Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grilled veggies

Easy, easy, very easy. Thats what I was thinking all the time while marinating this dish. Grilled veggies taste great with chicken tikka and naan. And I marinated them 2 days in advance. I love veggies and this is a great way to get some in your meal. Though we had these as a side course, i bet they would taste great in a sandwich or a salad. I used zuccini, mushrooms, red bell pepper, white onions, idaho potatoes. For marinating, I used salt papper, basil ( I love it) and olive oil.

Zuccini 1 whole
Bell Pepper -1 whole
Mushrooms loads of them
1 large onion
1 large potato
fresh ground black pepper
Olive oil
dried basil 1 tsp
Wash and cut zuccini into 1/2" slices. Wash and cut the bell pepper into 1" slices. Quater the potatoes and the onions. I just cleaned the mushrooms and used them whole. Now get the mixing bowl, add veggies to it add oil, salt , pepper and basil and mix well. Cover with foil and refrigerate for atleast 30 mins. Then skewer them and grill over the open flame. Eat hot or in a sandwich/salad.
The potato tasted great since i had left the skin on which had turned crunchy. Next time I am going to cook red potatoes in foil. Mushrooms tasted really good and I am glad I used the entire packet. Red bell peppers tasted wonderfully soft and little sweet. The next time I grill, I will try different colored ones.

Chicken Biryani

India should be called as the land of biryani instead of the land of curry. There are so many different kinds of biryanis, I havent been able to try all of them out...yet. THe biryani shown above is very easy to make, doesnt take a lot of time and everyone likes it. This particular kind of chicken biryani is not my own recipe but given to me by S's friend and borrowed from SHAAN masala packet. There's a little story as to how I got this recipe. I have a great mutton biryani recipe, awesome prawns biryani and amazing vegetable biryani. I was in search for a good chicken biryani. S always used to reminisce about the great chicken biryani his friend used to get for lunch. So when we went to visit her, we asked her to make the biryani. And it was great. I hadn't eaten such good biryani in a long time. So many helpings and spoonfuls later I asked her to email me the recipe and she is such a sweet person, she sent me the recipe. This recipes has been tweaked a little to suit my taste. S loves this recipe. My parents loves this biryani, his parents love this biryani, everything is good.:)

1 whole chicken cut into medium pieces and washed.
2 large tomatoes
2 large onions
1 laarge potato
1 packet shaan bombay biryani masala
oil for cooking
1 cup yogurt
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 bay leaves
2-3 peppercorns
2-3 cloves
1-2 cardamom pods

5 cups basmati rice
6 cloves
1" cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
4-5 bay leaves
3-4 tsp ghee
few strands saffron-soaked in water/milk for 30mins.

Wash, clean and cut the chicken into medium pieces. dice tomatoes into small pieces. Slice the onion thinly and fry them in kadai till golden brown. Take care that they do not burn or will taste bitter. ONce the onions are removed from the kadai, season them immediately with salt. Divide the fried onions into 2 portions.
Cut the potato french - fries style and fry till golden brown and keep aside. Wash and chop the cilantro.
Marinate the chicken with the following: ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, entire packet of shaan masala, half the portion of fried onions, tomatoes, entire chopped cilantro 5-6 tsps oil from the fried onions kadai and yogurt. Set this aside for atleast 45 mins.
Meanwhile cook rice in a thick-bottom pot. First wash the rice and keep aside for 10 mins. Heat the pot and add ghee to it. Then add bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick and peppercorns. Saute for 10 secs. Already the ghee will start smelling of the wonderful spices. Then add rice and saute for 2 mins till slightly pink-brown. Then add twice the amount of water. So since I used 5 cups rice, I used 10 cups of warm water. When the water comes to a rolling boil season with salt. Remember that the chicken already has salt in it and the onions/fries are also salted. So add salt accordingly. The rice for this biryani is cooked less than aldente, so when it feels raw. turn off the flame and drain of the water from the rice. Divide into 2 portions and keep aside.
Take a large thick-bottom pot for layering of biryani. OIl the bottom of the pot with 2 tsp of oil. Then put the entire chicken mixture on it. Then add one portion of rice and level with chicken. Sprinkle water-saffron mixture on the rice evenly. Saffron gives a lovely yellow-orange color to the rice while the water helps in cooking the rice over steam. then layer with half portion of onions. Then again layer with rice and saffron-water mixture and top with onions and fries. The seal the pot with aluminum paper and cook it over medium flame. when the chicken and rice are done -usually around 30-40 mins then you will be able to smell and see the steam rising from the pot. This biryani cooks mainly over steam and needs very little oil.
Serve hot with extra crunchy fried onions garnished on the top and side of tomato-onion raita(salad) .

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Barbecue- 1

Doesn't it look great???
This weather is perfect For grilling. In India we never did any grilling. Whatever had to be cooked, my mom did it in the oven and it turned out quite good. Here I switched over to the grilling side very very quickly. The food tastes amazing, it is very easy and convenient and a great way to invite friends over and have a party.
Few days ago my bro-in-law was over with his own grill. So we had a barbecue party at that time. I had marinated some chicken earlier- recipes will be posted soon. and we grilled some veggies too. All in all it was a great time. We ate the chicken with some hot ready made naans and had the veggies as a side dish. Its making me think that all food tastes better when cooked on an open grill. But there is only one way to find out, right?? Buy a grill yourself!! I have been hankering S for quite sometime now to buy a portable grill:) Lets see what happens.
There are so many wonderful things that i could actually grill and enjoy. And its not just meat but think about the veggies and fruits and desserts and pizzas and yummm.
Only if I had a grill.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Aloo (potato) Parathas

I love parathas of all kinds. These are very simple to make and great as an anytime meal. But here I have put it down as breakfast and snacks. Few years ago I had the good fortune of going to delhi. Now Delhi is a great place for eating as well as shopping. We went to paratha galli where they served us hot straight from the stove whatever-you-want parathas.

Aloo parathas are real easy to make and taste little like a potato pancake. S likes aloo parathas. When my mom visited me, I made aloo parathas specially for her and she loved them too. Infact, she said I make better parathas than her. And my little duckie also likes parathas. I make hot parathas for him and serve it with butter/ghee.

2 large potatoes
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder ...can use minced green chillies
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp corriander powder
1/4 cup kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
salt to taste
water, oil for kneading
2 cups whole wheat flour for kneading
salt to taste
oil for shallow frying

Boil, cool, peel and mash the potatoes. Add all the spices, salt and kasuri methi and mix well and keep aside. Mix the flour, salt, water, oil and knead well. Consistency should be like chappati dough. Take a lime size ball of dough and roll it out to the size of a puri. Take a golf ball size amount of potato mix and put it on the puri. Envelope the entire potato mix by the puri and close it at the top properly. Lightly flour the surface for rolling the paratha. ROll the potato-dough ball from all sides on the surface sprinkling with flour whenever necessary. Roll it properly taking care that no potato mix comes out and if it does come out then just close the surface by pinching the dough. Roll out the paratha the size of chappati and gently slide it on the hot pan. Cook one side for 1 min, flip it cook the other side for 1 min and apply oil to both sides and cook till well done.
Serve hot with butter, ketchup, chutney, yogurt. This is very good for breakfast or even lunch box.
dough around it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tomato Saar

First of all, can you see the steam rising from the bowl?? I took this picture when the saar was very hot and ofcourse the day was very cold, so it helped. Tomato saar is a typical maharashtrian dish. Like its counterpart rasam, it is mainly eaten with steaming hot rice and ghee (clarified butter). My mom adds coarsely ground pepper to this and we had it whenever we had a bad case of cold.

There are many variations to this saar. The basic being coarsely chopped tomato and ground coconut bits.

For my variation, I used canned tomato soup (Campbells ...the very best) and instead of coconut bits, I used coconut milk (the canned variety). That gave my saar a little thickness and creamy taste.

Personally, I loved this variation of tomato saar. S made faces while eating/drinking it. My little duckie was kind of skeptical of it at first but after first 2-3 spoons, he realized that I wasnt tricking him into something nutritious and he had more. So it was a good midday snack for him.

Anyways I called up my mom, told her the tip about using campbell's soup as the base instead of the traditional chopping dicing boiling of tomatoes, she loved the tip.

1 can campbell's tomato soup
1/4 can coconut milk
chopped cilantro
2 pinches coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp fresh ginger
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp ghee (clarified butter)
salt to taste
1/4 tsp jaggery
pinch of asafoetida

Take the regular soup pan and warm it up. Add the entire can of soup + 1 can plain water. Add one pinch of coarsely ground black pepper. Let it come to a boil. Add salt to taste and jaggery. Now add COCOnut milk to the mixture stirring it continously. After it mixes properly, turn off the flame and let it rest. Take another small kadai and heat it up. Use this for tempering the saar. Add the ghee to this kadai. Add asafoetida, cumin seeds, ginger and black pepper in quick succession. Add this mixture to the saar mix and mix properly. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
This tomato saar is excellent with hot rice or even as it is like soup. The consistency of this should be little thinner than tomato soup and the final taste should be salty-sweet with hint of balck pepper and ginger

Egg Fried Rice

When I was in India, I used to eat loads of indo-chinese food. I still do that. Manchurian was my perennial favorite which we used to have with either fried rice or hakka noodles. The first chinese dish I learnt to cook was fried rice and is the most easiest one for me. The only thing is, chopping for veggies take a lot of time so I start the chopping 2 days in advance. I add loads of veggies - cabbage, carrot, french beans, spring onions, white onions, green bell pepper etc. And i like to slice them very thinly.

I did not use any special rice for this dish justy the usual basmati rice that you get here. But I did add chicken stock while cooking. It just tastes better with it. Ofcourse, its optional. A little soy sauce, a little chilli sauce, a pinch of salt, a dash of black pepper and this rice was ready:) My little duckie loved this rice so much that he wouldnt eat anything else the entire day. And I added some scrambled eggs( i dont add milk while preparing these just plain salt and pepper).

2 Cups basmati rice
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup sliced green (french) beans
1/2 cup green/red/yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup spring onions cut into small rounds, white and greens separate
1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
salt to taste
pepper to taste
3 tsp soy sauce ( i use chings)
1 1/2 tsp red chilli sauce (i use chings)
2 eggs scrambled with salt and pepper.
Oil for cooking
Cook the white rice separatley in a heavy bottom pan instead of a pressure cooker. This helps the rice grains to cook properly and they separate out into individual grains. For cooking 2 cups rice use 4 cups of water. I sometimes use chicken stock for cooking rice, this increases the flavor. Heat a wok/ kadai on high flame. Add oil and let it get hot. Add white sliced onions and stirfry it for a minute. Add carrot and stir fry it for a minute. Add french beans and stir fry it for a minute. Similarly add bell pepper and thinly shredded cabbage stirfrying it for a minute. The key is to add veggies which take a while to cook, eg. carrot and french beans first and then add rest of the stuff. After the veggies are done add soy sauce, salt, pepper, chilli sauce in quick successions and saute for a minute. Then add the cooked rice and mix well. top it with scrambled eggs and serve as EGG FRIED RICE. This rice tastes good as it is or with any indo-chinese dish like manchurian or chilli chicken.
S loves this dish and my little duckie loves it too. This quick to make and great to eat rice dish is definately a keeper:)

Monday, May 11, 2009


My in-laws and my brother-inlaw w/ his g.f were here last weekend. Since it was supposed to be nice and sunny on friday, we dedcided to go to the zoo. The zoo near our place doesnt have that good food and I always wanted a chance to picnic at the zoo.
So 2 days before the day I went grocery. This time I made a list and that really helps:). I was in and out of the grocery store in 45 mins. Otherwise I usually take around ateast hour and half. So making a list helps and ofcourse the fact that my duckie was on a walk with his grandpa and might go home anytime.
Then a day before the picnic I prepped and half-cooked everything. Since this was the first time that I was having a picninc with my son, I wanted to take something with me that he would love and wouldnt be too time consuming. So here is the menu:
Potato chips.
Bengal Gram channa salad
Spinach Parathas
Grilled Chicken sandwiches.
No Soda but plain water.

Potato Chips: No picnic is complete without potato chips. I love potato chips. A walk down the chips aisle and I go crazy. So many different flavors. So many varities. And chips not only from potatoes but sweet potatoes, corn etc..But for the picnic instead of the sea salt -pepper, jalapeno, barbecue, onion sour cream, ranch, masala etc etc I go for the plain chips. My mom makes potato chips at home. Dries up the potato slices and fry them in oil. Season them accordingly with salt, pepper red chilli powder, lemon, chaat masala etc. Now if I had my mom's patience and perseverence then I would have made my own chips and taken them with me. And they taste fantastic. But this time it was a big bag of plain potato chips.

Bengal Gram channa salad: I have posted this salad before. This dish tastes better even if its made 1 day in advance. So I soaked and cooked channa I day before. I cut and diced the tomatoes and onion the next day. This time I didnot add any cucumber or boiled potato. But just garnished it with cilantro and chaat masala. Everyone enjoyed this dish.

Grilled Chicken sandwich: This was very easy to make. I grilled the chicken a day before. toasted the bread- kaiser buns this time before going to the picnic. sliced the tomatoes and went to the picnic. At the picnic I just assembled the sandwich. This time it was a cold sandwich. S loves hot sandwiches but this one tasted as good so it didnt matter. I had 2 of these. Wait for the recipe.

Spinach PArathas: Not all parathas taste good cold. But spinach is and exception. They can be taken on a picnic or a travelling journey. S didnot have any parathas but my inlaws did and so did my duckie.

Chocolate cupcakes: I made this cupcake from a pre-packaged box. But since it was a picnic, it didnt matter and no one cared. It was as good.

All in all we had a great time out in the sun. The animals were awake thankfully. There were no accidents, mishaps or even minor injuries. The food was good and tasted good. So it was a successful picnic and I hope I have many more of these.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Does anyone...?

Does anyone ever preplan an entire week's menu ahead and stick to it? I tried doing it quite a few times. Sometimes I was successful enough and stuck to the plan. But sometimes, I would just give in to temptation and do something else. My mom used to plan week's menu many times and damn she used to stick to the plan. Well i try my best:)

Kheema Pattice / Minced Meat Patties

What can I say about this totally yummy dish??? Everyone in my family totally loves it. Its basically just a ball of mashed potatoes stuffed with minced meat, in this case kheema i.e. minced goat. This dish is very versatile and can be stuffed with peas, paneer, cheese, minced chicken etc.etc. My mom makes this whenever there are unexpected guests ( she usually has a stock of fish/meat in the freezer) or when there is very little kheema left. My mother-inlaw is very good at making this and I think even I am getting better day by day.
S loves this and I havent given this to my son yet, but I hope that some day my duckie would love it too.
For the kheema
Minced meat 1/2 lb
1 large onion, minced
1 tsp ginger garlic pastealt chilli powderred 1/2 ticrmertsp tu
1/2 to taste
2 tsp garam masala...i like it spicy, reduce the quantity if you dont want spicy
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
oil for cooking

for the pattice
3 big boiled potatoes
salt to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg roughly beaten
1 cup coarse sooji
oil for frying

Wash and drain the minced meat thoroughly. Marinate with salt, red chilli powder, ginger garlic paste, turmeric and garam masala. Mince the onion. In a kadai, heat the oil. When it is hot enough, add the onions and cook well. Add the marinated meat and mix well. Cook till the meat is competely done. Do not add any water while cooking. Infact dry up whatever "gravy" is created. Let the meat cool completely. When cooled it should look like separate granules and that means the water/gravy is evaporated. Set this aside and work on the potatoes now
Boil, peel and mash the large potatoes. Add salt, turmeric, red chilli powder ( i like it spicy, if you want less spicy dont add red chilli powder), bread crumbs and mix well. If the mass is too mushy to work with, put it in the refrigerator for 30 mins and work with it later.
Oil your hands before working with this so that the potato doesnt stick to the hands. Take a golf ball size of potato mix on your left palm and with your right hand fingers press the middle of the ball in such a way that a hollow is created. Work it a little so a little "bowl" forms. Fill this up with 1 tsp of minced meat. Now press the mouth of the bowl close together using the fingers. This entire procedure has to be done in quick succession so that it is easy to work with and there is no spillage. Make rest of the pattice in similar way. HEat up a frying pan with oil. Take the roughly beaten egg in one bowl and coarse sooji in another bowl. NOw dip one patty in egg and then immediately roll it in sooji and let it gently on the frying pan and fry it. Fry both sides till golden brown and crispy. Serve hot with ketchup/ mint chutney.
S loves eating this with bread and it serves as a complete meal for him.