Dry Fruits and Nuts Biscuits

Just like Sharmila, and I believe many other Indians, I tend to get confused between cookies and biscuits. Back home in India, only those that are studded with chocolate chips were called as cookies, whereas all others are referred to as biscuits. So you are free to call them whatever you wish, fruit biscuits, or fruit cookies, these melt in mouth morsels studded with dry fruits and nuts are a treat.

dry fruits and nuts biscuits

The famous Karachi Bakery in Hyderabad city is popular for fruit biscuits, among many other baked food products that they are known for. I had always loved these when I was a little kid. These were perhaps one my most early loves. So you can imagine my joy when I discovered a recipe for fruit biscuits at one of my favorite TV chefs website, Ina Garten. I have tried and took delight in many of her recipes, her homely style of cooking is something that I can identify with.

Simple to prepare and delightful to taste, these biscuits have become a regular in my house. Ofcourse I miss those that were available at Karachi Bakery, but these have been successful enough to win my heart and rock my tastebuds. I have made a few changes to the original recipe so that it suites me. For an eggless version, try Priya’s version.

Dry Fruits & Nuts Biscuits/ Cookies
Adapted from this original recipe

Ingredients:

Dried fruits – 1 cup [I used a mixture of tutti frutti and raisins. You can use whatever dry fruits you fancy, like dried berries, candied cherries (or any fruits) etc]
Dried nuts – 3/4 cup [I used a mixture of cashewnuts and walnuts]
Honey – 1 tbsp
Fresh orange juice – 2 tbsp
Fresh lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup (at room temperature)
Canola oil – 1/2 cup
Powdered cloves – 1/4 tsp
Light brown sugar – 1/3 cup
Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup
Eggs – 2, large
All purpose flour – 2 2/3 cups
Salt

Method:

1. Chop the dried nuts and fruits roughly. Place them in a mixing bowl, add orange juice, lemon juice, honey and a pinch of salt. Mix well. Cover with a plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight.
2. In a mixing bowl add butter and oil, powdered cloves, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Using a whisk or an electric hand mixer, beat for 3-4 minutes. Add eggs and beat for a minute or two until mixed. Add the the dried fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl. Now add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don’t over-mix! Divide the dough in half. Place the half on a wax paper and using the long edge of the paper as a guide, shape them into logs. Cover the logs with plastic wrap entirely if you plan to freeze them now to use later. Or else, refrigerate the logs wrapped in wax paper for 1-2 hours or until firm (you can even freeze them for just 15-20 minutes) so that you can easily cut them into slices.

biscuit dough logs

biscuits, cut and ready to be baked

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on aluminium foil lined cookie sheets and bake for 14 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden on the edges. Mine were done in just 14 minutes. Once done, transfer the biscuits immediately on a rack and let cool. Once cool, store in air tight food storage containers.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo-Gosht ka Qorma

The mere mention of Aloo Gosht ka Qorma conjures up my mind with fragrant memories of the daawats/gatherings at my Nani’s house during my childhood, when my aunts would all very lovingly dish out delectable meals for us all. The dastarkhan at her house during daawats usually consisted of this delicious Qorma served along with Naan, followed by Kachchey gosht ki Biryani served along with Mirchi ka Salan and Dahi ki Chutney, and a pleasant dessert to finish off our feast. I always looked forward to visiting my Nani to enjoy all the delicious meals she prepared.

Aloo Gosht ka Qorma

Qorma is an Urdu word, meaning a yogurt based creamy gravy flavored with spices such as coconut, groundnut, coriander etc. The spices along with meat are first braised/bhuno until oil floats on top, and only then is water added in the end to the braised masala for a good gravy consistency. This technique is crucial and imparts flavors to the gravy and the basis for a good Qorma.

Today I am sharing with you all my mother’s version of Hyderabadi style Aloo Gosht ka Qorma, which I have always enjoyed tremendously. Serve this Qorma along with Naan or a similar thick flat bread to mop up the flavorful gravy, and impress your guests and loved ones.

Aloo Gosht ka Qorma – Lamb Qorma (Lamb in a fragrant spiced gravy along with potatoes)

Ingredients:

Lamb meat, with bone, preferably leg – 1/2 kg
Red Chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/ tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Canola oil – 60 ml/1/4 cup/4 tbsp
Finely sliced yellow onion – 300 gms
White Potatoes – 4, medium sized, peeled and quartered
Canned Coconut milk – 5 tbsp/75 ml (or) Roasted desiccated coconut paste – 1 1/2 tbsp
Roasted Groundnut paste – 2 tsp
Almonds, Chironji nuts, Cashew nuts – 1 tbsp each, soaked in 3/4 cup warm milk for 30 mins (optional)
Cardamom – 4
Cloves – 2
Roasted Coriander powder – 1/4 tsp
Yogurt – 1 cup/250 ml
Mint leaves – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Green chillies – 2 or 3, each slit into two
Lemon juice – 2 tsp

clockwise from top: onion, lamb meat-cubed, yogurt, desiccated coconut, groundnuts, white potatoes

1. In a pressure cooker, add the meat, ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder, turmeric powder and 1tsp salt and pour in 1 cup water. Pressure cook until the meat is about 3/4th done.
2. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick heavy bottomed saucepan, pour in oil and as soon as it warms up add the slice onions. Sprinkle just a pinch of salt and stir fry them keeping a close eye until they are all evenly golden brown in color. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a platter. Spread them out so that they cool down and crisp up.
3. In the same oil, add the quarted potatoes and fry them stirring them often until they are just golden brown on edges. Using a slotted spoon transfer them to a platter.
4. In a blender container, add all but 1/4 cup of the fried onions, coconut milk, soaking almonds, chironji nuts and cashew nuts with milk, and groundnut paste. Blend until smooth. Keep aside.
5. In the same oil, add the cardamom and cloves. Stir fry for a minute. Add the contents of the pressure cooker and mix in the above blended paste. Simmer and add rest of the red chilli powder and salt, coriander powder. Partially cover with a lid and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently until oil floats on top. Add the yogurt and mix well. Again partially cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes until oil floats on top. Add mint leaves, cilantro, and green chillies and mix well. Pour in 3-4 cups of water and stir well. Cover with a lid let it come to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to medium and cook partially covered until oil floats on top. Add the shallow fried quartered potatoes and mix well. Partially cover the lid and let cook until the potatoes are tender. Pour lemon juice before you serve. Serve warm along with Tandoori Naan, or Parathas or Kulcha.

For those of you who prefer chicken over Lamb, try out Murgh Qorma.

This ambrosial Qorma 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.

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

Pleasing Paneer

During days when I do not feel like having any non-vegetarian meal, I treat myself with some Paneer in a creamy gravy curry. The non-melting attribute and meat like texture of Paneer is favored by vegetarians and is a very good substitute for meat.

Shallow fried Paneer cubes

To add a shahi touch/richness and thickness to the gravy, paneer is simmered in a cashewnut+milk puree along with yogurt and tomatoes. I have used milk instead of using cream, you can go ahead and use cream for the gravy if you want. You will definitely fall in love with this delightful paneer curry which is one my favorites.

You can use home-made Paneer,or store-bought~ easily available at Indian stores in the cold sections. Store brought ones has additives and lacks freshness, but saves time.

Shahi Paneer Masala – A Royal Cottage Cheese Curry

Ingredients:

Yellow Onions – 2, large, roughly chopped
Canola oil – 5 tbsp
Home-made Paneer – 400 gms, cut into cubes (if using store bought, I recommend Mother-dairy brand)
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
Cardamom – 2
Cloves – 2
Black peppercorns – 5
Ginger-Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
Cashewnuts – 1/4 cup, soaked in 3 tbsp warm milk for 30 minutes and pureed to a smooth paste
Yogurt 2% – 1/2 cup
Canned Crushed tomatoes – 185 ml (or you can also use 5 medium sized pureed tomatoes)
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Karuri Methi – 1/4 cup
Milk 2% – 1 1/2 cup

Shahi Paneer masala

Method:

1. Grind the roughly chopped onions in a blender and make a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl and keep aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the canned crushed/pureed tomatoes and yogurt and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a kadhai. Cut paneer into small cubes. Shallow fry over medium heat until light brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon transfer the fried paneer pieces aside to a bowl.
3. In the same oil, add the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cardamom and cloves. Fry them for a minute and add the onion paste and fry for a few minutes until the raw smell wards off and oil starts separating. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry it along for a minute. Add the cashewnut+milk paste, tomatoes+yogurt mixture, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add kasuri methi to the gravy and mix well. Add the fried paneer pieces and mix gently. Pour in milk and mix well, bring the gravy to boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the gravy becomes thick and oil separates. Serve.

This goes to JFI-Paneer being hosted by Trupti at her blog ‘The Spice Who Loved Me‘.

Luv
Mona

Dinner Today

The first Ashra of Ramadan has passed away الحمد لله. May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) accept all our dua’s inshallah. Todays dinner after our 14th roza features Ivy Gourd curry, Khatti dal and Dum ka Murgh along with Afghani Roti and Khushka.

Ivy Gourd~(Coccinia indica, C. grandis) (other names in various languages-Scarlet fruited gourd, Little gourd, Donda, Kandori, Tindora, Gherkin, Kova, etc) is an Indian vegetable, grown on aggresively climbing vines, and a very good source of Calcium, Fibre and Iron.

Fortunately this vegetable is available here at my place at most of the Indian stores, priced a bit higher though, but nonetheless and I am very happy for that reason. This humble vegetabe is one of my favorites and it makes its presence on my dinner table whenever its cravings defeat me.

Ivy Gourd – chopped and whole

Ivy Gourds in dry tomato-onion gravy

Ingredients:

Ivy Gourd – 2 pounds, topped, tailed, and chopped as shown
Onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Tomato – 2. medium sized, finely chopped
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Canola oil – 1 tbsp

Ivy gourd curry served along with Flat bread~Paratha

Method:

Heat oil in a pressure cooker at medium high heat. As soon as it warms up, add onion and stir fry until soft. Add chopped tomato, red chilli powder and salt. Also add in the chopped Ivy gourd and 1 cup water, and pressure cook for 10 minutes, until the Ivy Gourd is soft. Let cook uncovered until most of the moisture has been evaporated. Keep stirring occassionally and gently. Serve along with Parathas .

***

Dum ka Murgh – Slow cooked Chicken in Aromatic sauce

Ingredients:

Chicken, with bone – 1.3 kg, cut into pieces
Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Almonds, ground – 1/4 cup
Garam masala powder – 2 tsp
Saffron strands, lightly crushed – 1/4 tsp
Onion – 4, large, finely chopped
Tomato puree – 2 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Red chili powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Lemon juice – 4 tbsp
Cilantro – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Mint leaves -1 tbsp, finely chopped
Ghee – 1/3 cup
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch stick
Cloves – 2
Green Cardamom – 2
Black Peppercorns – 4
Bay leaf – 1, dried

Dum ka Murgh

Method:

1. In a frying pan at medium high heat, pour ghee and as soon as it warms up add the sliced onions. Fry them stirring it frequently until golden brown in color. Remove the fried onions using a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined platter. Reserve the leftover ghee.
2. In a mixing bowl, add yogurt, almond paste, garam masala, saffron, salt, fried onions, ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, lemon juice, tomato puree and cilantro and mint leaves to the chicken. Mix it all well. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the aromatic paste for about 2 hours in the refrigerator.
3. Take the mixing bowl out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. In a large saucepan at medium high heat, pour the leftover ghee and as soon as it warms up add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves. Saute for a few seconds and add the chicken mixture into it. Spread the chicken in a single layer and mix well. Cover the lid and cook on simmer for 20 minutes. Later, gently give a good stir and again cover and let cook for a further 15 minutes until oil leaves. Garnish with fried onions and serve with sliced onion rings and lemon wedges.

Suggested Accompaniments: Afghani Roti/Naan/Parathas or Plain Rice and Khatti Dal.

Luv,
Mona