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Dear Chicken Tikka Marsala….

Dear Chicken Tikka Marsala,

I’m not going to deny it; it was love at first sight for me. After that first night in the restaurant I only had eyes for you and even though I flirted with the others I always came running back to you.

You were different yet I felt like we had known each other forever. We’ve had some laughs and on occasion we’ve had some tears (Though to be fair that was usually more to do with some of your more feisty friends). I loved the way you made me feel even though my jeans became a little too tight when we spent too much time together. I loved your friends and all my friends loved you but like all good things it was never going to last forever.

The thing is, I’ve changed and I don’t think I can cope with anything too heavy right now. I want a relationship that leaves me with the energy to do other things and not just curl up in front of the TV and fall asleep.

So, remember the good times and lets both agree to just move on. I’m sure we’ll bump into each other and I don’t even mind if you continue to see my friends. Just don’t be too upset when you see me hanging out with someone new

Love

Michael x

Vegetable Byriani – serves 6 -8 people

For the rice:

600 gms basmati rice

3 cinnamon sticks

6 cardamon pods

12 cloves

12 black pepper corns

4 bay leaves

(The spices can be tied into a muslin bag but if not you must pick them out of the cooked rice)

For the vegetables:

1 kg mixed veg cut into uniform 2.5 cm pieces.  (I used a mixture of potatoes, peas, onions, green beans and cauliflower because that’s what I had in the fridge)

6 cloves garlic

2.5 tablespoons grated ginger

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

8 cloves

12 black peppercorns

The seeds from 10 green cardamon pods

1 teaspoon turmeric

4 tablespoons plain yoghurt

2 teaspoons salt

Good pinch saffron threads

6 tablespoons milk

To Serve:

2 large onions, thinly sliced and fried until crispy

3 tablespoons flaked almonds toasted

2 tablespoons sultanas

Method:

Pre heat oven to 200º C

Start by washing the rice in plenty of cold running water. Be gentle as you don’t want to break the grains. When the water is starting to run clear tip the rice into a large bowl and cover with fresh water. Soak for 30 minutes.

After the soaking time is up drain and set aside. In a large saucepan or stock pot bring 4 litres of water up to the boil and add the spice bag and the rice. Cook for exactly 7 minutes.

Drain the rice and discard the spice bag. Allow to cool.

To make the vegetable part of the byriani grind the spices, garlic and ginger in a pestle and mortar until you have a smooth paste. Stir in the yoghurt a spoon at a time and mix thoroughly.

In a wide sautee pan or wok fry the curry paste for 5 minutes before adding the veg. Turn the vegetables in the paste until well coated and add a cup of water. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

In a deep casserole pan or baking dish place half of the rice and then top with the vegetable mixture. Cover with the remaining rice and pat down gently.

Mix the saffron with the milk and pour onto the centre of the rice. Pour an additional 200 ml boiling water around the edge of the rice. Place the lid on (or improvise with foil) and place into the oven for 40 minutes.

Remove after the cooking time and allow to stand for 10 minutes

Scoop out onto a shallow serving dish and garnish with the fried onions, sultanas and almonds. Delicious served with just plain yoghurt and chapattis.

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