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August 20, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 8:12 am

At least supermarkets can't. 

As I was packing my Friday shopping away, I overheard a conversation between the cashier and the customer behind me in the queue. The lady, who was apparently Italian, was asking where she could get ‘rosmarino.'

“Rosmarino. I don't know how you say it in English. It is an ‘erb.”

I wondered how long it would take before the checkout guy guessed she was after rosemary and sent her in the right direction. It seemed to be taking a while. Then one of the senior staff turned up to help. He looked equally blank at the lady's descriptions.

As amusing as it was to sit and watch the confusion, I eventually interjected. “I think she's after rosemary”

“Yes, that is it, rosemary” she replied looking quite relieved. The cashier and his colleague looked at me blankly.

“Rosemary. You know? The herb.”

The guy who'd just arrived looked confused. “It's a herb? How did you know that?” I love stupid questions.

“I use it a lot. I'm guessing she's after the fresh version.” More blank stares.

“There are fresh herbs here?”

I really, really hoped this guy was new. â€Yeah, they're in the fruit and veg section, near the fruit with the chillies and ginger and stuff.” At least he seemed to recognise this and trundled off in vaguely the right direction with the customer following. I couldn't help but ask the cashier, “So he's new to this store, right?”

“No, think he's been around a year or so. Usually we get asked for normal stuff.”

So much for Britain becoming more foodie. The staff at Tesco think rosemary is an exotic ingredient!

Maybe these particular staff would have been more familiar with the kind of thing I had for dinner that night. A bog standard chicken biryani.

chicken biryani 

I ate it with some saag daal I had sitting in the freezer from the last curry I had. Biryani  is one of the things my mum was good at. Mine needed a touch more spice in my opinion but it's nearly there. I won't put up a recipe until I've got it totally right.

As a rough guide, fry finely diced onion  in ghee with  ground cardamom seeds, cloves cinnamon, coriander and cumin, a couple of whole cloves and cardamoms, a bit of cinnamon stick and crushed ginger and garlic. Add some bite sized chicken pieces (preferably dark meat as it doesn't dry out) and turn up the heat to seal them. Add washed and soaked basmati rice. Fry these together for a few minutes. Add a glass of milk with a large pinch of saffron dissolved in it plus enough water so the rice should just cook without leaving any liquid. Simmer until the rice is cooked.

The red colour comes from more basmati rice simply cooked with red food dye. It's not necessary at all, but I think it makes it look pretty.

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