Announcing ‘The Hyderabadi Bakr-Eid Food Festival ~ 2010 (Season II)’

Abu Qatada al-Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Arafah (9th of Dhu’l Hijjah), whereupon he said: “It expiates the sins of the preceding past year and the coming remaining year.” (Sahih Muslim)

Just like the last ten nights of Ramadaan are the best ten nights out of the whole year, the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are the best days of the year and the most beloved to Allah (s.w.t.) as they combine acts of worship in a way unlike any other times.

The second Muslim festival, Eid-ul-Adha is just a day away. Eid-ul-Adha falls on the 10th of Dhu’l-Hiijjah, the Youm-e-Nahr (day of sacrifice) (this year on the 17th Nov 2010). On this day, as a commemoration of Ibrāhīm’s (a.s.) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismā’īl (a.s.) for Allah (s.w.t.), an animal sacrifice is offered by Muslims all over.

With this, just like the last year, its time for me to announce the Season-II of ‘The Hyderabadi Bakr-Eid Food Festival’ on my blog, and invite everyone from all around the world to send me Hyderabadi special Bakr-Eid recipes. Inshallah I will post the round-up of all entries in the first week of January 2011.

The logo for the event is:

Feel free to use the logo.

Inshallah I plan to host this event every year on my blog during Bakr-Eid, so that people can share the recipes of the dishes they prepare using ‘Qurbani ka gosht’ which is the meat of the slaughtered animal, which is a Cow, Camel, Goat, Sheep etc. You can go through last years round up here.

The rules of the event are as follows:

1. Both bloggers as well as non-bloggers can send me Hyderabadi special recipes with pictures of the food that you prepare using ‘Qurbani ka gosht’ after the Bakr-Eid (Eid-ul-Adha). It can be a snack, curry, kawab, etc whatever you wish. You can even send me traditional desserts as well.
2. There is no limit to the number of entries per person. Bloggers should link their post to this announcement page. Mail me the entries to zaiqa.mona@gmail.com before December 31 ,2010 which is the deadline with following details :

  • Your Name and blog/website title (if you have one)
  • Recipe link (non-bloggers include the complete recipe)
  • A Picture of the food prepared (300 pixels width)

So, spread the word and start sending me your entries. Looking forward to a delicious spread inshallah.

Luv,
Mona

Tarkari ki Biryani

I was immensely thrilled to learn just a few months back during this last Ramadan that Haleem is the first Hyderabadi delicacy to be granted the Geographical Indication Certificate (GI status) along the lines of the famous Tirupati laddu, Darjeeling tea, Goan feni and Banarasi silk. So it will only be referred to as ‘Hyderabadi Haleem’ from now on. How cool is that. I wish that Biryani and many other such iconic dishes of the city too get the recognition as soon as possible.

Biryani is a dish of royalty, of the nizams of the Hyderabad and the Moghuls, known for its cooking method, delicate flavor, heavenly aroma and the use of many spices in the right proportion. In Persian “Birian” means ‘fried before cooking’. There exist two kinds of Biryani, the non-vegetarian and the vegetarian versions. I have already blogged about both the kachchi (raw) and pakki (cooked) method of the Chicken and Mutton Biryani. You can find the recipes here. Apart from the Hyderabadi Biryani, many other versions also do exist, like the Iranian Biryani, the Khaibari Biryani (from Afghanistan) and Pakistani Biryani, all with a few regional variations that change with religion, geography and culture, but all under the same name Biryani. Today Hyderabadi Biryani caters to palates all over the world.

Chopped Mixed Vegetables

Like I had mentioned in my last post, I love to prepare traditional dishes like Nihari, Biryani and Haleem during the cold season. So the last weekend, I prepared Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani along with Tomato Chutney as the main course for a dinner party.

Tarkari in Urdu language means vegetables. Just like the non-vegetarian version, the vegetarian version is just as ambrosial and a delightful crowd pleaser. All my guests loved it. I do not know how I missed writing about this Biryani all this while. So without further ado, for all those who were waiting for the Hyderabadi version of the Vegetable Biryani, here goes. Following is my Ammi’s recipe.

Hyderabadi Tarkari ki Biryani – Vegetable Biryani
Serves: 6- 7

Ingredients:

Fragrant long grained Basmatic Rice – 3 cups
Warm milk – 3/4 cup
Saffron strands – two pinches
Canola oil – 5 tbsp (or Ghee)
Yellow Onions – 2, large, finely sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Long Green chillies – 2, each slit lengthwise and chopped into half
Mixed Vegetables – large cauliflower florets, large broccoli florets, carrots cut into 2″ long thick sticks, capsicum (any color) cut into long and thin strips, green beans cut into 2″ long pieces, boiled/frozen green peas, quartered potatoes, quartered firm red tomatoes – 5 cups
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Red Chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 4 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Cilantro – 1/2 cup, loosely packed, roughly chopped
Yogurt – 250 ml, 1 cup
Caraway seeds/Shahzeera – 1 tsp
Dried Bay leaf – 2
Cloves – 4
Green cardamoms – 5
Mint leaves – 1 cup, loosely packed, roughly chopped

Tarkari Biryani – Vegetable Biryani

Method:

1. Wash the rice in several changes of water and let soak in cool surplus water in a vessel.
2. In a small cup, pour in warm milk and saffron strands. Keep aside.
3. In a large and wide saucepan, add oil and as soon as it warms up add the sliced onions and fry them while stirring frequently until evenly golden brown in color. Remove the pan from heat and using a slotted spoon transfer half of the fried onion into a platter and reserve for garnish.
4. In the same saucepan, add the cumin seeds, ginger-garlic paste and green chillies, stir fry for a minute. Immediately add all the mixed vegetables. Also add red chilli powder, 1 1/2 tsp of salt and turmeric powder and chopped cilantro. Mix well very gently. Increase the heat to high and let the vegetables sear. Give the vegetables a stir every two minutes, until they get seared on all sides. Now add the yogurt and mix. Lower the heat to medium high and let cook covered for 3-5 minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked, (but not mushy) (do not overcook the vegetables) (pierce a knife into a potato and check if it is done) uncover and cook on high while stirring whenever required until the vegetables are almost dry. Keep aside.
5. In a large heavy bottomed vessel pour in surplus water and add shahzeera, dried bay leaf, cloves, green cardamoms and cover with a lid. Let it come a rolling boil. Once boiling, drain the soaking rice and add to the boiling water. Let it cook until the rice if half done. Once done, drain the rice and keep ready. Now starts the layering process of the Biryani. Working quickly, in the same vessel, add half of the drained rice. Now add the cooked mixed vegetables. Spread over the rice evenly. Now spread the reserved fried onions meant for garnish, and the chopped mint leaves evenly over the vegetables. Next, arrange the left over rice evenly covering the vegetables. Lastly, pour evenly the saffron milk. Cover the vessel properly with aluminium foil or a tight lid (with vents closed with dough if any) so that no steam can escape. You can also apply dough to seal the lid which is the traditional method.
6. Cook the Biryani on high for 2 minutes. You will notice that a good amount of steam has built up, which is called as the pehli bhaap, meaning first steam. Then take a flat dosa tawa and keep it below the vessel (so that the bottom does not burn and it slow cooks evenly) and lower the heat to simmer and let it slow cook for 30 minutes, until done. Remove from heat. Let the Biryani sit for 15 minutes before serving. Dig a spoon into the vessel and gently mix the Biryani. Serve on a platter. For a special touch, garnish with more fried onions, finely chopped cilantro and mint leaves, toasted/fried almonds or cashewnuts or pinenuts or raisins.

Serve this Biryani along with Mirchi Ka Salan or Baghare baingan or Tamatar ki Chutney or plain and simple Dahi ki Chutney for a sumptuous Hyderabadi meal.

Note:
1. You can also add chopped paneer cubes, sliced mushrooms, and soy nuggets along with the vegetables.
2. Brocolli is not usually added to the Biryani, I added it because I love it.

Luv,
Mona

Gajar Ka Meetha

Come winter, and my taste buds keep craving for a meetha/Indian dessert. Though not a big meetha loving person, I tend to enjoy subtly sweetened home made Indian desserts. The last fall, I had tried my hands on pumpkin meetha which had turned out fabulous, this year the classic gajar ka meetha was foreordained. I happened to spot some beautiful carrots at the regular food mart at a very reasobale rate, and who could resist this nutrient laden root vegetable.

Farm Fresh Carrots

This winter dessert of reduced carrots and milk never ceases to appeal both me and my hubby. He even enjoys this meetha warmed along with hot parathas in the breakfasts. I restrict to eating it a little only after dinner.

Gajar ka Meetha can be enjoyed hot or cold, and can even be reheated. This meetha is generally prepared from the red carrots that are available in India throughout winters. For this preparation, use a food processor thats effortlessly grates the carrots in a jiffy.

I do not like my meetha saturated with either sugar or ghee, and I also hate a mushy disintegrated gajar ka halwa. So feel free to alter the amounts of sugar and cook the meetha mushy if you desire.

Gajar Ka Meetha – Carrot Sweetmeat

Ingredients:

Red Carrots (preferably) or any Sweet Carrots/Gajar – 1 kg, washed, scraped and finely grated (grate them as fine as possible, as long), cores discarded (I often use baby carrots which are quite sweet)
Ghee – 2 or 3 tbsp
Khoa – 1/2 cup, finely grated (or) Milk powder – 1/2 cup
Milk – 1/2 cup
Sugar – around 1 cup or less (according to taste)
Mixed Dry Fruits and Nuts – chopped walnuts, chironji, pinenuts, cashewnuts, raisins, slivered almonds and pistachios, etc – 1/4 cup, lightly toasted or shallow fried in oil or ghee
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp (optional)

Gajar Ka Meetha – Carrot Sweetmeat

Method:

1. In a large non-stick heavy bottomed saucepan (or a large iron kadai is best) at medium high heat add the grated carrots and dry roast them while stirring every 2-3 minutes for the first 8-10 minutes, then every minute for the next 15-20 minutes. Add ghee and continue roasting it for a few more minutes. This is the most important step to develop a deep roasted flavor in the carrots. Do not burn them and stir very gently, do not mash up the carrots while stirring. During this time a wonderful fragrance of roasting carrots will fill your kitchen.
2. Once the carrots are nicely roasted, lower the heat to medium and pour in the milk and khoa and let cook until the milk is absorbed by the carrots. Add the dry fruits and nuts and cardamom powder. Add the sugar little by little and keep tasting until you get the desired sweetness and the meetha thickens a bit. Mix well. And cook for a little longer while stirring very gently every once in a while until the meetha is almost dry. Remove from heat. Serve it warm or chilled or along with vanilla ice cream. Store the meetha once completely cooled in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Suggested Serving: To impress your guests, serve the chilled meetha in mini pastry cases that are easily available in stores. You can name it as ‘Gajar Ka Meetha Tarts’.

Luv,
Mona