Lagan Ka Murgh

During my recent trip to Hyderabad, I got to do a lot of things that I had been wanting to do since long. I attended many weddings and enjoyed the traditional food serving there, brought along Lamsa tea mix which is something solely available in Hyderabad city, spices, and a few of the Indian utensils that were missing in my kitchen here depending on the weight limitations. I wish there was a little more allowance so that I could have got more.

Lagan – Indian utensil

Lagan is an Indian utensil that is wide, thick walled with a slightly curved thick bottom. I do not know if this is available and used in other parts of India as well. I brought along a medium sized lagan to use in my daily cooking. Mostly, this utensil is used to prepare dough in it, but it is also used to cook other dishes as well.

Since I had landed here in Toronto, I wanted to treat hubby dear with some special dishes, so I thought to prepare this simple yet exotic chicken curry. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this recipe, but it turned out superb. My hubby was a happy man, he enjoyed several servings of this curry along with rice and licked the plate clean.

Marinating the chicken and then slow cooking it in the masala does the trick. If you do not have a lagan to cook this dish in, you can simply use any heavy bottomed pan instead.

Lagan Ka Murgh ~ Slow-cooked Creamy Chicken curry in Aromatic Spices

White Poppy Seeds/Khus Khus – 1 tbsp
Cashew nuts – 1/8 cup
Warm milk – 3/4 cup
Chicken – 8 chicken leg pieces (or 650 gms with bone or boneless chicken cut into bite size pieces)
Thick Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Canola oil – 4 tbsp
Onions – 3, medium sized, finely sliced
Cloves – 4
Green cardamoms – 4
Dried Bay leaf/Tej patta – 1
Tomato – 1, large, pureed
Garam masala powder – 3/4 tsp
Cilantro/Kothmir – 2 tbsp, finely chopped

Lagan Ka Murgh ~ Slow-cooked Creamy Chicken curry in Aromatic Spices

Method:

1. In a small cup, add khus khus and cashewnuts. Pour in warm milk and let soak for 20-25 minutes. Later puree it into a smooth paste.
2. Marinate the chicken with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder. Mix well and keep aside for 30-40 minutes.
3. In a lagan or any thick bottomed vessel at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it is hot, add the sliced onions, two pinches of salt and fry while stirring constantly until they are golden brown in color. Add cloves, cardamoms and bay leaf. Add the marinated chicken along with the marinade and mix well. Add the prepared cashewnuts+khus khus+milk puree, and the tomato puree and mix well. Simmer, cover and let it cook slowly for 30-40 minutes. Keep stirring it every once in a while. You will see the oil will start to leave and the gravy will get thicker. Once done, sprinkle garam masala powder and chopped cilantro. Mix well and serve immediately.

Serve this creamy chicken curry warm along with hot Tandoori Naan, or Parathas or Khushka.

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

Paratha

Parathas are my favourite variety of Indian flat breads. They are deliciously flavoured with ghee/oil. I prefer oil mostly and restrict ghee only for special occasions.

The combination of Parathas and Kawabs goes very well and is utmost delicious. We usually have Parathas and Rice with curries at meals. Its our staple diet.

Getting the perfect round shape with the correct thickness of each paratha is a bit difficult, but it comes with practice and time. You can use a platter and cut the ends to attain a perfect circular shape for your parathas. But it is not very necessary to get the perfect circular shape always. They are easy to prepare once you get the hang of it.

Tawa ~ flat griddle
Indian cooking utensil used for making flat breads

Paratha – Flat bread

Ingredients:
Makes-7 Parathas

Whole Wheat Flour/Durum Atta – 2 1/2 cups
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Water – 2/3 cups
Ghee/Oil – 6-8 tbsp
Extra ghee/Butter/Oil for cooking

Paratha – Indian Flat Bread,
kept warm stacked in a Milton hot-pot/casserole

Method:

1. Sieve the wheat flour, salt into a mixing bowl or a food processor bowl pour rub in one table spoon ghee. Add water all at once, and knead dough if you are preparing it with your hands for atleast 10 minutes (the more it is kneaded, the lighter the bread will be), or if you are using a processor, use the dough blade and pulse till the dough forms into a ball. Form dough into a ball and cover with clean plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour.
2. Later divide the dough into 7-8 equal portions and roll each ball one by one on a lightly floured board into a very thin circular shape (approx 10 cm in diameter) with a rolling pin on a flat surface like the thoroughly clean platform of your kitchen. Pour 1 tsp melted ghee/oil into the centre of each and spread lightly with your fingers on the rolled out discs. With a knife, make a cut from the centre of each circle to the outer edge. Starting the at the cut edge, roll the dough closely into a cone shape. Pick it up and press the apex of the cone and base towards each other and flatten slightly. You will now have a small roughly circular piece of dough again.
3. Lightly flour the rolling board(girda)/platform again and roll over the dough with the rolling pin(belan) very gently, taking care not to press too hard and make them too thin. Sprinkle extra flour if needed while rolling. Cover the rolled out discs with a kitchen towels to prevent them from drying out.

rolled out Paratha’s, ready to be cooked

4. Heat a flat griddle/tawa on medium high heat. Once it is hot, put the rolled out disc on the heated griddle. Let it cook for 1 minute. You will notice small bubbles on the disc. Flip it with a rubber spatula or a flat spoon which you have and again cook it on the other side for a further 1/2 minute.
5. Now quickly brush it liberally with 1 tsp oil/ghee using a silicone basting brush or a teaspoon all over, and flip it over again and cook for a few seconds. Again, working quickly, spead the ghee/oil over the other side too and flip it to cook that side and remove into a plate lined with a paper towel. Keep stacking them over one another and cover the dish with a towel to keep them warm. I have a Milton hotpot/casserole which I had bought from India, and I use it to keep the Parathas warm until I finish cooking all.

Luv,
Mona