No one can bake fish better than our Paati! (Grandmom in Tamil). She was the best seafood cook I have ever known. Paati was our family friend, and I remember spending most of my childhood summers at her house. Thaatha (Grandpa in Tamil), was a retired Engineer, who loved teaching kids, and he was my tutor for most of my childhood. They dint have a fancy house, or fancy cars, but his house was warm, they were the most loving people.
Summers in their house were amazing. All the kids in that block would gang up in their house. Umakka was the quiet ring leader, Bunty was the brain, Naveen and Gunnu were the jokers, Chikka Chinni was the complaint master, who always hid behind her mom, Big Chinni was another mommy clinger. Gudiya was the talkative girl with glasses. Jagan was the Coorgi boy, and Usha was the little undernourished neighbors girl. Tutu and me were the pranksters. Games, gossip, and food, you name it. Grandpa taught, and Grandma cooked! Whoever needed parents? My dad would drop us off at their place after breakfast, and we would stay their until the sun went down. It was such a carefree life. Thaatha was a strict disciplinarian when it came to studying. He had a hand fan, made of cane, a very basic manual one, to cool himself in those hot tropical temperatures, and we were beaten many a times in that. Infact, Tutu, Naveen and I were the most awesome pranksters of our times. They were a little younger than me, but we were always a team, we had one motto, never cry and whine, have fun all the time. We were even nick named as 'Ereme maadu' (thick skinned buffalos).
Summers at Thatha's house always meant one thing, long walks everyday, then to Cubbon park, the Premier book store (located on Brigade Rd, Bangalore) and finally to the Nilgiris store for fresh cream, to make home made ice cream. We would be nearly exhausted from all that walking, so we would take a rickshaw back home. Paati's finger licking, oil dripping meat and seafood curries would await us. And then we would nap away. Evening tea time would mean big glasses of milk, or watermelons, or cakes! We kids would all roller skate down the roads or play at the park. That was the time Thaatha would get his cook book, and instruct the helpers in teh kitchen to make ice creams and bread pudding.
Sundays would mean picnics, The cars would be overflowing with adults and kids. Thaatha loved them. And we kids would love them more, swiming in the river, eating Paati's biriyanis by the sunflower fields on the way. These moments are just priceless.
There is so much I have learned from the both of them. Paati cooked wonderfully, and always blessed us, and loved us unconditionally. Thaatha - I am glad I had the opportunity to be with this fine man. He would be full of smiles when were around him. He had these little habits, digging into his teeth with a tooth pick all the time, or rolling a piece of paper into a pipe and constantly work it with his hands, walk up and down the little passage over a hundred times after lunch, read his Agatha Christie. Many habits which kept him fit and healthy for life. He was a simple man, with high thinking. He always, I mean, always ate a balanced diet. He always walked, everywhere, and he kept his brain ticking by reading, teaching us, helping us with crafts, you name it. He followed a good daily routine. His lunch would have 5 cups, each filled with boiled peas, greens, vegetables, rice and lentils. He never ate an ounce more. It is strange how two people with such different personalities lived together in the same house, as husband and wife! Thaatha was a fitness and health freak, but Paati was the opposite, and still is. Thaatha passed away nearly a decade ago, Paati lives on, strong at times, but most of the time, she is in and out of the hospital. She has not changed her habits, and falls sick often. She is lucky to have a daughter and son who take good care of her.
Coming back to fish, I did not know why people loved having Red wine with a Salmon dinner. After a lot of apprehension, I thought I would marinate salmon filets in it. It was the juiciest Salmon I had ever baked. Like it is often said, the success of simple recipes is the quality of its ingredients. Try a full bodied red wine for the best results.
What I used: Serves 4-6
4-6 boneless Salmon filets
¼ cup red wine
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp pepper powder
A pinch of turmeric
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Mix the marinate ingredients and brush both sides of the filets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven at 400 degree F. Grease/spray a thin coat of oil on a baking sheet.
Arrange the marinated filets and bake it for 20 minutes, or until the fish pierced with a fork comes out moist and flaky.
I paired the filet with a light rice and bean pilaf. You may add any side of your choice. Dinner is served. Enjoy!