Saffron Infused Rice Speckled with Tangy Barberries-Zereshk Polo:A Persian Delight

Watermark Zereshk

Having lived for fifteen wonderful years in the Dubai and now currently in India,my taste buds have been hankering for some Middle Eastern flavours. Yes we did make a couple of short trips last year and revelled in all our favourite haunts. Especially the Lebanese,Persian and Moroccan ones.I’m very fond of Iranian cuisine ,especially the varied assortment of flavourful kebabs and the buttery,crispy rice that is an accompaniment with them.An all time favourite over the years has been the Pars Iranian cafe that served some of this deliciousness.This Persian  rice is termed as a Zereshk Polo or very simply put-a Saffron and butter infused rice and garnished with some sweet and sour Barberries,which are ever so popular in this cuisine.

A family dinner a couple of weeks ago got me making up some aromatic chicken kebabs and I thought I’d delight them all with a lovely Iranian rice dish.  Zereshk translates into the Barberries and Polo is the rice in Farsi.So it was decided I would go ahead and serve this rice. It was just as well  that my pantry had been recently replenished  with packets of Zataar, Sumac,Freekeh,Dried lemons and of course a generous amounts of these tart and tangy Barberries that lend a burst of flavour to this rice dish. Continue reading

Eid Mubarak: Easy Bombay Biryani

Bombay Biryani watermark

Eid Mubarak dear readers!

This post comes just in time for your Eid celebrations! Now who can resist a delicious Biryani and that too one that is fuss free and easy to put together? This recipe here is a favorite with my family and I usually make it on weekends or while entertaining.Now if you are wondering what’s the big deal about the Biryani making process and what really are the secrets? Fret not as I guide you through a wonderful recipe.Do follow it step by step and I can assure you of a delightful Biryani full of flavor and aroma.

The key ingredient of course is the use of a good quality long grained Basmati rice.I recently received a trial pack for some fragrant Basmati rice from Rymah. Their promise being: “Providing an irresistible flavor that will give every rice dish an added dimension of delight!” And true to their word indeed,my recipe for this easy Bombay Biryani turns out every bit a finger licking good one! Thank you Rymah!For more information on their brand and for availability do check their website Rymahrice.com

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Easy Bombay Biryani:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg Mutton/Chicken (washed and cleaned)
  • 1 kg Rymah Basmati Rice
  • 5 medium Tomatoes (chopped finely)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 large potatoes (cut into cubes and boiled)
  • 4 large Onions (sliced finely)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 3-4 green chilies (slit lengthwise)
  • 3/4 tablespoon chill powder
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 5-7 peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 Oil or ghee
  • few strands saffron
  • chopped coriander (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wash and clean the meat well. Add it to a large bowl and mix it with the yogurt,ginger-garlic paste,chili powder and green chilies and let this marinate for at least an hour.
  2. Boil the potatoes till cooked.Drain and keep aside.
  3. Boil the rice with cloves,cardamom and bay leaves and cook till 3/4 done.
  4. Now heat the oil and add in the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  5. Add in the sliced onions and fry till fairly golden brown.
  6. Add the coriander powder and mix well.
  7. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and let it cook well.
  8. Next add in the marinated meat and stir on a high flame so as to fry the meat and seal in the juices.
  9. Lower the heat and let the meat cook in its own juices. If it’s mutton you may add some water to cook the meat and this will take at least 45 minutes to cook.If cooking chicken do not add any water as it will cook in the tomato juice itself.The chicken should cook in about 25-30 minutes.Do check to ensure it’s no longer pink.
  10. Once the meat is cooked add the tomato paste and mix well and add salt to taste.Add the boiled tomatoes.
  11. Let this cool.
  12. Once the meat and the rice has cooled,you may color the rice by soaking some saffron strands in warm milk and sprinkling over the rice.Reserve rest of the warm milk for later.
  13. Now take a large oven proof dish and lightly grease the bottom and layer with some rice.
  14. Next add a layer of the meat.
  15. Do this for a couple of layers.
  16. Lastly sprinkle about 1-2 tablespoons of milk and drizzle some oil on the top layer.
  17. Garnish with browned onions and chopped coriander.
  18. Wrap a double layer of aluminum foil over this dish.
  19. Heat the oven to 150 C and let this cook further for about 40 minutes.
  20. Serve hot.

TIP:You may cook the meat mixture a day before and refrigerate. The next day ensure you bring the meat out to room temperature for about an hour.Make up the rice and then layer it as mentioned above.

Easy Mushroom Risotto

What’s your favorite Italian dish? Mine’s certainly a good Risotto any day. It really is the essence of Italian cooking. Tricky and time-consuming??? Well not really if you  just follow a few important steps while making Risotto.The key of course is  patience and yes it does need your undivided attention throughout the entire process.

Mushroom risotto

Now the main ingredient of course is rice. I’ve used a good quality Arborio rice and the brand name is Gallo. It is short grained and a starch variety, just perfect for Risotto making. The main step is getting the Risotto to a perfect consistency.To get this you would need to keep adding some stock a little at a time and stir it. The rice cooks in this stock it releases starch and imparts a wonderful creamy texture to the Risotto. This should ideally take no more than 20-24 minutes.The important tip is to ensure that the rice grain is al dente, which really means that it should be cooked yet have a firm bite to it.

The following recipe is a step by step guide to a perfect risotto. There are many variations. Mine has some brown button mushrooms, some chardonnay and fresh parmesan shavings. Please do use Shrimp, chicken, mixed herbs or even some asparagus if you like.
Do try this one out…

Bon Appetite!

Ingredients:

  • 320 grams Gallo Arborio rice
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 medium Onion chopped
  • 40 grams butter
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • freshly grated Parmesan shavings
  • 5-6 brown button mushrooms

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions till translucent.
  2. Then add in the chopped mushrooms and sauté further.
  3. Add the rice and let sauté till rice is transparent.
  4. Add in the wine and stir till it evaporates.
  5. Now keep adding spoonfuls of the stock and let it simmer on a slow flame.
  6. Do keep adding more stock as the stock is absorbed by the rice.
  7. Continue doing this till the rice is cooked al dente and is creamy in texture( approx. 20-25 minutes)
  8. Add the parmesan shaving and season with some salt if necessary.