Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chicken Dum Biryani

It’s 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning. Your kid’s friends are coming for lunch and you have no clue what to make. Very common scenario in any household with kids.

Worry not. Welcome to Anjan’s world of cooking where no ingredient is critical and ease of cooking is essential. Look inside the refrigerator. If you have some chicken in there and in some corner of the kitchen shelf some amount of basmati rice then that’s it. Chicken Dum Biryani and Raita it is for lunch. A very famous and, in my opinion, very healthy food option for parties and special events.

Chicken Dum Biryani needs about 4 hours preparation time. Of that, 3 and half hours for chicken to get marinated and 30 minutes for the cooking. For the cooking, I prefer to use pressure cooker. It has 2 major advantages. The cookers generally have heavy bottom and the lids air tight.

Let’s prepare biryani for 4-5 adults. I hope you will be able to extrapolate it according to your family or party size.

First the list of essential ingredients.
  1. Chicken 1 Kg. Washed and cut into medium size.
  2. Rice 1 kg, preferably long grain basmati.
  3. Onion. 4 large or around 400 gms
  4. Ginger-garlic paste (2 teaspoons)
  5. Salt (To taste )
  6. Turmeric powder ( 1 teaspoon)
  7. Curd. 1 bowl or around 100 gms
  8. Oil. 4-5 tablespoon, to be used for boiling rice and frying the potato pieces.
  9. Ghee. Biryani is healthy because you have the option of using very little ghee.
  10. Garam masala whole and/or powder ( green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaf ). Whichever is not in the kitchen, ignore.
Now, the ‘Good to have’ items 
  1. Green chilies. 3-4 or more, depending on the intensity, chopped
  2. Biryani masala.
  3. Coriander and/or cumin powder.
  4. Nutmeg, Mace (Jaiphal, Javitri 1 each, coarsely ground)
  5. Kewra water or edible rose water
  6. Saffron (kesar) or orange color.
  7. Potato 2 medium. Cut into 2 pieces and half fried.
  8. Fresh Dhaniya leaves (coriander).
  9. Pudina leaves (mint).
  10. Kasuri methi (fenugreek leaves dried).
  11. Grated raw papaya.
  12. 2-3 hard boiled eggs.
Marinate the chicken with curd, ginger-garlic paste, salt (around 1 tablespoon should suffice, but it's taste dependent), turmeric powder,  a teaspoon of biryani masala, coriander powder and/or cumin powder, nutmeg and mace pieces and chopped green chilies. Add to this, chopped coriander, mint leaves and kasuri methi. Set it aside for 3-4 hours. More time for the chicken to get marinated, softer it will be. Only one more item is left to be added.

Slice the onions and fry them in ghee or oil till golden brown. Keep half of it aside and add remaining half to the chicken. Cut the potatoes into two, fry them for 5-6 minutes and add to the chicken. Do it only if you like to eat potato in your biryani.

Soak the rice for half an hour. In a pan put water, add 2 tablespoonful salt and 4-5 tablespoonful oil. Add few strands of pudina, 1 bay leaf, 1-2 whole green cardamom and cinnamon stick into the water. Let it boil. Once the water starts boiling, add the rice. 1 kg rice takes around 5-6 minutes to get half boiled. This is bit critical step. Over boiled and biryani will lose its magic. So keep an eye on it.

In the cooker, pour the marinated chicken. Put the half fried potato pieces. Add rice. Use a strainer to transfer the rice. The rice transfer takes some time and in this while some rice which is still sitting inside the hot water, waiting to be transferred, is getting more than half boiled. This is part of the plan. So don’t worry. You can think of it as a layer consisting of marinated chicken, 50% boiled rice, 60% boiled rice and 70% boiled rice.

On top, add or sprinkle these items one by one - the fried onion you had kept aside, chopped coriander and mint leaves and half teaspoon of biryani masala or garam masala powder, 1 or 2 teaspoon kewra water or edible rose water. Add as much or as little ghee as you like. I generally put around 50 gram ghee. Put few drops of saffron (kesar) soaked in a half cup warm milk. If you don't have saffron, put few drops of orange color. If you have neither, don't bother.

Put the lid on. Place the cooker on high flame for 5 minutes and then on sim for 20 minutes. First 5 minutes of high flame tends to scald the chicken that gives your biryani a smoky aroma. That's it. Your Chicken Dum Biryani is ready.

Initially it may look bit intimidating but believe me, in 2 attempts you will get a hang of it and the kids would just love it.

If you are short of time, you need the raw grated papaya. It works as meat tenderizer and can reduce the marination time by half. For Mutton this is an essential ingredient. Just add around 100 gms or one bowl of grated papaya in the marinating chicken or mutton.

I doubt if anyone in the world, apart from me, puts kasuri-methi. But I like the flavor.

Some people add boiled eggs too to the preparation. If you like that, you may add few hard boiled eggs in-between the  rice layers.

What if you feel the rice is less than half done and in your excitement, have started the transfer process from pan to cooker? Simple. Take few spoonful of the hot water from the pan and add to the cooker. That would provide the necessary moisture for the rice to get fully cooked.

Garam masala, Cumin and Orange Color
Potato fried

Curd, Ginger, Garlic and Raw Papaya
Green and red chili

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It’s India vs. US ( ego vs. law? )

The general public’s source of information remains limited to the mainstream media. Unlike the big shots and the hoi polloi who have the right informants at the right places we have to rely on what is panned to us by the mainstream media.

The ongoing diplomatic conflict between India and US is a case in point. Trawling the online news and joining the dots paint some jagged pictures. Devyani is a dalit IFS and is currently posed in US. Strangely, a section of Indian media is trying to give it a dalit vs. non-dalit cast conflict colour. But isn’t it really ridiculous to blame US for caste bias. Does US really care about India’s cast system? Her father is crying hoarse that his daughter is not a criminal as she has not committed any murder. As if murder is the only crime that calls for punishment.

So what really happened? Well, we hear that Divyani who earns around $4000 as the India’s Deputy Consul General in New York in charge of Political, Economic, Commercial and Women’s Affairs at the consulate, appointed a nanny for her kid(s?). There was some visa fraud involved and some forged documents submitted during the appointment of and transportation of the nanny. Also as per the minimum wage rules for unorganised sector workers in US, the nanny had to be paid $4500 per month. As per their rules the violations fall under human trafficking, slavery and exploitation. Some where it has been pointed out that Indian government was informed about the charges way back in September. Question is, if the government of India knew about the issue why did it not pull up its diplomat and waited for the crap to hit the fan!

In India some people are saying how could a diplomat earning only four grand pay more than her salary to the nanny? To them the question is, is it justified to cheat so that you can get something that is beyond your means? If you can’t pay the nanny why you have to have one?

Devyani is no stranger to media footage for all the wrong reasons. She was also involved in the Adarsh Housing Scam and admitted to the investigators that she owned 2 flats in the illegal buildings. Devyani, who is the daughter of the former BEST GM Uttam Khobragade, disclosed that she had acquired a flat in the Meera Cooperative Society in Oshiwara, built on government land, when her father was the CEO and Vice President of MHADA (Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority). She also said her father had signed the application on her behalf when she had applied for the flat in the Adarsh Housing Society, as she was posted in Germany at the time. Clearly, this person has a not too clean background and now she is holed up in US with Visa fraud charges that can attract a jail term of up to 10 years.

Now coming to India's diplomatic offensive, currently there are two differing voices emerging from the country. Online forums and main stream media are speaking in differing voices. People on the street are actually pointing out the fact that breaking law with impunity is a typical Indian trait and this becomes a style statement for the people in power. She, being an Indian might have overestimated her stature and hence brazenly indulged in illegal activities and hence must be punished. She forgot that in US there is no culture of a call from the bada sahib. At the same time people are happy that India is showing some spine in its diplomatic brick batting with US. But this support from the populace is more for Indian strategy and less for the person in question.

But the mainstream media is harping about the nation’s pride and diplomatic privileges and is trying to stoke some sort of hysteria. This is the voice that is more audible as this section is governed by the powers that be. Media is trying to harp over the fact that since Devyani had diplomatic privileges she should not have been arrested and handcuffed. This is the same media that did not report any follow up news regarding Mukesh Ambani’s son’s involvement in current car crash in Mumbai where 2 people got killed. The jury is still out, literally and metaphorically, and hence the last stone is yet to be cast into the cesspool of Indian diplomacy and media harangue.

We hope Devyani gets full support in her fight for justice, but if she has committed the crimes she has been charged with, then, she must face the law of the land. Let a case of law not become a war of ego between two great democracies.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hell for a married man. Dettol style!

 As a husband, howsoever hard you may try you will never be able to win your wife's heart. Well, that is not me speaking but Dettol is claiming that in their latest ad here. I saw this ad for dish wash gel and I found it extremely irritating to say the least.

As a child growing up in a nuclear family hardly ever did I do any work to add towards the household chore, and rarely if I did, as much as filling a water bottle from the filter I would want everyone to bow and bend and acknowledge my feat. Or else I would carry a pout the whole day. That was heaven.

Heaven is also when I cook a surprise for my ‘M’ now after coming back from office and she gives me a big hug. But I really pity the Dettol husband. Bechara, he has cooked but his wife is unhappy and worried that the kitchen is in a mess. The ‘Bechara’ assures her that all dishes have been taken care of but that does not mollify the wife and now she is wondering if the dishes have been cleaned by proper detergent and this is hell for sure.

Had I been in his place I think I may have done something to myself by that time or, on second thought, maybe not. I guess getting married has a great calming effect on any guy. Thanks to Dettol for sharing the pain of husbands with nagging wives.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mahesh Bhatt declares, "Sanjay to walk into prison like a man"

My inferences from this statement...

  1. Sanjay would change his gender to male and only then step into prison
  2. Men are not scared of entering a prison.
  3. Till now, as a minister’s son or an MP’s brother he was a superman. Court has cut him down to size.
  4. His supporters are egging him on to go like a ‘Mard’. “Mard ki tarah Jail may jao, Hum tumharey saath hain!”
  5. Recently it was revealed that Sanjay Dutt is a man.
  6. Till now only criminals walked into prison. For the first time a man will go there.
  7. The SC judgement forced a bad son to convert to a (hu)man being.
  8. Till now Sanjay was crying like a woman but now he has to go to prison as a man.
  9. He is not a criminal but a victim of injustice.
  10. What Sanjay did was correct and he is not ashamed of it.
  11. During that time he was unmarried and hence nobody was sure of his gender but now that he is married and has multiple kids from multiple wives we can surely say he is a man. (Actually this inference is wrong. he was married with a kid).
  12. Keeping AK-56, helping underworld dons in destroying one’s country qualifies a person to be a man.
  13. Some people thought he was planning to enter prison wearing skirt and top.
  14. When he committed the crime he was a female but the judgement created hormonal imbalance and hence he will walk into jail as a man.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pitha at home

Today is makarsankranti a very special day for Hindus and Sikhs across the world. This is the day farmers harvest their farm produce and present a part of it as offering to Mother Nature. Some call the day as pongal, some Lohri, some Bhogali Bihu and for us Bengalis it is Pitha-parbon and Sankranti.

Since yesterday we were all geared up to do something for Sankranti and today my wifey dearest and I prepared some traditional pithas all by ourselves to mark the occasion. Last year mom and dad were here with us and gave us a crash course on how to make Pitheys. This year we tried to put that knowledge to practice.What nani used to make was the best, mom next; ours was just also ran. But by "first time experiment" standards it was great and special acknowledgement to my better half for letting me be her sous-chef in the endeavor.

For all our culinary experiments our comrades in arm are generally present besides us but they are in Kolkata right now for some extremely personal reason. We missed them so much today

Here are few pics of the pithes.

Doodh puli, Pati-sapta, sedhho pithey

Electricity played truant  so you see the candle next to plate.