Mains

Tilda Brown and Wild Rice flavoured with Curry leaves / Karvepaku Annam

Last year’s new year’s eve was slightly different for me. We were in India and the celebration was more a family gathering rather than a wild party involving alcohol. Well , this meal at a reputed five-star hotel did involve cocktails and spirits but we made sure we consumed alcohol is a more civilised manner to avoid things going out of control. I was really thankful for being sober that night as I could eat to my heart’s content and enjoy the massive buffet the hotel has laid out for the guests. The food was delicious and went on from the restaurant dining area to the garden and across the pool area. Street food, regional food, Indo Chinese, Italian , numerous desert stalls and everything was so delicious. Few dishes have stood out for me, Awadhi Chicken curry and a gongura rice which were very unique and extremely tasty. Out at the kebab counter , I got chatty with the chef who was making yam kebabs and upon enquiry the head chef was from Awadh. No wonder , the Awadhi chicken curry was spot on and the addition of gulouti kebabs made sense. Few minutes later, he introduced me to a telugu chef and we got talking about the Green rice. I was amazed of the different kinds of rice he mentioned and how popular these dishes are getting. The Craze is understandable because buffets have been typically serving pilau rice for so many years, it’s time for change and innovation .

He quickly shared the gongura rice and Karvepaku (curry leaves) rice with me and insisted I should try it at home. Both the recipes are quite easy and quick to whip up. Almost a year has passed and I remembered about these when I was brainstorming about what to do with the several Tilda rice I got given at an event/supperclub hosted by Tilda and Mallika Basu about which you can read more here . I cooked this literally hours before  we were catching a flight to India to attend my brother’s wedding. The intention was to write up the recipe  on the flight and post it immediately 🙂 . But as you can see, that didn’t happen. My laptop proved useless as the volts on the flight to charge was not enough for my laptop charger. There is my excuse to watch three movies in a row, a documentary about foodies while munching on the bread roll and butter Emirates served. As I landed in India I was bombarded with tasks to do for the wedding. Wedding preparations , especially for an Indian wedding in an unknown city managing so many relatives is definitely not a cake walk. However, in the end , it has been a successful event resulting in a very happy couple and our family picture is now complete with the new member joining in. We had the reception in the very popular Golconda resorts in Hyderabad and of course , my main focus was food ! We had two tasting sessions with the chef in order to come up with a perfect reception buffet menu. The chef was extremely cooperative and enjoyed creating specific dishes for us on request. We are really pleased how it all turned out in the end with deliciousness all over the party !

Coming back to the Karvepaku Rice , the main ingredient is of course ‘karvepaku’ ie, the curry leaves. The south Indian in me was already smiling with joy while I was picking and prepping the leaves for the dish because of the amount of leaves I was going to use. In most dishes curry leaves are used to garnish or you saute a few leaves into the curry. But here, the curry leaves are the main ingredient and you can imagine the flavour and aroma that will fill your kitchen shortly after you start cooking this dish. Curry leaves are known for their valuable medicinal values and are widely used in the Ayurvedic medicines. They are believed to aid in hair growth , reduce side effects caused by chemotheraphy, reduce diaherea, help with skin infections and many more. So, it becomes even more important to include the mighty curry leaves into your diet.

I used Tilda Brown Basmati and Wild rice because , we are a family who need their pure Bamsati for every meal. Now to make the transition from pure basmati to wholemeal, I need something delicious and full of flavour to coat the rice with and this curry leaf powder works wonders in that sense. Together with the quality Tilda wholemeal rice you will, even for one second, think that you are having anything less luxurious. So, pick up those curry leaves and get cooking !

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To make the Curry leaf powder you will need :  

1 Bunch fresh curry leaves

11/2 Tsp. Bengal Gram (yellow split gram)

1 Tsp. Seseme Seeds

3-4 Dried Red Chillies

1/2 Tsp Cumin Seeds

1/2 Tsp. Coriander seeds

1/4 Tsp. fenugreek seeds

To finish off the dish : 

Salt to taste

2 Cups Cooked rice (I used Tilda Brown and Wild rice )

4 Tsp. Ghee (clarified butter)

2 – 3 Spoons Roasted Butternut squash cubes

Few roasted peanuts for garnish

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Method :

Heat the pan and dry roast all the lentils and spices except the curry leaves  and keep aside .

The same pan , heat a teaspoon oil and roast the curry leaves

In a grinder , mix all the ingredients and make a fine powder or a little gritty if  you like a bit of texture. Add some salt to taste and there you go , a nice blend of flavourful powder is ready for you to enjoy with rice.

To serve : 

Cook the Tilda Rice as per the directions on the pack and fluff it . While the rice is cooking , dice some butternut squash and roast them in the oven. You can use any seasonal veges in this place to add extra nutritional value to the dish. But the sweet  butternut squash worked well against the strong and spicy curry leaf flavour.

Stir in some of the curry leaf powder prepared into the rice and add generous amount of ghee and the butternut squash cubes and mix well.

Garnish some peanuts and serve Hot. We ate it with spicy lamb fry and was a treat.

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Few pointers : 

The Curry leaf rice can be enjoyed with a variety of curries and vegetable stir fries . So, it becomes a really versatile dish to serve up at dinners .

The powder can keep well and fresh for up to one – two weeks , so stock up for those lazy night and you could just heat up a ready made rice to cuddle up on the sofa with a hearty meal

I have used both ghee and coconut oil with rice and they are both my favourite . coconut oil works really well with the rice especially of you make the curry to with using coconut oil as well. You can use any oil you wish …like olive oil .

you can use any garnish with cashew nuts as well and some sautéed curry leaves

You can also temper the rice with mustard seeds and more curry leaves if you wish

I hope you like the super simple Rice and I am sure this will come in handy when you need something to lift you up taking only a few minutes of your time.

Take care

Gayathri

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Beetroot Gnocchi & Castello white with truffle cheese

So when I trailed my way along with some girlfriends Suchi from Kitchen Karma, Nisha from Kitchenantics and Sandya Hariharan from Sandya’s Kitchen to the Castello Cheese pop up store event, little did I know that I will be so overwhelmed with all the cheese that is on show. The aim of the pop store is to introduce their amazing collection of cheeses from rest of the world to the deprived cheese lovers in UK 🙂 . Honestly, why are these cheeses not in UK? Anyway I hope the lovely people who visited the pop up store in Shoreditch have voted for some good cheese so that they can bring it here for us to devour. The event itself was so much fun and we were personally excited about the spread of different wine and cheese pairings along with other condiments. And to top it up, the pairings were all presented and explained by Matt Day who was very keen in sharing his ideas and giving us tips on how to choose our drinks. We were also handed out a chart which illustrates all the featured pairing which is quiet handy for people who do not take notes at events like this and only focus on eating 🙂 …yes, I have my priorities and I tend to stick to them most of the time :). Talking about priorities, we were also served delicious canapés while the one and only Sapient Gastranout, Stephen gate is showering us with all the information regarding the event and the concept store.

 

Canapé's and the Spread at the event

Canapé’s and the Spread at the event

That night, we returned home satisfied with our cheese and wine intake, lots of inspiration to use the variety of cheese in our culinary experiments, tons of enthusiasm to immediately host a cheese & wine party at home and a gorgeous goody bag filled with a complete set of cheese pairings. While I and my son gobbled almost all of the pineapple halo cheese as a midnight snack, I saved some white truffle cheese for something special which I am so pleased to share it with you today.

Real cheese lovers always argue that cheese has to be enjoyed as it is and usually do not support cooking it. But I am sure I can nudge them to agree with me that cheese sauces play a very significant role for most pastas. Especially, when I tasted the white truffle soft cheese, it was invariably piquant and I instantly decided that I could set it up with some sweet and mild gnocchi and the marriage will have lasting results J and so the story of Beetroot gnocchi and Castello white with Truffle cheese sauce has come into being and my dear lovely readers ……..it was a success.

CASTELLO® WHITE WITH TRUFFLE

CASTELLO® WHITE WITH TRUFFLE

The beetroot Gnocchi recipe was basically worked out looking at various methods out there, but if you want a reference and see what happens in between Indian Simmer has a nice video. Cheese sauce recipe is however, a standard recipe but I deliberately kept it very simple and did not want to twiddle with the flavour of the cheese itself.

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Let’s get cooking:

Ingredients:

Serves 4 portions

For Gnocchi

5 large boiled potatoes – Use good floury kind like Maris piper or King Edward

2 beetroots

1 Cup Plain Flour

1 Egg

For Cheese Sauce:

150 grams Castello White truffle soft Cheese

½ Cup Milk

2 Tbsp Plain Flour

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Method:

For the Gnocchi Let me warn you, it seems tricky and is a very messy job. But home-made gnocchi is always so much better than dried store-bought. The texture is entirely different.

Chop the beet into quarters, place them a sauce pan, cover the lid and let them dry roast on low flame. The moisture in the vegetable should be good enough to facilitate the cooking and should not stick to the pan.

Alternatively, place them on the baking tray and roast them in the oven at about 150 degrees. We need at least some of the juices of the beetroot to be retained. Puree the beetroots without any extra water and keep aside.

Mash the potatoes and run them through the ricer to make a smooth mash. Add the egg, beetroot puree and quarter of the flour.

Knead the dough and keep adding more flour as you knead. Use the rest of the flour only if you need. The dough will not be hard but you should be able to work with it with lots of flour on you worktop.

Divide the dough into 3 large balls. Roll it into a thick sausage shape and cut the dough further to form the final gnocchi.

Beetroot Gnocchi

Beetroot Gnocchi

 

Now, you can use a fork and run the gnocchi over it to form a shape or roll them into small balls or just leave them as it is like I have. Gives a nice rustic, homemade feel to it isn’t?

At this stage you can either refrigerate the gnocchi or freeze them untill you decide to use them.

Hand made - Beetroot Gnocchi

Beetroot Gnocchi

 

When you are ready to prepare the gnocchi, fill a deep sauce pan with water, bring it to boil and add the gnocchi . Your gnocchi is ready, as soon as they float to the top. Remove them from heat, drain the water , run them through some cold water and keep aside untill you make your sauce.

For the sauce, in a saucepan, add some unsalted butter. As it melts, add 2 tbsp. of plain flour and stir it for a minute or so, add the milk and keep stirring until there are no lumps. Now for the fun part, turn the heat to low and add the Castello  white with truffle cheese and stir until it forms a lovely silky sauce. Serve immediately, over the beetroot gnocchi and top it with some fresh ground pepper.

 

Beetroot Gnocchi - Served Cheese Sauce with truffle

Beetroot Gnocchi – Served Cheese Sauce with truffle

 

Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani and a tribute to my Grandpa

If you set the scene back to 90’s and walk into our house in Hyderabad you will find a bunch of kids and adults at the dinning table getting ready to eat. Observe closely and you will see everyone on the table including the adults, are nervous as if they were in a very serious game show. The last person to join the table is an elderly man in his white Kurta pyjama, with a television remote in his hand and a bottle of buttermilk. As he settles at the table, he maintains his stern look but does not make eye contact with anyone. The food is served and everyone is trying hard to focus on their meal, eat quickly and escape whatever is going to happen soon. But, you cannot avoid the inevitable and a deep voice cuts the silence. ‘Who is the current irrigation minister?’ is the first question put to the kids and the vein of questions follow during the course of the meal. The adults are expected to answer, when the kids fail to give the correct answer. That person who terrified us with his voice, looks and questions is my most beloved grandpa.

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A retired air force personnel, grandpa is a hero for us in the family. He enjoyed narrating stories and jokes from his service days. Although most of the times he used to burst into laughter  even before he finished the joke and we used to stand there waiting for the joke to be finished . Meanwhile, my grandmother used to get so annoyed waiting that she used to sulk and walk away. Sometimes, he used to take control of TV for hours which again annoyed my grandma. But there are times he showed how  protective and caring he could be of her that really wowed many of us. He is, just in that matter a typical indian husband who does not express his love for his wife but definitely show it when the time comes. He was very fascinated by the world affairs. He followed the news and read so much about the west that he spoke about the brands and the local brands, habits and people as if he lived there. Tinned sardines and tuna from london were his favourite.

One of the positive side effects of old age is, people get more relaxed and open up as the years pass by. Exactly, the same thing happened with my Grandpa. I was so shocked, when my son, who my grandpa calls ‘Napoleon’ said ‘ I am not afraid of Grandpa the great’ ….I was like what do you mean you are NOT afraid, everyone is scared of Grandpa 🙂 ..But then I realised the bond they had was completely different. Grandpa’s face used to lit up when he saw his great grand son. He starting showing the numerous stamps and coins he collected all his life, which he never let anyone see them, let alone touch them. Napoleaon also admired ‘Grandpa The Great’ (that’s what he calls my Grandpa) and was amaze by the fact that he was in air force. The duo even had a flying lesson via skype.

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I am dreading this years visit to India where I will not get to see grandpa anymore. The last 45 days have been very difficult for me since he passed away. I thought living far away from them and not being a part of the rituals and ceremony’s would be good in a way because I can keep myself busy in my daily routine and forget about everything.But I was wrong, being far away, you don’t get the closure you need, the wound never heals.Making plans to go to India has never been so painful.

Coming back to Grandpa and the things he loved, he had admirable passion towards food. He used to declare his desire to eat a specific dish from a specific place and sometimes at specific time. He loved his food. Fish and chicken especially were his favourites and one of them have to be cooked on sunday. He always made sure coconut rice and potato kurma was prepared on a certain day. He declared himself  Mulslim only to celebrate Ed and eat biriyani. We kid is actually  believed him to some extent. He tried all the biriyani places in Hyderabad and secunderabad. He could even tell from where the biriyani came.

On his 90th birthday today, I am sharing his favourite Hyderabadi chicken Dum Biriyani recipe. Hyderabadi biriyani is the most popular Biriyani’s ever. People from all over the world visit Hyderabad to try the Biriyani. They say it is a blend of flavours from Moughul and telugu kitchen which was invented by the Nizams. The recipe itself  is usually kept very much under covers by most chefs. So, I never got the recipe from the person whose Biriyani I liked. But I offered/pretended to help my friend’s mum in her kitchen 😝 And picked up up some tricks. Later , using the basics , I just tried and tested so may recipes untill I hit the nail (I think I did) last month. This a Kacchi Biriyani where the meat is marinated at least for 5 hours and layered raw with rice which is cooked on ‘Dum’ ie., steam.


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This recipe makes enough biriyani for 10 people.

Ingredients:

For the marinade: 

1.5 kilos Chicken

5 Tbsp Yogurt

3 Tbsp Chilly powder

4 Tsp Cumin powder

4 Tsp Coriander powder

2 Tsp salt

4 Tsp Garam Masala powder

3 Tsp Ginger Garlic Paste

For The Rice  : 

750 Grams Rice

12 Cloves

12 Cardamom

3 Tsp B lack Cumin

6 Bay Leaves

6 Cinnamon sticks

5 Star Anise

5 Mace

For the rest of the method : 

3 Onions

Orange Food Color

Juice of 1 lemon

Few strands of Saffron soaked in 2 Tsps of milk

8 Green Chillies

5 Cloves

5 Cardamon

5 Cinnamon

3 Mace

3 Star Anise

4 Bay Leaves

1 Tsp  Black Cumin

5 TBsp Oil

Oil for frying Onions

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Method : 

Slice the Onions and deep fry them in oil till they turn light brown in color. Keep them aside.

Boil 1Ltr water with all the spices from the ingredients listed  for the rice. Let the spices boil in the water with the lid closed for at least 10-15 minutes. The idea is to extract all the flavours into the water.

Once the water is ready, add another 500 ml of water and the rice.

Add salt and 1 TBsp oil or purified butter.  Let the Rice cook for about 8 minutes or until the rice is half-cooked.

Drain the rice and cool it instantly by running cold water to stop it from any more cooking. keep the rice aside.

In a huge vessel , heat 5 Tbsp oil, add  half of the fried onions, green chillies, spices and saute them for 2 minutes

Add the marinated chicken and saute it again for not more than 2 minutes.

For the next few steps, keep the flame really low.

Remove all the chicken from heat except some to form the first layer.

Place the rice as the second layer, garnish the layer with 1 tsp of lemon juice, few fried onions.

Repeat layering chicken and rice alternatively while garnishing the fried onions and lemon juice.

On the top layer, sprinkle the saffron along with the milk . The color will be absorbed by the food vertically giving it a nice multi coloured rice.

Do the same with the orange food color. Sprinkle it on the top layer.

Now the tricky Bit – DUM

Dum is essentially cooking on trapped pressure or steam. In out kitchens we can use various tools to achieve this.

Keep the flame medium. Place a huge pancake pan and then place the vessel you are the biriyani in. This is moderate the heat and avoid the bottom getting burnt since it’s not direct heat.

Cover the lid and secure it with kitchen foil so the steam does not escape.Place a heavy utensil or a brink on the lid to make sure the steam does not escape.

Let the biriyani cook on dum for 45 mins. Check if the rice and meat has cooked. Pop everything back on if it isn’t and give it another 10 minutes. Serve the biriyani hot with raita. And when you serve make sure you  do not mix the layers . The proper way to serve Biriyani is in its layers.

Enjoy  making this mouth-watering ish from Hyderabad and do share your biriyani pictures. I would love to see how your Biriyani turned out an if you have any other tips to share.

xx