Seasoned Fish & Rice
Biryani is a traditional seasoned rice dish with yogurt and any type of meat. There are many versions—all delicious.
Marinade: in a bowl large enough to hold the fish pieces make paste with yogurt, mango powder, garam masala, chili powder, and salt. Gently stir fish into paste, covering pieces thoroughly. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Rice: in a large heavy skillet, cook onion in 1 T ghee over moderately low heat until softened. Add garlic. Cook until golden (not brown). Add rice, cardamom pods, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, tomato paste, and water. Cook, covered, over moderate heat for 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and rice is tender. (Add more water if needed.)
Fish: Steep saffron in 1/4 C water for 5 minutes. In a separate skillet, heat 2 T ghee and fry fish until lightly browned. Add more ghee if needed. Gently stir the fish into the rice over low heat and sprinkle the steeped saffron over the fish/rice mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Serve: accompanyy with a separate of Raita . Make and chill the yogurt sauce at least an hour beforehand.
Tips & Glossary
Many of the ingredients used for Indian cooking probably aren’t in your spice shelf. And you may find them only at specialty Indian stores. So to avoid frustration, make a list of the items you need before trying out the recipes.
Watch out for those chilies! Unless you love the real hot stuff, reduce the amount of chili called for in the recipe.
Asafoetida: a powdered spice related to the fennel family.
Basmati Rice: literally “Queen of fragrance." This rice, cultivated in India, is known for its delicate flavor and fragrance.
Besan: also known as “gram flour,” made of ground chana dal, like chickpeas, only smaller and lighter in color.
Cardamom: related to the ginger family. Pods (green, brown, or black) are the best way to store cardamom. But high-quality ground is also available. A rule of thumb: 10 pods = 1 1/2 tsp. ground.
Chili: any small hot pepper, as opposed to larger, milder bell peppers; widely used in Indian cuisine.
Coriander: aka cilantro, Chinese, or Mexican parsley. Both fresh leaves and dried ground seeds are used in Indian, Asian and Mexican cuisines.
Cumin: an aromatic, kin to parsley and carrot plant; an important ingredient in chili powder. Used especially in Indian curries. It has an earthy, peppery flavor.
Curry: a generic term for a soups and stews flavored with variety of spices—most often cumin, coriander, and tumeric, but others as well. You can make curry powder or buy it commercially.
Garam Masala: literally, “hot spice,” usually a mixture of cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods. McCormick makes it; even Cooks Illustrated rated it highly.
Ghee: clarified butter. Melt 1 lb. unsalted butter over low heat for 20 minutes (careful not to burn), remove from heat and skim away solids. Strain through cheesecloth into a separate container and keep…forever. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you buy commercial ghee, make sure it comes from real butter, not hydrogenated oils.
Saffron: stigma from the crocus family; it’s the most expensive spice in the world. Buy saffron threads; before using them, steep in a little hot water for 10 minutes to release flavor.
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