Never Fail Simply Mutton Biryani

Biryani , a delicious rice and meat dish has arab origins but in my home it was one of our staple Sunday lunches. Coming from a houseful of foodies, my mother tried many variations of this dish so I’ve had every kind of biryani there is to be had – the original Arab recipe which we got from Uncle Aziz , an Arab gentleman whom we never saw but whose Biryani we ate for many an Eid, the Hyderabadi Biryani, Mrs. Balbir Singh’s Biryani, the Delhi Durbar Biryani, our own cook Banoo’s biryani.  Sometimes it was made with chicken, sometimes with meat; sometimes the biryani was made with raw meat, other times it was made with cooked. But every time it was simply delicious!

However, as I began cooking, I found that my Biryanis were hit and miss- sometimes the meat remained raw or sometimes the rice remained raw or sometimes it was just one big soggy mess. Of course the biryani was perfect when I was making it only for home – it was the moment that a guest was at my table that the biryani became a mess.

There had to be a better way of making this I thought and came upon this method purely by chance.

To make the Biryani you will need

  • 500g boneless mutton or 1 kg meat with bones
  • 1/2 cup curd
  • 1 tbspn garlic ginger paste
  • 1/4 tspn turmeric
  • 1/2 tspn red chilli powder
  • 1 tspn garam masala
  • 2-3 pepper corns
  • 2-3 green cardamoms
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2-3 strands of saffron
  • salt to taste

Wash the mutton and pat dry and add the above ingredients and allow to marinade for at least half an hour

  • 3 medium onions finely sliced and fried
  • 5-6 almonds blanched and fried
  • 2 tomatoes cut lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped coriander
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2-3 potatoes skinned, quartered and fried
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup of milk

Method :

1. Wash the rice well and keep aside for 10 minutes

2. Boil water in a pot to which you add 1 bay leaf, 2 pepper corns and 2 cloves and some salt. When the water comes to the boil add the washed rice and allow to cook till half done. Drain off the water and divide the rice into two, colouring one half with either some orange food colouring or with saffron water.

3. Add some fried onion and oil to the marinating mutton and mix well and keep aside.

4. In a deep aluminium/steel or glass pot put some oil and add the raw mutton pieces. Sprinkle some of the chopped coriander and mint on top. Layer with bits of potato and tomato, some fried almonds. Add a layer of rice, half white and half orange.

5. Add another layer of fried onions, potato and tomato , fried almonds and top again with a layer of rice.

6. Add the remaining coriander and mint, fried onion  and make six deep holes on the top. Pour oil into the these holes.

7. Sprinkle the milk and cover with a double layer of aluminium foil.

8. Put the sealed pot in an oven set at 180 degrees C

9. Allow to cook for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

Leave the pot in the oven till it is time to serve. The biryani will remain hot and the best way of making Biryani is that IT WILL NEVER BURN.

You could also use this method to make chicken biryani .

This is quite honestly a never fail recipe of the yummiest biryani ever.

This easily feeds 6 people and I always serve it with Dahi Raita and fried papad.

Easy Peasy Sindhi Tomato Curry

I often think I must have been a Sindhi in my last life because I simply love their food and feel most at home while eating it. But I feel equally at home eating Chinese food, Italian food, English food, French food, Punjabi food …….hey I can’t be remembering food memories from so many lifetimes so I think I’d better accept the fact that I simply LOVE FOOD.

Well, there are lots of people like me in this world (you included , dear reader or you won’t be reading this!) and I love trying out new recipes from old ingredients. By this I don’t mean re-cycling food but trying out new dishes from ingredients that have been around for centuries like drumstick and brinjal and cluster beans and yam and pumpkin etc etc. These vegetables are seen often enough in the market but I’ve always given them the go-by till one day I saw  Sindhi Curry Mix on the Big.Basket web site.

Now being a busy grandmother leaves me with very little time to actually do my weekly     vegetable shopping and grocery shopping with the horrendous traffic and even more torturous wait in the check out lines has me running to my computer in the middle of the night and all else is still to check out my supplies online. Local Banya, GreenCart and Big Basket are so far my most used sites though I am toying with the idea of going to Reliance and Nature’s Basket.

I know I’m digressing but the point being that something made me click on this photo especially when Pampa my cook at the time suggested making Sindhi Tomato Curry  as an alternative to our usual mixed vegetable curries.

Pampa has long since deserted me but the taste for this yummy curry hasn’t. So I had to scour the net for various recipes of this dish that is particularly great to have on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I finally amalgamated a few recipes and came up with this. To start with I collected all my vegetables together and kept on hand the following ingredients:

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For the tempering

  • 1 tbspn oil
  • 1/4 tspn methi seeds
  • 1/4 tspn mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tspn cumin seed
  • 1/2 tspn turmeric powder
  • pinch of asoefetida
  • 2-3 curry leaves
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger finely chopped

For the curry

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 heaped tspns chick pea flour
  • 1 green chilli
  • salt to taste

1 packet of Sindhi curry mix failing which you can use

  • 1 drumstick
  • 1-2 baby brinjals
  • 1/2 cup cluster beans
  • 1/2 cup okra
  • 1/2 cup yam
  • 1/2 cup red pumpkin

 

Here’s what I did :

1. I coarsely chopped the tomato and put them with a little bit of water to cook in the pressure cooker for 2 whistles. I let this cool before pureeing it in the blender to a fine paste.

2. In the meanwhile, I washed the vegetables and lightly peeled the drumstick taking off the coarse outer layer. If you don’t use the ready Sindhi Curry mix, make sure the vegetables are cut into large bite sized chunks.

3. In a deep steel pot, I heated the oil and added the spices for the tempering.

4. I lowered the heat and added the drumstick and yam and stir fried before adding the chick pea flour.

5. Just before the flour began to burn I added some water so that the flour becomes a thick paste. To this I added the tomato puree and allowed the mixture to come to a boil.

6. I then added the rest of the vegetables, lowered the heat, covered the pot and allowed the vegetables to cook .

So this is how I made my Sindhi Mixed Vegetable Curry. I know traditionalists will balk at this easy recipe but I assure you that the taste is authentic.

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End Note :

Most of the recipes for this dish will have more oil and will advise the addition of tamarind pulp but since we like to use less oil and avoid the extra sour foods, I often give this a skip like today when the tomatoes were already sour. But if the tomatoes are ripe and sweet, you’d do well to introduce the sourness with tamarind pulp.


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Fresh and juicy beef burger patties

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Food memories are indelible and I can never forget the juicy beefburger patties sold at McRonnell’s in Bandra. Those of you who’ve grown up in this beautiful Bombay suburb in the ’60’s will remember this bakery that was an institution of sorts on Hill Road. Every burger I’ve had since has had to measure up to this burger and for many years I tried to replicate it. Finally, I think my dinner yesterday was the closest I’ve got to it so far.

I’m not a die hard meat eater but the 4th March ban of  slaughter of cows in my home State raised my hackles. Surely democracy includes the freedom to eat what a person wants and not what the State deems right? Luckily things were clarified and beef is now easily available at all licenced butchers and meat vendors and since then, I’ve been trying to have beef as often as I can ( once a month may be) .

I was happy to find that Mr. M had ground beef and even though I’d asked for just 250 g, he gave me twice the amount so I had to make extra large patties. I would much rather make smaller and flatter ones with half the quantity of meat.

 

To make around 6 really  large patties you will need :

500 g beef mince

1 tspn oregano

1 finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely grated Amul cheese

1 tspn dried parsley (you could use fresh coriander or fresh parsley but I didn’t have any)

1 tspn soya sauce

salt to taste

1 lightly beaten egg

Here’s what I did:

I washed the mince and let the water drain out well. Then I mixed together all the igredients and allowed it to sit in fridge for a while. About half an hour before cooking I divided the mixture into patties, flattened them and let them sit in the fridge for another 10 minutes. Just before cooking, I heated some olive oil to smoking  in a deep  frying pan and gently let in the patties and allowed them to cook on one side before turning them over. I removed the nicely browned patties and allowed the excess oil to drain off before serving them up with a slice of cut tomato sitting on a generous helping of mayonnaise slathered on top of each burger.

I served this with steamed beans and carrots and parsleyed potato.

You could of course use these as regular burger patties and have the best burgers ever but I prefered to eat them like cutlets .

Needless to say they were yum!

 

I am participating in the ‘Ready For Rewards’ activity for Rewardme in association with BlogAdda.

 

 

 

MORAMBA- Traditional raw mango jam

MORAMBA – the traditional raw mango jam made in hundreds of homes all over Maharashtra does sound a bit like the Merengue a Latin American dance , and with its soft chunks of mango in a velvety thick syrup with  hints of saffron and cardamom, it does have a bit of the same exotic . Made out of Rajapuri Mango, this jam sits in fat glass jars all year long, on many a kitchen shelf, to be taken out little at a time as a special meal time treat.  Some people like to make it as soon as the mango first arrives but I prefer to make it later in the season just before the rains set in. At this time, the mango is a little less sour but still tart enough to impart a delicate sweet and sour taste to this jam.

I haven’t made this jam for a long time, especially since all of us at home are always watching our waist lines, but over the weekend, I met up with cousins for a family wedding and realised that all of us were actually in the same place at the same time for the first time in fifty years. This brought back a flood of memories: the times when we used to spend summer in my grandma’s house and watch her stir magic into her pickles as jam. My grandma was known for her tasty food and she was also known for her plain speaking. I can never forget one summer when I was pestering her and she warned me to back off. It was a hot summer afternoon and all of us were restless – the house was getting too small for all of us but it was too hot for anyone to step outside

“Stop annoying me or I’ll scald you,” she threatened, waving the spoon that she had dipped in the sizzling  hot oil to remove the puri.

“Do it,” I challenged, who as a bratty four year old was convinced that adults very rarely carried out threats particularly ones that could potentially harm a child. Little did I know that she was not one to make empty threats and becore I knew it, I felt a warm burning sensation on the back of my palm. I was shocked and even more horrified when the skin began to rise into an angry welt. Before my howls could bring down the entire neighbourhood, my aunt grated some raw potato and made a poultice to bring down the swelling. The burn got well soon enough, the scar diminished over time but the lesson remained for life.

Last week, as the summer is slowly coming to a close, my daughter asked me to make some Moramba so I went down to my favourite haunt at Bhaji Gully and picked up  two kilo of raw mango. The Rajapuri mango that is best suited for this dish is almost on its way out so I was lucky to still get some at the fag end of the season.

Here’s what I did.

Ingredients

  • 2 kg peeled and diced raw mango
  • 4 kg sugar
  • 4- 8 strands of saffron
  • 10 g coarsely ground cardamom

Method

  •  Peel and dice the mango into even bite sized squares. Rinse to remove the grit and stones and allow to dry on cloth
  •  Steam the washed and dried off pieces of mango in a colander till soft to the touch. Remove from the colander and spread on a dry cloth and allow to cool.
  •  When cool, add to a hot thick syrup made up of 4 kg sugar and half the amount of water. Allow the mixture to boil and bubble till the froth on the top slightly changes colour or till the syrup is of the consistency of thick honey.
  •  Add some strands of saffron and around 10 g of crushed cardamom for added flavour. I even added 1-2 cloves for that added zing.
  •  Allow the jam to cool before storing it away in an air tight glass jar.

This jam is easy enough to make though it does take a lot of time. Also to avoid getting daunted by the vicious looking bubbles that threaten to escape, one should take a large enough pot.

Healthy and wholesome Pizza

The ease with which one can order a pizza and the ease with which the pounds add on, has made PIZZA a bad name. But who can really deny the joy of bread and cheese? And with tomato ketchup to add that sweet and sour tang, it becomes quite irresistible.

I personally don’t think Pizzas are bad especially when they’re made with wholewheat bread. I often make this from scratch but the other day I found the base easily available at Bhaji Gully no less, so I quickly picked up a few packets to make some Pizza over the weekend.

They really came in handy as I made them over two meals – wholesome and healthy.

I made the pizza sauce by cooking tomato, onion, garlic and paprika in a pressure pan. After a whistle, I ran the whole thing through the mixer and made a rough paste. I added salt and pepper to taste and a wee bit of sugar.

I lined a cookie tray with oil and placed the wholewheat base on it. I applied some olive oil on the base before spreading with Pizza sauce. I sprinkled a bit of oregano before adding a thin layer of finely grated Amul cheese. Then I added some finely sliced onions, sliced zucchini, slivers of red and yellow peppers and bits of smoked paneer. I added a generous amount of grated Go Pizza Cheese which I topped with slices of fresh tomato and some chopped black olives. Then the final layer of grated Go Pizza Cheese before slipping it into a pre heated oven ( 120 degrees C) for a 15 minute bake.

And this is what I got.

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And it was healthy and wholesome too!