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

Instant Light Chicken Biryani

My earlier version of Chicken Biryani was the traditional kind, but I learnt this version from my Mother in law and is very light and has lesser calories and gets prepared quite quickly when compared to any other type of Chicken Biryani’s. As this Express Cooking Event calls for a meal to get ready in less than 30 minutes, I have used left over cooked plain rice, you guys can always make it fresh if you do not have left over rice. Its a complete meal with Biryani, a dessert, and a juice, and is filling but light on stomach.

My Version of ‘Instant Light Chicken Biryani
Serves – 2

Ingredients:

Canola Oil – 1 tbsp
Chicken Breast – 200 gms, washed, and cut into 2 cms cubes
Salt – to taste
Red Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Yogurt – 1 tbsp
Tomato paste – 2 tsp (optional)
Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 1/2 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed/Zeera powder – 1 tsp
Dry Roasted Coriander/Dhaniya seed powder – 1 tsp
Water – 1/2 cup
Lemon Juice – 2 or 3 tbsp ( as you like)
Saffron threads – a pinch, soaked in 1/4 cup warm milk
Cooked Plain White Rice – 3 cups
Crispy Fried Onions – 2 tbsp

Method: ( Target time to prepare the whole meal – 30 minutes )

1. Put a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, and pour oil into it.
2. Add the chicken pieces, salt and red chilli powder, and fry till golden brown on all sides. This takes probably 7 minutes. When the chicken cubes has been browned properly, adjust the heat to medium high add the yogurt, tomato paste (optional) and ginger-garlic paste and the three dry masalas and stir well. This will take about 5 minutes. Now add half cup water and lemon juice. Cover the lid of the pan for 2 minutes until the water dries up.
3. Now arrange the half of the rice in a microwave safe bowl in a layer, add the cooked chicken breast from the pan on top of the rice in a layer, again arrange the remaining rice layer on top. Sprinkle the fried onions on top and pour the milk with saffron threads evenly on top of rice. All this takes about 5 more minutes
5. Cover and microwave for 3 minutes. The Biryani is ready.
6. Serve the Biryani along with and a Juice and Ice Cream for a heartful meal for two ready in about in less than 30 minutes.

Tip: Adding salt to the water in which you cook rice is essential, or else the whole taste of Biryani turns upside down. One tip if you have forgotten to add salt to the water while boiling rice is – stir the required amount of salt in a little quantity of hot water, about half cup or a few tablespoons, and pour this on the biryani evenly. Warm the biryani in microwave and serve immediately.

Luv,
Mona

Qimah ki Tahari

Tahari is a kind of one dish meal made with mutton pieces+rice, or minced meat+rice and masalas for flavor. In this technique, the meat is cooked in seasonings and masalas and later water is poured in to the gravy in which rice is added and it is all cooked together until the rice is done. For this, one has to learn the perfect ratio of water and rice so that the rice does not end up like an over cooked mushy mess.

Qimah ki Tahari is different than Biryani. In Mutton or Chicken biryani, Mutton or Chicken is layered along with half cooked rice and finished in the oven until the rice completely done; whereas in Tahari, rice is cooked on dum in the gravy containing Minced meat or Mutton pieces.

Qimah ki Tahari, served along with tomato chutney

I like Qimah ki Tahari along with ‘Tomato Chutney’. On our Saturday’s trip to the Niagara Falls, we had Qimah ki Tahari and Tomato chutney for lunch. After a very long drive when we reached there, my hubby was so hungry, we quickly had Tahari and set out to enjoy the beautiful landscapic view of the Falls.

Qimah ki Tahari – Minced Meat with Rice Casserole
Serves: 6-7

Ingredients:

Ground Lamb lean meat – 500 gms
Yellow Onion – 1, large, sliced
Canola Oil – 5 tbsp
Green Chillies – 4, slit in middle
Ginger garlic paste – 1 1/2 tbsp
Tomatoes – 3, finely chopped
Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – 2 1/2 tbsp
Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp
Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Green Cardamoms -4
Cinnamon sticks – 2
Caraway seeds/Shah Zeera – 1 tsp
Water – 5 cups
Rice – 3 cups
Cilantro – 3 tbsp, finely chopped

Method:

1. Wash and soak the rice in fresh cool water sufficient enough to remain 5 cms above the level of rice.
2. Wash ground meat along with sliced onions well and drain the water completely in a very fine mesh strainer.
3. In a large saucepan at medium heat, add three tablespoons oil and green chillies, cinnamon stick, cardamom, caraway seeds and ginger garlic paste. Let it splutter and fry. In a minute. Add the drained onions+ground meat and also add red chilli powder, 2 1/2 tsp salt, garam masala powder, tomatoes and stir well and let it cook for 10-15 minutes until you see oil floating on top. Add the yogurt and mix well. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. Add cilantro and mix well.
4. Add the water and let the mixture come to a boil. As soon as it begins to boil well, add rice and mix well. Let it come to a boil. 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 gently 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.

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy this ambrosial one-dish meal along with Dahi ki Chutney or Baghare Baingan or Mirchi Ka Salan or Tomato Chutney.

Luv,
Mona

Hyderabadi Dum Pukth (Pakki) Murgh Biryani

Mazadaar!! (meaning ‘yummy’ in English) is what everyone in my house say when they have just had thier first niwaala/morsel of my Dum Pukth Murgh Biryani.

Chicken Biryani is an exotic one-dish meal, served usually at large get-togethers, occasions and parties like weddings, ceremonies and festivals in the city of Hyderabad, India. The method of cooking involves a layering process of half cooked rice with the cooked till done spiced chicken mixture. Hyderabadi people have a great fondness for Biryanis and it is seen at almost every restaurant in the menu cards as the speciality item.

Saffron strands

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

Pakki Biryani: where are half Basmati cooked 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
2. Kachche Aqni ki Dum Murgh Biryani

The following is the procedure how I prepare Pakki Murgh biryani in my house on a regular basis. In this recipe you can use a whole chicken with bones, cut into pieces; but I usually prefer to use boneless Chicken, as my family prefers boneless breast pieces of Chicken, which has minimal fat in it, hence a healthier option. Check out my Instant Light Chicken Biryani, which is light on stomach, and gets prepared in less than 30 minutes.

The caraway seeds, garam masala powder, saffron strands, and all other spices used in this recipe can be easily found in most Indian grocery stores which sell spices. My family prefers to have Biryani a bit hot and lemony with a little bit of an acetous flavor, so I’ve added red and green chilli and lemon juice according to our tastes. You can alter those according to your tastes.

Do not worry if you have never prepared Biryani till now by yourselves. I have tried here to explain each step in as simpler method as possible. Do write to me if you have any doubts regarding the procedure. Go ahead and prepare this for your family, Enjoy.

Hyderabadi Dum (Pakki) Murgh Biryani – Fragrant Rice-Chicken Casserole with Spices
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

Ginger-Garlic Paste – 2 tbsp
Garam Masala – 1 1/2 tsp
Yogurt -1 1/2 cup
Tomatoes – 2, large and ripe, pureed into a smooth paste (or) Canned tomato paste – 5 tbsp (optional)
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Lemon juice – 6 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Almonds – 1/2 cup, slivered
Cashew nuts – 1/2 cup
Yellow Onions – 5, large, sliced
Chicken – 900 gms, Boneless, skinless breast pieces, cut into 2 cms cubes
Basmati, Long Grained Rice – 5 cups
Water – 8 cups
Canola Oil -9 tbsp
Caraway seeds/ShahZeera – 1 tbsp
Warm Milk – 1/2 cup
Saffron strands – one big pinch
Bay leaves – 1
Green cardamom – 3
Green Chillies – 5, small sized, slit lengthwise
Home-made Ghee – 3 tbsp
Fresh Mint leaves/Pudina – 2 tbsp, wahsed, chopped finely
Fresh Cilantro/Kothmir – 2 tbsp, washed, chopped finely

Hyderabadi Dum Pukth Murgh Biryani

Method:

1. Marinate the chicken with the first 8 ingredient for about 6-8 hours maximum or one hour minimum covered in the refrigerator.
2. Start by pouring 1 tbsp oil into a large heavy bottomed non-stick frying pan and fry the almonds and cashewnuts till they are golden brown and remove them into a bowl.
3. In the same pan add 8 tbsp oil and add the sliced onions. Fry them till the onions are brown and crisp. Make sure not to burn them. Remove from heat. Remove about a cup of the fried onions with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel in a platter.
4. Take out the chicken from the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature. In the pan with oil and fried onions, dump the whole bowl consisting of the marinating chicken and all its juices into it and put the pan on medium high heat. Let it cook uncovered until the gravy is dry and dense and the chicken is done. Keep stirring it occasionally. This might take about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and keep aside.
5. Meanwhile take half a cup of warm milk, and add a few strands of saffron. Let them soak  for an hour.
6. Wash and soak the rice in water for preferably half an hour. Later, drain the rice and keep it in the sieve. Boil 8 cups of water and add cinnamon sticks and caraway seeds/shah zeera, bay leaves, green cardamom and salt (I use the proportion:1 tsp salt for 1 cup rice). Once the water is boiling add the strained rice, give it a stir and let the rice soften up a bit. Once the rice is half done, strain the rice and throw away the water. Discard the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick.
7. Arrange half the amount of rice as the bottom layer layer in a large dish. Next, add the chicken mixture prepared earlier in a layer. Now add the remaining rice above the chicken layer, covering it completely.
8. Garnish with mint, cilantro, fried onions, slit green chillies, and fried nuts from step 2. Now pour evenly the milk with saffron strands and two tablespoons of ghee over the layered and garnished rice. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminium foil.
9. Preheat the oven to 350°F and put the dish in the oven for 10-12 minutes, till a nice steam has formed inside the dish, and the rice has been done. Serve hot for a delicious meal.

Tip: Adding salt to the water in which you cook rice is essential, or else the whole taste of Biryani turns upside down. One tip if you have forgotten to add salt to the water while boiling rice is – stir the required amount of salt in a little quantity of hot water, about half cup or a few tablespoons, and pour this on the biryani evenly. Warm the biryani in microwave and serve immediately.

Suggested Accompaniments: Biryani goes very well along with Mirchi Ka Salan or Baghare Baingan, or Tamatar Ki Chutney and Dahi Ki Chutney.

Luv,
Mona

Murgh Tikka

A wonderful marinade of yogurt and aromatic spices adds a delectable flavor to the tender boneless chicken pieces. Traditionally it is made on skewers in a tandoor (Indian clay oven), but today I have used my stove top grill pan which I had bought from Ikea. You can also grill them using either charcoal or gas grills.

Chicken Tikka Kawabs – Murgh Tikka

Serve these kawabs as finger food along with chutney.

Chicken Tikka Kawabs – Murgh Tikka
Serves : 4

Ingredients:

Marinade:

Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Red Chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Roasted Cumin seed powder – 1 tsp
Roasted Coriander seed powder – 1 tsp
Lemon Juice – 2 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Ajwain seeds – 1 tsp
Boneless chicken –  500 gms, cut into bite size pieces
Cilantro – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Canola oil – to baste

Method:

1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the last two. Add chicken pieces and toss well to cover. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

marinated boneless chicken pieces on bamboo skewers

Boneless chicken pieces on bamboo skewers being cooked in stove top grill pan

2. Thread 4-5 pieces of chicken onto each skewer and grill on medium heat, 350°F (177° C) on a grill rack placed on an aluminium foil lined baking tray; or at ‘4’ mark if using a Stove top grill pan for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently and basting with oil.
4. Once done, remove the chicken skewers from the pan and place in a platter. Cover and let rest for 2-3 minutes once off the heat. Remove the chicken from the skewers and serve on a bed of raw sliced onions with lemon wedges.

Luv,
Mona