Saturday, July 28, 2012

Khushka Biryani


The word ‘Khushk’ in Urdu means plain or dry. Plain boiled rice is called 'Khuskha' rice, which is very common in Hyderbaadi Muslim households. The plain rice is served with a curry, mostly a wet curry. When the same rice cooked in meat stock, then it is called 'Khushka biryani'. The meat broth flavors the rice.

In Tamilnadu, this khushka biryani is made with a  few variations, coconut milk  is added to flavor the rice for a vegeterian version of the same.  Curry leaves, mint etc are also added to flavor the rice.

Few days ago, my foodie-friend Somnath da gave me  a rather interesting take on 'Khuska biryani' and  I found that to be most suited to my family's taste buds.  Since I was going to have it with Bhuna gosht, I wanted it to be simple and not overwhelming.  This version of 'Khuska biryani' needed use of saffron soaked milk to flavor the rice.

The delicate  and precise aroma of saffron and kewra water with  the gorgeous bhuna gosht...ah food can be such a pleasure...:)

Things you need to make khushka biryani

  • Basmati rice: 2cup
  • Ghee: 1tbsp
  • Shah jeera(black cumin): 1/2tsp
  • Cardamom: 3-4
  • Black cardamom:2-3
  • Cinnamon: 2-3(1inch) sticks
  • Cloves:6-7
  • Mace:1
  • Nutmeg:1/8tsp
  • Bay leaf:3
  • Black peppercorn:6-7
  • White pepper(shah marich) Powder:1/2tsp
  • Milk:1/3cup(80ml)
  • Saffron: few strands
  • Kewra water: 1/2tsp
  • Rose water:1/2tsp
  • Yellow food color:5-6drops
  • Salt to taste

How to make it:


1. Soak the basmati rice for 30min. Wash the rice and drain all the water.
2. Take warm milk in a cup, add saffron strands into it, cover the cup and let stand for 15min.
3. Take shah jeera, cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg, black peppercorn on a muslin cloth and make a potli(bag).
4. Take a pot. Add lots of water to cook the rice, add the potli and bay leaves and salt (2tsp). 
Remember that you should boil the rice in lots of water and salt. That would help the rice not to stick with each other, the bengali way we say that 'jhorjhore bhat'. Add the rice when the water is at rolling boil.
You have to par cook the rice (meaning 3/4 cooked and rest will get cooked later). Do not over boil the rice. To check if the rice is done you can take a grain of rice out and press in between your thumb and forefinger. If the grain breaks into 3 parts, it means your rice is cooked just right. Now strain the rice and spread it out on a flat tray or surface, so that it cools faster.


5.Cook till the rice is done 3/4. Drain and take the bay leaf and potli out of the rice.
6. Mix kewra water and rose water to the saffron milk and keep aside.
7. Take a heavy bottom pan, add ghee into it. Add the rice and milk mixture. Sprinkle some melted ghee, yellow food color, shah marich (white pepper) powder on the top. Cover the pan with aluminium foil, put the lid on, keep cooking in very low flame for 15min. Switch off the heat. But do not open the lid. Let it rest for another 20-25min. Open just before serving.

Garnish your Khushka biryani with golden fried sliced onions.



Bhuna Gosht: Braised Slow-cooked Mutton




The word 'Bhuna' means to saute or to fry. Bhuna is a cooking process, where the ingredients are added to the pan or kadai and fried in oil without adding any water. Bhuna gosht is a popular Indian recipe where mutton(I used goat meat) is  slow cooked along with various spices. The meat cooks in its own juices which give a different dimension to the meat's texture and a deep flavor to the gravy. This kind of cooking takes much longer time  compared to pressure cooking but its worth it as the end result is outstanding. From my own experience I can tell you, once you try your hands on slow-cooking you will love it and will promise yourself to stick to slow-cooking as much as possible.


In bhuna gosht loads of onions are added along with the meat, which gradually caramalises to give a thick brown gravy. You can use any meat(lamb/beef/goat) to make this . The meat should be of good quality and make sure to use large pieces of the meat. Use few pieces with little fat on it, that will give nice glaze to the dish. Some like to reduce all the juices and makes a very dry dish, but I prefer to have thick brown rich gravy, so I can dip my nan bread into it or mix it with my khushka biryani and enjoy it.

Ingredients needed:

  • Goat meat: 500gm
  • Onion(sliced):3cups
  • Ginger paste:1tbsp
  • Garlic paste:1tbsp
  • Tomato (seeded and chopped):1 
  • Yogurt:1cup
  • Corriander Powder: 1tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder:1tbsp
  • Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
  • Shah jeera:1/2tsp
  • Cardamom:4-5
  • Black cardamom:2
  • Cinnamon:3(1inch)sticks
  • Cloves:7
  • Black peppercorn:7-8
  • Dry red chili:1-2
  • Salt to tatse
  • Ghee+vegetable oil:4tbsp

How to prepare:

1. Wash and clean the meat. I used the front leg(agli raan) part of the goat. You can use a mix of leg and rib portion.


2.In a heavy bottom non stick pan add ghee and vegetable oil. You can also use only ghee. I used ghee and oil in 1:1 ratio. When the oil is hot, add the onions. When the onions are transparent, add the meat, tomato and ginger-garlic paste. Cook in high heat and keep stirring. As the meat starts changing color, add corriander powder, kashmiri red chili, turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook for 3-4 min in high heat. 


3.Bit the yogurt with 1/2tsp sugar and 1/2cup water. Bit it well, there should be no lumps. Reduce heat to medium. Add the yogurt to the meat. Add salt. Mix well.



4.Cover the pan and reduce heat to low medium. Now let it cook like that till the meat is done. The meat will release a lot of water and it will be cooked in its own juices. Mine took 2and 1/2 hr. I just stirred in between and I did not need to add any extra water. [Note:If you see there is no enough water and the meat and spices may stick to the bottom then add little hot water.]


5. As the meat is cooking dry roast the spices shah jeera, cradamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorn, dry red chili(optional) and grind to a coarse powder. As oil separates from the masalas add this freshly made spice powder.

6. If you want it to be completely dry then uncover the pan and keep cooking till the juices dry up. But I prefered to have a little gravy on my bhuna gosht.


I had my bhuna gosht along with aromatic khushka biryani and green salad.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vegetable chop

vegetable chop

Vegetable chop is a popular bengali snack. In Kolkata one can find these vegetable chops in 'telebhajar dokan'(fried food stall). I have seen my uncle to make these at home, specially during durga puja. He used make these on 'Ashatmi'(the day before Navratri) as it was a strict rule to take only vegetarian food on that auspicious day.We were in a joint family of 40members. So I remember him to make piles of them. We, the kids of the house used to gather around to watch him making those red color rounds and rolling them in bread crumbs. Now my uncle is no more, but I have those wonderful memories with me.

Ingredients you need to make vegetable chop:


  • Carrot: 1
  • Potato: 1
  • Beet: 1
  • Peanuts(crushed): 1tbsp
  • Ginger(grated): 1tbsp
  • Fennel seeds: 1/2tsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1/2tsp
  • Kalonji/kalo jire(black seeds): 1/8tsp
  • Dry red chili: 1-2
  • Cardamom: 2
  • Cinnamon: 1/2inch
  • Black peppercorn: 3-4
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar: 1tsp
  • Breadcrumbs: 1 cup
  • Corn starch:3-4tbsp
  • Oil to deep fry


How to make vegetable chops:

1.Roast the dry spices(fennel, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, dry red chili, black peppercorn, kalonji), let them cool down and grind to powder. Keep aside.


2. Peel the vegetables, wash them well and cut to fit in a pressure cooker. Cook till the first whistle goes off, remove from heat. Wait till the pressure releases. Take out all the vegetables and keep in a colander to drain out all the excess water.

3. Grate the cooked vegetables.


4. In a non stick pan add some oil(1tbsp) and when the oil is hot reduce the heat and add grated ginger and the vegetables. Add the powdered spices and crushed peanuts. Stir well. Add salt and sugar. Keep cooking for 5-6min. Switch off the heat. Let the mixture cool down. [Note: If you think your vegetable mixture has more moisture then increase the cooking time. Just take a little vegetable mix in your hand and try to make a ball, if you can make a nice round ball without sticking the vegetables to your hand then the mix is perfectly done.]


5.Make small balls with the mixture. The size and shape depends on individuals choice, I did a cylindrical shape.

6. Make a thin batter by mixing water and corn starch. Dip the vegetable balls in the batter and roll them in bread crumbs.

7. Repeat the process. So the vegetable balls coated twice with bread crumbs.


8. Deep fry the chops and serve with tomato ketchup or kasundi(mustard sauce) and onion rings.
vegetable chop

As this has several veggies in it, it is a good snack for the kids also. It can be served as starter in a party or just munch these delicious chops during a rainy afternoon with a hot cup of tea.





Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mouri-Potol...Potol with fennel seed


I love to eat Potol(pointed gourd). Except raw, I can have it in any form fried, boiled, curried...
Generally I cook different curries(potol-posto, sorse-potol, doi-potol, potoler dalna, chingri diye potol) with potol those are common in bengali household. Today I wanted to do something different, so did little experiment with them. I choose fennel to flavor my curry. So here is my experimental mouri potol (mouri=fennel; potol=pointed gourd).

Things you need to make Mouri Potol:
Potol: 500gm
Yogurt: 1/2 cup
Fennel: 2tsp
Ginger(grated): 1tbsp
Green chilies(chopped): 3-4
Dry red chili: 3-4
Cardamom: 2-3
Cinnamon: 1 inch stick
Bay leaf: 1
Shah jeera(black cumin): 1/4tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar: 1tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/4tsp
Kashmiri red chili powder: 1/2tsp
Oil

How to make Mouri Potol:
1. Make a smooth paste of fennel seed, grated ginger and chopped green chilies, keep it aside. If you dry grind the fennel first then add grated ginger and chopped green chilies, it will be easier to make a smooth paste.

2. Bit the yogurt with little water and sugar, there should be no lumps in the yogurt, keep it aside.

3. Scrap the skin of potol and peel alternately and make slits on both the ponted ends.


4. Put oil in the kadai or pan, when the oil is hot add the potol. Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder, and fry the potol.



5. Fry the potol till it takes nice brown color. Take out the potol and keep aside.

6. On that same oil add bay leaf, dry red chilies, cardamom, cinnamon stick, shah jeera. As the masalas leave a nice aroma add the fennel-ginger-green chili paste. Cook for 2min.

7. Add the beaten yogurt. Keep stirring continuously and keep the flame to medium, till the yogurt is cooked. To know the yogurt is cooked or not, if you can smell the raw yogurt then you nedd to cook longer and when the yogurt is done, you can see oil separating from the yogurt and giving a nice shine to the gravy.

8. Add kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, sugar. Add the fried potol. Mix well. Add little water( I added 1/2 cup). As the gravy boils reduce the flame to medium cover the pan and cook for 10-12min. Check the seasoning, adjust accordingly.


We had this with white rice. The spicy green chilies were nicely balanced with the yogurt. And the aroma of fennel and the dry spices gave the dish a wonderful flavor...above all my daughter liked it very much, so a happy ending and a successful experiment..:)





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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Matar paneer

Matar Paneer (green pea and cottage cheese curry)

Matar paneer is a very common North Indian vegetarian dish. It is a combination of green pea and cottage cheese in a tomato based gravy. As green pea is a winter vegetable, it is mostly cooked during winter in the households in India. But thanks to those frozen green peas you can have them any time of the year. The gravy can be made several different ways, I kept mine simple this time. I also add a little potato in my matar-paneer, that makes the gravy tastier. It goes well with anything roti or paratha or rice.


Things you need:

Paneer: 200gm
Green pea: 1 cup
Potato (small cubes): 1/2cup
Tomato (chopped): 1/2 cup
Ginger(grated): 1tbsp
Shah jeera/Black cumin: 1/2tsp
Cardamom: 3-4
Cinnamon:1 inch stick
Bay leaf:1
Dry red chili:2-3
Dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi:1/2tsp
Corriander leaves:handful
Salt to taste
Sugar:1 tsp
Cumin powder:1/2tsp
Corriander powder:1/2tsp
Garam masala powder:1/4tsp
Turmeric powder:1/4tsp
Red chili powder:1/4tsp
Ghee:1/4tsp
Oil: 2tbsp

How to make:

1. Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes.

2. Wash the frozen peas and keep them in a colander.

3. Cut paneer into cubes. I used store bought paneer (Himalaya brand), but you can make the paneer at home.

4. In a non stick kadai or pan add 1tbsp of oil (any vegetable oil). When the oil is hot, add the paneer cubes and fry them for 2-3min in high heat. The surface would take a nice red-brown color. Take out the paneer, and keep aside. 

5. Add more oil if needed, when the oil is hot reduce the heat to medium and add bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, shah jeera. If you do not have shah jeera at home you can use plain regular jeera, but the shah jeera gives more flavor to the dish.

6. Add the potato cubes, sprinkle a little salt. Cover and cook in high-medium heat for 2-3min. Add grated ginger, cook for 2min in medium heat. Add the chopped tomatoes. Cover and cook for 4-5 min in medium flame.

7. Add cumin powder, corriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt, sugar and mix well. Cook till oil separates from the masala.

8.Add the green peas. If you are using fresh green peas, either you add the peas along with potato at the beginning or boil the peas separately and add at this stage. As I used frozen green peas,  I just thawed and washed the green peas and added them.

9. Add hot water, (I added 1/2cup) and let it boil. As the gravy boils add fried paneer. Cover and cook for 3-4min. Add ghee and garam masala powder. Add kasuri methi. Mix well. Switch off the heat.  Add handful of chopped corriander leaves.

Serve with roti or paratha or pulao.





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Friday, July 20, 2012

Potato and beans

Aloo-Beans



Few months back I got some fresh french beans in the market. They were so green and fresh I could not help myself but buy a bagful. So we had a nice 'beans week' after that. I added beans to my dal, to the fried rice, to the soup...still there were some left. So I looked in the internet for an interesting recipe, and luckily I found this 'Aloo beans' recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor's site.

That day in the dinner table when I said "I have made some beans with curry leaves and coconut", the man on the table gave me a blank stare. He finished his dinner and didn't say anything. I thought it must be the coconut,  as he does not like coconut in any preparation. So I decided not to make this dish again.

But to my surprise the very next weekend he bought a bunch of fresh green beans and when I asked with an agitated angry voice, "why didn't you ask me before buying this? now what I'll do with these?" He said, "why that aloo-beans you made that day, it was really good." So now it is a regular dish in our house, goes very well with rice and dal.

I followed Kapoor's recipe, but did few minor modifications also. So here is my take on aloo-beans.

Things you need:


  • Aloo (potato):1 medium-sized
  • French beans: 200gm
  • Onion (chopped): 1/4 cup
  • Ginger (chopped): 1tbsp
  • Curry leaves: 6-7
  • Mustard seeds: 1/4tsp
  • Hing (asafoetida): a pinch
  • Urad dal (white lentil): 1/2tsp
  • Chana dal (bengal gram dal): 1/2tsp
  • Dry red chili: 2-3
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar: 1/2tsp
  • Grated coconut:1-2tbsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4tsp
  • Oil: 1tbsp

How to make:

1. Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes.

2. String the beans and cut into small pieces.


3. Put oil in the pan. The original recipe mentioned about sesame oil, but I used canola oil. You can use any other oil of your choice, mustard or olive whatever is available.

4. When the oil is hot add the curry leaves, small mustard seeds(rai), red chilies, grated ginger, urad dal, chana dal and hing.

5. Add beans and a little salt and turmeric powder, mix well. Cover the pan and cook for 6-7 min in a medium flame.


6. Add the potato cubes, mix well. Cover and cook for 2-3min in medium flame.

7. Add chopped onion, mix well. Cover and cook for 2-3min in medium flame.


8. Add a little water (3-4tbsp) and salt and sugar. Cover and cook for 5min. If you like your dish to be more spicy then add some green chilies or red chili powder.

9. The potatoes and beans should be cooked by this time. Sprinkle the grated coconut and mix well. Increase the heat and cook uncover so there would be no water.  Remove from heat. Serve along with some dal and rice.





Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Potol-chingri

Potol-Chingri


For last few days I was craving for some Chingri (prawns). I was not sure what to make, the all time favorite 'Malaikari'(prawns in creamy coconut gravy) or  the hastle-free 'Bhapa chingri' (steamed prawn in mustard sauce). But when I got some potol (pointed gourd) from the Indian store, I thought of making my mother-in-law's special potol-chingri (prawn and pointed gourd curry). A flavourful curry, simple yet delicious and my daughter's favourite.

Things you need to make the curry:

  • Potol (pinted gourd): 500gm
  • Potato: one large
  • Prawns: 12-14
  • Tomato (chopped): 1
  • Ginger (grated): 1tbsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1/2tsp
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Cinnamon stick: 2 inch
  • Green cardamom: 3-4
  • Cumin powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander powder: 1/2tsp
  • Cinnamon powder:1/4tsp
  • Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1tsp
  • Green chilies: 5-6
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar: 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard oil
  • Ghee: 1tsp

How to make the curry:
1.Clean the prawns, de-vein and marinate with little salt and a pinch of turmeric. I used frozen prawns without head, so I first thawed and then cleaned the prawns, but you can use fresh prawns, prawns with heads, that will give much more flavour to the dish.


2.Make a paste of the chopped tomato, grated ginger and green chilies.




3.Cut the potatoes and potol(pointed gourd) into cubes, wash and keep aside.

                                   
                          
4.In a pan or kadai add some mustard oil (if you dont have mustard oil at home,  use any vegetable oil, but mustard oil gives much better taste). When the oil is hot, fry the prawns for 2-3min, till they change  the color to red. Do not overcook prawns or they will turn very hard and chewy. Keep the fried prawns aside.


5. In the same oil, add the cubed potatoes and fry them till nice golden brown. Take out the potatoes and keep aside.


6. Now fry the potol, if needed add some more oil. Keep the fried potol aside.



7. Now add some ghee(clarified butter) to the pan. As the ghee melts add cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, cardamom and bay leaf. As the cumin seeds turn golden brown(take care not  to burn the seeds) add the tomato-ginger paste. Add little salt, cover and cook in medium flame for 5 min. Give it a stir in between.

8. Add cumin powder, corriander powder, red chili powder, sugar and mix well. Cook for another 5 min in a medium flame. Keep stirring. If needed sprinkle some water so that the masalas should not stick to the base of the pan.

9. Add the fried potatoes and potol, mix well. Add hot water. Let the water boil, as it boils cover the pan and cook in medium heat till the potatoes are done.

10. Add the fried prawns. Mix well. Give it another boil. But again do not overcook the prawns. Add ghee and cinnamon powder. Mix well. Switch off the heat.


Serve with some plain rice.






Monday, July 16, 2012

Sandesh

Sandesh a bengali sweet

Bengal is famous for its sweets (Misti). Sweet is an important part in bengali life, be it religious or social or personal celebration sweets always come first. It is a practice in bengali community (hindu or muslim) to distribute sweets during any festivities. The term used in bengali is 'Mukh-o-misti', it means to taste some sweets. There are special sweets which are made only during a particular time of the year, like during Sankranti (mid of January) different types of pithe are made. There are sweets for special occassions also, like chaler payes (rice pudding) is specially made to celebrate someone's birthday. In bengal if you are visiting someone the host will serve a plate of sweets along with tea and snacks, and the guest will bring a box of sweets for the host as well.

The main ingrdient in bengali sweets is chana (home made cottege cheese) and sugar or jaggery (seasonal) is used as sweetner. Sweets are made in different ways, deep fried or steamed or shallow fried. There is a huge variety of sweets found in bengal, rosogolla, pantua, sandesh, chanar jilipi, kalojam, komolabhog, chamcham, mihidana, seetabhog, malpua, misti doi....the list is endless.

Today I made some Sandesh. Sandesh is small sweets made from chana(homemade cottage cheese). The meaning of the word 'Sandesh' is news or message, may be it has derived from the practice of sending sweets along with messenger to deliver some good news. Sandesh is the oldest sweet dish recipe in India and believed to be originated in Bengal. Sandesh can be of different varieties, depending on the ingredients used or method of cooking or flavouring and stuffings are used. Sandesh is a very healthy food, one can take it as snack also. It is very good for children, as it contains protien(milk protein), carbohydrate. Sandesh can very soft or hard, smooth or granular in texture depending on how it has been made.

This time I did the simplest of them all, I made some chana, mashed it, then mixed it with sugar and shaped into round balls...and voila my sandeshs were ready.


Ingredients to make Sandesh:



  • Milk: 1.2 ltr
  • Lime juice: 3tbsp
  • Powdered sugar: 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla essence: 7-8drops
  • Saffron starnds: few
  • Warm milk: 1/4 cup
  • Dry fruits: to garnish


How to make the sandesh:


1. Soak few saffron strands in warm milk in a bowl, cover the bowl and keep aside.

2. Chopp the dry fruits and keep aside.

3.Boil the milk in a heavy bottom pan. As the milk boils add the lime juice gradually and stir. The milk will curdle to make the chana. Strain the chana in a muslin cloth. Run cold water through the chana, this helps to wash out any flovour of lime in the chana as well keeps the chana soft. Tie the chana in the muslin cloth and hung it or keep it on a strainer for 1 hr, so that all the excess water will drain out.

4. Now take the chana in a plate and mash it with your palm for 3-4min.

5.Mix powdered sugar, vanilla essence to the chana, mix well. Here I must tell you one thing that the amount of sugar depends on your taste. So as you mix the sugar gradually to the chana and taste it and if needed add more sugar.

**Many of you have asked, while mixing the sugar the chana becomes too soft. Make sure the chana is properly drained and if you find it difficult to handle, then just cook for a little time on a non stick pan.


6. Make some round balls or any other shape of youe choice. If you have any mold you can use that also. Garnish with saffron soaked milk and chopped dry fruits.


[Note: Instead of using sugar you can also use sugar-free.]