1. Something Hot Would Go Down Nice
It had been a long, cold night of walking, picking their way through tumbled rocks and thorny underbrush that did little to break the force of the chilling wind. When the Fellowship finally stopped for some rest, everyone was tired and yearning for something hot and filling to eat.
"Too bad we can't have some nice stew to warm our bones," Sam muttered as he dug through his pack in search of what he needed to make a meal that would be appealing to the weary travelers. "I've had about enough of this business of no fire and nothin' hot to eat for days on end."
Pulling a small whisk from the depths of his pack, Sam contemplated it thoughtfully for a long moment.
"Why on earth did you bring that, Sam?" Pippin asked, coming up beside him and peering longingly into the pack. "There doesn't seem to be much use for a whisk with the kind of food we've been having on this trip."
"That's how much you know about cooking, Mr. Pippin," Sam retorted. "I'll have you know that a whisk is one of the most useful tools a cook can have, and you just never know when you'll need one. Why, what if I was to decide to make griddle cakes one mornin'? Where would I be without a whisk then? Or scrambled eggs? A fork's good for that, sure, but I like my whisk best! I always have one close by, and I've never been sorry. It don't take up any room at all, anyway."
"Griddle cakes would be just the thing, but I don't see you making them any time soon!" Pippin replied, not quite convinced in spite of the rebuke. "I just wish you could use it to whip up something hot to eat. That would go down nice and proper about now!"
"I hear you!" Sam sighed. "But Mr. Gandalf is sayin' that it ain't safe to light a fire just now, in case there's enemies about. So I guess it's gonna have to be cold food for us -- again! What I wouldn't give for a nice bowl of steaming stew with meat, veggies and lots of taters!"
"That would be nice," Pippin agreed wistfully. "Or some nice fat sausages with fried potatoes, alongside some piping hot griddle cakes...."
Merry poked his head into the conversation. "Are you taking orders, Sam? Or is this more of a 'what I wish I could eat if we could cook it' conversation? If that's the case, then I'm wishing for chicken and dumplings! Boiling hot, mind you, and make sure there's plenty of broth."
"That sounds tasty and filling, as well as warming," commented Frodo. "Though Sam's hot stew is what has my stomach growling right now!"
"I'll have something ready, soon, Mr. Frodo!" Sam said quickly. "Though I'm afraid it won't be warming if I can't have no fire."
Pippin groaned as he cast himself down on the ground next to Boromir, who was listening to the hobbits' wistful discussion with an amused expression. "All this talk of steaming, piping hot food is just making me feel colder!" Pippin complained, looking at Boromir crossly. "You shouldn't laugh at us, either, Boromir. You're the one with the fur-lined cloak, you probably aren't even feeling the cold at all!"
"On the contrary -- not even fur can keep this biting wind out," replied Boromir. "I do confess that I, too, find the thought of something warm to eat very appealing at the moment!"
Merry sat down on Boromir's other side and huddled against him, trying to get warm. "What kind of hot meal would you order Sam to make, Boromir?" he asked, curious.
"I am not certain Sam could make what I am hungry for," Boromir said thoughtfully. He caught the stern look in Sam's eye and quickly amended his words. "That is, it is not a dish well-suited for cooking while on a journey, and some of the ingredients are not readily available...."
"You tell me the ingredients, Mr. Boromir, sir," Sam said stoutly, "and we'll just see if it's something I can or can't make!"
Boromir sighed as Merry and Pippin strove to cover up their giggles at Sam's irritation. "Very well then, Sam," Boromir said. "What I have been longing to eat of late is a spiced rice dish called biryani. Let me see if I can remember all the ingredients... Rice, of course...."
"Rice, eh?" muttered Sam. "That's hard to come by, for sure and certain. Not all that fond of it myself, I'm more a one for taters."
"There's rice grown in the Southfarthing, I believe," commented Merry. "It's not common, true, but I've heard of a couple of farmers who live in the marshier areas who are trying to make a go of growing it."
Boromir cleared his throat loudly. "As I was saying..." he growled, frowning sternly at the interrupting hobbits. "Biryani is rice mixed with a spicy blend of chicken, onions and tomatoes, nuts, raisins and Southron spices. It is a marvelously savory dish!"
"Sounds a bit complicated, to be sure," Sam said.
"You should try your hand at it, Sam," Frodo urged. "It sounds very tasty! Get Boromir to help write down the recipe, and someday when you have the opportunity you can make it."
"I suppose we'll be gettin' to places where we can get some of them Southron spices you mention, eh?" Sam asked Boromir.
"Of course, Sam," answered Boromir. "I'll see that you have everything you need for making biryani when we reach Minas Tirith. Now then, do you have something to write with? I will do my best to record the ingredients for this dish. If you help me with the proper cooking terms, we can surely come up with the proper method of preparation between us."
"But what about food now?" Pippin wailed.
"This won't take but a minute, Mr. Pippin, sir," assured Sam, head already buried in his pack as he searched for writing materials.
Pippin soon became bored with the working out of a recipe for something he wasn't likely to be able to eat for some time. "Come on, Merry," he whispered, nudging his cousin. "Let's go tackle Gandalf and see if we can convince him to let us have a wee fire, just this once. I've got my heart set on hot griddle cakes after all this talk!"
This is the recipe that Boromir dictated to Sam:
4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter - can substitute butter-flavored Crisco)
1/4 cup oil
1-2 onions, large, chopped
1 green chili peppers, small, diced (optional)
3 cups basmati rice, dry
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
3 tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp turmeric, ground
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you want it spicy)
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garam masala, ground
1 Tbsp fenugreek leaves, dried
salt to taste
1 bunch cilantro leaves, fresh, chopped
3 carrots, large, grated
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup raisins
water or chicken broth
1. Cook the chicken and cut into smallish pieces; set aside.
2. Measure the dried spices onto a plate; set aside. Clean and chop the coriander leaves; set aside.
3. Chop onions and fry in oil mixed with clarified butter until transparent. Add the green chilis if you are including them.
4. Add the ginger and garlic paste, stir and cook briefly. Add the dried spices and salt all at once, stir quickly, then immediately add about 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth to keep the spices from burning and to make a paste.
Note: Keep a cup of water/broth on hand and add at intervals if the mixture gets too thick and treatens to burn.
5. Add the following, stirring in between and adding a bit of water or chicken broth as needed -- chopped tomatoes; half of the chopped coriander; grated carrot.
6. Add the almonds and raisins, followed by the cooked chicken. Add water/broth if needed to allow the mixture to simmer, but keep it as dry as possible for later mixing with the rice.
7. While the chicken mixture simmers, clean and wash the rice, drain, and cook according to your preferred method. Rice should be cooked so that the individual grains separate well. Fluff the cooked rice with a fork before combining it with the other ingredients.
8. Before adding the chicken mixture to the rice, add the remaining chopped coriander to the chicken and stir briefly. Then add the mixture to the cooked rice, mixing well so that no clumps of white rice remain and the various ingredients are well distributed.
Serve hot, with yogurt and chutney. Enjoy!
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.