Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Biryani Masala Powder

We are a biryani loving family. Chicken biryani, mutton biryani, shrimp biryani, fish biryani, paneer biryani, veg biryani.............. well, you name it and we eat it. We also cook it at home. 
We have been making our own masalas at home for as long as I can remember. My mother and grandmothers made their own masalas and I guess that legacy is continued at 'merakitchen'.

I generally make these masalas in small batches which last about 4 to 6 months. I keep them in the freezer to retain their aromas.

Follow the link 'some-spices-used-in-indian-desi-kitchens' to get a picture of the spices used here. This is not an exhaustive list. 


Cloves / Lavang - 30 pieces
Black cardamom / Badi elaichi - 5 pieces
Green cardamom / Choti elaichi - 25 pieces
Cinnamon / Dalchini -5 (big)
Nutmeg / Jaiphal- 1/4 piece
Cumin seeds / Jeera - 5 tablespoons
Black cumin / Shahi jeera - 4 teaspoons
Mace / Javitri - 7 pieces
Stone flower / Dagad phool - 10 pieces
Star anise / Chara phool - 8 pieces
Fennel Seeds / Saunf - 4 tablespoons
Coriander seeds / Akkha Dhania - 1/2 Cup
Black pepper / Kali mirch - 3 tablespoons
Bay leaf / Tej patta - 7
Fenugreek seeds / Methi dana - 1/8 teaspoon


Dry Roast all the ingredients one at a time and let them cool in a plate. Once they are at room temperature, grind the entire batch into a powder. I do not sieve the ground spices, but you may do so if you please.
Let it sit on a plate to let go of any heat it may have generated in the grinding process. Store it in a glass jar with a tight cap and keep it in the freezer. This way you keep the aromas intact.
Makes about 2 cups of masala powder. And it has a life of 1 year in the freezer. But, if you are a biryani lover like us................ this will be over in no time.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Some Spices Used in Indian (Desi) Kitchens

I have posted a few masala powder recipes on my blog. I have yet to write about a few other spice powders that I usually have in my freezer.
I just thought - why not write a post showing the different spices used in these masalas. This is not an extensive list. These are a few key ingredients that are used in making spice/masala powders that we use to enhance the taste of curries or biryanis or dry vegetable or meat preparations.
The pictures are pretty self explanatory.

Now I will go ahead and write about the spice/masala powders that are made and used in 'merakitchen'

Monday, January 16, 2017

Apple Pie Cake (with a crunchy cinnamon sugar topping)

Apple pie is one of those American Desserts that makes you go 'yes please!'. I have always loved apple pie with the flaky crust and the gooey apple cinnamon filling. Well, I had no patience to make the pie crust and I wanted to have an apple pie. What is the next best thing to do? Yes, you try and make a cake that tastes like the apple pie.
While I was looking for pie crust recipes - I had stumbled upon this cake recipe. Something that had been on my mind but never got to the oven. I took inspiration from this recipe at 'Pinch of Yum'
I tweaked the recipe a bit in terms of the sugar I used (used a little less than mentioned) and the amount of apples I used too (used a bit more - just because I did not want to munch on raw apples). I also had an orange sitting on my table, so used the zest and the juice. Was not my intention to change the recipe......... lets just say.....it happened.
We loved the cake. It tasted good warm and cold. And we had it with a side of vanilla ice-cream on one occasion too.


1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 cups chopped apples
1 teaspoon allspice powder
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 325 F and grease a 9X13 pan. 
Cut the apples into small pieces and add the orange juice to it (this will prevent it from browning). Sieve the flour, allspice powder, baking powder and baking soda together and keep aside. In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, oil, buttermilk and egg. No need to beat the mixture. To this add the vanilla extract and the orange zest and mix well. To this add the dry flour mixture and incorporate the mixture well. Add the chopped apples and incorporate everything well. I used a spatula to do this. Pour the batter into the 9X13 pan and spread it evenly using the spatula. 
Mix together the butter, cinnamon powder and sugar. Using your fingers spread this mixture on top of the batter very evenly. Pop it into the oven.
The recipe said bake for 45 minutes. Insert a toothpick and check for doneness. If it comes out clean, your cake is baked, if not, you need to bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. 
At 45 minutes my cake was still very raw. So, I had to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. 
Remove from oven and cool a bit. Slice and serve warm with vanilla ice-cream or just like that. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Saagwala Chicken (Chicken in Spinach Gravy) in InstantPot

Writing here after a very very long time. Its not like I don't want to cook or I do not wish to write. I somehow do not get that undisturbed time to sit and write a blogpost. Towards the end of the day, all I want to do is snuggle in the cozy blanket and just snooze away. I guess, that's what the cold winters do to you............. they make you lazy and also 'fat'.
My InstantPot had been doing a good job in my kitchen. I do not use it everyday. Well, there are a few things that I like to cook on the good old stove or sometimes its just the oven or the airfryer that is made use of. But, I can say that all these appliances are used pretty regularly in 'mera kitchen'
Today was a very crazy day. Lil Miss A had a holiday at school and so we woke up a bit late and then it was fun and games till I got a message from a friend about going out to lunch. Mr. A was working from home and he needs his lunch too. I had to leave home in 45 minutes and had to get ready and get the bub ready too and had to make lunch arrangements for the hubster. The InstantPot came to my rescue. There was spinach, tomatoes, chicken and spices....... and that how this curry came about. 


2 pounds chicken - I used boneless skinless chicken thighs and breasts - cut into bite size pieces
4 medium tomatoes
10 garlic cloves
1/2 inch ginger piece
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 green cardamoms
1 black cardamom
3 cloves
1/2 inch cinnamon
2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 big onion or 2 medium ones - thinly sliced
5 cups spinach - I used baby spinach
2 tablespoons oil
salt to taste


Grind the tomatoes, garlic, fennel, cumin, cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, chilli powder, ginger, turmeric and black pepper to a fine paste, You do not need to add water as the tomatoes help with their liquid. Make a puree of the spinach. Add a little water just to aid the puree process.
Put the InstantPot in saute mode. Add the oil. Once it heats up, add the sliced onions and a little salt. Fry the onions till they turn a golden color. Now add the ground paste and mix well. Keep stirring occasionally untill the oil starts to leave the sides. Add the chicken pieces and the spinach puree and mix well. Add 1/2 cup water. Cancel saute function. Cover the lid of the InstantPot with the vent on sealing. Manual for 10 minutes on high pressure. Let the InstantPot do its magic. Let the pressure release naturally.
Open the lid and check if the chicken is cooked. Mine was done well. If not, just put it on saute mode for another 5 minutes.
Serve with steamed rice, chapatis or naan

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