Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pakki Murgh Dum Biryani

Ingredients for the biryani:
1 whole cut up Chicken
2 cups basmati rice
2-3 tablespoons full cream yogurt
2-3eggs for garnish
1 1/2 large onions
1 bunch fresh Cilantro
1 handful fresh mint leaves
Spice powders: turmeric powder, chilli powder, biryani masala
Whole spices: black cardamom, cinnamon stick, star anise, mace, bay leaf, shahi jeera, whole black pepper
ginger-garlic paste
3/4th cup tomato puree
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking

Prep #1: Marinate the chicken with salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, a couple of tablespoons of whole milk yogurt, biryani masala and ginger-garlic paste. Preferably keep overnight in the refridgerator.  

Prep #2: Hard boil a cuple of eggs for garnishing. Sheel them, and slice them into halves and keep aside.

Prep #3: Take some oil in a thick bottomed pan and saute some cashew pieces and raisins on medium heat. This way you'll lightly toast them without burning them. Keep aside for layering.

Prep #4: Julienne 1 large onion into thin strips, toss it with salt and then fry on medium heat for 20-25 mins in a thick bottomed pan. Keep stirring so that the onions slowly browns evenly. Don't do this on high heat or the outside of the onions will burn before the insides cook out. Once the onions are evenly browned, remove with a slotted spoon and lay them out on a paper towel. The onions will showly crisp as it cools down. Keep aside for layering.

Prep #5: Finely chop a bunch of cilantro leaves. Also chop a handful of fresh mint leaves. Keep aside for layering

Prep #6: Heat a couple of tablespoons of milk and then add some strands of saffron to this milk. Keep aside for layering.

Prep #7: Wash some basmati rice and soak in water for 15-20 mins. Take a big vessel of boiling water. Add some salt, 1 black cardamom, 1 stick of cinnamom, 1 star anise, 1 mace piece and 1 bay leaf. Add the presoaked rice into this boiling water and boil for 5-6 mins. Drain the semi-cooked rice into a colander and keep aside for layering.  


1. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add some shahi jeera, star anise and whole black pepper to it. Once the garam masala sizzles, add 1/2 a chopped onion and saute till the onion turns golder brown.
2. Add the marinated chicken along with its marinade. Add some tomato puree. Cook covered on medium heat, stirring occasionally, till chicken is almost done. Now open the lid and let the moisture escape from the vessel while the chicken gets done.  
3. Take a pot with a lid, which can be baked in the oven. Coat a layer of butter or ghee on the sides of the pot. Layer some of the semicooked rice on the bottom, then sprinkle the caramelized onions, fried cashews & raisins, cilantro leaves, mint leaves. Now layer the cooked chicken on top of this layer. Again layer some caramelized onions, fried cashews & raisins, cilantro leaves & mint leaves. Finally cover with the last of the rice. Sprinkle the saffron milk all over the pot. Arrange the hard boiled egg halves over the rice.
4. Cover this assembled biryani with an aluminum foil, so that the steam does not escape from the pot. Now put the lid over the foil and bake in a preheated oven (350 F) for about 20 mins so that the rice gets completely cooked.

For the Raita:

1. Finely chop onions, green chillies, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro and mint.
2. Add water to some yogurt so that it thins out.
3. Add the ingredients from #1 & #2 and to it add kala namak (black salt), chat masala, ground roasted jeera & salt. Adjust amount of salt since chat masala and kala namak are already salty.

1. I usually use whole cut up chicken for biryani. Or I even use thigh and leg pieces. But I always stay away from breast pieces since they become really dry and fibrous.
2. Try to make your own caramelized onions or skip the onions altogether. Store bought fried onions are made with questionable oil and smell horrible. It will ruin the flavor of your biryani.
3. Time the rice in such a way that your rice is ready just about when your chicken is done. That way your rice does not get a chance to cool down.
4. Use the non-watery part of the full cream yogurt, or even better use greek yogurt. Do not make the marinade too watery, because the chicken will release some water when it is being cooked and we are adding tomato puree too. If the cooked chicken becomes too watery, skip the saffron milk or else the rice in the lower layer will become bharta (mush) :-)
5. You can even use some food color, to give the biryani an authentic look. I shy away from using food color on a regular basis, but in case you have guests, you can make an exception. You will want to sprinkle a pinch of food color into a bowl and mix some semi cooked rice with it. The semi cooked rice will turn red. Now sprinkle this colored rice within your layers. To keep things healthy, you can even substitute some beet instead of using food color.
6. You can sprinkle some kewra water and rose water to the assembly, but make sure that in the end, you don't have too much moisture....or else the rice will become soggy instead of grainy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Malvani/Konkani Shrimp Masala Rice

2 lbs shrimp
1.5 cups basmati rice
Little less than 3 cups of water
1/2 a giant red onion - julienned
A third or half a can of tomato puree
1 chicken bouillon cube
Oil + ghee for cooking
Salt to taste

Garam Masala: Black elaichi (cardamom), Bay leaf, dalchini (cinnamon), star anise, mace, laung (cloves), whole pepper corns.

Green paste ingredients:
Grind together ginger, garlic, jeera seeds, green chillies, dried red chillies, few pudina (mint) leaves and lots of dhania (cilantro) leaves, 1/2 cup grated coconut  

1. Shell the shrimp and clean by deveining it. Toss the shrimp in some salt and keep aside.
2. Soak the basmati rice in some water for about 20-30 mins. Discard the water.
3. Heat the water for the rice separately.
4. Grind together the ingredients for the green paste. You might have to use little water in the grinding process.
5. Heat some oil + ghee in a pan which has a lid.
6. Add all the garam masala to it.
7. Add the julienned onions and cook till the onions are golden brown.
8. Add the green paste and cook till the ginger-garlic's raw smell is gone. 
9. Now add the tomato puree and cook till the oil comes off from the side.
10. Now add the shrimp and saute for 2 mins.
11. Add the chicken bouillon cube, hot water and rice. Taste the water to see if you still need salt. Cover and cook till rice is cooked. 
12. Switch off the heat and sqeeze some lemon into the rice. Serve with julienned onions tossed in salt and lemon juice. 

1. Do not use the frozen shelled or cooked shrimp for this recipe. I usually buy my shrimp from Pacific Ocean Marketplace...even Sunflower Market or Whole foods will do.
2. Try not to go overboard with the mint, the predominant flavor of this dish is of cilantro.
3. Do not overcook the shrimp or else it will turn rubbery
4. I use 1 tablespoon of Knorr Chicken Flavor Bouillon instead of cube.
5. The rice cooks pretty fast in about 12-15 mins

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mooli ka Paratha

Wheat flour
Red chili powder
Chole powder
Salt to taste

1. Peel and wash radish
2. Grate the radish on your thickest grate
3. Toss the grated radish with salt and leave in a colander for atleast 15 minutes (or more if you can spare the time). Then squeeze the excess water out of the grated radish.
5. Collect this squeezed out radish water and use this water to make your dough. Make a stiff dough with wheat flour.
6. Add a little more salt, chilli powder and chole powder to the radish to prepare your paratha filling.
7. Prepare the parathas.

How not to get soggy torn parathas while rolling out the stuffed dough :-)
Sorry for the picture quality. Flash was turning everything white and the natural lighting on my kitchen counter is poor.

1. Roll out a small disc, but try to keep the center of the disc thick and roll the edges thinner. Sprinkle some dry wheat flour on the disc before placing the filling in it

2. After placing the filling, again sprinkle some wheat flour on top of it.

3. Now fold the edges of the disc over and around the filling to seal into a packet. Dip the packet on some dry flour, and then roll out into a paratha.

1. If you grate the radish really thin and squeeze out all its water, then the radish has no flavor left in it. So grate the radish really thick, that way even after you squeeze out all the excess moisture, every bite will yield juicy radish :-)
2. Radish has a very mild flavor, so if you add too many spices to the filling, it will overpower the flavor of radish. 
3. What is a paratha without ghee ;-) ;-) But you can use very little olive oil instead. 

Murgh Methi (Chicken with fresh Fenugreek leaves)

1.5 - 2 lbs Chicken thigh
1 cup whole milk yogurt
2 bunches of fresh Methi
1/2 a giant red onion
1.5" ginger and about the same volume of garlic 
green chillies
Whole Garam Masala: Black & Green Cardamoms, Cinnamon, Bay leaf, Javitri (mace), Cumin, Cloves and Peppercorns
Spices: Haldi (turmeric powder), red chili powder, dhania (coriander powder), garam masala powder
Little less than 1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons of almond powder
A dollop of whipping cream
1/2 bunch fresh dhania (cilantro) 
Oil for cooking
Salt to taste

Prep work:
1. Grind onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies together
2. Wash the methi leaves properly, toss them with salt and keep aside for 10-15 mins. Squeeze the water out of the leaves and chop them.
3. Cut the chicken thigh pieces into small chunks and marinate it with salt and yogurt for 15 mins

1. Heat some oil in a pressure cooker and add whole garam masala.
2. Add the onion-ginger-garlic-chilli paste and saute it till it turns golden brown.
3. Add the chopped methi leaves and saute it for about 7-10 mins till the leaves start browning/crisping and you can smell the aroma of methi
4. Now add haldi + mirchi + dhania....followed by tomato paste. Cook for a few minutes till you see the oil leaving the sides of the pan.
5. Finally add the marinated chicken, some hot water , some ground almond powder and close the pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 10 mins. Start off on high, and once the whistle blows reduce the heat to medium-low for the remainder of the time.
6. Turn off the cooker, wait for the pressure to release, and then add garam masala powder, whipping cream and fresh chopped dhania. 

1. I prefer using chicken thigh pieces over breast pieces for this dish. Breast pieces are too fibrous. 
2. You can always add some kasoori methi towards the end, if you feel that you want a stronger methi flavor. Keep in mind that dried dehydrated herbs are way stronger than their fresh counterparts.
3. I cook in the pressure cooker so that the meat becomes really soft really fast. You can cook in an open pan, slowcooker, whatever works for you :-) 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Quick & Easy Vegetable Biryani

This is an extremely painless version of biryani which takes about 5-10 minutes prep work followed by 10 minutes in the pressure cooker. Ofcourse you cannot compare its taste with your traditional Hyderabadi dum Biryani :-) :-) nevertheless this tastes pretty good for a 20 minute recipe :-)

For the Biryani (following portion feeds 2):
1. Wash 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice and soak in 2 1/2 cups of water.
2.  Take some ghee in the pressure cooker. Add whole garam masala to it i.e. jeera (cumin), kali elaichi (black cardamom), dalchini (cinnamon), star anise & bay leaves.
3. Add some onions sliced lengthwise, biryani masala and tomato puree, saute for 2-3 mins.
4. Now add a small bag of frozen mixed vegetables, soaked rice along with the water, chopped fresh mint leaves & salt to taste.
5. Shut the pressure cooker and cook for 7-10 mins.
6. After pressure escapes from the cooker, add fresh chopped cilantro to the rice and serve hot.

For the Raita:
1. Finely chop onions, green chillies, cucumber & tomatoes.
2. Add water to some yogurt so that it thins out.
3. Add the ingredients from #1 & #2 and to it add kala namak (black salt), chat masala, ground roasted jeera & salt. Adjust amount of salt since chat masala and kala namak are already salty.

1. Rice :: water proportion is 1 :: 2, but if you cook in the pressure cooker, with vegetables that will release water, the rice will become mush. So use little less than double the amount of water.
2. Be generous with the tomato puree. It gives the biryani a rich color and adds to the flavor.
3. If you are a non vegetarian, add some chicken bouillon cubes into the rice and skip or reduce the salt. Really improves the flavor.
4. I use Everest Biryani masala and find it significantly better that MDH & Badshah biryani masala.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vada Pav

I LOVE Bombay street food...I miss Bombay street food...woh Jai ka Sandwich, woh Anna ka Dosa, woh Mithibai ka Vada Pav, woh Juhu ka Pav Bhaji ...hmmmm.... 

And hence nostalgia is a form of self torture ;-) ;-)

Batter for the Vada's outer crust:
Mix Besan (gram flour), salt, chilli powder, a pinch of cooking soda and water to form a rather thick batter (slightly thicker in consistency than what you make for pakodas)

For the Vada:
1. Boil and mash some potatoes. Keep it aside.
2. Heat oil in a small pan. When oil becomes hot add some mustard seeds. After the mustard seeds crackle, add a pinch of hing (asafoetida), chopped curry leaves & coarsely chopped ginger-garlic-green chillies. Saute this for about a minute and then add this mixture to the mashed potatoes.
3. Additionally add salt & haldi (turmeric powder) to the mashed potatoes.
4. Mix all of the above ingredients well together and then make small round balls for frying.

Assembling the Vada Pav:
1. Heat some oil in a kadhai for deep frying.  
2. Dip the round potato balls into the thick batter and roll till they are coated with besan. Now fry the Vadas till the batter cooks into a crisp crust.
3. Cut some Pav (bread) into two halves. Apply coriander chutney and tamarind chutney on both sides. Put the fried Vada in between the slices and serve. 

1. For the bread you can use mini burger buns, dinner rolls, hot dog buns, slice of bread cut into 2 halves....anything goes :-)
2. Be generous with the chutneys or else the Vada Pav will taste very dry.
3. Do not add more soda or the batter will drink too much oil. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Andhra egg curry (Curried poached eggs)

I learned this recipe from my roommate at CSU, Joshna, who was from Andhra Pradesh. This poached egg technique can be applied to any of your favorite traditional egg curry recipes. Sorry the picture looks like mush :-( but I promise it tastes good :-)

1. Take some oil in a skillet and add whole jeera (cumin seeds) & dried red chillies
2. Add chopped onions, chopped green chillies and ginger-garlic paste and saute till onions are golden brown.
3. Add  haldi (turmeric), chilli, dhania (coriander) and jeera (cumin) powders followed by tomato paste. Mix them together and cook till oil begins to separate from the masala.
4. Now add some water to make it a rather watery consistency. Add some garam masala and salt to this watery gravy, get it to a boil. We are now ready to add the eggs.
5. Take the eggs and crack each one directly into the gravy. Each one should be dropped slowly into the gravy to try and keep it as intact as possible. Each egg should be placed away from the previous one so they don't touch each other.

6. Cook the eggs for about 5-7 minutes and then flip the eggs over. At this point the portion of the egg submerged in the gravy will be cooked and the top half will be raw. Cook the second side for another 7 minutes or so.
7. Serve with some fresh cilantro.

1. Use a rather flat kind of  vessel so you can drop the eggs away from each other.
2. You can choose to cover and cook on the first side and not flip the eggs over. This is really a personal egg choice. Some like their yolk runny, I like to cook the yolk till they are well done.