Punjabi Biryani

punjabi biryani 3

It is always biryani o’ clock somewhere. I wish that was my line, but alas it is not although it did ring true when I found myself sitting on my front steps at 10 am a bowl of biryani in my hand. Biryani for breakfast? Why not. I have a go to biryani, one that is my aunts recipe and it is pretty damn delicious so I will be honest and say that I never anticipated posting another. When I saw this recipe on Ainy Cooks, a website that has an impressive collection of Pakistani recipes, I decided it was a must try since it was pretty simple and seemed like a richer flavoured version of my own. I was not disappointed and have made it at least three times since then. 

punjabi biryani 4

I made some changes to suit our palate and my convenience (lol), but my favourite addition is the “koylay ka dum” or charcoal smoke. It is a game changer and simple enough to do. In fact my FIL was the one who taught me how.

True story.

He was amused and perhaps slightly horrified that I was adding the smoky scent to biryani, but I had very good reason to do so. See once upon a time when I used to work in Karachi one of my colleagues brought the most amazing biryanis for lunch. It became clear that I was helping myself to them a little too much when he showed up with double the amount one day because he had told his family that there was a girl in his office who loved the biryani and ate like a man. Was I embarrassed? Sure. Not enough though to stop said eating like a man. The secret ingredient, the one that made it both addictive and unusual was the charcoal smoke so I added it here. I hope Ainy won’t mind my taking this liberty with her mothers recipe.

punjabi biryani
Punjabi Biryani
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For the Meat Mixture
  1. 1 lb Chicken/ Beef/ Mutton
  2. 1 large sliced onion
  3. 3 large diced tomatoes
  4. 1 tbsp ground/grated ginger
  5. 1 tbsp ground/crushed garlic
  6. 5-6 Dried plums (aloo bukharay, squeeze in lemon juice when the masala is ready if you don't have any)
  7. 1/2 cup yogurt
  8. 2 tsp salt
  9. 1 tbsp Red chili powder
  10. 1/2 tsp turmeric power
  11. 1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
  12. 1/2 tsp cumin
  13. 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  14. 2 Large (black) cardamom
  15. 4 green cardamom
  16. 2 small cinnamon sticks
  17. 6-7 whole black pepper
  18. Generous handfuls of chopped fresh coriander/cilantro + mint leaves
  19. 3-4 green chillies
For the rice
  1. 3 cups rice, rinsed and soaked.
  2. 1 tbsp vinegar
  3. 2 generous tsp salt
  4. Optional: Yellow food coloring, a piece of coal.
Instructions
  1. Slice your onions and cook in large pot till browned.
  2. Put in the ginger, garlic and tomatoes and cook till mushy.
  3. Add the yogurt, remaining spices, meat, green chillies and mix well.
  4. If cooking chicken then add one cup of hot water, bring to a boil then simmer till tender. For tougher meats i.e. beef and mutton add more water.
  5. Add coriander leaves and mint leaves.
  6. In large pot add water, salt, vinegar to the soaked rice and boil till it is parboiled i.e. most of the grain will be translucent with an opaque center.
  7. Strain the rice when done.
  8. Layer the rice in the following order: half the rice, all the meat masala, remaining rice, sprinkle over the yellow food coloring, and leave on the lowest heat setting for 15-20 minutes. I have a glass cooktop so I am in no danger of burning my rice on the lowest setting, but please exercise caution on gas stoves!
  9. If you are doing the 'koylay ka dum" then light a piece of coal over a flame. While it is getting nice and hot place a piece of foil inside the biryani pot (on top of the rice) and drizzle with oil. Once the coal has red hot surfaces then place it on the foil and quickly shut the lid. You can do this after your biryani is ready or add it before your set the biryani over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove the foil + coal before serving.
Adapted from Ainy Cooks
Adapted from Ainy Cooks
Flour & Spice http://www.flourandspiceblog.com/
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Pakistani Murgh Palak (Spinach and Chicken)

palak chicken

Moment of truth time folks: Pakistani food is hard, sorry Pakistani food can be hard. Not because of the techniques,  but because of the time. So much damn time. Now of course there are great short cuts, but for an anxious hovering over her food kinda cook like me it can feel exhausting. That is what makes this hearty Murgh Palak so so perfect, there is no slow cooking of onions, no waiting for flavours to develop. Once the chicken is done you’re done. No garnishing required either. Just pick up your roti, or ladle the Murgh Palak over your rice and eat. 

palak chicken

It also does not hurt that I love spinach (palak) which is why I am so generous with it, but please feel free to use the lesser amount for a more traditional version. A note on spinach – for those of you who can, pop into your nearest Pakistani or Indian stores and buy the frozen spinach you find there. It has a richer, earthier flavour than the spinach you buy in most grocery stores. I like to grab a few bags when I can and keep them handy. You can add fresh methi (fenugreek leaves) to this dish as well, but I usually have the fragrant dried version (kasuri methi) at home so that is what I use. Also please learn from my many mistakes (lol) and adjust seasoning before serving – spinach dishes tend to get saltier tasting as they sit!

Murgh Palak (Spinach and Chicken)
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb boneless chicken cut into big cubes (about 50% more for bone in)
  2. 1/2 a large red onion
  3. 1 tomato
  4. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  5. 1 heaped teaspoon garlic
  6. 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  7. 3/4-1 teaspoon salt (start w 3/4)
  8. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne / red chilli powder
  10. 3/4 teaspoon coriander powder
  11. 2 340g bags of thawed frozen spinach or 500g of spinach
  12. Heaped tbsp of Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek) - optional
Instructions
  1. Finely dice the onion and tomato
  2. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pot and add the diced onion, fry on medium high heat till the edges start to take on a golden brown
  3. Add the ginger and garlic, stir fry for a minute
  4. Now in with the dry spices, cook for another minute
  5. Add the chicken and stir to coat with spices, keep 'stir frying' until none of the chicken pieces look pink.
  6. Mix in the diced tomato, spinach and a cup of hot water, bring to a boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes until tender.
  7. Add the kasuri methi (if using), adjust seasoning (remember to exercise caution) and the consistency.
Notes
  1. I usually skip garnishes, but if you're in the mood for something zestier add some finely chopped chillies and a squeeze of lemon juice!
Flour & Spice http://www.flourandspiceblog.com/
palak chicken

 

 

 

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Lemon Crunch Cake (Lemon Drizzle Traybake)

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I am a little obsessed with this idea of a crunchy/contrasting topping on cakes. I am also a little obsessed with all things lemon – desserts like this Lemon Mousse-y creation or a generous squeeze at the end of Pakistani dishes like fish biryani. When I saw a recipe for a Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, a thoughtful gift from one of my three favourite brothers and his wife, I knew it had to be. The lemon crunch cake is easy to put together – you literally just dump all the ingredients in the bowl and mix till smooth. The fabulous crunch topping is as simple as lemon juice + sugar and it totally works

lemon crunch cake

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Chicken & White Sauce Squares

Chicken White Sauce Squares

Desi truth: We love white sauce. Not the milk/cream, butter, nutmeg and a sprinkling of cheese kind, but the fully loaded variety with things in it that would appal French grandmamas. These Chicken & White Sauce Squares are inspired by the memory of another impressive woman. When I was a teenager there was a lady who made part of her living going from house to house making these squares. They were built with samosa wrappers that would shatter ever so slightly when you bit into them and savoured the creamy deliciousness of the white sauce filling.

Chicken and White Sauce Squares

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Sheer Khurma & Eid Eats 2016!

sheer khurma

Eid Eats 2016 is here!!! I am so thrilled to be co-hosting this events with blogger buddies Henna (My Ninja Naan) and Asiya (Chocolate & Chillies). What is Eid Eats you may ask? Well it is a fun round up of Eid recipes from our blogger friends world over. The recipes usually range from traditional to non traditional with a common theme of deliciousness. Blogger friends check back here for the how tos and don’t forget to use the hashtag #EidEats2016! My wonderful readers can see what everyone else is bringing to the table at the bottom of the post. Please do keep checking back as recipes will continue to be added over the next three days!

Eid-Eats-2016

I had initially thought of making something more ‘creative’ but then I decided to hold on to that thought and instead offer to you Sivaiyan/Sheer Khurma, the vermicelli & milk dessert that is almost compulsory on Eid-ul-Fitr. My Mamas Sivaiyan – or Sheer Khurma if we are going to be technical here – comes together in fifteen minutes and never ever have I had a bite and thought “How could I make this better?” For me it is just not possible. Her secret? A piece of mithai (traditional sweet dessert). One piece of qalaqand which is readily available at Pakistani/Indian stores goes a long way in adding real depth to what can sometimes be an underwhelming dessert. If you don’t have it don’t fret: my other favourite ingredient Condensed Milk does some delicious good here. 

sheerkhurma2

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Quick Strawberry Nutella Hand Pies

strawberry nutella hand pies-4

The Story of Quick Strawberry Nutella Hand Pies:

Once upon a time there was a girl who is now a woman, but still calls herself a girl. In her head she is the kind of person who makes everything from scratch, it is her dream to make her own bread. The only reason she doesn’t is because she would eat it all. She pins the same Strawberry Nutella Hand Pie recipes over and over ooh-ing and aah-ing over the variations in crust. She has done this for two years. And then one day she does something scary: she walks into a store and buys a premade pie crust. After that something wonderful happens – with five minutes of work she makes these delicious little hand pies, cute as a button, their flaky crust oozing with strawberry and nutella, their tops crackly and finished with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. One bite and she stops judging herself, but just to be safe she took two (hand pies not bites) and now plans to live happily ever after. The Beginning. 

strawberry nutella hand pies

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Qeema Chawal – Rice & Ground Beef Pilaf

beef and rice pilaf

Qeema Chawal. Rice and Ground Beef. Is this a qeema biryani? I don’t know, but when I think of biryani I think of headier spices, bolder flavors. Qeema Chawal for me is it’s more mellow beautiful counterpart. It is more pulao like in it’s simplicity of flavors and it is one of the few dishes where I will not be able to resist seconds (and maybe thirds but whose counting). This is another one of my mothers recipes and one of those which I make almost as well as she does. Almost. That’s more than good enough for me. 

Qeema_Chawal_Ground_Beef_Rice

I wasn’t sure whether I should post this recipe or not, but the further we get into Ramzan the more my body craves foods that are light yet flavorfully spicy and this checks those boxes. I love it most with a loaded raita, but then I love most things with a loaded raita. This rice dish improves in flavor and the best way to reheat is to sprinkle it with a little water before microwaving it. If you feel like your beef has become too ‘dry’ then add two additional tbsp of room temperature whipped yogurt into the qeema mixture before layering it with the rice.

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No Churn Kulfa Ice Cream

kulfi icecream3

Hello hello everyone! I feel like it’s been a while so some niceties are in order. Where have I been? Battling technical demons courtesy my love hate relationship with my iPhone which happens to be my camera. Rest assured that there are many yummies coming your way soon! Speaking of yummy you won’t actually find today’s recipe here, instead it will be hanging out over at Lubnas blog which is appropriately titled “Yummy Food| Fast to Cook, Good to Eat”. Now who doesn’t like the sound of that? Lubna was kind enough to ask me to join once again in her Ramadan recipe round up called “Joy From Fasting to Feasting” and I couldn’t say no 🙂 I’ve visited once before and look forward to doing so again in coming years!

(Am I hinting? only a little…)

no-churn-kulfi-icecream-best

This no churn trend really has me hooked guys – I even bought a can of condensed milk the other day “just in case”. First there was the sublime coffee toffee ice cream and now it meets a sunnier more refreshing counterpart, my riff on the classic kulfi, that milky dense delicious treat studded with pistachios and almonds that is one of my favorite desserts of all time. I happen to make some pretty good kulfi, but I really wanted to make an ice cream, one that was simultaneously light in flavors and luscious in texture and I knew this had to be. One bite and I wanted to pat myself on the back which in case you’re wondering is a lot more awkward to do than it sounds. Also, that exra swirl of honey? That is a thing of beauty and it amazes me how wonderfully it pairs with this divine kulfa ice cream *sigh*. 

Want to make this happen? Go check out how!

 

no-churn-kulfi-icecream-best

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Asian Inspired Corn Fritters

Asian-Corn-Fritters

For Muslims across the world this is the month of Ramadan, a month where we fast from sunrise to sunset with the intent of gaining greater empathy with those less fortunate, being more grateful for our blessings and learning to subsume our physical desires in favour of spiritual ones. It is perhaps somewhat ironic that during this month there is a strong culture of food traditions. Be it the lentil soup of  some Arabs, or the pakoras of us Pakistanis aside from the proscribed opening of the fast with a date there is a great deal of variation across the board. In Pakistan if you open your windows in the hour before iftar then you will smell the delicious smells of crispy fried goodness – samosas, jalebis, pakoras – they’re an almost staple at an iftar table.

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Today I am sharing with you – and more accurately the readers at My Ninja Naan – my recipe for Asian Inspired Corn Fritters, a fun change from the usual. These are simple corn fritters (yes, corn is my new nutella) that come together in a jiffy, you can put the batter in the fridge and fry them up at iftar time. They are best when fresh and a spicy condiment is not optional. I love the slight crunch of these tender fritters with their sweet corn and fiery chillies. Skip the chillies and they are immensely child friendly. Want to add a desi touch? Skip the soy sauce and generously season with the desi trifecta of salt, cayenne, and cumin. 

To learn how to make this happen head over to my lovely friend Henna’s blog and read more! Henna is also amping up her posts for this Ramadan so subscribe to her blog so that you don’t miss out – I am already SO intrigued by her creative Mango Chickpea Salad.

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Brigadeiros – Irresistible Brazilian Chocolate Fudge

brigadeiros-6

What are Brigadeiros you ask? If I told you these yummy little things are like caramels and fudge had a beautiful baby then would I need to say anymore? How about if I said that there are only six ingredients involved? How about we just take a minute and look at one. 

Aah Brigadeiros, you get me every time *sigh*

I first discovered these chewy chocolatey treats when I was in college. The international house often had these themed dinners and these made what for me was an unforgettable experience at the Brazilian one. I pestered the Brazilian girls for the recipe, but they suggested that it wasn’t something that could be easily done with American ingredients. Let’s just say I am thrilled to bits that they were wrong (or just messing with me). 

Brigadeiros: A Chocolatey Fudgy Brazilian Treat
Having made them once or ten times I have made probably all the mistakes you can make and here is what I have learnt. They are best consumed that day or a day after. If you really wrap them tightly then two days at most, but room temperature is the only way to go. If they are undercooked and not rolling well run to the party store grab those tasting spoons that resemble the ones you have soup with at a Chinese restaurant. Put a dollop in each spoon, top with sprinkles and call it a day.  

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