Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Holly Days--Strawberry and Peach Semifreddo

It's brrr cold outside. Christmas music resounds. The smell of freshly cut pine fills the room. Holiday decor anoints the walls. It feels good to be home for the holidays! Those memories make the season come alive. Twenty five Christmases count for a plethora of rememberances. Oops ... Twenty four years... Last year it was in a small overheated apartment. Reluctantly celebrated with a small Douglas fir.  A small tree sparsely festooned. But Christmas in another house is as good as any. Spirits prevail, festive meals sustain and being together takes on a different meaning. 

This year we make Christmas cake, kulkuls, cookies. Enough to fill neighbors platters and our waistlines. The cake is an all day affair. Golden brown caramel bubbles and cools. Butter softened just right. Eggs, separated and sitting at room temperature. Candied citron sits in a pool of cognac. Tins buttered and lined with parchment. The mixer is put to test, whisking and whipping in a frenzy. The cake bakes for two long hours as it tempting aroma wafts through the house makes mouth water. A bite of warm cake and tea transports me to warm Bombay Christmases of yore. 

Kulkul making is a family affair. They are small curly nubbins of sugar coated delight! Crunchy exteriors with soft insides, a hint of coconut and sugar. They really should be minuscule curlicues but ours are pretty large curls! The Gonsalves family hands are not the most adept at kulkul making, but definitely the most enthusiastic and innovative. Instead of using fine-toothed combs we substitute wider tined forks. To me they make for a more toothsome kulkul! But then I'm not the expert here, just the expediter! In no time at all we have a ton of fairly small curls to fry. Browned kulkuls are coated with sugar syrup that looks like frost when hard. A perfect winter snack!  

We go for Midnight Mass or as my ma-in-law puts it 'real mass' as many parishes hold their masses earlier in the evening. Presents are ripped open. Eyes droop as we trundle off to bed. Xmas morning is spent happily talking to family all over the world. And then we get to work! It is to be Xmas lunch but as we surface too late, so dinner it is! Just as we talked to family the world over, we dine in the same fashion! The youngest drinkmeister sets the scene with a potent gin cocktail! It creeps up surreptiously, making for loud voices and incessant laughter!  We begin with Mexican corn soup and fried tortilla slivers. Then go to England for chive popovers. Swedish hassleback potatoes lie under a Swiss cheese blanket. Across the ocean to the Middle East for roasted cumin-dusted butternut squash and fennel and then an detour to Israel for grilled lamb chops. We end with dolce from Italy...strawberry and peach semifreddo. 

The semifreddo is not easy! The recipe looks deceptively simple. But as I start I find myself using a dozen different bowls and pans! I am astounded by the pile in the sink and hope the effort is warranted! Strawberries are cooked and puréed. So are the peaches, which means the food processor gets  washed repeatedly! Eggs are separated and whipped. Cream needs its own cool bowl. You see what I mean! I do want to give the recipe a  shot so I persevere. The strawberry filling sits in the freezer alongside the peach. I have to wait for one layer to freeze before I can pour on the other! I can only hope the family appreciates this convoluted effort

Strawberry and Peach Semifreddo
Serves 6 to 8
2 cups  Strawberries
1 1/4 cup Sugar
4 tablespoons Lemon juice
2 cups Peaches, fresh or tinned
1 cup Cream
2 Egg whites

Wash, dry and trim strawberries. Cut them into quarters.

Place strawberries in a pan with 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Cook over medium heat till the fruit bubbles.

Lower heat and cook for 10 minutes.

Take fruit off the heat and cool.

If you use fresh peaches, peel, remove pit and cut into 1/4 inch slices. If you use tinned peaches, drain well and slice as advised.

Put peaches in a pan along with 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Cook on medium heat till fruit bubbles.

Lower heat and cook for 15 minutes.

Keep fruit aside to cool.

Purée cooled fruit in food processor. Rinse processor bowl after strawberries.  The fruit purée sneed to stay separate and pure. Pour purees into separate bowls.

Add the 1/4 cup sugar to cream and whip in a cool bowl till stiff peaks form.

Add half of the whipped cream to strawberry purée and the other half to peach purée.

Fold in the cream gently.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. 

Divide between the purees and gently fold the egg whites in. 

Line a 9 inch loaf pan with Saran Wrap so the folds go over the edge of the pan.

Pour strawberry purée into prepared pan and freeze for 1 hour.

Keep peach purée in mixing bowl. Put the bowl in the freezer. 

After an hour has passed, gently ladle the peach purée over strawberry purée.

Cover with Saran and freeze for 5 to 6 hours. 

When you are ready to serve, unmold semifreddo onto a platter. Remove Saran Wrap. Cut 1/2 inch slices and serve.


I used tinned peaches. I'm sure fresh ones will have a more pronounced flavor.

You could interchange fruit layers. 

You could also use other fruit purees too. Your choice.

Dessert is served!! Needless to say we are pleasantly stuffed! The couch is the perfect for a nap. And we succumb to its call. Sleep overcomes a few in minutes! Another Xmas overtakes us with yet more wonderful memories, good food, but most of all ....gratefulness to the man upstairs! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Old Favorite--Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm in the mood to butter, whisk, stir and bake. As we decorate the tree, Rehan plays Christmas music. The house smells of freshly cut pine. Holiday decor gets me into the mood. I will make Christmas cake, kulkuls, neuris and of course cookies. And as most Xmas cookie recipes have some kind of nutmeat, I know I must make some non-life threatening ones for my two kids. Both are deathly allergic to any kind of nut! Hence Rehan is not very adventurous in his cookie requests so I make his favorite...chocolate chip cookies. They have taken up permanent residence in our house, occupying a large Tupperware container on top of the fridge. 

Since he has been so allergic from childhood, Rehan shies away from any food he isn't sure of. At school he could never eat birthday cupcakes or donuts or even home made treats for fear of an adverse reaction. At ice cream shops great care is taken making sure the scoop hasnt touched any concoction with nuts. And inspite of all precautions, mishaps occur. So we make double sure and hope for the best!

These cookies are a mish mash of several cookie recipes. Since I make them every three weeks or so I can recite the ingredients ad verbatim. I can scoop and sift without a second thought and the culinary sequences fall into place with little or no effort. I can bake the cookies in my sleep. I can make them big or small. I can double up this recipe and make enough to feed an army! But I cannot eat a single one! Years of making them will do that to you!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 24 large cookies or 30 to 40 small ones

2 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached Flour
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
3/4 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Sift flour, baking soda and salt on to paper. Keep aside.

Put butter, brown sugar and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. If you are using a hand mixer, put butter and sugars in a large wide bowl.

Beat till soft and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time.

Add vanilla extract and beat well. The mix might look like it's separating but that's fine.

Slowly add the sifted ingredients into butter mixture. 

When it's all incorporated add the chocolate chips, whirl for 10 seconds and stop.

Heat oven to 350F.

Line sheet pans with Silpat or parchment paper.

Drop cookie dough onto sheet pans using two tablespoon. Take a lime- sized ball of dough with one spoon and use the second to drop it on to the sheet. The cookies should be 1 1/2 inch apart. The balls do not have to be rounded or perfect. The cookies will bake just fine. If you are making large cookies use an ice scream scoop to measure the dough. If you plan to make small cookies, the lime-size dough ball and two spoon method. I use three 18x13 inch sheet pans. If you have just one, start with that and prepare the rest on parchment sheets that you could transfer to the sheet pan. Cookie placement depends on the size of your sheet pan.

Bake for 13 minutes.

Remove from oven, cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack.

Repeat with the other sheet pans.

Put cooled cookies in a tin or plastic container.

Watch them disappear.


My mixer of choice is a KitchenAid.  You could easily use a hand mixer too. Follow the recipe as directed.

I hope I explained the sheet pan dilemma as best as I could. You can use any size. Please use a silicone liner, parchment paper or wax paper.

I use Trader Joe's semi sweet chocolate chips. Ghirardelli works fine too.

You could bake all trays at one time in a convection oven but I can't help you there as I haven't the faintest idea how to do that!

These are foolproof cookies. Remember the butter has to be at room temperature but not too soft. If the butter is too soft the cookies come out flat not domed. And if they turn out flat they still taste just as good!!

Rehan watches me bake all afternoon. Nothing I have made remotely tempts him. He smiles at his stash in Tupperware. The box on the fridge gets a work out almost every afternoon and then again on poker nights!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Chip Of the Block--Kringle

I flip through a supermarket flyer and a recipe jumps out at me. An unexpected gem buried in a myriad of advertisements. Then again friends are the same. Treasures amidst the flotsam of life. Many years ago I met an amazing woman, one of the many mothers in my daughter's kindergarten class and as soon as we got talking I knew we would be friends for life. Rosa came into my life to stay. Not content with being a great neighbor, She is the epitome of a good friend...one who will bend over backwards to help you. One who will soothe the pain with kind words worth their weight in gold. She has always been there for me, whether it is selfless thoughts and deeds, but mostly the warmth and love of her friendship. We have raised our kids on the same street for twenty five tumultuous years.  We commiserate, we celebrate, we coexist on our street, neighbors picking up mail, exercising, laughing and sharing the worlds in our kitchens. 

Over countless meals of Dominican delights like tostones, beans and rice, pernil, Swiss raclette, fondue and her wonderfully yeasty version of challah, we have cemented our relationship. She is responsible for my addiction to South American espresso!  Rosa takes me down a culinary road I would've never walked on. I venture to emulate her skills to a much lesser degree! As my kids will verify, my rice and beans never taste like hers. Then again she eats Indian food like a true Indian. No tempered down spices for her!! And she will enthusiastically eat any concoction put in front of her. There was that instance when I made a thali and Glenn jokingly insisted that she had to eat with her hands! Unaccustomed to doing that she hesitated at first, but mastered the art of eating with her fingers in a few trys!!! As I said she is redoubtable. And I love her for that!!!

I make Christmas cookies to share. Rosa will get the lion's share.  This Christmas with both our houses back in shape, we celebrate our camaraderie as always with love and of course many meals!

Makes 35 to 40

1/2 cup Butter, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
3 cups Flour
3/4 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup dried Cranberries

1 cup Confectioners Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract
A pinch of ground Nutmeg
3 tablespoons Milk

Beat the softened butter on high speed for 30 seconds in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt and beat till combined.

Now add the egg and vanilla extract and mix till incorporated.

Start by adding the flour a cup at a time. Alternate the cup of flour with a little buttermilk. Beat well till the dough comes together.

Chop the dried cranberries into small pieces and add to the dough. Mix again till they are well distributed into the dough. 

Divide dough in half. Place each half in plastic bags and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

When you are ready take dough out of the fridge.

Heat oven to 425F.

Dust the counter generously with flour.

Pat the dough into a rectangle. Roll out into a 10x 5 rectangle.

Slice rectangle vertically  into 15 or 16 ribbons, each 1/2 inch wide.

Roll each ribbon gently on a floured surface.

Make a U shape with the roll. Take the two ends and cross them over.

Twist the ends once.

Carefully lift the two ends and bring them over to the lower portion of the cookie. It should look like a pretzel.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Do the same with all the ribbons. Place the kringle one inch apart on the baking sheet.
Repeat with other half of dough. You might have to use three sheets depending on how many kringle can fit on a baking sheet. I had 12 to 15 on one baking sheet

Bake pretzel shapes for 5 minutes or till the tops are tinged brown.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Make icing by whisking all the ingredients till they are thick and runny .

Place the wire rack over a sheet pan or newspaper to catch the icing dribbles. It makes cleaning easier!

Drizzle icing over the kringles using a teaspoon.

Rosa is ready with a laugh , a hug , a tissue, a helping hand and an ever-present smile. She has talked of moving many times.  If ever she does she will never know the desolation she leaves behind.  She is tenacious, generous to a fault, the one you want on your side in battle! Together we have endured floods, storms, both physical and mental trials and tribulations. We both emerge stronger and resilient. I cannot imagine my life without her.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Spreading the Love--Roasted Pear, Blue cheese and Cranberry Salad


My family celebrates with gusto. Life, love and special birthdays...always with much amusement and the ever-present cornucopia of food! ... Milestones are regularly documented with a sporting activity, imbibing and feasting. So we head to sunny Florida to raise our glasses to John R and John P. Both dear friends. Both have birthdays a week apart. The sport of choice is golf!!  And the lucky men are treated to offerings of bagels and beer on the 10th hole! They lunch on tongue sandwiches and Kerala beef frankies. All this frenetic activity usually leads to afternoon snoozes. Their evenings end with the requisite glasses of amber-colored liquids followed by decadent dinners. 

I make dinner one night. Truffle cheese with crackers. A roasted eggplant and feta dip with pretzel chips.

We crack open several bottles of wine. The sit-down portion starts with a roasted pear salad, followed by herbed lamb chops, Boursin mashed potatoes, sautéed snap peas and tomatoes with garlic.

A caramel apple pecan pie ends the meal. A simplified dinner considering I don't work in my kitchen. The Florida house has one I love to work in, making all things food-related a breeze! For me planning the meal is always half the fun. I  daydream of meat and veggie combinations. I would like to make something I haven't cooked before. And yet that thread of trepidation unravels.... What if the meat doesn't taste the way it should? What if I cannot grill the lamb chops? It a new recipe. One I haven't tried before. Will they like the salad? I mentally will my expected company to be excitable lab rats!!!!! Into the deep end it is. I blend. I chop. I get set to travel with marinated meat and a head full of experiments.

The roasted pear salad is an abbreviated version of Ina Garten's roasted pear salad. But I make the adjustments for ease and convenience. And those cuts work out just fine. So here goes!

Makes 6 servings

3 almost ripe Pears
1 Lemon, sliced in half
1 cup Blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup dried Cranberries
3 cups Mesclun or Baby greens
1/3 cup Olive oil
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black pepper

Heat the oven to 350F.

Slice pears in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.

Cut a small slice off the bottom of each half pear so it sits without wobbling.

Brush the pears with cut lemon, squeezing as you brush. This way the pears will not turn brown.

Place them in baking dish so they sit separated. The size of the baking dish depends on the pears. Pears should not be crowded in but have some breathing room. 

Mix blue cheese crumbles and cranberries in a bowl.

Mound pears with blue cheese mixture. 

Place in oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until the tops are light brown and crusty.

Make a vinaigrette using the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. 

Just before you serve, toss greens in vinaigrette.

Plate a large handful of dressed green in shallow bowl. 

Arrange a roasted pear on greens and serve.


 The roasted pears could be made earlier in the day. How you serve them is your choice...room temperature or warm from the oven. Both taste really good.

Any pear could be used. I use Bosc or Anjou.
Please substitute canned pear halves if you have fresh fruit allergies. Drain well and pat dry before you top them with blue cheese mix. Bake for 15 minutes. 

I used blue cheese crumbles but feel free to substitute any flavorful blue cheese and make your own crumbles.

Salad is a hit!! Oohs and aahs resound. I know the rest of the meal will please too! After all it is a spread of love and happiness!!!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Turkey Trot--Leek Parsnip and Carrot in Cream

Which is the most popular day of the year in our house?? More than Christmas, more than birthdays? Thanksgiving of course!! The joy of anticipating of roasted turkey, weeks planning the spread and it is always a spread, the shopping and of course the prep work. All these steps are moot to the general well being of a festive day! It's not just about the meal, but also tradition!  Of sitting around a communal table, of meaningful thanks for god-given gifts, but mostly about being together. Thirty years in the US  is enough time to make our traditions. And we love those dearly. Old photographs are reminders of past repasts, turkeys on platters, on thalis (how could I do that)  and one badly hacked version too! It brings on laughter when I see these incongruities. Tears when I envision my parents at my table. Turkey dinner was one of their favorite meals.  And happiness because I no longer have to carry the culinary burden, that I have an enthusiastic and very capable daughter by my side. 

Shauna and I make short shrift of lengthy tasks. She halves Brussels sprouts, while I peel sweet potatoes. She sautes veggies for dressing while I make a parsnip and carrot bake. She mashes potatoes while I make cranberry sauce. She rolls out pie crusts while I cut apples for the filling. In sync and on the ball. The turkey has been marinating and is well massaged for three days.. Yes I am the main masseuse. And I am reminded often to carry out my task. It is an enormous 14 pounder. Enough to feed the many invisible mouths at our table! Well... It will make for sumptuous leftovers!!! Which was the directive from the help!

The oven blazes. The turkey browns, blanketed with bacon rashers, giving new meaning to the words turkey bacon. It soon picked off. The roasters shuffle begins. Stuffing goes in first, followed by the foil-covered parsnip bake. Oven racks get rearranged for the turkey. The bottom rack is reserved for apple pie. 

We chug pumpkin beer and play cards as we wait for our vittles. The big bird, well bronzed, exits the oven. And the plethora of sides go in for a warm up. The table is laid with the largest plates we have. Turkey takes up the pride of place at the table. Mashed Yukon Gold potatoes ooze butter and creme fraiche. Sweet potatoes swim in butter, lemon and tons of black pepper. Corn and pearl onions are lightly coated in cream. Sausage and corn bread dressing gets a crusty topcoat. Roasted Brussels sprouts develop a crunchy patina. Tart cranberry sauce is riddled with orange zest. Gravy benefits from deep brown roasted onions. And the leek, parsnip and carrot bake bubbles away. An excellent Brunello gets uncorked. And the table groans!

Leek Parsnip and Carrots in Cream
Serves 6

2 Leeks
2 Parsnips
2 Carrots
1 tablespoon Butter
1/2 cup Cream
1 tablespoon Tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Black Pepper

Trim and wash leeks. Slice vertically in half.

Using only white and light green parts, cut the leeks into 2 inch pieces. Separate

Trim the tops off parsnips and carrots. Peel and cut them on a bias into 1/4 inch slices.

Bring 4 cups of water to boil. Season with a large pinch of kosher salt.

Add parsnips to boiling water and cook for 6 to 8 minutes till done. Drain onto a paper towel.

Do the same to the carrots. 

In a nonstick pan heat the butter.

Add leeks and sauté till golden brown.

Mix cream, Dijon mustard and roughly chopped tarragon in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir to mix.

Heat oven to 350F.

Arrange leeks parsnips and carrots in an oven-proof dish.

Pour cream mixture over veggies. 

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and serve hot or warm.


This bake doesn't taste good at room temperature. It should be served hot or warm at best.

Thyme or sage is a good substitute for tarragon.

It is a great accompaniment for lamb or pork. 

And so the eating season begins! Turkey gets dwarfed by multiple sides on my plate. One helping is as much as I can muster. I leave room for pie... And I am truly thankful as it is the best version of apple pie to have graced our table. Shauna has done herself proud!

Another day another chapter in my kitchen. Leftovers tell another story. White bread, cranberry sauce, stuffing, turkey slices, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, leeks and parsnips, corn and gravy..... all the fixings in one big messy mile-high pile....The obligatory Thanksgiving sandwich is the way to go!!! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chicken Biryani

I take a sabbatical from the scene of my crime. And a three week hiatus from writing! But more importantly, days of not thinking about daily cooking. Every morning waking up to a surprise on my plate. And that is rejuvenating for my soul and stomach. But all good things come to an end and I am back where I belong, jet lagged but ready to don my apron. 

In the fridge  I find stray remnants of frozen meals. I unearth petrified veggies, sitting in their green soupy slime. I throw out meat covered in fuzz. Three weeks away from the fridge makes for a thorough clean. But the beer disappears. Rehan manages my absence with a liquid diet!!!

I choose to cook a biryani...Hyderabadi style. I am inspired when I sample one in at the Golconda Bowl. It comes in a small handi, oozing flavor. Accompanied by raita and a mirchi ka salan ??? Salan? That's a first for me. I am informed of this  coupling by the Hyderabadis at my table. The biryani is everything I want it to be. Fluffy long grain rice, speckled with saffron, smothered with fried onions, and a bottom layer of  masala-coated mutton. It has the right amount of spicy heat. I try some with raita. And then with the salan. The latter is an acquired taste. I'm not sure it is for me. I abandon the salan. I pick a nalli or marrow bone with my fingers. The mutton is cooked to perfection. It falls off the bone and into my mouth. There is a taste revelation in eating meat cooked on the bone. Especially a nalli. Your teeth and tongue make for the best utensils as you pick the bone clean. Every crevasse can be manipulated with your tongue and the marrow sucked out with a loud slurp! If this grosses you out, move on! If it reminds you of an enjoyable past memory, you know what I mean!

I first come across this recipe watching a Padma Lakshmi travel show on Hyderabad. She visits master biryani maker, Mehboob Alam Khan who prepares a immense handi or pot of biriyani. The meat is marinated, layered with partially boiled rice and saffron. The handi is then covered, the lid sealed with dough and placed on a charcoal fire to cook. The finished product is then scooped on to a large thali! Smellovision would be an appropriate feature on TV at this juncture!

Years ago we had a biriyani wallah, a cook who travelled to our house to make biryani. Mohammed Bhai, as we affectionately called him, always favored me with the first plateful. A slim red-bearded man, I can see him sitting by the sigri or charcoal fire, slicing and dicing, stirring the mutton in a handi almost as big as him! Over the years I have tried to replicate that flavor, that first taste, with little success. Then I give up and revel in the memory. Till I find the present recipe! It is almost the same. I rejoice, I recreate and regale the family with biriyani war stories.... Of being tormented by delicious smells wafting through the house, of watching the unsealing of handi, of waiting for that first plate. Glenn vaguely recollects Mohammed Bhai's creation, so this new one slides over easily. His biryani memory is more current..Geet's version!!!!

I adapt this present one. Mutton, sometimes chicken, depends on the people I make it for. Roshni comes for lunch so I veer towards chicken as she doesn't care for mutton. Onions, always onions. You couldn't make biryani without them. A friend in India, Ambereen, gave me some birista a while ago and now I find it invaluable. Birista is crisply fried golden brown onions. They have a long shelf life in the fridge. If you don't have any, then fry thinly sliced onions till they are golden brown. I feel for people in India right now as the price of onions skyrockets!! It is the talk of the town! But I digress....back to biryani. I do not cook on charcoal but adopt a stove top braise. I do not use dough. It is replaced by tight-fitting foil. A few changes and I'm ready to go! 

Serves 4 hearty appetites

2 pounds Chicken legs and thighs
6 tablespoons Yogurt
1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
2 teaspoons Chile powder
2 tablespoons Ginger paste
2 tablespoons Garlic paste
1 Green Chile, slit in half
1 cup Cilantro, roughly chopped
2 large Onions
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 lime
Canola oil for frying onions
1 Cinnamon stick
4 Cloves
2 Potatoes
3 cups Basmati Rice
6 cups Water
A large pinch of Saffron
2 teaspoon Milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt 
2 tablespoons Ghee
Fried Onions to garnish
Cilantro to garnish

Remove chicken skins and trim fatty tissue. Wash and drain. Place chicken in a large container.

Add yogurt, turmeric powder, chile powder, ginger and garlic paste, slit green chile, cilantro, juice of lime, cinnamon stick, cloves and kosher salt to the chicken. 

Peel and thinly slice onions.

Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a frying pan. Add onions to heated oil and fry till golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. 

Keep 1/2 cup of fried onions aside. Crumble the rest into the chicken marinade.

Mix really well, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours, preferably overnight.

Let the chicken come to room temperature before you cook it. 

Meanwhile peel and cube potatoes. 

Heat oil in a kadhai or wok and deep fry potatoes till golden brown. Add them to chicken.

Place the chicken on a low flame. Leave the lid on and cook for 45 minutes or till chicken is cooked.

Wash the rice till water runs clear, about 3 rinses.

Add in the water, kosher salt and ghee. 

Bring to a boil, cover and turn the flame very low and leave undisturbed for 14 minutes. Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork.

Place saffron threads in a tablespoon. Hold the tablespoon over an open flame to let saffron crisp up for 15 seconds. Leave to cool.

Heat the milk in the microwave-safe bowl for 15 seconds.

Crumble saffron into hot milk and let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350F.

Assemble the biryani in a deep casserole. Ladle the chicken and potatoes in the bottom of the dish.

Spread rice over chicken.

Dribble saffron milk over the rice.

Sprinkle fried onions over rice.

Take some non-stick foil and cover the casserole tightly and place in oven for 30 minutes.

Take care uncovering the foil. 

Arrange cilantro on rice and serve with raita.


This recipe can be made in the oven too. You have to parboil the rice for 6 minutes in boiling water. Drain and arrange atop the chicken. Place a lid on the pot and seal the edges with chapatti atta or dough or the easiest...aluminum foil. Place in 350F oven and cook for 50 minutes.

Mutton and lamb could be made the same way.

Adjust the heat index to your taste buds... At this point mine are overworked so I use mild spices.

I marinate overnight. It gives meat or chicken optimum flavor. If you are pressed for time, 4 to 6 hours should work. 

We have a leisurely Sunday lunch. The conversation covers a range of topics, from family escapades to impending holidays. Roshni says she can smell the biryani before she comes in to the house. A wild cold wind shrieks outside the windows. It's is warm and toasty in the kitchen. It smells heavenly as biriyani roasts. No Smellovision needed!!! Just hearty appetites!