Saturday, January 8, 2011

Karachi Food Diaries Day 25 - 26 (Seviyan, sweet saffron vermicelli)

December 31 Friday- Day 25
New Year's Eve!

January 1 2011 Saturday- Day 26

Hurting from the previous night, I stumbled out of bed around 1pm. Lunch was simple; daal, potato cauliflower medley, keema with roti and rice. To usher in the new year on a fitting note, we decided to go out for dinner. So, my mother, her sister, my sister and three female cousins, with a couple of bottles of wine in tow, headed to Okra again. My original response to this restaurant on this trip had been lukewarm. I was ready to give it another chance.. and it didn't disappoint! The food was delicious. Starters were duck pate, calamari and escargot. The calamari was perfectly grilled, smoky and tender with a light lemony dressing, the pate was cleverly presented and the escargot was out of this world! Juicy and large, served on little toasted bread rounds to soak up the buttery goodness. I could have eaten the whole plate by myself! Good start to the meal. The round of entree was also as satisfying.
My two favorite dishes were filet mignon in a morel sauce and tilapia with green chillies. The sauce in the former was rich and creamy with a generous use of morels. The filet was topped with fried slivers of beets. It was utterly original and very tasty. The tilapia was crispy and tender, if a tad bit burnt, with a delicious green chilli sauce that definitely had a bite. The dish was served on a bed of greens with a side of grilled onions and garnished with lemon and cilantro. I am hungry again just writing about it! We ate, drank, laughed over shared stories from the night before and more. With a rich, delicious dark chocolate molten cake to go, we moved our party to my aunt's place and continued well into the night.  
I decided to share the recipe for seviyan (sweet saffron vermicelli) here. The reason being that it is a treat that is prepared on festive, celebratory occasions and is a delicious, easy dessert. Prepare a simple syrup by dissolving 2 cups of sugar in a pot of water over medium-high heat. Separately, prepare 1 lb. vermicelli by breaking it into small, equal length pieces (about 1 inch). In a preheated frying pan, add 2 tbsp. ghee (clarified butter) add to this the vermicelli, 3 whole cloves, 5-6 cardamom pods and some raisins and cook till a deep brown color. Transfer this to the syrup pot along with a generous portion of chopped peeled almonds and pistachios (about a cup). Also, add to this a mixture saffron (a pinch) soaked in warm milk for about 2-3 minutes. Stir the ingredients well and cook till the vermicelli softens and all the water dries up. Serve warm with a generous dollop of cream.

Happy 2011!

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