Veggies and Me!

I had always disliked vegetable biryani. My Ammi had to run behind me to make me finish my plate. The other day while I was browsing through this cookbook, I came across this recipe and I am so glad I tried it. This recipe is a keeper and I will definitely be trying it again and again in my kitchen.

Vegetable Dum Biryani –  Rice Cooked With Vegetables and Spices
Source: India’s Vegetarian Cooking
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Spices for the Rice water:
  1. Bay Leaves – 2
  2. Fennel Seeds/Saunf – 1 tsp
  3. Nutmeg Powder – 1 tsp
  4. Cinnamon – 1 small stick
  5. Cloves – 5
  6. Black peppercorns – 8
  7. Green cardamom – 3
  • Milk – 4 tbsp
  • Saffron strands – 1/2 tsp
  • Rose Water – 4 tbsp (optional)
  • Green cardamoms – 2
  • Butter/Canola Oil – 6 tbsp
  • Yellow Onion – 3, medium, thinly sliced
  • Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Tomato paste – 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables (Corn, Carrots, Potatoes, French Beans, Lima beans) – 270 gms
  • Red capsicum – 1, chopped
  • Basmati Rice – 300 gms
  • Mint leaves – 1 tbsp
  • Cilantro – 1 tbsp
  • Slivered Almonds – 3 tbsp

Vegetable Dum Biryani / Tarkari Ka Chawal

Method:

  • Preheat Oven to 425 °F /220 °C/Gas Mark 6
  • Put the spices meant for the rice water in 600 ml of water. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Cover the pan and allow the flavours to infuse. This will be our liq. 1.
  • Meanwhile crush the two green cardamoms with milk and saffron and rose water and keep aside in a small bowl. This will be our liq. 2.
  • In a pan on medium heat, pour 3 tbsp of butter/oil and stir fry the chopped red capsicum. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  • In the same pan and butter/oil fry the onions until brown. Remove half of them and reserve for garnish. Add Ginger garlic paste to the pan and stir fry it along with the remaining onions. Remove from heat and let it cool. Grind the fried Ginger-Garlic and Onion.
  • Heat 1 1/2 tbsp butter/oil in a pan and pour the above grinded mixture along with turmeric powder, Garam masala and tomato puree. Season with salt and let it cook for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the frozen mixed vegetables to the tomato and onion mixture in the pan. Also add the stir fried red capsicum. Mix Well and simmer. Let it cook for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.
  • Strain the liq. 1 and keep aside. Throw away the spices.
  • In a pan add 1 1/2 tbsp of butter/oil and fry the rice over high heat. (Note: Do not wash the rice before hand. Rinsing will wash away the significant amount of surface starch that contributes to the dish.)
  • When the rice has become shiny, add half of the liq. 1 and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover for about 6-8 minutes or until the water has evaporated.
  • Take an oven proof dish and start the layering process of the Biryani. The top and bottom layers are always the rice in a Biryani. Start by a layer of rice in the bottom of the dish, then add a layer of Vegetable mixture, then a layer of rice, and layer of vegetable mixture, and then the final rice layer. Pour evently the remaining liq.1 and the liq. 2 and the reserved fried onions on the rice layer. Also sprinkle the chopped coriander and mint leaves, and the slivered almonds on it. Seal the dish with tinfoil.
  • Cook the biryani for 40 minutes in the oven reducing the heat to 375 °F/190 °C/Gas Mark 5 after 20 minutes. Open the dish/Remove the tinfoil from the dish, just before serving.

Suggested Accompaniments: Tamatar ki Chutney

This goes as my contribution to Sharmi for the event she is holding Jihva for Ingredients JFI and its Rice this month at her place.

Luv,
Mona

Garma-Garam Qimah Samosa

Samosas are triangle shaped Indian pastries that are filled with meat or vegetables, or both. The filled pastries are generally deep-fat fried but can also be baked. These pastries are eaten as snacks or appetizers. I’m a BIG fan of Samosas. I and my hubby usually go and get potato stuffed samosas for us all from the Samosa King Embassy Restaurant here, but today I thought of preparing them at home, Hyderabadi style.

This non-veg version of Samosas are my favorite,, which I prepare occasionally at home. I will also post the recipe of Aloo/Potato Samosas very soon in the coming days. I remember the wonderful aromas of all kinds of snacks and appetizers and the fast foods… tempting us to stop by from the road side stalls on the way home from College back in India. My Mom also used to make these samosas in large quantities in the month of Ramadhan, when we all Muslims fast, and at occasions or celebrations. This is my Mom’s recipe, and here it goes:

Qimah Samosa – Spicy Ground Meat Samosas

Ingredients:

For the Dough
Wheat Flour (Durum Atta) – 1 cup + Extra flour while rolling the dough
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Canola oil – 2 1/2 tbsp (optional)
Warm Water – 1 cup
For the Filling
Canola Oil – 2tbsp
Yellow Onion – 1, chopped
Ginger-Garlic Paste – 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander seed/Dhaniya powder – 1 tsp
Cumin seed/Zeera Powder – 1 tsp
Tumeric/Haldi powder – 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli powder – 1/8 tsp
Garam Masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Minced Lean Lamb meat – 200 gms
Salt – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Mint leaves – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Green chilli – 2, small, finely chopped
Canola Oil for deep frying the Samosas.

Method:
For the Dough
1. Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl. Rub in oil and gradually add water.
2. Knead and mix the dough, preferebly 10 minutes, until it is soft and leaves the side of the bowl.
3. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and keep aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
For the Filling
4. Pour oil in a heavy bottom pan over medium heat and fry the onion till it changes color. Add the ginger garlic paste and stir fry. Lower the heat and add the cumin, coriander, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and garam masala powder and mix well. Add the minced meat and stir it well, mashing it against the walls of the pan, with the spoon to prevent it from forming lumps. Add lemon juice, chopped mint leaves, green chilli and stir well. Cover and cook it until the mixture is dry. Remove from heat and let it cool.
5. Now, Lightly knead the rested dough. Divide into 8 balls and press each ball and cover with a plastic wrap.

The Dough Balls

6. Now roll out each ball, one by one, on a lightly floured work surface woth a rolling pin into approx 12 cm circles.
7. Cut each circle into semi circles and brush the edges with water.

Preparing Samosas

8. Put a generous teaspoon of the filling on one half of the semi circle and fold the free half over the filling to form a triangle.
9. Press the edges firmly to seal.
10. Fold until all the samosas are ready.

Prepared Samosas ready for frying

11. Heat oil in a wok or kadai or a deep, heavy bottomed sauce pan until it begins to sizzle.
12. Fry the Samosas, a few at a time, on medium heat, gently, until they are golden brown in colour.

Frying Samosas

13. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. The Samosas are ready to be served.

To Bake the Samosa:
After step 10, place the samosas in a greased or non-stick baking tray. Bake in a pre-heated 220° C oven for 20 minutes or until light brown in color. Serve immediately

This recipe goes as a contribution to Hima for the event ‘Whats Your Favourite..’ she is holding. For this time, the theme is ‘Whats your favourite Snack’. I’m sure her inbox will soon be overflowing with lots of snacks. So, it will a snack party at Hima’s place in the month of September. Be sure to drop by at here place! Eagerly and impatiently waiting for the round up Hima.

These Samosas make great Snacks, or you also serve them as Appetizers. Enjoy.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo Paratha

These yummy stuffed griddle breads with spicy potato filling are a favorite breakfast choice in my house. I enjoy them along with a little tomato chutney on the side. A cup of chai to end the meal and I am satisfied. Bliss!

Aloo Paratha – Flat Bread stuffed with spicy Potato mixture

Ingredients:

For the Stuffing mixture:
Potatoes – 5, medium, washed, peeled and cubed
Canola Oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds/Zeera – 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 2, very finely chopped
Turmeric/Haldi Powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Red Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, very finely chopped
For the Bread:
Wheat flour (Durum Flour) – 450 gms
Canola Oil/Ghee – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Water – as needed

Note: You will need additional oil for cooking the Parathas/Bread.

Aloo Paratha – Potato Stuffed Indian Bread served along with Tomato Chutney

Method:

1. Boil or pressure cook the potatoes until they are soft. Drain, peel and mash them and keep them aside in a bowl. Heat a pan on medium high heat and pour oil into it. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the chillies and fry them for a minute and add the turmeric powder. Add this to the the mashed potatoes. Also add salt, red chilii powder, and cilantro. Mix well and keep aside.
2. Now for the parathas, combine the flour, salt, oil and water (reserving some of the flour for rolling). Add only a little water at a time and knead hard for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, firm and pliable. Divide the dough into 16 equal sized balls. Roll each ball into a circle with a rolling pin of 8 cm approx diameter on a lightly floured board. Divide the potato mixture and roll them into 8 balls between your plams, 4 cm approx diameter and keep aside. Put each potato filling in the middle of each of the 8 rolled out discs and flatten it a bit. Cover the remaining 8 rolled discs onto each of them like a sandwich, and press the edges of the discs to make a potato parcel and enclose the potato mixture inside. Cover them all with a kitchen towel.

3. On a lightly floured working surface, take the sandwiched bread+potato and roll out very lightly and carefully, each one by one, to a circle, the size of a breakfast plate. Do not press too hard on the rolling pin or the filling will break through the dough, and also, do not roll it too thin or the Paratha will tear. Keep the working surface generously floured to aid in the process. Roll gently.
4. When all the parathas are filled and ready to cook, heat a heavy flat bottomed frying pan/girdle/tawa until very hot. Keep oil/ghee ready in a small bowl. Put a teaspoon of oil/butter on the girdle, spread it and put a paratha on it carefully and let the paratha sizzle on the girdle for a minute. Spread another small teaspoon of oil/butter on top of the paratha. Turn the paratha over and cook another side until nicely golden on both sides. Remove into a platter lined with kitchen towel. Cover with another kitchen towel to keep warm. Repeat until all the parathas are ready and serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Serve at once with Tomato chutney or have it with any curry you like. You can also enjoy them as it is.

Tip: If there is a leftover potato mixture (filling):
1. You can make Potato cutlets with it and store in the refrigerator. Shallow fry them later when you want and a snack is ready.
2. You can also use the potato mixture as the filling into mirchi and make mirch bhajiya with besan. A yummy snack is ready.

Luv,
Mona

Poori aur Cholay

Soft deep fried Pooris along with delicious spicy Cholay was my breakfast today, or call it a lazy weekend brunch.

There’s something about Poori’s that everyone loves. This breakfast is a favorite in my house. The prepared dough is rolled into a circular disc just like it is done for parathas or chapatis, but instead of being cooked on a hot griddle, they are deep fried till nicely puffed like a baloon.

I had posted the last time about the Palak Poori, in which spinach in added to the dough of poori for a different flavor. Today’s poori’s are plain poori’s, which people usually enjoy alongside a potato curry, or a chickpea curry called cholay. It is a classic Indian breakfast.

This recipe goes as a contribution to Anita of ‘A Mad Tea Party’ for holding this Party of Poori’s.

Poori – Deep Fried Puffed Bread
Makes: 14 pooris

Ingredients:

Durum Wheat Flour – 3 cups (or) 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flor + 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Canola oil – for deep frying
Lukewarm Water – about  1 1/2 cups

Golden deep fried puffed Pooris ready to be eaten

Method:

1. Add flour and salt in mixing bowl and mix. Add water a little at a time and mix to form a kneadable but stiff dough. Soft dough will absorb more oil while deep frying. Knead the stiff dough for 5-8 minutes until soft. Divide the dough into 3 parts. Roll each part into a cylinder. Cut/pinch each cylinder into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into smooth and even balls between palms of your hands. Cover the balls with a damp towel.
2. Roll out all the dough balls one by one on a lightly floured board to a circular disk (approx 12 cm diameter) and arrange them on a tray. Turn the disk several times to make even circles. Use as less flour as possible while rolling the pooris. Do not roll the poori’s too thin, or else they will not puff up like a baloon.
3. Heat approximately 2 inch of oil in a deep frying pan or kadai/wok. (Never use non-stick pan for deep frying). Drop a tiny ball of dough into the hot oil, if it rises quickly then the oil is ready to deep fry the pooris. Slip a rolled out poori into the hot oil, making sure it does not fold over. Using a slotted spoon gently press the poori in the centre into the oil while rotating it and spoon hot oil continually over the cooking poori. Within seconds it puffs and swells and turns into a lovely light golden color. Turn over and fry other side in the same way. When both sides are pale golden brown, remove to a paper lined tray and continue frying until all the pooris are cooked. Do not stack them. Stacking deflates the puffed up pooris and makes them soft. My hubbby likes soft pooris so I stack a few especially for him. Serve immediately while still hot along with Cholay. Pooris can be kept warm for a few minutes in 200°F oven if stood on their sides without crushing them. The pooris will deflate eventually if left uneaten, but they will still taste great. You can also use them as a great snack along with any curry of your choice for picnics and while travelling.

Cholay – Chickpeas in a spicy sauce

Ingredients:

Dried whole Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans/Kabuli Chana – 1 cup
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Dry roasted Ground Cumin seed powder – 1 tsp
Dry roasted Ground Coriander seed powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Green chillies – 3, finely chopped
Tomatoes – 3, medium sized, finely chopped
Yellow Onion – 2, medium sized, chopped
Oil – 2 tbsp
Cilantro – 1 tbsp, for garnishing
MDH Chana Masala – 1 tsp
MDH Chaat masala – 1 tsp

Cholay – Chickpeas in a spicy sauce

Method:

1. Soak dried chick peas overnight in plenty of water.
2. Next day, drain the old water and add about 4 cups fresh water, 1 tsp salt and pressure cook until soft. Drain the chickpeas in a colander but reserve the liquid in a bowl.
3. In a heavy bottom pan, pour oil and add the onions, reserving a little amount for garnishing. Cook until they are lightly golden bown. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry along for a minute. Add tomatoes, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, chana masala, chaat masala, green chillies, cumin powder, coriander powder and cook until the tomatoes are mushy and well cooked. Add the boiled chickpeas, 2 cups of the reserved water and mix well. Mash up a few of the chickpeas to impart a gravy consistency. Let it cook for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and chopped onions. Serve along with poori or just as a snack.

Luv,
Mona

Mazedaar Methi-Gosht ke Kofte

Listening and enjoying the song ‘Mere Zindagi me aaye ho..‘, from the Bollywood movie Armaan in my ipod, today I prepared this curry for dinner and am just waiting to have it. I love to listen to songs when I stay alone with my hubby gone for the work, while I do my house chores and the cooking.. Music helps me stay happy, I cling to it. I’m energized by it. I’m inspired by it. I can go on and on..

Spicy Curries are always yummy, no doubt in that. By spicy curries, I do not mean curries that are super hot to burn your mouth., what I really mean by spicy curries is masaaledaar salan, which are gravy based curries infused by a range of exotic Indian spices as the base. I am an ardent lover of spicy curries, and I am sure almost everyone in the whole world love spices and the beautiful flavours they add to a dish. This curry of Meaballs is one such and it is a favorite in my house. Its easier to prepare and extremely delicious along with Parathas or Naan to mop up the gravy.

Meatballs are called ‘Kofta‘ in Urdu. They are similar to Meatballs or Meat dumplings in the U.S. The other version of Kofte ka Salan, or meatball curry that I most usually prepare is Amchur-Harimirch Wale Kacche Gosht Ke Kofte, Meatballs in a hot and sour gravy

When I prepare meat balls I make them smaller in size, about 2 cm in diameter. The reason is, I believe, they get done perfectly. Many of my associates always make larger sized meatballs- approx 4 cm in diameter, and they are never well cooked, (remain raw, undone and undercooked in the centre). So, this trick that I learnt my MIL comes very handy to me.

I always prepare larger amounts of curries, portion and store them in the refrigerator for a later use. It saves lot of time.

This curry/Salan gets prepared in almost an hour time, and you can have it with Parathas or Naan, or Khushka/Plain Boiled Rice.

Mazedaar Methi Kofte – Meatballs in a gravy with Fenugreek leaves

To prepare Meat Balls

Ingredients:

Ground Lamb/Goat/Veal Meat (or) Boneless Lamb/Goat/Veal Meat Bite-Size pieces – 250 gms
Green Chillies – 3, small, slit
Cilantro – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Mint leaves – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Yellow Onion – 1, large, sliced
Canola Oil – 2 tbsp

Kacche Gosht Ke Kofte – Meatballs

Method:

-Pour oil into a pan at medium heat and add the sliced onions. Fry them till brown and crisp. Remove from oil, cool and reserve
-Now in a meat processor, add the fried onion slices, the slit green chillies, chopped coriander and mint leaves, salt, red chilli powder and the ground meat or cubed boneless meat pieces, whatever you are using and process till its all grinded into a smooth paste.

(Note:Make sure that the washed meat, whether you are using ground meat or meat pieces, is completely dry, or they will not hold shape later on)

-Now, take a little bit of meat paste at a time and slightly apply pressure and roll it between your palms untill soft, tight and round shaped. Arrange them on a plate.
-The meat balls are ready. Keep them aside.

TIP: To freeze meatballs ahead of time: You can prepare the meatballs and freeze them for future use.
Form meatballs, and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in the freezer. Once the meatballs are hard and well frozen, transfer them to a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw and cook them in the curry.

To Prepare The Gravy –

Ingredients:

Canola Oil – 5 tbsp
Yellow Onion – 4, large, finely chopped
Ginger Garlic paste – 1 1/2 tsp
Yogurt – 6 tbsp
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Dry Roasted Cumin Seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Dry Roasted Coriander seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Dry Roasted Dessicated Coconut – 1 tsp
Dry Roasted Groundnut Powder – 1 tsp
Methi/Fenugreek Leaves – 100 gms, very finely chopped

Mazedaar Methi Kofte – Meatballs in a gravy with Fenugreek leaves

Method:

-In a heavy bottom sauce pan at medium heat, fry the ginger garlic paste and add onions in the oil till light brown in colour.
-Add yogurt to it and give it a good stir. Cook it well till it starts leaving oil.
-Meanwhile wash the Methi/Funugreek leaves well, only the leaves, not the stems or flowers, chop them up very finely and reserve.
-Add the dry ingredients, the red chilli powder, salt, garam masala, the dry roasted cumin seed powder, coriander seed powder, coconut powder, groundnut powder, and mix well.
-After 3-5 minutes, remove from heat, cool the mixture and grind it to a paste.
-Pour back the grinded mixture to the saucepan and add the very finely chopped Methi/Fenugreek leaves and let them cook till they are soft.
-Add three glases of water to it and bring it to a boil.
-As soon as it boils once, simmer and slowly drop the earlier prepared meat balls one by one into it. Now do not stir at all for about 10 minutes. Half cover the lid and let it cook undisturbed at the low heat.
-Later, slowly stir the gravy and let it cook for 7-8 minutes more. You can add more water or let it cook for some more time on medium heat so that the water dries up and you achieve the consistency.
-The curry is ready and serve it hot with Parathas preferably or along with Rice.

Suggested accompaniments: Enjoy the curry along with Parathas or Naan, or Khushka/Plain Boiled Rice.

Luv,
Mona