Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken Biryani - Kerala style

There are many variations to Biryani. The 2 most famous ones are the Hyderabadi Biryani where the rice and meat are cooked together and the Lucknowi Biryani where the rice and meat are partly cooked separately, laid out in layers and finally cooked under pressure.

My favourite version however is the one from down south in Kerala.
Prawn Biryani at OneIndia
I came across the recipe when searching for prawns biryani. The interesting twist in this version of the biryani is that the rice is cooked in diluted coconut milk. This gives it a very nice flavour.

This is a very easy recipe where you only require one large vessel to cook it in. In my case, I use a pressure cooker. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you could use a vessel with a lid instead.

For the coconut milk, I use Maggi Coconut milk powder. I also use Shaan Bombay Biryani spice mix. You could use other brands of biryani spice mix instead. This biryani masala contains chilly powder which makes it hot enough for me. In case your spice mix doesn't contain chilly powder or you like it hotter, you could add Red Chilly powder just before you add the tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • Chicken - I use thigh pieces.
  • 1 Onion - Chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes - Chopped
  • Few mint leaves
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  • Ginger Garlic Paste
  • Turmeric powder
  • Basmati Rice - This depends on the number of people you cook for.
  • Whole Spices
    • 4 Green cardamom
    • 2 Black cardamom
    • 1 Stick cinnamon
    • 2 Star Anise
    • 4 Cloves
    • 2 Bay leaves

Method

  • Soak the Basmati Rice for about 10 minutes. Do not keep it in water for longer then 10 minutes or the results would be squishy Biryani.
  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker base and add the whole spices to it.
  • Add chopped onion and let it fry until the onions are brown.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes to this mixture and cook till the tomatoes break down.
  • Add mint and coriander leaves and fry for another minute.
  • Add Chicken followed by the Biryani Spice mix. Mix the contents thoroughly.
  • You now need to add water diluted with coconut milk. It is very important to get this right. The rough guide is to add slight less then twice the amount of rice in terms of volume. This is because chicken leaves a lot of water while cooking. So if you use 3 cups of rice, I would use 5 1/2 cups of water with coconut milk. Mix the contents thoroughly  making sure you don't have anything sticking to the bottom.
  • Close the pressure cooker lid and let it cook until it lets out steam twice. In case you are not using a pressure cooker, let it cook till the water is completely soaked.
  • Switch the gas off and let it cool down slightly. In case you use the pressure cooker, take it off the stove and let it cool until the pressure is sufficiently low so that you can open the lid without any difficulty.
  • Serve with Raita.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ealing Road Temple, London



Pictures from the Ealing Road Temple. The carvings on the outside were very nice. They would not let me take pictures of the interiors which was also very nice.

Even though there weren't too many people at the temple, there was temporary barriers set which took you around the temple. It felt more like an exhibition and less like a temple. This could have been setup because of the Janmashthami celebrations recently.

The security and the notices which includes gems like 'You are responsible for your own safety in the temple.' just put me off.

If you are looking for good vegetarian food, the restaurants outside the temple were very good. We had the Special Gujrati thali at a place called Dadima and it was very very good.

Ealing Road Temple

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chicken Coriander

Fresh coriander is my favourite herb. The problem with fresh coriander is that cannot be stored for over 3-4 days even when kept in the fridge. We have stored it successfully in the past by freezing the leaves. However it just doesn't taste the same.

We had some left over coriander in the fridge which would have been destined for the bin if it wasn't used quickly. Having had and enjoyed chicken with coriander sauce back in India,  I wanted to cook some myself. I  decided to follow my own gut instinct in cooking it. The recipe is hardly original but the results turned out to be yummy.  I have tried to keep the usage of other spices to the bare minimum to avoid any distraction from the taste of coriander. The resulting sauce is tangy and has a strong taste of coriander.



Ingredients


  • Fresh coriander leaves, 2 handfulls. 
  • Onion - 1
  • Tomato - 1
  • Ginger Garlic Paste
  • Green Chillies 2
  • Full fat plain yoghurt 3 table spoons.
  • Turmeric - half teaspoon
  • Coriander Powder - one teaspoon
  • 2 Chicken breast pieces chopped into cubes.
  • Salt to taste
Method

  • Chop the onion and tomato into small pieces. 
  • In a blender, add half of the chopped onion, chopped tomato and fresh coriander. Add a bit of water if required. Blend to a paste.
  • In a saucepan, add a table spoon of oil and the remaining onion and fry until the onions turns translucent.
  • Add turmeric, ginger garlic paste and chopped green chillies to it and fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the blended mixture to the saucepan. Stir in the coriander powder and fry for another 3 minutes.
  • Add chicken and a small amount of water to prevent the sauce from burning. Cover the chicken with the coriander paste and let it cook until the chicken is partly done.
  • Mix yoghurt into the mixture. 
  • Add salt to taste. 
  • Cook until the chicken is completely done.
 Serve with rice or bread.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What we did in Venice

Flying to Venice: 

We took a Ryan air flight from Stanstead airport to Trevisio airport. We took an AVTO(local transport authority) bus from Treviso to Mystre. This costs 5 Euros  per person each way. We missed our stop at Mystre and ended up at the last stop which was Pizzale Roma in Venice.

Stay:

We stayed at the Garibaldi Hotel in Mestre. The number 2 bus is available right outside the hotel and takes you to Piazzalle Roma in Venice. The trip from the Hotel to Piazzale Roma took about 25 minutes each way.

Travel:

We took the three day travel card at the AVTO office at Pizzale Roma in Venice. If you get off at Mystre, get your travel card at the AVTO office there. The Travel Card is a RFID card which cost us 33 Euros per person and was valid for 72 hours from the time of the first swipe. This allows us to use the buses between Venice and Mystre as well as the vapouretto within Venice. You just need to swipe your cards on the ticket validating machines on the buses or at the Vapouretto stops.

Land vehicles are only allowed upto Piazzalle Roma in Venice, there are no roads within Venice. So the only mode of transport are the Vapourettos. Vapourettos are boats which work like busses within Venice. There are Vapouretto stops all along the Grand Canal and along the outer edges of Venice. You are never too far from a Vapouretto stop.

Getting around in Venice:

Venice a compact city which can be easily seen on foot. All you need is a good map to take you around. Note that there are a lot of steps you will need to climb up and down. A buggy to push your kids around could turn out to be a bigger hassle then just letting them walk around.

Places to see

Most days we took the vapouretto from Pizzale Roma to San Marco also known as Saint Mark's square and began our trips from there. Make sure you visit the Doge's residence,  St Mark's Basillica, Rialto Bridge, Murano Glass Factory, Burrano. We found some very good deals for souvenirs being sold on carts at Burrano. You will have a lot of photo oppurtunities just walking in the narrow streets of Venice.

Food

Food was quiet expensive in Venice. I also found that eating a Pizza turns out to cost the same as eating at a fast food restaurant.

Gondola

Cost about 80 Euros for about 30 mins. It wasn't too exciting either.

Venice in pictures.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kerala Chicken Stew

My introduction to food from Kerala started with the Chicken Stew. We had the coconut milk based stew with loaves of bread called Pav.  The aroma of the spices in the mild tasting stew was the highlight of the dish and this was permanently etched into my memory. Whenever I think about Kerela food, this stew always comes up first. This dish is traditionally had with appams but the stew will taste just as good with bread.

The recipe is based on the one  at
http://dosamma.blogspot.com/2007/07/kerala-chicken-stew.html
with suitable modifications made for convenience sake. 


Ingredients:
  • Chicken preferably boned else chicken stock cubes with boneless pieces.
  • Mixed vegetables
  • 2 small potatoes
  • Onion - 1
  • Chopped ginger and garlic
  • 1 tomato, chopped into long pieces.
  • 2 green finger chillies - Just chop the top off and drop in whole to avoid making a spicy stew.
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala.
  • 2 small pieces cinnamon, 3 cardamom, 3 cloves, 2 Star Aniseed.
  • 3-4 curry leaves.
  • A can of coconut milk. Dilute half of the coconut milk in water to use a the medium while cooking. The rest of the will be used at the end.
  • Salt to taste 
Method:

  • Heat oil and stir in the whole spices.
  • Add onions, curry leaves, chopped ginger and garlic, green chillies and fry till the onions are translucent.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala. Fry for 20 seconds and add the diluted coconut milk. Add salt.
  • Add vegetables.
  • Add boned chicken and let the stew boil until the chicken is done. If using boneless chicken, first add the concentrated chicken stock and let the stew boil. At this point, the vegetables should be cooked half way. Add the chicken and let it boil for a further 10 - 12 minutes.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, add the remaining half of concentrated coconut milk and let it simmer for a minute. Do not boil at this stage as the coconut milk may curdle.
  • Serve with toasted bread.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A day out at the Museum with the Canon 10-22 USM lens

It has been a couple of weeks since I borrowed a friend's Canon 10-22 USM wide angle lens. I have been thinking of buying a wide angle lens for some time now but wanted to test it out before committing to buying it.

I got the perfect opportunity to test the lens over the Easter weekend when we visited the Natural History Museum at London.  I have been to this museum a few times earlier with my camera but never really managed to get good pictures on those occasions.

This time however, I had the right lens for the job. The wide angle allowed me to get very close to the display while being able to capture it in its entirety. This was necessary since the museum had a large number of visitors on that day. Getting a shot of the exhibit while trying to avoid people crossing the frame would have been difficult with a  longer focal length. The grandeur of the building was captured very nicely by this lens.

This lens would also be a very good option to have when sight seeing around cities with its cramped spaces and large buildings.

Natural History Museum - 20100403

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Perfect Scrambled Eggs

I like runny scrambled eggs. After watching an episode of the Big Bang Theory where Sheldon experiments to find a way to cook the perfect scrambled egg, I had a sudden urge to eat scrambled egg.

In true "The Big Bang Theory" fashion, I googled for the perfect recipe to make scrambled eggs. I came across this recipe from Gordon Ramsay on how to make the perfect scrambled egg.


To give it an Indian touch, I decided to substitute chives with fresh corriander. Since I didn't have any creme fraiche, I decided to skip that too.

The result was nice velvety scrambled eggs served on toast.