Thursday, 29 April 2010

Chicken Biryani

Last year, while being unemployed, I got a little bit obsessed with the website I could spend hours browsing through all the recipes and I even forced my friends to share in my excitement.

What I like about is that almost all the recipes come with an instruction video on how to prepared the dish. It's fabulous and so easy to follow.

Ok, this post isn't about why is such a wonderful website, I just felt I needed to give homage where homage was due.

I came across this recipe for Chicken Biryani the other day over at.... you know where. I was a little bit unsure about it, seeing how it contains a daunting 29 ingredients!!! But I remember my boyfriend having Lamb Biryani (he loved it) on our 4 year anniversary some 20 days ago, and decided I'd give it a go.

It turned out great, although the recipe said to keep it in a 120 C oven for an hour. I tried it, it was only lukewarm, I upped the oven to 200 C and it only took 10 min to get the dish nice and hot. Also, next time I'll add in some more spices to give it that extra kick.

PS. Sorry guys, I'm usually not one for copying recipes from someone else's site and posting them here, but I couldn't be stuffed to re-write the entire recipe....


Chicken Biryani
Serves 4
Adapted from

4 small chicken breast
1 ½ cup Basmati Rice
6 cups water
1 cup Yogurt
1 medium potato
1 ½ tbsp oil
1- 1 ½ tbsp Clarified Butter (Ghee)
1-2 tbsp grated garlic
1-2 tbsp grated ginger
Green Chili – to taste
5 cm Cinnamon stick
2 Bay leaves
1 Black Cardamom
3 pieces Mace (optional)
2-4 green cardamoms pods
4 Cloves
Whole Peppercorns – to taste
1 tbsp Golden Raisins
1 tbsp Cashews (heaped)
Salt – to taste
1 tbsp Black Cumin
1 tbsp Cumin Powder
1 tbsp Coriander Powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp Saffron (Kesar)
2 handfuls chopped Mint Leaves
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro/Coriander
½+ ½ cup Fried Onions (divided)

1. Wash and soak the Rice for a minimum 1/2 hour.
2. In a pan, bring 8 cups of water to boil.
3. Once boiling, add Green Cardamoms (2), Bay Leaves (1), Salt and Oil (1tsp).
4. Add in the washed Rice to boiling water.
5. Once the Water starts boiling again, time and cook for 5 minutes (the Rice needs to be 3/4 way done).
6. Drain the water from the Rice and keep aside.
7. In a separate bowl, mix Saffron and Water (1tbsp), keep aside and allow it to soak.
8. Heat a pan on medium heat, add in the Oil and the Clarified Butter.
9. Once hot, add in the Cashews and Golden Raisins, fry for a couple of minutes till the cashews get a light golden colour.
10.Remove from the Pan. Make sure you drain all the Oil. Keep aside.
11.Add in the balance of whole spices – Cinnamon Stick, Mace, Bay Leaf, Black & Green Cardamom, Peppercorns & Cloves.
12.Fry for under a minute.
13.Add in Black Cumin (use regular Cumin if Black is not available).
14.Allow them to sizzle.
15.Add in Ginger & Garlic, fry for another minute. Keep stirring.
16.Add in the washed, cleaned pieces of Chicken. Mix well.
17.Once the Chicken looks sealed, add in the following while stirring constantly – Yogurt, Fried Onion (1/2 cup), Cilantro (save some for garnish), Mint, Green Chili, Potatoes and the dry spices – Coriander, Cumin, Turmeric, Red Chili & Salt.
18.Mix very well. Cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes (the chicken should be 3/4 of the way done).
19.Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (aprox 121 degrees C).
20.Coat an oven-proof dish with a little oil.
21.Start by layering the Chicken at the bottom of the dish along with a few pieces of Potatoes (saving the gravy for top layer).
22.Fluff up the Rice and add a layer of it on top of the Chicken with half of the Rice.
23.Layer the balance of the potatoes and all the gravy on the rice layer.
24.Next spread the balance of the Rice.
25.Layer the Cashews, Raisins, Fried Onions, Cilantro and Saffron.
26.Drizzle a little bit of Oil.
27.Cover with an air-tight lid or a foil and bake for 1 hour or till the potatoes are cooked.
28.Once out of the oven, take a ladle and mix it gently but well.
29.Allow it to sit for 5 minutes and serve with Cilantro and Mint Raita

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Sponge sandwich cake

I do volunteer work at a missionary church nearby about once a month. I was more or less coaxed into it by the very enthusiastic pastor who thought there were way too few young people at church, so he signed my up for the Sunday church café rotational.

I don't mind, it's nice to have something to do on Sundays, and I do love baking. I work with a lady named Irene and we have decided I should bake a cake, and the waffle mix for each Sunday that I'm on duty. Two Sundays ago, I was too lazy and bought a packet of a "just add water"- waffle mix and the whole thing was a disaster. Didn't know you could fail such a basic instruction...

Anyways, during my first two cafeteria-Sundays I made chocolate muffins and no one bought them. I realised old people do not like chocolate. For the third Sunday I made a roll-up cake filled with strawberry jam and served it with a big dollop of whipped cream on top. It went down a treat. I realised old people love stuff covered in whipped cream.
With this in mind I set out to make a classic sponge sandwich with a strawberry jam and whipped cream filling for last Sunday's café. Little did I know that this Sunday most of the old people in church were away and left were the slightly younger crowd (40+) and they were apparently not too fond of whipped cream and jam... I was left with 4 pieces of cake... Irene's cake sold out. Her cake was more "modern" and "youthful", I guess.

I had no idea doing cafeteria work, once in a blue moon, required demographics.

So, here's a great recipe to make for granny's birthday.

Sponge sandwich cake
8 slices
Adapted from BBC Good Food

200 g soft butter
200 g self-raising flour*
1 tsp baking powder
200 g sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp milk

142 ml double cream
50 g sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
100 g strawberry jam
icing sugar, for dusting

1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Grease and base-line 2 x 20cm non-stick round sandwich tins with baking parchment, then lightly grease the parchment. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then tip in all the other sponge ingredients. Using an electric whisk, beat everything together until smooth. Divide the mix between the cake tins, then bake for 20-25 mins until cooked and golden. When cool enough to handle, remove the cakes from the tins, then leave to cool completely on a rack.

2. To make the filling, whip the cream with the caster sugar and vanilla until it holds its shape. Build the cake by spreading one sponge with jam and the other with cream. Sandwich the whole thing together, then dust with icing sugar.

*= if you live in a country where it is impossible to find self-raising flour, like Norway, you can make your own. Here's how:

For each cup of flour, add 1 ½ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt. I put about 4 cups flour in a big jar and added in 1 ½ x 4 tsp baking powder and ½ x 4 tsp salt. Closed the lid and gave it a good shake. It's a great store-cupboard essential.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Pitahaya (Dragon fruit)

Look what I found at the supermarket the other week. It's a Pitahaya, also known as a Dragon fruit.

Isn't it pretty?

Don't get your panties in a twist over the Pitahaya, though. I had no preconceived ideas about it, I had never tried it before. However, now that I think abut it, I did at one time buy a funny-looking drink at my local Asia food store when I lived in Halmstad because my Thai friend liked it. It was a Dragon fruit pop, it was not tasty at all, too sweet and yeah, not my cup of tea at all.

Anyways, I had obviously forgotten about this pop when I bought the fruit. I actually kept the fruit sitting in the fruit bowl for a few days unsure of what to do with it. Does one just cut it into wedges and eat? I didn't know, so googled it and found out that most people eat it as it is, or cut it into pieces and serve it in fruit salads.

I decided to just cut it into wedges and eat it. First bite: it was like chewing on a whole lot of NOTHING. The dragon fruit tasted of absolutely NOTHING. And all the black seeds freaked me out.

I am not buying this fruit again.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter meatballs

Made these for Easter. They were out of meatballs at the supermarket...

"Spicy" meatballs

Makes about 30 small meatballs

500 g ground beef
½ dl bread crumbs
1 dl milk
1-2 garlic cloves, grated
½ dl parsley
1 tsp cumin powder
salt, pepper
½ onion, chopped
1 egg

1. Start by combining the bread crumbs with the garlic, parsley, cumin and salt & pepper in a mixing bowl. Pour in the milk and leave to swell while you fry the chopped onion until almost see-through.

2. Add the onion to the bread crumb mix and stir to combine.

3. Add in the ground beef and the egg. Using your hands, mix to combine. If the mixture feels too loose, add in some more bread crumbs.

4. Heat some oil to medium high in a frying pan. Using you hands or two spoons, form the beef mixture into bite size meatballs. Fry until done, place on a serving platter, or allow to cool and place in freezer.

(5. The meatballs on the picture were served with a simple tomato sauce made from crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs, a little bit of red chili, a splash of balsamic vinegar and some salt & pepper).