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

Vegetable Curry Puff

Puffs are one easy to make snacks when ready made puff pasty is available, perfect for tea-time, or at iftaar.

freshly baked vegetable puffs, ready to be eaten

Bakeries in Hyderabad sell puffs that vary in shapes and the fillings used. Egg puffs, chicken puffs, paneer puffs and vegetable puffs are a few examples. You can even prepare puff pasty at home if ready made puff pasty is not available at stores.

Vegetable Curry Puffs

Ingredients:

Frozen Puff Pastry – 1 package (2 sheets) [available in the freezer section of most grocery stores or supermarkets]
For Filling:
Canola oil – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
Black mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fresh Ginger – 1 tsp, finely grated
Potatoes – peeled and chopped, 1 cup
Carrot – peeled and chopped, 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/8 tsp
Kasuri methi – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Frozen green peas – 1/4 cup
Lemon juice –2 tbsp
Garam masala powder  – 1/4 tsp
Cilantro – 1 tbsb, finely chopped

Method:

1. Prepare the filling just as you prepare for Samosas.
2. Defrost the frozen puff pastry sheets according to directions. Using a pizza slicer, cut a sheet horizontally in the center. Then again cut the sheet vertically into 3 strips. Place a small ball of the filling on one side of each strip. Cover with the other side of the strip and gently seal the sides. Brush with some cold milk and bake according to instructions. Serve warm along with tomato ketchup.

This is my second entry to the The Hyderabadi Ramadan Food Festival that I am hosting on my blog.
For more details about the event, click here.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo kay Samosay

Chai shops, bakeries, mithaiwala shops, cart vendors, chat bhandars along the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent, all sell these magical pastries. Originated and traveled to India possibly from the Middleeast, Samosas are triangular pastries, a popular street food, usually stuffed with minced meat, or a potato mixture. They are the usual appetizers that make their presence at the Nizami Hyderabadi meals, and also enjoyed throughout India and also all over the world by everyone. Samosas are also very famous in Toronto and loved by people here.

Samosas – ready to be eaten

This classic Indian snack food appears in different avatars and types within the Hyderabad city, and also all over India with minor regional variations, some differing in the fillings used, others varying in shapes. For example Luqmi, a rectangular qimah-minced meat stuffed appetizer commonly eaten in Hyderabad, is a royal cousin of samosa. Other regional variants of samosas include the sambusak, samusak or shingara etc.

Today I had prepared some aloo samosas~potato stuffed pastries that are just as good as the Qimah Samosas – minced meat stuffed samosas. You can even bake them if you wish, bit I like to deep fry and prepare them the way they were supposed to be made. The crisp outer texture of samosa is what I love the most.

Aloo kay Samosay – Potato Stuffed Triangular Pastries

Ingredients:

Canola Oil to deep fry
For Filling:
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fresh Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely grated
Potatoes – 4, peeled and chopped
Carrot – peeled and chopped, 1 cup
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 3/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/4 tsp
Kasuri methi – 3 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Frozen green peas – 1/2 cup (or) Dried green peas – 1/2 cup, soak them in surplus water overnight and pressure cook until soft the next day, drain and keep aside to use
Lemon juice – 4 tbsp
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – 2 tbsb, finely chopped
For Covering:
All-purpose flour/Maida – 1 cup
Whole wheat flour/Durum flour – 1 cup
Carom seeds/Ajwain – 1 tsp
Nigella seeds/Kalonji – 1/2 tsp
Canola Oil or Ghee – 2 tbsp
Water
Salt to taste

Method:

1. In a saucepan, heat oil and as soon as it warms up add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and ginger and let them splutter. In a few seconds add the chopped potatoes and carrots. Add water to cover the vegetables and add red chilli powder, salt, cumin seed powder, kasuri methi and cover with a lid. As soon as the potatoes are done, uncover and add the frozen peas or cooked dried peas, garam masala, chopped cilantro and lemon juice. Cook while stirring until the mixture is dry. Keep aside.

2. Now prepare the dough. Add maida, ajwain, kalonji and salt in a mixing bowl and mix. Add canola oil or ghee and mix well using fingers. Gradually add water and knead to form a smooth and pliable dough. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until elastic. Cover with a towel and keep aside for 30 minutes for the dough to rest. Later shape the dough into 8 balls and cover them with a towel.
3. One by one roll the balls into thin ovals. Using a pizza cutter or a knife cut each oval in the center into two halves, thus a total of 16 half-ovals will be produced. Cover the rest with a towel while filling others. Take a half-oval and brush half of each straight edge using your fingertip with water. Fold the second half of the straight edge over the fist half to form into a cone. Pinch close the seam. Hold the cone with the open end up and fill the cone with some of the filling. Cut off any excess dough and use it later. Brush one side of the open end with water. Pinch to seal the top edges enclosing the filling. Prepare all the samosas the same way and keep them covered under a towel.
4. Once all are ready, heat oil in a deep saucepan or kadai. To test if the oil is ready to be used, drop a pinch of dough into the hot oil, the dough should come up within a few seconds. Deep fry the samosas a few at a time until golden. Using a slotted spoon remove them into a strainer. Serve warm along with tamarind chutney or ketchup. Once cool, they can even be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheated in the oven.

To Bake the Samosa:
After step 4, place the samosas in a greased or non-stick baking tray. Bake in a pre-heated 220° C oven for 20 minutes or until light brown in color. Serve immediately

Note:
1.If you are finding it difficult to enlcose the filling in the dough this way, please head over to Qimah Samosa-Minced meat stuffed samosa where I have explained an easier way to assemble samosas.
2. If there is any left over dough and the filling has been used up, you can make namakpaare out them.
3. If there is any left over filling and the dough has been used up, use the filling to make vegetable curry puffs.

This month Sailaja is on a chaat spree and she is dishing out varieties of chaat items on her blog. Head over her blog to go though them all.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo Qimah Matar ke Cutlets

Aloo ke Cutlets/Potato croquettes is a popular snack food in India, usually enjoyed as chaat. Whenever I have time on hand, what I do is, prepare these in bulk and freeze or refrigerate them to store for future use. Everyone at home enjoys them as a side-snack to meals, and I have a quick snack on hand.

Aloo Qimah Matar ke Cutlets – Potato croquettes
Makes: 14-15 cutlets

Ingredients:

White Potatoes – 6 or 7
Black pepper powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Cooked peas (fresh or frozen)(thawed if frozen) – 3/4 cup

For Qimah:

Canola oil – 2 tsp
Minced Veal meat – 250 gms
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp

Aloo Qimah Matar ke Cutlets – Potato croquettes

Method:

1. Wash and drain the qimah. In a large sauté pan at medium high heat, pour in oil and as soon as it warms up, add the drained qimah and all the remaining ingredients for qimah and mix well. Let it cook stirring frequently until the qimah is completely cooked and well browned and all the moisture has been dried up. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool.
2. Wash and drain the potatoes. In a pressure cooker, add the potatoes and pressure cook for a few minutes until the potatoes are soft. make sure that you do not pressure cook for long such that the potatoes burst open. Open the cooker and drain the potatoes in a colander. Once they are warmish to touch, hold the warm potatoes using a kitchen towel in one hand, and peel them using the other hand. Place the peeled potatoes in a mixing bowl. Mash them well. Add the prepared cooled qimah, the cooked peas, black pepper powder and salt. Mix well.

potato+peas+qimah cutlets

cutlets stacked in a food storage box to be refrigerated

3. Shape the prepare potato mixture into patties as shown in the picture. Grease your hand with a little oil to aid in the process. Once the potato mixture is complete and the patties are ready, stack them as shown in the picture in a food storage box, in layers and sheets of aluminium foil separating them (store them this way if you plan to finish them all within one week). To eat, shallow fry a few of the patties in just a few drops of oil in a frying pan on both sides until light brown. Serve warm.

Tip: You can also prepare larger patty shaped potato cutlet and enjoy these shallow fried cutlets sandwiched between burger buns for a quick breakfast.

Tip: If you plan on storing these cutlets for a longer time, arrange the shallow-fried cooked cutlets and freeze them individually for 3 hours. Later, stack them all up in a food storage box and store the frozen cutlets for future use. To use, microwave them for a few minutes before you serve.

Luv,
Mona

Simple Pleasures

Baghara Khana (or Baghara Chawal), is an another simple and nourishing dish that reminds me of that happier era, when I was a kid. Food that reminds me of my childhood and my hometown definitely makes me immensely nostalgic every time.

Baghara Khana along with Aloo Gobi Matar ~ was my yesterday’s lunch

Fragrant long grained basmati rice is cooked along with caramelized onion and exotic whole spices that give a delicate flavor and a wonderful aroma that will fill your house, and welcome your loved ones with open arms and a sense of home where warmth and comfort abounds. Always serve Baghara khana warm, along with the accompaniments of your choice.

To prepare Baghara Khana, use rice and water in the ratio of 1:2, i.e., for 1 cup rice, use two cups of water. Save a little amount of the water to add later on after the rice is about 3/4th cooked as described below.

Baghara Chawal/Khana
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Long grained White Basmati Rice – 1 cup (I prefer the brands ‘Daawat’ or ‘India Gate’ or ‘Lal Qila’)
Canola Oil – 1 tsp
Ghee – 2 tsp
Onion – 1, small, finely sliced
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Fresh Cilantro/Kothmir – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Fresh Mint/Pudina – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Green cardamom/Elaichi – 2
Cinnamon/Dalchini – 2 inch stick
Dry bay leaf – 1, medium sized
Caraway seeds/Shahzeera – 1/2 tsp
Water – 2 cups
Salt – 1 tsp

Method:

1. Wash the rice in two changes of water and soak it in surplus cool water for 30 minutes.
2. In a saucepan at medium high heat, pour oil and ghee and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and stir fry until the onion is nicely browned up. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry it along for a minute. Add the chopped herbs, green cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and caraway seeds. Fry them for a minute more. Add 1 2/3 cup of water and salt. Cover with a lid and increase the heat to high. Let it come to a boil.
3. Meanwhile drain the soaked rice and keep ready.
4. Add the drained rice to the boiling water in saucepan and mix well. Let it come to a boil once. Lower the heat to simmer and cover with a lid. After 3 minutes using a spoon, mix the rice well, lower the heat to minimum and and cover it back again and let cook for a furthur 3 minutes. Open the lid, pour in the remaining 1/3 cup water and gently mix well. Cover and let cook until the rice is tender. Close the heat and leave the saucepan on the hot stove for about 15 more minutes to finish cooking on Dum. Serve warm.

My house smells like a potpourri every time after I prepare Baghare Chawal due to all those aromatic spices.

Note: You can also add chopped green chillies and a few whole cloves along with the other spices while frying the onions. I do not prefer to add them. Also for a special touch, garnish the cooked rice while serving with a few toasted whole cashew nuts.

Suggested Accompaniments: Baghara khana is enjoyed along with Dalcha or Baghare baingan or Mirchi ka Salan or Sem ki phalli gosht or Qimah or Qorma for a delicious Hyderabadi meal.

***

This Summer, I had planted a few tomato seeds (first time with tomatoes) and voila, I had plenty of fresh tomatoes from my lil tomato garden in the backyard. Here are a few snaps:

Tomato Variety: Moneymaker

tomato budss under the warm early spring sunshine

tiny tomatoes and blooms in early summer

after a shower
I love the fuzzy stems and the unique strong scent of tomato foliage

on a warm sunny evening

ripening on the vine

For the curry below I had used the garden ripe tomatoes from my plants. With the commenced autumn chill in the air, I do not think the plants will live much longer. To freeze tomatoes, just cut out the tough part of the core, put the whole tomatoes on a baking sheet and into the freezer. After they’ve frozen, transfer them to a plastic zipper bag and put them back into the freezer. When you want to use them, you can easily peel them if you allow them to thaw until they’re just barely soft on the outside. Then just rub off the skins. Or you can run warm tap water over them and peel them immediately. Use them in recipes for any cooked dish. Inshallah the next season, I plan/wish to grow the heirloom ribbed or beefsteak tomatoes and even more veggies. Have a look at the beautiful heirloom tomatoes here, I am sure even you all will be smitten by their beauty. Need to stock up the seeds soon for the gardening season.
For those of you interested, this book has loads of information on heirloom tomatoes and how to plant them.

Aloo Gobi Matar – Potato Cauliflower and Peas in one pot

Ingredients:

Canola Oil – 1 1/2 tbsp
Onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fresh Curry leaves – 6
Dry red chillies – 3, each broken into two
Salt – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Cauliflower – 1 medium head, cut into florets, washed and drained
White Potatoes – 3, peeled and cut into quarters
Tomatoes – 2, medium sized, chopped
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Frozen organic peas/Matar – 3/4 cup
Fresh Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped

Aloo Gobi Matar along with toasted Afghani Roti, and home-made Lemon pickle ~ todays lunch

Method:

Heat oil in a wide saucepan at medium high heat and as soon as it is warm, pour in oil. Add the sliced onion and stir fry until the onion are just lightly browned. Add the baghaar ingredients~cumin seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Also add salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Add the cauliflower florets and potato quarters and mix well. Spread the vegetables so that they are in a single layer in the pan. Sear the vegetables for about two minutes. Keep stirring them occasionally. Add the chopped tomatoes, half cup of warm water and red chilli powder. Mix well and cover the lid. Let cook until the vegetables are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid. Keep stirring occasionally. Add the frozen peas and cover the lid for 2 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

‘Aloo Gobi Matar – Potato, Cauliflower and Peas’ in one pot goes to Andera’s Grow Your Own event.

Luv,
Mona