At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

This is your brain. This is your brain on ghee.

The Raisin, whom I met while walking today, after a three year interval during which he had been working for a software company down in Redwood City, asked me about food.

Three years ago he knew that I was obsessive about the subject ('what am I eating for lunch, why are there no good places to eat around here, is there a good Chinese restaurant nearby that the white folks haven't ruined yet, and WHY ARE THERE NO YEMENI RESTAURANTS in San Francisco?!?!?!?!?!?' - as just hypothetical examples. I'm quoting what he said, when he saw me.).

Somehow the conversation turned to the simple, comfort foods, the ones that everybody remembers from home. Such as jook for the Cantonese, fishballs for HongKongers, herring for the Dutch, and dhansak for Parsees.

The following is a recipe that probably doesn't remind too many people of the simple comfort food that mom used to make. But it is very nice.

BHEJA FRY [Fried brain, Sindhi style]
Serves 4

Four whole goat brains,
Four TBS butter or ghee.
Two Tsp. cayenne powder
One Tsp. turmeric powder
Generous pinches nutmeg or mace, ground black pepper, and salt.

Rinse the brains. Put a pot of lightly salted water on the fire (about six or so cups), add the cayenne and turmeric, and when the water boils dump in the brains. Cook for fifteen minutes.
Remove brains, drain, and when cool enough to handle remove the thin membranes. Slice each brain into four pieces, and pan-fry in the butter or ghee.
Add nutmeg or mace before removing from the flame, pepper and salt after. Serve hot.

Sindhis are a resettled group in India, like the Parsees and Bohri Muslims.
When India and Pakistan were partitioned, Sindh was included in Pakistan, and almost all Hindu Sindhis emigrated to India, settling largely in Bombay (one of the main cities of Maharashtra).
They are alleged to eat an inordinate number of pappadums - like most clich├ęs, there is some truth to this allegation. Papad was cheap, and in those early years after resettlement no one had a lot of paise.

So, serve the bheja with some nice crisp roasted papad and rice or kich'ri (or even buttered toast), brew some milk-tea with plenty sugar and cardamom, put a Bollywood song-n-dance extravaganza on the telly, and kick back and relax. Life is good!

A little bit of nimboo pickle or aam ka achar is also good to have with the brain - or many other dishes. You should always have some in the house. Always.

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  • At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for posting the recipe of bheja fry, my mouth is already watery. But where do I get the goat brains from ??? Am based in Los Angeles, tried quite a few stores, couldn't find anything other than beef brains.

    Thanks again


  • At 5:16 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Your best bet is to hook up with a hallal butcher-shop. The hallal butchers in my neighborhood (in SF) will set aside the odd parts for their customers if asked.

  • At 5:19 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Alternatively, try talking to a Mexican butcher, and explain what you need.

    In addition to Mexicans, Jamaicans also eat goat - but neither are paricularly hep on brains.

  • At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks, I will let you know if I find it.


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