Mutton Biryani

Mutton Biryani

My husband loved mutton, especially the tender meat from a goat, and I came up with this recipe so that I could make it at a moment’s notice. The secret was that I would marinate the mutton and then keep it overnight in the refrigerator or even freeze it. This meant I could make biryani on call.

Ingredients

Mutton 1/2 kg, cut into cubes and in the bone

Basmati rice 3 cups, washed and soaked for 30 minutes

Tomatoes 2 large, chopped

Green chillies 2, chopped

Onions 2 large + 1, thinly sliced

Ginger 1”

Garlic 4 cloves

Mint leaves, a few

Cloves 2

Bay leaf 1

Cinnamon 1” piece

Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp

Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp

Coconut oil 2 tbsps

Coriander leaves for garnish

Raisins 3 tbsps

Ghee 1 tbsp

For the marinade:

Yoghurt 1 cup

Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Coriander powder 2 tsps

Chilli powder 1 tsp

Pepper powder 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Method

Marinate the washed mutton in all the ingredients and leave it overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat the pressure cooker and add the oil. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds.

When they stop sputtering, add the two large sliced onions. Sauté till they turn transparent.

Crush the ginger and garlic and add to the cooker. Sauté for two minutes till the raw smell disappears.

Add the marinated mutton pieces. Add the cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, tomatoes and green chillies. Mix well. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of water and cook in the pressure cooker for two whistles on high flame. Reduce the heat and cook for five minutes. Switch off the heat and let the pressure cooker cool down.

Once the cooker is cool and the steam has escaped, open it and stir through once.

Drain the rice and add to the pressure cooker. Close the lid and cook for one whistle. Reduce the heat and cook for one whistle. Let the pressure cooker cool down.

Heat the ghee in a small frying pan and fry the small onion, sliced, till they are brown and crisp. Take care not to burn the slices. Take it out and fry the raisins in the same ghee for a few seconds. Take them out with a slotted spoon.

Open the pressure cooker and stir the remaining ghee in the frying pan through the fluffed up biryani.

Serve on a rice platter, garnished with the coriander leaves, fried onions and raisins. It goes well with a green salad, raita and pappadams.

Prawn Biryani, Quick & Easy

Prawn Biryani, Quick & Easy

I love all shelled seafood and prawns are my favourite. I have always made prawn biryani but my usual recipe is quite long and complicated. The other day, I wanted to make prawn biryani fast. And I came up with this recipe that can be made in less than an hour.

Ingredients

Prawns 250 g, cleaned, shelled and deveined

For the marinade:

Red chilli powder 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Pepper powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Onion 1 large, sliced
Oil 3 tbsp
Basmati rice 2 cups, washed and soaked
Ghee 1 tbsp
Green chillies 2, chopped
Tomatoes 2 medium, chopped

Coconut milk 1 carton
Curry leaves

Method

Marinate the prawns and leave for about half an hour.

Heat oil in a wok and add the onions. Saute till the onions turn translucent.

Add the green chillies and curry leaves. Fry for a minute.

Add the marinated prawns and fry for two minutes.

Add the tomatoes and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Add 2 cups of water and cook for 5 minutes.

Drain the soaked basmati rice and add to the wok. Mix well. Add the coconut milk.

Transfer to a microwave safe dish. Microwave for 14 minutes.

Loosen the rice with a fork and add the ghee.

Serve hot.

Ethapazham Pachadi (Kerala Plantain Curry)

Ethapazham Pachadi (Kerala Plantain Curry)

If there is one variety of banana that I absolutely love, it is the Ethapazham or Nendrapazham, or plantain. It is great as a fruit, in curries and in desserts. This particular curry, Ethapazham Pachadi, is easy to make and is a fine balance of sweet and spicy.

Ingredients

Ethapazham or plantain 2, peeled and chopped

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Grated coconut 3 tbsps

Green chillies 2

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Red chilli whole 1

Coconut oil 1 tbsp

Yoghurt 2 tbsps

Method

Boil the chopped plantains with red chilli powder, turmeric and salt in 1 cup of water.

Grind the grated coconut, green chillies and cumin seeds.

Mash the cooked banana.

Add the ground coconut mix.

Add the curry leaves and bring to a boil. If it is too thick, add some water.

Take it off the heat and add the whipped yoghurt.

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and whole red chilli.

Garnish the curry and serve hot with rice.

Vegetarian Thai Papaya Salad

Vegetarian Thai Papaya Salad

Raw Papaya Salad is a delicious dish available at all Thai restaurants and a favourite with most patrons. The mix of hot chillies with garlic, shrimps, tamarind paste and fish sauce makes for a riot of flavour, very pleasing to the palate. I have tried to make a vegetarian raw papaya salad that offers the taste without the shrimps and the fish sauce.

Ingredients

Raw papaya 1 small

Tomato 1 medium

Garlic 3 cloves

Chillies 6-7, really hot ones

Fresh cowpea (lobiya) 2-3, roughly broken into 2” pieces

Soy sauce 1 tsp

Olive oil 1 tsp

Rock salt to taste

Peanuts 1/2 cup, roasted

Cashew nuts 10, roasted

Tamarind pulp 1 tbsp

Lemon 1

Jaggery powder 2 tsps

Method

Peel and slice the papaya into thin strips. I cut it the way the Thais do by scoring and slicing the papaya. You can follow this video to learn how to do it right

https://youtu.be/Wvv0dqZ_xa4

Soak the sliced papaya in iced water for 15 minutes. Drain. This will make the papaya crunchy.

Crush the garlic and rock salt in a wide mortar and pestle. Add the chillies to the mortar. I used the Indian Bird’s Eye chilli, known as Kanthari in Kerala. In Singapore, I used Cili Padi. The spiciness of the chilli gives the salad its special flavour and a kick.

Add the soy sauce and olive oil to the garlic and chilli in the mortar. Add the jaggery and the tamarind pulp. I soak a lump of tamarind the size of a small lemon in some water overnight and squeeze out the pulp and use it.

Add the drained papaya to the mortar and pound gently.

Cut the tomato into thick wedges. Add the cowpea and tomato to the mortar and pound gently to get out the juices of the vegetables.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the salad. Add the lemon skin too and pound gently. Toss well and then remove the lemon skin from the salad and throw it away.

Add the crushed peanuts and cashew nuts and toss well.

Serve with garlic bread or cheese toast.

Yam Curry

Yam Curry

Amorphophallus paeoniifolius or elephant foot yam, known as chena in Malayalam and jimikand in Hindi, makes a really tasty curry when cooked with coconut and tamarind. I love the texture of yam and eat this curry with freshly steamed idlis or crispy dosas.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

Yam 300 g, sliced long

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Fresh coconut 1 cup, grated

Green chillies 2

Onion 1 medium, roughly chopped

Tamarind pulp 1 tbsp or soak about half a lemon-sized lump in water for 15 minutes and extract the pulp

Curry leaves

Coconut oil 1 tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Method

Add the yam pieces with the dry spices and salt to a pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the yam and cook for 10 minutes — 3 whistles on high heat and low heat for about 8 minutes.

Grind the coconut, chopped onion and green chillies in a blender. Add to the cooked yam.

Add the tamarind pulp and curry leaves and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Adjust the salt to taste. Switch off the heat.

Heat the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. When it stops sputtering, add to the curry.

Serve hot with rice, idlis or dosas.

Maida Pottu (Sweet Dumplings)

Maida Pottu (Sweet Dumplings)

I was introduced to this recipe at our cooking class in middle school. The teacher had us making these delicious fried dumplings to be eaten during recess. I have loved them since then. They are light, tasty and easy to make.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

All-purpose flour (maida) 2 cups

Baking powder 1/2 tsp

Milk 250 ml

Egg 1 large

Sugar 3/4 cup

Oil for deep frying

Method

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar.

Break the egg into the mix.

Add the milk and make a smooth batter.

Heat the oil in a wok and drop a little bit of the batter in. It should form a ball and rise to the top.

Drop the batter into the hot oil, a ladleful at a time and fry till they turn golden brown on either side.

Serve as a snack.

Kerala Peanut Snack

Kerala Peanut Snack

The best place on earth to enjoy the monsoons is Kerala at the tip of the Indian peninsula. And there’s is no better snack during those rainy days than peanuts roasted with curry leaves and coconut oil. And I make it in the microwave making it an extremely healthy option as I use just 1 teaspoon of oil for a cup of peanuts.

Ingredients

(Serves 3)

Raw peanuts with skin 1 cup

Fresh curry leaves, a few sprigs

Coconut oil 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp

Method

Wash the curry leaves and dry it with a kitchen towel. Transfer to a microwave safe dish.

Add the peanuts to the dish.

Add the oil and mix well.

Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave for another 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave for 1 minute.

Add the red chilli powder and salt. Mix well. Use your fingers to crush the curry leaves, which will be crisp by now.

Cool and store in an airtight container.

Soy Bean and Tomato Curry

Soy Bean and Tomato Curry

This curry made of soy chunks and puréed tomatoes is not only extremely tasty, it is also a dish increasingly relevant in the current pandemic. One of the food groups that has become more important among the global population is protein. It is what you should have more of if you want to lose weight, of course. It will also help you regain your energy and strength if you have been unfortunate to contract Covid-19. And soy is a huge source of protein. Most important, it is delicious.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

Soy chunks 1 cup

Tomatoes 3 large, puréed

Onion 1 large, sliced

Ginger 1” piece

Garlic 4 cloves

Yoghurt 1 cup, whipped lightly with a fork

Cream 2 tbsps

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder 2 tsps

Cumin powder 1/2 tsp

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Biryani masala 1/2 tsp

Vegetable oil 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Method

Soak the soy chunks in boiling water for 5 minutes and drain.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed wok and fry the onions till they become translucent.

Crush the ginger and garlic in a pestle and add to the wok.

Fry till the raw smell of garlic disappears. It will take about 2 minutes.

Add the puréed tomatoes to the wok. Fry till oil leaves the sides of the wok.

Add the spice powders and salt. Add the yoghurt.

Add the soy chunks.

Add 1 cup of water and cook till the gravy thickens. Cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat.

Serve with rice, chapatti, or naan.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

I love this Indian dish that has its origins outside India. Having conquered the UK palate and overtaking fish and chips as the quintessential British dish, it is now increasingly available in restaurants in India and around the world. I still love the version available in London, which is where I first encountered it. I have tried to replicate that taste from memory as the pandemic has made travel well nigh impossible. The dish I made yesterday is my eureka moment. I have cracked the trick to making delicious, mouthwatering Chicken Tikka Masala.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

Boneless chicken breast 250 g

For marinade:

Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder 2 tsps

Yoghurt 1/2 cup

Vinegar 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

For the curry:

Tomatoes 4 large

Onion 1 large, sliced thin

Ginger 1” piece

Garlic 5 cloves

Fresh cream 2 tsps

Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Cumin powder 1/2 tsp

Biryani Masala 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Vegetable oil 3 tbsps

Butter 1 tsp

Method

Cut the chicken into cubes. Wash, drain and marinate in the ingredients given above.

Leave in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. I leave it overnight as I feel it makes the chicken more succulent and allows the spices to permeate through the meat.

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed wok and fry the chicken pieces for about 3-4 minutes till they are lightly browned. Keep it aside.

Add the butter to the oil and fry the onion slices till they are translucent.

Pound the ginger and garlic together in a pestle. Add to the pan. Sauté till the raw smell of the garlic disappears.

Purée the tomatoes in a blender. Add to the wok.

Cook till the water evaporates. Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder and biryani masala. I prefer the biryani masala instead of garam masala as it gives the gravy a tangy flavour.

Add 1 cup of water and add salt to taste. When the gravy comes to a boil, add the fried chicken cubes. Cook for 5-6 minutes till the gravy thickens.

Garnish with the cream and serve hot with basmati rice or naan or bread.

Tomato Garlic Rice

Tomato Garlic Rice

This is an adaptation of my friend’s recipe that I first tasted when I was in my 20s. She served it with fried chicken. I sometimes serve it with potato wedges or baked chicken tenders.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

Basmati rice 2 cups

Tomatoes 6 medium

Garlic 7 cloves, crushed

Coconut oil 2 tbsps

Salt to taste

Method

Soak the rice for 10 minutes. Drain.

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, skin them and purée in a blender.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the crushed garlic. Fry but don’t let the garlic burn.

Add the drained rice and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the tomato purée and mix well.

Add 2 cups of water and salt to taste.

Cover and cook on low heat till the water is totally absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Serve hot.