22 March 2011

Aloo Palak Biryani - The Express Way

Things have been kinda quiet around this blog. Those of you who follow me on Twitter might know the reason for the silence on the food blogging front. The husband became the first Indian to run the Atacama Desert. The Atacama Crossing happened between 6 -12 March in Chile. Here's the blog where I have captured all the details of his run, and the links to photos and videos. Although, I couldn't be there personally at the finish line to cheer him, the updates from the organisers and the tons of pictures kept me clued in as to how the husband and the other runners were faring.

Also, I have started a personal tumblog for recording the non-food feelings. From the great response the blog has received, I see that people enjoy reading snippets from others' lives and also identify with a whole of things. It becomes a platform to share thoughts with like minded people who also leave words of empathy and useful advice.
Do read the two recent posts on it and let me know your thoughts.

Coming back to food, last evening was one of those times where I got totally stuck on what to cook for dinner. Having picked up fresh spinach on the way back from my run and I wanted to use it up. I was inspired by the Chhole-Biryani my dad made us one day for lunch when they were here, so I decided to use a similar method and spices to prepare this spinach and potato biryani.

Let me add a disclaimer that this is not made in authentic biryani style such as layering the curry with rice and then cooking under dum, etc. I choose to call this biryani, but if you are too much of a purist, then call this pulao or vegetable rice or by any other name you please. I can promise you this will taste as good. While it took me just around 25 minutes from start to finish because I use the pressure cooker for everything and it speeds up my cooking, if you choose to pan cook the potatoes and rice, this will take somewhat longer.

I loved this fragrant, spicy rice dinner. Paired with raita, it makes a complete meal.

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Recipe for Aloo-Palak Biryani
Spinach and potato rice
Serves 3 people generously
Time taken - Under half hour

1 tbsp oil and ghee
Dry spices
2 cinnamon sticks
1 piece of mace
4-5 cloves
1 black cardamom
1/2 tsp shahjeera (caraway seeds)
1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

1 large onion, sliced thin
3 cups of shredded spinach
2 tsps of Chhole masala ( I use Goldiee, see notes)
1.5 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 cup crumbled paneer, optional
2 large potatoes, cut into big pieces
1 cup basmati rice
5-6 strand of saffron in 3 tbsp of warm milk


In a pressure cooker, place the washed rice with 2 cups water and pinch of salt. Cover this vessel with a dish and place the large potato cubes on this. Pressure cook for one whistle, keep on sim for 3-5 minutes and switch off the flame. We want both the rice and potatoes to be just done and not mashed.

In a large kadai, heat ghee. Add pinch of asafoetida, all the dry spices. Stir for a few seconds, then add the sliced onions, ginger-garlic paste. Saute on medium heat for 3 -5 minutes, adding the shredded spinach after that. Allow spinach to wilt on high heat.

Once the cooker is cool enough to be opened, remove the potato cubes. Remove the rice onto a large dish, gently separate with fork and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Add the potato cubes to the onion-spinach mix along with the spice powders and salt. Toss gently to coat the potato with spices, let this cook on low heat for 5 minutes with occasional turning, adding the crumbled paneer towards the end.

Add the nearly cooled rice to the mix in the kadai, toss gently till evenly mixed along with saffron-milk.
Cover this with a tight light and let the flavours come together on low heat for 5 more minutes.

Serve hot with raita and papad.

I highly recommend Goldiee Chhole Ka Masala. After using this for the last 3 years, I can tell you, no other masala comes close. While it is manufactured in Kanpur, most of it is exported to Gulf countries, I believe. My friend who's relatives own this company, is always generous to send me a few boxes of this masala each year which i treasure dearly. All you hing fans, Goldiee Heera Hing is strong and fragrant like NO OTHER. Use it to believe it. And no, I am not getting paid to promote this! Check their website for more details.

All you Aloo-Methi lovers can substitute the spinach with fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves for a delicious variation.


Nupur said...

OMG! Congratulations to your husband- that is such an achievement! I can only marvel at such feats of strength and endurance.

And oh yes, every time I use Goldiee chana masala, I thank you for that superb gift. I use it sparingly, because it is not easily available.

sanjeeta kk said...

Congrats for becoming a proud wife of the great achiever! read it on blogadda.
Love the quick and easy Biryani. Idea of steaming rice an potato first is helpful.

Lite Bite

Manasi said...

Wow! Congratulations to ur husband- you must be so proud!
I can only fantasize of such feats and applaud his courage and strength
I wish we could get Goldiee Masalas here, I should like to try that... maybe my Mom can send me some the next time she sends me a care parcel, hopefully she will get some in Navi Mumbai:)

Viji said...

Hi....Congratulations to your husband for being the first Indian to cross the Atacama...a marvellous achievement indeed!! I happen to be following your tweets for sometime now.This morning,I came to know that your husband was my senior at school thro' a post about his wonderful feat at our alumni page on FB.Am very happy for him as an Indian & as a Michaelite ..Kudos...
Btw,are you from Mike's too??
PS:Like your recipes :-)

s said...

hey congrats! is quite a feat.
the biriyani looks inviting..and I love the combo..

Karishma said...

Congrats to both your husband, for his passion and focus, and you for the strength and love and support you have and gave him! It's a huge and very rare achievement...proud as an Indian too :)

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