Veggies and Me!

I had always disliked vegetable biryani. My Ammi had to run behind me to make me finish my plate. The other day while I was browsing through this cookbook, I came across this recipe and I am so glad I tried it. This recipe is a keeper and I will definitely be trying it again and again in my kitchen.

Vegetable Dum Biryani –  Rice Cooked With Vegetables and Spices
Source: India’s Vegetarian Cooking
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Spices for the Rice water:
  1. Bay Leaves – 2
  2. Fennel Seeds/Saunf – 1 tsp
  3. Nutmeg Powder – 1 tsp
  4. Cinnamon – 1 small stick
  5. Cloves – 5
  6. Black peppercorns – 8
  7. Green cardamom – 3
  • Milk – 4 tbsp
  • Saffron strands – 1/2 tsp
  • Rose Water – 4 tbsp (optional)
  • Green cardamoms – 2
  • Butter/Canola Oil – 6 tbsp
  • Yellow Onion – 3, medium, thinly sliced
  • Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Tomato paste – 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables (Corn, Carrots, Potatoes, French Beans, Lima beans) – 270 gms
  • Red capsicum – 1, chopped
  • Basmati Rice – 300 gms
  • Mint leaves – 1 tbsp
  • Cilantro – 1 tbsp
  • Slivered Almonds – 3 tbsp

Vegetable Dum Biryani / Tarkari Ka Chawal

Method:

  • Preheat Oven to 425 °F /220 °C/Gas Mark 6
  • Put the spices meant for the rice water in 600 ml of water. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Cover the pan and allow the flavours to infuse. This will be our liq. 1.
  • Meanwhile crush the two green cardamoms with milk and saffron and rose water and keep aside in a small bowl. This will be our liq. 2.
  • In a pan on medium heat, pour 3 tbsp of butter/oil and stir fry the chopped red capsicum. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  • In the same pan and butter/oil fry the onions until brown. Remove half of them and reserve for garnish. Add Ginger garlic paste to the pan and stir fry it along with the remaining onions. Remove from heat and let it cool. Grind the fried Ginger-Garlic and Onion.
  • Heat 1 1/2 tbsp butter/oil in a pan and pour the above grinded mixture along with turmeric powder, Garam masala and tomato puree. Season with salt and let it cook for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the frozen mixed vegetables to the tomato and onion mixture in the pan. Also add the stir fried red capsicum. Mix Well and simmer. Let it cook for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.
  • Strain the liq. 1 and keep aside. Throw away the spices.
  • In a pan add 1 1/2 tbsp of butter/oil and fry the rice over high heat. (Note: Do not wash the rice before hand. Rinsing will wash away the significant amount of surface starch that contributes to the dish.)
  • When the rice has become shiny, add half of the liq. 1 and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover for about 6-8 minutes or until the water has evaporated.
  • Take an oven proof dish and start the layering process of the Biryani. The top and bottom layers are always the rice in a Biryani. Start by a layer of rice in the bottom of the dish, then add a layer of Vegetable mixture, then a layer of rice, and layer of vegetable mixture, and then the final rice layer. Pour evently the remaining liq.1 and the liq. 2 and the reserved fried onions on the rice layer. Also sprinkle the chopped coriander and mint leaves, and the slivered almonds on it. Seal the dish with tinfoil.
  • Cook the biryani for 40 minutes in the oven reducing the heat to 375 °F/190 °C/Gas Mark 5 after 20 minutes. Open the dish/Remove the tinfoil from the dish, just before serving.

Suggested Accompaniments: Tamatar ki Chutney

This goes as my contribution to Sharmi for the event she is holding Jihva for Ingredients JFI and its Rice this month at her place.

Luv,
Mona

Kaddu ka Meetha

I am not much of a ‘Mithai’ person, I do not like sweets/mithai’s a lot. Just yesterday I had to attend a party at my aunt’s place and she gifted us some Boondi Laddu’s and the one to have them are everyone besides me in this house. I usually prefer sweets/desserts that are light, with not too much sugar, infact only a hint of sugar in it.

Kaddu/Bottle Gourd/Opo Squash

One such meetha that is light on stomach and calories, quick to get prepared, nonetheless satisfies my sweet cravings is Kaddu ka Meetha. For all those of you who haven’t tried this delicious meetha yet, I recommend you prepare it and try it atleast once.

Kaddu Ka Meetha/Halwa – Bottle Gourd Sweet
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Bottle gourd/Opo Squash/Kaddu – 1, medium sized, around 1 kg in weight
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Milk – 1/2 cup
Green Cardamom – 3, skin discarded and black seeds finely powdered
Sugar – 1/2 cup
Chopped/Sliced Almonds or Chopped/Sliced Pistachios or Raisins or Chopped Cashewnuts – shallow fried in little oil/ghee, for garnish

Method:

1.Wash, pat dry and peel the bottle gourd. Discard the peels or use them to prepare this curry. Then slice off the central pith containing the seeds and discard it. Use only the clear white flesh devoid any seeds present between the central pith and the peel. Grate this flesh using a grater or in a food processor. Mine came to around 4-5 cups of grated bottle gourd.

Grated Bottle gourd (left); Cut and Peeled bottle gourd (right)

2. In a heavy bottom sauce pan on medium heat, add the grated bottle gourd and cook it stirring continuously, but very gently, make sure you do not mush it up while stirring; until mostly dry. At this point add ghee and let it cook for a minute while stirring it gently. Pour in milk and let it cook again until it absorbs most of the milk. Add cardamom powder, sugar and keep stirring it. You can add more or less sugar according to your taste. Let it cook again until the sugar dissolves for about 5-10 mins more. Add fried nuts or raisins and mix. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for a few hours and serve chilled.

Kaddu Ka Meetha/Halwa – Bottle Gourd Sweet

Suggested Serving: To impress your guests, serve the chilled meetha in mini pastry cases that are easily available in stores. You can name it ‘Kaddu ka Meetha Tarts’.

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

Pudina Wali Malai Murgh

Serves : 4-5
Preparation time : 15 minutes
Cooking time : 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Chicken-small boneless cubes – 1 kg
Canola Oil – 1 tbsp
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Bay leaf – 1
Cinnamon – 2, 1-inch sticks
Cloves – 3
Green Cardamoms – 4
Yellow Onions-grated – 1 cup
Ginger-Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Almond paste – 100gms
Heavy/Light Cream – 120 ml
Green chillies – 6
Mint leaves – 2 tbsp

Method:

  • Heat the oil and ghee in a pan. Add bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms and saute over medium heat until they begin to cracle.
  • Add the onions and saute for a few minutes. Add ginger and garlic pastes, turmeric, red chilli powder, salt and almond paste and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the oil seperates from the mixture.
  • Add the chicken, stir and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the cream, slit green chillies, mace powder and vetivier.
  • Sprinkle with fresh mint leaves, cover and seal lid tightly either with aluminium foil or with dough. Let the chicken simmer for 5-6 minutes on a very low heat.
  • Garnish with coriander and chopped whole red chillies (optional) and serve hot accompanied with Laccha Parantha.

Suggested Accompaniments: Basmati Rice/Naan.

Luv,
Mona