This perhaps is the best food anecdote I’ve heard in my life. An East Indian aunty goes to the market to buy shrimp. The fishmonger is puzzled. ‘What is shrimp?’ Aunty replies, ‘Arre shrimp, men, prawn ka babalog.’
Hats off to our anecdotal aunty for a colourful definition that’s bang on the money. Since generally speaking, there is much confusion between prawn and shrimp. My dictionary informs a prawn is a large shrimp; and shrimp a small free-swimming crustacean with an elongated body, typically marine and frequently harvested for food. There. That’s settled then. So you can imagine my surprise when my Borivali machiwallah convinced me to buy jhawla, a species of crustaceans so tiny, I can only describe them as shrimp ka babalog.
I made this baby at a farewell meal on the eve of my departure to Toronto. Close familia had descended en masse at my mini-manse in the burbs. Thankfully there were no tears but Mother Nature with a dramatic sense of timing unleashed a deluge. By evening, Borivali was flooded to the gills. Not that we were aware of it since we were drowning our innards with a blushing-pink-tinged, gin-cranberry cocktail concocted by cousin Thomas, mixologist extraordinaire.
Within minutes, a large bowlful of Posh Pink Plonk (recipe at the southern end of page) was reduced to a large empty bowl. Chop-chop. Slurp-slurp. Encore encore, everyone warbled in one voice. So I quickly got on to the phone before the PPP took hold of my tongue and hey presto! you know something is going right (or wrong, if you’re one of those temperance blokes) when the local grog shop home delivers your order within ten minutes or so.
Good meal, good times, good memories.
2 ltrs fish stock:
1/2 kg any cheap fish
2 bay leaves
2 onions (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
A handful of fresh corinader
1/2 kg jhawla or shrimp ka babalog
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1 and 1/2 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
500 gms arborio rice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions (chopped fine)
2 cloves garlic (smashed, chopped fine)
200 ml white wine
100 gms butter
Salt to taste
Get the fish cleaned at fishmonger’s.
In a large pot, put in 2 and 1/2 litres of water and slowly bring all ingredients to a boil.
Skim the scum as it appears.
Partially cover the pot, and on a medium heat, cook for 20-30 minutes.
When done, pour through a sieve.
Voilà. Homemade fish stock.
You can preprare this in advance and keep in the fridge.
However, remember to remove well before preparing risotto to bring it to room temperature.
Shrimp ka babalog:
Prepare this before you start on the risotto.
Wash shrimps thoroughly.
Marinate for half and hour in the powders and salt.
Heat oil in saucepan.
When oil smoking, fry in batches since the shrimp needs to be crisp.
Each batch should not take more than 2-3 minutes.
Check for crispness.
Drain off excess oil.
In a large pot (5 ltr, atleast; I used a 10 ltr mother) heat the oil on a medium flame.
Gently sauté the onions and garlic for 5 minutes.
Add the arborio rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes, gently stirring all the while.
Add the white wine and stir till absorbed.
Now, here’s where you make or break the risotto.
Tip1: The stock has to be added in small quantities.
Tip 2: Keep stirring all the while. In a measuring cup, take 1 cup of stock. Pour in slowly as you stir till it’s absorbed. In a similar fashion, pour in the rest of the stock. Make sure each amount is absorbed before you pour more. This should take around 20-25 minutes. By the time you finish (well, till you finish pouring/stirring the stock) the rice should be tender but still with some bite (al dente).
Add the butter and check for seasoning.
Top the rice with a generous heap of crisp shrimp ka babalog.
POSH PINK PLONK
1 bottle gin
1 ltr. cranberry juice
500 ml. Sprite
2 x 500 ml. soda
5 lemons (cut into chunky wedges)
Loads of ice cubes
Take one nos. large bowl.
Pour in gin.
Dilute with Sprite and soda according to taste and cojones.
Too much Sprite will make it too sweet; too much soda will make it as strong and virile as a vicar’s staff in a Tijuana brothel. Ideally, what you should be looking for is a drink that’s not too sweet, a bit tart and with a bite like a buck-toothed Tijuana hooker’s kisser.
Sensual yet scary.
Bung in l. wedges and i. cubes.