Posts Tagged ‘Biryani’

Midweek in Middle East

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

First things first, thank you all for wishing dear Ari for his Birthday. I heard from Sis that he had a cute little party with kuttus( toddlers) and got some new car toys as well.

Continuing on the same lines, today’s post not about nephew but where he lives- the Middle East. When Sis was expecting A, I visited Dubai for the first time to spend a few weeks with her. Even with Ari in the tummy, she managed to show me the entire emirates. Last year, I had a chance to show N all those gorgeous things about the Middle east when we spent the summer there.

It is not just going to be recipes but also a short tour of the Emirates for this post. Emirates actually consists of seven states, hence the name the United Arab Emirates. Of those seven, apart from Saudi Arabia and Oman, we visited Abu Dhabi, Dubai (Truly a shopping paradise), Sharjah, Ras-al-Khaimah and Fujairah. And we visited the much talked about Palm-Jumeirah as well. That was the main place N wanted to see. And I wanted to show him the Gold Souk (Gold Market) 😉

Palm Jumeirah (Top view from Wikipedia)

Palm Jumeirah is the man made Island on the Persian Gulf, and the land on which the islands stands is obtained by Land reclaiming process.

Atlantis is the resort at Palm Jumeriah. The route to Atlantis is a road that is made by digging into the sea- ie., a tunnel that connects land and the resort standing in the middle of the sea. Once reaching the car park, there is a free shuttle service to the Atlantis resort.

Magnificent is the only word one can use to describe the feeling. Standing in front of the resort, one can see and hear the waves crashing on to the walls of the resort and then looking around it hits us that ” Gosh, we are actually standing on the sea”!!

Atlantis was our last stop and at that time, the Holy Month of Ramadan was starting and the decorations on the palm trees were amazing. Once inside, you can get the feeling of royalty. Every inch of the resort is well planned and built and it shows the richness from the lights to the interior decorations. And it does not cost much to stay in Atlantis too, it costs roughly $100/person in holiday season(when we visited)

Entrance to Atlantis:

We also saw the Burj Khalifa (Burj-Pearl),the tallest building in the world. You can see it from anywhere in the Sheikh Zayed Road. And there is a dancing fountain right in front of Burj which by far is the largest dancing fountain I have seen.

But there are also other attractions: Have you ever seen a Ski resort, filled with snow from snow machine, in the middle of a mall, in the middle of a desert? Sure there is one in Dubai. How about a cafe made with ice as walls and floors? Or an aquarium as the base of a building with penguins saying Hi?

You think I am joking? Then how about this. Can you make a mountain green? Seriously, a existing stony mountain in Al-Ain(The Garden City) has been turned in to a green mountain with plants and grass- totally man made. If you visit Al-ain you will never think you are in a dessert, it has got trees on both sides of the roads and it is so pleasant to travel. See the difference for your self, the mountain getting green from the foot to the top.

And I still have things to write about. the diamond studded Blackberries and gold veils in the Gold Markets, dates hanging from the palm trees on both sides of a high way, Beautiful Dubai Creek, Shopping festivals, The Spa’s (Sigh) and so on and so forth.

I guess I will take a quick break now to grab some food from the Middle East. Whenever I visit Sis and BIL, I come home with goodies that last for atleast a year. Freshly harvested dates, dates stuffed with almonds(yum), Fresh Cashews, Almonds, Pistas and the aromatic Iranian Saffron.

For a Vegetarian, Middle Eastern food has lots of options : Falafel, Hummus,Baba ghanoush, Biryanis and Koftas. Dates have a good water content in them, that by munching a few every day you won’t feel thirsty, isn’t that a good one for the dessert?

To beat the heat, there is a very simple drink that is sold like a soft drink in a can, called as Laban. Very creamy and natural, Laban is made out of yogurt. N loved it so much that he was finishing off a can every 10 minutes.

This is how you can make Laban at home:

Ingredients (Makes one glass)

Yogurt- 3/4 cup
Chilled water- 1/2 cup
Salt – to taste
Sugar- a pinch
Flavors: Depending on taste, either Mint, Cilantro,Lemon, Cumin seeds or ripe mango.
Ice Cubes- few


Whichever flavor you choose, grind it to a powder or a paste in a blender. Then add the yogurt, water,salt and sugar and give it a quick blend till it is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a glass and serve chilled. You can top it with ice cubes if needed too.

I am also reposting Egg Kofta Biryani (Usually made with meat, mine is a veggie version)

and Veg Seekh Kebabs

for Joanne’s Regional cuisines- Middle East event.

Paneer Kofta Biryani

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Most often our weekend menu would be a variety rice like tomato rice or biryani or bisi-bela-bath. Since weekends are the majority of the time hubby and I get to spend in the kitchen, we cook these dishes talking, chopping veggies, making raithas etc.,

I should thank my sister here for teaching me how to make a proper biryani. She lives in the middle east and she can give you recipes for 10 different types of biryanis just like without any reference, egg biryani(muttai biryani), nargisi biryani, kofta biryani, dum biryani, plain tomato and onion biryani, biryani with plain spices, nuts and fruits….So the only thing I do when I get to meet her is to eat(or rather stuff myself) and copy down all her new experiments.

I also followed her advice on getting a good clay pot(mann-pathiram) to make biryanis to get that earthy flavor. I searched for the pot here in Houston and got a good clay pot for around $10 in an indian store. Its just amazing that the rice never sticks to the clay pot. Natural non stick??

The only thing I gotta remember is to soak the clay pot and its lid in water atleast an hour before cooking. The first time I cooked with the pot, I soaked it in water overnight.

This weekend I started making koftas and jeera rice but then changed my mind halfway(too lazy to make another gravy) and made kofta biryani instead. Here is the recipe for the biryani, it is kind of time consuming and will take atleast 2 hours from start to finish but the taste is amazing!

Measurements are for 2-3 people:

For the rice:
Basmati rice- 1.25 cups
Jeera- 1 tsp
Bay leaf-1
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Cardamom- 2-3 pods
Clove- 2 sticks
Butter- 1 tbsp

For the marinade:
Finely chopped tomatoes- 1 cup
Well beaten yogurt(without lumps)- 1 cup
Ginger garlic paster- 1 tsp
Red chili powder-1/2 tsp
Garam Masala powder- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Finely chopped green chilies- 3 numbers
Finely chopped coriander leaves- 1/4 bunch
Finely chopped mint leaves-1/4 bunch
Cardamom pods-2 numbers
Finely Chopped Onion- 1/4 cup

For the Koftas:(makes 14 koftas)
Grated Paneer- 1/2 cup
Potatoes- 4 numbers
Carrot- 2 numbers
Peas- 1/4 cup
Beans-a few well chopped
Salt- to taste
Garam Masala Powder- 1/2 tsp
Kofta Masala Powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
Oil- 2 tbsp

To make the rice:
Wash and soak basmati rice in water for 10 minutes. Heat a pan and add butter to it. When the butter melts add cumin seeds, bay leaf, cardamom, clove and the drained rice. Fry well till the sizzling sound of the soaked rice disappears. Transfer to a cooking vessel, add 2 parts water to one part rice(I added 2.5 cups) and cook like normal rice in a pressure cooker. When cool, fluff up the rice with a fork.

Preparing the marinade:
Mix everything under the marinade list except onions and let the marinade sit inside refridgerator for at least 30 mins. The more time it sits, the more it absorbs the flavors. I prepare it ahead of time and let it sit overnight sometimes.

Preparing the koftas:

Boil and mash potatoes and peas. Grate carrots. In a pan, add oil and saute mashed potatoes, peas, grated carrots,beans and grated paneer with garam masala powder, salt , kofta masala powder. Cook till there is no raw smell(7-8 mins). Add coriander leaves and let it slightly cool.

When cool enough to handle, make lemon sized balls out of the mixture. I do not deep fry koftas, but I fry them in my appam pan. When both sides of the kofta turns brown remove and keep aside.

Putting it all together:

Heat oil in a pan(again) and add the chopped onions that we didnt use for the marinade. When onion turns brown, pour the marinade to the pan and let all the water from the yogurt evaporate. Do not add additional water to cook. Just let the water from the yogurt sizzle away, and reduce, wait till the oil separates(12- 15 minutes). Keep aside.

Now is the time for our clay pot. Pour out all the water we used to soak the pot in. Slightly smear the inside of the pot with ghee. Always fill the bottom layer with jeera rice. Pour a ladleful of cooked marinade on top and add a couple of cooked koftas then start another layer of rice,cooked marinade and finish the top layer as rice later. Pour some lemon juice on top if desired. Garnish with cilantro,mint leaves. Wrap the top completely with a foil. Keep the pot inside oven and then start the oven to pre heat. Never preheat the oven for clay pots as it may break. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. A similar procedure can also be followed for baking any biryani in a baking tray. Remove the foil and serve hot with raithas. Enjoy!!

I would like to send this entry to the event Jihva for Ingredients originally started by Indira of Mahanandi.

This JFI event is hosted in November as Jhiva for Ingredients-Paneer.

This Paneer Kofta Biryani also goes to WYF speciality food event.

This paneer kofta biryani also goes to SriLehkas EFM Variety rice series.