Being jet lagged was a classic. Waking up at 2am and sleeping from lunch time til the stars shine. It took a good week to readjust to the climate Down Under after visiting the two Holy Mosques in Saudi for my first pilgrimage ever 🙂
I had some preconceptions of what the place will be like, and how the people will behave, but despite all my mental preparation the experience was surreal and beyond expectations.
You’ve probably heard about “Hajj” – you know, that ritual where 2 million+ Muslims flock to the lands of Makkah in search of soul, faith, redemption. During the ritual itself, the men there dress in two white cloths symbolising two things: their burial cloths, and equality among each other… you could literally be walking next to a millionaire, orphan, or CEO and wouldn’t know it. Because the two of you have brought yourself back to the very basics of human life and the encompassing ideals of “humanity”.
Women cover as Muslim women generally do – wherever you look you cannot judge or compare as women viciously do. You build a kind of self-love because you forget what it feels like to see “the ideal [photoshopped] body image” plastered over billboards that reminds you of everything your body is not.
There, strange things happen. You meet people who don’t speak your language – yet you share lollies and smiles and maybe a goodbye hug. You hussle at the markets and you find yourself blabbering your summarised life story that you’ve craftily learnt to repeat to shop owners and other shoppers you meet.
When your soul searching journey is over and it’s time to head home, you realise how much you’ll miss the place (because bias-ly(?), your origins are from a country so similar!) Then you hit the sands of Down Under and smell the heat of a burnt through ozone layer and good ol’ humidity. Amalgamated with the smell of used canola oil and a freshly fried batch of fish’n’chips.
Only this time, it’s spruced up with a twist on the batter: polenta instead of breadcrumbs. And homemade tartare sauce.
1 cup polenta
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsps finely grated lemon rind
4 firm white fish fillets (about 150g each – I just used Basa)
1 tbs lemon juice
Canola or rice bran oil, to fry (or any oil you like to fry in)
Potato chips, to serve
1/2 cup quality whole-egg mayonnaise
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tsp finely chopped capers
2 gherkins, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
First make your sauce:
Place mayonnaise, lemon rind, capers, gherkins and parsley in a small bowl. Season. Stir until well combined and refrigerate.
Next, combine polenta, garlic powder and lemon rind in a plate; season with salt and pepper.
Whisk egg in a shallow bowl.
Dip 1 piece of fish in egg. Coat in polenta mixture. Place on a plate.
Repeat with remaining fish. I cut 3 of my fillets into cocktail sized bites for the kids.
Refrigerate fish for 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook fish, in batches, for 3 to 4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.
Serve with salad, tartare sauce and chips.