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Sunday, 25 September 2016

QUTB MINAR, a World Heritage Site in DELHI . . . and Spicy Rice

A year ago, we were packing for India and drawing up an itinerary for our first day there.  At the top of my list was the Qutb Minar.

In 1191, a Turkic Afghan conquered Delhi.

In the year 1202, the Qutb Minar was begun by Qutbuddin Aibak, the new governor.  He, like the sultan, was a former slave.

Around 1310, Alauddin, another sultan, was a brutal ruler: “commonly crushing his enemies under the feet of elephants and building towers from the heads of the vanquished”.   However, he contributed the Alai Darwaza, as a “superb gate” to the mosque:  red sandstone alternating effectively with white marble. 

No one knows how a mysterious IRON PILLAR got into the site.  It dates back to the 4th or 5th century and has never rusted in over 1500 years.  The wonder is how it was made given the technology of the time.  It is fenced off now, but people used to put their arms around it and make a wish. 

My friend Gale commented, " I remember wrapping my arms around it. It was cool to the touch, although it was summer. " 

In 1838, Fanny Eden wrote of the Qutb Minar site, “I do not think I have yet seen anything so beautiful.”

I saw the Qutb Minar on a beautiful day in December, 1970, and thought the ruins were lovely.  

In spite of our plans, we didn't visit the site last year because the Oberoi Maidens Hotel,  steeped in the ambience of the British raj, turned out to be a very pleasant distraction. 


 This rice goes very well with an Indian lamb dish:


1 ½ cups Basmati rice
¼ cup butter
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
½ tsp cumin
3 cups broth or water
Finely peeled zest of one orange
1 carrot
½ cup raisins

·        Start oven preheating to 350.
·        Heat broth or water to boiling point.
·        Rinse rice and drain well.
·        Melt butter in Dutch oven over high heat.
·        Add rice and stir for 3 minutes over high heat.
·        Add salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin.  Continue stirring for 2 minutes.
·        Pour in boiling hot broth, but be careful as it will bubble up.
·        Cover and put in oven for 45 minutes.
·        Peel and coarsely grate the carrot.
·        Cut orange zest into fine slivers.
·        After the 45 minutes, take out the rice, and drop in the orange, carrot, and raisins.   Do not stir.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes (or more if you need to: it stays hot).   
·        Stir everything together, serve, and enjoy fluffy perfection!