Tomato Rice

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Tomato rice or thakkali sadam is another one of the most popular flavored rice in South Indian cuisine. There are 2 kinds of tomato rice. One is spiced with garam masala, which is what I have made here. There is another kind, mainly made in Tamil Nadu, which uses some typical South Indian spices/seasoning. I will share that recipe another time.

This was the only tomato rice I knew till I came to US ๐Ÿ™‚ and was definitely a dish I liked a lot. My mom would make it very rarely, and so each time she would make it, it was one of those special dishes. The ‘special’ tag was given also because of the deadly combination she would serve it with. Wondering what it was??? Chilli chicken!!! Ya, you read it right ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have never heard about this combination anywhere else. Tomato rice with chilli chicken. I don’t even know how she came up with this combination. Somehow it clicked for us. Not just for us! I remember, when I used to go home for vacation from hostel, my roommates and friends would wait for my return. Tomato rice and chilli chicken was something my mom would pack for me on my return journey, so that I could have it for dinner. I remember one time, I got a big vessel full of tomato rice and lots of chilli chicken upon popular demand from my friends ๐Ÿ˜€ And that night was a feast. We were left finger licking after literally fighting over the food ๐Ÿ˜‰ Those days were awesome. I am getting nostalgic ๐Ÿ™‚ I miss my friends ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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INGREDIENTS:

Basmati rice – 2 rice cups
Tomato – 4 nos medium sized, sliced
Onion – 2 nos. small sized, sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chilli – 2 nos, chopped
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch piece
Cloves – 5-6 nos
Bay leaf – 2 nos
Cardamom – 2 nos
Black peppercorns – 7-8 nos
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander leaves – 5-6 strands, chopped
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1.5 tsp) – 1/2 for rice and 1 for masala
Oil/Ghee – 5 tbsp

METHOD:

1. Cook the rice(add apprx. 1/2 tsp salt and 2-3 drops of oil while cooking rice) and keep it aside.
2. Heat oil/ghee in a sauce pan. Add the whole garam masala(cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, cardamom, black peppercorns) to the oil and let it splutter.
3. Put curry leaves, onion, ginger garlic paste, green chillis and the remaining salt into the saucepan and stir well. Cook till the onions turn light pink.
4. Then add the red chilli powder and turmeric powder and saute. Cook for few seconds.
5. Add tomatoes and cook covered till the tomatoes cook well in medium flame. The tomatoes should leave all juices and crush completely.
6. Once the tomatoes are cooked and the cooked masala looks like a paste, add the cooked rice into the saucepan and mix it well lightly with the masala. The masala should be coated well on the rice. But if you mix it hard, the rice will break and will loose its texture.
7. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve with chilli chicken or omelette ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lemon Rice

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Lemon rice is a delicious South Indian rice dish that you can easily put together if you are in a hurry or if you are running out of your pantry stock ๐Ÿ™‚ Seriously, if you have some rice and lime at home, you can easily put together this simple dish. It is hot and sour and very flavorful rice item which would take less than 10 mins to prepare if you have some leftover rice. Since this dish is mainly seasoned with Lime juice and oil, it doesn’t spoil easily too. So this can be a good option to consider if you are one among those people who likes/prefers to eat homemade food (aka comfort food), when you go for road trips or are set for a journey.

Also, this dish doesn’t call for any side dish to go with it. You could just relish it with some fried appalams or papad. However, since this dish is little dry in nature, I prefer to have it with a side condiment. I had never thought of it before, but one day when my colleague got it with Chicken 65, I absolutely loved the combination. So now when I make lemon rice, I prefer to have it with chicken 65 or pepper chicken(dry) or something of similar kind ๐Ÿ™‚ You could make you own combination to go with it. Enjoy this simple, yet flavorful rice ๐Ÿ™‚

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Rice(Raw rice/Basmati) – 1.25 cups
Lime – 1 no. large and juicy or 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp, heaped
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp, heaped
Asafetida – 1/4 tsp
Chana dal/Bengal gram – 1 tsp
Urad dal/Black gram – 1/4 tsp, heaped
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Dry red chilli – 2 nos
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Green chilli – 4 nos, chopped
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Oil – 3 tbsp

METHOD:

1. Cook rice and keep aside in a bowl. While cooking the rice, put 2 drops of oil or 1 tsp lime juice so that the grains don’t stick to each other.
2. In a pan, heat oil. Put mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add cumin seeds, chana dal(bengal gram), urad dal(black gram) and dry red chilli. Saute till the dals turn light brown.
3. Then add curry leaves, green chilli, asafetida and turmeric powder and saute till the raw smell goes off and remove from heat. Put the contents of the pan to the rice bowl.
4. Mix lime juice and salt well so that salt gets evenly spread to the rice.
5. Add the lime juice also to the rice bowl and give it all a good mix so that everything is spread evenly with the rice.

Serve with papad or Chicken 65 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Schezwan Veg Fried rice

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Indo-Chinese is one of my favourite cuisines. As much as it is available in India, so much is it scarce here in US. There are couple of restaurants here and there, but it doesn’t come even close to the ‘Chinese’ we get in India. Usually we call Indo-chinese as ‘Chinese’ in India. So I was always under the impression that, what we get in India as Chinese, is what is authentic Chinese food ๐Ÿ˜› I know! I was sooo ignorant!!! So when I came to US, one day my colleagues were discussing about where to go for lunch. So when someone suggested Chinese, I immediately supported him ๐Ÿ˜› and so we went to a good Chinese restaurant. To my surprise, I didn’t find any of our ‘Chinese cuisine’ dishes in the menu. Chilli chicken, Chicken manchurian, Schezwan fried rice!!! I was so disappointed, but more than my disappointment, I was confused ๐Ÿ˜€

After talking and discussing with couple of my Chinese colleagues, I came to realize the hard fact that Indo-Chinese is just a creation of us Indians or Chinese who lived in India ๐Ÿ˜‰ Atleast all the dishes I mentioned, weren’t even in their dictionary, let apart it being in their menu ๐Ÿ˜› Haha..It was a big realization that Indo Chinese is just a cuisine that came up when apparently some Chinese living in India, used some of their ingredients/spices and adapted it to Indian cooking techniques. What a find!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad we have this amazing cuisine today.

Unfortunately or fortunately, whenever I have Indo -Chinese food craving, I have to think of making it myself. But having said that, it is really simple if you have some of these ingredients handy. Usually, whenever you make Indo-Chinese, it turns out pretty good. So I keep making it and enjoy it each time ๐Ÿ˜›

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is rice cup, 1 cup = 180 ml

Garlic – 6-7 pods
Ginger – 1 inch size
Dry red chilli – 4 no(s)
Basmati Rice – 2 cups
Red bell pepper – 1/2 no, chopped
Green bell pepper – 1/2 no, chopped
Green peas – 1/2 cup
Carrot – 1/2 cup, chopped
Green onion – 4 strands, chopped
Onion – 1 small no(s)
Soy Sauce – 1 tbsp
Vinegar – 2 tsp
Chilli garlic sauce – 1.5 tbsp
Ajinomotto – 2 pinches
Ground black pepper – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 5 tbsp

METHOD:

1. Soak the ginger, garlic and dry red chillies in water for an hour and grind it into a smooth paste.
2. Wash the rice and soak for 10 mins. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and fry the rice for few mins(The color of the rice will become more solid white).
3. Cook the rice in cooker/rice cooker or any other preferred way. Keep aside.
4. Heat remaining oil in a pan and put ground ginger-garlic-dry red chilli paste.
5. Saute till the raw smell of the ginger and garlic goes off. Then put onion and cook till onions turn pink.
6. Put all vegetables(green peas, carrot, red bell pepper and green bell pepper). Saute till the vegetables cook through.
7. Then put ajinomotto, ground black pepper, soy sauce, chilli garlic sauce, vinegar and green onion.
8. Saute for few mins till the sauces mix well with the vegetables.
9. Mix cooked rice with the vegetable mix and give a good mix. Remove from heat.

Serve with chilli-vinegar and manchurian ๐Ÿ™‚

Mint Rice/Pudina Sadam

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Mint rice or Pudina sadam is something that I usually make 1-2 days after making biryani. Biryani recipe calls for only very few strands of mint leaves and usually you get a bunch of mint leaves from the grocery store. I realized that mint rice is a good way of consuming the mint leaves. It is a very refreshing flavored rice and is very easy to prepare also.

This time I made a tangy cucumber salad along with mint rice. It was a superb combination. Even as I write this, I am craving that combination :- D Next time for sure, I am buying mint leaves, explicitly for making pudina sadam ;- )

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INGREDIENTS:

Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Raw rice – 1 cup
Mint leaves – 1 bunch
Coriander leaves – 1 handful
Green chilli – 1
Tamarind – a gooseberry seed sized ball
Ginger – 1 inch
Garlic – 3 pods
Chana dal/Bengal gram – 1 tbsp
Urad dal/Black gram – 1 tsp
Asafetida – 2 pinch
Dry red chilli – 1
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
Oil – 3 tbsp
Salt – to taste(approx. 1 tsp)

METHOD:

1. Cook rice and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Add chana dal/Bengal gram and sautรฉ till it starts to turn light brown. Then add broken urad dal/ black gram. When both dals become slightly brown, add cumin seeds, asafetida and broken dry red chilli.
3. Then add chopped ginger, chopped garlic, chopped green chilli and sautรฉ till the raw smell goes off.
4. Then add mint leaves and coriander leaves. Saute for apprx. 2 mins till they turn pale.
5. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
6. Grind it along with tamarind and salt into a fine paste and mix with cooked rice.

Serve with cucumber salad! I loved this combination.

Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani

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Biryani holds a very special place in most of our hearts. One thing I noticed about DD was that, you take him to any restaurant, his default choice would be Biryani ๐Ÿ™‚ I have to really convince him to get something else. Hehe..And I have realized that Biryani is dear to most Indians! This being my 50th blog(Yes, I managed to get thus far!!! Pufffff!!!!!), I thought it should be something special. And I couldnโ€™t think of anything more special than a Biryani!

I had Hyderabadi chicken biryani after coming to US and I absolutely loved it. I love the different colors of the rice. Another thing I realized is that this biryani doesnโ€™t have tomatoes as opposed to other biryanis I have had in the past. When you think of biryani, you would actually think that is it a tedious thing and takes a lot of time and expertise. Atleast that was my impression before I knew how easy this preparation was.

You major task is just to marinate the chicken and thatโ€™s all! Thatโ€™s what determines the taste of your biryani. For making this biryani, you would need a good heavy bottomed pan with an air tight lid. If you donโ€™t have one, trust me, buy one and it is a good investment ๐Ÿ™‚ The biryani is cooked in dum, that is , ideally its cooked by steaming using coal. But now, we skip the โ€˜coalโ€™ part of it and prepare it in steam ๐Ÿ˜‰ . The flavors get slowly and evenly induced to the rice by the steam and you get this marvelous product called Chicken Dum Biryani. Here, as part of my 50th blog celebration, I have for you Hyderabadi dum biryani ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy!

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INGREDIENTS:

Chicken โ€“ 2.2 lbs or 1 kg
(To give an idea, I used 4 drumsticks and 2 thigh pieces)
Basmati rice โ€“ 4 cups ( rice cooker cup which is 160 ml)
Onion – 1 large sized
Mint leaves โ€“ 8-10 leaves
Coriander leaves โ€“ 20 strands
Saffron โ€“ 7-8 strands
Milk โ€“ 1/4 cup
Ghee โ€“ 1 tbsp
Oil โ€“ 2 tbsp
Salt – 2-3 pinches

For the marinade:-
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Yogurt – 2 tbsp
Lime juice โ€“ of 1/2 lime
Peppercorns โ€“ 8-10 nos
Cloves – 8 nos
Cardamom – 4 nos
Bay leaves โ€“ 2 nos
Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
Black cardamom โ€“ 1 no
Shah jeera โ€“ 1/4 tsp
Garam masala(optional) โ€“ 1/4 tsp
Mace โ€“ 1/2 nos
Green chilli – 3 nos
Coriander leaves – 5 strands
Mint leaves โ€“ 7-8 leaves
Red chilli powder โ€“ 1.5 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder โ€“ 1.5 tsp
Cumin powder โ€“ 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste(apprx. 3/4 tsp)
Oil โ€“ 1 tbsp

For the rice:-
Cardamon โ€“ 2 nos
Cloves โ€“ 3 nos
Cinnamon โ€“ 1/2 inch stick
Bay leaf โ€“ 1 nos
Salt โ€“ to taste (apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Lime juice – 2 tsp OR
Oil – 2 tsp

METHOD:

1. Cut the chicken into medium sized pieces. Donโ€™t cut the drumstick pieces. Wash and clean them. Ensure to squeeze out all the water from chicken.
2. Marinate chicken with the ingredients mentioned under the โ€˜For the marinadeโ€™ section. Mix well and marinate for atleast 2 hours. Marinating and refrigerating overnight is recommended.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp ghee in a pan and fry sliced onions. Sprinkle salt while frying the onions. Fry in medium-high flame till the onions turn crispy and brown.
4. Once the onions are done, strain the oil and keep aside on a kitchen towel/cheese cloth so that the extra oil/ghee can be removed.
6. In hot milk, soak the saffron strands. Keep aside for later use.
7. Wash the rice and soak in water for 30 mins. Meanwhile, in a deep pot, boil enough water required for cooking rice.
8. Into the water, put all the ingredients mentioned under โ€˜For the riceโ€™ section. Oil/Lime juice will prevent the rice from sticking to each other. When you add salt, just make sure that the water tastes just as salty you would want your rice to be.
9. Once the water boils, put the soaked rice into it and wait till the rice boils. The rice will start bubbling/dangling in the water after 3-4 mins and if you crush a grain of rice, it would crush easily at this point. Remove the pot from heat and drain the water. Spread the rice on a flat surface so that it doesn’t get cooked further.
10. Now in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, layer the chicken. Place the chicken tightly packed so there is no gap between the pieces and chicken pieces touch the bottom of the pan.
11. Layer half the rice on top of the chicken. With a spoon pour half the saffron milk on the rice evenly. Also drizzle 1/2 tbsp oil onto the rice. Put half portion of fried onion on this layer of rice. Put half portion of chopped mint leaves and chopped coriander leaves also into this layer.
12. Repeat the process(step 11) for the remaining half portion of rice. Layer this rice, pour saffron milk and remaining 1/2 tbsp oil, spread the fried onion and chopped mint and coriander leaves.
13. Close the lid. It is very important to have an air tight sauce pan. If you don’t think that the lid closes tightly, then seal the lid with the help of chappati dough. This will ensure that the moisture is captured inside the pan.
14. Cook the biryani in high flame for 5 mins, in medium flame for 10 mins and in low flame for 15 mins. Remove from heat and open the lid. If you have used chappati dough, you would know that the biryani is done when the dough on the outside gets hard. You would also know that the biryani is done when a nice aroma comes out and the lid is covered with some droplets.
15. Don’t stir the rice too much while serving. The colors come out beautifully when served without mixing it much.

Serve with raita, papad and pickle.

NOTE: 1. Most people don’t get their biryani right in the very first attempt. Neither did I. One thing that can go wrong in most cases is that your chicken might get burnt. Two reasons why that can happen. Reason 1:Your saucepan isn’t air tight. So while cooking, the moisture escapes and can burn the chicken. So very important that you cover it with an air tight lid or the safest option is to seal it with chappati dough. Reason 2: Your saucepan is not heavy bottomed. Now there is a solution to that. You could use you any other pan that is heavy bottomed and place your biryani pan on top of that pan. This will prevent burning too.
2. Before layering the chicken, I usually saute the marinated chicken in a different pan(not the pan in which I plan to make the biryani). This is to take off the rawness of ginger garlic paste. This isn’t an important step though.
3. Instead of frying onions, you could use store bought fried onions and use that instead. Will save some time and effort ๐Ÿ™‚

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Green Peas Pulao

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Since this is just beginning of my recipe series, I thought of making something very simple yet delicious. I am a big fan of rice. I just cannot live without it. If couple of days, I skip having it, I start missing it so much ๐Ÿ™‚ Our traditional way of having rice is usually with a lot of side dishes. But being working, it is kind of difficult to prepare that much variety each time for one meal. So flavored rice is a good alternative if you are a rice lover.

Green peas pulao is probably one of the easiest recipe you could make.ย Traditionally, making pulao is even more quicker since everything is just put in a pressure cooker and give one whistle and pulao is ready. But I haven’t used pressure cooker for this preparation. I made rice and the masala separately and mixed it.

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INGREDIENTS:

Basmati rice – 2 cups
Green peas – 3/4 cup
Onion – 1 medium sized
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chilli – 2 nos
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala – 1/4 tsp
Lime juice – 1 tsp
Ghee/Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Coriander leaves – 5-6 strands

METHOD:

1.ย Wash and soak basmati rice for about 15-20 mins. Whenever you use basmati rice, it is better to soak it because this helps the rice to get evenly cooked and take a nice long form.

2. Usually basmati rice needs about 1.5 measure of water for cooking. In this case, since we are using 2 cups rice, we would need 3 cups of water. Add salt to the water you are using for cooking the rice. An easy test to ensure you put the right amount of salt is by tasting the water. It should be just enough salty that you would want the rice to be.

3. Add lime juice to the water. This ensures that the rice doesn’t get sticky and each grain is separate from each other. You could also use 2 drops of oil/ghee for this purpose. Cook the rice(I used rice cooker to cook the rice) and keep aside.

4. Heat ghee/oil in a pan. Put chopped onion, ginger garlic paste and green chilli and saute. Add salt at this point(for the masala alone, because the rice is already seasoned with salt).

5. Once the onion turns pink, add turmeric powder and garam masala. Continue to saute for 3-4 mins.

6. Add green peas and cook till peas is done on medium flame. If you feel that the mixture is getting too dry, you could add 1 tbsp of water to moisten it while its cooking. Overall the masala should be little dry and not watery.

7. Mix the prepared masala with the rice. When you mix the rice ensure that you use a spatula or a flat spoon, and mix it very lightly. Otherwise the rice will break and wouldn’t look good. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Note: Goes well with raita or any spicy gravy.

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