8 Feb 2011

Mushroom biriyani, onion raita and couscous halwa

It is quite sometime since I blogged :)

Yesterday I got hands on some very fresh white button mushrooms here and I prepared a lightly spiced rice using them as the main ingredient.

No one can beat mom in preparing mushroom biriyani. The taste is simply WOW !........Whenever she prepares this dish, the whole house retains the utterly mouth watering aromas of the spiced basmati rice. I have tried this dish several times, to my delight only today was it tasting a little like the one mom used to prepare. Do not get discouraged by me saying this, I had an ingredient missing !!!! It was Garam masala powder. This powdered spice mix enhances the flavour of a dish immensely and caution has to be taken to not add too much of this spice powder to a dish.

I had recently bought a pack of couscous. I prepared it with some veggies, just like the Indian vegetable upma. I had cooked the couscous separately before adding it to the veggies. As soon as the couscous was cooked, I had a taste of it and at that moment I immediately developed a strong liking for it. The taste was very familiar to my taste buds I felt and was thinking what all I can do with it. Today I tried a very popular sweet dish, Rava kesari. But instead of semolina I made it with couscous. It tasted nice. Simple and sweet :)

I had quickly noted down what I had done when I was taking my lunch. So here is what I did and you will need the ingredients given below to try out my recipes !

Mushroom Biriyani

To be (pressure) cooked with 2 cups of water separately

White button mushrooms - 250 gms - each quatered
Red onion, big - 1 - finely chopped
Ginger - 1"x1" piece - finely chopped
Garlic, big cloves - 5 - finely chopped
Cloves - 2
Cardamom - 1
Cinnamon - 2"x1" piece
Star anise - 1/2
Salt - 1/2 tsp

Other ingredients

Basmati rice - 1 cup
Red onion, big - 1 - thinly sliced
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 1/2 tsp
Mint leaves, small - 15
Cinnamon - 1"x0.5" piece
Cloves - 4
Shah jeera - a pinch
Asafoetida - a pinch
Oil - 1 tbsp
Ghee / Clarified butter - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp

I assume that as told the ingredients to be separately cooked are cooked and kept ready. The cooked mushroom and spice mixture must be strained and separated from the water. Reserve this stock for adding later.

1. Heat the oil and ghee in a thick bottomed vessel / pan. Add in the whole spices and asafoetida, fry for 10 secs. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for almost a minute.

2. Add the sliced onions and fry till they are transluscent. Now add the chopped mint leaves to it and fry for a minute.

3. Now add the cooked mushroom spice mixture and rice, mix well. Add in the reserved stock (I used 1 1/2 cups of stock for 1 cup rice). Add salt, bring it to a boil and then reduce the flame and cook it on low heat till done or else, if you have electric stove like me you can pressure cook the rice mixture by transferring it to a container that can be put inside the cooker and cooked (There lot of ways to cook the rice). Sprinkle some chopped corriander leaves and serve.

Serve hot with raita or kuruma.

This recipe serves 4 persons with one another maincourse dish (like roti and a dry sabji). For 2 people it might get a bit monotonus.

Onion raita

Red onion, small - 1 - finely chopped
Corriander - 3 sprigs - chopped
Curd / Yoghurt - 3/4 cup
Water - 1/4 cup (I added water since the curd was too thick)
salt - 1/3 tsp (always taste before adding)

1. In a bowl mix in all the ingredients and serve as an accompaniment with spiced rice or parathas.

Couscous halwa

Couscous - 1/2 cup
Raw cane sugar or any other sugar - 3/8 cup (the raw cane sugar is not the Indian jaggery)
Milk - 3/8 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
Almonds - 4 - chopped
Cashews - 4 -broken
Dry grapes (kismis) - 10
Ghee / Clarified butter - 1 tsp
Cardamom - 3 pods - powdered
Salt - a pinch

1. Heat a pan with ghee, fry the cahews till golden and the dry grapes till they puff up. Immediately add the couscous and fry for 2 minutes.

2. Add the sugar, salt, chopped almonds, milk, water and powdered cardamom. Mix well. Bring to boil and close with the lid and cook till done.

Serve the couscous halwa warm or cold.

Some glimpses of my today's lunch :)

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Have a great time !!