Sunday, February 10, 2013

Biryanis on a lazy Sunday afternoon

Nutrela Biryani (for me)
It has been a while, I know. I have been too lazy to click pictures on the dining table and post new recipes. Now that I have been reprimanded by a number of readers (a majority of whom happen to be my friends), I have vowed to update this blog regularly. Let us not get into details such as frequency right now. Just trust me when I say I am trying.

The pic that welcomes you to this post is of the Nurela (soya bean chunks) biryani that was cooked in a jiffy today after an hour and a half was spent on making chicken biryani (pic follows).
Chicken Biryani (for A)
The recipes will follow in a subsequent post.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Special Parathas - A result of an experimental afternoon

I was hungry and also in a mood to experiment. So, I made these special parathas. Well, I enjoyed them and so did bro (A wasn't home to taste them). When you have a little time on your hands, try this recipe.

What you need:
  • Flour - 3 cups, preferably wheat flour (atta)
  • Curd - Thick, 1 cup
  • Onions - 2 medium, julienned (cut in thin strips)
  • Ginger - 1 inch-piece, finely chopped
  • Green chillies - 2, finely chopped
  • Nigella seeds (Kalonji/Mangraila) - 1 teaspoon
  • Carom seeds (Ajwain) - 1 teaspoon
  • Poppy seeds (khuskhus) - 1 teaspoon
  • Milk - 1/2 cup
  • Oil - 4-5 tablespoons
  • Salt - to taste
  • Water - for making the dough

What you do:
  1. Mix flour, curd, nigella seeds, carom seeds, salt and one tablespoon of oil with water to make a soft dough. (The soft dough makes good rotis and parathas while the hard dough makes good puris.) Keep the dough aside for half an hour.
  2. Soak the julienned onions in the milk for fifteen minutes.
  3. Strain the onions and deep-fry them in oil until it turns brown. Keep aside.
  4. Mix the fried onions with the ginger and the chillies. Add salt to the mixture.
  5. Make medium-size balls with the dough.
  6. Roll out a dough-ball with a rolling pin. Spread a portion of the onion mixture on it. Fold it again and roll it out the way you would roll out a lachcha paratha. Sprinkle a pinch of poppy seeds while rolling it.
  7. Cook the paratha on both sides with a little oil. Make all the parathas the same way.

Serve with sabji, dahi and achaar.

Note: If you plan to use the dough later, keep in in the fridge. If stored for long, the curd in the dough will spoil the dough.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dal Ke Pakaude (Pakode)

This snack does not need you to shop for ingredients. It uses everyday ingredients and makes for a great treat.

What you need:
  • Chana dal - 1 cup (You can use masoor dal if chana dal is not available.)
  • Onion - Chopped, half-a-cup
  • Nigella seeds (Kalonji/Mangraila) - Half-a-teaspoon
  • Carom seeds (Ajwain) - Half-a-teaspoon
  • Green chillies - 1 chopped
  • Red chillies - 2
  • Turmeric - Half-a-teaspoon
  • Baking soda - A pinch
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil for frying (preferably mustard oil)
What you do:
  1. Soak dal for an hour.
  2. Grind the dal in a blender to a course and thick paste.
  3. Mix all the ingredients except the red chillies with the dal paste.
  4. Use a pair of scissors to snip pieces of the red chillies into the mixture.
  5. Heat the oil in a deep kadhai (wok).
  6. Use a spoon to drop chunks of the mixture into the oil. Fry the pakodas on all sides.
  7. Once cooked, place the pakodas on a kitchen tissue.

Serve the pakodas hot with chutney.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A not-so-Bihari-platter

OK, the title misrepresents the facts; the platter should be referred to as the not-at-all-Bihari platter. So, why am I posting this here? I have two reasons:
  • The platter looked colorful and needed to be posted somewhere.
  • I have only one blog on food.

A few days ago, this is what we ate for dinner.

Click the image for a clearer view.

A's platter looked a bit different with a chicken-leg piece having made its way there. The chicken leg piece was boiled for 10 mins with pepper, salt, and a pinch of chilli powder.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The quintessential matar ghoogni: The simplest version

Biharis are known for cooking a variety of ghoognis. A ghoogni is a spicy preparation of any kind of matar or chana (peas). Biharis love peas! For breakfast, Biharis eat rotis/parathas/puris with a ghoogni of chana/hara chana/matar/chola/kabli chana (chick peas). Ghoogni is a term used in the Bengali cuisine too.

I will discuss the recipe of the simplest matar (peas) ghoogni here.

You will need: a bowlful of fresh or frozen peas (no canned variety), one medium-sized potato, cubed; one medium-sized onion, chopped; half a teaspoon of crushed ginger (adrak); a couple of green chillies, chopped; two pinches of turmeric (haldi); half a teaspoon of cumin seeds; two tablespoons of oil; pepper and salt.

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  2. Add the cumin seeds to the hot oil.
  3. When the cumin splutters, put the onion, the ginger, and the green chillies in the oil.
  4. Saute the mixture for two minutes.
  5. Add the turmeric.
  6. Saute the mixture on medium heat for five-ten minutes.
  7. Put the peas in the pan.
  8. Add the salt and pepper.
  9. Keep stirring till the potato is cooked.
  10. Serve hot with rotis, puris, or fried chuda (flat rice, chivda, chiwda, poha, avalakki).

This dry ghoogni is served with fried chuda as an evening snack. Let's see how you can make the fried chuda. You will need: a bowlful of flat rice (any variety); one green chilli, finely-chopped; a 1-cm cube of ginger, crushed; a tablespoon of oil, preferably ghee (clarified butter); and salt.

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  2. Add the chilli and the ginger to the oil.
  3. Saute for a few seconds.
  4. Add the chuda.
  5. Saute the mixture till the chuda starts turning golden.
  6. Take the chuda off the heat and spread on a kitchen napkin.

This can also be preserved for days if kept in an airtight glass jar.

If you are going to eat it immediately, you can spice up the chuda by adding chopped onions to the chilli and ginger while frying.

Personally, I love the ghoogni with plain fulkas or rotis.

Last evening's snack - Vegetable pakodas and pumpkin bachkas

Last evening, hubby and I craved for home-made pakodas, and I made some in a hurry. The qualifier is necessary because the shape and texture of the pakodas weren't very good. (Check the pic!)

Let me give you the recipe of these.
For the batter, I mixed besan (gram flour), mangraila (nigella seeds/onion seeds), haldi (turmeric), finely chopped adrak (ginger), red chilli powder (you may replace this with finely chopped green chilies) , and salt. I cut brinjal, capsicum, onions into medium thin pieces. I also made chilli pakodas; I made a vertical slit in the chillies before dipping them in the batter. I dipped the vegetable pieces in the batter one by one and deep-fried them in hot vegetable oil. Pakodas, however, taste the best when fried in mustard oil, as any Bihari or Bengali will tell you.

I also got hold of some kumrah/kohnra (pumpkin) last night and made konrah bachkas. I cut the pumpkin into thin slices (Thick slices won't cook well and don't taste that good.). I mixed a couple of spoonfuls of rice powder with some salt, red chilli powder, and a spoonful of water. I rubbed both the sides of the pumpkin slices with this mixture and deep-fried them. These bachkas are typically served with a meal, not as a snack. 'Bachka' is a term similar to the term 'pakoda'. Other bachkas are prepared in completely different ways.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Bihari Kadhi

India has a variety of kadhis, from different parts of the country. The Bihari kadhi is a one that uses badi (pakoda) dumplings. It is considered inauspicious in Bihar to prepare plain kadhi without any dumplings.

For the badi, you need: a cup of gram flour (besan), chopped green chillies, asafoetida (hing), baking powder, oil for frying, and salt.
For the kadhi, you need: two tablespoons of besan, a cup of thick curd, a couple of red chillies, black mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida, half a teaspoon of chopped ginger (optional), a tablespoon of oil and salt.

  1. Mix gram flour, chopped green chillies, two pinches of asafoetida, two pinches of baking powder and salt with enough water to make a thick batter.
  2. Let the batter stay for an hour.
  3. Make small pakodas with the batter.

  1. Mix two tablespoons of gram flour with water to form a smooth paste.
  2. Add the curd to the paste.
  3. Add two cups of water to the mixture. Mix well.
  4. Add ginger and salt. The ginger is optional. I like this recipe with ginger.
  5. Put this mixture on heat.
  6. As the mixture starts boiling, add the badis.
  7. Boil the kadhi for another ten minutes or till the badis look soft.

  1. Heat some oil in a pan.
  2. Put the mustard seeds, the red chillies and the curry leaves in the oil.
  3. Add a pinch or two of asafoetida.
  4. Take the pan off the fire and pour the tadka over the cooked kadhi.

Kadhi tastes great with plain rice. I enjoy it with rotis too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Slow-cooked mutton stew

The preparation of this stew requires no water. And no ground spices. You will need: mutton pieces (300 grams or so), one teaspoon (tsp) cumin seeds (jeera), a couple of dried red chillies (lal mirch), a couple of bay leaves (tej patta), two brown cardamoms (badi ilaychi), three-four green cardamoms (chhoti ilaychi), a couple of one-inch sticks of cinnamon (dalchini), five-six cloves (laung), one tsp coriander seeds (dhania), two medium sized onions (pyaaz), a square inch piece of ginger (adrak), two-three cloves of garlic (lahsun), two tablespoons (tbsp) clarified butter (ghee), two tbsp oil (tel), turmeric powder (haldi) and salt (namak). Use a non-stick pan/kadhai.

  1. Chop pyaaz, crush adrak and lahsun. Let the mixer/blender rest. Use a heavy glass bottle to crush the ginger and garlic. You may also use the rolling pin (belan).
  2. Wash the mutton thoroughly and keep it in water for an hour or so. You may need to keep it longer if you are using frozen mutton.
  3. Put the oil in the pan. Put the bay leaves, red chillies and cumin seeds when the oil is hot. [Did I mention the stove and the fire?]
  4. When the seeds splutter, add the brown and green cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves.
  5. Sauté this a little and add the coriander seeds.
  6. Add the chopped onions, crushed ginger and garlic.
  7. Put turmeric and salt into the pan.
  8. Sauté the spices for a couple of minutes before adding the mutton pieces.
  9. Fold the mutton into the spices and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  10. Mix a tbsp clarified butter.
  11. Cover the pan with a lid and let the mutton cook. Keep checking the mutton every five-ten minutes and mix with a ladle.
    It will take an hour or so for the mutton to cook. However, it may take less time depending on the quality of the mutton. Biharis add some chopped raw papaya for the mutton to cook faster. Try it. It works.
    You don’t need water as the onion and the juices from the meat are enough for this stew.
  12. After taking the pan off the fire, add a tsbp of clarified butter.

Serve this stew hot with rice, rotis or puris. You may try this with the unstuffed kachauri, the recipe for which was posted earlier.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The dilemma

Thanks for your e-mails and comments. They will keep this blog going.
When a friend heard of this blog, he asked, "What are you going to put in this blog? What can you put as special and exclusively Bihari?" This friend of mine is a Bihari. I laughed and said, "There are a dozen of things that we take for granted as normal 'ghar ka khana', least realizing that these comprise the Bihari cuisine." As I spoke to him, I thought of adding recipes for pedakias, thekuas, bachkas, kachrees, khaja, shakkarpara, littis, murabbas, and a countless other Bihari delicacies whose names I cannot recall now. However, as promised, I am going to add a recipe as and when I cook something. Needless to say, I will not be posting as often as I would like to, given the lack of availability of desi ingredients in pardes. I cook Indian food almost everyday, but I need to cook Bihari food, that too, authentic, to be able to post it. Hope you will bear with me. Keep writing in to tell me if I should continue with this endeavour.
Let me know if you tried the recipe for the unstuffed kachauri posted earlier.

The unstuffed kachauri

Folks, this one will be called a puri in other places, but Biharis call it kachauri. A namkeen puri is usually referred to as kachauri here. Kachauri-sabji or kachauri-ghoogni is staple Bihari breakfast or supper. I relish this combination, provided someone else makes it for me. It is four times more difficult to make rotis, chappatis, parathas, puris, kachauris than it is to make rice, any kind.

I am surprised I made kachauris for my readership. Well, I was actually craving for them. So, here’s how you make the simplest Bihari kachauri – the unstuffed variety.

Before you begin reading the rest of this piece, I need to acquaint you with two important ingredients of this recipe – ajwain (carom seeds) and mangraila (kala jeera, onion seeds, nigella or kalaunji). The know-all, Wiki tells me that ajwain is also called 'owa' in Marathi, 'vaamu' in Telugu, 'omam' in Tamil, 'ajwana' in Kannada and 'ajmo' in Gujarati. I know it is called ‘jowan’ in Bengali. Get more information on these from here: Ajwain and Mangraila

Mix a spoonful of each with the atta. Add salt to the mixture. Add a couple of spoonfuls of oil. Add water and make a hard dough, like you make for puris. Simple, isn’t it? Use your hands for the right measurements. Less or more does not matter as long as you have all the ingredients in place. However, make sure the amount of salt is appropriate. Next, use the dough to make puris the normal way. You may wonder as to what’s special in these. Taste them and you will know. Enjoy them with any curry you like or with some pickle.

You can use the same dough to make parathas. The parathas are tasteful and less oily. Enjoy the paratha with dahi and achaar.

Monday, January 14, 2008

There is something called the Bihari cuisine too

Hi everyone who has landed here,

I start this blog with the sole purpose of making foodies aware that there exists a cuisine called the Bihari cuisine, which, unfortunately, has not been made popular but deserves to be tasted and appreciated.

In this blog, I will not preach about the Bihari culture or the cuisine. I will not post recipes randomly. What I intend to do is to eat or cook a Bihari specialty and write about it here. With pictures! So you will have honestly written posts on Bihari food. Does it sound interesting? If you do want me to continue with this blog, drop in a comment. If I do not receive a 'yes' from half of the people I will be sending this link to, I will close this blog. Guess that's what happens to the idea of opening a Bihari resturant in any place in the world.

P.S. I guess I will also mention a deadline lest people don't take it seriously!