Lemon Rice

Growing up, lemon rice was one of those dishes that was whipped up quickly on a festival and more commonly for picnics. It’s so easy to make! And with the right accompaniments, it’s always a hit. Some roasted potatoes or mixture or even appalam or mango pickle, every south Indian has their own favorite to go with this dish.

Ingredients:

Rice* – 1 cup
Peanuts – 1/2 cup
Lemon – 1, large
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Split Bengal Gram/Kadalai paruppu – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 10
Green chillies – 4
Fresh Coriander – 1/4 cup, chopped
Salt to taste
Oil
Asafoetida – a pinch
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Method:

  • In a pan, heat a teaspoon of oil and fry peanuts until they turn color; remove and set aside
  • In the same pan,  heat some more oil and add mustard seeds
  • Once they crackle, add urad dal, split bengal gram, chopped green chillies, asafoetida, turmeric and curry leaves 
  • Saute for a minute and then take off heat
  • Squeeze juice of half a lemon into this, mix and add it to the rice
  • Mix well, add chopped coriander, roasted peanuts and salt to taste
  • Squeeze the remaining lemon juice into the rice
  • Adjust salt and lemon juice according to taste

Note: *To cook a cup of rice, add two cups of water and pressure cook for three whistles. Alternately, you can cook the rice over an open flame just until it’s a little underdone. Drain and set aside on a large plate to cool completely. You can even use old rice in this recipe. It’s important that the rice is completely cooled before using. You can use either sona masuri rice or basmati.

Egg Biryani

This is a very quick and easy to make version of Egg Biryani. It can be served as a meal in itself with some raita or goes great as a side with non-vegetarian dishes such as Tandoori chicken or fish fry.

Egg Biryani

Ingredients:

Basmati rice – 1 and 1/2 cups
Bay leaf – 1
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch piece
Cloves – 2
Onion, cut lengthwise – 1 cup
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Chilly powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Yogurt – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 2 tbsp

To grind:
Onion, roughly chopped – 1/2 cup
Green chillies – 1
Ginger, grated – 1/2 tsp
Garlic – 3
Coriander leaves – 4 to 5 stalks
Oil – 2 tsp

For the eggs:
Eggs, hard-boiled – 3
Chilly powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric – a pinch
Salt – to taste
Rice flour – 1/2 tsp

Method:

  • Wash and soak basmati rice
  • Saute the ingredients under “To grind” in 2 tsp oil. Cool and grind into a fine paste
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide pan, add bay leaf, cinnamon and cloves
  • Add chopped onions and saute until light golden brown
  • Add the ground paste, turmeric, chilly powder, coriander powder and saute for couple more minutes
  • Add the yogurt, rice, 3 cups of water (twice the quantity of rice) and salt. Mix well, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the rice is well done 
  • While the rice cooks, prepare the eggs by mixing chilly powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, salt and rice flour with some water to make a thick paste
  • Slice the eggs into 3 to 4 pieces each and coat them with the paste and pan fry them with some oil until the coating around the eggs is nice and crispy
  • Once the rice is cooked add the eggs and garnish with coriander leaves
  • Serve with your favorite raita or some Tandoori chicken

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My Sister’s Chicken Biryani

I have grown up eating my sister’s food and her chicken biryani is to die for! Growing up, my sister was a vegetarian but would always cook non-vegetarian food for us on Sundays. She would eat the rice in the biryani but not the chicken. While she has crossed over today (!), her biryani has become legendary! It’s one of my top requests when I visit her. I’ve tried hard to follow her recipe to a T and after several attempts realized that it will never live up to hers. Nevertheless, my attempts are always an ode to hers. Hope you enjoy it!

My Sister's Chicken Biryani

Ingredients:

For marinating the chicken:

Chicken – 900 gms 
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1.5 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
Yoghurt – 4 tbsp

For the Masala:

Oil
Cloves – 3
Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
Garlic – 12 large cloves
Ginger – 3 tbsp
Green chillies – 7
Dry red chillies – 8
Onion – 1, medium-sized
Fresh Coriander – 1 cup

For the Biryani:

Oil/Ghee – 5 tbsp
Cloves – 5
Cinnamon – 1-inch piece
Cardamom – 3
Bayleaf – 1
Onions – 2, medium-sized
Basmati Rice – 3 cups
Water – 5.5 cups
Salt

Method:

Marinating the Chicken

  • Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and place them in a bowl
  • Add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, ginger-garlic paste and yoghurt. Mix well and cover with cling film
  • If you can, allow this to marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 30 minutes

Making the Masala:

Chicken Biryani - Masala

  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker
  • Add cinnamon and cloves and fry for a minute
  • Add chopped ginger and garlic and fry for a couple minutes
  • Add chopped green chillies and dry red chillies
  • Fry for a couple more minutes before adding roughly chopped onions
  • Fry until the onions begin to turn brown
  • Take off heat, and add chopped fresh coriander
  • Mix well and allow this masala to cool
  • Once it’s cooled, grind in a mixer
  • Add about a tablespoon or two of water, though this isn’t necessary
  • The paste need not be smooth

Making the Biryani:

  • Heat ghee or oil in the same cooker you used to make the masala
  • Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and bay leaf
  • Fry this for a minute and then add onions
  • Fry the onions till they turn golden brown
  • Add the ground masala and fry for about 2 minutes
  • Add the marinated chicken pieces and salt to taste
  • Fry for about 4 minutes before adding the rice
  • Add water and pressure cook for 2 whistles
  • Serve hot with raita!

Note:
– Cook the biryani in a pressure pan. The cooking is more even and the dish turns out much better
– You can use chicken breast only or pieces with bones too. The latter adds more flavor to the dish
– The ratio of spice is 5 chillies for every cup of rice and then divide the final count between fresh green ones and dry red chillies
– The ratio of water is generally double the quantity of rice. But I usually reduce this by half a cup. I feel it’s perfect that way
– You can use brown basmati rice instead of white. The quantity of water and number of whistles will have to change though

Szechuan Fried Rice

Szechuan Fried Rice

Ingredients:

White rice – 1.5 cups
Dry Red chillies – 12
Garlic – 5 cloves
Onion – 1, medium-sized
Bell pepper – 1
Beans – 200 gms
Carrots – 3
Soy sauce – 1.5 tbsp
Chilli sauce – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Olive oil
Spring Onions – 1/4 cup

Method:

  • Wash the rice and pressure cook in 3 cups of water for 3 whistles
  • Once pressure is released, transfer the rice to a wide bowl or plate and allow to cool completely
  • Next, immerse 10 of the 12 dry red chillies in hot water and keep aside for 30 minutes
  • Then, drain the water and grind the chillies adding about 2 teaspoons of water
  • In a wok, heat olive oil
  • Add the remaining 2 dry red chillies and finely chopped garlic
  • Fry for about 30 seconds on medium heat
  • Add the onions and cook on high flame till it begins to turn color
  • Add finely chopped bell peppers and saute for a few minutes
  • Add soy sauce, chilli sauce and the ground chilli paste
  • Mix well and saute for a couple minutes
  • Add finely chopped beans and carrots and continue to cook on high flame for about 3 minutes
  • Add salt to taste
  • Add cooked rice and mix well 
  • Garnish with spring onions
  • Szechuan fried rice is ready! Serve hot with gobi manchurian, chilli chicken or even just ketchup!

Note: 
– I’ve used sona masuri rice in this recipe. You can even use basmati rice
– Along with beans and carrots, you can add other vegetables like cabbage, zucchini, spinach or baby corn
– To cook the rice, ratio is always double the quantity of water for every cup of rice. This prevents the rice from over-cooking

Mushroom Biryani

At a point when I knew just one basic recipe for mushrooms, I learnt this recipe from my sister-in-law who is also quite a food enthusiast as me. This serves as a great alternative to vegetable biryani.

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Ingredients:

Button mushrooms – 12, chopped
Onion, finely chopped – 1 cup
Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
Cloves – 2
Green chillies – 1, slit lengthwise
Tomato, finely chopped – 1/2 cup
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Chilli powder – 3 tsp
Dhania powder – 2 tsp
Basmati rice – 2 cups
Salt – to taste
Water – 5 cups
Oil – 2 tbsp

To Grind:
Ginger – 2 inch piece
Garlic – 5 cloves
Grated coconut – 1/2 cup
Onion, roughly chopped – 1/2 cup

Method:

  • Boil 5 cups of water. When the water starts bubbling, add rice
  • Cook until three-fourth done and drain the rice using a colander. Set aside
  • Grind ginger, garlic, coconut and onion into a fine paste
  • Heat oil in a pan and add cinnamon, cloves and green chilli
  • Then, add finely chopped onion and mushroom. Saute for 10 minutes
  • Add the ground paste and tomato and saute for a couple more minutes
  • Add turmeric, chilli powder, dhania powder and salt
  • Cook for few more minutes and transfer the contents to an oven-safe dish. Then add the rice to the same dish such that it forms the top layer
  • Place the dish in a preheated oven at 400°F for 20 minutes
  • If you do not have an oven, add rice to the pan in which the mushrooms are cooked and place it over a tawa (flat non-stick pan) and place the set-up on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Serve hot with raita

 

Bombay Tomato Pulav

This is a recipe I learnt from the Youtube channel of a couple who live in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India. The wife does the cooking while the husband does the videography and posts it online. This is a very easy recipe but tastes so so good! I used to make it quite often back home in Bangalore. I have made slight variations to the original recipe, leaving out the peas, cloves and number of tomatoes. You can find the original recipe here.

Bombay Tomato Pulav

Ingredients:

Basmati rice/Sona Masuri rice – 1.5 cups
Onion – 1 medium-sized
Tomato – 2
Bell Pepper – 1
Green chillies – 3
Grated Ginger – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala – 3/4 tsp
Chaat Masala – 1/2 tsp
Tomato ketchup – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Saunf – 1 tsp
Elaichi – 4
Curry leaves
Fresh Coriander – 1/2 cup
Salt
Oil

Method:

  • Cook the rice in a pressure cooker with 3 cups of water. Allow three whistles. Once pressure releases, spread the rice on a large plate/dish and allow to cool. The rice must be just cooked and not overdone
  • Heat oil a large wok and add cumin seeds, saunf and elaichi
  • After a minute, add chopped green chillies and onion
  • After sautéing the onions for a couple minutes, throw in the chopped bell pepper 
  • Once they begin to brown, add finely chopped tomatoes and fry for a minute
  • Add turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, chaat masala and salt
  • Fry these till the masalas are cooked
  • Add tomato ketchup and fry for another minute
  • Add the cooked and cooled rice and mix well on a low flame
  • Garnish with curry leaves and fresh coriander
  • Serve with raita