Shadow’s Holiday

Shadow’s Holiday

For as long as I can remember, my holidays were studded with those which were strictly and mandatorily pet friendly. Because we have always had pets, and we never went on holidays leaving the babies for someone else to take care of. They have always been my siblings (since I have no human ones), and well, they were always treated as equals. Sounds strange right? In a world, where people can barely treat humans with humanity, animals being treated humanely sounds fairly surreal, doesn’t it? But it’s true. In fact, sometimes I think my parents love our pets, way more than they love me. To be honest, they aren’t at fault. All of our pets have been extremely good listeners and well mannered and have listened to my folks. Qualities I have never, ever exercised with my parents! So, loving pets more than the only daughter, justified right there! (But I still get the house! Buwaaahhhhhaaaaaa).

Anyway, my pets are my life, and now they are also my husband’s life. He LOVES Shadow, our Labrador, who lives with and is pampered by my parents. Shadow actually has personality attributes of my husband and me (not the good ones). And the two of us have taken it upon ourselves to spoil him silly. Needless to say, we do a brilliant job of it. So, we thought, since Shadow has never experienced a beach or the sea, let’s take him on a holiday to Alibaug. And, so we did. BOY OH BOY, and did we have a blast! Let me take a sentence here to mention that our holiday was sponsored by my parents! (YAY!).

To begin with, Shadow didn’t quite enjoy his 4 hour drive from Pune to Alibaug, well, he doesn’t like cars and the drive therefore. But once he reached the beach, OH MY GOD; to say he loved it would be an understatement. He did, actually, have the time of his life. Rolled in sand, ran into the sea, came out, shook himself dry and, repeated it all! He was one blissful Labrador! He loved the sand, the sea, and of course the treats. That said he had us on an overdrive, when we had to chase him because he was chasing random people (told you, rebellious like us.). But other than that, well behaved and happy and tired.

Of course, us humans weren’t that tired on the trip and decided that we should make a barbeque. So, the place we were staying at, viz, Samarth Cottage, were more than accommodating, and helped us set our barbeque. Even though the holiday was meant for Shadow, we adults had to have our poison. Therefore, intercepted with glasses of beer, the barbecue was a welcome meal.

Yes, you can make a meal out of a barbecue. The barbecue in itself may be a bit of a bitch to get on, but then that’s what the tips section is for right? So here goes. Because we were in Alibaug, we obviously went to the fish market and bought fish, but then, we also bought chicken legs for my husband. Yes, yes, he’s a Malayali, but he doesn’t like fish (except prawns). So the ‘Jawai’ can’t be left disappointed, hence the chicken thighs! Anyway, that said, we had a blast and everyone except my father and my uncle (eyeroll) contributed to the barbecue. Guess deep down, the colonialism hasn’t left them yet! Okay no, but while my hardworking husband got the fire going with instructions from the chair-sitting (don’t know if that is a term, but it defines what I want to say), father-in-law and his friend (so much for pampering the jamaai), he did a wonderful job. So much so, that I know, if we were ever stranded on an island we would survive! With his fire making skills and my cooking skills! My mother and aunt were instrumental in the whole process, and enthusiastically so. They were rockstars man! And Shadow was a well fed, silent observer of all that did unfold. He wasn’t quite interested in the barbecue, but he was intrigued by it and watched the process with rapt attention. All said and done, he is a fabulous and naughty dog, who can be well mannered if he pleases. Come on, we live in an ironical country and well, he kinda does justice to it without harming anyone; so, why not! Anyway, without much ado, here goes the process to barbecue in the wild (ideally) or just barbecue.

To begin with, marinate your meat or vegetables. To marinate here go the ingredients…

Ingredients for marinade

Depending on the amount of meat/ fish/ vegetables. This proportion is for about 1 kg of either.

  • Ginger and garlic paste – 3tbsp
  • Red chilli powder – 2tbsp
  • Lemon/lime juice – 4tbsp
  • Turmeric – 1tsp
  • Garam masala or mixed whole spices powder – 3tbsp
  • Salt – to taste

This marinade works well for meats, fish and vegetables.

The process (not saying method, but process, because, it is a process!)

  • Marinate the produce, cover it, and let it rest for at least 30 mins, the more the better. Except for fish, 30 mins for fish is good.
  • Make the fire man! Now there are various ways in which one can make a fire, but do remember, if making a fire in the wild, you will need some kind of a make shift grill set up, with bricks or stones, and dry firewood, and skewers of sorts, so the produce doesn’t turn into ash. We were lucky to have a metal stand with metal skewers, but if you don’t have that, you can always use some damp sticks to make a makeshift grill and skewers.
  • Next you will need kerosene or raw alcohol (like vodka), to get the fire going.
  • Once the wood catches fire, you’re good to go.
  • Place the produce on the skewers, in a manner that they don’t slide through them. Make sure the fire that is touching the produce is even and subtle.
  • Now here’s the thing, fish will take about 3 mins to cook on each side. Once side 1 has had it’s 3 minutes, turn it. Let it taste the fire for 3 more minutes, take it off the fire, and rest it covered for about 5 mins, uncover and devour!
  • For chicken on the bone, you need to keep turning it every 5 minutes at least thrice. Rest it for 10 minutes covered, and you’re good to dig in.
  • For potatoes, wrap them in foil, and throw them directly into the fire and let them cook for at least 10 minutes. Take out, rest for 5 and enjoy.
  • For other vegetables, place them on the skewer and turn every 2 minutes, at least 5 times on each side and well, feast on!

Tips

This is actually the most educational part of each post, so, let me take the liberty and enlighten you!

  • For meats, barring fish, try and marinate it for at least a couple of hours, because that helps break down the fibres and helps the meat cook faster.
  • It is very important to rest (covered, so the heat doesn’t escape) whatever it is that you are barbecuing, because the residual heat aids in cooking it perfectly and succulently.
  • The array of vegetables that you can barbecue are of course potatoes, then baby onions, cauliflower, asparagus, thick chunks of cabbage, carrots, raddish, beans, sweet potatoes, water chestnuts (which falls in the fruit category), tomatoes (also a fruit), colocasia, brinjals and basically most root vegetables and some that grow above the roots.
  • Make sure the vegetables growing above the root, are cut into fairly bite size pieces before the marinating process, and the root vegetables are pricked with a fork to let the marinade enter.
  • Use a toothpick to ensure the meat/ fish/vegetables, are cooked. If the toothpick goes through unobstructed, its done. If not, throw it on the fire for a couple more minutes, and it’s done. Make sure to test the produce only after you have rested it.
  • If you have a bunch of really, ravenously, hungry people, salivating just at the sight of the cooking process, tie them up until the produce is rested and then free them! Difficult, I know, but one’s got to do what one’s got to do!

So, there you go, an experience that none of us is ever going to forget, with food, the memory of which will make us salivate forever, and for Shadow, who loved the sun, the sea, the sand and every freaking aspect of it. This one’s for him. Keep watching this space for more experiences, adventures, experiments with flavours from around the world and well, generally good reads and feeds you can enjoy with your family. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and if you want to get personal, write to me at sthubanta@gmail.com (don’t get too personal though!). Or you could always leave a comment on this post, and I promise I will respond. Until next time then!



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