Tarkari ki Biryani

November 9th, 2010 Mona Posted in Almonds/Badaam, Broccoli, Canola Oil, Carrot/Gajar, Cashewnuts/Kaaju, Cilantro/Kothmir (fresh), Cinnamon/Dalchini, Clove/Laung, Cumin seeds/Zeera, Eid/Ramadhan/Iftaar, Ghee, Ginger-Garlic paste, Green Chillies, Green Onion/Hari Pyaz, Hyderabadi special, Mint/Pudina (fresh), Peas/Matar, Red Chilli powder, Saffron/Zafraan, Salt/Namak, Tomato/Tamatar (fresh), Turmeric/Haldi, White Potato/Aloo, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz, Yogurt/Dahi 22 Comments » 16,436 views

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

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Gajar Ka Meetha

November 4th, 2010 Mona Posted in Almonds/Badaam, Carrot/Gajar, Cashewnuts/Kaaju, Chironji/Charoli, Ghee, Hyderabadi special, Khoa, Milk and Milk Products, Pinenuts/Chilgoze, Pistachios/Pista, Raisins/Kishmish, Sugar/Shakkar, Walnuts/Aqrot 8 Comments » 10,586 views

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

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Chawal Ka Meetha

October 12th, 2010 Mona Posted in Almonds/Badaam, Basmati Rice/Chawal, Cashewnuts/Kaaju, Chironji/Charoli, Eid/Ramadhan/Iftaar, Ghee, Milk and Milk Products, Pinenuts/Chilgoze, Pistachios/Pista, Raisins/Kishmish, Saffron/Zafraan, Sugar/Shakkar, Walnuts/Aqrot 5 Comments » 8,960 views

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

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Doodh ka Sherbat

January 7th, 2010 Mona Posted in Almonds/Badaam, Cardamom/Elaichi, Fennel seeds/Saunf, Milk and Milk Products, Pistachios/Pista, Saffron/Zafraan, Sugar/Shakkar 23 Comments » 15,195 views

Rizruby, one of the very regular commentators, participant and reader of my blog had shared with me her recipe for this wonderful and nourishing drink of nuts and milk a few days ago. She also adds that back home in Hyderabad a beautiful aroma of ‘Oodh’ (Oodh ka dhua) is added to the drink that makes it even more flavorful.

Doodh ka Sherbat – Nuts and Milk Drink

Milk – 5  cups (8 ounce size)
Sugar – 1/4 cup according to ur taste
Cardamom/Elaichi powder – 1/4 tsp
Pistachio/Pista – 40, in number (I use samsclub pistachios without shells, I just wash in plain water to remove the salt)
Almonds – 20, in number (I use samsclub whole almonds)
Saffron – 1 pinch
Fennel/Saunf powder  – 1 tsp  (You can get this in indian stores)

Method:

1. Add almonds in a bowl and add water and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Rub off the almonds skins.
2. Grind the peeled almonds and pistachios to a fine powder in coffee grinder. Take this powder in bowl and add some milk to make a paste.
3. Boil the milk on a medium flame. Also add elaichi powder with sugar to milk and stir for a while. Add the nut paste and saunf  powder when milk is ready to be boiled. Stir milk a little. The saunf powder makes the milk taste less sweet, so add sugar now according to your taste. Also add pinch of saffron to boiling milk. Let the milk cool down. Serve cold and store the remaining in refrigerator.

The technique to infuse ‘Oodh ka Dhua’ into milk is as follows:
Place burning oodh onto a small aluminium foil, and invert a large vessel over it so that the vessel collects all the smoke from the burning oodh. In a few minutes, quickly turn the vessel and cover it with a lid. The vessel has all the aromatic smoke from the oodh. Now pour the milk into the vessel and close the lid. Gently swirl and serve.

Recipe and picture belongs to Rizruby

This yummy, creamy and nourishing sherbat is my contribution to Yasmeen’s ‘Healthnut Challenge 3‘ event that is hosting on her super healthy blog ‘Healthnut‘.

Luv,
Mona

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Haleem~II:a gastronomic delight

December 24th, 2009 Mona Posted in Almonds/Badaam, Blog Events/Entries/Polls, Broken Wheat/Daliya, Canola Oil, Cardamom/Elaichi, Cashewnuts/Kaaju, Chane ki Dal, Chironji/Charoli, Cilantro/Kothmir (fresh), Cinnamon/Dalchini, Cubeb/Kawabchini, Cumin seeds/Zeera, Eid/Ramadhan/Iftaar, Garam masala powder, Ghee, Ginger-Garlic paste, Green Chillies, Hyderabadi special, Lamb/Beef/Mutton/Veal/Sheep, Mint/Pudina (fresh), Poppy seeds/Khus-Khus, Red Chilli powder, Salt/Namak, Turmeric/Haldi, Wheat/Gehu, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz, Yogurt/Dahi 21 Comments » 17,118 views

Brr, its cold outside. Curled up on my sofa under a soft quilt and enjoying the season with a bowl of haleem topped with fried onions, fresh herbs, ghee and few fried cashew nuts along with a splash of fresh lemon juice provides me the warmth and nourishment and makes me hopelessly nostalgic.

Haleem, a porridge made with wheat, pulses, meat, ghee is a classic Hyderabadi delicacy which has Persian origins. Back home in restaurants it is cooked in large amounts in huge cauldrons called as degh for hours together along with a range of exotic spices and other aromatics and pounded continually, until it resembles a velvety gruel like consistency. At homes, we use pressure cookers and processors to quicken the process.

This savory Ramadan speciality has a wonderful taste, and a delicious aroma. Haleem is usually prepared during the month of Ramadan(the ninth holy month of the Muslim calender in which Muslims observe fast from sunrise to sunset) and enjoyed at Iftaar and Suhoor, as it has got all the goodness to sustain and nurture a fasting body.

broken wheat and wheat grains

Below is my Ammi’s version of Haleem, I had also posted an another version Haleem here a while back. A yogurt qorma is prepared and mixed with the wheat+dal+meat mixture and cooked until the flavors marry and the desired consistency is achieved. My mother in law always prefers wheat grains over broken wheat for Haleem. I use broken wheat as it cooks faster.

Hyderabadi Haleem – Lentils, Wheat and Meat Porridge

Ingredients:

Boneless Lamb meat – 500 gms (or) Lamb meat with bone – 700 gms [preferably leg] – cut into small pieces
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Chana dal – 100 gms
Broken wheat – 250 gms
For Qorma:
White poppy seeds/Khuskhus – 1 tsp
Chironji nuts – 1 tsp
Chopped almonds and cashewnuts – 1 tbsp each
Canola oil – 4-5 tbsp
Onions – 3, large, finely sliced
Cloves – 2
Cardamom – 2
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
Dry Roasted Kababchini powder – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Green chillies – 4, each broken into two
Yogurt – 1 cup, lightly whisked
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Cardamom seed powder – 1/4 tsp
Lemon juice – 1/4 cup/60 ml/4 tbsp
For Garnish
finely chopped Cilantro, and Mint leaves
Crisply fried onions
Lemon juice
Ghee
Fried cashew nuts
sliced/chopped Green chillies

Haleem, garnished with fried onions, fresh herbs, green chillies, nuts and lemon juice

Method:

1. In a pressure cooker, add the meat, ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder, turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt and pour in 1 cup water. Pressure cook until the meat is about 3/4th done.
2. Meanwhile soak chana dal and broken wheat for 30 minutes in fresh cool water. As soon as the meat is done, transfer the meat with all its juices into a bowl. Keep aside to cool.
3. Drain the soaking dal and keep aside. In the same pressure cooker, add the dal and broken wheat and pour in 4 cups of fresh cool water and pressure cook for a few minutes until the mixture is soft. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Meanwhile, shred the cooked meat and put it back into its juices and keep aside in a bowl. Discard bones.
4. Soak khuskhus, chironji nuts, cashewnuts and almonds in 1/2 cup warm water for 15 minutes. Grind them into a smooth puree.
5. In a food processor or a blender, add the cooked dal and the cooked broken wheat along with any remaining water in which it was boiled and process until well blended.
6. In a large thick bottomed non-stick saucepan at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and stir fry it until evenly golden brown in color. Using a slotted spoon transfer half of the fried onions onto a platter, scatter so that they cool and crisp up in a while, use these fried onions for garnish later on. Meanwhile, in the pan with the fried onions, lower the heat and add cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, kababchini power, green chillies and cumin seed powder. Stir fry for 10-20 secs. Add the yogurt. Mix well. Add the pureed nuts mixture and mix well. Add red chilli powder, black pepper powder and salt. Half cover and cook stirring occasionally until it leaves oil. Add the blended wheat+dal mixture and the shredded meat with all its juices and mix well. Pour in 2 cups water, and add garam masala powder and cardamom powder. Mix well. Cover and let cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat when the desired consistency of a thick porridge is achieved. Ladle in serving plates, garnish and serve warm.

This 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 before December 31, 2009. Click on the link or the logo for more details.

Luv,
Mona

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