Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani in less than half an hour

I suddenly had this enormous craving for Biriyani today considering I am not much of a Biriyani enthusiast. I suddenly wanted to eat this nice Biriyani that they serve in four seasons with good raitha.

The hankering increased after I finally got out of my bed today for a meager 4KM run. I decided to treat myself and set on to read recipes on how to make this thing.

It actually turned out to be quite easy. You can be done with it in ten steps. It is a good thing to experiment on a holiday :)

1. If you are in India, you can get this mixture of cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon, Star anise, Black Cumin in a packet for like 10 Rs in the small shop next to your house. If you don't, get them separately. This Start anise and black cumin are optional. The cloves will take over the aroma business anyway.

2. Take 1 measuring cup worth Basmati rice. Add 1 cup water and put it in the electric cooker. Add 2  cloves and 1 cardomom to this. Add a tiny pinch of turmeric to rice. Let this cook

3. Chop 1 capsicum, 1 carrot, 2 small potatoes/1 large potato, 4-5 beans,1 green chilly. If you have green peas, add a handful. Put them in a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle water generously and set it on high for 5 minutes.

4. You need to chop one big onion. Cut in to two halves. Use one half for the raitha(side dish from yogurt) and the other one for the Biriyani. Cut length wise.

5. Now add a teaspoon of oil in a big pan and fry the length wise cut onions until they turn golden-dark brown. Add cashews if you can find any. Once done, put the mixture in a bowl and keep aside.

6. In the same pan, add  two table spoon oil. Add 2 cloves, 2 cardamom, 1 bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, a pinch of black cumin, 1 Tb spoon ginger garlic paste, 1/2 tsp black pepper powder, 1/2 tsp red chilly powder, 1 pinch of turmeric, 1/4 tsp garam masala powder. I added a small piece of jaggery for taste.  Fry well.

7. Take the steamed vegetables and add it to this mixture and fry well. Add salt. Fry until the vegetables are coated with the masala. After 4-5 minutes, transfer this to a bowl.

8.Now take the cooked rice spread a layer on the pan. Add a layer of vegetables and then a layer of fried onions. Repeat this one more time. Grate half a carrot using a cheese grater. This is a personal quirk, because I love the look of grated carrot on anything.

9. Put some fresh coriander (and/or mint leaves) on top.

10. Sprinkle a little bit of water on this set up , close the pan, set the flame to the lowest and let it cook for 10 minutes. The flame should be as low as possible. I kept the pan on a flat pan filled with water so that I don't heat the rice directly. This is the "Dum" part of the "Dum" biriyani.

After 8-9 minutes. (Do make sure it doesn't get burnt in between) , add a spoon of ghee or butter on top.

Put some chopped onions in curd (yogurt). Add salt and green chilly. Mix well and serve as a side dish for the Biriyani.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pavakkai Kari

Paavakkai (Bitter Gourd) is one of the few vegetables I don't like. I used to like the small, deep fried  bitter gourds. I would carefully peel off the skin and eat them. However, my friend in grad school loves 'em, makes 'em almost every day and raves about 'em incessantly. This kicked off my, now popular, crave-O-neurons and I must say I have perfected in making this while hiding the strong odour and taste typical of Bitter Gourd.

Things Needed

  • Microwave
  • Microwavable Bowl
  • Bitter Gourd - 1
  • Tamarind - 2 Tbsp
  • Jaggery - One medium chunk powdered (3 Tbsp)
  • Asafoetida- Generous Pinch
  • Red Chilly powder- 1 Tsp
  • Sambar Powder- 1 Tsp
  • Red Chillies - 3
  • Oil - 1 Tsp
  • Mustard Seeds, Urad dal - 1 Tsp each

Ze Microwaving part

  • Cut Bitter Gourd first into rings and then into small pieces. Remove the seeds while in the ring form
  • Put the tamrind paste, the cut pieces of the vegetable, 2 TbSp of Jaggery, 1 Tsp Chilly powder,1 Tsp Sambar Powder & half a cup of water in a Micowavable Bowl and Microwave it for 5-8 mins in high

On stove 

  • In a pan (I always prefer non-stick), heat oil and add Mustard seeds, Urad dal and broken red chillies. Wait for the quintessential splutter
  • Put the steamed vegetable into this along with the gooey sludge, now containing all good things in the world, from the bowl to the pan
  • Add one more tsp of Sambar powder, 1 Tbsp of jaggery and some more Asafoetida into this
  • Mix it all up
  • Wait for the sludge to become thicker and thicker until there is less of the sludge and more of the vegetable. The sludge forms a layer around the vegetable and hardens when it is settles down
  • Eat!

Side Notes

  • You can mix it with rice or eat it as a side dish
  • You can also pressure cook instead of microwaving

Actual Picture

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bisibela Bathish Kichidi

I always scavenge the fridge on Saturday afternoons after I take a nap and always find only a single piece of carrot or lady's finger. Considering our steady stock of potatoes and onions at home, this kichidi has become my standard weekend food. Over the time, I have perfected  this make-believe Bisibela bath which is any day better and cheaper than the ready to serve type MTR ones. I prefer to use the healthier dalia or brown rice  than the usual rice for this  recipe, as the rice gets mashed anyway and any discernible difference in the rice gets lost.

Things you need (for one hungry person)

The Vegetables

2 small potatoes or 1 big potato with skin peeled off and cut into manageable pieces
1 onion- chopped to manageable pieces
Green Chilly

1 or 1/2 carrot
1 tomato (if you can find one)
 Basically any vegetable that you might have encountered in a Sambar historically (radish, drumstick, beans et al)

The Other stuff

1/3 cup toor dal (Sambar dal)
1/3 cup moong dal (Pasiparuppu)
1/3 rice or 1/3 dalia(broken wheat)
Some Jeera
Sambar powder
Pressure cooker

How to go about this?
  • Add toor dal, moong dal and rice (or the substitute) in a vessel. Wash thoroughly
  • Add half spoon of ghee in to the pressure cooker. Wait for it to melt and add jeera. Wait for the jeera to get slightly brown. Half spoon of ghee will not make you fat and is actually good for health. However, if you abhor ghee, you can use oil- half spoon should be fine
  • Put onion pieces into this and fry for a li'l bit. You don't have to add more oil. If you have tomatoes it would be the right point to squeeze/grate them on to this mixture
  •  Now add the dal rice mixture in the cooker along with the onions
  •  Add the potatoes and the other vegetables.If you have carrot you can grate it so that it comes up nicely when we open the cooker later. However, if you don't care for niceties, just cut the damn carrot and put it as you like
  •  Add 5-6 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice-dal mixture. This is to make sure the kichidi is kichidi like
  •  Add 1 tbsp Sambar powder, salt 
  •  Close pressure cooker and cook for at least 10 whistles. Since each cooker seems to be unique in terms of the velocity of getting stuff cooked, the rule of the thumb is you need 3 times more whistles than it takes to cook rice normally
  • Wait for 10 mins or until the pressure cooker is ready to open
  • Kichidi should be ready. Just mash around the cooker with a ladle. If it is watery, you can put the opened cooker back on stove and stir about for 2-3 mins
  • Eat!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Of Poricha Kozhambu and Puliyitta Keerai

A short Google search tells me a completely different recipe, but what I made has been made at my home ever since I was born. It may also be one of my mother's inventions which she might have named after a slightly complicated dish. But it tastes so yummy and is so nutritious that I have always loved it. My grandmother makes it with yam. Since I am not a great fan of yam I substituted it with potatoes.

It all started with my Shivratri holidays. I have been kicking quite a lot of dust on how I am not able to go anywhere being stuck in this God damn city with no one around. It took a while and some quick decision making in going back to college for quest in March to get me out of the blues. As a part of salvaging this weekend, I decided to make this wonderful dish made out of predominantly Indian vegetables.

The broth

Grated Coconut - Half a cup
Red Chillies- 4 (less for people who don't like too much spice)
Pepper - Half a tea spoon ( I am always wary of adding too much pepper as I tend to hiccup quite a lot even with a tad too much pepper)

Grind the above into a nice paste and keep aside.

The Keerai

Buy Spinach (Thandu Keerai) and cut the lower part off. Pick the leaves from the upper part and keep the stems from the upper part aside. Clean the leaves and the stem separately and throughly. Soak them in water for about 10 mins just to be sure you get all the filth out. Once done, keep the stems aside and boil the leaves with half a cut of water until they get steamed along with a lemon sized ball of tamarind. Boil until the raw smell goes off . Use blender to mash the boiled spinach or just put it in the mixie for about half a minute. The trick is not to make it in to a paste. It should be mashed but you should be able to feel the leaves. Add red chilles, sesame seeds, urad dal in a tsp of gingelly oil and add this to the mashed spinach. Add salt. Your side dish is ready.

 The Thaan 

Snake guard - 2 palm sized pieces
Avarakkai (Apparently this called Hyacinth beans!)- a handful
Drum stick- half, cut into small pieces
Brinjal- One
Yam/Potato- One cut into small pieces
Spinach stems cut into small pieces
Sambar Dal- half a cup

Put all the above in a pressure cooker and steam for 4-5 whistles. After you open the cooker lid, add the coconut-chilly paste from the "broth" stage into the cooker and let the mixture simmer until it is nice and thick. Stir occasionally. Add salt

Once done, season with sesame seeds, red chilly and urad dal.

I love to eat this with rice and ghee. The keerai as the side-dish, will give the much needed sour taste to the combination.

It is very healthy as it uses all vegetables and it tastes SO good.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Microwave magic Part I

Despite the gimmicky title, I staunchly vouch that the best addition to a kitchen, however small the kitchen is. My room-mate bought this a couple of months before and it has halved the time I spend cooking. I shall be writing more and my posts shall be shorter and well bulleted which I owe to the endless emails I write at work. Apparently,the insipid bulletins grab people's notice much more than beautifully crafted prose.

Beans/Okra(Lady's finger)/Brinjal fry

Things needed

  • Seasoning (Mustard seeds, urad dal, red chillies)
  • Only one teaspoon of oil
  • Beans/Okra/Brinjal

How to go about it

Microwave stuff

  • Cut any of the above mentioned vegetable. You can cut them in big pieces as you are going to pre-boil them and they get steamed well
  • Put them in a microwavable bowl (Please do not use substandard plastic bowls lest you end up with a systemic disease)
  • Sprinkle water on the vegetables. Since you don't use water to steam your vegetables, you retain all the vitamins which is one more reason why you should microwave
  • Set microwave on high for 5 mins
  • After five minutes sniff the bowl and  figure out if the vegetables are boiled. Colour gets retained which is why you cannot "see" if they look boiled. If not boil for 2 more minutes

Stove stuff

  • Start heating the pan. Add oil and seasoning et all once pan is hot
  • When your microwave beeps to a halt, empty the bowl of of now wrinkled and steamed vegetables in the pan
  • Add salt 
  • Fry for a minute and you are done

Eat :-P

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More Kozhambu

I was appraising a batch of brinjals in the super market, when my room-mate Sindhura beckoned to me. She pointed to the pack of frozen coconut with glee. Now, to give some background, I have been incapacitated from cooking a lot of south Indian delicacies because working on a coconut simply stymies me. It has to be broken in one clean go. Digging into an already opened coconut with a fork does not work. Last time I tried it, the fork's broken head got stuck to the coconut. One has to make sharp and deep incisions and slowly coax out the white chunks. Then this has to be put inside the mixie to actually grate it. None of the coconut graters they sell at the markets work (or it might because I don't really know to handle them). Because of the operational difficulties involved in breaking the coconut, I defer from making the fluffy white aloo podimas, or the mint coconut chutney, or the carrot poriyal with tiny cubes unless my roommates' mothers visit. They deal with coconuts like they deal with petulant children and store a good chunk in the fridge. Like chipmunks, we treasure these chunks for weeks and use it precariously on all dishes.

I immediately brought the pack home and set out on making More Kozhambu. It is perhaps the easiest to make in the world.

Things needed [Each ingredient is absolutely needed as each contributes to the otherwise bland kozhambu]

Curd - Please keep this out at night so that it is nice and sour the next day.
Green Chillies
Grated Coconut- One Dallop
Urad dal
Mustard seeds (Kadugu)

Take coconut, chillies, jeera and make a nice coarse paste. Add salt.

Dilute the curd until it becomes buttermilk. You might have to put the curd in a vessel and pur water and beat it with a ladle. That way it becomes smooth without too many big undissolved chunks of curd.

Put the buttermilk on a vessel and put the coconut jeera paste in this. Add a pinch of turmeric. Turmeric is a dangerous ingredient. A tad too much can completely change the taste.

Boil for three minutes until it froths!

Take one tsp.oil in a separate vessel . Fry the mustard seeds and urad dal and season the kozhambu. You are done!

You can also add semi boiled ladies finger, or brinjal to the kozhambu while it is boiling.

It goes very well with raw banana fry and brinjal fry. But since my battery is dying out, (thanks to the Telengana Bundh powercuts) that shall have to be on a separate post

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Quick fix: Part 1

It has been quite a long time now. Today's lunch proved how experimentation is the best way to learn cooking. It being a very lazy Sunday, I wan't quite in the mood to cook. I had decided yesterday to pop into office and polish off lunch. But I had stayed up late, fighting with random people that it was almost 10 30 when I woke up.

I opened the fridge to find a bag of vegetables that I had casually tossed in yesterday disregarding the contents. It had potatoes, onions and some brinjal. I just wanted a quick lunch not involving too many vessels.

This is how you can make what I made

1)Chop a couple of onions
2) Put the pressure cooker on stove
3)Put little ghee and fry onions in that
4) Put rice and water in 1:2 ratio after the onion is fried. Usually half a cup rice is enough for one person
5)Cut one potato in small pieces and put them in
6)Add one spoon Garam Masala, salt
7)Add the ready made ginger-garlic paste you get in supermarkets, if available
8)Close the cooker and turn the stove off after 5 whistles

I was almost convinced that it would taste horrible. I opened the lid with lot of trepidation and found that it was slightly too spicy for my taste. I added a bit of ghee to this and mixed it well.

Ghee smothers the spiciness with its heady aroma. It adds that heaviness which no other substance in my kitchen would.

It was SO good. I put the remaining onions in some curd and made a raitha.

Easy lunch in 10 minutes.