[Editor’s note: It is my pleasure to introduce you all to a new member of the GaysiFamily. I’ll let Cookboy introduce himself and his new column. We know you’ll love him, so be sweet and show him the GaysiFamily style of hospitality!]
It is a cold, gloomy and grey Sunday in London today. The rain has been dripping down all weekend, making it most inhospitable to go outdoors. I decided to brave the gloom in search of a pint and here I am, at my favourite pub in London, with my customary pint of Peroni, looking out onto a typically London landmark, the red phone-box!
I started writing about food a few years ago in a blog called The CookBoy Project. You see, I am an experimental cook, I love cooking, I think it is one of the only acts (barring the obvious) that uses all your senses. By day I am a management consultant, I work with the British financial services industry, but when I get home to my kitchen it is like entering the inner sanctum, my sacred area, where I can forget about my day and immerse myself in my passion which is food.
I live with my husband J. Well, civil partner. Whatever… it depends on how politically correct you want to be about it. But either way its all legal! The UK government has been recently fighting to get marriage equality for the LGBT community and it is the rhetoric of the day. J and I had our civil partnership in 2009, and labelled marriage or not, I don’t care. It gives us equal rights and I am with the person I love. It was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. We are blessed that we have a family that loves, supports and stands up for us in our times of need. Our mothers gave us away, my father made the whole wedding party cry with his moving speech and J’s father played the wedding march on the French horn. It was romantic, beautiful and also unbelievable. You see, I grew up in India and I am and will always be a ‘desi’ at heart. And for many of you who come from the same background, you may be thinking, this is all okay because you are sitting in your ivory tower in London. Let me tell you, I came out when I was in India. I was confused, scared and almost suicidal at one point. I could not understand what was happening to me, I did not want to let my family down, I could not face myself. It was traumatic and horrible.
Late one night in 2003 my mother called me to her room and asked me(I think mothers always know) outright – ‘Are you gay?’ I was horrified, dumbfounded and scared. It took Ma about a year to reconcile. My father seemingly came around much faster. For me, it was liberating! My parents shattered all my fantasies- they were not angry, they were not disappointed, they did not disown me. At the end of the day I was their son and they loved me. Today, almost 10 years later, after a personally tumultuous journey, they consider J a part of the family, as their son’s partner, as a son. Right, that just got me teary eyed. Time for another pint!
Since I have poured my heart out to you and introduced myself, let me now tell you the proposed point of this column. As I said in the beginning – I love food. I love to eat it, I love to cook it and I love to serve it. The twist is that I will present recipes here that I have amended, improvised and made up, they are my innovations so to speak. I would love to hear from others who then go on to try my recipes and want to suggest changes. Lets celebrate the wonderful world of food together.
This week I’m going to share with you my idea for a lovely summer starter. It’s really easy to make and is quite impressive when plated and served. This is inspired by the flavours of my grandmother’s Kerala cooking.
Spicy Coconut Prawns with Sweet and Sour Cucumber.
For 4 you will need:
For the Prawns
500 gms cooked and peeled prawns
3 dried red chilies (add more if you want it very spicy)
3 tablespoons fresh grated coconut or desiccated coconut
1.5 tablespoons of corriander seeds
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
For the cucumber
1 medium sized cucumber finely sliced
Juice of one lemon
1.5 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons freshly chopped coriander
Prepare the cucumber salad first so that it can marinate while you make the prawns. In a mixing bowl all the lemon juice, sugar and chopped corriander to the cucumber and let it rest in the fridge while you make the prawns.
- Grind together the chilies, coconut, coriander seeds and garlic to make a paste. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok and stir fry the paste till well done. You want to get the raw spice taste out of it. You should start smelling the aromas of the corriander, garlic and chilies as the paste cooks on a medium flame. Take care not burn the coconut. Add the prawns to this mixture and coat them well with the spice mixture. Fry this well till the prawns are well done. Season with salt.
- Arrange a bed of the pre marinated cucumbers on a serving plate and arrange your spicy prawns on top of that.
- Serve while the prawns are hot. The heat and spice of the prawns with the cold cucumber is an excellent combination.