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Easy Indian - Dal and Biryani

 
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empkae



Joined: 25 Apr 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 4:09 pm    Post subject: Easy Indian - Dal and Biryani Reply with quote

I recently toured north and south India with a small group for a month. The food was a most important aspect of the fun we had. We sampled anything and everything from any source. It was curious that near the end of the tour there were 3 favorite menu items out of dozens sampled - thali, biryani, and dal. Thali is an amazing sampler of several small savory stews and yogurts that are dipped up with naan or stirred in a ball of rice. Of course it is often eaten only with the right hand, no utensils. Biryani and dal are much simpler dishes that are cheap and satisfying.

When I returned home I set about re-creating my own Indian food. Thali seemed to be a daunting undertaking for a beginner, so I took on dal and biryani - 2 simple peasant foods - cheap, nutritious, and delicious. After many experiments, some that ended up being discarded, I have put together a couple recipes that consistently produce a delicious outcome from easy to find ingredients. They are not hard and fixed recipes. I use them as an outline and change them a bit every time. They are also under seasoned to better suit serving to timid dinner guests. I always heat up my own portions substantially. Either recipe will serve 4 hungry adults.

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Easy Dal

2 Tbls coconut or olive oil
1 onion coarsely chopped
1 Tbl garlic chopped (4-5 cloves)
2 tsp cumin seeds
tsp ground cardamom
2 cups uncooked lentils (washed and stones removed)
4 cups broth chicken or vegetable (substitute some coconut milk)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned, (or 1 cups green salsa)
2 Tbl grated ginger or galanga
1 chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 bunch fresh cilantro greens chopped



Heat oil in wok or other large pan (with cover available for later use.)

Saute onion for 1-2 minutes. (Or hold some/all to add last for fresh onion taste.)

Add garlic, cumin, and cardamom. Saute 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add broth, lentils, yogurt, tomatoes, ginger, jalapeno, and turmeric.

Stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to barely boiling and cover.

Stir often.

Check lentils every 15 minutes until cooked tender and no raw flavor, usually about 45 minutes total.

Should finish with a very thick soup consistency. If too thin, stir in some mashed potatoes, or other starchy thickening vegetable. If too thick, stir in more broth.

Stir 1/2 of the chopped cilantro, then top with the balance of the cilantro just before serving.

Top with yogurt and serve with rice, or flat bread. Tortillas are good.

Even better as leftovers!

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Easy Chicken Biryani

1 to 2 pounds chicken pieces (dark is better) or cubed firm tofu
1 onion coarsely chopped
1 Tbl garlic chopped (4-5 cloves)
coconut or olive oil
2 tsp ground clove
2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 cups plain yogurt
1 tsp salt
1 Tbl grated ginger or galanga
1 tsp ground tumeric
2 cups rinsed jasmine or basmati rice (jasmine for sticky biryani, basmati for fluffy biryani)
3 cups broth, chicken or vegetable (or substitute some coconut milk)
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro greens

Heat oil in very large pan or wok (that has a cover to be used later.) Brown chicken about 5 minutes.
Add onion, garlic, clove, cardamom, and cumin. Saute for 1 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add yogurt, salt, ginger, and tumeric. Stir. Simmer until liquid reduced to about 1 cup. Stir occasionally.

Add rice and broth. Stir to cover rice with liquid. Bring to boil, then cover and reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until liquid absorbed and rice tender.

Stir in 2/3 of the chopped cilantro, then top with the balance of the cilantro just before serving.

Very good as left-overs! Maybe better.
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Watt
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:00 pm    Post subject: biryani Reply with quote

glad you had a good time in India.

However, whatever you had there as biryani is not what you have given in your recipe. This is a pilau, not a biryani, the latter I could never call an 'easy dish'. The differences are many.
A pilau is a dish of rice and meat and/or vegetables, all cooked together. A biryani (there are tens of different versions) is primarily a meat and rice dish, where the meat and rice can be pre-cooked, partially cooked or raw (with par-boiled rice). The technique is difficult to perfect, especially if raw lamb (goat) is used. Also, the biryani is layered, that is with alternating layers of rice and meat, and finnished 'on dum' (steamed) in a pot sealed with dough for maybe 30 minutes, hardly an easy dish.
I'm sure you enjoy your pilau, but please don't call it a biryani.
Here's one I made earlier: Navrattan prawn biryani.

enjoy
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empkae



Joined: 25 Apr 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:22 pm    Post subject: That looks good, Watt Reply with quote

In a month's time we never had such a fancy looking dish, although we did eat a couple dozen items ordered as "biryani" on the menu that were quite close to what my recipe produces. Whatever you call it, I just finished up a batch of my recipe and found it quite an acceptable meal.
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Watt
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:46 pm    Post subject: Biryani Reply with quote

it may be a comment on where you ate your meals in India. Biryanis are difficult to cook properly, take many hours of preparation and are not cooked 'on demand', (though the 'Biryani Merchant' tried!)

Most restaurants outside of the Indian sub-continent who serve what they term is biryani is usually no more than a fried (or left-over) meat, mixed with rice of some kind, not even a pulao.

Yours is a pulao, and I'm sure you like it, and that it satisfies you. But if you ever try to cook a biryani (and I urge you to try) I'm sure you will appreciate the difference. Smile
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indianguy
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 7:38 am    Post subject: hmm Reply with quote

I was born/grew up in south india, and visit regulary. I have never seen such a ridiculously layered dish. Indian cooking is mostly devoid of pretentious presentations. and I think OP's recipe is decently close, except in my experiences everything is cooked together in a pressure cooker. Often inside the pressure cooker you layer the meat and rice but it is never served that way, it's promptly mixed after cooking.
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claire909



Joined: 16 Feb 2009
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like Indian Biryani very much especially Hyderabad biryani.
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danicamoore



Joined: 16 Sep 2009
Posts: 58
Location: Illinois

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't try this kind of dish. After several years I've been collecting recipe I don't have this one. Great post though. Thank you.
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Gravesy



Joined: 17 Oct 2009
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very happy discovery, I stumbled across this site yesterday and have already put it to use. My wife is of Goan/Portugeuse decent and is cooking for curry night with friends tonight. Usually she has everything covered, a couple of types of curry and a few side dishes. Now it's my time to shine with some dal Smile

I'm in the middle of cooking this right now, just letting it simmer at the moment. Verdict and photos to follow.
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