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savoury

“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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“Either give me more wine or leave me alone.”
Jalaluddin Rumi

These Lamb Chops with Red Wine turned out to be the best I’ve ever made. And I thought lamb chops were difficult to make. The simplest of ingredients – rosemary, garlic, and a limited edition Shiraz from Big Banyan Wines came together ever so beautifully to create this dish with so much character & loads of depth. Minimal fuss … & it was love at first bite!

As I have always say, it’s simple, good quality ingredients that make any dish shine, and this was no different. The wine really sang out loud! Then again, garlic & rosemary are one of my favourite savoury pairings, in fact most of my breads have the two. I use copious amounts of garlic in my food, and I think it’s the best ingredient ever! And then there’s wine…

If I talk about wine, I am far from a wine connoisseur, yet I do enjoy a good wine. In addition, I find the very idea of cooking with wine very therapeutic; very engaging actually because it always surprises. I love cooking and baking with red wine because it feels like a celebration, romanticizing the very idea of serving food. The red has a character that I like!

The ruby red Shiraz is one of my favourites. As they say at Big Banyan, “Because of its strong character Shiraz is considered the ‘man’ among wines. Its distinct, robust personality is unmistakable, making it a powerful wine among of the ‘big reds’. Its aromas burst alive in warmer temperatures, like Australia and India. So open a bottle and explore the deepest, darkest recesses of our wine’s soul.”

You might remember the Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau I did last year around the same time. It is one of my favourite holiday desserts, and the spiced jam is an exciting jam! Using the red this time in a savoury way was equally fun! The colours and flavours just popped. Deep, delicious, well balanced flavours in the lamb chops. Above all, so simple to make.

 How do you like to cook with wine? Do you enjoy it too?

Lamb Chops with Red Wine
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These Lamb Chops with Red Wine turned out to be the best I've ever made. Rosemary, garlic, and a limited edition Shiraz from Big Banyan Wines came together ever so beautifully to create this dish with so much character and loads of depth.
Servings Prep Time
2-3 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2-3 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Lamb Chops with Red Wine
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
These Lamb Chops with Red Wine turned out to be the best I've ever made. Rosemary, garlic, and a limited edition Shiraz from Big Banyan Wines came together ever so beautifully to create this dish with so much character and loads of depth.
Servings Prep Time
2-3 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2-3 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Instructions
Marinade
  1. Whisk all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl.
  2. Pat dry the lamb chops, rub in the marinade gently. Leave covered in the fridge for 4-6 hours, better still overnight.
To finish
  1. Heat the clarified butter /ghee in a heavy bottom pan.
  2. Over high heat, sear the chops on both sides. Pour over the marinade and drizzle with honey. Let the marinade bubble and reduce a little.
  3. Transfer to a heat proof casserole. Cook in microwave covered on high power for 5 minutes / or until done.
  4. Return to the pan, throw in fresh rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves. Cook until the wine reduces to a nice thick sauce and coats the chops. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
  5. Serve with a sautéed broccoli salad, grilled onion rings and fresh rocket greens. Of course a glass of Shiraz on the side!
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 “Pie makes everybody happy.”
Laurie Halse Anderson

These Cheesy Chicken Pot Pies were waiting to happen for really really long. I haven’t made a chicken pot pie in years, and it’s the one thing that is oft requested by the kids. Maybe it was pure ‘make the pastry’ laziness, or just too much to do, it just kept getting postponed. Then yesterday, these very comforting pot pies puffed up in the oven. Funnily enough, the impetus came from a bottle of wine!

The Chardonnay from Big Banyan Wines sat calling my name. I’ve read about wine marinades for poultry and lamb, and the idea is always intriguing. I had some chicken waiting for a marinade, and one thing led to another. Soon I had a concoction in a bottle, a wine marinade/dressing! The rest of the partners in crime in the Cheesy Chicken Pot Pies were staple favourites like garlic, thyme and cheese, and seasonal favourites carrots and kohlrabi. Sweetcorn too.I use a basic marinade most of the time and various permutations and combinations of it depending on time, and then mood of course. A 3:1 extra virgin olive oil and lime juice always works well to begin with. Garlic is a must in my food, so naturally the same follows for dressings. I always have a jar of peeled garlic in the fridge because I do believe freshly minced garlic offers the best flavour. Then I add and subtract pantry basics at will. Honey and mustard add a nice touch to vinaigrette, as do dried herbs. Remember to gently rub the herbs between the palms of your hands to make the flavours come alive a little more. You could always add a dash of Tabasco or then roasted chili flakes. As I said, I do keep my food simple and basic. This time I decided to go with wine instead of the lime juice for the marinade. It’s the same way that you can use a vinegar instead of lime juice. Time is a great luxury. It allows you to endlessly play around with ingredients, also endlessly shoot images if you enjoy that. That is just what I did.The rest was quite straightforward. I made a wholewheat rough puff pastry dough for Cheesy Chicken Pot Pies. Tossed the idea back and forth. Did I want a ‘pot pie’ or did I want a crossover pastry? It’s tough when you get caught in the middle of silly indecision like this. A little wine always helps to clear the mind, which it certainly did! Some in a glass, some in the marinade and it was pot pie with a tiny lattice on top.

There is something intrinsically therapeutic about weaving a lattice for a pie if you know what I mean. Even the unbaked version feels so rewarding it’s amazing. Revising pastry weaving after what feels like ages, I was a bit unsure. However once I began, I felt I could practically weave the world! Happily enough, my wholewheat puff pastry also behaved really well. The result, a bowl scraping good delicious Cheesy Chicken Pot Pie!

 

Cheesy Chicken Pot Pies
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With a filling of chicken marinated with @bigbanyanwines, carrots, kohlrabi and cheese of course, these Cheesy Chicken Pot Pies turned out wickedly good! Did I tell you that the rough puff pastry is wholegrain? Yes it is and worked very well especially with the wine marinated chicken.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Cheesy Chicken Pot Pies
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
With a filling of chicken marinated with @bigbanyanwines, carrots, kohlrabi and cheese of course, these Cheesy Chicken Pot Pies turned out wickedly good! Did I tell you that the rough puff pastry is wholegrain? Yes it is and worked very well especially with the wine marinated chicken.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Filling
Servings: people
Instructions
Marinade
  1. Marinade: Place in a bottle and shake well. Use as required.
Filling
  1. Take approximately 1/2 cup of the dressing and marinate the thighs for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Place flat in a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat and cook until done, turning once. Reserve pan juices if any.
  3. Remove the cooked chicken from the pan, chop up and reserve.
  4. Wipe down same pan, and heat 1 tbsp clarified butter.
  5. Add garlic, garlic greens, roasted red chili flakes, dried thyme and onions to it.
  6. Saute until fragrant. Add the carrots and kohlrabi and give it a good stir. Then add 1 tbsp plain flour and give it another good stir.
  7. Lower heat to minimum, and pour in pan juices if any and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of whole milk, stirring constantly. Increase heat and continue to stir until the sauce thickens.
  8. Add chicken and sweetcorn. Taste and adjust seasoning. Take off heat and stir in grated cheese.
  9. Divide into 4 X 4" baking dishes. Allow to cool.
  10. Preheat oven to 200C.
  11. Divide the chilled pastry into two. Work with one half at a time, keeping the other covered and chilled.
  12. Roll out into a long thin 12" by 6" rectangle. Cut into strips with a fluted pastry cutter and weave a lattice on top of one bowl then another. Repeat with the remaining dough to make a lattice for the other two pies.{Can be readied until this, cling-wrapped and chilled. Pop into the oven just before the meal}
  13. Reduce heat to 180C and bake for 30 minutes until the lattice is crisp.
  14. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
Pastry
  1. Sift the flours and salt. Grate 80g of the frozen butter into this and mix lightly.Add the lime juice and enough chilled water using a knife, stir the flour and water together until a dough begins to form. Now use your hands to bring it into a ball {You might need a little more water}. Press into a neat square, wrap it in cling film, and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle with a long edge 3 times its width. Grate the remaining butter and spread it evenly over 2/3rds of the rectangle.Take the third which is not sprinkled, and fold it over the middle of the buttered part, then fold the two layers over the remaining single layer. You will be left with 3 layers of pastry and 2 layers of butter separating them.
  3. Turn the pastry by 90 degrees. Dust with flour and roll out into same proportions as first rectangle.Take one of the short sides and fold it over to reach the middle of the remaining part of the pastry. Fold the remaining third on top of the first one to get 3 layers on top of each other. Wrap pastry in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Repeat again 2 more times, and chill for at least an hour. The pastry will keep in the fridge for 4 days, and in the freezer for a month.
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