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Ep 19, 20: Nov 2018: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat, with illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton

In Pune, folk met early November at Ravi’s house. We also got our second mention in the press shortly after. In Hyderabad, we met the previous evening because I was starting a new job on Monday and didn’t want any cause for stress that Sunday.

The book is supposed to be a guide on how to use salt, fat, acid and heat to build absolutely anything in the kitchen, with the second half of the book dedicated to (generic) recipes that teach us how to do so. Personally, I felt that some of the recipes that were cooked ended up being a little salty. That could be a function of some of the cooks using table salt instead of kosher. It could also just be that Samin wants people to use their instinct when they season because that's what the book is about.

In Pune, Sheena made an utterly creamy and silky sweet corn soup and served each bowl with a dollop of the Mexican-ish Herb Salsa. The salsa was tart and spicy and complemented the texture as well as the taste of the soup really well. Ravi did a couple of test experiments at his house before the meet where he made th soy-glazed salmon and some soy-glazed chicken. Cooking a piece of fish that weighs a kilo sure is an uphill task, but slow cooking at low temperatures is the key. That helps avoid overcooking the meat. Ravi also made his fish with kicap manis one time instead of soy sauce and replaced the sugar with honey, to good results. He also got rid if his childhood fear of deep frying with the batter-fried fish. And it has become his go-to recipe for a light, crispy batter. “You need to calculate the amount of vodka and keep the beer amount variable depending on consistency of batter… But nevertheless, totally brilliant! I wouldn't fry fresh water fish any other way,” he says. The buttermilk chicken, though very simplistic in the number of ingredients used was super moist and the recipe is a definite keeper. For the cookbook club, he brought in some soy-glazed salmon.

Ambica made a chicken pot pie and some light and flaky buttermilk biscuits. While Jahnavi used the book to make a crumbly tart base. She filled it with caramelized onions from another book. Reshma was on a keto diet so could really only make the spicy fried chicken, which, as it turns out, wasn’t spicy enough for the Indian palate. Sahil made the kufte kebab with a Moroccan twist, while Kala made the very versatile Adas Polo o Morgh (Chicken with Lentil Rice). A similar recipe appears in a Mediterranean book we’ve cooked out before, and that one’s delicious too.

The meal ended with Husein’s Mexican Chocolate Pudding which was just as scrumptious as the mousse from one of his previous cooks.

In Hyderabad, we met the previous evening, with Akshay frying some kufte kebab at my home. They took forever, but the end result was quite delicious. He served them with some North African Charmoula, which was really heavy on olive oil and lime, And maybe I’d binge watched the show, but telling the freshest olive oil from others seemed like cakewalk. I also made some Persian herb and cucumber yoghurt to go with. Suraj decided to make some braised pork, with chillies, which we then shredded and served inside tartlets and some (more) Mexican-ish Herb Salsa. It really was very fresh and light and complemented the pork really well. Neehar, Akshay’s boss, came too and he brought a chicken and garlic soup that we fashioned into a pho g by adding noodles, sprouts and herbs. We also opened some IPAs that I brought from Goa and some other local finds.

We ended the evening with marshmallowy meringues (that were baked as pavlovas) served with scented cream and fresh citrus fruit - no picture here because at some point in an enjoyable get together, I almost always forget to take pictures. Everyone went for seconds and I’ve used the recipe several times since. Needless to say, it’s perfect! And not overly sweet at all!!

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