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Thursday, April 25, 2019

A - Z Indian Biryani / Khichdi / Pulao Series ~ V for Vaal Khichdi

This is going to be my last khichdi of the series and I wish I could have planned some more. I had no idea when I started that I would end up loving these simple, one pot meals more than the classic version biryanis and pulaos that I 'vegetarianized'. In fact, this one pot meal was the one my husband enjoyed the most among all the dishes I cooked for this month. He even recommended to rotate the dish frequently from now on and that sure is an indication of a successful attempt on my part and a well enjoyed meal. I came across this  khichdi made with field beans, when I went on  exploring regional rice dishes as I didn't want to choose a predictable vegetable pulao or biryani as my 'V' dish. There are plenty of recipes with variations over online and my version is kind of mish mash of those, suiting my preference and my palate. 

The star ingredient of this khichdi is 'vaal' aka field beans and that is one of the reasons I tried this. My husband and I have nostalgic memories associated with the tender beans and so he recommended to try it even dried beans are being used here. However note that the strong flavor of the tender green beans is not pronounced as much when using the dried beans. I soaked the val beans for 2 hours accidentally which is not needed unless you are going to cook it in a pot on stove top. About 15 to 30 minutes should be enough if pressure cooker is going to be used. 

This khichdi makes a filling and nutritious one pot meal even when you don't have vegetables on hand or need to finish off those odds and ends left from the refrigerator. The addition of vegetables here is quite optional but I added to make it a more wholesome meal. Only onions can also be added in place of vegetables. This is a simple yet awesome tasting khichdi served with some drizzling of ghee, pickle and papad on the side. The quantity serves 4 adults generously if served alone.

Ingredients:
1 cup rice (American standard measuring cup)
1/2 cup vaal dal / field beans
2 cups of chopped mixed vegetables
(I used green beans cut into 1 inch pieces, peeled and cubed potato and carrots and a handful of frozen peas.)
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tbsp. ghee
1 tsp.mustard seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
I sprig of curry leaves
Salt to taste (about 2 tsp)
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. chili powder (less or more depending upon the heat.)
1 tbsp. goda masala*
1 tbsp. or more, freshly extracted thick tamarind paste (Again less or more depending upon the sourness of tamarind and preference. If using store bought paste, add as preferred.)
1 tsp. jaggery powder (optional. I did not feel the sweetness is required but anyway added 1/2 packet Stevia) 

* I had prepared goda masala at home and I added a tbsp. for flavor since it was less hot. Add about 1/2 to 1 tsp. if the goda masala is hot. Check the taste and add extra if needed.

Directions:
1. Soak beans for about 15 to 30 minutes and drain. Rinse the rice in two exchanges of water.
2. Pressure cook together rice, vaal dal, vegetables if using and turmeric adding 3 cups of water. 
3. In a non stick pan, heat ghee and add mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add asafoetida and curry leaves. At this point, if you prefer add a one chopped onion and fry until translucent. 
4. Next add the cooked rice and vaal dal mixture, ground cumin, ground coriander, goda masala, chili powder, salt, tamarind and jaggery if using. Add about a cup of water and stir well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Cook on medium flame stirring intermittently until the mixture starts to boil and sputter, about 5 minutes. 

In case if one prefers to cook this as one pot meal, cook in one of the following methods:

Pressure cooker method:
* Start with step 3 directly in a 3 liter sized pressure cooker. Add the rinsed and drained rice-vaal dal mixture, vegetables, turmeric, salt, ground coriander, ground cumin, goda masala, chili powder, tamarind, jaggery along with about 3 and 1/2 cups water. Pressure cook the mixture for three whistles. When the valve pressure is gone, remove the lid, stir well and serve hot.

Directions to cook in a pot:
* Soak vaal dal for a couple of hours and drain.
* Heat a pan, non stick one preferably. Start with step 3. Then add the rinsed rice, vaal dal, vegetables and turmeric. Add about 4 cups of water initially and cook until the rice and dal are cooked, stirring intermittently. Extra water may need to be added.
* Once the dal is cooked, add the remaining ingredients and cook for another 5 minutes and turn off the stove.

So far in my Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi series,
A - Ambur Biryani
B - Basanti Pulao / Misthi Pulao
C - Corn - Fenugreek Greens Pulao
D - Donne Biryani
E -  Ek Toap na Dal Bhaat
F - Fada ni Khichdi
G - Gutti Vankaya Biryani
H - Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani
I - Iyengar Puliyogare
J - Jaipuri Mewa Pulao
K - Kashmiri Pulao
L - Lucknowi Biryani
M - Motiwale Pulao

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A - Z Biryani / Khichdi / Pulao Series ~ U for Uttarakhandi Khichdi (Tilantha Khichdi)


When I made a list of recipes to try for this marathon, I made it a point to pick as many as possible choices for each alphabet. The idea was that I can cook whatever I can depending upon the mood and the ingredients I have on hand at the time of cooking rather than sticking my guns at one dish which may have proved not feasible at all. I went on to cook about 2 dozen different pulaos and biryanis in the past couple of months that we my husband somewhat hit a vexation point just at the mention of it. He enjoys them once in a while but not when his wife is determined to experiment and cook all known varieties, in the span of few weeks. 

My initial plan was to cook a 'ulava chaaru biryani' for the alphabet "U'. I zeroed on a particular recipe and bought a packet of horse gram for the first time in my life.  I kept delaying the preparation until this weekend to break the biryani monotony but it turns out that I was no longer in the pulao / biryani mood. I therefore turned to this easy-breezy kind khichdi, the one pot meal being a dish which I don't get tired of, irrespective of regional variations. 

I tried to pick a handful of khichdis for this month's marathon, each with at least some minor variations. This one pot khichdi which is also called as tilantha khichdi or tilwali khichadi that I found on youtubecomes from the Uttarakhand region as the name suggests. It doesn't use any garam masala either in whole or ground forms, which seems to be a norm in most of the masaledar khichdis. This version is prepared using rice and small sized lobia / black eyed peas which are brown in color. I used chori beans instead. The khichdi is supposedly preferred during the winter months as sesame seeds and ginger are natural warmers. A paste made with toasted sesame seeds, generous amounts of ginger and garlic and green chillies is used in this khichdi preparation. I omitted garlic from the recipe but feel free to use it liberally if you prefer it's addition. The delicious khichdi is quite spicy on it's own, thanks to green chilies, chili powder and ginger in the recipe. Serve it along with some plain yogurt, papad, and ghee to make it a wholesome and filling meal.

Ingredients: (Yield 2 servings)
1/4 cup small sized brown colored black eyed peas
1 tbsp. white and /or black sesame seeds
1 inch piece of ginger
2 green chillies
2 tbsp. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup basmati rice
1.5 cups water

Directions:
* Soak beans overnight. Drain after the soaking period.
* Toast sesame seeds on low flame until they start to crackle and turn off the stove. Let them cool.
* Grind sesame seeds, ginger and chilies together finely adding water as needed.

* Heat ghee directly in a pressure cooker. Add cumin seeds and when they start to brown, add drained beans and saute for a minute. Next add the sesame seed paste and fry on low flame for about a couple of minutes.

* Next add salt, coriander powder, turmeric and chili powders and stir well. Continue to cook until the paste thickens and the beans are coated well with it, about 3 - 4 minutes.
* Rinse and drain the rice. Add it to the cooker and saute for few seconds. Add water and bring the mixture to a boil. Close the lid and pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles. 
* Wait for few minutes after the valve pressure is gone. Open the lid of the cooker, gently mix and serve warm.

So far in my Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi series,
A - Ambur Biryani
B - Basanti Pulao / Misthi Pulao
C - Corn - Fenugreek Greens Pulao
D - Donne Biryani
E -  Ek Toap na Dal Bhaat
F - Fada ni Khichdi
G - Gutti Vankaya Biryani
H - Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani
I - Iyengar Puliyogare
J - Jaipuri Mewa Pulao
K - Kashmiri Pulao
L - Lucknowi Biryani
M - Motiwale Pulao
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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A - Z Biryani / Khichdi / Pulao Series ~ T for Teheri / Tehri / Tahiri

Tahri is one dish from the bygone era that fortunately didn't need any substitutions since it is vegetarian in origin. Tehri also called as tahri, tahiri, or teheri is a vegetarian one pot rice meal that had interestingly found a place in the royal kitchens of Awadh, which are almost synonymous with their lavish, non-vegetarian version biryanis. It is believed to have been first created for the vegetarian book keepers of the Nawabs. It makes sense that the royal kitchens catered to it's staff considering that it was a period when there was no practice of either carrying a lunch box or eating out. Tehri seems to have gained quite popularity during second world war when meat prices substantially increased and potatoes became a favored alternative to meat in biryanis. Apart from north India, primarily Uttar Pradesh where the dish has originated and is cherished, it is also quite popular one in Pakistan and Bangladesh where it no longer remains a vegetarian dish. It seems to be a popular street food of Kashmir too. 
 
I honestly enjoy this delicious tehri more compared to the biryanis where I need to convert meat based ones to 'vegetarian' ones. It is probably because the dish is perfect as it is and honed over time and needs no modifications. It is quite easy to put together this one pot comfort meal that needs no fancy ingredients. Unlike a biryani preparation where rice and vegetables are cooked separately, rice in this case is cooked along with spices and vegetables in one handi / pot. Typically though potato is the commonly used vegetable in tehri, one can experiment with any preferred vegetables.

Ingredients: (2 servings)
1/2 cup basmati rice
2 to 3 cups mixed vegetables (I used peeled and diced potato and carrots, green peas and cauliflower florets.)
1 tbsp. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 black cardamom
2 cloves
1 inch cinnamon piece
1 big onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp. ginger - garlic paste
1 green chili, slit lengthwise
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garam masala (optional)
Salt to taste
3/4 cup water

Ingredients for garnishing:
Minced cilantro leaves
Lemon juice
Ghee

Directions:
* Heat ghee directly in a small pressure cooker and add cumin seeds, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.
* When the cumin starts to brown, add onion slices and saute until golden brown.
* Next add the ginger - garlic paste and saute until the raw smell leaves.
* Next add the tomato and green chilies. Cook for a couple of minutes. 
* Next add turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, chili powder and salt, stir and mix well.
* Then add all the vegetables and saute for a minute. 
* Wash and drain the rice. Add rice and saute well until the rice is coated well with ghee and spices. 
* Add 3/4 cup of water and pressure cook for three whistles.
* Wait for few minutes after the valve pressure is gone. Fluff the rice. Drizzle a bit of ghee and lemon juice over and garnish with cilantro before serving.

So far in my Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi series,
A - Ambur Biryani
B - Basanti Pulao / Misthi Pulao
C - Corn - Fenugreek Greens Pulao
D - Donne Biryani
E -  Ek Toap na Dal Bhaat
F - Fada ni Khichdi
G - Gutti Vankaya Biryani
H - Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani
I - Iyengar Puliyogare
J - Jaipuri Mewa Pulao
K - Kashmiri Pulao
L - Lucknowi Biryani
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Monday, April 22, 2019

A - Z Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi Series ~ S for Sindhi Biryani (Vegetarian Version)

I initially thought of including some international recipes in my list to pull off the difficult alphabets in the series and checked with Srivalli, the BM coordinator to see whether I can do so. There was a choice of going with a series of completely either Indian or International biryani / pulao / khichdis for this marathon but not a mix and match kind stuff from both, she confirmed. I chose to go with Indian rice dishes and so was in two minds about trying this biryani as my 'S' dish. Sindhi biryani has become a part of Pakistani cuisine since it is said to have originated in the Sindh province there.  However this dish with the Mughalai touch obviously must have originated in India centuries ago and is not a recent creation. 

This meat and potato based biryani seems to be a quite popular one in Pakistan in general and in the Sindhi community in particular which resides on both sides of the border. In fact it is so popular in Pakistan that it is served in most of the flights of 'Pakistan International Airlines'. What sets this biryani apart from the other regional versions is it being on a spicier and zesty side and also the proportion of masala to the rice used being slightly more. The usage of khatta dahi / sour tasting yogurt, generous amount of chilies and spices, mint, and tangy aloo bukhara (dried plums / prunes) are the prominent features of this biryani. The biryani is layered and cooked in dum style. I substituted soy chunks for meat and pressure cooked it for a quicker version.

Ingredients to marinate:
1/2 cup soy chunks
1/4 cup yogurt
2 tsp. mustard oil
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. red chili powder
1/2 tsp. ginger - garlic paste
Ingredients to fry:
Oil as needed
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
1 big potato, peeled and cubed
Other ingredients:
1 tbsp. warm milk + a pinch of saffron strands 
1/2 cup basmati rice
4 dried plums / prunes
1 tbsp. ghee / oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds / caraway seeds
2 pepper corns (optional)
1 or 2 red chilies
2 cloves
2 cardamom
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 inch piece grated ginger / ginger paste
1/2 tsp. garlic paste (I didn't use any.)
1 tomato, chopped
1 green chili (or use as needed)\
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
Chili powder if needed (I didn't use any)
2 tbsp. mint - cilantro leaves
1 and 1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
3/4 cup water

Prep work:
1. Combine all the ingredients mentioned under 'to marinate' in a bowl while doing the frying part or until they are needed. 
2. I advise against soaking dried prunes since they turn mushy when cooked. I instead chopped each into 3 or 4 pieces since they are big and added them at the end.
3. Mix warm milk and saffron in a small bowl and keep aside.

Directions:
* Heat about 1/4 cup oil in a small pan, add onion slices and fry them until golden brown. Take care not to burn them, by stirring continuously. (I did the shallow frying but they can be deep fried.) Remove the fried onions with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel lined plate. Potatoes can be fried for a couple of minutes or fully at this point.
* Heat 1 or 2 tbsp. oil directly in a small pressure cooker or a pan. Add cumin seeds, pepper corns, red chilies, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf. Saute for few seconds and add 1/2 cup chopped onion. Fry until they turn pink.
* Next add ginger - garlic paste, green chilies and saute for few seconds. Add tomatoes, turmeric, mint and cilantro leaves, chili powder if using to the pan and cook until tomatoes soften. Next add prunes, soy chunks along with the marinade, salt and rice (that is washed and drained). Saute for about a minute and add 3/4 cup water and the saffron milk. Close the lid and pressure cook for three whistles.
* If using a pan and not using a pressure cooker, then bring the mixture to a boil and close the lid. Cook on low flame until rice is cooked, for about 15 - 20 minutes and turn off the stove.

So far in my Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi series,
A - Ambur Biryani
B - Basanti Pulao / Misthi Pulao
C - Corn - Fenugreek Greens Pulao
D - Donne Biryani
E -  Ek Toap na Dal Bhaat
F - Fada ni Khichdi
G - Gutti Vankaya Biryani
H - Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani
I - Iyengar Puliyogare
J - Jaipuri Mewa Pulao
K - Kashmiri Pulao
L - Lucknowi Biryani

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#99.