February 26, 2017

Kerala Chicken Biriyani || Cooking with Family and Friends - #3 ||

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Biriyani is a feast in itself for most Indians but when it came to our PG gang ( running into the pre-wedding days for a while), biriyani was the solution to depression as well. Every emotion we could think of was followed by ordering biriyani from Mughal Empire in AECS Layout. We got a hike - its biriyani, we are tired - its biriyani, we got reprimanded by parents - its biriyani, manager gave us a earful - biriyani again, had a tiff with friends - biriyani all over again. Every emotion had a solution - Mughal Empire Biriyani. The guy taking the order at Mughal Empire need not be reminded of the address and the quantity - the only thing that varied was the type between chicken and fish. We lost count of the times we have ordered it but washed and kept intact all the 'white dabbas' they came in, only to be thrown out during every cleaning session!

This is how biriyani became part of my life - we tried making biriyani couple of times when in the PG - none too successful. We either had overcooked rice or runny masala gravy - well loads of other things can go wrong too!! That did not stop my attempts at biriyani and  my first success was with my mother-in-law's recipe. So this vacation we made it all over again to celebrate Shibin's birthday - she led from the front and I just followed her cues.

So third in the series of Cooking with family is Kerala Chicken Biriyani with mom-in-law.

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Ingredients
( serves - 8)

For the chicken masala

  1. Chicken - 1 kg
  2. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  3. Yogurt - 3 tbsp
  4. Onion - 3 sliced
  5. Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  6. Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
  7. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  8. Coriander powder - 2 tsp
  9. Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
  10. Tomato - 1 sliced
  11. Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  12. Coconut - 1 cup grated
  13. Green Chilly - 4 
  14. Coriander leaves - 1 cup tightly packed
  15. Mint Leaves - 1/4 cup tightly packed
  16. Ghee
  17. Salt
For the rice
  1. Basmati Rice - 4 cups
  2. Water - 8 cups
  3. Cinnamon - 3
  4. Cardamom - 1 inch
  5. Cloves - 4
  6. Bay Leaves - 2
  7. Lemon Juice - 2 tbsp
  8. Ghee - 3 tbsp
  9. Salt
For the Garnish
  1. Raisins - 15
  2. Cashew - 15
  3. Onion - 2 finely sliced
  4. Coriander leaves
Method

  • Wash and soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes in warm water. Heat ghee in a deep vessel and add the spices - cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves. Fry this for a minute on low flame before adding the drained basmati rice. Stir it till the first splutter of rice. Add boiling water to this and squeeze in the lemon juice. Adjust the salt level and cook till done and fragrant.
  • Marinate the Biriyani cut chicken pieces in turmeric, yogurt and salt for 30 minutes.
  • Heat ghee in a pan and add the onions. Cook till the onions begin to wilt and add the ginger garlic paste. Once the rawness of the paste disappears add in the masala - red chilly powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and pepper powder. Once done, add the marinated chicken along with the sliced tomato, curry leaves and let it cook covered.
  • Grind together the coconut, mint leaves, corriander leaves and the green chilly. Add a little water to aid the grinding. When the chicken is almost done, add this paste and let it cook further. Adjust the salt.
  • Layering the biriyani - Take a thick bottomed pan and begin layering the rice and the masala alternatively beginning with a thin layer of  rice, followed by the chicken masala and ending with rice. You may create 2 to 3 layers.
  • Cover this and place it on low flame until the steam emerges while removing the lid - may take about 5 - 10 minutes.
  • Garnish the biriyani with onions, cashew and raisins fried in ghee. Adding of freshly chopped coriander leaves enhances the look and taste.

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You may also note - 
  • Once the rice is cooked, use a fork only to separate the grains.
  • I prefer using ghee while making biriyani - this might as well be replaced by other cooking oil but try to stick to ghee while cooking the basmati rice.




February 19, 2017

Chutney Cheese Sandwich

Every vacation has three phases - 

  • The waiting phase - You have planned your vacation, arrangements have been made, you are on a shopping spree, you are texting your relatives and friends on your upcoming vacation plans, you are clearing your fridge and finally packing your bags. To add on - I do an additional cleaning of the house because I love to see the house clean and neat on my return! This is an exciting phase and the feeling that you have something bright to look forward to makes even the most daunting task enjoyable.
  • The actual vacation - this is the fun part. Your waiting is over and here it is finally - the execution of all that you planned. Meeting family, friends and relatives - lots of nostalgic moments, being pampered by family until the day it is time to pack your bags and return.
  • The vacation hangover - the most annoying phase that comes after your vacation. The feeling of emptiness, a vague sense of nothing to look forward to, a weariness to get back to track, a derisive resolution to lose the holiday weight , yada - yada! Here even the most simple task seems a truckload.
It is phase three for me now - vacation hangover mode. While I was happy to enter into a clean and neat house - the happiness did not last long. I am bemused on how a house closed for 2 weeks can gather so much of dust!!

It has been 24 hours since my return to Dubai and I have only entered kitchen to make a coffee for myself this morning! I have 2 unpacked suitcases in front of me as I write this ( removed only the food items to be refrigerated - can't lose that, Can I ?), a dirty balcony to clean up, nothing to eat for lunch except thoughts on what I should cook and a whole lot of laziness that stops me from getting up from this couch and doing something!

So while I figure out how to get over the vacation hangover phase - Why don't you guys take a look at the new recipe made and clicked during the waiting phase while clearing the refrigerator!!


kitchenspells.blogspot.com


Ingredients

(makes 4 sandwiches)
  1. Mint Leaves/ Pudina - a fistful
  2. Coconut - 1/2 cup freshly grated
  3. Ginger - 1/2 tsp chopped
  4. Salt to taste
  5. White Bread/ Sandwich bread - 8 slices
  6. Cheese slices - 4
Method
  • Pulse together the mint leaves, coconut and ginger along with salt. Add 2-3 tablespoon of water to attain the consistency required for easily spreading it on the bread slice.
  • Slather about a tablespoon of chutney on the bread and top it with the cheese. Seal it off by placing another bread slice on top.
  • Toast the sandwich on your tawa or a sandwich maker. Serve this hot!
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Check out other sandwich recipe on the blog.

February 11, 2017

Masala Chai / Masala Tea || Cooking with Family and Friends - #2 ||

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Living in the middle east makes you crave for those green sights and where better can you satisfy your longing than at your parents place. Sitting back and relaxing with a steaming pot of masala tea on the traditional cane chair overlooking the yard - watching the orchids and the roses bloom in mamma's garden, three naughty little dachshunds (Rani - the senior and our companion for years, Bruno - the naughtiest and gunda of the lot and the 7 month old sweetheart, Coco)dashing around like there is no tomorrow  and a wonderful evening pass by with your family.  There is truly no place like home!! Can't say how much I miss this. I crave for those rainy weekend evenings during the school days when all we needed was a cup of tea with fried snacks and lots of family talk!

This time in our series of cooking with family - it is my mamma again as we make masala tea for one such wonderful and lazy evening when all we want to do is sit and chat!

kitchenspells.blogspot.com


Ingredients
(Makes 4 cups)

  1. Water - 2 and 1/2  cups
  2. Milk - 2 cups
  3. Ginger - 1 inch crushed
  4. Star anise - 1
  5. Cinnamon - 1 inch
  6. Cardamom - 3 crushed
  7. Cloves - 4
  8. Tea Leaves -  2 tbsp
  9. Sugar
Method
  • Add water to a pan along with ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Bring this to boil and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the tea leaves and turn off the flame. Keep it covered for 5 minutes.
  • Switch on the flame and add the milk. Bring this to boil and turn off the flame.
  • Strain the tea and add sugar as per taste. Serve it hot with your evening snacks!
kitchenspells.blogspot.com


February 6, 2017

Vermicelli Upma/ Semiya Upma


It is vacation time and for the first time blogging from a place other than home in Dubai. It feels good to be home and lot of changes have happened in a year - our family of doggies grew from 2 to 3, trees have been replaced by roads and places are beyond recognition, the bakery with my favorite egg samosa seems to have closed down, swipe machines have appeared even at the smallest of stores - demonetisation effect and yet the Gudbud ice cream tastes heavenly except for the increasing price and the decreasing glass size!!

While I feast on my mom's food and savor every moment - why don't you guys virtually feast on the recipe from my archives - Vermicelli Upma. I love the sweetness of this and for me it goes well even without a chutney. Ghee enhances the flavor and peanuts adds the crunch. So here we go - 



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Ingredients

(Serves - 2)
  1. Vermicelli - 1 cup
  2. Water - 1 cup
  3. Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  4. Urad dal - 1 tsp
  5. Chana dal - 1 tsp
  6. Curry leaf - 1 sprig
  7. Onion - 1 small chopped
  8. Green Chilly - 1
  9. Ginger - 1/4 tsp chopped
  10. Carrot - 4 tbsp chopped
  11. Peanuts - 2 tbsp
  12. Cashewnut - 1 tbsp
  13. Raisins - 1 tbsp
  14. Sugar - 1 tbsp heaped
  15. Salt
  16. Ghee
Method
  • Heat a skillet and add 2 tbsp of ghee. Fry the peanuts, cashew nuts and raisins separately and set aside on kitchen towel to drain excess ghee.
  • In the same skillet, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter.
  • Add the urad dal and chana dal. Once this browns add the curry leaf as well.
  • Now, add the chopped onion along with the ginger and green chilly and cook until the onions are done.
  • Add the chopped carrots along with the vermicelli and cook it for about a minute and half before adding water.
  • Adjust salt at this stage and a tablespoon of sugar for the sweetness.
  • Cook until done. Add the nuts and raisins at this stage and give it a good mix.
  • Serve along with coconut chutney.
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You may also note
  • Cooking time of vermicelli depends largely on the type that you buy. I used the thin one which got cooked quite fast uncovered.
  • You may use coriander leaf for the final garnish.
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