I was raised on the most delicious Indian food. Often Indian meals use spices, starches and pulses to stretch meals in order to feed larger families more cost effectively.
Chutneys and curry gravies made up of braised tomatoes, onions and spices provide a base for proteins or vegetables that can be enjoyed with an assortment of breads or rice. The flavour punch packed by the sauces make it easy enough for a single chicken to feed a family of 8 when cooked into a lush chicken curry.
Hearty biryanis are another easy way to bulk up meals using lentils and rice, served with a few simple salads. Even a simple can of tinned fish, that’s traditionally known as peasant food, gets transformed into a feast when cooked into a biryani.
I often use methods of combining these ingredients taught to me by mom to liven up the blandest of dishes.
Simple Tinned Fish Biryani
A soul warming meal that delivers big bang for your buck
Substitute tinned fish with fresh or frozen fish fillets
- 500g ripened tomatoes or 1 can whole plum tomatoes, blitzed
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 2 medium potatoes, cut into wedges and roasted
- 3 hard boiled eggs
- 4 sprigs mint
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 8 sprigs coriander
- 2 green chillies
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 star anise
- 4 cardamom pods
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 4 cloves
- 2 bays leaves
- 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (optional)
- 3 tsp medium curry powder (depending on your heat preference)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground fennel
- 1 1/2 tsp salt to taste
- 2 tsp crushed ginger and garlic
- 2 tblsp plain yoghurt
- 1 x 400g can of tinned fish (pilchards or pink salmon)
- 3 tblsp butter
- Season potatoes with salt and a pinch of turmeric and roast until soft
- Cook and peel eggs
- Par boil the rice until half cooked with whole spices
- Braise onions and chilli in 2 tblsp oil until translucent
- Add in chilli powders, ground spices, turmeric and ginger and garlic and stir until fragrant, careful not to burn it
- Add in tomatoes, salt and chopped herbs. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes
- Once tomatoes are cooked (oil is bubbling to the top) but not completely dried out add in yoghurt, stir then add in fish, cook for 5 minutes.
- Layer the roasted potatoes on top of the gravy then cover with the rice
- Scatter over 1/2 cup of water and place halved boiled eggs on top.
- Dot with butter, cover and steam either on the stove top or oven. I prefer the oven.
- Pop into oven for 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes
- After 30 minutes remove from oven, if the rice is fully cooked and the liquid has evaporated the serve, otherwise place back in the oven for a further 30 minutes.
- Once cooked, serve alongside raita and a simple carrot and onion salad.