Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fish and Shrimp Biriyani

I do want to spare you the details for these prolonged absences of mine. I mean really what's worse than a truant blogger (with a reputation for recurring MIA status)? An excusemaker, indecisive recipemaker perhaps slacker,  raise my hand to all three. I will  render my I'm sorry's at the wee end, yes, a cheap shot at peacemaking, I know. But I can't bring more delay, from what I see, you are long due for a recipe.

Today's subject is one that comes from a line of mouthwatering exotic wonders. The words firstclass and luxe come to mind when considering it. Do I have your curiosity?  I'm glad, because it's not to disappoint. 

I've played this song in my head and tuned it in several dinner auditions, quite an urgency it was, you see, that first take after longestbreakever should be just this, the conclusion to all fanciful dinner tickets, an outstanding biriyani. While through recipe reiteration I shall bring to light the best- on features of this classic Indian dish, realize it's one of those multigoogled Indian recipes fed in from several URLs, and viewed on cues of countless youtube channels. With strong Indian personalty and roots branching from ancient Persian empires, many parts of South Asia have their own variant of the most popular mixed rice meal. Why even wiki knows  so many names affixed to the name, marking it of a specific culture, region( State, country, clan or otherwise), going as far as particular chefs bearing their own unique stamp on specially priced biriyani plates. Really, then the preparation of biriyani is not designated to the one method, but embraces several, swapping in/out a great many alternatives, and being restyled in thousands of brilliant ways. All this without losing authentic integrity and still falling into the skim category of tastiest rice dishes on the planet.

It's intense. A well padded curry and freshly roasted rice, to be made separate, then layered to repeat,  but here you'll discover that approach abandoned and substituted with something swifter, nonwasteful and may I say it (?) Yes, altogether better.. 
The more the merrier. Onions make for outstanding biriyani.
Green and beautiful. But not for all... fainthearted buddies, I suggest you seed the pretties off. Tastewise, you may not have the same experience, but a better suited, customized heat level will be achieved.
Scented aromatic basmati rice serves most efficient. The beauteous long grain, plays its boldest part and, I like to think, rightful destiny in the flavorful arrangement. Pushing in shrimp and tender white fish, enough spice and element, it creates itself, a well dressed and done up one pot wonder, best contender for The Champion Of  Fantastic Indian Fare.

There are several advantages of the one pot here, main being your gallons of water and ten pots saved, originally needed if you went about it any other way, with various many requiring frying pan, roasting pan, curry pan and the holdall pan for the endshuffle and bake. No, what I have is assigned to those of you who don't swim in pools of time, who love your food hugged in flavor and fragrance, not overwhelming, but  a wonderful fulfillment to the eye as well as the nose. It's an ode; The Grand Prepare, and one of amalgamated beauty. Yes, you've reached and thereby have everything you need.

This is the gamechangingutterandbeyonddreamcuisine; superb in a first sitting, and impressively progressing to better and best with second and third day tastings (no guarantees it makes it that far). 

Don't miss the call, my friends, your cut into an outstanding Indian journey, nothing short of beauty, spice and just about everything nice awaits you.

  • 2 c basmati rice, rinsed well 
  • water
  • 4 sprigs mint
  • 1 big bunch cilantro, stems and all
  • 4 serrano chilis (feeling adventurous? Make it 6 )
  • 1 1/2"piece ginger, chopped 
  • 8-10 cloves garlic
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 c cooking oil
  • 3 medium onions thinly sliced ( I like to use red)
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 3 black peppercorns, slightly crushed
  • 2 pieces cardamom, crushed
  • 1 star anise, crushed
  • 2 tbsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 c lowfat plain yogurt
  • juice of half lemon
  • 3 skinless tilapia fillets, cut into 1' pieces
  • 1 lb large raw shrimp
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk powder ( I use Magi)
  • 3 1/3 c warm water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp salt or enough to flavor
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • chopped cilantro, to garnish

  • In a medium bowl, soak basmati in enough water to immerse. Set aside for half an hour. 
  • In a food processor or blender, make a chunky paste out of mint sprigs, cilantro, serranos, ginger and garlic and lemon juice.
  • Heat oil in a large heavy pot (enough for all your ingredients to fit in).
  • Add in 1/3 of the onion slices and allow to caramelize and brown. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Keep aside.
  • Heat bay leafs/ crushed spices into the oil, then add remaining 2/3 onions and allow to cook over medium flame until translucent.
  • Mix in the blended mint/cilantro/ginger/garlic paste and sauté until cooked through, about a minute.
  • Add coriander, cayenne, cumin, turmeric in quick succession and cook through, until oil separates to sides of mixture, about 3 minutes.
  • Drop in tomatoes and cook for an additional minute. Stir in yogurt and lemon juice.
  • Drain rice and get rid of all moisture. Add to the same pot of onion/ spice mixture, keeping heat over medium and stir till grains are well coated.
  • Gently stir in fish and shrimp, careful not to break apart the fish.
  • In a cup, mix the coconut milk powder with 1 c warm water. Pour this and the remaining 2 1/3 c water into rice mixture. Add soy sauce, salt. Take flame to medium- high. Add ghee. 
  • Once rice mixture boils, wrap the inside of the lid of pot, completely with aluminum foil. Place the sealed lid on pot. Reduce to lowest flame. Cook undisturbed for 30- 35 minutes. If your pot retains heat well, like mine, I allow it to cook for 10 minutes on low and then turn it off for about 40 minutes.
  • Garnish with the caramelized onions you set aside in the beginning and chopped cilantro.
  • Serve with plain yogurt, or raita.
Notes~ I set aside a few pieces of the shrimp and fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper and fry in the oil before the spice and onions go in. This way it  flavors all the ingredients and you have the fried pieces as a wonderful biriyani topper.
Make it !*Easy raita* =1/4 c chopped cucumber + 3/4 c plain yogurt +salt+ pepper
Alternatively, fry some cashews and raisins in same oil and set aside for garnish in the end. All's good and still requires just the one pot!
With basmati rice, a proportion of double the water to rice is what's usual to have the rice cooked to the right consistency. For the one pot,  I have estimated the moisture from the other elements and the absorption of my heavy bottomed pan and given the amount of liquid mentioned. You may want to use slightly more or less depending on the liquid used/absorbed.
For those of you like me bereft of a fresh coconut milk experience, Maggi coconut milk powder works really well, especially when you want to control the consistency and texture of the liquid.
No Maggi, no problem! Swap 1/4 c of  unsweetened, canned coconut milk (altogether using 3 1/3 c liquid).
Can we add an extra hour to our day? So much to do, so little time. Does it resound as much with you as it does  me?  I can't offer a particular excuse for such long absences, it's perhaps a conglomerate of many things. As I relearn, and teach and repeat advanced algebra to my middleschooler, while explaining paragraph and essay writing to her younger sibling,  a good part of weekday mornings, often extending into nights are whipped away justlikethat!(yes, we homeschool;-)). Weekends are consumed with driving across our outstretched valley to soccer fields, piano recitals, competition venues, often accompanied by megacups of caffeine. With an unforeseen computer crash and a broken oven, apparently my home protection services have an even busier schedule than I, grrr (!) :-/, I begin to wonder what hit me and if it did, did I lose consciousness or just my mind? Please don't laugh

No, these aren't excuses, and I am sorry though that I couldn't stride across and type in even those few words, maybe a three ingredient smoothie recipe (yes, I have one). Honestly, I fail at multitasking. But thank you for being such an awesome audience with the encouraging emails and messages, facebookfriendings and those five new followers. Yes, I see you.  :)) 

During all these timechasing, energy depleting days, I am sometimes overcome by a fatigue of spirit. That is when I hand it to Him, my hope and my rest are in the Savior Christ. He alone gives me the renewal and calming that I need, mentally, physically and spiritually, often reminding me of my destination. "His love has the first and last word in everything we do."

Jesus can fulfill and revitalize a wearisome mind and body, restore what you can't repair. For when I am weak He is strong. He alone can step me up and broaden my stance to where I do soar on wings like eagles. 

"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NASB)

"But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." Proverbs 4:18 (NASB)