Coriander and Mint Pullao

2 cups basmati rice
1 cinnamon stick
4-6 cardamoms
4-6 cloves
1 bay leaf
7-8 peppercorns
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
salt to taste
For the chutney BLEND together:
A bunch of fresh coriander
2-4 green chillis
5-7 mint leaves

A handful pomegranate to garnish and add texture and a sweet sour pungency.

Serves about 4 and takes about 25-30 minutes to cook (excluding rice soaking time)

Wash and soak the rice in water for at least 1/2 hour to an hour.

Heat the oil and ‘bhagar’ – (temper) the cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom until you can smell them. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook till the raw smell disappears, dont let them burn. Immediately pour a blended chutney and cook for a few minutes

Pour in the rice and fry it in the chutney mixture. The pour just enough water to cover the rice, less is better. Add some salt. Cover and cook on very low heat.

Check every now and then to see if rice is cooked. The liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be fluffy and cooked though. Try not to move around the rice with a spoon too much as the rice may break. Use a fork to move it around so as to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Keep the rice covered under low heat, until it is cooked though and all the water is absorbed. Don’t over cook it as you are after each grain being separate.

Cinnamon and Coconut Rice

1 – 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice, which has been soaked for up to a minimum of 1/2 an hour
1 cup of coconut milk
water
salt to taste
11/2 tsp of nigella seeds (kalongi seeds)
rind of one large lemon
1 tbsp of lemon juice
a medium piece of a cinnamon stick
oil

In a little hot oil fry the cinnamon stick until an aroma develops. Pour in he drained rice and fry for a few seconds. Now add enough water to just cover the rice and add the coconut water now as well, and turn the heat low and cover the saucepan and cook on ‘dam’.

Check the rice after a few minutes to ensure that the rice has not stuck to the bottom of the pan. Use a small teaspoon to move around the rice so as to avoid breaking the grains. If you feel the rice is burning at the bottom place a ‘tava’ – flat Asian pan used to make chappatti breads etc, under the pan and keep on low heat, or place in over (if using oven safe saucepan).

In a small fry pan heat up a little oil and fry the nigella seeds until they splutter and then pour these, the lemon rind and juice on to the rice and stir.

Serve with any fish dish.

Mince Biryani

5 tomatoes (chopped)
1 teaspoon each of coriander powder, cumin powder and red chilli powder
Whole garam masala consisting of: 1 star anise, 1 stick of cinnamon, 1 black cardamom, 4-5 small green cardamom(crush)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander seeds, aniseed,black pepper and cloves
1 green chilli
fresh coriander and mint (chopped)
lemon and lime slices
1 pinch saffron (soaked in hot milk for 20 mins)
1 tablespoon rose water
1 1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup green lentils
1kg lean chicken/turkey/beef mince
1 onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon ginger/garlic paste
Directions

Soak rice and lentil separately in tap water for about 30 minutes prior to cooking, then par boil both separately and strain and keep aside.

In a saucepan heat oil under medium heat and fry the whole garam masalas until you can smell them. Now add the ginger/garlic paste, onions and allow to brown, but not burn. Add the salt, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and fry with a splash of water to avoid it from burning.

At this stage add the tomatoes and fry until quite thick and the oil comes up to the top. Add the mince meat and fry constantly until the meat is cooked and dry and all you can see is the oil at the sides on the pan – hence no tomato sauce should be moving around the pan. Add fresh coriander and stir.

Once this is done, in the same saucepan layer the lentil and then the rice over the mince, pour the ghee and then the saffron and milk and rose water and place a few lemons and lime slices inside and sprinkle fried onions, mint and fresh coriander and a green chilli on top. Cover the saucepan and place in a medium pre- heated oven for about 20 minutes.

Check to see if rice and lentil cooked through, if not then leave in oven longer. By leaving it in the oven you won’t’ be a risk of burning the rice at the bottom even on low heat on the stove. When it’s done give the biryani a good stir serve with greek yogurt or a mint raita.

Shahi Biryani with Fenugreek and Vegetables

300 g rice, washed and soaked in tap water for 30 minutes, then par-boiled in hot boiling salty water for only 2-3 minutes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp Ghee
2 large onions, peeled and cut into half moons
1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp ginger paste
4 tomatoes, chopped
300 g natural yoghurt
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 bunch fresh methi (fenugreek), washed and chopped (you can substitute with dried methi, but only use about 2-3 tsp)
A handful of green beans, cut into two pieces,
1 potato, peeled and chopped into small squares
100 g shelled peas
200 g chopped spinach
1 large green capsicum/pepper, de-seeded and chopped into medium squares
salt to taste

For adding when layering:
1 bunch or coriander leaves, chopped
10-12 mint leaves
1 lemon sliced thinly
1 pinch of saffron, soak in hot water for 15 minutes
3-5 green chillis, chopped finely

Whole Garam Masalas:
1 cinnamon quill
10-12 cloves
10 green cardamoms
1 large black cardamom
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp peppercorn

Garnish:
A handful of pistachios, pomegranate, coriander leaves and rose petals

Method:

Heat vegetable oil and 2 tbsp ghee in a saucepan with the tight fitting lid add all the whole garam masalas until fragrant, be sure not to burn. The add onions and cook until translucent.

Add ginger and garlic and fry until the raw smell of ginger and garlic leaves the pan (about 2-4 minutes) Do not allow to get brown. Add a splash of water to ensure that nothing gets burned and keep on medium heat.

Add tomatoes and fry until they cook down. Add yoghurt and keep stirring until the oil leaves the curry. Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder.

Now add all the vegetables and cook until mixed well.

Top the vegetable curry with coriander leaves; mint and green chilli and then layer par-boiled rice on top of the vegetable curry spread evenly. Top with coriander, mint and green chili again and also pour the 1 tbsp of ghee (melted), shove in some lemon slices, pour over saffron and cover tightly with foil and then the pan’s lid.

Keep on very low heat, and allow to cook in it’s own steam for 20-30 minutes.

Once done, open up the biryani, serve in a dish and sprinkle the garnish! Serve hot with raita

Aaloo ki Tehri (Cumin and Turmeric Scented Rice Pullao with Potatoes)

150 g Basmati rice, washed and soaked for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to cooking
1 red onion, peeled, cut into thin rings and fried in vegetable oil until golden brown, drained and kept to cool
vegetable oil
1/2 stick cinnamon
4-5 green cardamom pods, bashed open
6-7 cloves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp ginger paste
Salt to taste
Water at hand

Nuts and dry fruit:
A handful of shelled unsalted pistachios
A handful of skinned whole almonds
A handful of sultanas
(save a bit for garnish)
ghee to fry

Garnish:
A few mint leaves
1/2 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
2-4 whole thin green chills
1 generous pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp boiling water

Equipment:
A saucepan with a tight fitting lid
Foil

Begin with par-boiling the soaked then drained rice, strain and then set rice aside until later. Fry the nuts and then the sultanas in a little ghee and also fry your onions are explained above. Set all this aside for now.

Heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in the saucepan over medium heat and once hot, throw in all the whole spices, once the start to splutter, add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry stirring continuously, do not let this brown. Once the raw smell of the garlic and ginger evaporates, add the par-boiled rice and fry for a minute or two. Turn the heat to medium low. Add the fried nuts (safe a few for garnishing) and mix with the rice.

Now pour over the saffron, shove the lemon slices and a few mint leaves into the rice, sprinkle the fried onions. Add a little water to the pan, about 2-4 tbsp. Place a piece of foil to cover the top the pan, tightly fit the lid and turn heat to low.

Leave to infuse and cook for about 15-20 minutes, not longer. Turn heat off and lift off lid and foil. The rice should be steaming and aromas should now be developed! After a gentle stir, serve immediately.

Saffron and Nut Biryani

150 g Basmati rice, washed and soaked for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to cooking
1 red onion, peeled, cut into thin rings and fried in vegetable oil until golden brown, drained and kept to cool
vegetable oil
1/2 stick cinnamon
4-5 green cardamom pods, bashed open
6-7 cloves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp ginger paste
Salt to taste
Water at hand

Nuts and dry fruit:
A handful of shelled unsalted pistachios
A handful of skinned whole almonds
A handful of sultanas
(save a bit for garnish)
ghee to fry

Garnish:
A few mint leaves
1/2 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
2-4 whole thin green chills
1 generous pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp boiling water

Equipment:
A saucepan with a tight fitting lid
Foil

Begin with par-boiling the soaked then drained rice, strain and then set rice aside until later. Fry the nuts and then the sultanas in a little ghee and also fry your onions are explained above. Set all this aside for now.

Heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in the saucepan over medium heat and once hot, throw in all the whole spices, once the start to splutter, add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry stirring continuously, do not let this brown. Once the raw smell of the garlic and ginger evaporates, add the par-boiled rice and fry for a minute or two. Turn the heat to medium low. Add the fried nuts (safe a few for garnishing) and mix with the rice.

Now pour over the saffron, shove the lemon slices and a few mint leaves into the rice, sprinkle the fried onions. Add a little water to the pan, about 2-4 tbsp. Place a piece of foil to cover the top the pan, tightly fit the lid and turn heat to low.

Leave to infuse and cook for about 15-20 minutes, not longer. Turn heat off and lift off lid and foil. The rice should be steaming and aromas should now be developed! After a gentle stir, serve immediately.

Kathi Daal (Tamarind Lentil Soup)

1 cup mung lentils
a few cups water
salt, red chilli – to taste
1/2 tsb turmeric
2-3 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp sambar masala

Temper with:
a few dry red chills, 1 tsb mustard seeds, 2 garlics slivered and a few curry leaves

Boil the lentil with water, turmeric, red chilli powder, salt and water until quite mushy and squash down with the lentil with a spoon, and once you find it is quite cooked, you can use a hand held blender, I swear by Dualit Hand Held Blender kit. The lentil should be not too thick but rather a bit watery.

Once ready, add an equal amount of tamarind, sugar and chill to balance out the flavours. What you are after is an equal flavour of each coming through.

Now heat oil in a small deep saucepan and heat oil in it once very hot temper the mustard seeds, garlic, curry leaves and red dried chilli. Don’t over brown. Pour over the lentil (which should now be in a serving dish).

Enjoy own its on as a soup or with plain boiled basmati rice.

Khichri (Buttery Lentils and Rice)

5 handfuls of basmati rice
2 handfuls of husked moong daal
Salt to taste
1 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 small red onion, cut into rings
1 tbsp butter mixed with a teaspoon of oil or 1/2 tbsp of ghee
1/ tsp cumin

Begin by mixing the lentil and rice and giving it a good rinse. Then soak for up to an hour (minimum 30 minutes)

Drain the rice and lentil. They should look like the photo below after being drained. Now pour into a saucepan and add enough tap water to cover it.

Bring to a boil then leave to simmer until cooked. This should take about 4-5 minutes. The rice shouldn’t be mushy and the lentil should still have bite. All the moisture should leave the pan. take of the heat.

In a small frying pan, heat the butter and oil or ghee, once piping hot add the cumin until they splutter, then the garlic until it’s slightly crisp and finally the onions and stir until soft.

Pour this flavoured butter/ghee over the rice and stir. Serve with some plain greek yoghurt, full fat natural yoghurt and if you’re lucky to find this; thick buffalos’ milk desi yoghurt!

Mujaddara (Rice and Lentils with Caramelized Onions)

4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup peanut oil
2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
Plain whole-milk yogurt, to serve

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, combine 5 cups water, the garlic, bay, cumin, allspice, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then stir in the lentils and reduce to medium. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer, until the lentils are softened but still quite firm at the center, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the rice and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils and rice are tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring only occasionally at the start then more frequently once browning begins at the edges of the pan, until the onions are deeply caramelized and crisped, 10 to 15 minutes; adjust the heat if the onions brown too quickly. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a paper towel–lined plate and spread evenly. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and set aside; the onions will crisp as they cool.

When the lentils and rice are tender, remove the pot from the heat. Uncover and lay a kitchen towel across the pan, then replace the lid and let stand for 10 minutes.

Using a fork, fluff the lentils and rice, removing and discarding the bay. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in half the scallions, then transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the fried onions and remaining scallions. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with yogurt on the side.