Ria's Collection: October 2018

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Hyd Biriyani 1
This is one dish that I have tried a couple of times at home and never seemed to win at it with Jobin. I mean, he eats anything that I serve him and eats it happily without batting an eyelid. What I am trying to say is that,whenever we eat outside and order Chicken Biriyani, we are served the Hyderabadi biriyani style of biriyani. Jobin never agrees to it being anything close to the original and calls them all Yellow Rice & Chicken. Then my question would always be ' Then how is it actually?'. The Hyderabad born and bred husband of mine has tried his best to explain to me about it's taste but for me, that's not enough to recreate it at home.
Hyd Biriyani 6
I have grown up in the Malabar eating the typical Malabari food made by the Malabari's and the amazing Kuttanadan and other South Kerala food made by Amma. I can describe and re-create all those dishes without thinking twice. Having never eaten an authentic Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani (yet!), I was at loss on how to make it or how to improve from what I've made following the recipes from various foodblogs over the years. So gradually, I gave up.  We would rather enjoy my Malabari Chicken Biriyani than experiment upon recipes that didn't quite hit the ball out of the park.
Hyd Biriyani 4
The other day, I was lying on the couch and was planning on what to make for dinner. There was barely anything cooked in the fridge so I thought I'll make Oats for the kids and we both can eat some junk food once they sleep. Then the craving for biriyani kicked in me so badly that Jobin decided we should eat out. 'We will be disappointed as always!', was my reply. So he took the phone from my hand and started searching for biriyani recipes and then found one which looked really good and sounded like the author knew what she was doing. We both were very excited to try it and it was then that we realized that there was no chicken at home and if we were to buy the chicken and come, dinner won't be ready until 10:30 pm and our weekday bedtime is at 8:00 pm. So we ate out that night and bought some chicken on our way back home. I promptly marinated it and went to bed. The marinade smelt amazing so I knew it would end up being good!
Hyd Biriyani 2
But that chicken stayed marinating in the fridge for the next two days. We were barely home after that! So finally, on Saturday night I decided to make it. I fed the kids rice and put them to sleep on the couch as I was cooking. I followed the recipe as is because I did not want it to taste different because of me. Finally the biriyani was ready and our home was filled with it's wonderful aroma!
Hyd Biriyani 6
We took our share and sat on the floor by the sleeping kids. Just then, Zara woke up and even before she opened her eyes she said ,'Amma, enikku biriyani venam!'. Our jaws dropped. All we could do was laugh at it and feed her the biriyani that she woke up for. She had no idea that I was making a biriyani that night but woke up from her deep sleep because of the aroma! She is a big time chicken & a biriyani lover and I am not one bit surprised! Don't let the length of the recipe fool you, there's barely any cooking involved but you will be rewarded with the most amazing Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani in the end!

Hyd Biriyani 4 Serves 4-5

Fried Onions:
750 grams onions, sliced very thin
Oil for frying

Biriyani spice mix:
1 cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom
5 green cardamom
5 cloves
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon Shahjeera
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

For Marination:
750 grams bone-in chicken, cut up
2/3 cup thick yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2-3 green chilies,slit in half

For Rice:
2 cups good quality Basmati rice, washed & drained.
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil

For Assembly:
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon saffron (ground & dissolved in 2 tablespoon hot water)
1 tablespoon ghee

Biriyani Spice Mix : Grind all together to a fine powder using a spice grinder.
Fried Onions : Fry the thinly sliced onions until they are crisp & golden brown in colour.
Marination : Combine all the ingredients given along with 1/3 of the fried onions and leave it covered in the fridge for a minimum of 5 hours. Overnight is best!
Rice: Soak 1/3 cup of rice in water and keep it aside for 30 minutes.
Bring 2 1/4 cups of water to a rolling boil in a rice cooker. Add salt, oil and add the remaining 1 2/3 cups rice. Let it cook until all the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile. Transfer the marinated chicken to a heavy bottomed oven proof dish about 8-9 inches in diameter. If you've used thick curd, there shouldn't be any watery marinade left in the bowl. If there is, please discard it, it will make the rice soggy.
Sprinkle the cilantro, mint ,1/2 tablespoon lemon juice and most of the remaining fried onions over it. Drain the 1/3 cup of basmati rice that was soaking and sprinkle over the chicken. This helps in absorbing the juices from the chicken and gets cooked eventually.

As soon as the rice is done,carefully transfer it over the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining lemon juice, saffron, fried onions and ghee over it. Cover it tight with two layers of foil and place the lid over it. Bake at 375 F for 1 hour.

For stove top : Heat the assembled biriyani at medium high for about 10-15 minutes and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for one hour until the steam builds up.

  • I used storebought fried onions, 2 cups worth. That way it all was all done in the oven, our stove was never used! Eaaaaasy peasy!
  • If you don't own a rice cooker, you can cook it over the stove. It takes about 15 minutes in the rice cooker.
  • The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoon lemon juice while assembling, which I felt was too strong for our liking.
  • The original recipe calls for the biriyani to be baked at 350 F but our chicken was a bit raw even after an hour, so I increased the heat to 375 F and ended up baking for another 40 minutes checking in between. So I guess, 375F would be a better temperature to bake this biriyani.

Hyd Biriyani 5
This recipe really hit the ball out of the park. It's exceptionally good. It's very flavourful and not masked with spices. This recipes is an example of less is more. The flavours of the chicken and rice really shines through.
My advice would be to use a good quality Basmati rice. We get so many brands out here and most of them are pathetic. The rice has no aroma to it, the grains are not long, some of the brands have broken ends for the grains. We buy Royal brand of Basmati and it's been very good!
So officially, I am ending my search for a Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani recipes because Jobin really enjoyed it and couldn't stop saying 'Wow!'. The kids ate it happily and so did I !

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

COORG PANDI CURRY for 10 years of food blogging!

Pandi Curry 1

honestly don't know where to begin or what to talk about first. This little blog of mine turns 10 years old today. 10 years ago on this day, I started typing a recipe on a platform called Blogger, not knowing that once the post was published, the whole world could see it! I realized it after I received the very first comment ever on my very first post...a simple Chocolate Biscuit Pudding! That's all I knew (rather, didn't know!) about the whole new world of food blogging! Ritchie, my brother, pointed out that blogging might be easier than typing out recipes via emails. I just listened to him and named my blog 'Ria's Collection', the name I had given to my most precious handwritten recipe diary.

Coorg Pandi Curry 2
Now. This food blogging thing is everywhere. Everybody knows about it and everyone follows some blog or the other to get recipes and ideas. I mean, it is so common. 10 years ago, there were hardly a handful. I don't think I even spoke about it to my parents. Only when recognitions started pouring in  from all sides did I even think about telling them. I mean, it was just a thing that I did after I came back home from work...what's there to talk about it,right? :)
Coorg Pandi Curry 4
One thing I know for sure is that my intention for this space was and still is to share recipes and talk about what's going on in my life in general. I have met and interacted with so many of you via emails, chats, WhatsApp messages and even face to face at various,mostly unexpected places (think elevators!) . It always felt nice and it always made me feel that I am doing something right. I have made so many extremely good friends in real life through my food blog. What I am trying to say is that, this little space of mine on the internet has given me a whole lot more than what I have put into it. And that feels awesome! You dear readers, you have been such a wonderful bunch of people and thank you so much for still reading Ria's Collection even though I have been terrible at updating it these days.
Coorg Pandi Curry 3

Now, let's get back to business. Cooking that is! This time on our way back to the airport from Kannur, I stopped at a small store in Coorg to buy some Kachampuli & Paaputtu Thari to carry back with me to Minneapolis. But. I had to leave it behind at the very last minute due to excess weight. When I got here, our friend Z shared a bottle from his stash and there was no looking back! I went and bought some Pork that day itself and made this excellent dish!

The very first time I had this curry, I honestly didn't like it. We bought it from a lady who was selling it at a tourist spot in Coorg. It was greenish in colour and tasted really bad. But,whenever I heard people raving about it, I was convinced that there must be something good about that dish if it had to be so popular. So I decided to try this recipe at home and I am so glad that I did! It was exceptionally good!

Pandi Curry 1 Serves 6-8

1 kilo pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder

For Coorg Black Masala:
4 teaspoons Coriander seeds
2 teaspoons peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

Crush together:
100 grams pearl onions
10-12 green chilies
2 inch piece ginger
10 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves

2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 sprig curry leaves
1 teaspoon Kachampuli

Keep aside 5-6 fatty pieces of the pork and marinate the remaining using red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt for 1 hour.Dry roast the spices and grind it to a fine powder.Coarsely crush together the ingredients mentioned using a mortar & pestle or by using the smallest mixie jar.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan on medium high heat and add the fatty pork pieces. Toss them around till they render their fat. Remove the pieces and put it along with the marinated pork. There should be around 2 tablespoons of rendered fat.
If needed, add 2 more tablespoons of oil into the pot along with the pork fat and saute the curry leaves and crushed paste till its are well cooked and turns brown in colour. If it's sticking too much, add a little bit more of oil.

Add the marinated pork, 1/2 cup water,salt and cook covered until the pork is almost cooked,approximately 35 minutes. Add a bit of water if needed, it shouldn't be too dry.
Once the pork is almost cooked,add the black masala and kachampuli and cook for another 10 minutes.

By this time, the curry should be dark brown in colour. Uncover the pot and keep tossing the pieces till it turns black in colour. It should not burn, adjust the heat as necessary. It will take about 4-5 minutes.
If you want it to be a curry, add a splash of water and let it come to a boil once the pork has attained the black colour. I have made it almost dry and that's what you see in the photos above.
Serve hot with Rice, Rotis, Paaputtu, Appam, Neer Dosa, Benne Kadamputtu etc.

This curry needs attention towards the end if you want to get that authentic colour for it.  So pay close attention during the last few minutes. You most likely won't need a lot of oil since the pork is fatty and it will cook in its own fat. So don't add a lot of oil to begin with or while frying towards the end.
Now, for Kachampuli substitutes. It's a thick jet black concentrate made from Kudampuli and tastes exactly like Kudampuli. It very very strong and a little goes a long way. It's just 1 teaspoon for 1 kilo of Pork.So there is no direct substitute. Try not to use vinegar because it will only give you the tanginess and not the colour. I think, sambar tamarind would be a better substitute. Try to extract a thick paste and add according to your taste.

Our hearts were won by this dish. It's really spicy with all the green chilies, red chili powder & black pepper in it. Try it, you will love it! I served them alongside Paaputtu, another Coorg special made from rice & coconut.

It gives me goosebumps when I think that so many of you have been reading this blog of mine for a decade now. When I started writing it 10 years ago, I had just finished my Masters and started a new job as a Consultant Merchandiser for Parry Murray, UK. Then our wedding got fixed and you saw a lot of wedding preparations that were shared here. After our wedding, I moved to USA in 2010. Then three homes, a Vanitha Pachakarani title, 2 kids, various media mentions, TV shows and a graduation from Le Cordon Bleu...here I am 10 years later! The past 10 years have been one of the most exciting times in my life so far. There have been so many changes in my life and by God's grace, it's all been positive! I wonder how the next 10 years is going to be! :-) And before I forget, Happy 10th Birthday Dear Bloggie!

Thanks for stopping by! Do come back!

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