December 11, 2008
Thanksgiving came and went. Eid came and went.:) and my hands were too full to sit down and wish you all properly. This is what happens when you decide to study in old (:) age. Everything takes second place even celebrations.
Eid Mubarak to all my readers! Happy Thanksgiving too!! Hope you all had a wonderful days on both occassions with friends and families.
I was talking to my parents and they were regaling me with incidents from the Eid lunch at my Grandpa's house with all the cousins and aunts and uncles. Eid lunch there is something I miss, even more than at my house. My grandma makes the best beef biryani ever. Though now she is old and hardly has any energy at home, she would still make everything from scratch, finely slicing to mincing to grinding the chutney on the ammi (stone grinder). No food processor or grinder for her. The house will smell of all the green leaves and green chilies chopped up, just before the fragrance of dalda and ghee takes over. She believes that dalda makes every thing taste better and that what she uses in her biryani. I never got the opportunity to sit with her and learn to cook her way so even now the mystique remains. For me and my cousins, biryani, Eid and grandparents house go hand in hand.
Eid has been quiet here.. Just another monday. But I will take that any day compared to the mayhem in Mumbai. That's all that is there everywhere, from the media to the mind. Though we here always complain that the US media never covers the world news, this is the saddest way to have the complaint answered. The Taj burning is an image that won't be ever go away, just like the cars I saw burning a eon ago in the 84 riots and people jumping off the WTC in 01. The people hurt have no relation with the senseless killers hurting them!!The terrorists have to be brain dead to inflict such damage without thought. Words are inadequate to express the anger towards those killers and to understand the anguish of those affected.
Now it's all cold and rainy outside and its one of those days that you just want to curl up with a good book or movie, with someone taking over the kitchen.:)It's almost the end of the year and almost the end of the time period I set for myself to finish my long drawn out exams and now there is so much to do and so little time. Soon it will all be over and then we can move on to bigger discussions.
So hardly feel like blogging anything. So just posting a biryani I made a while ago but didn't get around to posting. Enjoy while I hit the books again!!
Shrimp Biryani is very similar in preparation to the fish biryani..in both, the fish/shrimp is marinated lightly and fried just a bit to seal the flavor and then placed on the masala/gravy and layered with rice and baked. It's pretty simple and though there are a couple of steps, if you have more than one stove burning, the work is done simultaneously and its gets you the fastest and easiest biryani.
For 4 people.
Shrimp- 1 1/2 lb more or less
Red chili powder- 3/4 tsp
Lemon Juice-2 tsp
For the Masala:
Onion –3 or 4 medium ones( one onion is for garnish onions)
Tomato - 2 medium sized ones cut into chunks.
Green chilies –10 in number
Ginger - 1” piece
Garlic pods –5 cloves (big)
Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Plain Yogurt- 1/2 cup (thick)(Drain the yogurt to thicken it)
Fennel Seeds/Perinjeerakam/Saunf - 3/4 tsp
Poppy seeds (Khus khus) – 3/4 tsp
Mint leaves (Pudhina) - 1/2 cup chopped
Cilantro leaves (Dhania) - 1/2 cup chopped
Curry leaves- a handful chopped
Biryani Masala- 1 teaspoon
Lemon juice- juice of 1/2 lemon.
Salt-2 tsp Or as per taste
For the rice:
Basmati rice - 2 cups
Cinnamon (Karuvapatta) -1 stick of 1 inch length
Cloves (Carambu) -2
Cardamom (Elakkai) -2
One bay leaf, salt -1tsp.
Lemon juice- 2 tsp or juice of 1 lemon
Garnish: Cashew nuts – A handful, Raisins- A handful
Clarified butter (Ghee) – 2-4 tbsp or 2 tbsp mixed with 2 tbsp oil( For frying garnish onions)
Salt to taste
Canola/Vegetable Oil -3/4 cup or as needed for frying the fish.
Cinnamon 2 inch piece
Bay leaves- 1
Fennel seed- 1tsp
Mace( Javithri/Jathipathri) 5-6
Caraway seeds/Shah Jeera- 1 tbsp
Dry roast all together and grind to a fine powder. Store in a tight lidded bottle and use only 1 tbsp for this biryani.
1.Basic Preparation: Soak the fennel(Perunjeerakam) seeds, cashew nuts and poppy seeds in a bowl with water for an hour at least. Wet grind the soaked nuts and seeds with very little water to a fine paste. Only after that, add the green chilies, ginger, garlic and pulse to make it into a coarse paste. Keep aside. Alternately, you could first powder the poppy seeds and fennel seeds and then soak and grind to make it smoother. Chop the tomatoes into cubes and slice the onions. One onion should be sliced extra fine. This one is for the fried onion garnish.
2. Marinating and Frying shrimp: Cut the shrimp into medium size pieces,wash with 1 tbsp lemon juice and drain. Marinate it with the chili powder (use Kashmiri chili powder if you want it milder), turmeric, lemon juice and salt. Keep aside for half hour to one hour.
Heat up 1/4 cup oil(even less if u are using a non stick pan) in a wide shallow pan and pan fry the shrimps on medium high heat till they just look cooked on both sides. The shrimp should just change color and NOT get crisp as in a fry. Drain onto paper towels and remove any pieces left in the oil. Drain all the oil into a bowl.
3.Frying the Garnish: Heat the ghee/oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add the garnish portion of the sliced onions and fry, till golden brown and crisp. Sprinkle some sugar over the onions to speed up the crisping. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove the onions and fry the cashew nuts and raisins on medium heat till it turns brown on all sides. Remove onto paper towels. Drain the ghee/oil into a small bowl and keep aside for flavoring the rice.
4. Rice Preparation: Clean and soak rice for 10 minutes. Drain and keep aside. Boil 4 cups of water. Heat the ghee/oil mix and saute the whole spices and one onion. Add the rice after 2 minutes and saute that till the grains turn opaque. Add 3/4 tsp salt. Add the boiling water and stir well. Let the whole rice mix come to a boil and then lower the heat to medium and cover it. Cook it for about 10 minutes and check. If all the water seems to have disappeared but there is still water left beneath the top layer, remove from fire and just let it sit covered for another 10 minutes. It should be cooked perfectly by then.
5.Cooking the biryani masala/gravy: Use 2 tbsp of the reserved shrimp oil and add the rest of the sliced onions to the pan and saute on medium heat till it starts getting brown on the edges(about 8 minutes). Add the poppy seed – ginger garlic green chili mixture, tomatoes, curd, lemon juice, pepper, salt, turmeric, biryani masala one by one. Cook on medium heat for another 10 minutes till the tomatoes get cooked and everything comes together. Add the coriander, mint and curry leaves and mix thoroughly. Check the taste and add salt or lemon juice if needed. There should be some semi-thick gravy left. Mix in the shrimp with this gravy. Take it off the stove.
6. Layering the Biryani: Spread a bit of the gravy around it. Spread the cooked rice over the shrimp and garnish with the onions, raisins and cashews. If you want more flavor, you could add the oil from frying the shrimps over the rice now.:) Only if you want to. Not more than 1/4 cup of oil altogether.
Pour 2 tsp lemon juice over it. Now cover with a lid and set it back on the stove over high heat for 6 minutes and then on very low heat for 10 minutes. Turn off the flame and let it remain covered for another half hour. You could heat a cast iron griddle/pan or tawa and place the covered pan with biryani in it over that and let it cook for 20 minutes on medium heat and just leave it there on the tawa without flame after that for another 15 minutes.
Alternately, you could layer the shrimp and gravy and rice and garnish as described above in a oven proof dish and bake at 250 degrees for half hour. Mix the rice with the masala gently and serve.
Serve with coconut chutney (biryani chammandi), Onion relish (Ulli surka), Yogurt and Papadam.
That's how my dirty rice looks all mixed together. :)