Thursday, December 17, 2009

No Fuss Biryani

I have yet to meet someone who dislikes biryani .It is by far the most famous and  loved one pot wonder of layered meat,spices and rice.I usually hesitate making biryani because to me its seems too big of a project that needs patience , time and off course expertise. Me being Hyderabadi from maternal side , have no idea to make biryani that takes less then 2 days from start to finish ( this includes marinating the meat a day ahead and the next day cooking qourma , boiling rice , layering , garnishing  and finally giving the dum ). I will confess though that all this hard work seems to pay off the moment I open the dum and the house fills with the insanely delicious aroma of  biryani … not to mention the praising and applaud from the loved ones and the satisfaction that comes along the task being well done makes it worth all the efforts.
Last Friday , my friends gathered to have a one dish party and decided to make biryani . I was kind of wondering how on earth we can make biryani in one day from scratch . We all got together as planned and started making biryani. It took us almost 3 hours from start to finish and to my surprise the end result was a yumlicious biryani, though not the usual taste of a hyderabadi biryani but honestly it tasted really wicked with salad , raita , ice cold Pepsi ..and the company of good friends.
I am posting the recipe here rightly naming it no fuss biryani :)


What you need :

For the rice :
  • Rice : One Kg ( washed and soaked for an hour )
  • oil : 2 Tb spoon
  • Salt : 3 Tb spoon ( up to taste )
  • Whole Garam Masala: 1 Tb spoon
  • Vinegar : 1 Tb spoon
For the meat Qourma ( gravy ):
  • Chicken : 2 kg
  • Onions : 5 Medium ( chopped finely)
  • Tomatoes : 5 medium ( chopped Finely)
  • Green chili : 3 –5 ( chopped finely )
  • GG paste : 1 Tb spoon
  • National Biryani Masala : 1 packet
  • salt : 1 tspoon  ( up to taste)
  • Red chili powder : 1 tspoon ( up to your tolerance level)
  • Coriander Powder : 1 tspoon
  • oil : 1 cup


How to do it :

For the rice :
  1. Boil rice with all the ingredients till three fourth done. Drain and keep aside. ( pic -  6 )
For the qourma :
  1. Wash chicken , keep in strainer to let the water drip. ( pic - 1 )
  2. Heat oil .. add in onions and green chilies and fry till onions are light brown. ( pic - 2 )
  3. Add in the GG paste. cook for a minute.
  4. Throw in the chicken and cook till its no longer raw and turns white. ( pic - 3 )
  5. Add in all the masalas ( National biryani masala , salt ,chili and coriander powder).Cook for almost 5 – 10 minutes . ( pic - 4 )
  6. Toss in  chopped tomatoes and continue cooking till all the water dries up and you end up with thoroughly cooked chicken and a clingy gravy. ( pic – 5 )
  7. Layer half of the rice at the bottom of the pan , sprinkle in the food colour ( pic - 7 )
  8. Spoon in  all the chicken gravy and spread out evenly . ( pic - 8 )
  9. Finish off with another layer of rice .. topping with food colour and remaining masala if any . ( pic - 9 )
  10. Put the lid tightly and put on dum on the stove for about 30 – 35 minutes.
  11. Gently mix in the rice and meat .. serve with salad and raita.
Notes :
  • Adding vinegar while boiling rice will result in more whiter rice.
  • Adding oil prevents the rice from sticking together .
  • Since its a no fuss biryani , we didn’t bother about the garnish much , but for more aromatic biryani add fried onions, green coriander and mint in between the layers and in the end along with the food colour.
  • Follow the same recipe for mutton biryani but keep in mind that the gravy will take longer to cook .

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Light Masala Okra

Bright green okra, pronounced OH-kruh, also known as Lady’s finger is a slender, ridged and tapered pod.It comes in varying shades of green, (there is also a new red variety).
Okra is a good source of dietary fiber, and is fat-free.It also provides a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A and B plus contains magnesium, potassium and calcium.  Okra is slimy ,slippery and sticky - it is supposed to be that way. okra fans  like me especially love this vegetable's slippery culinary personality.
Here is one of the countless tasty ways of  preparing okra which is a favourite in my home.

okra -1

What you need:
  • Okra : 500 gms
  • Onion : 2 small or 1 big ( finely chopped )
  • Tomato: 1 ( big  - finely chopped)
  • Green chili : 5 ( the big sweet ones – cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • GG paste : 1 tablespoon
  • Salt : 1/2 tea spoon ( or up to taste)
  • Red chili : 1/2 tea spoon ( or up to taste)
  • Turmeric ( haldi ): 3/4 teaspoon
  • Oil : 1/2 cup
How to do it :
  1. Wash and cut okra into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a pan .Add in chopped onions and cook till they are light golden brown .
  3. Add GG paste, salt , chili and turmeric.
  4. Stir for a minute and then add in the chopped tomato.cook till tomato gets soft and oil starts to ooze out.
  5. Now add okra and green chili , stir for a minute … cover the pan , lower the flame and cook on gentle heat till okra is no longer raw (for about 20 minutes or so ..depends on your pan and stove so keep checking in between because over cooked okra does not look or taste good  )
  6. Light Masala Okra is ready … Serve with Lightly buttered roti,naan or paratha.
Notes :
  • Most people do not eat okra because of its sliminess .. To address that I cut okra into desired pieces and keep it in the fridge (covered by cling film) 24 hours before cooking.Doing so greatly reduces the sliminess of okra.
  • If you can not find long green chilies … then use 2 –3 capsicums instead.
  • Okra is usually available year round with a peak season during the summer months but it can be kept frozen for up to 12 months.I do my grocery shopping every fortnight .. and sometimes cut Okra into medium size pieces and freeze it in zip – lock bag to use later ( if I am not planning to use it right away).To use I defrost Okra on counter top for about two hours.Freezing okra also reduces the sliminess . 

okra -1
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Aloo Kay Parathay

I live in Bahrain which is a small island in Arabian gulf , famous for its almost killing summer and scorching heat among other things . Rain is something that people of Bahrain are not so lucky to have.Last year went dry without a single drop of rain , but this year we are fortunate enough to have this blessing . The whole past week weather was pleasantly cold with occasional drizzling ... the pitter patter of  rain drops and the cold breeze was enough excuse for the heat struck people to come out and celebrate this lovely weather.
Instead of going out One of my friend arranged a get together at her place to enjoy the weather the desi style by making Aloo kay parathay,watching movies and listening music. when friends are together , nothing matters more than their company , but what makes this even more fun and exciting is to cook something together from scratch and then have it when everybody is dead tired .. The aloo kay parathay i am posting  today are the result of the combined efforts of  my friend Jamila , Arooj and off course yours truly .we had a lot of fun making these ( and eating too :)  ..
Here is a suggestion for all of you guys …. call your friends , and try cooking something together. I am more than hopeful that you will also enjoy  as much as we did.. 

What you will need :
  • Dough  : 500 gms ( take equal amounts of all purpose flour and regular chapatti dough.Mix in half teaspoon of salt and enough water till it resembles like crumbs. knead this to get a smooth dough ball )
  • Potato Stuffing : 1 kg ( boil potatoes , peel and mash . Mix in the spices (salt,red chili ,coriander powder )  , 1/2 cup finely chopped onions , 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander , 1 tsp finely chopped green chilies , juice of one lemon ) 
  • oil : 1 cup ( for frying )                         

step by step parathas

How you will do it :
  1. Make tennis size balls out of the dough . ( pic –2 )
  2. Roll out two small dough balls to about 3" diameter Chapatti. ( pic – 3 )
  3. Evenly spread about 2  - 3 Tablespoons of filling on one chapatti  leaving about ¼" space around the outer edge.( pic – 4 )
  4. Put the first Chapatti on top of the filling.  Press the center to let air out. Then press the left out areas to seal the filling.
  5. With a rolling pin roll out Paratha to about 6" to 7" diameter. This helps the filling to actually stick to the dough.( pic –5 )
  6. Heat the griddle (Tawa).
  7. Cook the rolled out Paratha over griddle for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Lift the corner of the Paratha with Turner ( chimta ). The underside should have a few brown spots.( pic – 6 )
  8. Turn it over and cook another 45 seconds to 1 minute. Baste the top (cooked surface) with oil . ( pic – 7 )
  9. Turn it over, cook the basted surface another 45 seconds to 1 minute. Baste the top (cooked surface) with oil . 
  10. Repeat the same process with the rest of the dough balls.
  11. Aloo kay parathas are ready ( pic – 8 ) . Serve with dips of your choice and enjoy .
Notes :
  • Heating tawa is very important for making good parathas.If it is under heated , the dough will stick to it and in case of over heated tawa the dough will burnt without being cooked thoroughly .To avoid this I usually put a test bread on the Tawa. If the bread sticks to griddle, you need to increase heat. If the bread gets brown spots too quick, it is too hot. It should develop brown spots on the underside in about 30 - 40 seconds.
  • You can use any stuffing you like ( minced meat , vegetables , daal or even leftover curries ).
  • A glass of cold drink or lassi will make the parathas more tastier.

Alloy Kay parathay
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gajar Ka Halwa

Come winter and the one thing that pops in mind is off course nothing else than the carrot halwa, one of the few desserts loved by all.Though gajar halwa is a winter favourite but i like to make it throughout the year ,served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream in summer and with a dollop of cream in the winter .I personally think that a sumptuous meal is always incomplete without desserts like kulfi,kheer and gajer halwa.My mother makes heavenly gajer ka halwa and i am sharing her recipe here .

What you will need :
  1. Carrots : 2 kg ( peel and cut top and bottoms off )
  2. Evaporated milk ( Rainbow ) : 2 cans
  3. Sugar : 3 cups ( or up to taste)
  4. Milk powder : 6 cups
  5. unsweetened khoya : 1 cup
  6. oil : 2 cups 
  7. kewra Essence : 2 drops ( omit if you don't like the smell)
  8. pistachio and almonds :  5 tbsp each ( chopped )
How to :
  • Grate the peeled carrots.Put the grated carrots and evaporated milk in a nonstick pan and let cook on gentle heat till the milk evaporates and the carrots become soft and mushy.
  • Add in the sugar, milk powder , kewra essence and oil and cook stirring constantly till the oil oozes out and the halwa starts to leave the side of the pan and no longer sticky.
  • Now add the unsweetened khoya chunks and mix gently .
  • Let the halwa cook on a very slow flame for about 10 minutes.
  • Mix in the chopped nuts .
  • Serve warm or cold.
Notes :
  1. For the smoothest and melt in the mouth halwa , the secret is continuous stirring.
  2. The halwa is best eaten fresh but because of high sugar and fat it freezes well too. You can freeze it up to a month . when needed defrost for an hour on counter top and then heat thoroughly in microwave before serving.
  3. You can omit unsweetened khoya if you don’t have it , but it gives a nice grainy or crunchy taste against the smoothness of the halwa.
  4. Use bright red Pakistani carrots that gives the halwa its unique jeweled colour.

Gajer Hlaw
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