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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A - Z Biryani / Khichdi / Pulao Series ~ Z for Zafrani Pulao

Sometimes the simplest dishes win over you and this was one such time. I wanted to finish my series with either 'Zarda Mutanjan', a delicacy from the Mughal era or "Zam Zam Biryani', a Mumbai biryani loaded with koftas and fries. I kept on dragging the preparation till the end only to notice that my initial excitement bubble has fizzled out. I wanted to opt for a simple yet palate pleasing dish and zeroed on this mildly favored zafrani pulao. It catches the eye even without requiring elaborate steps or too much investment of time. The dish is prepared using common ingredients found in most of the Indian households except the highly prized, exotic zaffron aka saffron. The mingling of aromatic and tantalizing flavors of saffron and the palate and eye pleasing garnish of nuts, fried onions and cilantro elevate this exotic one pot rice meal from being a simple dish. It makes an enjoyable meal paired with any spicy gravy of your choice. We had it with a mixed dal fry and it proved to be one of those dishes from this series both my husband and I enjoyed equally. And here is a sweet version Zafrani Pulao if someone is interested.

The rice is usually cooked in a pot on low flame and saffron milk is sprinkled over the top at the final stages of cooking which imparts  flavor and a vibrant yellow hue to some of the grains. The rice can also be cooked in a pressure cooker if not comfortable cooking in a pot and especially if cooking in large quantities. Divide the rice, water, salt and the toasted spices equally into two parts and add them to two different containers that fit into your cooker. Add the saffron milk to one portion. Pressure cook for three whistles and turn off the stove. When the valve pressure is gone, gently fluff and combine both the rices. 

Conventional cooking advises to soak rice for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking since it will yield fluffier rice and also gets cooked faster. I have used aged basmati rice during this marathon and cooked most of the dishes without soaking the rice. The purists may scoff at the idea but the rice cooks well yielding long and non sticky grains even without soaking, especially when using a pressure cooker. Cook for 3 whistles if using rice without soaking. I am guessing that one whistle would be enough for rice that has been soaked ahead. If soaked rice is cooked for three whistles, the rice tend to taste like overcooked one even if it looks ok. However I prefer to soak rice when cooking in a pot since it gets done quicker. 

Ingredients: (Yield 2 servings)
1 to 2 tbsp. ghee / oil
1 tbsp. each - almonds, cashews and raisins
1 tsp. cumin seeds / carom seeds
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
1 bay leaf
1/2 inch cinnamon piece
1/2 cup basmati rice
Salt to taste
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. saffron + 1 tbsp. warm milk
Minced cilantro to garnish
Fried onion slices to garnish

Directions:
* Rinse and soak the rice in water for about 15 minutes.
* Soak saffron strands in warm milk / water in a small bowl and keep it aside.
* Heat ghee in a pot / pan, preferably a non stick one or a heavy bottomed one with a tight fitting lid. Toast almonds, cashews and raisins individually, remove them with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate. Keep them aside until needed.
* To the same ghee, add clove, cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon and saute for few seconds.
* Next add drained rice and saute for a minute. Add water and salt and gently stir to combine.
* Cover and cook until 90% done on lowest heat setting. Pour the saffron milk over the top and finish cooking. 
* Turn off the stove and let it sit for few minutes.
* Gently fluff and garnish with toasted nuts, fried onions and minced cilantro.
* Serve with any spicy gravy. 

So far in my Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi series,

Ambur Biryani
Basanti Pulao / Misthi Pulao
Corn - Fenugreek Greens Pulao
Donne Biryani
Ek Toap na Dal Bhaat
Fada ni Khichdi

Gutti Vankaya Biryani
Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani
Iyengar Puliyogare
Jaipuri Mewa Pulao
Kashmiri Pulao
Lucknowi Biryani

Motiwale Pulao
Nei choru
Oodhala Pulao
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Monday, April 29, 2019

A - Z Biryani / Khichdi / Pulao Series ~ Y for Yakhni Pulao (Vegetarian Version)

Today's yakhni pulao comes from the Kashmiri cuisine, that is said to have originated in Nawabi kitchens. Kashmir was predominantly a Hindu region until the early parts of 14th century. However the subsequent invasions by the Muslim rulers for the next 500 years has led to a cuisine, one that is strongly influenced by the Persian, Central Asian and Afghani cultures. Spices which are considered heat generating are liberally used in their cooking because of the cold climate, but the food is usually mild. Ghee is the traditional medium of cooking.

Today's pulao differs from the standard versions as it uses 'yakhni'. Yakhni is the stock prepared by boiling a bundle of spices along with meat (if it is being used) in water. The meaty broth is then used to cook the rice which makes it more flavorful. The spices are usually tied in a muslin cloth and the bundle is dropped in the water along with the meat in this pulao preparation than adding them directly. The water gets infused with flavors from the spices while the meat is being cooked and the spices are then discarded. One can choose not to tie them in a bundle but however need to scoop out the spices when the final broth is ready.

The pulao is usually made with mutton / meat and is on the milder side. Let the laundry list of ingredients below do not intimidate you, especially if you are eschewing the meat part. The vegetarian version of mine uses vegetables and soy chunks for the protein part which happens to be a favorite ingredient in our household. Paneer or tofu or any beans would be a nice substitution for those who don't prefer soy chunks. It can be served with a raita or a spicy gravy.

Ingredients for pulao: (yield 3 - 4 servings)
3/4 cup basmati rice
1 cup soy chunks
About 2 cups mixed vegetables (I used green beans cut into 1 inch pieces, cubed carrots and peas.)
1 tbsp. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. ginger - garlic paste
1 small tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsp. yogurt
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds 
Salt to taste ( I used about 1 tsp.)
Ingredients for yakhni stock:
2 small bay leaves
4 black pepper corns
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 inch piece of ginger
1 or 2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. mace powder
3 cups water
For fried onions / birista:
Oil to shallow / deep fry
2 medium sized onions, sliced thinly lengthwise

Prep work:
1. Rinse and soak the soya chunks in water for about 10 minutes to rehydrate them. Drain the water after the soy chunks soften.
2. Chop and keep the vegetables ready.
3. Rinse and soak the rice for at least about 20 minutes.

Yakhni preparation:
1. Tie all the ingredients mentioned under 'for yakhni stock' in a clean, small muslin cloth or in one of those mesh balls used as spice infusers for teas. This is called boquet garni. 
2. Add 3 cups of water and bouquet garni to a sauce pan and bring the water to a boil. Add beans, carrots, soya chunks and cook for another 5 minutes. (Actually I added more water and let it boil for about 20 minutes.)Turn off the stove. Remove the boquet garni and squeeze the garlic - ginger to get the maximum flavors. Discard the boquet garni. Scoop out the vegetables with a slotted spoon into a bowl. The stock that you are left with is called 'yakhni'. Measure the yakhni stock and you should have about 1.5 cups of liquid. If the yakhni does not come to that amount, add some extra water to make it 1.5 cups. 

Frying onions:
Fry the onions in hot oil on medium flame until crisp and golden brown. Take care not to burn them. Drain on paper towels and keep them aside.

Cooking pulao:
* Heat ghee in a dry and preferably a non stick pan / pot. Add cumin seeds.
* When cumin seeds start to brown, add ginger- garlic paste. Saute until the raw smell leaves and add tomatoes. Cook until they turn mushy. 
* Next add yogurt and stir until it is blended. Next add fennel seeds if using, half of the fried onions, mixed vegetables, garam masala, salt, chili powder, coriander powder and saute for about 30 seconds. 
* Next add 1.5 cups of  yakhni liquid (or yakhni + water) and stir well once. Cook for about 5 minutes without covering.
* Keep the heat to the lowest setting. Seal the pot with aluminium foil / a wet cloth or some dough and cover the pot with the lid so that the flavors do not escape. Cook for about 15 - 20 minutes on low flame or until the rice is cooked, resisting the temptation to peek. 

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
N - Nei choru
O - Oodhala Pulao
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Saturday, April 27, 2019

A - Z Biryani / Khichdi / Pulao Series ~ X for 'Xacuti' Masala Veg Pulao

I wrote down 'xacuti biryani' as my X dish while listing recipes for this marathon without putting much thought into it even if there was no such traditional recipe. I have done enough A - Z marathons based on Indian cooking to know that the only authentic 'X' dish one can find in the cuisine would be a xacuti unless if someone uses prefixes like 'X-mas' or throw in some adjectives before the name of the dish. Xacuti or shagoti is a curry from the Goan cuisine that is said to be originated in the present day Arambol, a traditional fisherman village. The fisherman in the past used to get a fresh catch of fish or local chicken and prepare a gravy made with a paste of local spices and coconut that has now become popular through out the state. The dish of course can easily be converted into a vegetarian version and the spicy xacuti masala can brighten up the vegetarian dishes as shown in my xacuti vegetable curry and the xacuti masala rice

My husband was away for the week when I made this pulao. I started making a biryani and halfway went through pulao route as I did not think it was worth the effort when cooking for one and it covered my next three meals. There is a unique spice powder involved in the xacuti preparation and I borrowed Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe this time which I have provided below. Another version of xacuti masala can be found at the link I provided above. I replaced the garam masala with the xacuti spice masala here and the strong flavor of the ground spices and coconut is unmistakably prominent. Start with adding half of the spice powder, taste and then add extra if preferred. The whole amount of spice powder for this pulao would make it very potently spicy though not in terms of heat. I replace the meat part in non veg biryani / pulaos with soy chunks blindly as they win over paneer hands down any time in my home. One can use paneer, tofu, mushroom or go with some extra vegetables instead of soychunks in the recipe.

Ingredients for spice powder:
1/4 cup coconut
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1/4 tsp. carom seeds
1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1/2 inch piece cinnamon
2 black pepper corns
1 star anise
1 dried red chili
1 clove

Ingredients for pulao: (Yield 3 servings)
1 tbsp. ghee
1 tsp. cumin / caraway seeds
2 cloves
1 black cardamom
1 inch piece of cinnamon 
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely minced
1/2 tsp. ginger paste
1 cup soy chunks (Substitute extra vegetables or paneer.)
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, peeled and diced
12 beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
Xacuti spice powder as needed 
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1.5 tsp. salt or as needed
1/2 cup basmati rice
3/4 cup water
Minced cilantro to garnish

Directions for spice powder:
* Toast coconut on low flame until golden brown. Transfer it onto a plate.
* To the same pan, add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and carom seeds. Continue to toast on medium flame and when coriander seeds start to brown, add poppy seeds, cinnamon, peppercorns, star anise, red chili and clove. Toast until coriander browns and turn off the stove.
* Transfer the contents to the coconut plate and let them cool.
* Grind them together to a fine powder.
* Store it in an airtight container and use as needed.

Directions:
* Soak soy chunks in water if using.
* Heat ghee directly in a small sized pressure cooker. Add cumin / caraway seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and a bay leaf. When the cumin seeds start to brown, add onion and saute until golden brown.
* Add ginger and saute until the raw smell leaves.
* Wash and drain the rice. Add rice, chopped vegetables, xacuti spice powder as needed (don't add the whole amount), turmeric and salt. Saute for a minute.
* Squeeze the water from the soy chunks and add them to the cooker. Finally add water and stir gently. 
* Pressure cook the rice mixture for 3 whistles. Wait for few minutes until the valve pressure is gone.
* Fluff the rice gently and garnish with cilantro. I sprinkled some fried onions as well.
* Serve it with plain yogurt / raita.

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
N - Nei choru
O - Oodhala Pulao

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Friday, April 26, 2019

A - Z Biryani / Khichdi / Pulao Series ~ W for Wadi - Subz Pulao / Wadi Chawal

My today's dish is inspired by wadi chawal, a preparation from Punjabi cuisine. Wadis are the star ingredient of the dish as the title indicates and means sun-dried lentil wafers in this particular case. Wadis have other regional names in India like wadiyan, vadiyalu, sandige, vadagam and others and they are made with various lentils, grains and other stuff.  Amritsari wadis are typically used in this rice preparation which are made with a batter of black gram and spices. I make an Andhra version urad dal wadis but they don't include any spices other than chillies. They are my most favorite ones in the category and I had run out of them. My local store always carries Amritsari wadis but unfortunately they also had run out of stock last month when I needed to try this dish.

I used my homemade Rajasthani moong dal wadis called mangodis instead of Amritsari ones, which by the way serves the purpose quite well. They hold the shape quite well even after getting cooked and do not get either soggy or mushy. They cannot be eaten even after frying as they remain hard and need cooking. I made a pulao adding some vegetables along with mangodis to make it colorful and nutritious. Mangodis cover the protein part of the dish and lend a spicy, flavorful punch when you bite into them. This wadi subz pulao along with some plain yogurt / raita makes a quick, decent and flavorful meal.
Ingredients: (Yield 2 servings)
1 - 2 tbsp. oil
12 - 15 wadi, if using small sized pieces (I used mangodis)
1 inch cinnamon piece
2 cardamom pods
2 cloves
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. ginger -garlic paste (or grated)
1 cup chopped, mixed vegetables (Optional. I used a capsicum and a carrot.)
1/2 cup basmati rice
1.5 tsp. salt
3/4 cup water

Directions:
* Fry wadi in hot oil until golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel lined plate and keep aside.
* Pressure cook together rice, salt, water, and wadis for 3 whistles. Let the rice cool a bit.
* Heat a tbsp. oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise and bay leaf. When cumin seeds start to brown, add onion slices and fry until golden brown.
* Add vegetables if using, cover and cook until tender.
* Add the cooked rice along with wadi. (Taste and adjust the salt if needed.) Gently mix to combine and serve warm with a side dish of your choice.
* Serve with yogurt / raita.

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
N - Nei choru

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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.