Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lakhnavi Chicken Biryani (Phase I)

Thanks to my neighbour Sara, I now know that there are two varities of Biryani - Lakhnavi and Hyderabadi and that they are quite different! from each other. I'm inclined to like the L version better as its meant to be less spicy; all the more chances of my family relishing it :-) Sara not only gave me the recipe along with the authentic method of cooking, she forwarded a couple of ingredients required for the biryani that weren't there in my kitchen. How cool is that!

So, now that I'm completely armed with the right recipe and the *secret* ingredients, it is upto me to do justice to the recipe.
I've planned it for Saturday Lunch. But a check with my calendar tells me its going to be a PTM morning. So, this calls for some prep work before hand. I decide to make the *masala* the night before; now all that'll remain to be done tomorrow afternoon when we get back from the school: preparing the rice and assembly.

Here's what I needed for the chicken masala

Chicken thigh and leg pieces - 6 each
Onions 3 large
Ginger paste - 2 tbsp
Garlic paste/grated - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder and salt
Water - about 2 cups
Oil - 1/2 cup (enough for frying the onions and coating the rice when it goes in)
ghee - 2 tbsp (now that's my touch)

That's it??

Yes! the minimalist in me like the fact that there's no long list of ingredients; it'll be the right cooking that'll bring out the flavours.

Step 1. Peel and slice the onions as thinly as you can. Put a heavy bottomed pan on the flame. Add the oil and the ghee. Once heated up, add the onions and saute untill crisp and golden brown.

Step 2. Add the ginger paste, mix it around and then add the garlic. Mix and let cook for a minute or so for the pastes to lose their water and release the flavours. Add the red chilli powder now.

Step 3. Now add the chicken pieces one by one, mix them around as you go, coating them with the onions and giving them a nice brown look. Add salt. Once the chicken looks nicely browned, add the water and cover. Let cook on medium-slow for about 30 minutes or untill the chicken is done (but not falling off the bone done).

This is now ready for me to use it tomorrow :-)

Note: The ghee adds a touch of luxurious velvett to the taste. And secondly, I need to take care that the onions don't get burnt. Remember the onions will continue to cook as the recipe progresses.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lamb Korma

March seems to be a great time for skirts (those pretty nylon ones), the end-of-season sarson ka saag and Makki ki roti and some red meat. Before it gets too hot to enjoy any of these and a lot more.

so, it was in the nick of time that I'd an inspiration. I thought to myself - "Hey, its been ages since I made any lamb preparation.." See how thoughts string along going from strength to strength "...Since I cross Sadar Bazaar every week, the lamb shops next to the mosque are bang on the way.." hmmm "I could pick up some lamb on my way back from class tomorrow..". Then "Lamb from next to the mosque (and not some mall/speciality store)...I'd really love to prepare something mughlai and that too with the authentic muslim touch". What to do??

I know! Call up Asif and speak to him and Tabassum.

I and Manoj had been recently married when Asif and Tabassum invited us, Pasha sir and Mukesh over for dinner for the first time. And what lamb chop pakoras we had! the chicken biryani.... Mmmmmm...out of this world!

So before any thoughts of calories and the amount of oil that'd be used could intrude and fizzle my enthusiasm, I called up. And spoke to friends after a long time. Reminisced about the dinners had together. And asked Asif how to select a good cut and Tabassum how to prepare them.

Here's how to prepare some lamb korma, the mughlai way.

For 2

You'll need:

1/2 kg Lamb meat cubed and cleaned
1 cup water
1 cup yogurt
1 tsp whole spices
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 large onion thinly sliced
3-4 onions grated/paste
1 tbsp Oil divided
Garam masala to taste


1. Heat up 1 tbsp of oil in a pressure cooker and saute the whole spices. Once they get aromatic, add the sliced onions and stir them until golden brown. take out and keep aside to cool.

2. Heat up about 2 tbsp oil and add the ginger garlic paste. Saute for a minute and then add in the lamb pieces. Saute until the meat is nicely browned. Add the onion paste and saute some more till the onions have lost their raw smell and the mix has 'left the oil'. Add some salt and garam masala and give it a good stir. Add the water and then close the pressure cooker. Let it cook on low for 3-4 whistles or until the lamb is done.

3. The whole spices and sliced onions should be cool by now. Grind them in the mixie to a fine paste.

4. Open up the pressure cooker and check for doneness (I hope this is a word). if yes, then add the yogurt and the above onion paste and stir continuously until it leaves the oil. The excess water/liquid would've evaporated by now leaving a nice thick gravy behind.

Switch off the flame and let rest for a while before serving hot with some tandoori rotis/naan.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pan seared Fish with sautéed veggies

Easy access to fresh fish these days. So, I'm trying out some 'fishy' recipes and plan to try all the variety of fish available at the mall.

This is soo easy to make, the beauty of it is in its simplicity. And moreover, DH picked up some boneless fillets of Singhara. The kids loved it! And so did DH who's not at all a fish fan.

You'll need:

1/2 kg of fish fillets (mine were 6 in no.)
1 + 1 tsp olive oil
Jeeraman masala (I had my own preparation handy. If not available, use Garam masala or some fish tikka masala shd also be good)
1/2 a Lemon deseeded

Some cauliflower florets
a handful of green beans cut longishly
Take as much of these veggies as you'd like. Yoú could also add some carrots for more color on the plate.

1. Wash and pat dry the fish filets on a paper towel. Mix 1 tsp olive oil with the jeeraman masala and apply on both sides of the fillets rubbing it in nicely. Keep aside while you do the rest of teh prep.

2. Cut the cauliflower in manageable florets and the beans into about 2 inch long pieces. Put a steamer on, with some water to boil. Let the veggies steam for 5-10 minutes or until done. I like mine with some bite to them still.

3. Heat up a non-stick pan with 1/2 a tsp of olive oil. Once the oil is hot slide the fish fillets in. they sizzle and smell! Brown the fillets nicely on both sides, sprinkle some salt and pepper on them and take them off into a plate.

4. Heat up the remaining oil and toss the steamed veggies in. They'll quickly get a browned touch on the edges. Saute them for a minute and then sprinkle some salt & pepper on them while still in the pan. Both sides.Get them onto the plate too.

5. Squeeze some lemon juice on the fish fillets as well as the veggies.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fish and ... Sprouts

No Chips today. Sorry. I said to Renée. We are having Sprouts chaat. You'll like it.
She did... had all the papaya and fish she could find in the bowl :-)

There was fish, and there were some sprouts. Both had to be had Ok they weren't exactly going bad but then what's the point in having healthy stuff after killing all their nutrients in the frig??

So, why not combine them and see how it goes?

You'll need:

250 gms Mackerel cut in strips
Salt, Pepper
Olive oil
250 gms sprouts steamed
250 gms Broccoli steamed for 3-5 minutes
a handful of corn kernels + green peas steamed along with the sprouts
Papaya peeled and cut in cubes. As much or as little as you want it
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Wash & then dry the fish on a paper towel. And in a bowl toss it with some salt and pepper. Keep aside for about 20-30 minutes.

2. Heat up about 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a nonstick pan. Saute the steamed veggies and the sprouts in batches, adding more oil when required. Then adding some more oil to the pan, saute the fish strips until lightly browned and crisp.

3. Mix everything in a large salad bowl. Add in the papaya as well. Dress it all up with some salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Serve warm.

My notes: I could marinate and saute just the fish fingers as finger food. Both Renée and Robin just loved it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Something about food...

There's something about food that warms your heart. More than just satisfying hunger and filling up the belly, good food has the power to restore depleted energies. And one doesn't mind a hectic day spent, IF you can sit down for a nice warm meal afterwards. All your efforts seem worthwhile then :-)
On the other hand, there are times when I eat on the go..feeding myself is another chore that needs to be taken care of..quite like fueling up the car so it doesn't come to a stop. Do I remember what I ate? NO...

So yesterday evening I'd made some makki ki roti and sarson ka saag AND Gajar Halwa.Too much to do in one go I know, but then I was on a roll :-) and that's how I crash and burn somedays ;-)

Here's how I made the Gajar halwa yesterday. Tweaked it a bit with a little tip I had from my friend's mum whom I saw after a very long time:

You'll need:

1 kg Carrots peeled, washed & grated
2 ltr Skimmed milk
1-2 large tbsp sugar (or more according to taste)
1 tbsp desi Ghee
a handful of chopped Almonds/Pistachios/Cashew/Raisins
a pinch or 2 of Cardamom powder

1. Boil all the milk together or separately. Take half of it in a heavy based wok/saucepan, add the cardamom powder and bring it to a boil. Yesterday I forgot to add the cardamom at this stage and later when I did it's taste was lost :-(
Then add the carrots and let cook on simmer. You'll need to stir it once in a while to make sure that things don't stick to the bottom of the pan/wok, and if they still do you need to lower the heat further.

2. Once all the milk seems absorbed, add half of the remaining half. Toss in some of the chopped nuts and raisins. Let cook and reduce again. Then add the remaining half (and some nuts)and let reduce again. That's the trick - to add the milk in batches instead of in one go.

3. Once all the milk is reduced and the carrots start sticking to the base of the pan/wok, its time to give it a good stir and add the sugar in. Once the sugar is added you can up the heat and then you need to stir it constantly. Once all the sugar seems to have dissolved completely nd the colour appears brighter, add in the ghee and stir for a good 3-5 minutes. Take off the heat, into the serving dish and garnish with the remaining dryfruit.

Serve hot.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Just because I had to

Today's been one of those crazy days when you kinda get tired doing 'nothing'. These days, my days involve a lot of waiting - waiting for people, for the right time, for the work to get done. As we are getting ready to move into our own house after all these years, I guess the pleasure of it would far exceed the pain of getting it ready...[sigh]
Anyways, that's how the day started out. And then gathered momentum to include a lot of errands, some creative thinking, a lot of refreeing between my two little darlings (who think tagging along with mamma is a lot éventful' than staying at home watching TV)

So, by the time the kids are in bed, I'm thankful to God that I can still think straight. And that I know what new recipe I want to prepare tonite. If I do. Honestly, I'm hard pressed to find any enthusiasm for cooking today. But find it I did! and warmed up along the way. Oh and am I glad that I did ... after the first bite, DH refused to share the plate of gnochhi with me. That's a lot of 'praise' coming from one who's a fussy eater and who decides whether he's hungry or not depending on what the menu is!

Perfecting Gnocchi
(Potato gnocchi with Garlic herb seasoning)

You'll need:

2 large Potatoes
1/4 cup all purpose Flour (maida) + some for dusting
1 large egg yolk
Salt, freshly ground Pepper, garlic herb seasoning
2 tbsp Butter
Cheese (I had some cheddar handy)

1. Boil/microwave the potatoes until tender. Cool, peel, halve and grate them into a comfortably large bowl.

2. Add the egg yolk, salt, and flour to the bowl and mix everything using a fork into a stiff dough. Now knead the dough gently until smooth but slightly sticky.

3. In a deep saucepan, bring salted water to boil and then lower the heat to keep it simmering.
Line a plate with wax paper and dust with flour. On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3/4-inch-think rope.Cut the rope into 3/4-inch pieces. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges. Transfer to the plate.

4. Slip the gnocchi into the simmering water in batches and let cook until they float. Then simmer for 2-3 minutes longer. I noticed that the 2nd batch that went in looked much larger while cooking than the size they were cut and were subsequently tastier too. Drain them in a sieve.

5. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan, and using a slotted spoon slip the gnocchi in.
Season with salt and pepper. Toss them well for a minute on high heat, so that both sides get nicely browned and not overdone (like a few of mine did).

Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pasta shells with Ratatouille

2nd day of the new year, its afternoon here and I'm back to blog about my 2nd recipe for the year :-) WE are consistent so far. I'm also hoping to find my writing rhythm along the way, so I'll stop agonising about my sentences making sense to the reader (if and when there's a reader!)

I've prepared some Ratatouille to go with Pasta shells in the evening. I think I'll take some along to my mum's and hopefully mum & dad'll like it too.

You'll need:

1 large Zuccini
1 large Bell pepper
2 large onions
3 Tomatoes
1/2 a jar of Pasta sauce
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup Pasta shells (whichever shape you prefer/have)
Salt, Pepper
2 cubes cheese, grated

1. Chop all the veggies roughly the same size as the pasta shells that you've taken. Keep the tomatoes separate.

2. Put 3 cups of water to boil, adding some salt to it. Once the water comes to a boil add in the pasta shells and cook them till Al dente (just about cooked). Drain under cold water and set aside.

3. In a wok/saucepan, heat up the oil on high flame and toss the veggies in except the tomatoes. Saute them for a minute and then lower the flame. Add salt and pepper according to taste, and then mix in the tomatoes. Add the pasta sauce as well. Stir well, cover and let cook for a while until the Zuccini is done. Let it rest for a while before serving

4. To serve, spoon the cooked pasta on the platter. Add the veggies on top, garnishing with some grated cheese.

My Notes: DH and I loved this easy to make preparation, even the kids liked it well.
Whole some evening snacks that doubles as an early dinner. Enjoy!