Many of us living in the Bay Area are familiar with grilled tandoori foods that come sizzling on a hot-iron platter at Indian restaurants.
I recently visited Western India and had the luxury of eating a real sizzler at a restaurant called Kobe. About 10 minutes after placing our order, waiters carried scorching iron skillets to the table, our choices bubbling and fuming under the blanket of a slightly sweet, smoky garlic sauce.
I chose a fish shashlik sizzler, and it arrived steaming hot over a bed of basmati long-grain rice, fresh vegetables, french fries on the side and an exotic sauce. The thinly cut pieces of pomfret fillet were well done yet just right to bite into. Stewed and slightly charred tomatoes, sweet green peas, succulent heads of green beans and the freshly prepared fries were finger-licking good. I had a variety of juicy flavors and textures to slowly eat my way through, all fiery hot and laced with the sauce.
The basic sizzler comes with vegetables and fries, except for the shashlik, served on a bed of rice. I will wait for the day California has a restaurant that dishes up authentic Indian-style sizzlers as well as tandoori foods. Until then, I will have to make them at home, serving them on hot cast-iron platters with long-grain basmati rice.
Zesty salmon sizzler
1 fresh, medium-sized salmon fillet, washed and cut in small pieces
1 medium-sized tomato, sliced
1 large white or red onion, thinly sliced
5-6 green onions
1 red or green bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 green chilies, slit lengthwise (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger paste
1 teaspoon fresh garlic paste
2-3 tablespoons canned tomato puree
4 tablespoons oil
Few tablespoons water
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon fresh garam masala powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
2 green cardamom pods
5 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
Pinch of white sugar (to balance taste)
Chopped cilantro to garnish
Heat oil in pan. Add green cardamoms, peppercorns and bay leaf and let sizzle. Add sliced onion and cook until light brown. Add green chilies, ginger and garlic pastes and sliced tomatoes. Cook for a minute or so.
Add salmon pieces and spices. Add tomato puree and a little water and let cook on medium heat until salmon is done and sauce coats it well. Adjust seasoning and cook uncovered until salmon is tender.
Add sliced bell pepper and green onions. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Give one last stir and serve piping hot on bed of freshly cooked long-grain basmati rice.
Note: Substitute salmon with paneer cubes (Indian cottage cheese) for vegetarians and add green beans, peas or potatoes to your sizzler.