Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shahi Tukra - Emperor's morsel

Bread for Shahi tukra

As you can tell, I am still keeping my promise. Another Indian dish. The dish is called "Shahi Tukra" or Emperor's Morsel. The very name speaks of royalty, decadence and richness. It is all of these, only easier than it sounds!

This is a type of bread pudding that has its origins in the Mughlai cuisine. Mughlai cuisine is a South Asian cuisine, influenced by the imperial kitchens of the Mughal Empire. The cuisine is strongly influenced by Persian, and Turkic cuisines of Central Asia.
Shahi Tukra is a rich dessert made with bread, ghee, saffron, sugar, rabri(a cardamom flavored reduction of whole milk), almonds and an optional gold or silver leaf for added opulence!

Another not-so-royal name that it is known with is "Double ka meetha". Double here referring to bread - just an Indian name of bread - Double Roti, while "meetha" meaning sweet.

With a name so rich and opulent sounding, there is no way I am going to try to make it healthy. It must be eaten with all the fat, cream, sugar and white bread that you can eat! So here is the recipe

Shahi Tukra

For the Rabri
• 3 cups whole milk
• 3 Cardamom pods, crushed

For the sugar syrup
• 1/4 cup Sugar
• 1/4 cup Water

• 4 slices Bread
• 3 tbsp Ghee
• 4-5 Pistachios, blanched and chopped
• 4-5 Almonds, toasted and sliced
• 4-5 raisins(optional)
• Few strands of saffron

  1. Cut each slice of bread into 4 pieces . A day or two old bread works best for this recipe. If using fresh bread, keep it in a very low oven for about 10 minutes until the bread dries up a bit. This is in order to avoid the bread from soaking up too much ghee.
  2. To make the sugar syrup, mix sugar and water and set the mixture to boil. Now, simmer the solution for about 10 minutes.
  3. Take a pan and set the milk to boil. Simmer it until it reduces to 1/4th quantity. Keep stirring occasionally so that it does not stick to the pan. Now, add the crushed cardamom, pistachios and few strands of saffron to the thickened milk. This is our rabri.
  4. Add in the ghee to a non-stick pan and lightly fry the bread until golden brown on both sides.
  5. Dip the fried bread in the sugar syrup for about a minute.
  6. Arrange the slices on the serving dish
  7. Now, spread the rabri onto the bread and sprinkle some almonds, and saffron strands over it.

Oh, and before I forget - thanks to the last month's DMBLGIT judges for judging one of our pictures amongst the winners. The "Life After Coffee" picture was awarded the 3rd place in the March 2010 edition of DMBLGIT. Here is a link to the post with all the winners.

Life after coffee

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani

Hyderabadi Chicken biryani

It's the weekend. Time to chill, relax and eat good food. Even better if I don't have to do the cooking :). No, I am not usually "order from the takeaway" type, and the Lord knows that if you want to have a good "curry" - Curry here being the British invention of the word that is meant to be a synonym for "Indian Food", then Zurich is not the best place for it restaurant-wise. There, I said it! I mean, ok, there are nice Indian restaurants, but, modesty be damned, the food we cook at home is usually a lot better and a lot less greasier, a lot spicier (read tastier ;-p) than the cream laden dishes a lot of Indian places serve.
Anyways, I digressed. Where was I? Weekend - yes. So weekends is when we most certainly make one dish almost unfailingly - Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani. And why is that? It is very simple and easy, quick, and is very very tasty! But most importantly,Darling husband loves to cook this dish! And I couldn't be happier about it :-D

  • It uses a lot of whole spices. I strongly recommend buying the whole spices, rather than store bought powders. It wouldn't be expensive, and once you have made a proper biryani, you'll repeat the recipe so many times (yes, I am sure of that!), that they'll be used up in no time.
  • It is an easy recipe. But ONLY if you know the pitfalls and how to avoid them. These are mentioned at the end of the post

  • Hyderabadi Chicken biryani

    • 2 pieces each of cardamom, mace, cloves, cinnamon sticks, green cardamoms
    • 6 pepper corns
    • salt - to taste
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
    • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
    • 1 tablespoons crushed garlic
    • 2 cups basmati rice
    • Handful of fried onions (optional)
    • A handful of chopped coriander(cilantro) leaves
    • 1 stalk of chopped fresh mint leaves
    • 500 grams chicken pieces cut into small pieces
    • 5 green chilli (deseeded if you prefer)
    • 2 + 1 tablespoon oil or ghee(clarified butter)
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped/grated fresh ginger
    • 1/2 tsp saffron strands soaked in 1 tablespoon warm water(optional)
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
    • 2 cup full fat yoghurt


    1) Soak rice for 30 minutes in enough water to cover
    2) In the mean time, marinate the chicken. Take the chicken pieces in a large bowl and add in the 2 tablespoons oil, yoghurt and all the spices mentioned above, except saffron.
    3) After 30 minutes, drain the rice
    4) Take a pot of water and add the drained rice to it.
    5) Add the salt to the rice, and taste it. Adjust the salt to your taste
    6) Add in the remaining oil, a teaspoon of cumin seeds and let it cook for about 5 minutes or so.
    7) Very important - When the rice is beginning to come to a boil, not a full rolling boil, but just beginning to, take it off the heat and drain. The rice grains should be half cooked.
    8)In a deep, heavy bottomed dish, layer all of the marinated chicken. Press it down gently
    9) Add the half cooked, drained rice on top of the chicken
    10) Add the saffron and saffron soaked water, if using. Also add some chopped cilantro, and sliced onions
    11) Cover with a lid and cook. Make sure the lid is a tight one. Cook on medium-high for 5 minutes, medium for 15 minutes, and then 15 minutes on low heat.
    You should start getting the sweet aroma of the spices in your kitchen.
    Serve with plain youghurt or raita.


  • Overcooked rice.
    • Use good quality basmati rice for biryani
    • Do not soak it for longer than 30 minutes.
    • Only half cook the rice before layering on to the chicken. To check, take a few grains of rice and apply a little pressure with your fingertips. If it breaks apart - it is half cooked. If it gets squished, it is overcooked for the biryani :(
  • Burnt chicken
    • Since chicken forms the bottom layer for the cooking, if left to cook on a high heat, it will get easily burnt.
    • Use a heavy bottomed pan
  • Watery Chicken Biryani
    • Drain the rice before layering on the chicken. The steam within the pot will cook the dish.
    • Do not use a pressure cooker for this preparation

    There it is. A primer for the perfect Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani. A dish that we love. When people go to Hyderabad, India, this is one of the things on every tourist's menu. Traditionally it is server with raita and another very spicy dish called "Mirchi ka Salan". Oh my mouth is watering! There are very few dishes on the planet that I can never say no to. This holds a very high position. Try it. I cannot recommend it enough.

    P.S. - Writing this post is almost like making a PowerPoint presentation. That was the last time I used so many bullet points!

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Bhindi Do Pyaza

    I am an Indian. Did you know that? No, you did not? Why? 'Coz you freakin hardly ever post any Indian recipes!!! Thats why!

    Ok. Got it. Point noted.
    (Well, that I hardly ever post *any* recipes would not be far from wrong lately, but we'll leave that for another day)

    In my conscious effort to prove my 'desi'ness, and my love of Indian food, there will be some posts on Indian food in the coming days.
    Bhindi - Okra or lady's fingers(!!) as it is also known, is a vegetable that I have seen many people shy away from. Too slimy, gooey and slightly messy is their reason. And of course some, who do not know what to use it for. I was surprised when at the grocery store where I was painstakingly choosing each okra for purchase, a Swiss women asked me whether it was a type of chili. Well, we Indians do eat spicy food, but I was loading up like a kilo of okra - surely I'd be just plain mad to be using all that amount of "chili" in a recipe!..Bad joke..

    Okra is often used as a thickener in soups and stews in different cuisines. In India, it is often one of the vegetables added to Sambhar - a soup made with dal, tamarind and a few vegetables. In the north, it is generally fried with onions, and sometimes tomatoes.

    Bhindi do pyaza is the dish on the menu today.
    Bhindi = okra
    do = 2 or twice
    pyaza = onions
    Twice the amount of onions that added in any other similar vegetable preparation.

    So the vegetables used are just 2 - okra and onions. And the rest are all spices. This is the dish I have eaten okra in all my life. And I love it! It gets a bit slimy while cooking - but I am quite ok with it. Adding a bit of sourness - like lemon juice or vinegar does help cut the sliminess. So here is the recipe.

    25-30 Okras, washed, dried and cut into 1/4" pieces, or slit lengthwise
    2 medium Onions, thinly sliced
    3+1 tbsp Oil
    1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
    1 tsp Turmeric Powder
    1 tbsp Lime/Lemon Juice(optional)
    1 tsp Jeera/Cumin seeds
    Salt to taste
    1 tablespoon coriander powder
    1 teaspoon red chilly powder, adjust to taste
    1/2 teaspoon mango powder (amchoor)
    1 and half teaspoon garam masala


    - Wash and thoroughly dry the okra
    - Cut the tip and a 1/4" from the bottom and discard
    - Cut the okra into 1/4" pieces, or slit lengthwise
    - Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan
    - Add in the okra and stir fry on high heat for 6-7 minutes
    - Transfer to a dry plate
    - Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the same pan
    - Add in the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle
    - Add the onions and salt and fry them until the become translucent
    - Add in the remaining spices and let them cook for a few minutes. Ideally you should see a bit of oil seperating when the spices have cooked
    - Mix in the okra and let it all cook for another 2-3 minutes. If it gets too slimy, then add in the lemon juice as well.

    Bhindi do pyaza

    - Do not be stingy in the amount of oil added
    - Keep the heat high while stir frying the okra
    - If making okra the first time, you can just try slitting the okra lenghtwise. Chopping into small pieces, while ensures faster cooking, can get a tad messy due to the goo.
    - Make sure the okra is completely dry before you get chopping it.
    - Only choose the okra that is very fresh, not even slightly wilted. Remember the "painstakingly choosing every okra" reference in the beginning of this post? :) Share