Good smell to the rescue, and a recipe

So in the past I have written quite a lot about smells and how they affect me. I have written wordy posts about the smells from my childhood that make me smile, compared music notes to perfumes notes (wonder what I was thinking!) and talked about the three perfumes I had back in my university days as though I knew everything. I have gone so far as to dress up my perfumes and take pictures of them and sing paeans about how happy they make me feel.

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On a side, while reading my earlier Facebook notes today I realised that if not anything I have fulfilled my dream of having “a decent collection of them ridiculously expensive darlings and have a veritable feast for the olfactory senses right on top of my dressing table” For that I really have to thank the Husband for letting me indulge in the one luxury I allow myself. And for the impromptu perfume gifts that are always, always welcome (*cough* Christmas gift *cough*)

The point of this long winded introduction is that today, after a long hiatus, what compelled me to write a post is yet again, a smell. And to anyone else it might be foolishly banal but hey, science can’t be wrong when it says our brains are wired to feel happy when we smell happy things, can it? But let me set the scene first.

The last three weeks have been hellish. There is no other word to describe it. The little tyke has been resisting bedtime with all her might, and along with that has added a whole new octave to her vocal pipes. I am talking ear splitting decibels here, not kidding. The pinnacle of our miseries would be when our next door neighbour came knocking at our door wondering if Miss Munchkin was in pain since she wouldn’t stop screaming. So I gave up on trying to wean her, and also stopped handing over bedtime responsibilities to her Dad, and surrendered to heaven only knows how many more months of what is slowly starting to feel like torture. As if the bedtime woes were not enough, the little tyke has become pickier than ever and mealtimes are yet again a nightmare. Let’s not even go to tantrums and the constant whining. We’ve finally figured out a way to get her to eat more (she eats like a bird) by changing her meals every single day and today I decided to finally put the saffron we bought two weeks ago to use to make saffron pilaf.

My previous experience with saffron wasn’t that great. I hadn’t had much success in bringing out the flavour and even less, the brilliant yellow colour saffron lends. It never occurred to me to question the quality of the saffron. I just thought maybe I didn’t know how to use it. But the moment I opened this tiny little case, I knew I had hit jackpot. So I heated up some water, put whole cardamoms, cloves and a cinnamon stick in my mortar and pestle and crushed it up a bit, and threw everything in a saucepan with a pinch of saffron and let it simmer for a while. The water immediately turned a mellow yellow and gradually grew brighter. I let the spices and saffron seep in a little more while I prepped my rice.

Did I ever mention how making up recipes or tweaking existing recipes makes me insanely happy? I must have.

So yes, I washed and soaked about a cup of rice and in the meantime minced a small onion and some ginger and garlic and in the same mortar and pestle, ground some cardamom seeds into a fine powder and set aside.

An hour later, I sautéed the onion, ginger, and garlic in a little oil and ghee (for the smell) and once it was slightly browned, added the rice, seasoned it with salt and a pinch of sugar and let it get all nicely golden and slicked in the oil. Then I put my faithful rice cooker to work; transferred the rice to the pot, strained the heavenly smelling saffron water and added to the pot, sprinkled some cardamom powder and a a smidge of ghee and let the magic happen.

Oh and how magic happened! With the steam from the rice cooker filling up my whole kitchen and the living room, I found myself grinning ear to ear because I knew, I simply knew there would be no looking back. I had found my perfect saffron, and my perfect saffron rice, ready in barely any effort. It suddenly hit me that with the sandalwood incense the Husband had lit a couple hours ago, my entire house was filled with this exotic combination of sandalwood and saffron and cardamom and I was in heaven. I suddenly forgot my sleep deprivation, and my impossible tiredness and any stress that I was feeling dissipated with that saffron-y steam and the mingling wafts of sandalwood. All seemed to be well with the world again. You see, with so much uncertainty and unpredictability bugging you down, it is always nice to have something that reassuring, something that you know will always bring a smile to your face. And oh dear lord the rice tasted better than any saffron rice I had ever eaten. It was delicately flavoured, not too overpowering but fragrant enough with subtle hints of everything. It looked gloriously yellow and glossy, and the texture, thanks to my rice cooker, was perfect. Good food and good smell? If this is not a win win, I don’t know one. Terrible twos? Bring it on! I have saffron and cardamom and the ability to sleepwalk through the most amazing rice ever.

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