Jump to the Yakhni Pulao Recipe
I recently ran a poll on my Insta Stories where I said cooking for me ranges from feeling like therapy to full on torture and asked where you stood. Most people leant towards therapy, but the bulk of you that messaged me said that it is compulsion that kills it for you. I agree. Wholeheartedly. The difference between I want to and I have to is significant.
For instance, take Yakhni Pulao. I really love it, but there is never a have to attached (I may love it a little more than everyone else lol). So for me cooking Yakhni Pulao with it’s heady aroma is therapy. That said, the traditional way (stovetop) it takes well over an hour just to get the stock ready if you are making it with beef. I am used to slow cooking meat so that in itself does not bother me. However, that’s a solid hour that the aromas I find delightful when I am eating full on move into my couch and rugs and the house smells for days on end. I don’t find that quite so delightful.
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.
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.
Jump to the Pakistani Punjabi Biryani Recipe
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.
I made some changes to this Pakistani 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.
Jump to the Qeema Chawal Recipe
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.
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.
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 😉
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).