Rice and Breads
Prep: - Cook: - Serves: 2-3 Ingredients: 150g poha flakes or flattened rice flakes 2 tbsp olive oil 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds 1 onion, chopped 1 green chilli, chopped 1/4 tsp turmeric 200g potatoes, peeled, boiled and cut into 2cm cubes Method: Rinse the flakes under a cold water tap, drain and set aside. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to sizzle and pop add the onion and chilli and fry for 2-3 minutes. Tip in the turmeric and the salt and mix. Add the potatoes and the poha continue frying for a further 2 minutes. Serve hot.
Chapatis, made fresh everyday, are a type of unleavened bread from northern India. The wholewheat dough is made from a flour that is predominantly ground in stone mills known as chakkis. The grinding of the wheat with stone, breaks and damages the starch which releases extra sweetness. The dough is rolled into flat circles and then cooked on a hot, flat griddle called a lava. In an Indian meal, chapatis are used as a scoop to pick up vegetable and lentil dishes. Makes 8 chapatis 450g medium atta or chapati flour 250ml cold to tepid water Butter for spreading (optional) Set aside 200g of the flour and reserve for shaping the chapatis. Place the remaining flour in a deep bowl. Fill another bowl with the cold water. Add the water to the bowl of flour, a little at a time, kneading as you go, until you have a soft, elastic dough. The longer you knead the dough the softer the chapatis will be Sprinkle a little of the reserved flour onto a flat surface or board. Divide the dough into eight and shape each piece into a ball. Flatten the balls slightly, then place one onto the floured board. Roll it out into a flat disc approximately 15cm (6 inches) in diameter, flouring the board when necessary. Heat a griddle or a shallow frying pan. Lay the chapati on the griddle or pan and cook for about 20-30 seconds, or until the surface is bubbling. Turn it over with tongs and cook the other side for 10-15 seconds. As soon as brown spots appear on the underside, the chapati is done. Repeat with the other seven balls, using the remaining flour to roll them out. Stack them up as they are cooked, placing a sheet of kitchen towel between each one to absorb any moisture. Spread butter over one side, if you like.
There are hundreds of varieties of biryani and the dum pukht biryani is the method of cooking the dish in a sealed vessel or spherical pot made from clay or steel known as a handi. A clay saucer is often used as the lid and placed on the top of the pot or vessel. The lid is sealed with a paste or a homemade putty dough created from kneading together chapati flour (atta) and water. That is the only purpose of the dough and nothing else. Although the dough seal is edible, traditionally, it wouldn’t be eaten. If there is no lid then that is also made by rolling out some dough and placing the lid on top of the mouth of the pot or the cooking vessel. The sealed vessel is then placed on hot charcoals or a hob until the rice is completely cooked. The heat creates the steam, condenses and rolls down the curved walls. Dum means warm breath denoting the steam and the pukht means choking the steam and preventing it from escaping. Serves 4 FOR THE SPICE BLEND - GARAM MASALA 1 piece cassia bark or cinnamon, 5cm/2.5in length 6 bay leaves 6-8 green cardamom pods 4 cloves 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp coriander seeds 1/2 tsp black peppercorns 22-24 cashew nuts, roasted 600g boneless and skinless chicken breasts or stewing lamb, cut into bite-size chunks 2-3 green finger chillies, finely chopped 3 tbsp natural unsweetened yogurt 6 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tsp peeled and finely grated root ginger 1 tbsp lemon juice 7 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil ½ tsp salt 3 medium onions, finely sliced 400g or 2 cups white Basmati rice, or any other long-grain rice 500g wholemeal chapati flour, plus extra for dusting 4 tbsp full-fat or semi-skimmed milk a generous pinch of saffron strands (about 1 strands) 2 black cardamoms (optional) 1 tbsp butter or ghee, melted a few mint leaves, washed and chopped TO MAKE THE SPICE BLEND (Garam Masala) Heat a dry skillet or frying pan over a medium low heat until you can feel the heat rising. Add the cinnamon stick or cassia bark, bay leaves, and green cardamoms and roast for 30 seconds, shaking the pan. Add the cloves, cumin and coriander seeds and black peppercorns and continue roasting, shaking the pan, for about 1 minute longer, or until you can smell the aroma of the spices. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately tip in the spices onto a plate and let cool completely. Transfer the spices to a spice mill and blend until finely ground. Store the mixture in an airtight container, away from sunlight, up to 4-6 months. Put the frying pan back on the heat and add the cashew nuts. Toast for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside. Marinate the meat Place the meat in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the spice blend (garam masala), green chillies, yogurt, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, 1 tbsp of the oil and the salt. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a heavy based pan, and fry the onions for 5-7 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. PARTIALLY COOK THE RICE Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold running water and place in a pan with 1 litre or 4 cups of just boiled water. Cover and boil for 8-10 minutes or until the rice is half to three quarters cooked. The grains should be soft on the outside but still hard in the centre. Place the chapati flour in a bowl and add approximately 200ml of tepid water. Stir until the mixture forms a soft dough. If the dough is dry and does not come together, add 1-2 tablespoons of water. Knead the dough by clenching your hand into a fist, then wet your knuckles and press them repeatedly into the dough, pressing against the side of the bowl, until a soft smooth dough forms. This should take about 10 minutes. Warm the milk and place the saffron strands in the milk and set aside. The flavours will begin to diffuse. If you’re cooking the biryani in a casserole dish that is not hob proof or cannot be placed onto direct heat, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy-based pan and add the black cardamoms, if using. Fry for 30 seconds until you can smell the aromas. COOK THE MEAT Tip in the marinated meat and fry for 15 minutes until well browned. Stir in half of the fried onions. Mix well. Take half of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface until it forms a long sausage about 2.5 to 3cm thick and long enough to go around the circumference or rim of the vessel in which you are cooking the biryani. Grease the base of the large heavy-based casserole or pot which has a lid with the butter or ghee. ASSEMBLE THE BIRYANI Spoon half the meat mixture into the vessel followed by half of the parboiled rice. With a spoon, pack the rice firmly into the casserole or vessel. Spread over half of the quantity of of the cashew nuts. Sprinkle over half of the saffron milk and half of the remaining fried onions. Repeat the process ending with a layer of the rice, the remaining cashew nuts, saffron milk, leftover fried onions and mint leaves. The top should be the layer of rice. SEALING THE POT Then take the sausage shaped dough and place on top of the edge of the rim of the vessel. Take one end of the sausage shape and feed around the rim of the vessel, pressing firmly as you go around to create a circular, spongy and squashed seal. Make sure the rim is completely covered with the dough. Flour the surface again and roll out the remaining dough until it’s large enough to cover the entire mouth or opening of the vessel. It should be about 3 to 5mm thick. Carefully place on top of the mouth of the vessel and loosely cut around the pot leaving a 2-3cm lip of dough all around. Just like you would when making a pie covering. Press the dough cover firmly around the circumference of the vessel squeezing and pinching the dough into the dough seal. If the vessel is hob proof, place it directly onto a hob on a low heat for 20-25 minutes. If the vessel is oven proof, place it in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. For both methods, the dough will begin to change colour and the ‘pie lid’ will begin to rise because of the trapped steam within. Turn off the hob or remove from the oven. Carefully, cut out half way around the circumference of the pie lid. Watch out for the steam that will be emitted as you break the seal of dough. Then with a pair of tongs, prize open the lid. Spoon the biryani onto a plate and place the raita on the side of the plate or in a small vessel. Serve hot. The biryani can be stored in the fridge covered overnight and reheated once.
Basmati is an authentic Indian long grained rice that has a unique nutty flavour. It is very popular in India and all over the world, and is used in a wide variety of rice dishes: Plain steamed rice, pulaos, pilafs, biryanis or just different types of fried rice. Special occasion rice dishes are usually made with basmati rice. Serves 2-3 1 tbsp groundnut or olive oil 1/2 tsp mustard seeds 1 tsp skinned split black lentils or urad dal (optional) 5-6 curry leaves (optional) 2 medium dried red chillies or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp turmeric 200g white Basmati rice, washed 1 tbsp lemon juice Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves, if using, red chillies, salt and turmeric, and stir for few seconds. Add the rice and mix well, then pour in 500ml boiling water. Cover tightly and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Replace the lid and simmer for a further 8 minutes.