Achari Murgh/Chicken(Indian Style)

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Achari chicken, yet another new dish for me. As I mentioned in my previous blog, Kalonji was something that was not available in my kitchen spice section, till one day I decided to make Achari chicken. The first time I had this dish was at a get-together and I really liked it. To my surprise, once we reached home, DD told me how much he liked this dish. Well, now I HAD to make it. How can there be something that DD likes and I don’t know how to prepare it 😛

I had no clue how to make this dish, but thanks to all the recipe blogs out there. I researched and I found many versions of it. The name Achari Chicken/Achari Murg itself suggests that it has something to do with pickle. I saw some versions of the recipe, where they use pickle directly, but in most recipes, the same ‘tadka’ or seasoning used for making pickles, is used for making this dish and hence the name. I also realized that there is Indian version and also Pakistani version of this dish and this time I have made the Indian style Achari Murgh. The recipe is quite simple and very unique and absolutely delicious 🙂

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INGREDIENTS:

Chicken(Thigh pieces) – 1 lb/ 0.45 kg
Onion – 1 large sized
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Tomato Paste – 1.5 tbsp(concentrated) or Puree from 1 small tomato
Yogurt – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Kalonji/Nigella seeds – 1/4 tsp
Bay leaf – 2 nos
Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala – 1/4 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves – 5-6 strands
Oil – 2 tbsp

To dry roast and grind:-
Fennel seeds – 3/4 tsp
Kalonji/Nigella – 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 4-5 nos

METHOD:

1. Heat a pan and dry roast all the ingredients under ‘To dry roast and grind’ section. Let it cool and then grind it into fine powder in a blender/mixie.
2. Heat oil in pan and add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add nigella/kalonji seeds, bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Saute till bay leaf turns brown.
3. Then add chopped onion, ginger garlic paste and half the salt. Saute and cook till the onion turns light brown. Only if the onion cooks well, would it get dissolved and form a smooth and thick sauce.
4. Once onions cook well, add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, pepper powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and the ground spices. Saute till the raw flavor of the spices goes off.
5. Now add the tomato paste/puree. Add little water and cook till tomato puree cooks well. The tomato and onion should mix well and you will know it is done when the oil starts to separate.
6. Now add the chicken pieces(2 inch sized) and remaining salt. Mix well. Let it cook is medium flame. Close the lid for faster cooking.
7. Add water as desired. Continue to cook till the chicken is done. Saute occasionally.
8. Once chicken is done, add yogurt and give it a good mix. Let it cook for another 4-5 mins. Remove from burner and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve with chappati or naan or jeera rice. You could also use the dry version of this as stuffing for various items.

NOTE: If you want the sauce to be more tangy, once you grind the spices(Under ‘To dry roast and grind’ section) , mix it with lime juice(of half a lime).

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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 🙂 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 couldn’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 doesn’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 that’s all! That’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 don’t have one, trust me, buy one and it is a good investment 🙂 The biryani is cooked in dum, that is , ideally its cooked by steaming using coal. But now, we skip the ‘coal’ part of it and prepare it in steam 😉 . 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 🙂 Enjoy!

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INGREDIENTS:

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

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

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

METHOD:

1. Cut the chicken into medium sized pieces. Don’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 ‘For the marinade’ 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 ‘For the rice’ 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 🙂

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Chicken/Paneer Pesto pizza(Whole wheat pizza dough)

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Pizza..and does anyone really care to make it at home?? Oh well, let me start explaining the reasons to make pizza at home. All the pizza base that we get in stores, in restaurants etc. are all made of all-purpose flour. Now if you don’t know already, all-purpose flour is not one of the healthiest options. So that’s the first and foremost reason to try this whole wheat flour pizza. Even if you find a recipe which claims to be whole wheat dough, its usually not 100% whole wheat pizza dough. I am sharing 100% whole wheat dough recipe 😛 Then comes all the other reasons which are my main reasons not to buy pizza much. The pizza bases are usually too oily, it has too much cheese in it, the pizza sauce is not always the way I like it, so on and so forth.. 🙂

Having said that if you do not want the pain of making the pizza dough by yourself, you could just buy pizza dough from stores and make this yummy pesto chicken/paneer pizza. Pesto sauce works really well for pizzas. I have been a fan of pesto pizza from the day I first had this pizza @ work.

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INGREDIENTS:

For Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:

1. Wheat flour – 1.5 cups
2. Active dry yeast – 1.5 tsp
3. Olive oil – 2 tbsp
4. Sugar – 1/2 tsp
5. Salt – to taste(apprx. 1/2 tsp)
6. Warm water – 3/4 cup

For Pesto Chicken(or Paneer) pizza topping:

1. Pesto Sauce – 1/3 cup
2. Baby Spinach leaves – 1 cup packed
3. Grilled chicken breast(cubed) – 3/4 cup
(or Paneer cubes)
4. Grated cheese – 1/4 cup
(I used Mozzarella cheese)

METHOD:
For the pizza dough:-

1. In warm water, add sugar and yeast. Close the lid and let stay for 15 mins until foamy.
2. In a stand mixer/food processor with dough blade, pulse the wheat flour, salt and olive oil well. To this add the foamy yeast mix and mix/blend well.
3. Add 2 tbsp water in case the dough is not binding well. Once done, knead by hand for 5 minutes.
4. You could skip Step 2 and 3 if you prefer to knead the dough using hands. Combine the flour mixture to form slightly firm dough(Similar to chappati dough).
5. Grease a bowl and cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rise for 2-3 hours. After 2 hours, knead the dough for 5 mins again and let it rise for another hour.
6. Once the dough rises, knead the dough using hands for 2-3 mins.
7. Spread the dough by hand onto a baking sheet/tray greased with oil/cooking spray. Alternatively, you could use a rolling pin. When you spread the dough by hand, you could make it into any shape you want. I had made a square base.
Tip: Once you have rolled out the dough, using a fork, tap the dough here and there. This will prevent any bubbles being formed while baking the pizza.

For Pesto Chicken/Paneer pizza topping:-

Skip the steps to make the pizza dough(step 1-6) if you are using store bought pizza dough. Once you have spread the dough, its time for the toppings.

8. Spread pesto sauce on the base.
9. Evenly place the spinach leaves and put the chicken/paneer cubes on top.
10. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the pizza.
11. Preheat the over to 400 degree F and bake for about 15-20 mins or until the crust is golden brown.

Pepper chicken(Gravy)

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Hmm..can’t imagine 2013 has gone past and we are already half way through the first month of 2014. So, first thing first. Me and DD want to wish you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year 🙂

Well, to add a little spice to your 2014, I thought of posting something very flavorful and special. You can never go wrong with this recipe. If you are a south Indian, and especially coming from parts of Malabar region, then I can say that you would already know the goodness of pepper. This dish brings the flavor and aroma of fresh pepper. I used to be satisfied with the black peppercorns that you get in regular grocery stores. But last day a friend of ours made me smell the peppercorns that they got from Costco. With the strong aroma of the pepper, I knew it was from the land of Kerala. And of course, it was!!!(The export quality black pepper). The aroma took me back to the memories of my childhood days when my mom would take the peppercorns fresh from our estate and make me smell it. Thats when I realized, there is so much adulteration in things we use regularly. We no longer get the fresh and best of anything even if we are willing to spend money 😦 Sad !!!

This dish is a Chettinad speciality and is good both in dry and gravy form. I have made the gravy variety here. This goes well with various things like Fried rice, Pulao, Biryani, Dosa, Chappati, Naan, Appam or even Bread. The blend of fresh peppercorns, fennel seeds and generous amount of curry leaves gives it a very distinct taste that goes well with any bread or rice item. I recently made it to have along with appam and dosa. DD and I loved it so much that we happened to make this couple of more times within a span of 2 weeks. So I would recommend that you make this dish whenever you want to impress someone with your cooking 😉

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INGREDIENTS:

Boneless chicken – 1/2 lbs
Onion – 1 no large size
Tomato – 1 no large size
Cloves – 3-4 nos
Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
Cardamom – 3 nos
Coriander powder – 1.5 tsp
Garam masala – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 2-3 strands
Coriander leaves – 2 strands
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste(apprx. 3/4 tsp)

To grind:-

Garlic – 7-8 pods
Ginger – 1 inch
Peppercorns – 1 tsp
Fennel seeds – 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 3 nos

METHOD:

1. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan. Fry the ingredients mentioned under section ‘To grind’ till they are fried well and gives a nice aroma. The galic should turn light brown.
2. Keep it aside. Once it cools down, grind it into a fine paste in a mixie/grinder.
3. Heat remaining oil in a pan. Add cloves, cinnamon and cardamom into and once it splutters, add finely chopped onion to it. Also put the salt and the curry leaves at this time. Fry the onion well in medium high flame. The onion should turn brown. Only if the onion cooks well, would it get dissolved and form a smooth and thick sauce.
4. Add the ground paste and cook well. To this add, coriander powder and garam masala. Saute well till it cooks through.
5. Now add finely chopped tomato. Saute till the tomatoes are cooked properly. You would know when oil starts to separate.
6. Now add the chicken pieces to it. Mix it well with the paste. Close with a lid and let it cook in low flame. After sometime, chicken will start leaving out water. The chicken should get cooked in that water. But if you see the need to add water, you can occassionally add some water.
7. The pepper chicken gets its flavor by cooking in a low medium flame so that all the spices get into the chicken while cooking. So closing the lid and cooking in low medium flame is an important thing to note in this recipe. Stir occasionally and add water to get the consistency you prefer.
8. Once chicken is cooked, garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Goes best with Naan, Dosa or Appam.

Chicken Kothu Porotta

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I remember the first time I got introduced to this dish was when a fast food restaurant in Trivandrum(city where I grew up), that we used to often visit, included it in their menu.

We heard from many people that this new dish tastes really good. Like every other day, my dad set out to get us some snacks for the evening. This time for a change, he thought he would get us ‘Kothu Porotta’. So thinking of the 3 hungry souls waiting to attack the snacks he gets in the evening 😉 , my poor dad out of his ignorance(you would know the significance of this word when you read further down 🙂 ) thought of getting 10 of those.

The guy at the restaurant cross checked with my dad for how many people is he ordering the food. My dad promptly replied “4”. The restaurant guy suggested that 2 should be good enough for that many. Dad wouldn’t agree. After few attempts, with great difficulty, the restaurant guy could bring down the count from 10 to 6. Little did he know that this evening snack would suffice as dinner for a week 😛 That evening dad brought back home a lot of food and a lot of laughter 😀

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INGREDIENTS:

Onion – 1 large
Tomato – 1 nos
Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chilli – 2 nos
Curry leaves – 1 strand
Coriander leaves – 3 strands
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala – 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Kerala porotta – 3 or 4 nos
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt – as per taste(apprx. 1/4 tsp)
Chicken curry – 1/2 cup or 2 tbsp

Tip: The best time to prepare chicken kothu porotta is when you have some left over chicken curry in your refrigerator ;-). It just saves some time for the preparation of kothu porotta. You can use the left over chicken curry for enhanced flavor or use freshly made chicken curry

METHOD:

1. Heat oil in a pan and put finely chopped onion, ginger garlic paste, chopped green chilli, curry leaves and little salt to it. Saute till the onion turns light pink.
2. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and garam masala and fry till the masalas cook(about 2 mins).
3. Add finely chopped tomato and saute till the tomato is cooked through.
4. Now add the Chicken curry and mix well. The mixture shouldn’t be too watery.
Note: Ensure that the chicken pieces are crushed or broken to small bite size pieces.
5. Break the Kerala Porotta’s into small uneven pieces. Add the broken pieces of porotta into the mixture and saute well so that the porotta pieces are coated well with the masala.
6. Continue to cook for 4-5 mins on medium-low heat.
7. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with raita.

Chicken curry

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I have had many chicken curries from so many places. In restaurants, at friend’s places and so many places like that. Some of them taste so good that you want to try making it and having it again. But there are certain things which cannot be replaced. For me, when I hear chicken curry, the first and best I can remember is my dad’s chicken curry. I have to say, ever since I remember, in my house, chicken curry was made only by my dad. This is his signature dish and how much ever my mom and now me, have attempted to copy this signature dish of his, it hasn’t been very successful 😦

Not that my dad used to cook often, but there are couple of his special dishes which only he can make and make it the best:-) One of those is most definitely this chicken curry. Made mostly once in a week, whenever it is the ‘dad special’ dinner time, he would walk in royally as a master chef and there in the kitchen are his helpers(mom and me) doing all the prep work 😉 (You know, all the cutting and chopping and cleaning work 😉 ) I remember the jealousy in mom’s face when he would get all the credit for the dish whereas it would be her who would have put more effort and work 😡 hehe!!

Well, I was so keen on making this as close as it could get to what he prepares. So I applied the main trick for the success of this dish, which is, ‘patience’ :-P. You need quite some patience to get it ‘just right’. Though I am late by couple of days, this is my special post for ‘Father’s Day’ 🙂

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INGREDIENTS

Chicken(with bone) – 3/4 kg or 1.5 lbs
Onion – 2 medium sized
Shallots – 4-5 nos
Garlic – 7-8 pods
Ginger – 1.5 inch
Green chilli – 3 nos
Potato – 1 nos
Tomato – 1 nos
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 & 3/4 tsp
Garam masala – 1/4 tsp
Chicken masala – 3/4 tsp
(any store bought masala. We use Eastern chicken masala)
Sugar – 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Yogurt – 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves – 3-4 strands
Oil – 2 tbsp

METHOD

1. Marinate chicken with 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, yogurt and little salt and refrigerate for atleast couple of hours.
2. Crush ginger and garlic together using pestle and mortar. Grind 1 onion into a smooth paste. Also, make puree of the tomato and keep these aside.
3. In a sauce pan, heat oil and put crushed ginger and garlic. When it turns golden brown, add chopped onion, salt and chopped green chillis.
4. Saute onion for few mins and then add the onion paste also. Let it cook well in medium flame.
5. Letting the onion cook in a low medium flame is one of the key steps of this preparation because, how long and how well the onion has cooked determines the taste of the curry. This is where I told about the trick you need to apply(patience 😉 ).
6. Add halt cut/quartered shallots. Keep stirring the mix so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.
7. Once the onion mix turns nice brown and completely cooked that it reaches a level of melting, add remaining turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala and the chicken masala.
8. Let the masala cook well. If you think the masala is sticking to the pan, you could sprinkle little water at this point.
9. At this point, add sugar. Adding sugar helps in the proper binding of the masalas.
10. Once the oil separates, add tomato puree. Saute well till the tomato cooks well.
11. Then add the marinated chicken pieces and cubed potatoes.
12. Saute for some time without adding water. The chicken will leave out some water and the chicken has to cook in less water and in low flame. Whenever you think that the mixture is too dry, add some water little by little.
13. After sauteing the mix for 10-15 mins, add the amount of water required to make the gravy of the consitency you would like.
14. You could wait till the chicken cooks completely in this manner. Or an alternate way is: After sauteing the mix for 10-15 mins, once the chicken is nicely covered with all the masalas, you could transfer the mix to a pressure cooker and give a whistle and the keep in simmer for 5 mins and take if off the stove.
15. Once chicken is cooked and ready, garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Goes well with chappati/roti.