Friday, 31 August 2018

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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Colorful Biscotti (with Cranberries, Pepitas and Pecans)

I baked this Biscotti a few days back and it was so perfect I immediately decided to add it in the blog. I have to admit that ever since I have started watching ‘The Great British Bake Off’ show on Netflix, baking has been easier and fun. I have seen many baking tips and tricks in the show and they have proved really helpful. For this Biscotti, I used a salad topper mix which I got from Costco but you can also get individuals packets of Cranberries, Pepitas and Pecans and mix them together. For those who don’t know, Pepitas are actually pumpkin seeds so if you are allergic, just skip them. Also, I would recommend to use a serrated knife to cut the Biscotti because it would be easier to slide the knife and cut and there will be less crumble. So, without further ado, let’s bake these yummy Colorful Biscotti.

  • Olive Oil -  2 tablespoons 
  • White Sugar -  ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons 
  • Vanilla Extract - 1 teaspoon 
  • Almond Extract -  ¼ teaspoon 
  • Egg -  1, large
  • All-Purpose Flour -  ¾ cup and 2 tablespoons 
  • Salt - 1/8 teaspoon (only if the nuts or not salted)
  • Baking Powder -  ½ teaspoon 
  • Dried Cranberries, Pepitas and Pecans – 1 cup

Photo shows the salad topper mix which I got from Costco and used to prepare this Biscotti.

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spray/ grease it lightly with oil.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the Olive Oil and Sugar until well blended. 
  • Mix in the Vanilla and Almond extracts.
  • Beat in the Egg. 
  • Combine the All-Purpose Flour, Salt (optional) and Baking Powder in another bowl.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Gradually stir the Flour mixture into the Egg mixture. 
  • Mix in the Dried Cranberries, Pepitas and Pecans by hand (use a rubber spatula). 
  • Divide the dough in half. 
  • Sprinkle a little flour on the kitchen counter and use more to roll the dough.
  • Form two logs on the baking sheet (about 7 inches long). Use the bench scrapper to lift and shape the logs. 
  • Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until logs are light brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. 
  • Reduce oven heat to 275 degrees F.
  • Transfer the loaf to a cutting board and using a serrated bread knife, start cutting the slices. They should not be too thin, about half inch thickness is good. Cut them at an angle or straight.

  • Remove the parchment paper.
  • Lay on sides directly on the baking sheet. 

  • Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until dry.
  • Once out of the oven, turn the sides so that they crisp evenly (The baking sheet will be hot so the other side will absorb the heat and crisp up). 

  • Let them cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes.
  • Store in an airtight container and enjoy with tea or coffee.

Serrated Knife:
  • An essential tool for trimming and halving cake layers is a long serrated knife. I also use it to cut bread slices or to smoothly cut out Biscotti. 

Bench scraper:
  • I use it not only for scraping the extra frosting off the cake but also to divide the bread dough into equal quantities. It can also be used to scrape the biscotti dough from the kitchen counter and evenly press or shape it.

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Thursday, 8 March 2018

Awadhi Mutton Biryani

Photo and Recipe Courtesy: Dr. Debarshi Chatterji

First of all, I want to thank all my readers for waiting so patiently for this wonderful recipe. Debarshi prepared this as a surprise treat for me almost two years back and he has been making improvements in the recipe ever since. Well, I think we have perfected it now and so, I decided to share it with everyone. Now let me tell you that this is a complicated recipe so take your time and plan it accordingly. There are quite a few steps so pay attention and have patience and believe me you will have a delicious homemade biryani better than any you have ever tasted.

Now before we move on to the recipe, let me tell you a little bit about the Biryani itself. Awadhi Mutton Biryani is indeed a dish fit to be served to the royals. This is not to be cooked in a haste so make sure to keep this reserved for exceptional soirées. Use a good quality basmati rice (which is a long grained aromatic rice) and good quality boneless meat (goat or lamb). Be generous with the spices and ghee which will bring that exotic flavor and aroma in the dish. Refer to my article on Mutton Gravy for the steps to prepare the meat. 

As I have written in my article: Achari Mutton, Indian cuisine is divided into many different categories, mainly on the region from which the dish originates. Today’s dish is from the Awadhi cuisine (Mughal inspired cuisine) of Lucknow. Hence you can understand why we will be using all those aromatic spices and ghee in such an amount for after all this Biryani was custom made for the royals. Well, we may not have the digestive strength to eat this high calorie food everyday or the time to prepare it at a moment’s notice but we can certainly enjoy it on special occasions. Biryani is soul food and should be prepared and enjoyed with friends and family or when you really want to impress someone special. Believe me when I say that ever since I have come to the U.S. there have been only a few places where I have been served authentic Biryani and it always made me sad. Well, not anymore! Now I can prepare this delicious Biryani whenever I want.
The final stage of the Biryani is called ‘Dum’ which means slow cooking over a low heat and this is where your oven comes handy. The al dente rice is layered with the fried onion and cooked mutton and then sprinkled with aromatic waters. I used Kewra and Rose Water along with Saffron to create that authentic fragrance and color. You can use an aluminum foil pan to cook the biryani, although it will get quite heavier with the rice and meat in it so I recommend using an oven safe baking dish. Cover the top with foil and seal it with dough. Then leave it in the oven for two hours and relax.
Biryani is a meal in itself so you don’t have to worry about preparing anything else with it. A side salad or plain yogurt raita are the ideal combinations. Follow the steps patiently and you will be rewarded with the most delicious and heavenly dish.
Bon Appetit!

Awadhi Mutton Biryani prepared by Debarshi

  • Refer to my article on Mutton Gravy to know how to marinate and cook the mutton.
  • We usually get Royal Basmati rice. It is available at most Indian stores and Costco.

For the biryani rice:
  • Rice – 2 cups
  • Ghee – 2 tablespoons
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Cinnamon – 1 small stick
  • Green Cardamom – 3-4
  • Black Cardamom – 1-2
  • Dry Red Chilli – 3-4
  • Bay Leaf – 1 big
  • Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Star Anise – 2
  • Cloves – 4-5
  • Mace – 1 
  • Nutmeg – ¼ 
  • Whole Black Pepper – 5-6
  • Salt – to taste (about ½ teaspoon)

For the final Biryani:
  • Milk – ½ cup 
  • Turmeric Powder – a pinch + 2 pinches
  • Saffron – 2 pinches
  • Red Food Color – a pinch
  • Onions – ½ cup, julienned 
  • Oil – 1 cup (to fry the onions)
  • Potato – 1 large, peeled, washed and cut into medium size cubes
  • Salt – about 2 pinches
  • Kewra Water - 2 teaspoons
  • Rose Water - 2 teaspoons

Directions to cook the Rice:
  • Wash and soak the rice in enough water for 30 minutes. 
  • Drain the water and keep it aside (use a sieve).
  • Heat a wok over high heat.
  • Add the Ghee and Oil in it.
  • Add the whole spices (Cinnamon, Green Cardamom, Black Cardamom,
  • Dry Red Chilli, Bay Leaf, Cumin Seeds, Star Anise, Cloves, Mace, Nutmeg and Whole Black Pepper) in the oil. 
  • Wait for a few seconds then add the rice.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and fry the rice gently and carefully. Use a rubber spatula. Fry till the color changes to golden. Make sure it is not burning.
  • Add 3 cups of water and Salt. Mix well.
  • Cover and cook till the rice is ¾ done. This is a very critical step so make sure to pay attention. It should be al dente. (I followed these steps: Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, Stir, cover and cook for 5 minutes more).
  • Fluff the rice then switch off the heat and place on the counter top. Keep it covered.

Let’s do some preparations for the final biryani:

  • Take 2 small bowls and add 2 tablespoons of Milk in each.
  • Place both of them in the microwave and heat for 40 seconds.
  • Mix a pinch each of Turmeric Powder and Saffron in one bowl. 
  • Mix a pinch each of Red Food Color and Saffron in the other bowl. Keep aside
  • Heat a wok over high heat.
  • Fry the julienned onions till brownish red in color and crisp. Keep aside.

  • Debarshi added Potato to add a Bengali touch. Season it with about 2 pinches each of Turmeric and Salt. 
  • Fry them in the Oil on high heat.
  • Press a piece with your spatula to check if the potatoes are cooked. Deep frying usually cooks it thoroughly.

Directions to prepare the Biryani:
  • In a baking pan (I used a 3-4-inch-deep and about 8 X 12-inch pan) spread half of the ¾th cooked rice evenly.

  • Spread the fried onion evenly on the rice layer.

  • Next spread the layer of mutton, potatoes and all the mutton gravy.

  • Finally, spread another layer of rice (use all the leftover rice).

  • Pour the colored milk (Turmeric milk and Red Colored Milk) in different places keeping some white rice areas (make a small hole using your finger and pour a teaspoon or two of colored milk in it, this will help the bottom layer to soak up the color too).
  • Now sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of milk on it along with the Kewra Water and Rose Water.
  • Cover well with a foil. 
  • Use some wheat dough to seal the foil and baking pan together. 
  • Preheat the oven to 300 F.
  • Bake for about 2 hours. You will know it is cooked because the whole house will smell like a Mughlai restaurant!

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