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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chicken Biryani

Very very aromatic!
Delicious. A staple at all weddings!
Biryani has many variations and you can make it as complex or as simple as you want. This is a chicken biryani from Lahore Pakistan.

(This recipe will serve 6 ppl)
(Prep time: 1 hour)

Marinade for the chicken

The spice and salt content might seem a bit high. But since the chicken gravy will be mixed with rice it will mellow out.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs 1 1/2 lbs (cut up to approx 2" chunks)
Black pepper 2/3 tsp
Cayenne pepper 1 tsp
Cilantro/coriander powder 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Black cumin 1/2 tsp
No salt!
Salt is added while cooking because adding salt to the marinade will draw out the juices and make the chicken dry. The spices listed above will be enough for a simple basic biryani.

Mix the spices together.
Rub well into the chicken and let it sit on the counter for 30 mins.
The chicken should be at room temperature before cooking.
Heat about 2 Tbs oil in a wide non stick pan.
Use one and a half times the amount of salt you would normally use (I used 1 1/2 tsp for this)
Sprinkle half the amount over the meat and fry quickly for 3-4 mins on high heat (reserve the other half of salt for the gravy)
Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside for now. It will cook fully in the gravy.

For the gravy

Red onions sliced 2 cups
Tomatoes diced 1 1/2 cups
Garlic chopped 1 1/2 tsp
Fresh plain yogurt 1/3 cup
Cooking oil 1/3 cup
(leftover from frying the chicken)
Heat the oil in the same pan used to sear the chicken.
Fry the onions until light golden brown in color.
Add garlic. Fry for 2-3 mins.
Add tomatoes, salt and cover the pan.
Turn the heat to med high and cook until the tomatoes break down. Should take about 5 min or so.
Whip the yogurt with a fork and add it to the pan. Mix well.

Cover and cook for another 10 mins. Use a blender to turn this into a smooth thick gravy.
Add the chicken and cook on med heat for 20 min or until the chicken is fully cooked.
Cook uncovered so that most of the water evaporates. Use a splatter screen to prevent a mess.
The gravy is ready.

For the rice
Boil 4 1/2 cups of long grain Basmati rice in pot full of boiling salted water, like you would pasta.
Add to the water a stick of cinnamon and a few cloves.
The rice should be half cooked, sort of el dente.
Drain out all the water and discard the cloves and the cinnamon stick.

Final step... Layering the Biryani
You will need,
A large, deep pot with a heavy base like a Dutch oven or something similar.
You will also need 1/2 stick of unsalted butter thats about 4 Tbs.
And some saffron strands about 15-20 soaked in approx 2 Tbs lukewarm milk.

This process doesn't have to be perfect at all. Don't worry about making precise layers. It will all be mixed in towards the end.

Spread 1/3 of the chicken gravy at the bottom of the pan.
Now layer 1/3 of the rice over the gravy.
Drop 1/3 of the butter over the rice.

Your top layer would be rice with a dollop of butter.
Lastly, pour down the saffron milk concoction along one side of the pot. The idea is to have some rice colored bright yellow and ofcourse the addition of the wonderful aroma of saffron.
Sprinkle a little water no more than a Tbs over the rice.
Cover tightly with a lid.
Some people find it useful to wrap a moist kitchen towel around the lid before covering the pot to make it air tight.
Cook over low heat for about 30 mins.
The rice will fully cook in the steam created inside the pot.
Mix well!
Goes really nice with a cool cucumber or mint raita!
Read more ...

Dahi Barey

A very very popular street food. Eating this from the street is almost always on the to-do list when people visit home.

It seems like a lot of work. Of course back home no body usually goes through the trouble of making it. Around here is a different story we haven't found a place that truly catches the flavor.

Me and my sweetheart LOVE this stuff... I think our mutual liking for it is one of the reasons we got married :-)

(I make this much for just the 2 of us :-) but this should be enough for 6-8 normal ppl)
(Prep time: 1 hour + overnight soaking)
For the dumplings (Barey)

Soak 1/2 cup Maash daal overnight
(Black gram, urad dal, udad dal)
(The daal should be the washed variety. The one that's all pale yellow and without the husk. )

In a blender add the following
Garlic 1/4 clove
Salt 1/2 tsp
Cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp
Pepper 1/4 tsp
Baking powder 2/3 tsp
The soaked daal
Water 1/4 cup

Blend blend blend until very smooth. Should take about 3 mins.
To this mixture add
Cumin 1/4 tsp
Besan 2 Tbs
(Gram flour)Mix this vigorously.
The consistency should be fairly thick... must drop like a dollop of cottage cheese.
Let this sit for about 10-15 mins.
Heat some oil for deep frying.
Now drop small amounts of the mixture into the oil.
To avoid big oil splashes, I normally take a table spoonful, bring it very near the oil and slide the mixture down with the help of another spoon.
The daal mixture should form a ball shape and rise to the surface of the oil in just two seconds. If this doesn't happen, your oil isn't hot enough.
And if it starts to break and doesn't hold the shape the mixture is too thin. To fix this just add more besan to the mixture and thicken it.

Once you have dropped the mixture into the oil. And they look round and are floating happily, lower the heat a bit. Cook for about 6-7 mins. Turn the dumplings while cooking to ensure they cook through. Take them out when they are light golden brown and dunk them in a pot full of cold water. They should soak up water for no longer that 20 mins to be just right. Soaking more than that would make them too soft and they will break. After 20 mins, take them out of the water, give them a gentle squeeze to remove water. The barey are done and ready to be arranged in a dish.


For those who are unfamiliar with this food, the papri are the crispy bits that are sprinkled on top just before serving. You can certainly omit this altogether but its addition will make everything more yummy!

It's simple enough.

Take about 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
Add a generous pinch of salt and cumin
1 Tbs of cooking oil
Enough water so that after kneading the dough should be stiff like pasta dough.

Roll out the dough as thin as you can.
Cut into strips and drop them in hot oil.
Cook until golden brown.
Cool fully on some tissue paper.
Take them in your hand and crush slightly and they are ready to be sprinkled over the dahi barey.

If you want to cheat, you can fry some spring rolls wrappers or wontons, not the same but close enough :-)

Yogurt sauce

Plain whole yogurt about 1 1/2 cups
Water 2/3 cup

Cayenne pepper 1/2 tsp
Cilantro/coriander powder 1/2 tsp
Chaat masala 1/2 tsp
Roasted cumin powder 1/2 tsp
A touch of sugar

Tamarind chutney 2-3 Tbs
Mint chutney 2-3 Tbs

Red onions sliced thinly 2-3 Tbs
Tomatoes diced 1 small
Green chilies diced very fine 2-3 tsp
Boiled potatoes diced 1 small
Garbanzo beans 3-4 Tbs
Cilantro leaves chopped 1 Tbs
You will also need boondi about 1/4 cup. I like to soak it in water and add it when its soft

Add a 2/3 cup of water to the yogurt to make it thin.
Mix in the spices well.
Add the veggies and mix gently taking care not to break the boondi or the potatoes.
Arrange the barey in the bottom of a deep flat dish.
Pour the yogurt mixture over the top.
Drizzle the chutneys.
Cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Sprinkle the papri just before eating.

There is no rule about the veggies, the spices or any of the condiments.
You can add more or less or omit anything according to your liking.
Just be sure it doesn't get too crowded in the serving dish and you have enough room to for the barey to feel snug.
It makes sense to serve the add-ons in separate bowls so people can add what they want.
And to keep things very basic and fuss free just use yogurt and store bought chaat masala.
Read more ...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Almond crusted Halibut

Sounds crazy but I don't eat fish or anything that comes out of the ocean!
Hubby loves it. So I made this for him today.
He is a genuine cutie pie :-)
Something tasty and light for summer in Seattle. I served this with the left over citrus sauce and panzanella salad.

(Single serving)
(Prep time: 45 mins)

For the citrus sauce

Use freshly squeezed juice for best results.
Pink grapefruit juice 4 Tbs
Orange juice 4 Tbs
Lime juice 2 Tbs
White wine vinegar 4 Tbs
Orange zest 1 tsp
Ginger zest 1/2 tsp
Store bought orange juice 4 Tbs

Combine all the liquids in a pan and reduce to half over low heat.
Stir occasionally.

Preparing the fish

Fresh halibut fillet 1/2 lbs
Panko or bread crumbs 1/4 cup
Flat leaf Italian parsley - chopped fine
1 Tbs
Almond flakes 1-2 Tbs
Olive oil about 2 Tbs

In a bowl prepare the topping for the fish.
Combine the panko, 1 Tbs of olive oil, chopped parsley, sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Mix well so that the oil is well incorporated.
Lastly add the almond flakes and toss gently so they don't break.
Brush a little of the citrus sauce over the fish.
Season the fillet lightly with salt and pepper.
Spoon the almond mixture on top.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and sear the fillet on one side.
Cook for about 2 mins and transfer the fish to a pre-heated 400 degree oven to finish cooking.
The fish cooks very quickly and after about 8 mins it will be nice and flaky!
Ta da!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Pastrami ciabatta panini with homemade pesto...

We had a very very hot week in Seattle, reaching about 106 degrees!

This was just one of the few things we had that required very little time near the stove.

(Serves 1)
(Prep time: 30 mins)
(Pesto recipe will yield a cup)


1 cup fresh basil leaves

1/8 cup of pine nuts
Use about 1" cube of Parmesan Reggiano
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper!

Put all of the above in a blender.
Add about 2 Tbs of the olive oil to begin with and gradually pour a little more while blending.
All together you would use about 5-6 Tbs of oil.
Blend for a 2-3 mins.. and that's basically it!

Caramelized onions

Cut round 1/4" thick slices of a valida onion.

Heat some oil in a pan. Use just enough to coat the base of the pan.
Add the onions, sprinkle of salt.
Lower heat to med-low and cook for about 20 mins, until soft and tender and very light brown.
Keep turning to ensure even browning and It would be easier on a non stick pan.

Now for the Panini

I got some wonderful organic Ciabatta bread.
Some great deli pastrami. Use a little less than 1/4 lbs per sandwich.
Sliced some tomatoes
Thin slices of Parmesan Reggiano
1/4" thick slices of fresh Mozzarella cheese

Slice the bread, spread a little pesto on both sides.
Arrange the meat over one half of the bread..
Spoon some onions..
Lay the tomatoes..
Layer the Mozzarella and Parmesan (as much as you want)
The other half of the bread comes next.
Brush a little Olive oil on the outer sides of the bread..
I used a stove top panini press and grilled the sandwich for about 4-5 min each side!
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tortellini Salad

Fabulous summer salad!
Leave the sausage out for a vegetarian salad.

(serves 4-6)
(prep time 30 mins)


Fresh cheese tortellini 1 Lbs (cook al dente according to package instructions)
Diced roma tomatoes 1 Med
Very thinly chopped red onion 2 Tbs
Basil leaves 4-5 cut into thin strips
Cooked peas 1/3 cup
Red pepper diced 2/3 cup
Chopped black olives 2- 3 Tbs
Diced beef franks 2-3 links
1/2 cup shredded fresh Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Mayonnaise 4 Tbs
Homemade Pesto 2 Tbs

Make sure your pasta is cold otherwise the mayo will melt.
Mix the pesto with the mayo.
Toss everything together.
Chill well before eating.
No salt no pepper needed!


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