Stuffed onions for Mallika and Raghu

I first tried this in Feb 2018 I think, when Mallika and Raghu were doing one of their visits to the UK, and she suggested that rather than spend so much time travelling to see everyone all over the country, she could invite them all to our place. Perfect! The only thing was that she didn't want me to cook Indian food - so here I was with potentially 25 or 30 people for a meal, but cooking non-Indian delicacies, but with no meat, only fish. Panic. It worked out though, after much consultation with gurus like Karl and Ottolenghi. And this was one of the latter's.....

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Take two or three large onions. Peel them then cut them in half lengthways (i.e., from top to tail). Now for the tricky part – removing the large outer layers of the onion without breaking them. Best is to nudge out the insides, bit by bit, and then gradually slide a blunt knife between layers to separate them. For each onion you’ll be able to use about three layers.

In a saucepan bring some stock and some white wine to a bubble and then put in a few layers at a time into the pan, leave for about 4 minutes, fish them out, then put in the next lot. These can sit and cool on a plate. They will now be softened enough to fold around the filling without breaking. Reserve the stock and wine liquid.

For the filling – I did couscous, garlic, and herbs this time because of vegetarians – but you can do pretty much anything. Ideally I would use a filling of keema with either herbs or spices and lightly cooked till half done, or else not cooked at all (this would help the onions absorb the keema taste and vice versa).

Take each layer, put about a large teaspoonful of filling in it, pull edges over till they overlap and place in a buttered or oiled oven dish, looking like little fat cigars as Ottolenghi describes them. After they are all neatly lined up (as in the pic to the right), pour over the remaining stock and wine mix till it comes up at most a centimetere high (don’t drown the onions). Cook for 45 minutes. Sprinkle over with either parsley or coriander depending on whether you have used spices or herbs.

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