Paneer Jalfrazi

Paneer Jalfrezi is an easy & tasty paneer dish that goes great with rumali roti & biryani. This will not take more than 20mins which for Indian cooking is fast food!

To keep it simple, follow the steps below:

  1. Take a non-stick pan, heat it, add a spoon full of butter and let it melt.
  2. Take a packet of Paneer, wash it and cut them into 1×1 inch cubes.
  3. Now add the paneer to the butter and let the paneer fry till they turn brown. Not fried but to make them firm.
  4. Now cut the following vegetables as big chunks and keep them aside – 1 onion, 1 bell pepper & 2 tomatoes. Keeping them big is key.
  5. Now take a deep/big pan and dry roast – 5 peppercorns, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and 4-5 red chillies. Keep them aside to cool. After they cool, grind them for 10secs and take out half of the mixture. Finely grind the remaining mixture.
  6. Now in the same dish, add another spoon of butter and when it melts, add the vegetables and stir fry them rapidly. Now add the fine mixture to make sure it mixes with the vegetables. Add some salt to make sure it cooks faster.
  7. Now add the panner and on high flame, keep stir frying. You don’t need a lot of time here; you need the garnish to mix well.
  8. Turn off the flame and add the corse mixture on top, add some mint leaves and leave the curry covered for a few minutes before serving.

One difference between how I make this and what is traditionally made is the addition of tomato sauce. I don’t like it as it get too tangy and the paneer gets a tomato flavor & I like to retain the paneer flavor.

Mirchi ka Salan

Mirchi ka Salan is one of those dishes that you have to spend a ton of time making it and then it fades away as a side dish. But a biryani, especially a Hyderabadi biryani, without a really good salan is just a dinner incomplete.

Salan, either Mirchi or any other time needs time and patience. My order of making biryani dinner is to make the biryani first and set it up for 4hrs of slow cook & then start the salan. This will need about 2hrs.

To keep it simple, follow the steps below:

  1. Take a non-stick pan and heat it till its hot. Put the flame on a simmer and add a small cup of groundnuts. Roast them for 2mins till they become slightly brown and their skin starts coming off. Then add, using the same small cup as before, sesame seeds. Roast these for a minute. Now turn off the flame and add a small cup of grated coconut. Mix well and leave it on the pan for another 2-3 minutes. Now put them in a blender and let them cool.
  2. In the same non-stick pan, add a lot of oil. Heat the oil well and add a small spoonful of mustard seeds. When mustard seeds splutter add cumin seeds, red chillies, methi seeds. Let all of these cook for a bit.
  3.  Cut 1 big onion into small rings and add it to the mixture and let the onions sauté for a while. Onions don’t need to be brown but they need to get soggy. Now add salt, curry leaves and let the curry leave get soft.
  4. Now add a spoonful of ginger garlic paste cook till raw flavor is gone. Now add turmeric, red chilly powder, cumin powder, coriander powder. Mix all of this well.
  5. Now grind the groundnut, sesame & grated coconut mixture into a fine paste by adding water and add it to the frying ingredients. Add water till the mixture becomes really thin and has no lumps.
  6. Now comes the most important part. Put this on a slow flame, cover with a lid and leave it without touch for 60mins. No short cuts here, just leave it as it is. After 60mins and take a look. If you do not see oil separated out fully, leave it on for another 30mins. The whole taste rests on this step.
  7. Heat some oil in a different pan, slice big mirchi’s vertically; remove the seeds and fry them in the oil. The mirchi need not get deep fried but needs to be fried enough to hold shape.
  8. Slice mint and coriander leaves and add it to the simmering mixture. Now add 3-4 spoons of yogurt to this and mix well. At this point, the mixture may get thick. Add some water if needed. At this time, taste a little to check salt, spiciness. Add what is needed.
  9. Heat some oil, put a lemon sized serving of tamarind and squeeze the juice out.
  10. Add the tamarind juice to the simmering mixture and taste again.
  11. Now add the fried mirchi to the mixture, cover the lid and simmer for 10mins. This will get the mirchi to soak in the flavors.
  12. Serve along with biryani.

Sambar – Andhra Home Style

Sambar in our house is always made the same way. Non-complicated; non restaurant style but something that is light and good with rice/idly & dosa.

To keep it simple, follow the following steps:

  1. Take a palm full or toor dal, add water & pressure cook the dal. Make sure it is done well.
  2. Cut vegetables first. The technique of Sambar is that there should be more water and it should not be like a gravy. For this, use very few vegetables so that its wet. Cut 2 okra, 1 onion, 1 tomato, 1 brinjal & 1/5th of bottle gourd. If you have large green chillies, cut one. Cut all vegetables into huge pieces – not small.
  3. Heat some water in a small cup; take a lemon sized portion of tamarind; wash it and leave it in the hot water.
  4. Take a huge vessel and pour 4-5 tbs of oil. You will need a little more oil in this step. Heat the oil and when its hot add in the following order – Urad Dal, Channa Dal, Cumin & Mustard seeds. Let these turn golden brown. Lower the flame and now add dhaniya (1tbsp) and just 4 pepper corns. After they cook for a minute, add 4 red chillies and shut down the flame. Remove this onto a plate & let this cool. Leave excess oil in this vessel.
  5. In the same vessel, with the same excess oil, put in all of the vegetables, a few curry leaves and fry them. Fry for a while to make them mushy.
  6. After 10mins, squeeze the tamarind juice & without any pulp, pour the tamarind juice into the vegetables. Mix well.
  7. Now add 2 big glasses of water & let it come to boil.
  8. Now add the cooked dal and let it simmer for 10-15mins till everything mixes in well.
  9. Add salt as desired and add 1 tbsp of haldi powder.
  10. Lower the flame & when you are done simmering the mixture and 5mins before you are done; grind the tadka mixture very fine; add it to the vessel.
  11. After 5mins, remove the Sambar.

Vegetable Dum Biryani – Simple Style

In my series of mastering the various biryani styles from all over India, here is a recipe for a quick 1hr preparation.

To make it simple, follow the steps in order.

  1. Soak Rice first. Plan rice to masala ration. Make sure you keep rice to masala ration of 2:1. When rice is flavorful, the masala will become secondary.
  2. Heat a small quantity of oil. Make sure the oil is hot. Chop onions finely when the oil is heating. Mix the onions with corn flour and in small batches, fry the onions. The goal here is to fry them and keep them aside so that they become dry and crunchy.
  3. Marinate – Sour Yogurt, Salt, Red Pepper, Turmeric, Whole Masala & Bombay Dum Biryani Masala, Oil.
  4. In a 1:2 ratio, grind ginger & garlic to form a coarse paste. Add into the marinate above.
  5. Chop Vegetables in a slightly bigger fashion.
    • Mushrooms
    • Carrot
    • Potato
    • Green Beans.
    • Cauliflower
  6. Chop greens – Mint and Coriander. Make sure there are no thick stalks. Keep aside.
  7. Add in the chopped vegetables to the marinate; add in half of the mint and coriander and keep it aside for 30mins.
  8. Boil water. When boiling, cook rice up to 75%. Add in some salt and oil.
  9. Take a deep, big pan, put some oil and garnish the marinate+vegetables.
  10. Pour rice on vegetables.
  11. High Heat for 5 mins and low heat for 15mins with close lid.

Happy Cooking!