Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani

I finally ventured into slightly dangerous territory here. I had never attempted a "Kacchi" style biryani in which you cook the rice and meat together on slow heat. I was always concerned that the rice or the meat won't cook to perfection. I attempted it finally to good success. Last night we were getting together to have dinner with our friends. NE was making a slow cooked leg of lamb and we decided to bring a rice dish. Whenever I need a main rice dish i always think Biryani. Pulaos are o.k but biryanis are special. I learnt that Biryani originates from the persion word Beryan meaning yummy and roasted. I have posted quite a few biryani recipes on this blog but this is the first time that I'm trying a Kacchi biryani cooked on slow low heat (aka dum). The rice in this dish is partially cooked at first and then cooked to perfection with the meat on a low heat. The trick is therefore to get perfectly cooked rice with perfectly cooked meat and the flavors to all blend in. This was exactly what I was looking to make.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

For the rice
Long grain Basmati rice
1 stick cinnamon, 1 green cardamom and 2 cloves

For the chicken mixture

Chicken 2-3 pounds, bone in, cut into small pieces
Fried onions 2 cups (buy from an Indian grocery)

Whole spices
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 pods black cardamom
3-4 cloves
2 green cardamom pods

3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp cumin corrainder powder

Other ingredients
1 cup beaten yogurt
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tblsp grated garlic
1 cup mint leaves chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves chopped
1/2 tsp saffron strands soaked in 1/8 cup warm water
melted butter-2 tblsp

Wash and soak rice in water for 30 minutes (very important step). Boil water in a pot with salt, whole spices and oil. Water should taste as salty as you want the rice to taste. Drain soaked rice and add to the water. Let the water come to a boil. Cook till rice is half done. Test this by squeezing a grain of rice between two fingers. The rice grain should get crushed but should still be uncooked and have a crunch to it. Drain and keep aside.
Wash chicken. Add to a large bowl. Add ground spices, whole spices, fried onions, yogurt, ginger, garlic, 3/4 cup mint leaves and 3/4 cup cilantro. Add salt and 1/4 cup oil. Mix together well. Keep aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

You can do this when rice is soaking . Heat 2 tblsp oil in a pot. Add chicken. Fry the chicken mixture on high heat till chicken is slightly roasted but not cooked. Heat a heavy bottomed flat pan. Place a large pot with a heavy lid on the pan. Add half the chicken mixture to the base of the pot. Layer with half the uncooked rice and flatten. Dot rice with butter. Add 1/2 the saffron mixture, mint leaves, cilantro leaves and sprinkle some garam masala powder. Repeat the layer one more time. On the top most rice layer, also sprinkle some fried onions.

Close the lid on top. Seal the edges with foil or with pieces of dough (as my mom did).

Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes and then low heat for 30-40 minutes. Just before serving garnish with chopped cilantro, mint and fried onions. Serve hot with raita.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not Your Usual Green Bean Casserole

I was aghast this Thanksgiving weekend with all the violence in Mumbai. Its hard for me to comprehend the idea that these people get up everyday with the sole idea of killing people. So many people lost their lives for the misguided and screwed up views of these people. So this Thanksgiving I counted my blessings and gave thanks for having family and friends who love us. I love the general idea of thanksgiving, even though its not a holiday that is a part of the Indian culture. At least one day a year get together with the people you love and be grateful for it and of course any festival centered around food is a plus. This is the most classic Thanksgiving/Holiday side dish.It makes a good Vegetarian side dish. Most grocery stores have a corner with all the standard ingredients for this dish all placed together. Also, almost every can of fried onions has a basic recipe on the back. Here is my "gourmet" recipe.

Ingredients (serves 6-10)

1 pounds fresh cut green beans or a 1 packet of frozen green beans (a good brand)
1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms, you can also use white button mushrooms
1 large onion chopped
1/2 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can condensed cream of celery soup
1 can fried onions
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
salt as needed
1 stick of butter
2 tblsp sour cream
2 cups chicken stock/ for a vegetarian version use vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350. If you're using fresh green beans cook them el dente in chicken stock. If you're using frozen beans, give them a quick heat through in the stock. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the stock. Heat butter in a pot. Saute onions till transparent. Add mushrooms and beans and saute till mushrooms turn tender.

Add soup, pepper, garlic powder, soup mixes, sour cream and stock. Mix well and let the whole mixture heat through and let most of the chicken stock evaporate or get absorbed. Stir in 3/4 can of fried onions. Pour the entire mixture into a casserole dish. Top the beans with cheese and remaining fried onions. Bake covered for 25 minutes.

Chicken Samosas with Mint-Mango Chutney

Happy Thanksgiving People. I'm going to head out for our Thanksgiving get-together soon. I was alloted to make samosas and a bean dish. I decided to make chicken samosas and my green bean casserole. I love samosas and all my American friends love it too. Its always an appetizer that I've been asked to make. If you've never heard of samosas before they are just savory triangular deep fried pastry stuffed with different fillings. You can pretty much fill it with any kind of filling you want, potatoes being most popular. To make the dough I got the recipe from Manjula of Manjula's Kitchen and she also has a nice video showing how to fold the samosas. So here is my recipe for chicken samosas.

Ingredients (makes about 30)


2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp sooji/semolina
1 tsp salt
5 tblsp oil
3/4 cup luke warm water


1 pound ground chicken, grind further in a food processor to have finely ground chicken
2 medium onions, very finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 pod crushed garlic, use a microplane
2-3 tsp garam masala
2-3 tsp cumin powder
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt to taste
Oil 1tblsp


Add the semolina, salt and oil to the flour and mix well. Slowly add water and knead into a soft dough. Keep aside covered for atleast half an hour.

Meanhwile saute onions in oil. Add ground chicken. Add spices, salt and cilantro. Mix well till brown. Add chicken stock and cook uncovered till all the stock evaporates and chicken is well cooked. Take off heat and let the mixture cool.

Roll out a lime size piece of dough into a circle. DO NOT USE FLOUR TO ROLL DOUGH. The dough has enough oil to not stick. Cut the circle in half. Wet the edges of the half moon shaped circle on all sides. Form a cone as shown and seal the edges with a wide opening. Add about 1 heaped tsp of filling into the cone. Seal one edge of the opening on the seal side to the other edge. Fold the other edge over onto the seal side. Repeat to make others. Deep fry samosas in oil till golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. Serve with chutney or ketchup.

For a video check out part 2 of Majula's video.

Mango Mint Chutney

1/2 cup mint chutney in a jar from the store or 1 cup mint leaves
1/2 a semi raw mango, sweet n tangy
2 tsp sugar
1 cup cilantro leaves
3 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup cold water
salt to taste

Grind all ingredients in a blender till nice and smooth. Pour into a bowl and serve with samosas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pumpkin Pie

Reposting this recipe in time for the big foodorama for Thanksgiving. The picture doesn't look like much but this pie is super duper delicious. I love turkey day...not because I love turkey or anything (its alright--yummy when deep fried)....but I love the whole idea of a day centered around eating. Plus i love the sight of the bird being brought out all dressed up and all the dishes laid out. This year since I'm on the other coast... sooo far from home (sniff sniff)... I'm spending Thanksgiving with my colleagues with a dinner at my boss's place. I am going to take my "special green bean casserole"--oh its not that regular kind BTW and chicken samosas (by popular demand). Both these recipes will be posted soon after gobble gobble day. For now here is E's oh so awesome pumpkin pie from scratch. Happy Thanksgiving folks!

This recipe was given to me by my ex-boss. Every November she makes this delicious pumpkin pie from scratch and its absolutely delicious. Although time consuming, this is a very easy recipe. I have not included the pie crust recipe here because i used a store bought pie crust.

1 small pie pumpkin (You need finally 1 3/4 cup cooked pumpkin pulp)
14 oz can condensed milk
1 large egg
1 cup hot water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

OR supplement all spices with 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

To cook pumpkin, slice it in half and remove strings and seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour until skin pulls away easily from the meat (the color of the skin will darken). You can also save the seeds, clean them and roast them for a tasty healthy snack.

Scrape away the skin and puree the pumpkin with the hot water in the food processor. This puree can be frozen and used at a later time as well.

To make the pie, pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat all ingredients together with pumpkin pulp and pour into a 9 inch pastry.
Bake for about 55 minutes. Cool and serve with whipped cream (don't chicken out on the whipped cream part--its absolutely essential with this pie).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Latin Style Steak with Beans-Potatoes and a Easy Tomato Salad

Full credit for these recipes goes to Daisy Martinez. I saw her show Daisy cooks on Create TV and it looked so yummy that I had to make it. Plus I had all these tomatoes and beans from the farmer's market which I wanted to use. Since I didn't have many of the spices she mentioned (its a new kitchen ya c'mmon... i'm working on stocking the pantry) I improvised the original recipe which asked for a homemade blend of adobo seasoning. Looking back at my ingredients my steak recipe is significantly modified from Daisy's. still tasted good damn it! Frankly, I had never made steaks at home before. Actually I rarely eat beef except for that occasional juicy steak at a nice restaurant. In spite of my limited experience with eating steak I know one thing about cooking it--NEVER eat it well'd rather eat a piece of leather (any real steak liking person will second me on that). Rare is too red for me frankly. My personal favorite is Medium, nicely browned on the outside with a nice pink line in the center. The meat is soft and juices flow out of it. So if you're grossed out by thinking its uncooked meat..believe me its perfectly safe and the meat is cooked..just to a different degree. Try it. O.k coming back to my recipe...


1 pound thin flank steak or any other kind of cut is fine
1/4 cup vinegar (yes that much!!)
1 tsp chilly powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 pods garlic crushed
1 tbslp dark soy sauce

Mix all ingredients together. Pour it over the steak in a glass dish. Cover with sran wrap and marinate for an hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Heat a pan till its sizzling pan. Cook the steak 3 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other. Take off the heat and let the meat rest for about a couple of minutes before serving. Keep in mind that during resting the meat continues to cook. Adjust cooking times for thicker steaks or for different levels of doneness. If you're new to this try using a meat thermometer. For rare have an internal temperature of 140 degrees F, medium:160 and well done 170.

Beans and Potatoes
Cook two diced potatoes till 3/4th done. Drain and keep aside. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add three pods of crushed garlic to the oil as it heats. Once the the oil sizzles add potatoes. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and fry till potatoes are golden brown. Add fresh green beans and stir fry for a few minutes. I left the beans with a little crunch in them. Serve with the steak.

Tomato salad
Dice 2 Roma tomatoes and half a red or Vidalia onion. Add to a bowl. Add 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley if you want). Add salt, pepper and generous amount of good quality olive oil (about 3-4 tblsp). Stir and serve immediately. If you don't want to serve immediately hold off on the salt and olive oil until ready to eat.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tapioca Fritters/Sabudana Vada

Hey I'm back!! I missed blogging a LOT. I'm sorry i didn't post any food pics along the way...i didn't have the fastest internet access in the hotels. Anyway, i'm finally all moved and settled in into our new home. It was quite a bit of work moving across the country. Setting up the kitchen took a long time especially since we had to get rid of most of our stuff before we moved, I had to start from scratch. So my first couple of days here were gorgeous fall days but this weekend the rain finally came in (I was beginning to think it was all a myth). Even though I promised Andy at work that I would make something very unique to Seattle for my very first post....I had to start with this perfect rainy day snack. I promise my next post will include an ingredient I have not seen on the east coast (of which I found a lot at the farmers market) but for my first post in Seattle what better than a rainy day treat. When its cool and rainy outside these deep fried fritters or vadas (in hindi) are excellent. Oh and if you like me, are watching Bridget Jones Diary for the 100 th time with a plate full of these--- its even better. I love Colin Firth when he says " I like you just the way you are".....awwwww. O.k moving's the recipe.


1 cup tapioca pearls
ground roasted peanuts 1 cup
3-4 potatoes, boiled and mashed (left over mashed potatoes work great as well)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp red chilly powder (optional)
salt to taste


Wash tapioca pearls in water. Soak the pearls in water for 1/2 an hour, then remove the water and keep aside covered for 4-8 hours. Add all remaining ingredients to the tapioca and mix well to form a nicely incorporated mixture that is not wet. Form slightly dome shaped patties. Deep fry. The best way to fry is to add the patties to hot oil slowly and then don't touch or move the patties until all the bubbles die down. Drain on a paper towel. Serve hot with ketchup or any type of chutney.