Aloo aur Gosht ki Tahari

One dish meals are a savior. In today’s revved up life, they are a time, fuel saver, and cleanup is a breeze. Tahari is one such balanced and nutritious one pot family meal that is very often cooked in Hyderabadi homes.

Aloo aur Gosht ki Tahari – Spiced Basmati Rice with Potatoes and Lamb meat

Tahari might be called as a cousin of Biryani. During the process of Biryani preperation, the meat and rice are layered and then cooked on dum (slow heat) in one pot. Whereas in Tahari, once the meat is cooked, water is poured to the meat and then rice is added and cooked along. There is no layering process in Tahari as in Biryani. The ration of water:rice has be perfect for a well cooked Tahari, or else you end up with a mushy mess.

There are two kinds of Tahari: 1. Minced meat+Rice Tahari; 2. Lamb meat with bones+Rice Tahari. Today I am writing about the latter one. The previous kind I have already blogged a while earlier. Adding tomatoes to Tahari is optional. I have always seen both my Ammi and my Mother in law add tomatoes to Tahari, but there are some that do not suggest it. I prefer to add tomatoes as it gives a nice flavor to the dish that I love. However you can avoid adding tomatoes if you want.

Aloo aur Gosht ki Tahari – Spiced Basmati Rice with Potatoes and Lamb meat

Ingredients:

Basmati Rice – 3 cups
Canola oil – 1/2 cup
Onions – 2 cups, sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Salt – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Mint leaves – 1/2 cup, loosely packed, finely chopped
Cilantro – 1/2 cup, loosely packed, finely chopped
Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp
Tomatoes – 2, large, diced
Potatoes – 2, large, quartered
Yogurt – 1 cup, lightly whisked
Lamb meat with bones – 650 gms
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Juice of a Lime

Method:

1. In a vessel, add rice and wash it in 2-3 changes of fresh cool water. Then, soak it in surplus fresh cool water for about 30 minutes while you prepare the following meat preparation.
2. In a pressure cooker at medium high heat pour in oil and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onions. Stir fry them until they are golden brown in color. Add ginger garlic paste and fry along for a minute. Add red chilli powder, salt, chopped tomatoes, chopped mint and cilantro and turmeric powder and mix well. Cook for 2-5 minutes until the tomatoes are mushy. Add the lightly whisked yogurt and keep stirring for a minute. Add the quartered potatoes and mix. Let cook covered until the potatoes are tender (test using a fork) and oil has separated. Add the lamb meat with bones and mix well. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Cover with the lid and pressure cook until the meat is tender. Open the lid and add garam masala powder and lime juice. Let the mixture cook until oil separates. Now pour in about 4 cups of water, close the lid, increase the heat and let it come to a boil.
3. Drain the soaking rice and keep it ready.
4. As soon as the meat mixture begins to boil, add the drained rice and gently mix. Let it come to a boil again. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Let it cook till very little water remains. Keep checking it every now and then, and give a gentle stir everytime. Add a few splashes of water if you feel you need more water for the rice to cook. Once the water is mostly dried up, close the heat, but leave the saucepan on the hot stove so that a nice steam forms. Let the dish rest for 15-30 minutes. Serve warm along with a pickle or papad.

Note: You can even lightly fry the quartered potatoes before you add to the dish. I prefer not to.

Luv,
Mona

Tala Hua Chawal

I do not fancy a day or two old left over plain rice for meals. Plain rice keeps well in the refrigerator for almost a week if stored in an air tight container. And it is convenient for working people. But I am not fond of stored left over rice. Fresh cooked rice tastes so much better. However there are days when there is leftover rice and you do not know what to do with it. My Ammi makes sun dried rice crackers using the day old rice just like the dal ki badiyan and they used to be so yummy. Unfortunately the weather here in Toronto does not always favor it. So I make an another of my Ammi’s speciality. Spicy and lemony Tala hua Chawal. Serve this chawal warm at breakfast or as a mid day meal.

Tala Hua Chawal – Recycled Spicy Rice

Ingredients:

Leftover plain Rice (1 day old) – 2 cups
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Red chilli powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste
Lemon juice – 3-4 tbsp

Method:

In a non stick skillet at medium high heat pour in oil and as soon as it warms up add the mustard seeds and ginger garlic paste and stir fry until the ginger garlic paste turns golden brown and the seeds begin to pop. Immediately add the curry leaves, red chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. As they splutter, add a few splashes of water and add the 2 cups rice. Mix well. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until the rice is well mixed. Pour lemon juice and cover with a lid. Remove with a lid and serve warm.

Enjoy Tala hua Chawal along with Khadi dal or on its own.

***

A few days back, I was finally able to get my hands on a teeny weeny Curry leaf plant. It was quite costly but I couldnt resist buying it since I had been searching it from the past few years. Since it is almost spring, I transplanted the baby plant to a deeper pot and added manure to it as the fertilizer. It is now sitting in front of a large window in my house. Alhamdulillah it is growing nicely and I hope it will continue to flourish and hopefully will provide me soon with a fresh constant supply of curry leaves for my cooking purpose.

On an another note, hubby dear had gifted me a sewing machine this last Eid-ul-Adha, something that I had wanted since long. Sewing is an another favorite hobby of mine, so I have been doing a few sewing projects lately. There are a lot of interesting and clearly explained projects shared by very talented sewists on their blogs. Inshallah I will update my blog with projects that I will be doing.

I wanted to share with you all this project that had caught my attention a few days back, and it turned out pretty good. I used hubby’s old t-shirt and a time-worn kitchen towel instead of the chenille sock and I got 3 reusable swiffer mop pads. I plan to use them to wipe my kitchen floor and when they are soiled, just wash them and they are again good to go. How convenient is that.

Luv,
Mona

Chawal Ka Meetha

Time flew away very fast and here I am, back in Toronto. Its good to be back home. My trip to India was filled with laughter, fun and frolic. I got to spend some very memorable moments along with my loved ones alhamdulillah whom I have been missing and yearning to meet since long. It took me a little while to get back to my routine, unpack and settle down, hence the reason for my disappearance from the blogosphere.

Crisp cool air and vibrant fall colors welcomed me as I landed here in Toronto. Since then, I had been craving something warm, comforting and that which will make me feel close to my Ammi yet again. Just a few days before I was leaving Hyderabad, Ammi had served a delicious Chawal ka Meetha. Ghee, saffron strands, reduced milk and dry fruits and nuts are the key ingredients that impart a unique flavor to this rice dessert. Oh, I had thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope you all will also like this dainty rice dessert.

Chawal Ka Meetha – Sweet Rice

Ingredients:

Fragrant long grain Basmati rice – 1 1/2 cups
Ghee – 1 or 2 tbsp
Milk – 3 cups
Sugar – 1 cup
Saffron strands – 1 tsp
Mixed Dry fruits and Nuts: Coconut – cut into small pieces, or desiccated coconut; Almonds – slivered or roughly chopped; Cashew nuts; Raisins; Pine nuts; Chironji nuts; Pistachios- slivered or roughly chopped : 1/4 cup

Method:

1. Wash the rice in 2-3 changes of water. Drain thoroughly. In a saucepan, add surplus water and cook rice until it is 3/4th done. Drain and spread on a tray to cool.
2. Boil milk in a saucepan for 15 minutes until it has reduced slightly. Remove from heat and keep aside.
3. In an another saucepan, add sugar and saffron and pour in 1/2 cup water. Let it cook until the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from heat and keep aside.
4. In a wide saucepan, add ghee and fry the dry fruits and nuts until they are golden brown. Pour in the sugar syrup and reduced milk. Add the partially cooked rice and mix gently. Let it cook on high heat for a few minutes. Once the water has been reduced, simmer, cover with a lid and let it cook until the rice is done.

Enjoy the meetha warm or chilled, depends on your fancy. I love it when served at room temperature or just slightly warm.

Luv,
Mona

Lajawaab Hyderabadi Kachchey Gosht ki Biryani

I had prepared Kachchey Gosht ki Biryani on the second day of Eid-ul-Adha for our dinner. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the meal to the last morsel الحمد لله.

Basically, there are two kinds of Biryani: Pakki Biryani, and Kachchi Biryani.

Pakki Biryani: where are half cooked Basmati rice is layered along with completely cooked chicken or lamb meat and then cooked till done on slow heat on dum.
1. Pakki Gosht ki Biryani
2. Pakki Murgh Biryani

Kachchi Biryaniwhich is the true Hyderabadi Biryani – where are half cooked Basmati rice is layered along with raw marinated meat and then finished on slow heat till done on dum.
1. Kachchey Gosht ki Biryani (which I am writing about today)
2. Kachche Aqni ki Dum Murgh Biryani

Raw tender and lean meat in this extraordinary kind of Biryani is allowed to first marinate in a mixture of raw papaya paste(optional)+yogurt+lemon juice+ginger+garlic, etc., all of which are natural meat tenderizers, along with several other aromatic spices for 3-4 hours. The marinating meat with all infused flavors is then layered with less than half cooked rice and allowed to slow cook, essentially in a degchi, which an Indian utensil with sloping sides and a narrow neck. The video here and here demonstrates the method and will be useful for beginners. Go through the videos once to have a good idea on the procedure before you try my recipe.

Hyderabadi Kachchey Gosht ki Biryani

The essential requirement for a good Biryani is to use good quality fragrant long grained basmati rice. The secong most important thing is to use lean meat and marinating it in a tenderizing mix before you cook. You cannot even think of preparing this Biryani without marinating it. Raw Papaya skin paste is used as the meat tenderizer back home. My Ammi however says that if the meat is tender enough, there is no need for a meat tenderizer at all. Following her advise, I have prepared Kacchi Gosht ki Biryani many times without using papaya paste and the meat is always bone tender. However, if first timers are apprehensive to try out the Biryani without the use of any meat tenderizers, please go ahead and use it. Apart from the puree of skinned unripe green papaya, peeled kiwifruit puree and pineapple puree are also powerful meat tenderizers.

My dadi(grandmother) always advised us to use rice and meat in 1:1 ratio for Kachchi Biryani. However if you like a meaty biryani, go ahead and follow meat and rice in 1.5:1 ratio, or if you prefer more rice and less meat, follow meat and rice in 1:1.5 ratio. To give time for the raw marinated meat to finish cooking along with rice, the rice is pre-soaked, and then just cooked for a minute or two, then drained and layered with the raw marinated meat and they are both cooked together. As the Biryani cooks, the steam from the meat and its marinade rises above to the rice and aids in its cooking as well. The rice also acquires flavors from the steam and the end result is piquant.

freshly chopped cilantro and mint in water

Hyderabadis prefer Kachchi Biryani over Pakki Biryani for many reasons~because this Biryani is the true Hyderabadi Biryani, for its uniqueness in the method of preparation and ambrosial taste, and also because this biryani is very simple to prepare unlike considered. All you have to do is marinate the meat for about 3 hrs, and then allow to slow cook along with half cooked basmati rice for about an hour, thats it. You do not need to stand in front of the stove stirring it the whole time. Just leave on stove to slow cook and you are free to attend to your other chores.

Make sure that you have everything ready to hand before you begin cooking rice, as you will need to assemble the layers quickly, while the rice is still warm.

Hyderabadi Kachchey Gosht ki Biryani – Hyderabadi Lamb Biryani
Serves: 6-8
Total Marinating time: 3 1/2 hrs
Total ‘Dum/slow cooking’ time: Around 1 hr and 10 mins

Canola oil – 6 tbsp
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Lean spring Lamb meat, with bone, preferably leg, cut into 5 cm cubes – 800 grams (my Ammi even adds mixed pieces like ribs, chops etc) excess fat trimmed, washed, drained and pat dried
for the tenderizing mix:
Raw Unripe Green Papaya skin –  grated or made into a paste , about 2 or 3 tbsp (or) Kiwi fruit – 1, about 50 gms, peel discarded and the pulp mashed into a smooth paste (optional)
Ginger garlic paste – 3 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
for the marinade:
Thick Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Yellow onions – 3, medium sized, finely sliced
Fresh Mint leaves – 1 cup, loosely packed, roughly chopped
Fresh Cilantro – 1 cup, loosely packed, roughly chopped
Small green chillies – 4-6, slit lengthwise
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder -1 tsp
Cardamom powder – 1/8 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
for the rice:
Long Grained Fragrant Basmati Rice – 800 grams (old biryani rice)
Shah Zeera – 1/2 tbsp
Cardamom – 4
Cloves – 4
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
Dagad Phool – 1 tbsp
Dried bay leaf –  2
Salt – 3-4 tsp
for the Biryani:(assembing layers)
Saffron threads – 2 big pinch
Warmed milk – 1/2 cup
Cilantro – 1/2 cup, loosely packed and roughly chopped
Mint leaves – 1/2 cup, loosely packed and roughly chopped
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
additional ingredients:
Dough made with maida/all-purpose flour (flour+water) to seal the vessel(optional)

1. In a large thick walled oven-proof vessel/saucepan (if you have a thick walled degchi, please use it) (also please choose a vessel that is large enough so that there is about 1/4 amount of free headspace left after the whole biryani is assembled for the steam to collect and aid in cooking), add the tenderizing mix and the marinade and mix well. Wear gloves, add the meat and thoroughly mix the meat well. Using a knife, gash/poke the meat in the marinade. Mix once and again gash/poke it with a knife and then mix. Cover and keep aside.
2. In a thick bottomed frying pan, pour in oil and ghee. Once the oil is hot add the sliced onions. Deep fry them until evenly golden brown in color, keep a close eye and make sure you do not burn them. Once done, remove the pan from heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove half of the fried onions into a platter and spread them out. In a while, they will crisp up as they cool. The crisped fried onions will be later used for garnish. Reserve the remaining fried onions and oil in the same pan and let cool. These will be added to the marinade.
3. In a small bowl, add the warmed milk and soak the saffron threads in it.
4. Add the cooled fried onions and about 4 tbsp of the oil from the pan to the marinating meat and thoroughly mix using a spoon. Cover and keep it back in the refrigerator for 3-4 hrs.

marinating meat

5. Wash the rice in 3 changes of water and soak it in surplus fresh cool water for 30 minutes.
6. In a large saucepan, pour in surplus cool water and add the shahzera, cardamom, cloves, dried bay leaf, dagad phool and salt (do not forget adding salt). Cover and bring it to a boil on high. Once the water is boiling, drain the soaking rice and add it to the boiling water and stir. Cook for just 2 minutes and drain the rice immediately.
7. Spread the drained half cooked rice over the marinating meat. Spread evenly the chopped cilantro, mint, saffron soaking in milk, remaining crisped fried onions and lemon juice. 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.

top layer of garnish just before putting it on dum

8. Cook the Biryani on high for 5 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, and have a quick look to see if the rice has cooked and stick a fork through to test the meat (be careful as there will a lot of steam, do not burn yourselves). If it needs to cook a little longer, cover again tightly with the lid/foil again and cook for a further 10-15 minutes. when it is done and wait for 10 mins before mixing the rice with meat, and serve on a large serving platter. For a special touch, garnish with more fried onions, cilantro and mint leaves, toasted/fried almonds or cashewnuts or pinenuts or raisins and quartered hard boiled eggs.
Oven Method:
1. Follow the above steps until step 7.
2. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
3. Cook the assembled biryani in the vessel on stove-top on high heat for 5 minutes, until nice steam has built up, which is called as the pehli bhaap, meaning first steam. Immediately transfer this vessel in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. After that, turn the oven setting to 300°F and bake it for further 15 minutes, after which have a quick look to see if the rice has cooked and stick a fork through to test the meat (be careful as there will a lot of steam, do not burn yourselves). If it needs to cook a little longer, cover again tightly with the lid/foil again and cook for a furthur 15 minutes. Remove from oven when it is done and wait for 10 mins before mixing the rice with meat, and serve on a large serving platter. For a special touch, garnish with more fried onions, cilantro and mint leaves, toasted/fried almonds or cashewnuts or pinenuts or raisins and quartered hard boiled eggs.

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

This lajawaab biryani is my contribution to the “The Hyderabadi Bakr-Eid Food Festival-’09” that I am hosting on my blog. The event is on and you can all send me your Bakr-Eid special recipes until December 31, 2009. Click on the link for more details.

Here are other versions of Kachchey Gosht ki Biryani from some of my fellow food blogger buddies:
1. Yasmeen’s version of Kachchey Gosht ki Biryani
2. Anjum’s version of Kachchey Gosht ki Biryani
3. Foodgoddess’s version of Kachchey Gosht ki Biryani

Luv,
Mona

Simple Pleasures

Baghara Khana (or Baghara Chawal), is an another simple and nourishing dish that reminds me of that happier era, when I was a kid. Food that reminds me of my childhood and my hometown definitely makes me immensely nostalgic every time.

Baghara Khana along with Aloo Gobi Matar ~ was my yesterday’s lunch

Fragrant long grained basmati rice is cooked along with caramelized onion and exotic whole spices that give a delicate flavor and a wonderful aroma that will fill your house, and welcome your loved ones with open arms and a sense of home where warmth and comfort abounds. Always serve Baghara khana warm, along with the accompaniments of your choice.

To prepare Baghara Khana, use rice and water in the ratio of 1:2, i.e., for 1 cup rice, use two cups of water. Save a little amount of the water to add later on after the rice is about 3/4th cooked as described below.

Baghara Chawal/Khana
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Long grained White Basmati Rice – 1 cup (I prefer the brands ‘Daawat’ or ‘India Gate’ or ‘Lal Qila’)
Canola Oil – 1 tsp
Ghee – 2 tsp
Onion – 1, small, finely sliced
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Fresh Cilantro/Kothmir – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Fresh Mint/Pudina – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Green cardamom/Elaichi – 2
Cinnamon/Dalchini – 2 inch stick
Dry bay leaf – 1, medium sized
Caraway seeds/Shahzeera – 1/2 tsp
Water – 2 cups
Salt – 1 tsp

Method:

1. Wash the rice in two changes of water and soak it in surplus cool water for 30 minutes.
2. In a saucepan at medium high heat, pour oil and ghee and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and stir fry until the onion is nicely browned up. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry it along for a minute. Add the chopped herbs, green cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and caraway seeds. Fry them for a minute more. Add 1 2/3 cup of water and salt. Cover with a lid and increase the heat to high. Let it come to a boil.
3. Meanwhile drain the soaked rice and keep ready.
4. Add the drained rice to the boiling water in saucepan and mix well. Let it come to a boil once. Lower the heat to simmer and cover with a lid. After 3 minutes using a spoon, mix the rice well, lower the heat to minimum and and cover it back again and let cook for a furthur 3 minutes. Open the lid, pour in the remaining 1/3 cup water and gently mix well. Cover and let cook until the rice is tender. Close the heat and leave the saucepan on the hot stove for about 15 more minutes to finish cooking on Dum. Serve warm.

My house smells like a potpourri every time after I prepare Baghare Chawal due to all those aromatic spices.

Note: You can also add chopped green chillies and a few whole cloves along with the other spices while frying the onions. I do not prefer to add them. Also for a special touch, garnish the cooked rice while serving with a few toasted whole cashew nuts.

Suggested Accompaniments: Baghara khana is enjoyed along with Dalcha or Baghare baingan or Mirchi ka Salan or Sem ki phalli gosht or Qimah or Qorma for a delicious Hyderabadi meal.

***

This Summer, I had planted a few tomato seeds (first time with tomatoes) and voila, I had plenty of fresh tomatoes from my lil tomato garden in the backyard. Here are a few snaps:

Tomato Variety: Moneymaker

tomato budss under the warm early spring sunshine

tiny tomatoes and blooms in early summer

after a shower
I love the fuzzy stems and the unique strong scent of tomato foliage

on a warm sunny evening

ripening on the vine

For the curry below I had used the garden ripe tomatoes from my plants. With the commenced autumn chill in the air, I do not think the plants will live much longer. To freeze tomatoes, just cut out the tough part of the core, put the whole tomatoes on a baking sheet and into the freezer. After they’ve frozen, transfer them to a plastic zipper bag and put them back into the freezer. When you want to use them, you can easily peel them if you allow them to thaw until they’re just barely soft on the outside. Then just rub off the skins. Or you can run warm tap water over them and peel them immediately. Use them in recipes for any cooked dish. Inshallah the next season, I plan/wish to grow the heirloom ribbed or beefsteak tomatoes and even more veggies. Have a look at the beautiful heirloom tomatoes here, I am sure even you all will be smitten by their beauty. Need to stock up the seeds soon for the gardening season.
For those of you interested, this book has loads of information on heirloom tomatoes and how to plant them.

Aloo Gobi Matar – Potato Cauliflower and Peas in one pot

Ingredients:

Canola Oil – 1 1/2 tbsp
Onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fresh Curry leaves – 6
Dry red chillies – 3, each broken into two
Salt – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Cauliflower – 1 medium head, cut into florets, washed and drained
White Potatoes – 3, peeled and cut into quarters
Tomatoes – 2, medium sized, chopped
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Frozen organic peas/Matar – 3/4 cup
Fresh Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped

Aloo Gobi Matar along with toasted Afghani Roti, and home-made Lemon pickle ~ todays lunch

Method:

Heat oil in a wide saucepan at medium high heat and as soon as it is warm, pour in oil. Add the sliced onion and stir fry until the onion are just lightly browned. Add the baghaar ingredients~cumin seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Also add salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Add the cauliflower florets and potato quarters and mix well. Spread the vegetables so that they are in a single layer in the pan. Sear the vegetables for about two minutes. Keep stirring them occasionally. Add the chopped tomatoes, half cup of warm water and red chilli powder. Mix well and cover the lid. Let cook until the vegetables are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid. Keep stirring occasionally. Add the frozen peas and cover the lid for 2 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

‘Aloo Gobi Matar – Potato, Cauliflower and Peas’ in one pot goes to Andera’s Grow Your Own event.

Luv,
Mona