Chicken Jalfrezi – Chicken with Bell Peppers in Fragrant Sauce

Ramadan has started, and already we have completed the first five fasts Alhamdulillah. My very mischievous babyjaan will be two years old insha’Allah by the end of this Ramadan Masha’Allah. How time flies. This special month is even more dear to me as my little babyjaan was born in the month of Ramadan Alhamdulillah.

Stay healthy everybody. Be thankful that we are alive to witness this Ramadan Alhamdulillah. Pray Allah your heart out and ask of him whatever you need insha’Allah. And please remember me, my hubby and my baby in your duas. Enjoy this yummy and very easy to prepare chicken curry that insha’Allah your entire family will love.

Chicken Jalfrezi – Chicken with Bell Peppers in Fragrant Sauce

Ingredients:

Chicken – 1 whole, cut into pieces
Juice of a large lemon
Ginger Garlic paste – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Onion – large, chopped
Bell Peppers/Capsicum – yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper and green bell pepper, all chopped up into small pieces – about 3/4 cup
Tomato – 2 large, chopped
Yogurt – 1 cup, lightly stirred
Roasted Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Roasted Cumin Seed powder – 1/2 tsp

Method:

1. In a wide saucepan with high sides at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up, add the chopped onion. While the onion is frying up, marinate the chicken with lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Keep aside. Srir fry the onions until they are slightly browned.
2. Add chopped peppers and fry them for two minutes. Add the tomatoes and cover the lid. Cook for 3-5 minutes until they are mushy while stirring it an occasional stir.
3. Add the marinated chicken and the yogurt and mix well. Cover with a lid and let cook for 20 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Give it a stir every few minutes. Sprinkle the coriander powder and cumin seed powder. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with rice/pulao/naan.

HEALTHY RAMADAN RECIPES:
Before I sign off, This ‎Ramadan I am on a hunt for healthy meal ideas for Suhoor‬ and ‎Iftaar‬. Please message me your recipes or send them to zaiqa.mona@gmail.com I will be posting them all on my blog with your name and details before this Ramadan ends insha’Allah. Please join in! I look forward to going through your recipes insha’Allah!

Luv,
Mona

Dahi Baday – Chickpea Flour Balls in Yogurt

Perhaps one of my favourite Iftaar snacks, for two reasons mainly: awesome taste, and quick preperation time. Make a batter with chickpea flour, deep fry the balls, then add them to yogurt, add a baghaar, and you are done! Simple as that.

Dahi Baday are just a different version of Dahi Wade. Dahi Wade are made with Urad Dal and Dahi Badey are make with Chickpea flour.

If you love Dahi ki Kadi, you will definitely enjoy Dahi Badey.

Dahi Baday – Chickpea Flour Balls in Yogurt

Ingredients:

Chickpea Flour/Gram flour/Besan – 1 cup
Baking Soda – a pinch
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Yogurt – 1 cup
Canola oil
Cilantro – 4 tbsp, finely chopped
For Baghaar/Tempering:
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Dried Red chillies – 2-3, each broken into pieces

Method:

1. In a bowl, add chickpea flour and pour in a little water to make a smooth batter. The batter should be thick and pourable in consistency but not thin. Add baking soda, red chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder to the batter and mix.
2. In a separate bowl ,whip yogurt with 1/2 cup of water until smooth. Season with salt and pour this yogurt mixture in a serving tray.
3. Heat oil to deep fry in a pan or kadai. (Never deep fry in a non stick pan). As soon as it is hot, drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil and deep fry them on both sides until they are nicely golden brown in colour. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towel. The baday are ready.
4. Drop them into yogurt mixture. Make sure that the baday are well coated with yoghurt.
5. Prepare tempering by heating the oil in a small pan and add the ingredients in the list. When the mustard seeds and dried red chillies splutter, pour the sizzling tempering over the baday in yogurt. Allow to soak for an hour after tempering. After an hour serve the baday on individual plates, garnish with chopped cilantro and sprinkle of chaat masala on each of the vada.

This recipe is my contribution to my very onw Hyderabadi Ramadan Food Festival 2012 (Season IV) that I hosting on my blog, and also to the Joy From Fasting ToFeasting – V that Lubna is hosting on her blog.

Luv,
Mona

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

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

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