July 20, 2014

Chicken Biriyani

Chicken biriyani...whenever I hear this name my mouth waters. :) I have remembered always seeing my mom making it in a rice cooker, though it used to taste so good, I always wanted to learn the way dum biriyani was made. I tried so many times when I was in India, but each time, it used to be different and sometimes it used to over cooked and some times not cooked well, especially the rice. So I thought of trying it the layered way on the stove and usually it used to burn the bottom. I also noticed that each time I try, it used to taste different. Well back then we didn't have oven, so it was pretty good making and trying it with rice cooker and stove top.
After I came to the US, oven was a big plus and moreover I got used to using the store bought ready made biriyani masala. Recently I am not so comfortable with frequently using the store bought and as always wanted to try without any store bought masala and wanted to win in that. Well making biriyani is still always a challenge to me. Each time even now it tastes different, I really don't know why.So finally I am thinking that I am getting little bit better in making a so called perfect biriyani :) and so with that confidence wanted to try without any store bought masala. I should say, it really tasted good. Well as I was tired and hungry by the time I made the biriyani, I didn't do so good with the pics, so will try to do better next time.....until then you can surely try this biriyani recipe. :)
This is my old Chicken Biriyani recipe which used store bought biriyani masala (I usually prefer to use Shan's biriyai masala).
Off we go to the new recipe.......... 
For marinating Chicken:
2-3 lb Chicken with bones and cut to medium size pieces
1 1/2 cup Yogurt
2 tbsp Ginger chopped
2 tbsp Garlic chopped
2 tbsp Green Chilies chopped
1 bunch fresh Mint Leaves
1 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 1/2 tbsp Chili powder
1 tbsp Coriander powder
1 juice of Lemon
1 tsp Garam Masala powder
add Salt if required
For the Gravy:
The Above: Marinated Chicken
2 large Onion sliced
2 tbsp Oil
3 tbsp Butter
2 Bay Leaves
3 Green Cardamom
5 Cloves
1 inch Cinnamon stick
1 Black Cardamom
1 tbsp Cumin seeds
1 tbsp Fennel seeds
Salt as needed
For Making Rice:
3 cups Basmati Rice
6 cups Water
2 Bay Leaves
3 Green Cardamom
5 Cloves
1 inch Cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds
Salt as needed
1 cup Cilantro chopped
Note: To get a natural biriyani color I used homemade dehydrated Beetroot and Carrot (about 2 tbsp), you can use a mixture of warm milk and saffron or any food color or just keep all these optional, if you don't wanna use any color and keep it natural.

Making Chicken Gravy:
1. Clean and wash the chicken and add all the marinate ingredients and mix well and coat all the pieces with the masala yogurt and keep it at least for an hour or overnight.
2. In a deep pan add oil and butter and when it's hot add the whole garam masala, then add onions and saute it until golden brown.
3. Add the marinated chicken pieces alone, cover and cook in high flame for about 5 mins, flip the chicken once and cook the other side also for about 5 mins or until most of the water is absorbed. Off the flame.
4. Either remove the chicken to a bowl or in another pan, cook the chicken marinated masala, on medium high flame until the gravy gets thick.
5. Mix the half cooked chicken to this gravy and keep it aside along with the lemon juice.

Making Rice:
1. Soak the rice after washing in more amount of water for about 20-30 mins.
2. In a large pot or sauce pan, add 6 cups of water, whole garam masala, n salt and bring it to a boil.
3. Add the rice and cook it open for about 6-7 mins on medium high flame, until almost 3/4 th of the water is absorbed, and the rice is cooked more than half and less than 3/4th. Off the flame and keep it aside, make sure you don't cover it.

Now assembling the biriyani to be cooked in oven:
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Now add a layer of the chicken and gravy, then add a layer of rice and sprinkle the dehydrated veggies or add saffron milk and some cilantro.
3. Repeat the layers equally until the rice and the chicken is evenly spread through. I usually make 2 to 3 layers.
4. Now cover the biriyani with aluminium foil and bake it for about 25-30 mins (make sure you keep the biriyani in the middle rack of the oven), until the rice and chicken is completely cooked. Carefully open the foil and serve this yummy biriyani with egg curry, eggplant curry and raita.

You Might Also Like:
Chicken BiriyaniFish Mango Biriyani with Mango Coconut CurryShrimp, Mushroom and Potato Biriyani

June 24, 2014

Garden Tomato Salsa

Anything fresh from the garden is always good and better tasting. I started realizing this when I started growing veggies from my small deck garden. I didn't do well at all last year, but this year though I didn't get much, I hope that I will...this is my first tomato and jalapeno, so thought of making something simple, so that I can taste the freshness of the veggies.

I got few tomatoes and jalapeno, so I could instantly think of only salsa and after tasting it, was happy that I made a good choice, as I could taste the juicy tomato and a little kick from the jalapeno. I also added flat leaf parsley from the herb garden as well along with cilantro. I know traditional salsa has cilantro instead of parsley, but it was a nice addition.

2 large Tomatoes chopped
1 small Jalepeno chopped
1 tsp Flat Leaf Parsley chopped
1/4 cup Cilantro chopped
1/2 juice of Lemon/Lime
Salt and Pepper as needed
1-2 tbsp Olive Oil
1-2 tsp Onion chopped
1. In a bowl add all these ingredients and mix with a fork and enjoy with tortilla chips or any chips of your choice. I choose multi grain corn chips and pecan wheat thins.

You Might Also Like:
Cilantro SalsaGrape SalsaStrawberry Salsa

June 16, 2014

Marble Mango Cheesecake with Almond Crust

Cooking is always a learning curve, especially when it comes to baking. This year and last year I didn't do much cheesecakes/pies. I always used to make pies with berries and sometimes cheesecake. But some how I didn't feel like making it...maybe because I had it too much. :) I had cheesecake on friday from one of neighbor friends house and wow I could not think about anything else other than cheesecake after that. She made a vanilla cheesecake, but I wanted to try mango cheesecake as I bought the mango puree just two days before thinking about making something with mango.
Almond Crust:
2 cups Whole Almonds/Sliced
Note: you an use with skin or without skin, I like to used whole Almonds with skin
1 pinch Salt
2 tbsp Butter
3 tbsp Sugar
1. Chop the almonds roughly with a knife, if using whole almonds. If using pan to toast, keep stirring until they turn golden brown on medium low flame. If using oven to toast, preheat to 350F and toast it for about 7-8 mins.
2. Cool them completely and then grind it to a coarse powder.
3. Melt butter and add to the almonds along with sugar, mix and place it in a spring foam pan or a pie plate, apply some butter. Add the almond powder, press it slightly and flatten it and slant the pan a bit to get the crust on the sides as well. Keep it aside.
Mango Cheese Filling:
2 1/2 pkg (8 oz) Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1 cup Sugar
2 tbsp Flour
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup + 2-3 tbsp Mango Puree (fresh/frozen/can)
Note: I used sweetened mango puree
3 Eggs, separated
1/2 tsp Lime Zest (Optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. In a stand mixer add the cream cheese, in a low speed so that it gets soften.
3. Now add mango puree,vanilla extract, flour and mix in medium speed. Scrape the edges, so that all the cream cheese is well mixed.
4. Now add egg yolk one at a time while the stand mixer is running.
5. In a different bowl, add egg whites and with a hand mixer in medium to high speed, whisk it to almost stiff peaks.
6. Fold in the egg whites gently into the mango cheese mixture.
7. Pour this mixture to the prepared spring foam pan with almond crust.
8. With a spoon sprinkle or spoon the mango puree on top of the cheese mixture and with the help of a knife run slightly to make marble effect on the top.
9. Bake this for about 35-45 mins or until the top is slightly golden brown, and when you wiggle, the cheese mixture should wiggle a little bit but not more and also a tooth pick inserted should almost come out clean.
10. Remove the cheese cake from oven and cool it for about half an hour. Then run a plastic knife through the edges and remove the spring foam.
11. Now cool it in fridge for about 4 hours and enjoy this mango cheese cake...a best summer dessert with the flavor of yummy summer fruit. :)
A Glance at all mango recipes:
Strawberry Mango PopsicleHomemade Mango Ice CreamMango Nut Halwa
Fruit BreadGreen Mango Mint Summer Drink - Aam PannaMango Banana Chocolate MilkShake

June 11, 2014

3 Bean Coconut Curry

When we try new things, sometimes kids play a major role. The same thing happens to me most of the time. My son hates eating beans...any beans that had skin to it fresh or dried. I love chick peas, lima beans and kidney beans. Among all chick peas is my absolute all time favorite and now a days I am getting into lima beans more. But I restrict myself to make this often, as he does not eat and it would be a nightmare for me to make him eat. I should say it's bad time for both of us. So I started cooking them more often and cook it more than usually I did, so that it's quite soft. So he is getting better with chickepeas. As and when I started to make more of lima beans, I had to somehow convince him to eat too. So I made this kinda dry curry, he kinda ate little. I was happy that at least he ate some of it. 
Beans and coconut combine well to make yummy curry, so I thought this would be nice idea.

Any kind of beans has lot of plant protein and dietary fiber. Lima beans also is high in plant protein, in addition lima beans is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and plant sterols. Both these beans have soluble fiber, which can help to decrease blood cholesterol levels and therefore may help the risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber also helps patients with diabetes maintain improved blood sugar levels because the fiber helps to slow the rate of absorption of carbohydrate.
1 cup Dried Brown/Black Eyed Beans
1 pkg frozen Baby and Large Lima Beans or dried Lima Beans
1 large Onion chopped
2 Tomatoes chopped
3-4 Garlic cloves
3-4 Green Chilies
1/4 cup Fresh/Dried Coconut
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 stick Cinnamon
1-2 Cloves
1-2 Green Cardamon
Salt as needed
1 tbsp Oil
1. If using all dried beans, soak them in water for about 4-6 hours.
2. If using fresh/frozen beans then you can thaw and use them as it is.
3. In a mixer add coconut, garlic, green chilies, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon and grind to a paste adding little water.
4. In a heavy bottom pan, add oil, when it's hot enough add onions and saute it until the onions turn translucent.
5. Add the ground coconut paste and cook it until the raw smell is gone, for about 3-4 mins on a medium flame.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes, mix well cover and cook for about 7-8 mins, until the tomatoes are well cooked.
7. Add the beans and mix well and cook for a minute or so.
8. Now little water and bring it to a boil, adding little salt. After it comes to boil, lower the flame, cover and cook for about 15-20 mins or until the beans are fully cooked. This can also be cooked in a pressure cooker, make sure you add enough water.
9. Now open and cook on high flame until all the water is absorbed and i'ts little dry. 
10. Enjoy this with steamed rice or roti.

You Might Also Like:
Spring Bean Salad with Apricot Orange VinaigretteChola Batura - Punjabi Fried Bread with Garbanzo BeansShub NavaRathri - Navadhanya Sundal (9 Bean Salad)


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The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook
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Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal, since it will be the last thing your guests remember before they pass out all over the table. The Anarchist Cookbook
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