Murgh Kali Mirch

The weather seems to be slowly turning into spring. It will still be a month atleast until I can see sprouts of new life budding on trees. Uptil then, it is nice to see layers of snow gradually melting away revealing the ground which has been covered up since long.

Changing weather means illnesses and I fell prey to it as well. I was down with flu a few days back and I am slowly recovering now. I was craving for something spicy as well as nourishing and comforting. My Ammi’s Murgh Kali Mirch was what I prepared and enjoyed along with warm Naan.

The chicken in allowed to slow cook on low heat in its own juices in a spicy black pepper, tomato and fried onion sauce until it is so soft, the meat falls off the bone. There is no need to add water during the entire process. A heavy bottomed saucepan will be perfect for this preparation.

Murgh Kali Mirch – Chicken Slow Cooked in Black Pepper Sauce

Ingredients:

Chicken – 1, whole, skinned, washed and cut into pieces
Canola oil – 3 tbsp
Onion – 2, medium sized, diced
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tsp
Green chillies – 2, small, finely chopped
Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
Red Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Tomato – 1, large, chopped
Fresh black pepper powder – 1 1/4 tsp
Cilantro – 3 tbsp, chopped, for garnish

Method:

In a large saucepan or a dutch oven at medium high heat pour oil and as soon as it warms up add the diced onions. Stir fry the onions until they are golden brown in color. Simmer and add ginger garlic paste, green chillies and curry leaves. In a minute add red chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Mix and add the chopped tomatoes. Cover with a  lid and let it cook until the tomatoes are soft. There is no need to add any water. Once the tomatoes are soft add the chicken pieces and and mix well. Cover with the lid and let it cook for 15 minutes. The chicken will slow cook in its own juices, again there is no need to add any water. Open the lid and add the fresh black pepper powder. Mix well. Cover again and let it cook for 30 minutes. Give it a stir once in between. Let it cook until the chicken has released a lot of juices and the meat falls off the bone. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve along with Naan or Rice.

Luv,
Mona

Sambar

Sambar is a delicious richly flavored lentil and vegetable stew, native to South India. Many versions of sambar exist, and each one is just as delicious as the other one. The key for a flavorful sambar is a good sambar masala. Like there exists many versions of garam masala powder, similarly every South Indian household has their own version of the sambar masala. I have always only used the ready made MDH Sambar masala powder that is easily available in stores. But I really loved Padma’s Sambar and since then I have only been using her sambar masala to favor mine. I was so glad to discover the right sambar masala for me.

Idli served along with Sambar

Warm Sambar is a delicious accompaniment to South Indian classics like idli, wada, dosa, or just along with plain simple rice, etc. Today I have made Okra Sambar because I had only okra at hand, but the mixed vegetable sambar is the conventional and most delicious. The addition of a variety of vegetables add their own flavor to the spicy and aromatic sambar. Tamarind is the traditional souring ingredient used, but if unavailable you can use lemon juice.

Sambar – Spicy Lentil and Mixed Vegetables Stew
Adapted from here

Ingredients:

Toor dal – 1 cup
Tomato – 1, large, chopped
Green chillies – 4, chopped
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Canola oil – 3 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 3/4 tsp
Dry red chillies – 4, each broken into half
Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (chopped/cubed: brinjal, potato, taro root, bottle guard, radish, zucchini, okra, drumsticks, french beans, carrot, pumpkin, beetroot, etc; peeled & whole pearl onions/shallots; cauliflower or brocolli florets) (I used only okra – 340 gms) (also I did not have shallots so I used 1 large sliced onion instead)
Thick Tamarind pulp – 5 tbsp
Jaggery/gud – 1 tbsp, grated
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Sambar masala:
2 tsps of bengal gram/chana dal
2 tsps of black gram/urad dal
2 tsps of cumin seeds/zeera
3 tsps of coriander seeds/dhaniya
½ tsp black peppercorns/kali mirch
½ tsp of fenugreek seeds/methi
4 dry red chillies/sukhi lal mirch
¾ cup dry desiccated coconut/khopra

Delicious Warm Sambar

Method:

1. In a non stick frying pan dry roast all the spices separately under the heading sambar masala until they are just a few shades darker. Transfer all the roasted spices to a spice grinder and add a little water and grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside. This is the sambar masala.
2. Wash toor dal in several changes of water. Soak it overnight or for 2-3 hours in surplus fresh cool water. Drain, and wash in several changes of water. Add the washed and soaked toor dal to a pressure cooker. Add 1/2 tbsp oil, chopped tomato, green chillies, turmeric powder and 3 cups of water. Close the lid and pressure cook until the dal is mushy. Using a whisk or a dal ghotni or an immersion blender, blend the dal into a paste. Keep aside.
3. In a large saucepan at medium high heat, add the remaining oil. As soon as it is warm, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they begin to crackle add the curry leaves and dry red chillies. (If you do not have pearl onions or shallots in hand, add the sliced onions and sauté them until they are pink). Immediately add the prepared mixed vegetables and mix well. Add salt and red chilli powder. Lower the heat to medium and pour in two cups of water. Cover with a lid and let cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the tamarind paste and grated jaggery. Now add the toor dal paste prepared earlier along with chopped cilantro and sambar masala. Mix well. Add water to give it a thin consistency. Half cover with a lid and allow it simmer for around 15 minutes more until the vegetables are soft and a good aroma fills your kitchen. Stir frequently and well, as the toor dal tend to sink to the bottom and stick. Serve warm along with plain rice, or dosa, or idli, or wada.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo Baingan

A simple vegetable curry with use of the most humble vegetables to brighten your day. One of my most favorite vegetable curries that comforts me.

Asian Eggplants, PEI Potatoes and Ontario grown Tomato

The soft and velvety texture of cooked and potatoes eggplants along with the slight sourness from the tomatoes makes this curry very juicy and delicious. Enjoy it along with pulao, naan or paratha.

Aloo Baingan – Potatoes and Eggplants in a tomato gravy

Ingredients:

Asian Eggplant – 3, washed, pat dried, and cut into semi-circles (you can use any variety of eggplant)
Potatoes – 3, medium sized, washed, pat dried, peeled and quartered
Tomato – 2, medium, roughly chopped
Green chillies – 4, finely chopped
Canola oil
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Roasted Coriander seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – for garnish, finely chopped

Aloo Baingan – Potatoes and Eggplants in a tomato gravy

Method:

1. In a kadai, pour oil to deep fry the chopped eggplant and potatoes. Once the oil is very hot, deep fry the cut potatoes and eggplant until they attain a slight brown color. Using a slotted spoon remove them into a wire mesh strainer to let the excess oil to drain away.
2. In a pan, pour about 1 tbsp oil and as soon as it warms up, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add the green chillies, ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, roasted coriander seed powder, salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Add the deep fried potatoes and eggplant and give a gentle mix. Add a little bit of water and cover with a lid for 3-5 minutes. Check to see if the potatoes are done. Garnish with chopped cilantro, remove from heat and serve.

Note: 1. You can also add boiled/frozen peas to the curry in the end.
2. You can even add a little bit of kasuri methi or fresh chopped methi in the end for a different flavor.
3. You can skip the deep frying of the potatoes and eggplant and directly add the chopped vegetables into the gravy. You will have to increase the cooking time as well as add a little bit of water to aid in the cooking process. Deep frying the vegetables makes them soft and adds a good flavor.

Luv,
Mona

Khare Seviyan

It has been snowing very hard here in Toronto since a few days. Everyday I get up, and draw the curtains only to see thick layers of snow on roofs, ground and everywhere. Even now it is still snowing.

source

Magical, amazing wonder, but still a pain as it needs shoveling everyday, makes walking and driving on the slippery roads difficult and dangerous, and the unbearable chilly winds. I am wishing that the sun comes out as soon as possible and I get to see color everywhere soon inshallah. In the meantime, keep warm everyone.

Capellini pasta rolls

I love to prepare khare seviyan, or sometimes a simple tomato and leftover chicken + oats soup for breakfasts as a change to the very usual parathas, idli, egg sandwiches or cereals. As the name suggests khare seviyan are savory thin vermicelli noodles cooked in a tomato based sauce. Easy to prepare, simple yet filling. You can prepare it totally vegetarian or add leftover prepared qimah or shredded chicken or lamb meat or even paneer if you wish. Other than enjoying it as a quick breakfast, I also sometimes prepare it as a snack or even as a packed lunch.

Khare Seviyan – Savory Breakfast Noodles
Serves – 5

Ingredients:

Canola oil – 2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Nigella seeds – 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tsp
Green chillies – 4, finely chopped
Bell Pepper – 1, cut into thin strips (I used green bell pepper)
Tomatoes – 4, large, red and ripe, finely chopped
Leftover qimah or shredded chicken or lamb meat or paneer – 1 cup (optional)
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Water – 4 cups
Capellini pasta rolls – around 300 gms, broken into small pieces (or any semolina vermicelli noodles)

Khare Seviyan – Savory Breakfast Noodles

Method:

In a large pan at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up add mustard seeds and nigella seeds. As the begin to crackle, add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add green chillies, turmeric powder and bell pepper. Fry them for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, leftover qimah or shredded chicken or lamb meat or paneer, salt and red chilli powder. Mix well and let cook covered until the tomatoes are soft. Add water and cover. Let it come to a boil. Once boiling, add the broken pasta and mix well. Let it come to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium low and let cook until the pasta has absorbed all water. Serve immediately along with boiled eggs if you wish.

My blogger buddy Tamanna has recently announced an event she is hosting on her blog – ‘Winter Comfort Foods‘~ Classic home cooked meals that make you want to come home and whip up that favorite meal you learnt from your grandmother that gives solace when you are feeling low and uplift your moods. Especially good during this harsh winter season. So do drop by her blog to go through the details and join in the fun.
Khare Seviyan is my contribution to the event she is hosting.

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