One of the things I love about going out for dinner to a restaurant or cafe is that you can discreetly observe other people. Hubby knows I always have to look 'into' the room whereas he gets to either face the window, the view or a wall behind me. It's interesting how different people behave whilst out and about. Some are dressed as if going to the Opera House, others look they have just been gardening but couldn't be bothered changing their clothes before eating and the remainder usually dress casually, in decent, presentable clothes with leather shoes and smiles to match.
Even when dining at a waterfront restaurant I prefer to sit a few rows back to observe the people in front of the gorgeous water view, so you have the best of both worlds. A story is people moving through time and space which is also the same for an individual, a couple or a family dining at a food establishment during any time of the day. Their actions are telling a story.
We dined recently at my favourite Indian restaurant where a large table stretched across the entire front of the restaurant and this was taken by an extended family. At the pride of place, not at the head but rather in the middle of the table sat Father, who wore a bright blue turban denoting that he was a Sikh Guru and his wife wore a colourful, matching headscarf also in a beautiful blue, quality silk cloth embroidered with gold thread. Their clothing was also a pleasurable and bright. There were adult children, also colourfully adorned in bold coloured clothing and grandchildren present. Their table was filled with many aromatic and varied Indian dishes, bowls of rice with cumin seeds, pappadums, yoghurt, raita and other vegetable preserves. The young grandchildren snacked predominantly on naan bread, leaving the rich curries for their elders. It must have been an important occasion for the family to celebrate and I was mesmerized by observing these colourful characters.
I love all things spicy and am known for my preference of chilli dishes.
This is a wonderful Preserved Lime dish, worthy of being on the Sikh family's table. It is fiery and full of flavour, enhancing the freshness of limes with the bold flavours of chili and spices.
Preserved Spiced Limes
1 kilo limes, washed
5 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 fresh cayenne chilies, finely sliced
4–6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons unrefined sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
Rinse the limes in cold water and scrub the skins. With a stainless steel knife, quarter the limes and remove the seeds; place in a large bowl and mix in the tomatoes, chilies, garlic, salt, sugar, coriander, fenugreek, ginger, turmeric, and cumin.
Press the mixture into a jar or crock. More brine will release at this stage, and you should see brine above the mixture. Top the ferment with a ceramic or glass weight or fill a 500ml ziplock bag with water and use this to press down on the vegetables, keeping them submerged, under the liquid.
Set aside to ferment, somewhere nearby, out of direct sunlight, and cool, for 1 to 6 months. Check periodically to make sure the limes stay submerged.
You can start to test the ferment on day 30 but I prefer to leave it to ferment for 60 days.
When it is ready the flavours of garlic and spices come through and the limes are no longer acidic. Transfer to jars and tamper (push) down the relish leaving little air space. These fermented limes will keep for at least 18 months stored in the fridge.
Do you also like to discreetly observe other people when dining at restaurants?
Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx