Saturday, April 25, 2009

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Ÿ As the name suggests this is a biryani made for people who love eating vegetarian food.The term dum defines a particular style of cooking a covered dish on low heat for a long duration.It is said that during the early eighteenth century, continuous onslaught of famines and draughts left the people starving for food and then the royals of Avadh threw open their royal kitchens for the starving common man.A variety of grains, meats and vegetables were cooked together in huge earthen cauldrons or pots along with a number of spices, after being sealed with flour dough over a slow fire.This gained so much popularity that it went on to evolve into a complete new style of cuisine known as the Avadhi cuisine.In fact this cuisine’s secrets and techniques were inherited by chefs from their ancestors and you are lucky if your local restaurant boasts of a chef who acquired the trade secrets from his great great grandfather who served the Avadhi Royals.After trying this biryani if you do like this dum style of cooking then locate a restaurant serving Avadhi cuisine near you.This blog will feature lot of dum style dishes in the future.

Ÿ Ingredients:
200 gms frozen mixed vegetables or 2 cups mixed veg like carrots,beans peas
400 gms basmati rice
2 Boiled potatoes (quartered)
2 tomatoes quartered
5 tbs ginger garlic paste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbs coriander powder
200 gms yoghurt
½ cup oil
A few strands of saffron soaked in warm milk
A Handful of mint and coriander leaves
3 onions finely sliced
Salt as required
Whole spices:
3-4 pods of green & black cardamom,
3 cloves
1 inch piece of cinnamon
1 tsp caraway seeds(shahi zeera)
2 green chillies slit lengthwise

Method: Heat half of the oil from the above mentioned quantity and then add the finely sliced onions and green chillies when they turn golden brown add the ginger garlic paste, saute for a minute, add the vegetables and keep stirring till the vegetables are well coated with the rest of the ingredients.Now add the yoghurt,coriander powder and garam masala.Add 1 cup water lower the flame and let it cook for sometime and turn off the flame.Now take another sauce pan add enough water to cover the rice in 1:4 ratio(you guessed it right- the water is of higher ratio)add the whole spices and keep it for boiling, when it is bubbling, add the rice that has been washed and soaked for 15 minutes. Now add salt and when the rice is three -fourth done drain in a collander.Take the pan in which you have cooked the vegetables add some of the mint and coriander leaves, the boiled potatoes, and tomatoes now place the rice over the vegetables,add the remaining mint and coriander leaves,drizzle with lemon juice and saffron-milk.Add the remaining oil on top, cover with foil or you can knead some flour dough into a pizza like disc to cover the pan and seal the edges then cover with a lid and let it cook for 15 minutes on a low flame till done.Serve with yoghurt raita.

To make raita:1 cup yoghurt; one finely sliced red onion;one tomato finely chopped;1 green chilly deseeded and finely sliced;3-4 mint leaves chopped finely; a pinch of crushed black pepper,and salt as required.Beat yoghurt with a spoon or fork add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.Add a few drops of lemon juice and some chopped cucumber for that extra zing.To make it visually appealing you can serve the raita in a halved tomato which has been kept in a freezer for a few minutes to firm it up after scooping out the pulp.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hyderabadi,Kachchi Goshth(lamb)Biryani

Biryanis have originated in Persia but they got perfected in India,with the addition of an array of spices locally available.There are a variety of biryanis but the Hyderabadi kachchi biryani beats them all.However, if you happen to be in this city of pearls don't ever leave without sampling some in Persis or restaurants in the old city full of the old world charm.If you like making one remember that making biryani is like peeling the different layers of an onion each layer revealing a new facet.All you have to do is listen, feel and smell and in doing so understand what the ingredients are trying to tell you.You will never get it right with the first attempt, you have to keep on learning from each of your attempts, till you reach to your idea of that perfect one you tasted, unless, you are a genius or simply lucky.


1 kg shoulder or leg portion of lamb cut into 3''-4 ''inch pieces
750 gms of high quality basmati rice( IndiaGate)
5-6 onions finely sliced
5-6 tbs of ginger - garlic paste
1 tbs garam masala
3 green chillies slit
2 cups yoghurt
3 -4 cloves
1 inch cinnamon
3-4 pods of green cardamom
3-4 pods of black cardamom
1 tbs of shah zeera/ caraway seeds
a bunch of mint and coriander leaves
a tsp each of rose water and kewra(screw pine)water(optional)
a slice of green papaya(unripe)/tenderizer(only if using lamb)
2 tbs dhanya powder
juice of 1-2 large lemons
1/2 cup milk
a pinch of saffron
salt as required
1 -2 cups Oil for deep frying
3 tbs oil or ghee for assembling biryani

Make sure you buy the best quality tender lamb. On a lighter note you need to invest sometime with your butcher.Marinate the lamb overnight after cleaning and trimming the fat(most people prefer to leave it in as it adds to the taste)with the blended paste of half the mint,coriander leaves, two chillies and papaya slice, then add the ginger-garlic paste,coriander powder, garam masala and yoghurt and mix well to infuse the flavors, don't forget to add the salt and taste the marinade, it should be slightly salty.Keep the marinated lamb in the refrigerator and take it out only an hour before assembling the biryani.Heat oil and deep fry the onion slices till golden brown remove onto a plate lined with absorbent tissue.

Wash and soak basmati rice for half an hour and drain the water.In the meantime boil water in a pan with the whole spices(cinnamon cloves, cardamoms), caraway seeds,one green chilli deseeded,some basil and rose mary if you don't have the rose water or kewra water,some mint and coriander leaves and some salt.While its boiling hot add the rice and remember the water should be double or triple the portion of rice.Now comes the real test draining the rice at that perfect time, don't worry it will come with experience.The rice should be two thirds cooked, now drain the rice in a collander and reserve one and half cups of the drained water to add to the mutton.

Take a thick bottomed pan in which to assemble the biryani.Arrange the marinated lamb pieces along with the marinade in the pan.Now crush the fried onions(birishtha) with your hand( reserving a tbs) and add to the lamb, mix well, add half the oil left over from frying the onions it should be no more than a cup.Add a cup of the drained water,arrange the rice in one layer over the meat.Now sprinkle some mint and coriander leaves, (some kewra and rose water which is optional)lemon juice, and saffron soaked in warm milk in a circular motion above the rice.Dot the rice with the 3 tbs of ghee or oil,the remaining half cup of water(obtained from draining the rice) and finally sprinkle the reserved deep fried crushed onions.Cover with aluminium foil and then place a tight lid or alternatively you can make a dough with wheat flour and seal the lid edge with the dough.Place the pan on high heat for five minutes and then cook on a very low flame for 45 minutes.The biryani is ready now and you can serve with a raita of your choice.

The second picture is that of the biryani cooking in the pan.You can make the same with chicken but reduce the cooking time to 20 mins.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hara Murgh (chicken cooked in a green gravy)

As the name suggests succulent pieces of chicken are cooked in a gravy of bell pepper,green coriander and mint with a hint of yoghurt and cream.The outcome is amazing and nutritious.To make this dish low calorie add skimmed yoghurt and omit the cream if you wish.Also, as all the dishes on this blog are sufficient to serve four people,the three or four tbs of oil as the usual count does not add too many calories, while making it for one person you can reduce the oil further to lessen the calories.Make sure your portions of carbs like rice or bread are in control.

500gms chickenbreasts cut into pieces
1 cup yoghurt
a cup of green coriander leaves
a cup of mint leaves
2 green bell peppers
4 onions chopped finely
3 -4 tbs oil
2-3 tbs fresh cream
2 green chillies
2 tbs tomato paste or puree
2 inch piece fresh ginger
5 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbs coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt as required
1/2 cup water

Procedure: Clean and wash chicken pieces.Blend ginger, garlic,green chillies, coriander, mint, yoghurt, bell pepper,into a smooth paste.Marinate the chicken pieces with this paste and refrigerate for an hour.Heat oil in a pan, saute the onions till they turn golden brown,add the turmeric, chilli powder,coriander, salt and tomato paste, saute for a few minutes.Now add the marinated chicken pieces with the marinade.Lower the flame,add the garam masala and let it cook for sometime with a lid.You can add the half cup water now and simmer further till the chicken is cooked and the oil separates, and the gravy thickens.Add the cream, simmer for an extra minute and turn off the flame.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Hurrah for April, no I'm not talking about April fools day.I am simply welcoming April.The summer is round the corner in India and boy, I miss India especially since its still windy and chilly in my part of the world.What do I remember ...crisp cotton sarees, beads of sweat on the brows,the koel(cuckoo)lilting into sweet melodies atop the mango trees as if singing a lullaby for the fruit to ripen and grow sweeter, the crows clamouring for attention, screeching parrots.The heat and the sugarcane juice,lassi,buttermilk,the beach in my city and of course the heady scent of jasmine strung on threads.Powercuts and chitchats on terraces and not to forget the election sensibly fellow citizens.I miss you my darling India and above all my city..Vizag .I hope to blog some lovely recipes featuring mangoes, summer drinks and not to mention some sweet indulgences.Bon appetit! and keep visiting my blog, also, send me your emails and keep up your comments.