One of the most delicious dishes in Indian cuisine is biryani. It originated in Persia and was brought to India when the Mughals invaded India in the sixteenth century.  It is popular because it is a complete, delicious meal in one dish that includes rice, meat and vegetables.

Everyone loves the sophisticated flavors of the spices, the mouthwatering aroma and the delicate texture of the rice and main ingredients which can be lamb, chicken, seafood or vegetable. In India, each state and each household makes it slightly differently by varying the meat, vegetables and spices. With so many ways to make it, I can never get tired of it.

Seafood Biryani

Delicious layered Seafood Biryani prepared in an authentic Indian recipe features marinated shrimp, scallops and calamari baked in layers of basmati rice.

My Seafood Biryani recipe is a traditional layered biryani in which alternating layers of rice and seafood are placed in the pot before it is baked. Since this takes a little more time, some recipes skip this step, like I did in my Chicken Biryani recipe. My husband believes that layered biryani tastes better. I think it is better because the appearance is more pleasing, therefore it must taste better.

In my recipe for Seafood Biryani, I use a combination of bay scallops, shrimp and squid. Any combination of seafood will be delicious. A firm fish like swordfish or halibut, mussels, clams, lobster or any of your favorites will be tasty. The seafood is marinated in a blend of Indian spices for a short period of time so the flavors can be absorbed. It is then cooked in a specially seasoned oil.

After the basmati rice is boiled, the biryani is assembled. Alternating layers of rice and seafood are placed in an oven-safe pot. Between each layer, a few grains of rice that have been dipped in food coloring and a bit of saffron milk are drizzled on top.

When the layers are completed, spiced caramelized onions and whole cashews are placed on top. Baking the Seafood Biryani for 15 minutes allows the flavors to blend. When the biryani comes out of the oven, let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Place a generous scoop of biryani on each plate, making sure to include each layer. This dish is best served with Onion Raita.

The seafood is tender and full of flavor. Each rice grain is different in color, from white to orange or red. The caramelized onions add a little sweetness, the saffron infuses a complex taste of mystery and the cashews bring a bit of sophistication to this delicious recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!


Additional recipes from Kachi’s Kitchen for biryani:

Sweet Corn Biryani (2015) incorporates fresh Iowa grown sweet corn sent to me by friends. Perfect for summer dining.

Dum Pukht Chicken Biryani (2012) traditional and most delicious biryani cooked to perfection inside a sealed pot. Perfect for a dinner party.

Langoustine Biryani (2012) is a simplified biryani recipe that uses a packaged spice mix imported from Kerala.

Chicken Biryani (2010) traditional recipe for biryani.

For the third installment of my month of Indian themed burgers, I move to Madras, now called Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu. This is the city in which my husband grew up so this series would not be complete without a Madras Burger recipe.

Madras Burger

The essence of South Indian spices are incorporated into these delicious Madras Burgers. They are topped with homemade onion spread and served on layered parathas.

These easy to make burgers are filled with a spicy mixture of green chiles, ginger, garlic and onion that have been fried in Indian spiced oil. When the vegetables are tender, I mix them into the fresh ground beef and shape the patties. This mixture gives the meat flavor without being overbearing in heat.

The topping for the Madras Burger is based on my husband’s grandmother’s recipe for Hot Onion Chutney. I have modified it for this recipe so it is a creamy spread and has just a moderate amount heat without being pungent. As the onions are caramelized, they become sweet. This contrasts with the red chiles that are fried with them. When the onions are done, I place them in the blender and process them until they are a smooth paste.

To serve the Madras Burgers, I toast South Indian paratha which is a layered unleavened flatbread. They can be made at home or purchased at Indian grocery stores.

Paratha are made with whole wheat flour that is rolled out into a large sheet. As the dough is folded into layers, a tiny amount of oil or ghee is spread between each one. When formed, they are toasted until golden brown on a hot tava or griddle. They are delicious with tender and flaky layers. Of course, they are higher in calories than chapatis. In North India, they are called paratha.

Once the paratha are ready, I cut them in half to fit the burgers. With one patty on top, add a generous spoonful of the Hot Onion Spread and top with some romaine, a tomato slice and the other paratha half.

These Madras Burgers with the Hot Onion Spread are delicious and easy to make. A perfect addition to your next summer barbeque!

Next week, I will travel to southwest India for Malabar Burgers to complete my series of summer burgers.

Continuing my series of Indian themed burgers, I chose to move south from Bombay to Goa. It is one of the most beautiful states in India. With the lush green trees, beautiful sandy beaches and charming historic buildings, it is a place I long to return to again.

Goa Balchao Sliders

The essence of Goan cuisine (sweet, sour and spice) defines these tasty Balchao Sliders. They are topped with sweet grilled onions and tangy mango chutney.

I have designed my Balchao Sliders to incorporate the three key components of Goan cuisine in mind: sweet, sour and spice. Balchao is a special Goan blend of hot red chiles, sweet caramelized onions, sautéed tomatoes and flavorful spices. It usually has a bit of vinegar or another sour ingredient when made as a sauce. Since I use my Balchao mixture as the filling for my burgers, I did not want that flavor to conflict with the burgers. I left the sour and sweet tastes for the toppings.

Once the Balchao mixture is cooked, it is ground until smooth and added to the beef. I form small bite-sized burgers, or sliders, for fun; they can also be made full-size.

The sliders are topped with spiced grilled onions which add a bit of sweetness when they are caramelized. They are lightly spiced with cumin, chile powder and salt.

The key ingredient is my sweet and sour Mango Chutney. I add vinegar to the recipe to increase the flavor profile of this Goan recipe. I use Mango Chutney as the topping for the sliders. It served as a condiment along with Indian meals that contain meat. I like to use it as a spread on sandwiches or simply served on a cracker with cheese.

To serve the Balchao Sliders, place each patty on a small sourdough slider bun, top with a spoonful of grilled onions and a dollop of Mango Chutney. Each ingredient of these sliders contributes a piece of the secret to Goan cuisine.

These Balchao Sliders are delicious and will be a hit at your next barbecue!

Next week, I will travel to southeast India for Madras Burgers.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Chicken can be served in so many ways. Whole, cubed, baked, fried, covered in sauce, spiced. On and on the list of chicken recipes goes. To take a slightly different approach to chicken, I decided to stuff them. Using the large chicken breasts that I usually don’t buy because they are way too big for me to eat at one sitting, I flattened them and filled them with a rice and vegetable stuffing that has been seasoned in the Indian style.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Stuffed with a blend of basmati rice, lentils, cashews and spices, and topped with Lemon-Chile Butter Sauce, these Stuffed Chicken Breasts are delicious.

I start making Stuffed Chicken Breasts by opening up the breasts with a long horizontal cut then flattening them with a kitchen mallet. This step, called butterflying in the industry, is a lot of fun and a stress reliever.

The stuffing is a healthy blend of basmati rice, brown lentils and cashews, all of which are common Indian cuisine ingredients. They are added to a base of seasoned oil in which shallots, garlic and green chile are fried. A bit of chopped spinach is added at the last step to provide color and enhance texture. In my opinion, this stuffing could be served alone.

I place a generous amount of the stuffing inside the flattened chicken then roll them up like burritos. To keep them together during the cooking process, I tie them up with a string. They are browned in a skillet then baked until done.

To bring the dish together, I prepare a Lemon-Chile Butter Sauce that I drizzle over the Stuffed Chicken Breasts just before serving them. It is lightly seasoned with red chile powder for flavor, not for heat.

The Stuffed Chicken Breasts can be served whole or they can be sliced into medallions. Slices, in my mind, make a more elegant presentation as well as allow for better portion control. Serve them as you prefer with the Lemon-Chile Butter melting down the sides. This is a delicious recipe!

I wasn’t planning on making Sevai Pulav this week but I was cleaning out and organizing my pantry and found a bag of dried rice noodles. I must have forgotten that I had bought them and I was so glad I found them. Suddenly the idea of sevai and vegetables sounded like a great combination for dinner.

Sevai Pulav

Rice Noodle Pulav, or Sevai Pulav, is an easy to make, delicious and healthy vegetarian meal that is full of Indian spice flavor.

Sevai is dish made with rice noodles that is steamed and gently fried in oil wth mustard seeds. I it a very simple dish that is an excellent alternative to plain rice. I published my recipe for Sevai in 2014 and followed up with a post in which I described how to make rice noodles at home. Making them at home is a lot of fun and is a great family project for a rainy day.

Sevai Pulav is based on my Vegetable Pulav which can be found in my first cookbook, Kachi’s Kitchen. The first step in this recipe is to blanch the vegetables. I use plenty of cauliflower, carrots and green beans in my recipe but peas and asparagus would be good additions as well. My recipe uses more vegetables than a standard pulav recipe because I like the idea of a one pot meal where the whole meal is served out of one pot.

The essence of this recipe comes from the seasonings that include garam masala, cumin and turmeric which are fried in oil flavored with cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf. In this, garlic, ginger, onion and a green chile are fried. When they tender, I add tomato paste and water to create a light sauce for the cooked noodles. After everything is mixed together, I let the dish simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Sevai Pulav

Sevai Pulav is delicious for lunch or an easy weeknight dinner.

The Sevai Pulav is topped with fried cashews and sprigs of cilantro. This dish is served as an entrée so it is served with raita, pickle and pappadams.

After learning about how healthy barley is for your body, I had to find more ways to include it in my recipes. It is loaded with fiber, protein and essential nutrients so I find that I stay full for a long time when I eat it. I love its mild flavor and chewy texture. It was only natural that I include it in a soup recipe.

Curried Vegetable Barley Soup

Curried Vegetable Barley Soup is based on a traditional recipe but is enhanced with pearled barley and Indian spices to make a healthy and tasty soup.

My Curried Vegetable Barley Soup recipe is based on the traditional recipe but is enhanced with pearled barley and spices. The barley is boiled in the broth so it absorbs flavor as well as water. I use my favorite vegetables, cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, carrots and potatoes, all chopped into bite sized pieces. The broth is flavored with a homemade curry powder mixture made with coriander, cumin, turmeric, chile powder, fenugreek and fennel. To save time I use spices that are already ground rather than grinding them fresh. The spice mixture adds a combination of rich, exotic flavor with a tiny bit of heat. To make the soup even healthier than it already is, I add a cup of chopped kale during the last steps to add color and texture.

This Curried Vegetable Barley Soup is so full of vegetables and flavor that I serve it simply with a toasted buttered naan on the side. My husband likes to dip the bread into the soup to soak up every last bit of flavor. This is one of his favorite soups. It is delicious.

Who does not like mashed potatoes? They are a favorite item at my house because their creamy, smooth texture is so satisfying. My family, specifically, my son, thinks they should be served every day at dinner. Unfortunately for him, I like to serve different vegetables every day to keep us healthy and our dinners from becoming routine. My husband, on the other hand, considers a Malayali dish called Potato and Tomato Vindaloo to be comfort food. I think he could eat this creamy potato dish every day.

Mashed Potato Vindaloo

Mashed Potatoes Vindaloo a fusion of western comfort food and Indian spices to create a delicious vegetarian dish that is full of flavor.

To compromise between traditional American mashed potatoes and the south Indian version, I am bringing them together into one dish that both of them like, called Mashed Potatoes Vindaloo.

Both recipes start out the same by boiling peeled potatoes and mashing them. After that, the recipes diverge.

The “goodies” as I call them are made by seasoning oil with cumin and chiles and then cooking the vegetables in it. Since this is my recipe and I love eating as many vegetables as possible, I add liberal amounts of onion, garlic and tomato to the pan. When they are tender, I add more spices and some water. As the tomato breaks down, a creamy broth is made.

When mashing the potatoes, I do not try to make them smooth. I like to leave some chunks to give the final dish some texture. Simply add the potatoes to the “goodies” and mix well. The potatoes will absorb the color and flavor of the broth. Let this cook for a minute so the flavors have a chance to combine before serving.

Mashed Potatoes Vindaloo is a tasty side dish that can be served with any entrée. It is delicious the next day wrapped in a hot chapati like a burrito. My husband even takes them to work for lunch.

Vegetable pulav is a rice dish that is prepared with a variety of fresh vegetables that are cooked in Indian-spiced oil. It is often served as a side dish or as a main item with a side of raita. It is one of my favorite recipes. My vegetable pulav recipe has a higher ratio of delicious vegetables to rice than others to cut calories.

For a change of pace, I decided to incorporate barley into a pulav recipe because of its firm texture. Barley is healthy grain. It contains large amounts of fiber, protein and other important nutrients. I try to limit the amount of rice that I eat because it is lower in fiber and higher in carbohydrates.

Barley Pulav

Barley Pulav a fusion of a popular Indian recipe and spices with healthy barley. They come together to make a delicious and versatile side dish.

To make Barley Pulav I simply boil the barley until it is tender. While it is cooking, I prepare the seasonings and vegetables. The first step, as always, is to season the oil by adding cardamom, cinnamon, dried red chilies, cumin, clove and bay leaf. Then I add my vegetables: carrots, green beans, onion, garlic and ginger. You can change the ingredients based on your preference and modify the ratios as well. Peas, small red potatoes and squash would make great additions. I let the vegetables cook at a low temperature until they are tender.

Finally, I add the barley to the vegetables. I let everything cook together for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to blend and absorb into the barley.

Barley Pulav is so easy to make that I can be served any night of the week. In fact, it is a terrific dish to take to a potluck as this dish can be served at room temperature and still be tasty. Your family and friends will love this dish.

Everyone needs a delicious recipe for roast chicken that they can pull out and make when family or friends come over for a meal. There are several variations of recipes that all produce tasty chicken with crispy skin that are full of flavor and beautiful on the table. The primary differences are oven temperature, cooking time and seasonings.

Roast Spiced Chicken

Roast Spiced Chicken is a delicious Indian recipe for a whole chicken that is subtly seasoned with exotic spices and roasted to perfection.

I like this recipe for roast chicken because the meat has a rich savory flavor that stands up to any side dish. The spices that make up the masala that is used to coat the entire outside of the chicken, and the lemon, garlic, onion and fenugreek leaves that are placed on the inside, flavor the meat perfectly.

The steps to prepare this roast chicken are essentially the same as one would find in any recipe. The masala which is made with garam masala, coriander, cumin, red chile powder, fenugreek leaves and turmeric make this recipe special. It is mixed with a bit of oil before it is spread over the skin of the chicken. If you have time you can let the spices infuse the skin before roasting but this is not required. As usually happens in my kitchen, I run short of time so I roast the bird as soon as it is ready.

After I fill the chest cavity, I skip the process of trussing the bird. Instead I simply loop a piece of string around one leg, loop it around both legs then add one more loop around the second leg. I tie the string in a bow to make it easier to remove later.

As the chicken roasts, the kitchen is filled with an enticing aroma. After an hour in the oven, the outside of the bird turns a rich crispy brown color due to the spices.

Roast Spiced Chicken

Roast Spiced Chicken presents heavenly aromas right out of the oven.

Once the chicken is removed from the oven and has cooled for a sufficient amount of time, it can be sliced and placed on a platter or cut into quarters based on your preference. This recipe is so easy to make but it will be a welcome addition to any meal. Serve with any starch and vegetables on the side. I like to serve it with my Barley Pulav recipe which I will feature next week.

Barley is grossly under-appreciated. When I found myself in the grains aisle at a Lebanese grocery store in Houston a few months ago I happened to add a bag of barley to my cart. When I got home I realized that it is an amazing grain – it is low in calories and high in nutrients.

In India, barley is most traditionally used for barley water which is a drink made with boiled barley and consumed when one is sick. It is also very cooling to drink on hot summer days. I have tasted barley water and have to confess that it is the blandest and most uninspiring drink I have ever tried. It tastes like starchy water and gives the impression that it would be full of nutrients.

It is not often found in Indian recipes but the ones I found are conjee, a thin porridge eaten throughout India, and khichdi, a simple rice and lentil dish that can be called comfort food.

Barley is consumed as a possible preventative for kidney stones, reducing the occurrence of kidney stones and other ailments by flushing toxins out of the body. I found an article in the Times of India (2013) that promotes drinking barley water as a way to achieve a thinner waistline. Hmm, I think that I need to try this!

Barley Kesari

Barley Kesari is a fusion of barley and Indian Kesari.

Barley is also very high in nutrition. It contains large amounts of both insoluble and soluble fiber which is known to reduce cholesterol. It is high in protein and other important nutrients to keep one full and healthy. I like eating barley because of its ‘meaty’ texture; I feel like I am eating something substantial that will stick with me throughout the day.

Barley is available hulled and pearled. Just the outer hull is removed in processing for hulled barley. This kind has the most nutrients left intact. It takes a long time to cook, over an hour. It is very chewy in texture and makes a great breakfast cereal. Pearled barley has had most of the outer husk removed so it is not considered a whole grain. It is still very nutritious but some of the fiber has been removed. It takes much less time to cook and is not quite as chewy as the hulled variety. It is more suited for most recipes. Do not worry if you purchased hulled or pearled; either one can be used for a delicious dish. The only change that must be made is cooking time.

It is also available as a quick version that takes just 10 minutes to cook because it is precooked and dried. I have not tried cooking with it but my daughter bought it and says it tastes fine.

Barley Kesari

This healthy recipe for Barley Kesari uses a bit of butter, brown sugar and dried fruit for tasty flavor and sweetness.

My Barley Kesari combines barley with a traditional Indian desert recipe called Kesari which is made with cream of wheat and a lot of butter and sugar. In my healthy version, I use a tiny bit of butter and a fraction of brown sugar but include dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, mango and pineapple chunks to add different flavors and textures as well as sweetness. To make Barley Kesari the most difficult task is to be patient while the barley boils. It can take over an hour until it is tender. Once it is cooked, adding the sugar, butter, fruit, saffron and cardamom only takes a few minutes. Once it is ready, serve immediately with fresh raspberries on top while hot. It is delicious as well as healthy!

Barley Kesari

Barley Kesari and fresh raspberries are a perfect match!