When we were children, we always wanted to eat at our favourite restaurant that was called Hassan (in Salalah, Oman). It was not always easy to convince our dad to take us there especially since the food almost always gave him a stomach upset. So he often made stories about the poor hygiene at restaurants, his favourites being that cooks didn't wash the chicken and they didn't wash their hands. Not very imaginative, which may be why they always fell on our deaf ears. We slyly roped in our mom to help our case because even then we knew that no man can deny his beautiful Mrs something as simple as a trip to the restaurant.
I can remember the restaurant very well. There were two huge dining rooms and some private booths as well, the doors of which children (the unruly ones, not us) loved to slam shut. We once spied a lone diner lick tomato sauce off the bottle rim and resolved never to use anything from an unsealed bottle. Other diners cooled the soup in large saucers for their kids, but "soup is best enjoyed hot", my parents told us pointedly. Another time, after dinner to celebrate my parents' anniversary, we found our car covered with flowers that fallen off the tree under which it was parked. When this didn't happen the next time we were there, we picked some flowers to decorate the car before our parents could reach it. But they only too easily saw through the scam.
School Day, Sports Day, birthdays, general proficiency awards were all celebrated at the place. We had a favourite table and a favourite booth (when we went there with other families). The waiters were all malayalees (obviously), and we had a favourite waiter as well. We almost always ordered soup, naan, butter chicken and fried rice. Fried rice and butter chicken may sound like an odd combination, but it was divine. To this day, I have never had fried rice that was as good as the one I ate there; the taste of it still lingers on my taste buds. The fried rice I made isn't quite as good, but it comes close.
On another note, in recent times, our leaders have attributed the increase in violence against women to modernization (India as opposed to Bharath), mobile phones, chowmein and the skirt. After trying out this fried rice, if you feel like pouncing on the next woman to come your way, please do let me know so I can remove the recipe from this space. This is after all a peaceful blog meant for the entire family.
Fried Rice Recipe:
2 cups long grain rice
6 cups water
1/2 cup each of green beans, carrot, capsicum and cabbage, finely chopped
4 tablespoons finely chopped onion
4 tablespoons finely chopped spring onion (scallion)
3/4 cup cooked chicken, shredded
2 eggs, softly scrambled
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 teaspoons pepper powder
4 tablespoons cooking oil
As required, salt
Soak rice grains in water for 20 - 25 minutes. Drain water and keep aside the rice for 10 minutes. Bring 6 cups of salted water to boil and add rice to it. Cook for about 10 - 12 minutes until almost cooked, but not soft. Drain thoroughly. You can either let the rice cool in a fridge overnight or if you have don't have that much time, spread out the rice on trays and cool under a fan thoroughly.
Since all this rice wouldn't fit into the small frying pan I have, I worked with a quarter of the rice at a time. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan or wok. Add one crushed garlic clove and when it browns, toss in a quarter of the carrot and beans and fry for a minute on high heat. Next, add a quarter of the capsicum, cabbage, onion and chicken and fry for a minute. Pop in a tablespoon of spring onions.
Stir the rice into the mixture, mixing to combine. Add 3/4 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/4 portion of scrambled egg and salt and pepper as required. Mix everything in thoroughly. Transfer to serving dish.
Wipe the pan clean and repeat till all the rice is used up. Serve hot.
Note: You can add a couple of crushed taste maker cubes for added flavour while mixing the rice and the vegetables.