Skip to main content

Ready for the Red Carpet

Meeta at What's for Lunch Honey is hosting her Monthly Mingle and the theme for this month is Bollywood. Bollywood is so central to the life in Bombay that I just had to take part in this event.

That said, this turned out to be a bigger challenge than I thought. Let me explain my dilemma. Indian food, despite being hard to cook, comes naturally to me. It's what I first started cooking; its my comfort food. But what Meeta asks for is a glamorous Indian dish. She's looking for a star to walk the the red carpet, when all I've ever known are the homely girls-next-door.

But I know it has to be a dish from the mughlai cuisine. I passed on their luxurious kebabs, their sumptuous butter naans and arrived at my personal favorite - the biryani. Biryani is a layered rice dish. Plain white and colored (usually saffron) rice is layered with the chosen meat, packed in eartherware dishes and left to slow cook for hours. Of course, my recipe is a little less time consuming and vegetarian. I could have replaced the meat with boiled mix veggies to make sabzi biryani. But I decided instead to recreate the oft-ordered, much-loved aloo chhole biryani of a local restaurant.



The preparation for this biryani starts the previous night. Soak 1/3 cup of black chane overnight. For the uninitiated, black chane are a smallish brown variety of chickpea grown in India. Boil until done the next morning and drain. Also boil 2 potatoes, peel and chop into small cubes.

You need two cups of long grain basmati rice, cooked one cup at a time. For the first cup, simply boil rice in 2 cups salted water until done. Cook the second cup of rice the same way, but also add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder to water. I dont like saffron myself, but you can always replace turmeric with a few strand of pure saffron.

Now we will make a spicy paste for our filling. This is a rather long list of ingredients, but feel free to add/substitute (I always do!). So you need:
3 medium onions, grated or chopped
1 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp coriander seeds (or powder)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp sesame seeds
3 pods garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp cinammon powder
4 cloves

Heat 1 tbsp ghee and roast all these ingredients until they start giving out a fragrant aroma. Cool and grind to a paste with a little water. Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a pan and fry the paste till the ghee separates. Puree 3 tomatoes and add to the pan. Cook until the mixture starts looking fairly dry. Add the boiled chane and potatoes plus salt to taste and simmer for a few minutes.

Now we have all the parts of our biryani, so let's assemble it. Grease a shallow round dish with ghee. Spread yellow rice to fill 1/3rd of the dish. Next, add a layer of the chane/aloo mix and finally top with a layer of white rice. Press down and smoothen the surface, then place in an oven preheated to 180C for 5-10 minutes. Remove, unmould and garnish with fried onions. It's hot and spicy, so serving plain yogurt alongside the biryani is always a good idea.

Comments

Meeta K said…
this looks spectacular. i really enjoy these kind of dishes. perfect for the mm!
Arfi Binsted said…
hey, your title matched with mine! hehehe... let's swap. i have the curry and rice kheer for dessert. Great dish! my boss was from Bombay.
Pam said…
Hi Simran, I'm your partner in Taste and Create for May, and I made this dish. Incredibly yummy and pretty to look at too. Thanks for showing me a new take on biryani.
Johanna said…
hi simran - I saw the biryani on Pam's blog and had to check this out - I have made an attempt on it which is quite a lazy weeknight version but has got me quite enthused about biryani - thanks for such an inspiring dish
Laura said…
I'm so full I'm cross-eyed and tomorrow is the Daring Baker reveal date so I won't have my version posted for a few days, but I made this tonight and it was sooo good.

Popular posts from this blog

Tales of A Female Nomad

This month, our book club goes on a nomadic tour. We traveled with Rita Golden Gelman, a writer who sold everything she owned after the shock of a divorce and became a nomad. Not a tourist, because Rita stays away from everything that a tourist does and instead, tries to live the lives of people she visits.

From Mexico to Israel to Galapago Islands, Rita goes the way least traveled, always preferring to stay as a boarder with natives. And sometimes, going to places not even locals will go, places so secluded yet beautiful that Rita's description takes your breath away, urges you to become a nomad yourself.

Yet even nomads sometimes find their roots. Rita found hers in Bali where she spent eight years. Starting as a boarder with a prince, she eventually became a part of the family. I instantly knew I wanted to cook something Indonesian. I picked Nasi Goreng, the Indonesian fried rice.



There are as many recipes for Nasi Goreng as there are cooks. Some use tomatoes, others tamarind.…

Mystery Fruit

This only happened a few times every year, just when the rainy season kicked in. A street hawker will come by, straw basket on head. He will yell "kaul chapni" and I will run out to buy a bundle of these. Stuck together like flowers, they looked like a bouquet. Every hole contains a little fruit. You break out the package, peel the tiny fruit that pops out and eat it. Done slowly, it can take you an hour to eat an head. Or did, when I was about 12 years old.

That was the last time I saw this fruit. I've never seen it again, didn't even know what it was called or where it came from. Three weeks back, Vikram Doctor wrote about a store in Khar that sells Sindhi foods. He described this fruit and I knew it came from my vivid childhood memories. And finally, I knew we were talking about lotus fruit.

Now talk about coincidences. Last weekend, I was passing by a lane in Bandra and for the first time in many, many years I saw the straw basket filled with my mytery fruit. It…

Announcing AWED : Britain

Before I ate my first Italian wood fired pizza, before I went to that swanky Japanese sushi bar for the first time, or the neighborhood Chinese joint, the first non-Indian cuisine I encountered was British. Not real food, mind you, but the tempting, oh so delicious descriptions in my favorite novels. From Enid Blyton to Jane Austen to P.G. Wodehouse, every favorite character in every favorite novel seems to have food on their mind.

Yes, British food gets ridiculed a lot. But forget their main course dishes for now, and think of the full English breakfast and the elegant afternoon teas. Then try imagining the world without cucumber sandwiches or potato chips and you will realize you can't do without British food.

Which is why when I saw that DK was looking for hosts for her monthly event AWED (A Worldly Epicurean's Delight) and there has never been a British AWED, I promptly signed up.



The rules are simple really:

Make any vegetarian or vegan British dish (eggs are allowed in A…