Chicken Kulthi Curry [Kutt ka Salan]

Some dishes sound absolutely weird, but when you taste them, they are so amazingly delicious. This is dish is one such dish too. So, initially, when I heard from my husband that some lentils are cooked with Chicken and the curry tastes amazing, I would just think that he likes the taste because he grew up eating certain foods and therefore likes them but cooking Chicken with lentils is such a waste of Chicken.

Now, let me get to the root of the “Dish story”. The lentils used in this are horse gram and though I make everything from scratch and trust me, it isn’t very difficult to do, but back home in Bangalore, they get it from horse stables. Yeah, you read that right. The horse gram is soaked and boiled and the extra water in which it’s boiled is what they get home while the horse gram is served to the horses. That liquid with little horse gram is used to cook chicken and makes this delicious dish.

I had never tried this dish in Bangalore, and honestly, I never looked forward to trying it either since it never sounded so tempting. But one fine day, we find the horse gram daal in our local grocery store. Mr. Parveez sure got excited, but this meant we had to start from scratch and we had no idea how to get the daal at that cooking stage. That’s when one of my sister in law’s suggested that I should soak the daal overnight and then boil it with turmeric powder, cumin powder, salt, and Red chili powder until soft. Though she asked me to use the water with 25% of the daal and discard the rest. I decided on keeping the daal and grinding it to the paste.

Tellichery Biryani

This recipe also happens to be from Kerala and is the second Biryani from this state that I tried out. Kerala is a state of distinct flavor. I know every state has their own flavors that are distinct and are easily distinguishable from the use of their local grown spices with methods of cooking different cuisines and also availability of local vegetation. Not forgetting their natural climate. Isn’t it amazing how every place has different things popular during different seasons and few things that are good to eat during all seasons. Hats off to generations before us who tried, tested and made so many different varieties of food that we just need to follow. And though, it all seems walk in the park, we still do not follow those age old recipes because we find them too time consuming in our busy lives today.

Thalassery town of Northern Kerala has a unique blend Arabian, Persian, Indian and European styles of cooking as a result as its long history as Maritime Trading Post. Tellichery is an anglicized name for Thalassery. The original name of Thalassery has been restored post Independence. Although both refer to the same place, the Tellichery Biryani is different from the Thalassery Biryani. This one is a little simpler version.

This Biryani does not use the Jeerakshala/Kaima Rice like the Thalassery Biryani and should be cooked with Long grain Basmati Rice. This recipe also displays the influence of Mughals in its flavors but seems to be slightly revised. Going through the ingredients, I do not find any ingredient that would distinguish this dish as a dish from Kerela. The recipe makes me feel that its made by some settlers who still did not adapt to the flavors of Kerela cuisine and were still new to incorporating the spice or certain ingredients to the dish. In all, this dish is great for all Biryani lovers, specially for Beginners. Therefore, if you happen to be someone new at making Biryani, this is for you. An easy, delicious and simple way of making a delicious Biryani.

Chhilli Daal Chicken Curry

Chicken as a curry is made in so many varieties that sometimes it amazes me how people from different regions in just one state make so many different dishes, with every dish varying in flavor from the other. The basis of making these curries are basically the availability of ingredients in that region.

I am from the northern west part of India, Rajasthan. Its a desert part so every time we make a Chicken curry, its mostly Yogurt based, which I think is because back in the days there weren’t many ways of getting any fresh vegetables, like Tomatoes and since water was always scarce, growing your own was difficult as well. Since there weren’t any fresh veggies, we barely have any Chicken dishes that are cooked with vegetables.

On the other hand, Mr. Parveez is from the southern part of India and there is loads of greenery and fresh vegetables are always available, so most of the dishes are tomato based and also use a lot of other green vegetables and thus we get loads of chicken curry which aren’t just protein rich but also have loads of fiber. Honestly, I feel my in laws eat very healthy. There is always a green veggie curry for morning breakfast and the lunch and dinner also comprises of green leafy vegetables cooked as a curry or mixed in with other veggies or Daal or cooked with Chicken or Meat.

This Chhilli Daal happens to be one such curry. These green beans are also known as Surti Papdi Lilva or Valor Lilva. We get the frozen pack here and they aren’t much big in size either. Addition to that, I also have to clean and peel it when I bring them home which is a tedious job. I guess I feel it more because in India, they are bigger in size, more flavorful and on top of everything they are peeled by the vegetable vendors which makes it so convenient.

This Chicken curry is just so delicious and nutritious, one of my Mother in law’s favorite as well and honestly, mine too. This is my mother in law’s recipe, only that I made some changes to it which she loves as well, I just made it more greener and nutritious. The curry has Fried onions that are further cooked with Ginger garlic paste and spices. Once the Chicken is added, wait till its half cooked, add in the daal/beans and further add the Tomato-coconut puree and cook further for a few minutes. Usually at this point the original recipe for this curry is concluded. But the changes I made to the recipe are that I added methi leaves/ fenugreek leaves and Dill leaves. With Methi, I add fresh if I have it and if not then I use Kasoori Methi. In both cases, the flavor of the dish is not compromised. Serve it with Plain boiled Rice or Roti or Parantha. We love it all ways and I am sure you will too. This is something different and completely worth trying. Enjoy!!!

Moradabadi Chicken Biryani

Though synonymous with Indian cuisine and a part of specialty, the biryani is regarded as an import from West Asia, more specifically, Persia. The word biryani is thought to originate from the Persian word “birian” which means ‘fried before cooking’ or “birinj” meaning ‘rice’. The rice is washed and soaked and is cooked in ghee with whole spices and then cooked in boiling water. This imparts a mild nutty flavor to the rice and also helps rice retain their shape after being boiled.

The recipe of a good biryani has been simple, rice and meat that is cooked in spices and other ingredients set in layers. Traditionally, long grain white rice is preferred option with biryani. In south India, local varieties like kaima or jeeraka shala  provide their own distinct flavor and texture to the dish. The meats vary from goat, sheep, poultry, beef, eggs to seafood as well. Fragrance heightens its appeal, you can add Kewra water, saffron or Rose water . The cooking technique can be Kacchi Biryani, where the meat is layered with raw rice or Pakki Biryani, where cooked rice and meat are layered together.

Legend has it that Timur the Lame, the Turkic conqueror and founder of the Timurid Empire, was responsible for the entry of biryani to India. His armies would consume a hearty diet of pots of rice, spices and meats that were slow cooked in hot buried pits which were dug out at meal time. While biryani may very well have been part of a war diet, there was always a certain romance associated with it.

Stories also claim that Mumtaz Mahal, the inspiration behind India’s most celebrated monument and symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, had something to do with it. It is believed that Mumtaz Mahal once visited the Mughal army’s barracks in Moradabad and was dismayed by the dire conditions and poor nutrition endured by the soldiers. She ordered the cook to prepare a wholesome meal that blended meat and rice. And thus, they say, the biryani was born. As the history speaks, Moradabad, was founded in 1625 and named after Murad Baksh, son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Therefore, we can kind of believe that this recipe is close to the original recipe of Queen Mumtaz Mahal. The Moradabadi is typically low on spices and high on flavor.

Whether it was the Nawabs of Oudh (Awadh) in Lucknow or the Nizams of Hyderabad, the biryani blossomed into regional variations wherever it went. This Biryani comes with its own unique flavor. Enjoy!!!

Salem Biryani

 The word Biryani is derived from the Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj, the Persian word for rice. There are various theories related to the origin of this scrumptious dish. Biryani originated from Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals.

I love reading about the Mughal Era and its food in the history. Its amazing to read about so much variety of food flavors that they added to the Indian cuisine…. Gulab Jamuns, Jalebis, Imartis, and so many other rich desserts and numerous curries and the most amazing out of all are Biryanis…so many varieties, so fragrant, so delicious and so different from one another. The best part was that they always incorporated local spices with their Biryani recipes coming up with distinguishably different flavors each time. Each region has a completely different way of making Biryani from another.

The state of Tamil Nadu has some really celebrated Biryanis, most of which have evolved in the state’s smaller towns. A beautiful example is Ambur Biryani. As the folklore says, Salem Biryani actually developed in a particular small hotel, a military hotel to be precise. Its funny but most of the restaurants serving Non vegetarian Biryani in Tamil Nadu are referred to as “Military Hotel”.

The best thing I like about these South Indian Biryani is that the ingredients are always pretty simple, nothing fancy, nothing that requires you to urgently run to a store and despite the simplicity, the outcome is always so deliciously fancy.

Methi Chicken Curry

This curry is one of my most initial curries. My love for cooking during my earlier cooking days never had curries on the menu. I have always been more of a Biryani and Kebab person. It was much later that I started making curries and Methi chicken happened to be one of the first ones that I tried following a recipe I read in the book.

Now just to be clear, my mom does not make Methi Chicken, so honestly, I had no idea whatsoever if this dish will even come out and be edible. The dish really surpassed all my expectations and it became a must for special and not so special occasions, but with time, as I improved in my cooking skills, I felt few changes here and there would make it more flavorful.

The initial recipe required only tomatoes for Gravy, which I feel if made a few hours before tends to get a little dry. See, it’s simple logic, protein does tend to absorb moisture in the curry over time, therefore if you make a curry always make slightly saucy. Even with curries that are supposed to be thick in gravy, while making the curry should not be kept too thick, specially if you are cooking a few hours in advance. Once the curry is cooked, or for that matter when you cook any dish, it tends to get thicker as it cools down. Therefore, to make the consistency of the gravy a little thinner, I add Yogurt along with the tomatoes. Secondly, most recipes, actually almost all recipes where I see methi leaves as an ingredient for the dish, the recipes use kasoori Methi and as much as I like the way Kasoori Methi works its magic in curries, it can never beat fresh green Methi leaves. From my point of view, for curries where methi leaves are one of the main ingredients, we should use the fresh ones as opposed to the dry kasoori methi. Curries such as Butter Chicken or Malai Kofta require kasoori methi since its only needed for flavor enhancement and balancing the creamy texture of those curries.

I marinate the chicken in this recipe, for around 15-20 minutes, which is enough time for you to finish chopping the onions and start with the initial process of cooking this curry. A wonderful recipe and one of the best Methi Chicken curry that you can ever have. Enjoy!!!

Dhaniya Pepper Chicken

With necessity being the mother of invention, I believe Kitchen is where the most inventions take place, some like Edison where we work hard to achieve the desired results and others like Newton where the apple just falls giving ideas to work on.

This dish is more like studying gravity…LOLzzz. It wasn’t something I was planning on making but it just happened and the result was so good with so little effort that its worth sharing. At times, when you start working in the kitchen and you all of a sudden remember 30 minutes before dinner time that one of your children would not enjoy and eat the Biryani you made, regardless of how much effort you have put in because he ain’t a Rice fan and though he might still eat to appreciate the effort you have put in but it will be equivalent to see him eat raw green grass …Yes!!! that’s my older child for you. He loves my food, but not a big fan of Biryani and no matter how hard I try, he only likes two kinds out of the 40 Biryanis I make and to make sure he is happy camper at dinner table, I am always trying to make these fancy and not so fancy curries for him when the whole family hogs on to Biryani.

Invention of this curry was on one of those days when I realized 30 minutes before dinner time that I don’t have his curry ready and that’s when this happened. The curry is pretty delicious for the time and effort I had put in and isn’t that the best thing we like about any dish. I used Dry Red chili with cumin in the oil for an initial flavor, followed by Garlic, followed by chopped onions, green chilies and loads of coriander leaves. You can always go easy on green chilies or omit the Dry red chilies altogether if you aren’t a big fan of food that’s too hot and spicy at the same time. It’s just that being Indian, we have to have that extra kick in our curries and somewhere I feel its kind of important.

Along with the spiked up Red chilies and green chilies, I also added Black pepper powder and White pepper powder with tomatoes and Yogurt. We all know how strong Black Pepper is. Any dish that contains Black pepper always displays its unique and prominent taste, except if there are other spices like Mace or Star Anise that over power it. Along with that, what also accentuates the flavor is Coriander leaves. It’s a wonderful recipe that can come very handy when you want to impress family or friends in little time, without going crazy over too much grinding and chopping or prep work. Serve with Roti or Parantha. Enjoy!!!

Hyderabadi Chooza Curry

This is a Chicken curry influenced from the era of Hyderabadi Nizams. I came across this while reading a book on Hyderabadi Nizams which mentioned how their culture, tradition and also the food was so much similar to the Mughals.

The reason why this dish is called a “Chooza” curry and not a “chicken” curry is because in those days curries were made out of baby Rooster’s meat, which was called Murgha or Chooza, it had more meat. Chicken on the other hand was “Desi Murghi”, it was more of bones and less meat and it was mostly used for making Biryani. So, this curry was made with the meaty chicken, hence “Chooza curry”.

The Hyderabadi Nizams were known for their rich choice of jewels, clothes, decorations and food. Even now, if you ever happen to eat Hyderabadi food, you can taste the richness of Ghee, Butter, Cream, Dry fruits and Khoya. Most dishes always have coconut as one of the ingredients as well, which also adds a lot of richness and creaminess. I have always enjoyed cooking Hyderabadi cuisine. I love the use of whole spices in dishes and Hyderabadi cuisine uses so much variety of them that as a cook it makes you feel really good, working with so many different spices and experiencing the fragrance while you cook.

This dish can surely please your guests and its a perfect dish for grand dinners and special occasions. Goes well with parantha or Sheermal.

Hara Murgh Masala Chicken Curry

I love making Chicken curries. they are just every non vegetarian family’s favorite. Most families have a family favorite that is always on the menu for special occasions and popular between friends and distant family. But every once in while, we all need to add a twist to regular curries and come up with something different.

I have tried many different hara masala curries in restaurants and in fact my Mother-in-law makes amazing Hara Masala Gosht, which is something Mr. Parveez cooks for specl occasion like mother’s day and my birthday. Believe it or not, I never got curious to ask him for the recipe and I just let it be one his specials.

So, this recipe was just a quick one that I tried one fine day, when I was all confused and wanted to make a chicken curry, which was quick, didn’t require much effort and was at the same time delicious. This curry is great for beginners too.

Ambur Biryani

Aambur, is a town in the district of Vellore in Northern Tamil Nadu. Its a signature Biryani is made originally from zeera sambha rice.

As the story goes, Ambur/Vaniyambadi biryani is a type of biryani cooked in neighboring towns of Ambur & Vaniyambadi in the Vellore district in the north-eastern part of Tamil Nadu, which has a high Muslim population. It was introduced by the Nawabs of Arcot who once ruled the place. There are also some stories that believe that Mughal soldiers once while they were down in the southern region of India, craved Biryani and ended up with this recipe as they had to make up their favorite dish with locally available spices and rice, hence the use of Zeera sambha.

The Ambur biryani is accompanied with ‘dalcha’, khatte baingan curry or raitha. It has a distinctive aroma and is considered light on the stomach. The usage of spice is moderate and curd is used as a gravy base. It also has a higher ratio of meat to rice.

Now continuing with my story, as most of you who follow me know that I love tryong new recipes of Biryani. So this one day, while watching an Indian TV channel, my hubby, Mr. Parveez  came across a restaurant serving Ambur Biryani and it happened to be a Friday morning, [every Friday without a miss, I cook biryani for dinner] and he facetimes me from his office while I am out for grocery shopping, “Baccha , can you look up for Ambur Biryani and make that today?”

While I am always happy to try something new, I also get upset if I have to rearrange my shopping list. To my surprise, when I found the recipe, it didn’t use any fancy ingredients and I basically had them all at home. Making the Biryani was so easy, that I looked through the recipe twice after being done to make sure I wasn’t missing on anything. Its definitely pleases the crowd and easy to make too. So, if you are a Biryani fan like me, this is a must try.