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HRH Salmon in Mugal Cream Sauce #FoodieReads

I started this book - Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors: A Novel by Sonali Dev* - on Mothers' Day when I packed it into my backpack for a hike. 

On the Page

While the boys flew their remote control glider on the thermoclines around the dunes, I lounged on the sand, sucked down some coffee, and read about a third of the book. Then, while Jake manned the grill for my Thai-inspired Mothers' Day dinner, later that afternoon, I polished it off. 

While I have read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I vastly prefer the slightly darker themes explored in her contemporaries' works such as anything by the literary phenomenon that were the Brontë sisters. I'm less interested in the exploration of women's reliance on marriage in the pursuit of social standing and economic security as I intrigued by madwomen in attics. Just me? Maybe.

At the center is Dr. Trisha Raje, a neurosurgeon at Stanford Medical, who has just created a way to gently nudge brain tissue out of the way to remove a tumor versus slicing into the brain. The patient she would like to try this experimental procedure on is an artist, Emma, who will certainly lose her vision after the surgery. But she will be alive. Add into this the overbearing, toxic Raje family and Emma's deadly attractive older brother, DJ, who is a chef trying to land a long-term catering contract with the Rajes. Now you have some drama!

One thing bothered me more than it probably should have. Trisha makes a drive to Monterey, to a beach house that her family owns in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Dev makes a point of calling out a (fictional) little cafe "outside Laguna Grande, just a few miles away from the beach house" (pg 307). Why use a real city, then a fake city, and a fake business?! Unless there's a Laguna Grande with which I am unfamiliar on this seems odd to say the least.

The food descriptions and DJ’s obvious passion for his work were my favorite parts.

"Leaning over the tray he inhaled deeply, letting the steam-laden aroma flood all the way through him. The soft green clouds edged with the most delicate golden crusts smelled as perfect as they looked. Pistachio with a hint of saffron. Was there even such a things as a hint of saffron? It was the loudest understated spice, like a soft-spoken person you couldn't stop listening to. ...No matter how subtle you tried to make it, saffron always shone through, it became the soul of your preparation" (pp. 43-44).

"Before he was thirteen he could outshine the most skilled cooks in all Southall. He could smell the readiess of onion in every one of its stages of cooking and knew exactly what stage worked best for each dish. He could identify the exact rapidity with which milk had to boil before adding the lemon to make the cheese curd separate into paneer. He could sense exactly when to add the tomatoes to tie together the onion, garlic, and ginger so that the curry came together perfectly with the oil separating from it in syrupy rivulets" (pg. 207).

I found this novel a breezy, light read...and perfect for a diversion during this crazy last month of school. It was enjoyable, but not particularly thought-provoking. Basically, it's a gender-bending Pride and Prejudice with some modern day perspectives on class, race, identity, and family. And then there's the food. This definitely had me looking for recipes to make ladoo, scheming about when I could serve a Saffron Crème Brûlée, and dreaming about DJ's crab kachoris with date chutney foam. Okay, maybe not so much on the foam. That always makes me feel as if a stink bug walked across my plate.

On the Plate

Our CSF (that's community supported fishery) pick-up days is one of my favorite dinner days of the week. We love Real Good Fish for the quality, the freshness, and the philosophy! Last night, we received a beautiful, fleshy piece of King Salmon from our bay. It was really gorgeous. So, I decided to adapt the recipe in the back of the book and used salmon instead of chicken. Also, I added in some red and yellow bell peppers for more color. And instead of calling it 'King' Salmon, I went for 'HRH' Salmon which is how they refer to the patriarch of the Raje family: HRH, his royal highness.

HRH Salmon in Mugal Cream Sauce
serves four / modified from 'Chicken in Mugal Cream Sauce' from the book

  • 1/2 C butter
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • 1 t dried fenugreek leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1/2" knob fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 organic white onions, steamed and pureed
  • 2 green chiles, steamed and pureed
  • 2 organic bell peppers, deseeded and thinly sliced (I used one yellow and one red)
  • 2 T tomato puree
  • 1 pound king salmon fillet, skinned and cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 C whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 C coconut cream
  • 1/4 raw cashews
  • 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • salt to taste
  • Also needed: food processor or mortar and pestle, steamed rice for serving

Mix together the garlic and ginger with a splash of water to form a paste. Set aside. Grind the cashews with a splash of water to form a paste. Set aside.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, melt the butter and heat until it sizzles. Add the cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds and fenugreek leaves. Let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the garlic-ginger paste. Stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes until aromatic.

Stir in the pureed onions and chiles. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the bell peppers. Then add in the tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes.

Whisk in the yogurt and coconut cream. Bring to a simmer. Gently lower the salmon chunks into the pan. Cook on a low heat until the salmon is opaque, but still soft, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.

Fold in the cashew paste and stir in the cream. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg. Season to taste with salt, as needed.

Serve with a scoop of steamed rice. Serve hot.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in May 2019: here.


  1. Another wonderful creation inspired by an interesting sounding read.


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