Turkey Biryani – A Delicious Spin on a Classic!

turkey biryani
turkey biryani

There are few things in life that are as soul satisfying as a masala-licious biryani. You know what I am talking about – the kind of biryani where you can see the gravy clinging to delicate long strands of rice, wrapping themselves around flavorful spuds and permeating the meat. At the end of long Ramadan fasts all I want is for someone to make it and for me to eat it. With lots of raita, of course. This beauty over here, right down below, is extra delicious. Want to know why (Hint: read the title). Because it is made with Canadian Turkey meat which cooks to tender delicious perfection in this gravy. This Turkey Biryani made its first appearance at our Ramadan table this year, but Turkey Biryani, my new friend, it shall not be your last. 

turkey biryani

I have biryani-ed here a few times before and I am pumped about it each and every time. When the opportunity to be part of this exciting campaign to discuss the benefits of Canadian Turkey came up I knew exactly what kind of biryani I wanted this to be. My usual biryanis rely on tomatoes for flavor, but this time I wanted to marinate the turkey in a yogurt mix and let caramelized onions bring their rich brothy flavor to the Turkey Biryani. I wound up adding a tomato, but should you not have one feel free to skip it. Rest assured that this Turkey Biryani will still turn out yummy.

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Punjabi Biryani w a Twist

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. Punjabi 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 for Punjabi Biryani 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 Ainy’s Punjabi Biryani recipe 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.

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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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A Kid Friendly Chicken Pulao

Food speaks. It isn’t always just about how it tastes, but also about the nostalgia it brings, and the memories it creates. A friend once spoke with great passion about how the food she cooks is the best way she knows how to communicate her culture to her kids, to instil a love for where she comes from, who she is, and who they are. Her words have stuck with me, especially since like her I too am raising Canadian kids who I hope will love their Pakistani heritage as much as their Canadian identity. That is where this kid friendly chicken pulao comes in.

I once posted on Instagram that my culinary autobiography would have to be called “The Pulao Diaries”. For someone who has next to no memory of eating chicken pulao as a child I now find myself making it at least every other week, sometimes more. It is a dish my children love, a dish that captures so many Pakistani flavors without setting tongues on fire.  I suspect when my kids look back on their childhoods their memories will be scented with caramelized onions and the sound of the exhaust fan on high 😉

Chicken Pulao - Chicken Pilaf

Pulao purists will recognize that this isn’t an ‘authentic’ pulao in the sense that it is not a yakhni pulao (one made by creating a broth). While I adore those the reality is that I don’t usually have the time to make them. 

This is a one pot meal that requires minimal chopping (2 onions) and minimal prep work if you buy your chicken cut into pieces. Also while it has considerable flavour thanks to the caramelized onions and the garlic and ginger the actual spice level is low enough for kids. You can increase it – and the whole spices – to suit your taste, but this is how I make it for my little ones. When I am low on onions I will use one and it is still yummy, if not quite so rich. A palate cleansing raita is a great accompaniment as is a garlicky chutney (to be posted soon). 

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A Spicy “Chatpata” Tehri – a Potato Rice Pilaf

My name is Sarah and I am a carbaholic. There, I said it, it’s done. Judge me all you skinny people with your zoodles and quinoa. By the way I like both things just fine, but put a steaming bowl of tehri in front of me and well…. I think you know how this plays out.

A Spicy 'Chatpata' Tehri

I have always loved Tehri unlike the rest of my siblings which meant I didn’t get to eat it as often as I liked, but when I did it always felt special. It was a dish that I had only ever seen made in my house and it didn’t even occur to me that there was another way to make it. When I got married my mil told me about her way – a way that involves tomatoes, curry leaves, and onion seeds and creates a flavor explosion which makes this a fun change from my usual. It is also different from my usual curry that I do not pre fry the potatoes for it. In this one you slice them nice and thin and cook it with the rest of the dish making this a one pot meal. Who doesn’t like a one pot meal?

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Chicken and Rice

Don’t let the humble name fool you. This recipe makes one big ol’ plate of deliciousness.

For those of you familiar with New York this is a copycat of the chicken and rice that is found at the corner of 53rd and 6th. Friends of mine introduced me to it on one of my NYC trips and can I just say that it was love at first bite? The very reasonable price tag (6 bucks) and sizeable portion also went a long way to making this a must have for my college-student-poor self. You know that’s the kind of poor where you will eat at even the most mediocre cooks’ house for a free meal, where you will find yourself attending club meetings just for the free pizza. I digress. Point is that Chicken and Rice was a winner all around.

Here’s the thing though – I don’t remember how it tastes. It has been a very very long time, so I cannot say how authentic the recipe is, but it is easily one of the best things I have made. What makes this dish extraordinarily fun is that it has so many layers of flavour. There is the buttery yellow rice, the garlicky chicken with its hit of oregano, the cool garlic-dill sauce and the fiery harissa. I made mine from scratch, but that is because I could not find one in store. I think this would also work well with Sambal Oelek. Then again I think everything works well with Sambal Oelek.

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Before I go onto the recipe here’s a quick shout out to my friend Maryam who first brought this recipe to my attention and recommended this combination of recipes for the different components. I did have to take some short cuts, for the non shortcut version I am including the links to each recipe. Don’t let the components intimidate you – the actual cooking time is very little. The Harissa and White Sauce can also be made a day in advance.

Note: I have changed the Harissa recipe a little to make it easier to make in a mini blender and to make it a little less spicy, mind you it is still very very very spicy!!! (June 8, 2015)

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Fish Biryani

Do you guys ever think about food? As in ‘Id like to eat/make something with ____ that tastes ____’. Well I do, not very often mind you; I am usually a follow the recipe kinda girl. But I have been thinking about fish biryani lately. Now, we eat a lot of biryani in this house and historically my fish biryani recipe has been a variant of this one here. Since I usually buy whatever firm white fish is on sale (Basa this time around) I started to feel that my traditional masalas were too strong for a delicate fish. Plus it’s summer you know, time to lighten up – at least flavor wise. Far be it from me to suggest that white rice is diet food 🙂

Fish Biryani

On a serious note, it is easier on the oil than most biryanis  or curries and that actually contributes to the lightness and freshness of the flavors. Also, dill and fish equals yumminess. Trust me – or even better, try it for yourself and see!

fish_biryani
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Chickpea Pilaf or Chanon Wale Chawal

People, let’s talk about Ginger. See how I capitalized it just there? That’s because I have recently discovered a love for it thanks to this pilaf. You see garlic and I – we are tight – in my mind it goes with everything – well, almost everything. I went to this restaurant in San Francisco once called the Stinking Rose where each dish has garlic in it. Even the desserts. That I was not such a fan of. Anyway, back to Ginger with a capital G. I realize that it has a purpose and therefore I use it quite frequently in my food, but I do the same with cloves and would never eat one of those babies.

What I think makes the ginger flavor so beautiful in this dish is that you thinly slice your peeled ginger and then stir fry it in a little oil until it has delicate golden brown edges and a gentler perfume than I typically associate with this potent root. The ginger then becomes part of the base for the ‘broth’ that the rice gets cooked in and just gives the dish a very light, but unusual note that is so addictive that I actually wolfed down two sizable portions in a row and then realized I literally could not move from the couch. Really. The TV remote was far from me too (a whole 5 feet), thankfully my phone was nearby *phew*

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