Wednesday, 13 February 2008

My Biryani

Okay, so we can all open a packet of Shaan biryani mix :) This is something I have tried a couple of times and I prefer it to the very spicey and heavy Bombay Biryani that we all know. Try it.

This is what you need:

Rice, 3 mugs, 255 gms each - almost 800 gms, of course, keeping in mind that I have a family of 4 - with large appetites :) - boiled with a few curry and mint leaves - for the biryani
Chicken (or any other meat, but I prefer chicken)- around 1 whole, making 6 to 8 pieces
2 large onions, finely chopped and fried golden brown - save the oil u fried them in
3 big tomatoes
1 bowl of yoghurt
10 - 15 leaves of curry (karipatta)
half a bunch of mint
Ginger and Garlic as paste and ginger julienne
Garam masala:
2 big black cardamoms
3, 4 greens cardamoms, 4- 5 cloves, 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 & half tsp roasted cumin
1 and half tsp ground coriander, 3/4 tsp red chili, 1 tsp, or more or less according to your taste salt, 1/4 tsp haldi,
some food colouring in half a cup of milk - you need a deep yellow colour
3-4 tbls lemon juice
1/4 tsp each of nutmeg and mace powder and ground cardamoms (green and black together)

.. and this is what you should do:

1- put the fried onions in a dry pot - without oil and let them heat up a bit
2- toss in the tomatoes and the garam masla and around half of the curry leaves
3- let it all cook, stirring so that it doesnt burn. Add a little water if it seems too dry

4- add the chicken, ginger garlic paste and a tbls of lemon juice, so that it doesnt stick and burn
5- let the chicken cook for a while, then add the spices. Cook it more, around 10 minutes and then add the potatoes
6- the chicken and potatoes would need around 15 minutes to be done, chk and set aside

7- cover this chicken with the boiled rice - as is! dont give in to the temptation of mixing the rice with it. Just cover the chicken
8- now decorate with the mint and curry leaves and ginger julienne. Pour over the milk/colour mixture and the saved oil of the onions

9- spread the yoghurt over it all and sprinkle with the nutmeg/cardamom and mace powder

10 - cover with a clean cloth, directly over the yoghurt. Fold in the sides so that the rice is fully covered

11- let it gather steam, around 15 minutes, uncover, turn the biryani up and around, to mix, and enjoy :)

- the yoghurt will have turned into a paneer like thingy, which tastes very good when it comes between the rice. The gravy is just enough and the rice has a very nice colour to it. If you feel a bit daring, add a drop of kehwra to the milk mix. The fragrance is wow! I did..

- just make it this way once without adding or taking anything away. Since I have made it, no one asks for the other one. And it passed the acid test - I had just one hour and 20 minutes and it was done within that time! So its quick too. Try it :)

Simple Pudding

Sometimes we end up with bread that is stale and not eatable anymore na. So make a pudding next time :)

This is what you need:

Bread.. fresh or old.. though old tastes better
1 egg
1/2 to 1 liter milk
Sugar, per taste
Nuts, as u like
1 packet of cream
some butter
a drop or two of food colour

.. and this is what you should do:

1- break the bread in pieces, toss in a form
2- sprinkle nuts on top

3- pour enough milk direct on top to soak the bread without creating a pond!
4- beat the egg with the sugar till it looks almost creamy, add some more milk to thin it out

5- pour it over the bread and pat down lightly with the back of a spoon or a flat knife

6- beat the cream with a little milk to make it thinner, add some food colouring if you want and pour that on top

7- cut up some butter in small pieces and place on top of the whole ensemble
8- bake for 5 -7 minutes in a hot oven, switch off the base and switch on just the grill

9- it should come out nice and crispy and golden brown on top and soft and creamy on the inside.

- this pudding does not taste eggy, like many do. It doesnt cost you much and the ingredients are such that one normally has them at home. You can of course omit the cream if you want, it will just taste better this way. Also, feel free to add vanilla essence if you want, I didnt. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Pakora Experiment

So, here I am with another experiment and I must say I am quite pleased with myself. Ever end up with too many pakoras? What do you do with them? Well, to my shame I must admit that I normally let them lie until I have an excuse to do away with them.. I know, I know, despicable! But, well..

So, I had a few again and thought, why not try something. I did and believe me, the result is very tasty. Try it.

.. this is what you need:

a plate of stale pakoras

1 onion
1/2 can tomato puree or use fresh tomatoes
Garam masla, red chilli, dhania powder and salt
some green for garnish

.. and this is what you should do:

- fry the onions till they are nice and brown
- tip in the tomato puree and let it cook

- keep stirring and add the spices. But do take care, if your pakoras are spicy, then keep a soft hand with the rest of the spices especially salt!
- put in the pakoras and bhunofy, adding a little water

- cover and let it simmer for 5 - 10 mins
- the end result should look tasty - garnish, serve and enjoy with naans!

Flaky Treat

Something quick and very tasty:

This is what you need:

1/2 packet (or 6) ruff puff pastry squares or 3 large bakarkhanis
1 tin of condensed milk
3 glasses of water
mixed nuts: pine, almond, coconut
2-3 tbls butter
1 packet of cream

.. and this is what you should do:

- bake the pastry squares and let them cool

- crumble the squares or bakarkhani in a baking dish
- roast the nuts in the butter and let them cool. Spread them over the crumble

- heat the tin of condensed milk with water and let it simmer for 5 minutes

- let the mixture cool slightly
- pour cooled mixture over the dish. It should be enough for the flakes. If it seems less, add some milk

- pour the cream as is over the whole dish, spreading out with the back of a spoon

- bake under the grill until nice and crispy and golden on top - and then enjoy!

Some tips again

Okay, here are some general guidelines:

All purpose flour and sugar - Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=15 grams
1/4 cup=30 grams
1/3 cup=40 grams
3/8 cup=45 grams
1/2 cup=60 grams
5/8 cup=70 grams
2/3 cup=75 grams
3/4 cup=85 grams
7/8 cup=100 grams
1 cup=110 grams


Butter or Margarine - Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=30 grams
1/4 cup=55 grams
1/3 cup=75 grams
3/8 cup=85 grams
1/2 cup=115 grams
5/8 cup=140 grams
2/3 cup=150 grams
3/4 cup=170 grams
7/8 cup=200 grams
1 cup=225 grams


Cake woes:

*Invest in good chocolate, fruit fillings, nuts etc. You will taste the difference if you start with the best ingredients.

*Always use fresh eggs. Eggs separate best when cold, but egg whites whip up best at room temperature.

*Butter gives the best flavour.A cake is a treat. Live a little!

*Prepare all the necessary ingredients.

*Before mixing the batter, prepare the pans, turn the oven on, and make sure the rack is in the center.

*Have all ingredients at room temperature for best results.

*Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy or as long as the recipe directs.

*Always sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices to avoid lumps.

*Always sift the flour and baking agents separately and add at the end, and don't beat after that, just mix. It will give you a nice fluffy cake.

*To speed up the softening of cold butter, slice and let stand for about 10 minutes.

*Toss nuts, raisins and fruits in the batter last. This will avoid color bleeding.

*Scrape sides and bottom of bowl frequently with a rubber spatula during mixing.

*Spread batter evenly in pans.

*Turn on oven 10-15 minutes before you plan to use it to allow time for it to heat to baking temperature.

*Generously grease inside of pan with solid vegetable shortening. Use pastry brush to spread shortening evenly, making sure all inside surfaces are well covered. Dust with flour, tap out excess. If shiny spots remain, touch up with more shortening and flour, or use vegetable pan spray.

*Position pans as near to center of oven as possible. Pans should not touch sides of oven or each other.

*Test your cakes for doneness while they're still in the oven. Because of differences in individual oven controls, be sure to test your cake for doneness according to package or recipe directions. Cake is done when the sides shrink slightly away from the pan and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

*Cool cake in pan 10 - 15 minutes before loosening the edge and turning it out onto a wired rack to cool.

*To remove cake easily from pan, place double thickness paper towel over wire rack. The towel prevents the wire bars from breaking the crust or leaving imprints on top of cake. A clean oven rack or refrigerator shelf can be used for larger layers. Place covered rack over top of cake. Invert cake and rack at least one hour before decorating. Then brush loose crumbs off cake.

*Chill the cake between the filling and the frosting. The cake will be much easier to work with.

*Apply a thin layer of frosting to the cake then refrigerate until it is set before applying the final, heavier layer of frosting. This will seal in the crumbs, ensuring a clean final appearance.

Cake mishaps:


If the cake rose unevenly in the oven:

The flour was not blended sufficiently into the main mixture.

The temperature inside the oven was uneven.

The oven temperature was too high.

If the cake is dense and heavy:

The eggs were too small. Always use large eggs when baking.

Insufficient air was whisked into the egg and sugar mixture.

The flour was not folded in gently. Always just mix in the flour.

The melted butter was too hot when added, causing it to sink down through the whisked foam.

If the top of the cake dropped:

The oven temperature was too low.

The oven temperature was too hot.

The cake was not cooked long enough.

The oven door was opened too soon, which created a draft.

If the batter curdles and separates:

The ingredients were not at room temperature.

The butter and sugar were not creamed together well enough before adding the eggs.

The eggs were added too quickly.

If the cake's texture is too heavy:

The butter, sugar and eggs were not beaten together long enough.

The flour was beaten at too high a speed.

Too much flour was added to the creamed mixture.

The oven temperature was not hot enough.

If the top of the cake peaks and cracks:

The oven temperature was too hot, causing the outside of the cake to bake and form a crust too quickly. As the mixture in the center of the cake continued to cook and rise, it burst up through the top of the cake.

The cake wasn't baked on the center rack of the oven.

If raisins, dried fruit and nuts sunk to the bottom:

The pieces of fruit were too large and too heavy.

The sugary syrup on the outside of the fruit was not washed off- this caused the pieces of fruit to slide through the mixture as it heated.

The washed and dried fruit was not dusted with flour before being added to the mixture.

The cake mixture was over beaten or was too wet so it could not hold the fruit in place.

The oven temperature was too low, causing the mixture to melt before it set to hold the fruit in place.

So - if there are any other problems you face while baking, let me know.. will try to find a solution :)

Monday, 4 February 2008


Okay Ipsi, this is what you wanted na.. but beware, I dont make it the way everybody else makes it. Or at least, everybody I know.. Keep a few things in mind:

- most people opt for boneless. I dont. I feel the boned meat adds its own special flavour. Boneless leaves it too plain, in my opinon. So opt for clean cuts of meat with good bone.

- the tastier the qorma you make, the tastier your haleem will be.

- the trick in this version of haleem is, the longer you bhunofy it, the better it will be. I spent around 3 hours - 3 solid hours - bhuning! And yet, when we ate the leftover the next day, after more cooking, it tasted better!

So, here goes:

.. this is what you need:

1 & half kilo meat. I used lamb shoulder
Spices as you would for qorma -
salt, pepper, chilli, haldi, coriander, G&G,
onion, tomato puree of 3, 4 large tomatoes
half a cup each of: mash, moong and masoor
one cup of channa
one cup Rice
2 and half cups Porridge (dalia)

.. and this is what you should do:

1- soak the lentils and the rice the night before
2- next day, let them cook in a large pot with lots of water, add some salt and cook cook cook!

3- set the meat to cook, with all spices and a lot of water. Enough that will cook the meat and really soften it up

4- once the meat falls off the bone easily, turn off heat and let it cool
5- once cool, shred the meat with your fingers. This is slow painstaking work. Be careful to get all the small gritty bits of bone, let it cook on very low flame while you tend to the lentil mash

6- once your lentils look almost mushy, add the dalia and some more water if needed and cook again to get the haleem look. If needs be, use a hand-puree machine

7- add this mash, spoon by spoon, to ur meat mix

8- I used almost all my mix, leaving around 2 cups
9- now keep cooking the meat/mash mix. Alternate with ghee/oil (I used ghee) and just spend the next few hours of your life bhuning :)
10- taste in between and set spices. Add water to get the right consistency.

11- once youre sure its the taste you want, temper with ghee and some white zeera
12 - serve and enjoy :)