Monday, October 24, 2016

Chicken Biryani

The good thing about having a new kitchen is getting that opportunity  to splurge on new kitchen gadgets and tools.  Since my old pans and pots are no longer suitable for my new induction stove, FF became quite understanding  and even indulging  when it comes to my culinary shopping spree .Who needs Prozac when you can go shopping?!

 I have been eyeing Le Crueset Products for years now  and since I could get as much pots and pan as my cabinets could swallow,  I went out and end up buying 5 of these sturdy, cast-iron  babies. A skillet , a grill pan, a small dutch oven , a wok and a braiser .

Since I love cooking things with sauces, this brasier became my  favourite . One of the first dishes we enjoyed using this pan in this Biryani  recipe. Since the heavy cast- iron retains heat and looks quite pretty, it went from straight the oven into the table.

The food stays hot and the dish looked attractive and appetising as it is. The best part is, instead of using a pot and a serving plate, FF got less dishes to do, . It made him sated and happy.That's three wins for the Babbling spoon and her Favourite Fork.

1 whole chicken, about 1.5 kgs. skin removed and cut into serving pieces
Marinade: salt, 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
 1 tsp. garam masala powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Chili powder

Spices3 cardamon pods, 
5 cloves, 1 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick

Fried Onion:
6-7 medium size onion, sliced thinly
oil for deep frying

500 g Basmati Rice, soaked for 1 hour
2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp. cumin seed, salt to taste, 1 tbsp. Ghee

3 tbsp. ghee
a cup of coriander leaves
a cup of mint leaves
1 green chili ( more if you like it hot)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. chilis powder 
1tsp. garam masala powder
1 cup curd
1 cup water
2 tomatoes
juice of 1 lime
pinch of saffron dissolved in 3 tbsp. milk

1. Wash chicken thoroughly. Remove skin and cut into serving pieces. Add marinade, toss until well lathered in marinade, cover and refrigerate for few hours for better flavours. You can do this the night ahead.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a pan. Fry onion until golden brown and crispy.

 3. Transfer crispy onion into a paper towel. Set aside.

 4. Using a mortal and pestle, pound spices until it turns fine and almost powdery. Set aside.
 5. Chop mint and coriander leaves and green chillis.

 6. In a wide pan, heat ghee. Once hot, add bay leaves, cumin seeds and pounded spices. Fry for about 2 minutes.
 7. Add tomatoes, chili powder, coriander powder , turmeric, chopped green chilis and garam masala. Add in marinated chicken. Fry until chicken pieces turn brown .Stir in curd.  Add warm water and bring pan to a boil.

8.  While chicken is cooking, bring a pot full of water to a boil. Add 2 tsp. salt, ghee,  cumin seeds and bay leaves. Put soaked rice grains into the pot. cook for about 6-7  minutes.

 8. Stir in half of the chopped coriander and mint into the chicken. Sprinkle a good handful of crispy onion over the chicken.
9. Drain rice. Discard bay leaves.

 10. Spread partially cooked rice evenly  over the chicken.  Drizzle rice with saffron soaked milk . Do not mix!
11. Spread another handful of crispy onion on top of the rice.

12. Cover and bring the heat to medium low. Let the steam coming from the dish, cook the rice. This cast- iron braiser is heavy and seals the pan pretty good, trapping both heat and moisture. Cook the dish undisturbed, for about 12 minutes.

12.  Check for doneness of both rice and bird. Once cooked, sprinkle the rest of the coriander and mint leaves as well as those crispy onions.
 Serve hot and dig in, literally speaking!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Kitchen Makeover Project: The Update

New Kitchen, New Rules!

Not having my own kitchen for 8 weeks was pretty hard. Cooking always de-stresses me, cleaning up, not so much. So after weeks and weeks of packing, boxing, transporting and cleaning up after hand workers, I am starting to miss my old but cozy kitchen and all the comforts it gave me.

However, instead of wallowing in  regret for starting something that requires weeks of patience , being fed by in-law and microwave meals , FF and I kept ourselves busy.

Minutes turn into hours. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into month and before we know it, our new kitchen finally arrived! However, it was a long row to hoe before we were able to pop some bubbling .

First Week was hectic. The content of my kitchen were sorted out  between '' To keep '' and '' To throw away'' boxes. Recipe books, kitchen utensils , gadgets, cutleries and all things I did not even know I own and bought were laid out in the open. It was a painful battle. I did not know that tossing plastic kitchen tools can actually cause angina . Still  sniffing (-_-,)

Week 2 My old kitchen finally left the  house! The old tiles taken out with it.

Week 3: Old wall papers were removed. It was a  tedious work.

 Week 4: Electricians came. Holes are bored into the walls,  electrical wirings and new sockets relocated .

Week 5: Another carpenter came to do the plastering works. Our walls finally looked even and smooth. Ready for new wall papers and fresh  paint.

 Week 6: FF and I scrubbed the wooden ceiling so clean it was shining! Worth the achy arms and stiff neck. Soon after that , the ceiling was painted  white.

New wall papers  are installed . 

Then, painted...twice. One side of the wall was painted grey while the rest, in classic white.

 This old, big and heavy- as- an-ox electric oven was carried out of the house, thankfully,  without busting any artery.

This ultra thin, space efficient infrared heater took its place. On the wall, right above the window.

Week 7: We've been floored! Dark and edgy, it wonderfully compliments the bright coloured wall.

Week 8: Our new kitchen was finally delivered and installed. Like pieces of puzzle, it is starting to come together after 4 days of work.

BEFORE                               and                                  AFTER

 My kitchen finally looks like it belonged to the 21st century. Kitchen cabinets have a highly gloss look and satin- grey tinged , giving the anthracite kitchen countertop, a nice contrast .

The cooking corner became bigger too. The induction cooking stove from Bora  heats up pans and pots in a breeze and it extracts cooking vapour efficiently too . Now, I can cook up my pungent shrimp paste or tons of garlic without actually  smelling like one.  After cooking up a storm, I can  still walk into a room full of people without getting a nasty look from someone like I drowned somebody's  cat . 

And lastly,  a small corner facing the window for FF and me to sit down, spy on our neighbour while enjoying our meals. Life is good....most of the time.
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