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Indian

Thandai Indian Rice Kheermy version of serving up Thandai in an Indian rice pudding, or kheer as locally called. Flavoured delicately, this indulgent rice pudding hits all the right notes. Sweetened gently with jaggery, the flavours of almond, cardamom and saffron just shine. The texture of broken simmered rice is what adds body to this delectable kheer or pudding.The underlying inspiration comes from Dolphia who inspired, coerced and pushed me to shoot saffron. That’s one of the reasons this kheer came to be. The other reason of course was that the better half has bitterly complained over the last few days that I haven’t made a kheer in years!  As much as I love stirring a good kheer, for some reason it hadn’t happened yet…

Then yet another trip into Old Delhi, some Kashmir saffron bought to please Dolphia and the hub {in no particular order of course} meant that the kheer was simmering away gently quite soon. The recipe of course inspired by the season, all the Thandai kind of stuff I make at this time of the year. Thandai is a spice and nut blend, with ingredients that include almonds, melon seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, green cardamom, saffron, rose petals, sometimes whole pepper too. It is popularly served up as a milk cooler, often with a local bhaang or intoxicant, on Holi. There are a million versions, every household laying claim to their recipe. Mine changes all the time!

Sometimes, a theme helps me find direction, and this time around the prettiness of the colours got to me. Spring is like that, and so is every visit into the heart of Old Delhi!

First I did a Saffron Almond Chia Thandai for  Olive Tree Trading and that really set the mood. So much colourful prettiness and so much inspiration. That’s just how this time of the year is. I’ve dried loads of organic rose petals, so you’ll see me using those a lot.And so to cut a loooong story short, I finally made the Thandai Indian Rice Kheer. And it came out finger licking good. It’s a quick one, one I figured out as I went along. It’s the first time I’ve ground almonds with rice {an earlier version had the Thandai nut mix}. 
For some reason, I loved this simpler version. Here it is, the Thandai Indian Rice Kheer.

Thandai Indian Rice Kheer
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Flavoured gently, this indulgent Thandai Indian Rice Kheer hits all the right notes. Sweetened gently with jaggery, the flavours of almond, cardamom and saffron just shine. The texture of broken simmered rice is what adds body to this delectable kheer or pudding.
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 5-8 hours
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 5-8 hours
Thandai Indian Rice Kheer
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
Flavoured gently, this indulgent Thandai Indian Rice Kheer hits all the right notes. Sweetened gently with jaggery, the flavours of almond, cardamom and saffron just shine. The texture of broken simmered rice is what adds body to this delectable kheer or pudding.
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 5-8 hours
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 5-8 hours
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Dry grind rice and almonds to a coarse breadcrumb like texture in a coffee grinder.​ You can add the cardamom seeds here if you like.​Stir the above into cold milk with the jaggery, cardamom seeds and cream if using.
  2. Put over low heat and cook for about 25-30 minutes, STIRRING OFTEN, until the rice is cooked and the kheer thick.
  3. Taste and adjust sweetness if required. Take off heat and add a generous pinch of saffron. Stir well.
  4. The kheer will continue to thicken as it cools. You might need to add a little milk as the absorption quality of rice differs. Once it gets to room temperature, ladle into earthenware bowls, individual serving bowls etc to set. Garnish with saffron strands, almond slivers, pistachio bits, rose petals etc.
  5. Serve chilled.
  6. Note: Rinse, drain and d​ry the rice overnight, else dry in microwave for 1 minute.
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“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey.”
Eli Brown

Bhune Murgh ki Biryani  … fragrant, rich, flavoursome yet very homey. This one pot layered biryani was indeed a surprise, a biryani that cooked up quiet well for once. I have a love/hate relationship with making biryanis, often ending up in a puddle of tears. They never come out the way I’d like them to look and taste, and I had all but given up. This one recipe has given me immense confidence!It’s thanks to this cookbook from Notion Press, A Culinary Journey for the Love of Biryani, that I tasted success. Yet I want to talk about Notion Press first as they offer the novel concept of self publishing in India. It is startups like these that are changing the way books are created. Notion Press is a publishing platform for authors from India that helps create, publish, and distribute print and eBooks. In an attempt to make publishing as easy as possible, they offer a variety of customized publishing solutions. I’m already tempted to say the least, but now, back to the cookbook on hand.I love the feel of a good cookbook and the cover image and design had me immediately interested. Don’t judge a book by the cover they might say, but that’s exactly what I did. It’s a warm , yet beautifully styled cover which tells the story to perfection, spices and all. I couldn’t find credits for the image {maybe I missed it}, but I sorely missed more images within. A single image is not enough to whet my visual appetite…The paper feels good. Quality is important and it’s been taken care of well. The biryani cookbook offers over 100 ‘tantalizing’ recipes, and I have to agree since what I cooked was very promising indeed. Co-authored by Tanuj Singh and Varuna Mathur, it has a good narrative. The foreword is a great read, followed by notes to the readers; light-hearted warm, very homely, very interactive. It leads you to the kitchen and gets you playing with pots and pans almost immediately!
I bookmarked a few recipes, and have to say that the book is not error free. I  think perhaps with self publishing, the onus lies on the content writer, not the publisher. The book would improve with better editing and grammar checks. A couple of recipes skipped the meat altogether. The ingredients are not uniform across the book; sometimes in weight, sometimes a measures, other times a number. Also some capitals, some not is a bit of a distraction. Most importantly, the number of servings are missing across the book. The new cook will certainly be at sea as he/she attempts to guess how many mouths the recipe caters to. And of course, more pictures please. That said, the book is still a keeper!
Finally zeroed down to the Bhune Murgh ki Biryani, trying to play it safe, well aware of my past biryani disasters. The introduction had me smiling. “If ingredients could make a dish, this is one of the top variants in the list. With rice being cooked in cardamom, and chicken in whole spices, cashew and khus khus paste provide that richness and a crunchy edge to the dish thereby rendering it as a pretty common home-style“.For me it turned out to be pretty uncommon and quite a lot of fun. As they say in the notes, the book is “about perceiving cooking as an emerging process with no guidelines, no limitations but loads of creativity and fun.” That was so me, and just what I did. I took shortcuts to the steps, for eg, added whole cardamom to the water to cook rice in. I ground the onion and cashew together with the poppy seeds. I browned the onions first and then cooked the chicken in the same wok and remaining fat to simplify things. I finally baked the biryani layered in a ‘lagan‘ or Indian copper pot in a low oven for about 45 minutes. It still worked well.I am proud to say I have salvaged my reputation quite a bit with this Bhune Murgh ki Biryani from the book. Needless to say, I am already itching to try another one. I find biryanis most comforting, a one pot meal that hold eternal charm, hold nostalgic memories, and are ever so satisfying. The book also includes a few biryani recipes from around the globe which are interestingly unique in their own ways – Durban Biryani, Irani Biryani, Nasi Biryani, Swahili Biryani to name  few. It’s a good book to have on hand. Cuts out the work for weekend lunches! Oh and it offers a variety of pilafs, vegetarian biryanis  and accompaniments too.
My next biryani might be the Kashmiri Biryani or the Matka Murgh Biryani. Perhaps the Sri Lankan Muttom Biryani or Kolkata Biryani. Gosh, the book actually spoils you for choice! You can find it here – A Culinary Journey for the Love of Biryani

Bhune Murgh ki Biryani {roasted chicken biryani}
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The Bhune Murgh ki Biryani is a one pot comfort meal, rich, flavourful and homely. The flavours tease the palette and the chicken is beautifully spiced. It turned out to be deliciously good, and quite a keeper from the biryani cookbook. Be light on the spices if you are cooking for the first time, or like mild food. {Minimally adapted from 'A Culinary Journey for the Love of Biryani'}
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 15 minutes
Bhune Murgh ki Biryani {roasted chicken biryani}
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
The Bhune Murgh ki Biryani is a one pot comfort meal, rich, flavourful and homely. The flavours tease the palette and the chicken is beautifully spiced. It turned out to be deliciously good, and quite a keeper from the biryani cookbook. Be light on the spices if you are cooking for the first time, or like mild food. {Minimally adapted from 'A Culinary Journey for the Love of Biryani'}
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 15 minutes
Ingredients
Rice
Bhuna Chicken
For frying onions
For layering dum
Servings: people
Instructions
Rice
  1. Wash and soak rice for an hour. Meanwhile, boil some water in a vessel and add salt and green cardamom to it. {I used whole cardamoms}. Once the rice is 3/4th cooked, drain it and keep aside.
Fried onions
  1. Heat ghee in a deep wok and fry the sliced onions until golden brown. Drain and reserve. Use remaining ghee for cooking chicken, adding more if required. {This is what I did. The instructions are missing from the recipe}
Bhuna Chicken
  1. Heat ghee in a deep kadhai/wok and add grated ginger, garlic, whole red peppers and carom seeds. As the garlic gets brown, add the onion paste and fry. Mix in the cashews and khus khus paste and continue to fry. Sprinkle garam masala powder and Kashmiri red pepper powder and mix it well. Cook until the fat starts showing at the surface, adding water occasionally as required.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and let them cook over high flame till the chicken is cooked. Stir as needed. {I cooked over high heat for 5 minutes, then covered and simmered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until done}.
Layer the dum {slow cooking}
  1. Once the chicken is cooked, add the rice to cover the chicken masala. Sprinkle the saffron and milk mixture on it along with some ghee and fried onions. Cover the lid and cook on 'dum' for 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Notes
  1. I layered the chicken masala and rice for final 'dum' {slow cooking} in a heavy bottom metal 'lagan' / pot, dotted it with ghee, sprinkled over the soaked saffron and milk, topped it with fried onions, and sealed the mouth with heavy duty aluminium foil. Baked it at 150C for an hour.
  2. I reserved some fried onions for garnishing, and served the biryani with a garlic raita/spiced garlic yogurt.
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 Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas ‘Hard & dry, a chickpea is inedible. Hard & dry, a heart is unlovable.
Presoak it in dance, music & art.’
Khang Kijarro Nguyen

Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas  the way my Mum makes them. Try as I might, my chole masala flavours are always different, the taste not quite not same. Must be a thing of the hand, the way she cooks them, but it’s a simple dish which makes me hungry for more. So now I let her make them for me which she gladly does.  Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas  is a quintessential recipe from the Indian sub continent, one of the most popular perhaps. Every house has it’s own recipe, and you can keep them as spicy or light as you like. The Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas are a meal in themselves, a treat for someone like me who would rather just enjoy them like a one bowl meal. Sliced onions to top them, finely sliced green chilies, a squeeze of lime juice, sometimes some crispies sneaked in! You get the drift!! 

Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas My mother often calls me in a hurry to pick them up as she makes them, wanting us to enjoy them warm. Often as things go, I am out or in the middle of something. The good thing about her cholas are that she makes them in large quantities, and they taste even better after an overnight rest. All you need to do is reheat them and dig in! That’s just where this the latest addition to my kitchen is quite handy.Chole Masala / Curried Spicy ChickpeasThe Milton MicroWoW Casserole is microwaveable {dishwasher proof too} with stainless steel inside which makes it absolutely unique. It allows you to microwave your food and also retain heat of the food in the same casserole for 4 hours. Such an innovative concept; one we loved the minute we heard of it.

 Chole Masala / Curried Spicy ChickpeasLike me, if you set curd/yogurt at home everyday, this casserole doubles up as a curd maker. With winter around the corner, when I am constantly looking for warm spots for the curd to set, I think my search ends here! Until then, this is a great way to store ice cream for a short while. Seems to pack quite a punch, quite like the Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas !My mum’s recipe is simple, and a little different from how I cook them.  Chole Masala / Curried Spicy ChickpeasMost of her recipes, like this one, are based on andaaz, or eyeballing of ingredients. A little of this, a pinch of that, toss something in. Oh did I forget that? Never mind, maybe next time. I’m sure it’ll taste fine, a little different perhaps. As all mothers cook, recipes are generally ‘taste as you go‘, and that’s the best way to cook really!

 Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas

 Chole Masala / Curried Spicy ChickpeasI love the idea of new kitchen gadgets, cookware & bakeware, also the fact that there is so much creativity out there. I think the casserole is going to very handy & welcome in my kitchen as I’m out of home a fair bit too. The feeling that I’ve left the option of warm food for someone is comforting! How do you folk manage?

Choley Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
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Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas is a quintessential recipe from the Indian sub continent, one of the most popular perhaps. Every house has it's own recipe, and you can keep them as spicy or light as you like. This is my mums. Most of her recipes, like this one, are based on andaaz, or eyeballing of ingredients. A little of this, a pinch of that, toss something in.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
1.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
1.5 hours
Choley Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
Chole Masala / Curried Spicy Chickpeas is a quintessential recipe from the Indian sub continent, one of the most popular perhaps. Every house has it's own recipe, and you can keep them as spicy or light as you like. This is my mums. Most of her recipes, like this one, are based on andaaz, or eyeballing of ingredients. A little of this, a pinch of that, toss something in.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
1.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
1.5 hours
Ingredients
Chana Masala
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Drain the overnight soaked chickpeas, wash well, and place in pressure cooker with enough water to cover them, about an inch over.
  2. Cook under pressure on simmer for a 45 minutes to an hour until soft and almost double in size.
  3. Meanwhile, add 1 tbsp mustard oil to a heavy bottom wok/kadhai.
  4. Add the sliced onions and fry until golden brown. Make sure they don't get dark brown or the flavour gets bitter.
  5. Add the ginger, green chilies or red chili powder if using, or both, chana masala and tomatoes.
  6. Saute over low heat until the tomatoes are mushy soft and leave oil.
  7. Add the cooked soft chickpeas and toss well to mix in masala, reserving the liquid for later. Add as much of the liquid as you like, stir well, adjust seasoning, turn the whole prep back into the cooker and give the chickpeas one more pressure. This will allow the spices/masalas to be absorbed by the chickpeas.
  8. Serve with naaan or rice. Or like me, serve in a bowl with a squeeze of lime juice, sliced onions, ginger, fresh coriander and some sneaked in crispies!
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