Friday, January 25, 2013

Amma's Chicken/Mutton Biryani

This was a "Sunday Special" when we were little. It took Amma (my Mother) almost the whole Sunday morning to cook this very elaborate recipe but I must say, it was the best. Made with freshly ground spices, Amma made it with chicken and very occasionally with mutton. Everytime we appreciated the Biryani, she would always joke around saying, "Recipes with lot of work are always very delicious" and I find it very true especially with this one.

Step 1:

2-3 lb chicken, bone in, cut into medium size pieces
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup yogurt
2-3 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Marinate chicken with the above ingredients and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2:

3 cups uncooked basmati rice
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves
2 green cardamom
1 stick cinnamon
1 bay leaf

Wash basmati rice and let it soak for an hour. Boil water in a large pot. Add salt and the above ingredients along with rice. Cook rice until three fourth done. Drain and spread on a large baking sheet. Set aside. (Rice can be cooked in a rice cooker).

Step 3:

Fried Onion:
1 large onion, sliced
oil/ghee (clarified butter)

In oil/ghee, fry onion until golden brown and set aside.

3 onions, sliced
10-15 green chillies (adjust as per preference)
1 small pod garlic
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fennel (saunf) seeds
6 cloves
4 green cardamom
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp pepper corns
1 bay leaf
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp  turmeric powder
1 small bunch coriander leaves
1/2 tsp saffron soaked in 1/4 cup milk
1 cup yogurt
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup cashewnut, ground to a paste
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
salt to taste
Ghee(clarified butter)/oil

How it's made:
Grind ginger, garlic and green chillies and set aside.
In a coffee grinder or regular blender powder coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel together. Set aside.
In a teaspoon of oil roast cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, pepper corns  and powder together.
Heat oil/ghee in a large open skillet. Add onions, bay leaf and fry until light brown. Add ginger-garlic-green chilli paste. Fry for a few minutes. Add chopped coriander leaves, mint and tomatoes. Add 1/2 tsp salt and fry until mixture is soft.

Add coriander-cumin-fennel powder, roasted spice powder, chilli powder, turmeric, marinated chicken and 1 cup yogurt. Cover and let it cook until chicken is almost done. If chicken is well cooked and you have a lot of gravy, remove chicken pieces onto a plate and reduce gravy on high heat. Transfer chicken back to pan, add cashewnut paste. (It helps in thickening the gravy).

To assemble:
In a baking dish, spread a few ladle full of chicken, followed with rice and fried onions. Continue layering finishing with rice and onions on top. Spoon saffron milk.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 deg F for 20 minutes. Serve hot with raita.

Serves: 8

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry

Stir fry with any combination of vegetables make a healthy side dish. Tofu can be substituted with meat or shrimp.


1 lb firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese cooking wine
1/2 cup snow peas
1 cup broccoli florets
8-10 baby carrots or 1 large carrot, sliced diagonally
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1/2 bean sprouts
1 green spring onion, white included, chopped
2 garlic clove, minced
1"ginger, grated

1 cup water/vegetable stock/chicken stock
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

How it's made:

Press tofu firmly with a paper towel to drain excess water. Marinate with 1 tsp soy sauce and 1/2 tsp Chinese cooking wine. Set aside for 10 minutes.
In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine all ingredients for sauce and shake well.
In a wok or skillet, add oil and toss marinated tofu until light brown. Transfer to a bowl. In the same wok, add green spring onion, garlic and ginger. Saute for a minute. Add snow peas, peppers, broccoli, carrots and bean sprouts. Fry for a minute or two leaving the veggies crisp. Add tofu and sauce. Stir until heated through. Serve immediately.

Serves: 3-4

Note: Soy sauce is high in sodium and adjust salt as per personal preference.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ghosale Upkari (Ridge Gourd Stir Fry)


1 medium ridge gourd, skinned & cut into cubes
1/2 tsp sasam (black mustard seeds)
1 dried red chili, cut into 3 pieces
3-4 curry leaves
a pinch of hing
salt to taste
1/4 tsp sugar

How it's made:

In a "Kayli"or skillet, heat oil. Add mustard. When it splutters, add red chilies, curry leaves and hing. Saute for  a few minutes. Add ghosale (ridge gourd) and salt to taste. Cover and let it cook. Add sugar. Serve with rice and dalitoy.

Serves: 2

Ghosale Shira Chutney (Ridge Gourd Skin Chutney)

The first time I tried it, I was hooked on to it. The roasted spices give a very distinctive flavor to this chutney.


Skin of 1 ridge gourd
1/2 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
3 green chillies
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
1/4 cup fresh grated coconut

How it's made:

Peel ridge gourd. Discard the fibrous outer skin and use that's closest to the white portion. Chop roughly. Set aside.

In a "Kayli", "Kadai" or pan, heat oil. Add jeera and chopped green chillies and fry until color changes. Add hing. Fry for another 30 seconds. Add ridge gourd skin and salt to taste. Fry until it turns soft. Do not add water. Remove from heat and transfer to blender. Add coconut and blend until smooth with very little water. Serve with rice and dal.

Serves: 2

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Chicken Curry with Yogurt


1 lb bone in chicken, cut into medium size pieces
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium onion, sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1-2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust as per your preference)
1/2 tsp haldi powder (turmeric)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 plain yogurt, whisked
salt to taste
coriander leaves for garnishing

How it's made:

Marinate chicken with dry spice powder (red chili powder, haldi, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt). Set aside for 30 mins. Heat oil in a wide skillet. On high heat, fry the chicken pieces for a few minutes until light brown. Remove and set aside.
In the same pan, add a little oil if needed. Add cumin seeds. When it changes color, add onions. Fry onions until translucent. Add ginger and garlic paste. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and salt. Fry until the mixture turns mushy. Add chicken pieces and yogurt. Cover and cook on medium high heat until chicken is well done. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice/roti.

Serves: 4

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Green Beans Talasani (Green Beans with Garlic)

This is traditional made with "Tendle" (Ivy Gourd). Tendle is washed and crushed with a mortar and pestle. My Mom had a wide wooden mortar where 3-4  Tendle would be crushed at one go. They tend to get a little messy though since the seeds scatter everywhere. Cooking with green beans is simple and quick.


1 lb green beans
5-6 garlic cloves
2 dried red chillies (byadgi)
salt to taste
2 tsp oil

How it's made:

Rinse and cut beans to 1" pieces. Crush garlic cloves. Cut chillies to pieces. Shake the seeds off to reduce spice level.
In a "Kadai" or non stick pan, heat oil. Add garlic and saute until garlic is light brown. Add red chillies and fry  until the color turns to deeper red. Add green beans and salt to taste. Do not add water. Cover and let cook until beans are tender. Once they are cooked, turn the heat to high and fry for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot with white rice and dalitoy.

Serves: 4

Note: A little more oil helps fry beans quicker. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

While shopping at the grocery store recently, my son set his eyes on a box of chicken pot pie. It was lunch time and I always try to avoid shopping when one's hungry.
Every time I pick an item from the shelf that I have never purchased before, I always tend to read the label. I flabbergasted with the amount of sodium content. So I picked up a pack of puff pastry sheet and made it with a few modifications to the traditional pot pie.


1 pack store bought puff pastry sheets (available at freezer section at most grocery stores)
1 boneless chicken breast, cut into 1"cubes
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 tbsp flour (heaped)
1- 15 oz can low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1"cubes
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup frozen green peas
3 white mushrooms, cut into chunks
1/2 cup half & half
salt to taste
pepper powder
a few sprigs fresh parsley

How it's made:

In a non stick pan, heat a tsp oil. Saute chicken cubes with a pinch of salt , pepper and set aside. In the same pan, heat butter. Once it melts, add onions. When translucent, add flour. The mixture will turn lumpy but continue frying on medium high heat for 3-4 mins. Lower heat and add liquid (stock and water) a little at a time. Keep stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Once all the liquid has been used, add carrots, potatoes, peas, mushrooms and chicken. Cook together for 5 mins on medium heat. Make sure that the sauce doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add half & half, salt , pepper powder and parsley. Boil and pour sauce into 6 ramekin bowls.
Pre-heat oven to 350 deg F.
Roll out puff pastry sheet. Cut circles 1/2 " larger than the circumference of the ramekin bowls. Cover ramekin with pastry sheets. Press the edges with back of fork. Slit holes on the top of pastry sheet for steam to vent through while baking.
Bake at 350 deg F for 20-30 minutes or until the top crust is brown.

Serves: 6

Note: An extra can of chicken stock can be used instead of water. I like to use low sodium stock when I don't have home made stock, so that I can control the amount of sodium in the recipe. 
Most pot pie recipes includes an egg which is used to brush the top of puff pastry sheet before baking. It leaves a nice glaze on the crust. I like to skip the egg wash step.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing everyone happiness, prosperity & good health throughout 2013. 

Alsande Be (Black Eyed Beans) Saar Upkari

Saar Upkari is another traditional Konkani dish. Served with plain white rice, Saar Upkari is a comfort food for Konkani 's next to "Dalitoy". Also made with "Kulithu" (Horse Gram), "Kal Chana" (Bengal Gram), "Green Moong" (Mung Beans), it is seasoned with garlic & chillies or with mustard, red chillies & curry leaves. Saar Upkari is always made with dried beans. Some need 2-3 hours soaking while others a little longer.


6 oz Alsande Be (Black eye beans)
4-5 garlic cloves
2-3 dried red chillies (byadgi)
2 green chillies, slit in half
salt to taste

How it's made:

Soak Alsande Be for an hour. (Soaking this particular beans helps in speeding up the cooking process). In a pressure cooker, add enough water to soak the beans & pressure cook until cooked.
Do not discard water that was cooked with beans. Add salt to taste & green chillies. Boil 4-5 minutes. In the meantime, in a "Phanna Davlo" or small skillet pan, heat oil. Add crushed garlic cloves & saute until light brown. Add red chillies & fry to a deeper red. Add seasoning to the cooked beans & stir well.
Serve with plain white rice.

Serves: 4