It’s been ages since I have done a book review. I haven’t been really in a mood for cooking for a long while now and I am constantly fighting my moods. I am actually trying to protect my drafts by doing more themes and trying new recipes, though to complete those have also been a struggle. As has been the practise for the past two years, I have been slowing down and not posting when I am really not in a mood, because then it seems to reflect on the blog as well. 🙂 This book review has been moved at least four times this year. I started off by scheduling it in January and finally, Alhamdulillah, this month it appears! I am just hoping that this start will put in forth a little push to dig in through my cookbooks and start trying something from them. I am just hoping… 😀
So coming back to the book review for today, I am reviewing a beautiful book that I own regarding Pakistani cuisine. I love their food. The flavors and the aromas are always spot on. They may be similar to some of our North Indian cooking but has its splendidness as well. I had purchased this book called “The Food and Cooking of Pakistan – Traditional Dishes from the Home Kitchen” by Shezhad Hussain very long ago due to its good feedback. I had bought it through a local bookstore, when they had a free delivery offer on their books. That is always how I buy my books, I suppose. Hehe… It is a beautiful hardbound book with about 85 recipes, and each recipe comes with a beautiful picture of it, plus much more information about the Pakistani way of cooking and dining in general.
The book starts with a general outline of Pakistani cuisine, their eating and cooking habits, generally and during festivals, and what makes up a Pakistani kitchen. The book then goes to divide the recipes into sections like street food, seafood, chicken, meat, vegetables, rice and breads and finally desserts. Like I mentioned, every recipe is accompanied by beautiful pictures of the dish, and some step-by-step processes too, though not many. The book has all the regional favorites like Chana Chaat, Jhinga Masala, Achari Murg, Haleem, Aloo Paratha and Shahi Tukday. The book even includes sides like chutneys, raitas and simple spice blends.
What I love about the book is that the recipes are very simple, and mentioned in lot of detail. It is a nice book for novice cooks who are trying to make a mark in their kitchen. The book has all the basic recipes required. More than that, I love how colorful the book is. All pictures are beautifully shot, whether it is the food pictures or the general pictures. They are worth all the money put into buying the book. Of course, the hardbound nature of it makes it a little difficult to handle, but then that it what makes that book sturdy.
It wasn’t easy to select a recipe from the book, since I really wanted to try almost all that I could find in the book! Hehe… But there was one reason I had picked up this Sindhi biriyani. We usually never put potatoes into our biriyani. During a grocery pickup, I was browsing through the promo aisles and noted some of the new biriyani mixes that Eastern was promoting, and I happened to glance through the Sindhi biriyani mix. Now, I am not a person of boxed biriyani mixes and I don’t remember when was the last time I picked it up. It stayed in the kitchen till it was almost nearing expiry. Finally I took it out and made it as per the instructions on the pack. We instantly loved it. The potatoes in the biriyani made all the difference. So you can imagine my joy when I found this recipe in the book. Finally I could make the biriyani with whatever is in my pantry. 🙂
If you see the recipe, it is very simple and straightforward with pantry stables. You can replace the chicken with mutton and I can guarantee you that it would be really flavorful. The recipe tasted very close to the biriyani I made with the packed masala mix. HD really loved the biriyani and especially loved the addition of potatoes in it. Hehe… Potatoes are never a part of our biriyani at all. 🙂 The other change I made to the recipe was not adding carrots as mentioned, because I didn’t have any in my pantry. A very important ingredient to this biriyani is the dried prunes or aloo bukhara, which also I haven’t used, but I think the biriyani would have been much more delicious if I had added this ingredient. It was also mentioned in the mutton biriyani on the masala pack, and I had skipped it that time too.
I am already wanting to try a few more recipes from the book, though I hoped that it had a little more emphasis on the sweet section, which is limited to favorites like Sheer Khurma and Gajar Ka Halwa. I am sure that Pakistan has many more delicious dessert varieties than that. But this shortcoming is really covered up by the amount of savory dishes that this book has, making it a very good purchase for novice cooks. I hope you enjoyed this book review. I am hoping that I can make this a monthly feature from now on, but it totally depends on my mood… Hehe… Off to this recipe…
- 3 cups basmati rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
- FOR CHICKEN:
- 1.2 kg chicken, cut into meduim sized peices
- ¼ cup yogurt
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 3 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 1½ tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- 6 prunes (I didn't use)
- Salt to taste
- FOR MASALA:
- ¼ cup mix of oil and ghee
- 3 onions, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves
- 8-10 black peppercorns
- 1 pc cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 large potatoes, chopped into big chunks
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- FOR GARNISH:
- A large pinch of saffron soaked in ½ cup hot water
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 3 green chillies, minced
- 4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- 1 lime, for juicing
- Mix the ingredients from yogurt to salt to marinate the chicken. Add the chicken, toss well and marinate as long as possible.
- In a large pan, heat the oil plus ghee. Add the onions along with the whole spices and saute till golden brown. Add the chicken along with all the marinade and give a good mix. Add the tomatoes and potatoes and cook till the chichken is almost done.
- Meanwhile, boil lots of water and cook the rice for around 8 minutes or till a little undone. It should have a bite in between. Drain the rice, wash well and set aside.
- Fry the onion for the dum in the ghee.
- In the saucepan meant for the dum, spread a thin layer of rice. Put all the chicken masala on top and then spread the remaining rice.
- Sprinkle in the saffron milk, the fried onions, green chillies, coriander leaves and the lemon juice.
- Close tight and cook on dum on meduim-low heat for around 15-20 minutes. Switch off and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- For serving, give a good mix and serve hot with raita and achaar.