Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Short Break!!!

Merry Christmas & A Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you all, my friends!
May the Christmas season fill your home with joy, your heart with love, and your life with laughter. As my gift to you, I hope you’ll enjoy this festive Christmas cookie tree! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Masala Biryani

Things have  been pretty hectic for me.  At work, being year end, I've got so busy!  And then in twice a week in the evenings, I have physiotherapy.  That's when this dish comes in handy. Read on, you'll know why I prefer biryani over any other dish when I am running low on time!

Biryani is something every South Asian family has a family recipe for!  And my family is not different. Mom's biryani recipe is different than mine! I try a few short cuts here and there.  In my family, both father and son love biryani from local Pakistani restaurant, I've come up with the recipe after having gone through a few websites. This one works the best as we all enjoy this biryani a lot.

Growing up, biryanis were made occasionally only. Mainly on birthdays and festivals like Christmas, Easter. Here in Canada, it has just become a habit to have biryani at least once a month, homemade or take-out! And this is so easy to make. I remember mom slaving on the hot stove to cook the chicken, parboil the rice and make layers! This one is nothing compared to that. Just cook chicken until almost done, at the same time, parboil the rice until almost cooked and sauté in lots of ghee and whole spices! Two layers! That's it. I call this biryani recipe a busy mom's gourmet dish!

Masala Biryani

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed into 2" pieces
1.5 cups Basmati rice
2 medium tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsps. Red chili powder
Salt to taste
2 Onions (thin slices)
3 tbs. Garlic (crushed)
2 tsp. Ginger (crushed)
8-10 green cardamoms
4 black cardamoms
6 cloves
10 black pepper
1" cinnamon stick
1 tsp. Cumin,whole
2 bay leaves
8-10 dried plum,chopped
Oil or ghee
6 green chilies
2 tbs. Coriander leaves,chopped
2 tbs. Mint leaves,chopped
few drops kewra essence
1 drop of Yellow food color
A small pinch saffron, soaked in warm milk

How to:
Heat the oil or ghee in a heavy based sauce pan and fry the onions for 5-10 minutes to a golden brown. Remove the onions from the oil and stir into lemon juice. Rub this all over chicken. Add garlic, ginger, salt, chili powder and whole spices and marinate for at least an hour.

Reheat the oil, add the marinated chicken. Fry for 5-10 minutes. Add tomatoes, lower the heat and cook the chicken. keep aside.

In the meantime, in another pan boil the rice with 2-3 tsp. of salt and plenty of water. when the rice is almost cooked, drain the water. Sauté rice with 1 tbsp ghee/butter with whole cinnamon, black cardamom, a bay leaf and green cardamoms.Keep aside.

In a large pot, place rice on the bottom. Mix the food color with a little water and sprinkle over the rice. Then a layer of cooked chicken, dried plums and coriander-mint leaves with some of green chili slices. Add saffron with milk and kewra essence over the rice. Do not stir.

Cover with aluminum foil and then the tight fitting lid and allow to cook for 20 minutes on a very low heat.

Garnish with more mint leaves and slivers of green chilis. Serve with raita.

I've noticed that a day old biryani tastes so much better than the freshly prepared biryani. But again, it's my preference.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tofu N Veggie Stir Fry

I know, I know, not everybody likes Tofu. I myself don't have a particular appetite for tofu. But every now and then, I like to use tofu in cooking just to get something different than usual. To most of us, tofu is intimidating! The thing is bland beyond imagination! And that's good. For all of us foodies out there, tofu is the best to cook with as we could use it as a blank canvas and paint any picture any which way we like!  None of us likes to follow the recipe, just get the idea and make it our own!  Tofu suits best to our whims!Tofu can nicely accommodate Indian spices as well, making it a very good substitute for paneer and chicken. And it is relatively cheap also. So friends, gear up for one easy recipe you would all like to try out. It is my easy tofu and veggie stir fry.

Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry
1 cup tofu, drained and cubed
1/2 cup each your choice of veggies(I used green pepper, asparagus, cabbage, red &orange peppers, snow peas, green onions, broccoli etc.)
Grated ginger and garlic to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
diced green chiles(hot!)
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce( I can never get tired of this stuff!)
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1.5 cup veggie stalk
1 tbsp corn starch
Oil as required

How to:
Spray tofu cubes with salt, pepper and oil. Put them on a baking sheet, in a 400° F oven until the tofu is light brown.
Heat oil in a wok. Sauté ginger, garlic and green chilies till fragrant.
Now throw all your veggies in and stir fry on medium high heat till cabbage is crisp tender.
Toss tofu and salt and pepper and mix well.
Make a slurry using sauces, stalk and corn starch.
Add to the stir fry and cook until the sauce thickens.
Serve with Jasmine rice.