It’s that time of the year to make wonderful plans and lighten up as the first day of the year dawns. The heart yearns for memorable moments together with families and friends. The resolutions are made; even when one apprehends that they may not last even a week. Of course, getting together will invariably mean eating together and drinking together. Where is happiness without it? Deciding what to eat and what to drink and which one goes well with which ones: that part is tricky. In an Indian context, it’s trickier. Not because we don’t have ancient treaties deciding about it for us (we have many for other worldly matters, like stars and sex), not because we don’t like Chinese, Italian or Continental (We do. We love them.) Just that if someone in the house feels that extra craving for Biriyani, it’s almost a sin in our country to deny her, her blessed portion. Then the important question is which drink will go with it.
Now, let’s not take a long time to decide. Let us go through two quick recipes to tempt you enough to give them a try. One European and one Indian.
Pasta and Strawberry Wine:
The other day, Shruti, our whimsy friend, rang up and asked “Heya, I wish to go to such and such a place where the climate is chilly and the atmosphere is New Year-y, and the foods and drinks served are the best. Advise.” I paused a little and took a deep breath, hanging the ladle in my hand mid-air. You see, I had to be a little careful about suggesting something to Shruti. She is not only whimsy; but also claim herself to be classy. One bad advice may mar my reputation forever. I dodged the dilemma with, “Can’t suggest any. Not offhand. But if you are willing to cook a little, come to our Mahabaleshwar farm. We will have Pasta and Strawberry Wine.
Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Pecorino Pasta
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.
Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage.
Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper.
Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil.
There, you have your Pecorino Pasta. Eat hot and slowly with little sweet sips of ‘Come On Charlie!’
Biryani and Strawberry Wine:
Now, everyone is not Shruti. Not that they don’t claim themselves to be classy. For some, Indian food is Indian food. And, so many of us are vegetarian. For them here is a great recipe for Veg Biryani.
Basmati Rice, cauliflower- cut into small florets, carrots- peeled and cut into small cubes, green beans- trimmed and halved, olive oil spray, sliced onion, curry paste, mustard seed, chopped fresh coriander, flaked almonds, lemon.
Preheat the oven to 190C/ Gas mark 5. Steam the cauliflower, carrots and beans for 4 minutes, or until just tender but with a bit of bite.
Spray a pan with a little oil, add the onion and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened and turning golden brown.
Add the curry paste and fry for a further minute. Add the rice and mustard seeds and mix well to coat.
Tip into a lightly oiled baking dish, pour over the hot stock and stir together.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid is almost absorbed.
Stir in the steamed vegetables and cook for 5 minutes more.
As your Veg Biryani is ready, open a bottle of ‘Come On Charlie!’ and enjoy a duet of hot and spicy rice and sweet bodied taste of pure strawberry wine.
If you have happened to find, “Come On Charlie!” on both the occasion, please understand, it has to be so. It is THE finest and purest strawberry wine available in the country and it compliments both the Indian and Continental gourmet meals perfectly well.