Birbal Ki Khichdi / The New Age Biryani

An Urban Legend. A rite of passage. The stuff that festivals were made of, infact we would be all sullen faced if ammi did not make the famed rice concoction on Eid. Yes, Biryani! That elusive fragrant monster that is talked about at almost any gathering that ive been to which has die hard non vegetarian fans. I have also for years relished various versions of this amazing dish with or without accompaniements like a raita or lal mirch ki chutney and even the somewhat strange combination of the Biryani with a gravy.  And everytime asked aloud ‘who made this?’ not to kiss their hand but to ask them to part with their recipe.  And that is the thing with Biryani, everyone has a different way of cooking it. And every new person who borrows a recipe will over time add a personal touch to it.

Because of this enormous history and personal baggage that the Biryani carries, it almost seems like the noch less monster who cannot be captured. So most of us eat this fable like dish at parties and restaurants and always make a note in our new year resolutions, to try it this year. And then the year goes and well, we still have some half hearted attempts at a Biryani, I know I did and then forced the family to eat it and appreciate it.

But to be very honest, it is just a slightly time consuming dish. So whenever I have attempted to make it, I have always done it on a relatively free day and also made enough to not regret spending that much time in the kitchen. Otherwise trust me on this, it is as easy as making any non vegetarian dish. And the best part about it, no matter which party you take it to, it gets finished always

But that’s not to say that I haven’t made mistakes, I have and just like the scores before me I have also after the numerous mistakes decided on what suits me and what doesn’t and come up with a formula that guarantees a winner. And since considering the direction this is taking, I am about to demystify the King of good times, the Biryani for the greater good of the society,  but before you all start taking notes and dream up a house filled with the smell of this delicacy, I must walk you through Not 1 , not 2 but 5 things that nobody tells you when you make biryani!! Or maybe they do and I never heard them so… Bear with me brave souls because the reward will indeed be good.

#1 – don’t try the shortcut and use a pressure cooker – purely because it doesn’t ‘look’ as good as when made on slow open flame

#2 – use a long grain rice – I once used regular rice and though it doesnt take away from the taste but again, when you invest about 2.5 hours in something, you want it to look good too.

#3 – be patient, put on music, don’t stress – don’t yell scream at others and basically make a nuisance of yourself because you would want to throw the bartan closest to you on your better half or mother or anyone in hitting range.

#4 – always have a back up in the initial stages – I mean the name and the number of the nearest pizza joint. 😛

#5 – be instinctive – trust yourself and know that this is one of the six impossible things before breakfast and you will do well.

And following this 5 point star like the 3 kings of orient, you will be able to reach the manger and visit baby jesus. Or attain nirvana in the biryani you cook.

P.S. a lot of people will tell me that this is infact Pulao and not Biryani but I think they look and taste the same. In my fast paced life, this is as close to it as I want to get.

The recipe has been adapted from the true blue form of Biryani that one of the dearest mother’s I know of one of my favorite people, Cooks. Thanks @nazianama J

What You Need:

Everything is scaleable

500 gm chicken or more if it is with bones

2 large onions finely sliced

50 gm ginger garlic paste

100 gm curd

2.5 katori rice

3 tablespoons oil

2-3 tablespoons Butter

Red chilli powder (to taste)Garam masala (to taste)


Whole spices (4 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom, 2-3 cloves, 3-4 peppercorn, 2 bayleaves, 2 big pieces of cinnamon)

Less than 1/4 teaspoon Jaiphal (nutmeg) powder

1 sliced onion fried to a caramel color and 2 boiled eggs diced for garnishing
Wash the chicken. Wash rice and soak in water. Keep aside. Now in an open Pateela (big enough for whatever amount of chicken plus rice you want to cook) Heat all the oil and butter, put the onion in and cook till a darkish brown.  This will take about 10-15 minutes. The butter and oil mixture does tend to add a nicer flavor than using just oil. Drain them out and let them cool on a plate. Make a paste of the fried onions once cool with the least amount of water. Take all the whole spices and put them in the remaining  heated oil and cook till the cardamom swells up and you can smell the aroma. Your oil will also have a nice golden color by now.

Put the chicken pieces in and fry till the water dries from the pieces. The water will mix with the oil to give you a brothy liquid) Drain the chicken pieces and keep aside. Put the ginger garlic paste in the broth, oil mix and cook. Put the onion paste in and let cook till the oil separates. You will be able to smell the masala in your entire house by this time.  Put the garam masala and chilli powder in and saute for a few seconds. Put the chicken in. Pour in the beaten curd and salt. put the jaiphal in.

Cook the chicken in the broth and curd, because chicken cooked this way, in its own juices tastes the best. Should take about 15-20 minutes on an open flame. Cover the utensil and let cook to prevent  masala sputters on yourself or the kitchen counter.

Once the chicken is done, (the meat will easily come of the bones when prodded or in case of boneless, it will break easily). Now put the soaked rice.  2.5 katori rice so a little less than 5 katori water. The ratio is always 1:2. Let the rice cook for about 15 minutes. Check for doneness. Cover and let it rest till you want to serve it.

Garnish with the boiled egg and fried onions. You could even fry a few mixed nuts and sprinkle on top.

Get the first plate yourself. No guarantees for second helpings at all.

Biryani with Boiled eggs and Fried onion garnish



Har Din Meethi Eid / Dry Sevaiyyan (Sweet Vermicelli)

Eid has come and gone, but I am still in that Eid haze of wanting to eat yummeh food. My mother is sensational when it comes to food. During festivals, all we get to eat is some type of biryani or some Qorma or some kabab. It’s a shame I am mince meat in front of her cooking.

But there are somethings I can do, and the thing is because I always look for the quick and easy, I end up pottering around the kitchen and generally have a few disastorous experiments and then come up with something edible.

Yes! People who post about food don’t necessarily get it right all the time. They just tell you when they are right. Maybe I should write about all the food that sits at the bottom of the trash can before a masterpiece is created.

Anyway, back to eid. The most significant part of eid is the syrupy, milk laden vermicelli or sevaiyyah. And it takes hours for the perfect bowl to be made. But I love the quick, dry, slightly less calorieful ones that my mom sometimes fixes when she needs to make some dessert. And it’s from her that I have this recipe which is adaptable, yummy and makes me celebrate eid all year round

What You Need:

1 cup vermicelli

Sugar according to taste but atleast 3-4 tablespoons is what I would recommend

Ground cardamom (elaichi)

Handful of Chopped Mixed nuts (walnuts, cashews, raisins, almonds)

2 cup full fat milk (you can use low fat milk too, depends on how rich you want the dessert to be)

1 tablespoon ghee or unsalted butter

Heat the ghee/ butter in a pan and put the vermicelli / sevaiyyah in it and cook till they turn brown. Shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes. You need to keep stirring them around otherwise they will get burned. Basically watch the color like a hawk. You don’t want to overstep the line of brown and burnt and all it takes is a blink of the eye for that.

Now put the sugar in and let it dissolve, keep stirring. You may need to put a spoon of water to make sure that the sugar gets dissolved properly. Next put 2-3 pinches of cardamom powder. Cardamom has a very strong taste. Too much and you won’t be able to eat what you’ve made, too little and you wont be able to taste it.

Put the mixed nuts in and cook for about a minute. Now pour the milk in. don’t be bothered by how everything is swimming in the milk now. You need to keep cooking it over medium heat till the milk completely condenses and disssapears. It will happen. You just need patience and about 10 minutes of cooking time.

Once the milk had disappeared, you have your basic dry sevvaiyah ready.


Absolutely Yummy!! Eid everyday!

Yes you can just take a spoon and start reliving festive times. Ofcourse a very interesting variation to this iss if you let the sevaiyyah cool and then take a few gulabjamuns, crush them and mix them in the sevaiyyah. It’s a treat to savour. Trust me. Specially for the unrelenting sweet tooth.

Aah well! Eid Mubarak everyday then!

Sab Kuchh Daal Diya / The Chicken Orgy Curry

What would you call a person who gets excited at the prospect of non vegetarian food and plans her entire vacation around scrumptious bites? ME!

Chicken Omnomnomness!!

Chicken Omnomnomness!!

I am going on a mini weekend break and just to celebrate my good luck I thought o going all out in the kitchen. Before I knew it I had possibly taken out every spice that I had and then some and was on my way to creating a disaster according to the family.

I was having a food orgasm (you don’t need a man for this one ladies) thinking of what possible genius I was going to create. I had been browsing through so many chicken recipes that I had forgotten where one began and the other ended. So in my totally sex infested mood I decided to have an orgy. Of recipes what else! And just kept using one technique after another and waited patiently for it all to come together.

God Bless the person who created a pressure cooker, it cut down my cooking time by 20 minutes. Yes they are that good! And you can be certain that novices like you and me will get properly cooked chicken and won’t have to hide behind, I like it rare phoo phaa., because I don’t like my meat rare!

So to give you the same pleasure of mixing every flavor that I know of, here it is, the north south chicken or as I want to call it ‘The Chicken Orgy Curry’

What you need:

300 grams boneless chicken (you can use anything, even drumsticks for this, I used what was available)

2 teaspoons poppy (khas khas) dry roasted

5-10 cashews – dry roasted

(Dry Roasting would mean just roast them in a dry pan till they turn brown)

2-3 Onions – fried to brown

Less than a Handful of Pudina (mint) leaves

Less than a Handful of Cilantro Leaves (dhaniya)

Less than a Handful of Curry Patta

2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste (I like to freshly grind it on a stone)

A little more than 1 cup Curd/ yoghurt

garam masala according to taste (I use a mix of ground cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and cloves, all home ground)

Cooking Oil or Ghee.

after the exhaustive list of ingredients, which will actually be within an arms reach for most of us, get ready to cook up a storm.

Wash the chicken and put a spoonful of curd and 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste in it. Rub it properly on the chicken and let it marinate for half an hour.

Now fry the onions till they are brown and are sweet crisp to taste.  Take them out and let cool for sometime. Then in your food processer, put the onions, roasted poppy seeds and cashews, chopped Cilantro, Mint and Curry Patta, 1 Cup yoghurt and the garam masala. Liquidise the content. Adjust water if yoghurt is too thick.

Now, in a Cooking Dish / pressure cooker heat 1 teaspoon of oil and put 1 tablespoon of ginger garlic paste and cook for a minute. Now put the marinated chicken along with the marinade and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Put the Liquid gravy from the food processer in and then finally the salt. Mix and cook for a minute and out the pressure cooker lid on and cook for 2 whistles and open immediately letting out steam after that.

In case you aren’t using a pressure cooker, cook till chicken is done, about 20 minutes on low-medium flame and the gravy is as viscous as you want it to be.

Chicken Orgy Curry

It’s quite unique tasting and I loved it with my plate full of steamed rice. I hope it makes you the star of your kitchen too.

Piyo Glassful Doodh / Kulfi Milk

I woke up with the feeling of not having cold coffee for breakfast today. I felt bored of the same old breakfast and I wanted to spice it up and have something simple and easy with my usual fair of paranthas.

This does not even qualify as a recipe but since I was so excited that the mug of milk tasted so good I just thought I should write it down. I bought Mixed Fruit essence (a fruit cake is begging to be made in my future) and vanilla essence yesterday. Understandably I was itching to use them. So I thought I have to have to use one of the essences come what may today morning.

So I did, and the result was this yummy glass of milk which tasted like liquidized Kulfi. I drank it all and later realized, I needed a picture of that. But never mind the picture, it looks like milk only. Just tastes wonderfully different and fragrant.

What you need:              

A Glass of Cold Milk

A pinch or two of ground cardamom – Chhoti Elaichi

A drop or two of vanilla essence



Just mix it all in and shake it in your coffee shaker for some nice froth on top. Put a few cubes of ice If you want some thick frothiness, otherwise omit the ice like I did. Not a big fan of ice I am.

And drink, and smile and inhale the fragrance because life does look good after you’ve had this.

Yeh Andar ki Baat hai / Surprise Center Microwave Cupcakes

What do you do when you want to surprise someone? You bake them nice yummy Vanilla cupcakes. But what do you do when you really want to surprise someone, you bake a surprise into the nice yummy Vanilla cupcake.

And what do you do when you only only only have a regular microwave, the one which doesn’t understand the 180 degree this, preheat that instructions. (the oven, not you) you still bake that surprise cupcake I say.

Why a microwave and not a conventional oven? Well because sometimes you just don’t have the time. And that microwave needs to be used for something other than heating dinner!

Also when you see the resultant non browned on top, snowy white Vanilla cupcakes with the melted chocolate centre, (that’s the surprise) it will remind you of the fact that every simple plain person has a chocolatey  and yummy personality like Jalebi.

I made these about 2 months ago so bear with me on the lack of pictures. When you make them and eat them you will know that pictures are not needed. The basic cupcake recipe is from here . I will still write it down here for people who are too lazy to click the link. You can find your own vanilla cupcake recipe too and just use the technique I mention here.

What you need: (12 cupcakes)

12 Frozen mini chocolates of any kind. I used round Chocolate leftovers from christmas which is the reason behind this recipe  (they must be frozen and then half an hour before cooking, shift them into the fridge in the summers or on the countertop in winters)

1 ½ cups flour

¾ cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt (If you use salted butter then ignore this)

½ cup milk

½ cup oil / butter (room temperature)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

Take a bowl and mix the flour, baking powder and sugar together. In another smaller bowl break the eggs and whisk them. Now put this in your flour mixture along with the oil/ butter aand whisk till everything is smooth. Pour in your vanilla essence and mix again.

Take your cupcake mould and put a teeny layer of the batter in each mould. Just enough to make a base. Now zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Now take the semi frozen chocolate and put that in each mould and cover it with more batter using a spoon. Do this one cupcake at a time since the heat will otherwise melt the chocolate by the time you get to the nth cupcake. Now bake this in your regular oven for 3-4 minutes on full power.

Vanilla Cupcakes with a surprise center

they may look messy, but they are totally omnomnom!

Easy peasy cupcakes with a surprise centre are done. They may end up looking messy like mine did. But that’s also because I poured way too much batter in each mould. but will make for happy stuffed faces.  Wish someone a happy birthday with these. Like I am wishing my favoritest person Ro now!

Bas 5 Minute Aur / The 5 Minute Brownie Fix

I cannot begin to stress how happy this chocolate fix will make you. I also cannot tell you enough how fudgy and gooey this extremely experimental brownie can be. Let me say that no matter what the funk you are in, this will get you out of it. I promise.

Beat your Monday Blues, Stomach cramps, fight with the girlfriend with this one size fits all brownie. Even if you don’t know how to cook at all, you can still press buttons on a microwave yes? That should do. Almost everything you need for this, will be in your kitchen already. So let me not waste time and get going.

What You Need:

4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2 tablespoons whisked egg – whisk one whole egg and take 2 tablespoons out of it (optional in case you want a denser, fudgier brownie instead of more cakey)

3 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons oil / melted butter

Take a mug, or a bowl, anything you want to directly dig into. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa and mix it together.

Now, if you are using the egg, mix that in. add the milk and the melted butter/ oil.  Mix everything together and put it in the microwave for a total of 3 minutes. Check after the first minute and then after every minute. Don’t be worried if the brownie crowns. It won’t spill out. (be wise in choosing the mug as well)

That’s it. Its done. Seriously I am not kidding. And the look on your face when you eat it would bear testimony to that. In my opinion though, the brownie tasted even better the next morning when I had the left over for breakfast. So if you have time, let it sit. Otherwise, keep a spoon nearby.5 Minute Brownie

You can really experiment with additions and presentations on it:

  • Dust it with powdered sugar
  • Melt white chocolate and pour on top
  • Take some condensed milk and mix cocoa in it and use as goey topping. (I did this)
  • Put nuts or broken chocolate or choco chips in the cup and mix in batter
  • Use a bit of vanilla/ cinnamon/ peppermint / orange peel grated
  • put rose petals on top for a nice surprise for the better half
with chocolate on top

a piece of Bournville on top!

Basically, its such a simple basic recipe you can do whatever you want with it. And seriously go omnomnom!

Let Baigans be Baigans / Aubergine Cottage Cheese Casserole

I was privy to this conversation on twitter about how someone did not know what to do with Brinjals/Eggplants/Aubergines and that they had some still in the produce basket and I realized so do I. it’s a tricky vegetable with a strong flavor and tastes horrible if undercooked or not cooked properly and I am pretty much scared of this monster vegetable as well.

But then I chanced upon this recipe for this casserole in the book ‘Curry Curry Curry’ by Ranjit Rai. Aubergines and Cottage Cheese (Paneer) that’s the most unlikely pairing you are ever going to see. I made a few tweaks here and there, braced myself and said if it doesn’t turn out ok, it’s still going in the trash, so might as well give it a go. And the result was unbelievable. The house smelled good and the dish was an explosion of taste and brilliantly

What you need:        

400 gms Aubergines / Brinjal / Eggplants (baingan)

3 -4 Medium onions

3-4 Tomatoes / 150 ml Tomato Puree (I use half and half)

200 gms Cottage Cheese / Paneer shredded

Coriander powder

Chilli powder



Oil (mustard/ vegetable/ olive)


Cut the Aubergines in medium thickness rings , mix about 1 teaspoon of salt in them and keep in a colander for half an hour. This helps in draining the Aubergines and also prevent oxidization of the vegetable. In the meantime, cut the tomatoes,  put them in a bowl and mash them by hand since we don’t want pureed tomatoes and neither do we want whole pieces. It needs to be just mashed. Mix a tablespoon of  store bought tomato puree in this. I find this combination works better than only tomato puree or only whole tomatoes, but you are free to just go with one of these.

Take 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a pan/ kadai , cut the onions into rings and fry them in oil till they are goldenish brown. Take them out and keep aside. Let the remaining oil be in the pan.

Take the drained Aubergines and fry them in the remaining oil for about 3-5 minutes till they are just almost cooked and slightly brown. Take the fried aubergine and keep it aside. In the same pan, with whatever little oil is left, put a teaspoon of coriander powder, salt and turmeric and after about a minute of frying this masala, put the Cottage Cheese in and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Turn off the gas. (trust me on how many people need this instruction as well)

Preheat the oven to 180 degree centigrade. Take a glass baking dish and now assemble your casserole. Put a layer of aubergine and put the Cottage Cheese mixture and then another layer of Aubergine. Depending on the size of your dish you may have multiple layers.

Layers of Casserole

The layers of the casserole

The top layer should be aubergines. Now pour the tomato mixture on top and put the dish in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Take it out and spread the fried onion rings on top. And dinner is done.

Aubergine Cottage Cheese Casserole

Aubergine Cottage Cheese Casserole

It will taste heavenly and every flavor will blend with the other so well, that you will make this again.

Ek Anaar ki Meethi Daastaan / Pomegranate No Bake Cheesecake

The merciless humid heat and the amazingly erratic powercuts have made me paranoid of keeping anything in the fridge for long. Because there is just so much Cottage Cheese (Paneer) I can make from curdled milk. So, I was once again looking through my fridge to see what all should I salvage when I saw the most beautiful sight. Rich, wine colored pomegranate waiting to be devoured.

But just like most families, we have our picky eaters as well, who run at the sight of fruit. And I wanted to main

tain the fresh and firm texture of the Anaar while still making it tasty, and suddenly the heat had me thinking of cooler climates and cooler things to eat and I knew, I had to make a cheesecake of the no bake kinds. And then I envisioned the white creamy delight with spots of wine colored richness and I had to be shaken to bring myself back to reality and in my hot, hot kitchen.

This Dessert is perfect for a party or anywhere where you want to impress the socks off someone. Pants too, but that’s another matter altogether.

What you need:

About 200 gms of Digestive Biscuits (I love Brittania Nutri choice, but any will do, but ONLY digestive biscuits)

About 50 gms Butter

200 gms / half a can of Condensed Milk (you can make your own condensed milk rather than buying it, and I will tell you how in a post soon)

200 gms Hung Curd / Cream Cheese (just put some Yoghurt/ Dahi in cheesecloth and hang it to let the water drain out for 3-4 hours)

1 Pomegranate Freshly de-seeded (you can take more if you want)

To start off, save yourself one biscuit. Just do it. You may want to thank me later. Now take the rest of the biscuits and put them in a bowl and crush them. I do this by hand but you can put the biscuits in a clear and clean plastic bag and use the Rolling Pin / Belan to crush the biscuits as well.

Now, add the butter to the biscuit crumbs and mix the butter in with your hands till you have a crumbly dough. And put this mixture into your serving dish (preferably a glass baking dish) and spread the mixture on the base. Press it down with your fingers till it looks like its set. I could not click a picture and so am pasting a reference image here.

Put the dish with the base in the fridge to chill. Open the can of condensed milk. And before you proceed, take that biscuit you saved and put a teaspoon of the condensed yumminess onto the biscuit and eat. It’s just to set the right mood and nothing else.

omnomnom moment!

Now take the Cream Cheese / Hung Curd and put half of that tin can in and mix the two together till they are creamy and consistent. Take the pomegranate and dump the entire bowl into the mixture. Gently fold it in, you don’t want to break any seeds.

Take the dish out of the fridge and slowly pour the mixture in and spread it on the base evenly. Put it in the fridge to set for 1-2 hours. If you want to serve it less than an hour after making it, put it in the freezer, but that generally makes the base a bit hard as the butter freezes.

You are done! The Pomegranate No Bake Cheesecake is ready. The little jewel pomegranate seeds glittering in the Cheesecake will make you feel rich without any diamonds.Pomegranate Cheesecake

Serve it up with your brilliant smile. It saved me the embarrassment of the slightly melted not yet set but amazingly delicious topping because of the blasted powercuts.

Chai Masala Maar ke / Chai Latte as the world calls it (Chai Latte Spice Mix)

I cannot think of a better brew to start my blog with than something that Indians love having. Chai. And off late I have heard so much about this wonderful spiced chai which is Chai Latte. To my simple Indian sensibility it’s a fancy way of saying Chai, Masala Maar ke. I was introduced to the fancy Barista version by a very dear friend Shruti who has a bank account just to pay for this expensive Chai.

And honestly what better time to have Masala Chai/ Chai Latte than in these wonderful monsoons with a plate of Pakoras to go with it. So, I would highly recommend making this and saving yourself not just money but also the various trips to a Barista or Starbucks for this Chai. Also, I think it makes a wonderful gift to anyone who loves Chai.

I am writing this while I sip on the yummy Chai I made. I just had to say that. Just had to. So ok lets whip this up. or mix it up. I am on a Chai High. That rhymes.

What you need:

(The measurements will make you enough spice mix to use for about a week or 10 days, depending on how much Chai you have)

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar – about 50 gms
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons ground dry ginger – Sundh
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon – Dalchini
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg – Jaiphal
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves – Laung
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom  – Chhoti Ilaichi

First off all, It doesn’t matter if you don’t have powdered sugar. Don’t run to the store to buy it. Just grind regular sugar in your food processer and you have the whitest, nicest, powdered sugar.

Do the same with the spices as well. Most homes will have whole spices instead of the ground ones.

If you are going to be using Vanilla extract, then take the powdered sugar in a bowl and put the vanilla extract in and mix. Let the extract dry out under a fan for about 20 minutes. Then mix the sugar once again to evenly distribute the vanilla flavor.

Now take all the other ground spices and mix them well using your hands. Sort of like rubbing them into each other to blend the flavors.Chai Latte Spice Mix

the picture is how the spice mix looks before you add the sugar to it.

Then mix this spice mix with the sugar. Put everything in your food processor jar and blend it. This way, the all the spice and flavors are even further ground and mix to give you a more homogeneous mixture.

That’s it. The Chai Masala maar ke / Chai Latte Spice mix is ready.

All you need to do when you have that urge to drink Chai Latte is take a teaspoon per cup (adjust according to your own taste) and put that it boiling water along with a tea bag and let it steep for 2-5 minutes. strain in a cup.

Add Full cream milk or Additional cream/ a spoon of condensed milk to low fat milk or 2 teaspoons of milk powder and your cup of natural spicy goodness is ready. (I insist on the cream, you will see it makes a difference to the smoothness of the Chai)

Note: please add more sugar or honey in case this isn’t sweet enough for you.