about Spain which showcased a paella recipe. I decided to make an Indian version of my own. My version consisted of the Kokum, one of my favorite ingredients to cook with, the Kokum fruit which is so versatile and gives you the freedom to try it as part of a savory as well as a sweet dish. The ‘Konkani Paella’, with the characteristic of a crisp rice layer at the bottom and a distinct aniseedy flavour was born in my small kitchen.

I made sure the prawns were fresh and the quantity I put was just the right amount. I got hold of a shallow pan which could take my paella and give me the crisp crust I wanted with all the meaty goodness. I stayed away from any green beans or vegetables which are at times put in the paella, I wanted to savour the meat without the vegetables getting in my way! Not always a healthy option but still can be a part of the diet once in a while. Even though I wanted to put a dash of mussels and squids in this concoction, staying far away from the sea made it difficult for me to find it in the fish market. However, if you get your fresh batch of mussels and squids do put them in and decrease the quantity of prawns which I have used.  I also used Basmati rice, a traditional paella normally uses a thick grained rice but in order to give it an Indian character I thought basmati was the best choice.

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Ingredient

  • 400 grams of de-shelled prawns, squids and mussels
  • 250 grams of chicken
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 big cloves of ginger chopped finely
  • 1 medium sized onion finely chopped
  • 2 star anise
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp freshly crushed black pepper corns
  • 3 teaspoon of kokum paste (soaked in water and blitz)
  • 5 cup of basmati rice
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Heat the oil in a shallow flat frying pan. Put in the bay leaf and the garlic, let the garlic brown and take out the bay leaf from the oil

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  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Add in the pan with the garlic and sear it so it has a light brown crust on top take it out and drain on a paper towel. Make sure the garlic is still in the pan.

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  • Put in the onions and sauté till golden brown put in the dry spices. If the mix is getting too dry just add a few tablespoon of hot water to prevent spices from burning and sticking on to the pan.
  • Put in the rice and mix. Fry the rice for about a few minutes. Put in the pieces of star anise, rice and salt.
  • Spread the rice over the pan evenly. Layer with the fried chicken and the raw prawns. Add water. Mix gently
  • Cover the pan once the water is simmering. Put on low heat and cook for 18 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to medium high and cook for 7-8 minutes.
  • Close the heat.

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This can be served on its own and maybe accompanied with some spicy coriander chutney and a cooling bowl of curd.

 

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