Thursday, June 4, 2009

Trying to keep it light? Try chicken chappli kababs

Authentic chappli kababs are made with beef or mutton, are full of extra fat mixed into the ground meat, and are shallow fried in large flat "chappal" sized pieces. I do these ground chicken chappli kababs in a patty shape and freeze them to take out for when I don't feel like cooking, or to serve guests.
1 lbs ground chicken
3 tbs chickpea flour (aka besan)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chile flakes
1 tsp whole coriander pods (roast in dry pan to toast for one moment)
1 tbs dried pomegranite seeds ground to a powder
2 finely chopped spring onions
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 chopped tomato (try to keep out the wet pulp of the tomato, if the mince meat mixture gets too wet, just add a tad more ground chickpea flour)
1-2 chopped green chiles
1 cup cilantro finely chopped
1 tsp ghee or butter (as an alternative to the hunk of dumbey ki charbi !fat of the long earred lamb's tail! that would be in your real Peshawari kabab mixture!!!)
salt to taste
Mix all of these ingredients together. Allow the mixture to sit for about 30 minutes to bind. Shape into patties and shallow fry in a tiny drop of oil. You can literally pour in a teaspoon of oil and use a paper towel to spread it all over your pan if you use a non-stick frying pan. Traditionally these are shallow fried in quite a bit of oil, though. For a party you could press a slice of tomato into each patty and give it a flatter, more irregular shape like an authentic chappli kabab.

Qabili Pullao

I have adapted this recipe from my in-law's family recipe served every eid. The recipe looks complicated, sorry if it is difficult to read...I promise you that it is extremely easy to cook, though.

This dish is simple but has several steps. The first couple of steps can be done a day ahead of serving. You can actually make the whole gravy a day ahead and add it to the rice the next day, as well.

1 chicken skinned, bone-in, and cut into small-medium pieces
1/2 cup dried channa daal (one cup cooked)
Ingredients assembled for the gravy
3-4 onions
2.5 heaping table spoons garam masala
1 heaping tsp red chile powder
3-4 whole dried red chiles
15 aloo bukharay (dried plums from Indo-Pak market)
1/4 cup water
salt to taste
3 tbs oil
3 cups basmati rice
1 tbs ghee or butter
some whole garam masale: 3 bay leaves, 10 black pepper corns, 5 cloves, 5 green cardamom, 2 big black cardamom, 1-2 shards of cinnamon bark, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds

The daal: soak 1/2 cup channa daal for one hour. Boil water with daal a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then keep on a low flame for 20 minutes. Strain from water. You should have just tender whole channa daal. Keep aside.

The tali hui pyaaz: Thinly slice 3 onions and fry until light reddish brown. Strain from oil and grind (crush or put in a grinder). Mix 1/2 of the ground fried onion with 1 tsp garam masala and keep aside.

The aloo bukharay: soak in water for about 10 minutes before adding them into the gravy. Strain before you add them into the gravy.

Now to make the gravy:

Alu bukhara soaking in water for a few minutes
Heat oil and brown the chicken pieces to seal in the juices. When the chicken looks browned, add in the remaining ground fried onion, the red chile powder, whole red chiles, the remaining garam masala, and salt to taste---be slightly heavy handed with the salting because you will later add the channa daal to this gravy. Stir for a moment and then add the aloo bukharay. Stir again, add 1/4 cup water, allow this to come to a boil, cover and cook until the chicken is done. When it is done and still hot, mix in the whole cooked channa daal. Close the lid and let it sit for at least 5 minutes to allow the channa daal to soak up the gravy flavors. The aloo bukharay should have disintegrated only very slightly, but should for the most part remain whole so that those who consume your dish get one or two in the mouth as they eat. If you serve this to people who have never eaten an aloo bukhara (pity the souls), remember to tell them to not eat the hard seed, lest they crack their teeth! Okay, your gravy is done. You could keep this in the fridge overnight or add it to the rice right away, as suits your needs.
Finished gravy ready to be layered with rice

Dum dad dum dum dum: The rice (this works for any biryani rice and is called the "dum" method):

Soak the rice for 1/2 hour. In the mean while boil a pot of water with the whole garam masalas. Allow to boil for 10 minutes to extract the garam masala flavor. I cheat sometimes and nuke the water with the whole garam masalas in the microwave on high for 4-5 minutes to get out all that garam masala flavor. Strain the water, keep the garam masalay to the side, return the water to a pot, and allow it to return to the boil. You may add in a few of the strained garam masalay such as the bay leaves, cinnamon, and cardamom into the water for looks. Or keep it out if you want and just throw the strained garam masalay away. You should salt the water double the amount you normally would for 3 cups of boiled rice because you will par-boil the rice al dente like pasta, and throw away the water, so the rice will be bland if it doesn't absorb enough salt.

Okay, now that your garam masala seasoned water is boiling, strain the soaking rice and add it to the boiling water. Keep the colander ready in the sink. Allow the water to return to a boil and let it boil away for 3.5 minutes. Watch the beautiful basmati. kernels lengthen. Now strain the rice. Quickly add 1 tbs ghee or butter to the bottom of a deep pot. Keep the ground onion and garam masala mixture on hand. Add in the strained rice, sprinkling it with the fried onion and garam masala mixture, then a layer of rice, then more onion garam masala mixture. Turn up the flame to high and cover the pot. After two minutes of high flame, put the flame to the lowest possible point and cook the pot of rice for 20 minutes. Turn off the flame. Allow the rice to rest for about 10 minutes before you mess with it further to avoid the kernels breaking.

For a party you can put the rice in a large platter and spread the chicken gravy on top of it. Alternatively you can layer the rice and chicken gravy like a biriani (as shown in the pic). It is up to you.

I hope you enjoy!

Qabili pullao

I love karela: Bittergourd stuffed with its own peelings

Karela, our bitter gourd, is an acquired taste. I suppose I have acquired the taste. Here is a recipe for bitter gourd which is shaved and stuffed with its own peelings. It is a good recipe for any time, but it is also a good party dish because it looks interesting and impressive.

Select smallish dark green bitter gourds for your cooking. This recipe is for 5 bitter gourds.

First, you need to prepare the bitter gourds. With a potato peeler, peel off all of the outer layer of dark green bumps. Shred any large peelings with your fingers. Add salt to water and submerge the bumbs in the salted water for a few minutes. Strain and set aside.

Make a length wise slit in your bitter gourds. If you have long ones, it is okay to cut them in half as well. Stick in your thumb or the a vegetable coring instrument and gouge out the innards and yellow seeds. Karela can take a licking and keep on kicking, so you don't have to be gentle while removing the innards.

Add 1tbs turmeric and 1 tbs salt to a deep bowl and fill the bowl with water. Submerge the peeled, gouged karelas in this water and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. In the meanwhile, you will prepare the peel stuffing.

About 1 cup of bitter gourd shavings
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 small onion chopped very finely
combination of garlic, ginger, and green chile pastes, adding up to about 1 heaping tea spoon all together
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chile powder or less to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 heaping tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
salt to taste
one squeeze of lime
1 tbs oil or less
**Since bitter gourds vary in size, you will invariably need to adjust the seasonings based on the length and circumference of the karelas that you have at hand.

Heat oil in a wok or frying pan. Add in cumin seeds and allow to sizzle. Add finely chopped onions to pan and allow them to cook on high heat until the are almost fully caramelized brown. Add in the ginger garlic chile paste. Allow to color. Add in bitter gourd peelings. Stir around for a moment, and add in the masalas. Stir and cooking for about 10 minutes on medium heat until all of the moisture has evaporated and bitter gourd peelings are fully cooked. Now salt: add a sprinkle of salt based on the amount of bitter gourd you have now after it has reduced in size and lost moisture. Don't over salt. Turn of the heat and add in the squeeze of lime juice. You have a hot, sour, bitter stuffing that should be browned in a way that it resembles beef/mutton ground meat (qeema). Set this aside and allow to cool.

Strain the skinless bitter gourds. Try to squeeze extra water out of them, washing them a few more times. Don't be afraid to squeeze. Remember that this is a tough little vegetable. Allow to air dry well before stuffing.

Now stuff each bitter gourd with fillings. You may also wrap a thread around each bitter gourd, winding it around the cylidrical body. This will prevent the stuffing from falling out as you Pan fry them later. However, I have done it both ways, wrapped and unwrapped, and even with bitter gourd that I cut in half because they were very long. I stir fried gently and no stuffing fell out. If you choose to wrap with thread, of course remember to remove the thread before serving :-)

Heat oil in a flat frying pan that has a lid. It should just be a light glazing of oil in the pan. When the pan is hot, add the stuffed karelas. Fry them as you would a sausage or hot dog, allowing them to spend time on each side for a few minutes in order to caramelize and color with nice golden brown blisters. While the karelas sit in the pan coloring, you should cover the pan with the lid in between turnings so that they steam a bit and cook through. When all sides have colored, keep them in the pan for a few moments more to make sure that all of the moisture has evaporated and that they are very slightly crispy. You can actually freeze them and heat them up gently for a party some other time, or prepare in the morning and re-heat at night. You would let them come to room temperature and then gently pan fry them again to heat through and revive the crispyness.

You may garnish with pan grilled onion rights, or deep fried garlic slices. In the pic above, I added some orange food coloring (biriani rangi powder) to garlic slivers, deep fried them till crisp, and then drained them on a paper towel. I added them as a garnish before serving the karela at the table.