Tag Archives: Rice & Grains

Pohe: A Maharashtrian Rice Snack (Vegan!)

Allow me to introduce you to one of my absolute favorite Indian dishes, Pohe!

pohe, bombay pohe, bombay snacks, vegan indian food, easy rice dish, indian breakfast, vegan indian breakfast, rice breakfast

Pohe

Since Pohe is traditionally made and served in the west of India–specifically around Maharashtra– it’s not something most Bengali families would grow up eating.  Luckily for me (and you all!), Maa (my mother-in-law) learned to cook Pohe while Baba (father-in-law) worked in Mumbai…and boy, I’m glad she did!

This dish is often referred to as Kanda Pohe and is made from beaten rice flakes.  It usually includes onions, mustard seeds and large chunks of boiled potatoes. Ground turmeric gives it the bright, yellow color.  Continue reading

Roasted Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage Risotto with Gruyere

I’ve been a little preoccupied lately.

I have no excuses, and can’t even give a good reason why my blog hasn’t been regularly updated.  After all, I have been cooking.

I guess I just needed a break.

Now that the weather is changing, my yard has been (partially) cleaned up, and there’s a slight chill in the air…I can officially say the baking/creating/cooking season has begun!

I kicked off the season yesterday by making a Roasted Pumpkin and Sausage Risotto with Gruyere and Sage, and it was fabulous!

Roasted Pumpkin and Sausage Risotto with Gruyere and Sage

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mussels and rice

Indian Inspired Mussel Pilaf

I’m not a huge fan of seafood, but the other night while I was paging through one of my cookbooks (Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape: India) I noticed a beautiful photo of a whole sea bass cooked in banana leaves.  I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since.  It’s pretty much embedded.

I’ve had Mr. Ramsay’s cookbook for quite some time now, but have yet to cook anything out of it; so I was really excited to give this recipe a go.  Unfortunately for me, buying a whole sea bass in Rochester is absolutely impossible.  I can’t even have it ordered from our local grocery stores.  Seriously.

Luckily, the man behind the fish counter was very knowledgeable and extremely helpful.  He called his supplier to see what they could offer me.  They had a few options, and he suggested I try the strawberry grouper.  I ordered a couple fish and should be able to pick them up tomorrow.

Now that my dinner plans were officially and completely shot–yes, I am that dramatic–I decided to buy a pound of mussels and do something with those instead.

mussels: scrubbed and de-bearded

I brought my mussels home and sorted through them.  Any mussels that will not stay closed when they’re pressed on should be tossed aside.  They’re most likely dead.   The photo below shows a mussel that has not yet been cooked, but refuses to keep it’s shell fastened shut.

Mussel won’t close before cooking? Throw that sucker out!

Once the mussels were sorted and scrubbed, it was time to de-beard ‘em.

You see those nasty little string-like things poking out from the shell?  That’s the mussel’s beard.  I left this on until I was just about ready to toss them in my pot.  Removing them too soon could–and probably will–cause your mussel to die.

The easiest way to remove the beard is to just grab it and pull quickly.  I thought that some of the beards were really hard to remove, and patience is not something I’m known for, so I enlisted Piyush to help with this task.  I also don’t like killing things–not even mussels–but I guess that’s another issue all together.

After the mussels were cleaned, I still didn’t know exactly what I was going to make.  So I did what I always do when I don’t know what the heck I’m planning to make…

I diced an onion.

 

You’ve gotta start somewhere, right?

I looked in the fridge and found a green pepper, carrots and thai chilies.  I grabbed a couple potatoes, some frozen peas and some peeled roma tomatoes.  It was right then that I decided to make a mussel stew, similar to my bouillabaisse recipe.

I added some Indian spices and on a whim I decided to toss in some raw basmati rice.  It was absolutely brilliant.

Modesty, like patience, is not something I possess in large quantities…

Indian Inspired Mussel Pilaf

The mussels had so much flavor and the rice was incredibly fragrant.  Not only did this dish taste amazing, it was also relatively quick to make.  The entire meal took approximately an hour from start to finish.

Indian Inspired Mussel Pilaf

Now, before I post this recipe, I have to say that it is not an authentic Indian preparation.  It’s just inspired by my love of spice. :)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. mussels– washed and de-bearded (see notes above)
  • 2 tbsp. oil (I used a mix of olive oil/ghee)
  • 1 large white onion- diced
  • 5 garlic cloves- crushed and minced (add less if you don’t like garlic a lot)
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger- peeled, smashed and minced
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 4 thai chilies- slit (you may remove the membrane/seeds if you don’t like heat)
  • 1 large green bell pepper- diced
  • 2 medium potatoes- diced
  • 2 carrots- diced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1″ small piece of cinnamon
  • 4 green cardamom pods- slightly crushed
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2/3 c. dry white wine*
  • 14.5 oz. peeled roma tomatoes- diced (equivalent to 1 can store bought tomatoes)
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • water- 1 c. to start
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 c. basmati rice- rinsed
  • salt- to taste
  • pepper- to taste
  • fresh coriander (cilantro)- 2 handfuls, chopped (one for recipe, one for garnish)

*If you do not wish to use wine, you can use water.  No problem.

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add black mustard seeds.  Once they start to sizzle, toss in the diced onion, green bell pepper, carrot, chili peppers and potatoes.  Lower heat to medium, and sweat the vegetables until they become soft and tender.
  • Add ginger and garlic. Also add the turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and 1 handful chopped coriander.  Cook for one to two minutes or until the raw smell disappears. Things should start sticking to the bottom of the pan, and you’ll notice things will turn a little brown.
  • De-glaze the pan with 2/3 cup of wine.  Stir everything really well and let this simmer for a few minutes or until the wine doesn’t smell so strong.  Add the tomatoes and cover the pan.  Let this cook for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes break down.
  • Add 1 c. water and a pinch of saffron.  Cover and let this simmer another 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the uncooked mussels to the tomato mixture and put the lid back on the pot.  Let the mussels steam for 5 minutes, then remove the lid.  Using a tongs, remove any mussels that have opened their shells and set them aside.  If there are any unopened mussels, place the lid back on the pot and let them steam an additional 2 minutes.  If they still do not open, they are most likely bad.  Toss them out.
  • Add 1 c. frozen peas.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add 1 c. raw basmati rice and an additional cup of water.  Cover the pot and let the rice cook.  After 10 minutes, check your rice.  Add more water, if needed.  The rice will take anywhere from 10-20 minutes to fully cook.
  • Once the rice is properly cooked, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
  • Place the cooked mussels back into the pot of rice, place the lid back on the pot and turn off the heat.  Let the dish sit, covered for at least 3 to 4 minutes so the mussels re-heat.
  • Garnish with additional chopped coriander…and enjoy!

**NOTE**  I leave the whole spices in my dish, but if you would like you can remove them.  This can be difficult, but if you put all the whole spices in a little bag of cheesecloth before adding them to the pot it will make this task a lot easier.

I’ll get the printer-friendly recipe posted soon!

The only bad thing about this meal?

The lingering smell of the mussels.  Now my house is going to smell fishy for about a week.  Yuck.

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

When Driscoll’s Berries contacts you and asks if you’d like to try their raspberries, you tell them yes; and then make a risotto!

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

The truth is, I’ve been buying Driscoll’s berries for years.  Even when the berries aren’t in season, they’re usually pretty good.  But during the summer, when the raspberries are at their peak, they are out-of-this-world-amazing!

I was sent some coupons for $2.00 off a package of berries–which is a good deal, but I was sort of sad that I still had to pay a little over $2 out of pocket per package–especially when they’re in season.  Berries are expensive!

I brought the berries home and devoured a small handful!  They were plump and sweet.  Just how I like them! :)

I knew I had a really busy week ahead, and wouldn’t have a chance to get to the berries before they lost their freshness, so I decided to freeze them.  Freezing the fruit at it’s peak ripeness is a great way to enjoy the berries all winter long.

In my opinion, frozen berries picked in-season always trump fresh berries out-of-season.  Always.

Driscoll’s sweet red raspberries

I had all sorts of sweet ideas about how to use the raspberries.  Pies, tarts, jams, jellies, quick breads…and they would all be equally delicious; but I wanted something savory.  And I didn’t want a sauce.

I found this recipe on Driscoll’s website that looked pretty good, and I’m probably going to give it a try eventually (probably during the holidays…yum!):

But it wasn’t what I wanted tonight.

I did a lot of searching, and had a hard time finding inspiration.  There’s not really many savory raspberry recipes–aside from salads or sauces–that I’m aware of, and that’s quite unfortunate.

So I ventured a little outside of the box and decided to try the raspberries in a risotto.  I was pretty sure it’d taste good, but I was also pretty sure Piyush would hate it.

I was right; the risotto tasted amazing.  But I was also wrong.  Luckily, Piyush didn’t hate my risotto.  Quite the opposite, actually.

In fact, Piyush loved it; and that means something.  He’s such a food critic.

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

Serves 4

If you are bothered by the seeds in the raspberries or would like a pink colored risotto, you can puree the berries and run them through a fine sieve before adding to the risotto.

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. uncooked arborio rice
  • 5-6 c. veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large shallots – chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves- smashed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. herbes de provence
  • 3 tbsp. dry white wine (I used a dry Marsala)
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 oz. chevre (goat cheese)
  • 1 c. frozen Driscoll’s raspberries
  • salt- to taste
  • cracked black pepper- to taste
Directions:
  • Bring Stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  • Pour 2 tbsp. olive oil into a heavy bottomed pan (I used my dutch oven) and heat over medium-high flame.  Once the oil is hot, add the shallot and garlic–stirring constantly.  You don’t want the shallot to take on a brown color, but you want it to be cooked through and semi-translucent –approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Once the shallot and garlic are cooked, add the Herbes de Provence.  Stir to combine.
  • Add the uncooked rice to the pot and cook (stirring constantly) for about a minute.  Add 3 tbsp. wine to deglaze. Keep stirring the rice until all the wine seems to be absorbed and the pan is looking dry.
  • Add one ladle of stock (approximately 1/2 c.) and stir until nearly all of it is absorbed by the rice.  Keep stirring and adding stock 1/2 c. at a time as the rice absorbs it.  I ended up using about 5 cups of stock, but it will really depend on how long your rice takes to cook (you want the rice to be al dente –it should have a little bite to it) and how creamy you like your risotto. This process will take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Add the goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Keep cooking and stirring until the cheese is completely melted.  The risotto should have a nice thick, creamy consistency at this point. Fold in the frozen raspberries. Cook 1 or 2 minutes longer, until the raspberries are no longer frozen. Remove from heat.
  • Serve as soon as possible for best flavor.  Garnish with extra chevre.

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Goat Cheese

Herbes de Provence is a fantastic French dried-herb blend.  It usually includes herbs such as: lavender, rosemary, tarragon, basil and thyme.  Aside from this risotto, it’s also wonderful to use when roasting a chicken.  It smells so fragrant and floral!

Raspberry Risotto garnished with a sprig of lavender from my garden!

This was a perfect meal on a hot, summer day.  Nothing beats a bowl of risotto and a nice, chilled glass of wine!  :)

Well….almost nothing!  You see, I also made a batch of Kala Jamuns.  Kala Jumuns–blackened gulab jamuns– are amazing Indian sweets, and I finally recreated them perfectly (thanks Maa, Baba, and everyone else that helped with the sweet-making advice)!

Homemade Kala Jamun

You can read about kala jamuns and gulab jamuns HERE, and see my first attempt to master this sweet.  …and if you’re interested, check back.  I’ll have the basic recipe posted soon!

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Sometimes figuring out what to make for dinner can be quite the challenge.

You see, I have this terrible problem of never knowing exactly what I want.  Then, when I think I have it all figured out…BAM!…it changes, and doesn’t sound interesting anymore.  (Haha!  Kind of like my career-path, now that I think about it.  I never could decide exactly what it was that I wanted to be…).

So today, like most days, I wandered off to the supermarket to buy ingredients for an Indian-inspired dish using scallops.  Small problem.  I didn’t really feel like eating Indian.

I wanted something flavorful, but not spicy.  Something that was both hearty and filling.  I wanted to eat out!

I knew Piyush would not be happy if I told him I wanted to go out tonight, especially because our refrigerator was well stocked and I had just spent a small fortune on fresh scallops.  So I opened up the pantry doors and hoped for a little inspiration.

And then I saw it.  A big jar of arborio rice, sitting right in front of me.  I decided to try my hand at making risotto.

I’ve never attempted to make risotto before, and have actually only tried it once.  I remembered it being a little crunchy and dry and I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, really.

But now that the idea was in my head, I had to have risotto.  And I had to have it now.  That’s just how I am, I guess.

After searching online and getting a little inspiration from Gordon Ramsay, random youtube people and the lovely Angela @ Madame Croquette (truthfully it was probably reading her post on saffron risotto with tiger prawns that sparked tonight’s dinner), I got to work.

I found a recipe from Cooking Light that sounded like it would taste spectacular (It did!)–and I had all the ingredients on hand.  From start to finish, making the risotto took about a half hour–with at least 25 of those minutes spent stirring the rice.  It was tedious, but zen-like at the same time.  I liked it.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the risotto making process.  It really is a process, and I was too involved with stirring (and day-dreaming) to even think about clicking photos.  Sorry!

I’ll pass on a little risotto-makin’ knowledge though…

First, make sure you have all your stuff ready.  Usually I run around like a crazy person, digging through cupboards and raiding the refrigerator; but this time I had everything pre-chopped and pre-measured.  I think this was the biggest contributor to my risotto success!

Second, make sure to taste your rice as you cook.  Each time I tossed in a ladle of stock, I tried a grain or two of the rice.  You don’t want it to be crunchy, but it shouldn’t be mushy either.  Aim for your rice to be cooked al dente.  A little “bite” is a good thing!

Once the risotto was finished, I set it aside and got started on the scallops.  I learned to cook scallops last year, and I’ve got to tell you…it’s simple!  They look intimidating…but looks are deceiving!  I really have no idea how all those cooks on the “reality” cooking shows can screw them up.  Honestly.  It’s crazy.

One thing I love about scallops is that they cook really, really fast–which make them an ideal match for risotto (you don’t want the risotto to go cold).  On the other hand, one thing I hate about scallops is that they stink up your house.  Completely.

Brown Butter Pan Seared Scallops–garnished with a little radish sprout

To cook the scallops I used a non-stick pan.  I usually always use my cast iron pan, but I was feeling lazy and I didn’t want to have to scrub it out when I was done.  The non-stick pan gave a nice sear, but I really think I get a much better color on the scallops when I use the cast iron pan.

You win some.  You lose some.

I tossed a tablespoon–or so–of olive oil in the pan and waited for it to get hot.  Real hot.  That’s important.  Then, I placed the scallops–which I generously seasoned with salt and pepper– in the pan and let them cook for a minute or so before flipping.  After flipping, I let them cook for another 30 seconds before tossing in a “butter bomb.”

The butter bomb is simply a pat of butter (about 1 1/2 tbsp–give or take) with fresh herbs stuck into it.  I toss it right in and let the butter brown up.  It adds a delicious nutty flavor to the scallops.

After the scallops get “bombed,” they really only take about a minute longer to fully cook through.  Watch them closely, scallops are very easy to overcook; and nobody likes rubbery scallops!  It’s much better to have them slightly underdone.

This dinner was fantastic!  I think risotto might be my new favorite thing.  Seriously.

It’s weird, but for some reason it really reminded me of macaroni and cheese.  It must have been the creaminess or how comforting the dish is, I don’t know.  It didn’t taste like macaroni and cheese…

I’m so excited to try other variations.  In fact, I was thinking I’d find a way to “Indianize” it…

Until then, I’ll leave you with this recipe!

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Makes approximately 8 servings — 1/2 c. each (each serving is around 210 calories)

Recipe adapted and modified from Cooking Light 

Ingredients for Risotto:
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen sweet peas (If using fresh, be sure to blanch them.  If using frozen, simply let thaw)
  • 4 to 5 c. Vegetable Stock (I used 2 c. homemade chicken stock and 3 c. store bought veggie stock)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves- minced
  • 3 shallots- chopped
  • 1 c. uncooked Arborio rice
  • 3 tbsp. dry white wine (I used a dry marsala)
  • 1/2 c. fresh Parmesan cheese- grated
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon (I used a meyer lemon)
  • salt- to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper- to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese (may substitute butter)
Directions for Risotto:

  • Bring Stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  • Pour 2 tbsp. olive oil into a heavy bottomed pan (I used my dutch oven) and heat over medium-high flame.  Once the oil is hot, add the shallot and garlic–stirring constantly.  You don’t want the shallot to take on a brown color, but you want it to be cooked through and semi-translucent –approximately 3 to 4 minutes.  
  • Once the shallot and garlic are cooked, add the chopped tarragon and thyme.  Stir to combine. 
  • Add the uncooked rice to the pot and cook (stirring constantly) for about a minute.  Add 3 tbsp. wine to deglaze. Keep stirring the rice until all the wine seems to be absorbed and the pan is looking dry. 
  • Add one ladle of stock (approximately 1/2 c.) and stir until nearly all of it is absorbed by the rice.  Keep stirring and adding stock 1/2 c. at a time as the rice absorbs it.  I ended up using about 5 cups of stock, but it will really depend on how long your rice takes to cook (you want the rice to be al dente –it should have a little bite to it) and how creamy you like your risotto. This process will take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. 
  • Stir in peas and cook the risotto for about 1 minute before adding the cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Keep cooking and stirring until the cheese is melted and is no longer “stringy.”  The risotto should have a nice thick, creamy consistency at this point. Remove from heat.  Stir in the 1 tbsp. mascarpone cheese to finish.  
  • Serve as soon as possible for best flavor.

Ingredients for Scallops:
(increase as needed for more servings.  This will make 2 servings of 3 scallops each)

  • 6 wild caught sea scallops (dry packed)
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 large sprig of fresh tarragon
  • salt- to season
  • pepper- to season
Directions for Scallops:
  • Dry scallops with a paper towel and set aside on a plate.  Season the scallops with salt and pepper.  Don’t be shy with the seasoning, most of it will get lost in the pan and won’t stick to the scallop.
  • Heat 1/2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium sized non-stick pan.  Once the oil is hot add the scallops one at a time in a circular position.  (Imagine a clock.  You’ll want to place the scallops at approximately 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, 8:00 and 10:00–this will ensure the scallops cook evenly).  
  • Scallops cook quickly.  Sear the first side for about a minute.  When you notice some nice color, flip the scallops.  Cook for 30 seconds and then add the butter and fresh herbs to the center of the pan.  Let the butter cook for about a minute.
  • You’ll notice the butter will begin to brown and smell a little nutty.  Spoon the butter over each of the scallops, and cook for about 30 seconds more.  
  • Remove the scallops from the pan and place them on a plate with paper towels.  You can drizzle the left over browned butter over the scallops if you’d like.  
  • Serve immediately on top of the risotto. 

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herb tomato chicken-04956

Pan Fried Chicken Breast with Rustic Herb Tomato Sauce

Pan Fried Chicken Breast with Rustic Tomato Sauce

I’ve been super busy the past few days.  I’m planning a baby-shower for my friend–Summer–for this Saturday, so I’ve been menu planning, shopping and crafting.

I’ve also been occupied with my little gardens–which are finally almost completed!  It was super-sunny outside, but I tried to click a few photos…

2 of my heirloom tomato plants–I’m growing 7 varieties this year

I decided to plant my tomatoes and peppers in 5 gallon buckets this year.  I figured they’d be easy to move around if any of my plants start to get sick.  Last year, one of my plants got some sort of fungus–and within days, all of my plants had fungus!  Yuck!

onions (2 varieties), shallots, garlic and a few potatoes

peppers

After all that work (including tons of mulching and weeding perennial beds)…I cracked open a cold one.  —I deserved it! :)

We keep this on hand for beer-can chicken, but I got into the stash! I could only drink 1/2 of it though…that is one big can!

I wanted to get back out to the gardens today and finish weeding and weed whacking…but that didn’t happen.  Instead I cooked and baked nearly all day–trying to do what I can before Saturday.  Before I knew it, it was 6pm–and I hadn’t even started dinner!

Earlier in the day I had thrown 2 chicken breasts in a giant zip-lock bag along with some olive oil, lemon juice, tarragon, garlic, salt and pepper.   I had no idea what I was going to make with them, but I wanted it to have some flavor.

When I was finally ready to begin making dinner, I opened the fridge to check out my produce.  I had a container of grape tomatoes (Aldi’s had them on sale for 79 cents…Score!), mushrooms, and lots of fresh parsley.

I found some cous cous in my pantry…and dinner began to take shape.

20 minutes later, and it was done!

I pan-fried the chicken in a little goats butter, marjoram, parsley and garlic.  Once the chicken had a beautiful brown sear and was cooked all the way through, I removed them from the pan and covered them with aluminum foil.

Covering the chicken with foil and letting it rest for at least 10 minutes is very important.  Chicken breast has a tendency to over-cook and dry out–this keeps that from happening.

While the chicken cooked, I made the cous cous.  It took about 5 minutes.  Literally.  I tossed about 2 cups of fresh, homemade chicken broth (I told you I was busy today!)  into a medium sized saucepan.  I didn’t add any butter or oil because my broth hadn’t been strained yet, and was fatty enough.

I tossed in a handful of chopped parsley, 2 tsp. dried tarragon, 1 bay leaf, about a half cup of chopped mushrooms, a pinch of saffron, salt and pepper.  I let this mixture come to a boil, then added 1 cup. whole wheat cous cous.  I covered the pan and let the cous cous soak up all of the fragrant broth.

Then I got started on the tomato sauce.  It was really simple, actually, and it came together really quick.

I tossed the grape tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic (smashed and minced), and a handful of chopped parsley in the same pan that I had previously cooked the chicken.  I turned the heat to high and stirred until the tomatoes started to blister and burst–forming a sauce.  To keep things from sticking, I added 1/2 c. chicken broth and 1 tsp of flour.

I thought the tomato sauce was a little tangy, so I added 1/2 tsp of sugar.  Perfect!

A fantastic dinner doesn’t have to take tons of time.  In fact, I think the easiest meals are often the best!

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On another note, look what’s coming next!

Goat Cheese Swirled Brownies!!!  and they’re pink! …Summer is having a baby girl!!!  :)

Easy Chicken Biryani with Cucumber, Carrot and Mint Raita

I absolutely love Indian biryani.  It’s such a beautiful and comforting dish that is reminiscent of the rice hot-dishes  (or casseroles…for all you non-Minnesotans out there) that I grew up eating as a kid–only a million times better! (sorry, Mom!).

Biryani is simply basmati rice cooked with spices and meats (and/or vegetables).   There are many different styles and types of biryani, each as unique as the people who make (and eat!) them.

A traditional biryani can take hours and hours to make properly.  Maybe someday I’ll have that kind of time to devote towards the absolute perfection of the dish; but until that time comes, I’ve got to take some short-cuts.

And because of the short-cuts I took…my biryani is technically a pulao (it is also close to what most Indian restaurants pass off as biryani in America).

What’s the difference?  In a true biryani, each part of the dish is cooked–and spiced–separately.  Then after each component has been cooked, they are all layered together; forming a dish with mind-blowing, contrasting flavors.  It is simply amazing.

A pulao, on the other hand, is quite easier and faster to cook.  All the ingredients are cooked together and the flavors of the dish come together as one.  You miss out on the different layers of flavor, but the dish is still quite tasty–and way less time consuming!

Chicken Biryani garnished with saffron rice, cucumbers and mint

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