p Box o' Spices: June 2006

Monday, June 12, 2006

Easy Breezy Chicken Biryani

I can eat chicken biryani everyday if I have to and not get bored of it. I believe that the time spent making the dish should be proportional to how tasty or enjoyable it is. And dum chicken biryani is the only dish that I dont mind spending over an hour making. It's definitely worth every minute. But sometimes you crave the taste of the chicken and rice and want it ASAP. This simple biryani will satisfy your craving. I know it always satisfies mine. I have posted this recipe in some other forums in the past too

1 lb chicken, cut into small pieces
1.5 cups basmati rice
1 large onion
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped ginger
4 green chilies chopped
2 each of cloves, cardamom, bay leaves
1 tsp jeera
curry leaves (or mint leaves if available. mint adds a very nice flavor to biryani)
coriander leaves
1 onion (for garnishing)
3 tbsp Priya biryani masala (can be replaced with any biryani masala but Priya is my favorite.)
2.5 cups water

Heat 1 tbsp butter, fry cloves, cardomom, bay leaves, jeera. Add rice, fry for a minute and keep aside. Heat oil, add ginger, garlic, chilies, onions and fry until onions are brown. Add chicken and the biryani masala. Cook for about 3 minutes or until chicken turns white. Add curry leaves. Pressure cook above mixture with rice,water and salt to taste for 5 min. Meanwhile fry sliced onions until brown. After rice is done, add fried onions and chopped coriander leaves, mix and serve with raita.

This is my entry to Anthony's Cook-a-doodle-do.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Express Masala Chai

Mmmm.... Chai
There are times when I need coffee like in the morning and sometimes again in the morning. But there are times when there is nothing better than a cup of garam chai. There is something about sitting with a cup of chai and watching the rain through a window that cannot be explained. Now that my afternoon cup of tea has become a daily ritual, I had to find a quick and easy way to make it without compromising the taste. Masala chai is my favorite, plain tea is ok... but i need the spice. Earlier I would do the boil tea, add tea masala powder, wait for 5 min.... Then I tried the Starbucks Chai. The teabags are sold at Starbucks but a bit expensive... 5$ for 20 teabags. Then I discovered that Trader Joe's carried some masala teabags. I used this for about 4 years until we discovered the masala teabags at out local Indian store. It's a brand called Tea India.

So now what I do to get the masala chai ready even faster is use the microwave. Heating coffee ruins it but in my opinion chai can be microwaved and I don't see any difference in the the taste.

Heat a cup filled 2/3 with water for 40 seconds.
Add the teabag (make sure it is fully immersed in the water) and microwave for 40 seconds.
Add milk and microwave for another 40 seconds.
Remove from microwave and add sugar to taste and throw out the teabag.
This takes about 2 minutes start to finish... and tastes as good as making on the stove.

Malai Mutter Paneer

I have not posted in a while now. My mom is visiting us now and I don't get a chance to cook as much. We had some friends over this weekend, so I made a couple of dishes. The mutter paneer turned out good and was devoured in no time. It's a simple recipe and doesnt take too much time. It's a bit rich but can be made lighter by subtituting the cream with fat free cream (now i dont know how cream can be fat free but I really have seen it in the store) or yogurt beaten smooth.

paneer - 200 grams/ 2 cups cubed and shallow fried in ghee/butter
green peas - 1.5 cups
onions - 4 medium - chopped coarsely
tomatoes - 3 medium cubed
ginger-garlic paste - 2 tsp
red chili powder - 1 tsp
garam masala - 1/2 tsp
coriander leaves - chopped
kasoori methi (optional) - 1 tsp crushed
cardamom - 3 pods
jeera - 1/2 tsp
cream or half and half. - 3 tbsp.
salt to taste

Heat some oil and add the onions, cardamom and tomatoes and fry for 5 min.
Grind the above with chili powder and ginger garlic paste.
Heat some butter and add jeera.
Then add the ground paste and cook for 10 min.
Add peas and cook for a few min.
Add the cream and paneer and garam masala.
In the end add kasoori methi and coriander leaves.