Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pakistani Dinner

I've got a backlog of recipes to post in our round-the-world cooking tour. I recently posted about our Persian and Israeli dinners (here and here) and today I bring you our Pakistani dinner. 

We cooked Sindhi biryani and Pakistani-style vegetables. I'm only including the Sindhi biryani recipe as that is the one that we liked best.  We liked it so well, in fact, we have already cooked it a second time. 

To find the recipes, we Googled Pakistani dishes and ended up merging several recipes together in order to create one that accommodated for the ingredients we were able to find and my pathetic inability to handle spicy food.

Sindhi biryani originates from the Sindhi province in southern Pakistan and is one of the most popular dishes in Pakistan.  A biryani is a rice-based dish (usually basmati rice) in which the rice is layered with a spicy curry mixture containing vegetables and often meat.  It was difficult to find on the internet what was unique about Sindhi biryani as there are many many biryani variations, but it may be that the yogurt and potatoes in the curry are the distinctive elements.

Here is the recipe we ended up cooking, although I know I added a bit more seasoning at the end (more tumeric and ginger I think it was) and forgot to write down the amounts.

Oil for cooking
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup basmati rice
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 796 ml tin whole tomatoes, with juice removed
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of cayenne
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
250 gm plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped prunes
small section of the mildest green chili you can buy, chopped (optional)
2 lemons (1 for garnishing)

1.  Boil the potatoes until they are just tender. Drain.
2.  Meanwhile cook rice in 2 cups of water with salt, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes until cooked.
3.  Heat oil in a pot and cook the onions and garlic until they are translucent.
4.  Add the chicken and yogurt and cook for several minutes.
5.  Add the tomatoes and the ginger, cayenne, and turmeric and cook for a few minutes.
6.  Add the prunes, green chilies, and juice from one lemon and cook until the chicken is cooked through. 
7.  Then add the boiled potatoes. Taste the chicken mixture and adjust seasonings to suit your taste.
8.  In another pot, heat oil in the bottom.  Then add a layer of rice, then the chicken mixture, then another layer of rice.
9.  Heat on low for about 5 minutes, and serve with lemon slices. 

Have you ever cooked South Asian food? I'm new to it myself, but love discovering new dishes to cook.  Although I am pathetic at handling spicy food, I love the spices in the South Asian recipes (I just modify them so we get the flavour and not so much of the heat).  Can you handle spicy food?  Please tell me I'm not the only one.

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  1. Basmati rice is my favorite. I noticed you left out the curry. Do you not like it? I must confess that I really hate curry....for some reason it makes me seriously ill. Curry, dill, and white chocolate I can't tolerate for some reason.

    Anyway, I'm glad you don;t have any curry in this recipe!

  2. I live in the Sindh, Pakistan, and have eaten endless plates of Sindhi biriyani. Your biriyani looks very authentic! Well done! Just a few differences in ingredients here - fresh tomatoes are always used (not canned), and fresh ginger. Also, the dried plums that are used in biriyani are very different than prunes. I know that prunes are dried plums but they are a different kind of plum. The ones here are red and quite sour (whereas prunes are fairly sweet). And then, of course, more red pepper than you used! But considering that you are not making yours in Pakistan, with the ingredients available here, you did a great job making a delicious- looking biriyani!

  3. Thank you for your interesting comment Joanie. I'm so glad to know that our Sindhi biryani was fairly authentic. I knew that I should have been using fresh tomatoes and ginger, but tomatoes at this time of the year here in Canada are not really worth buying - expensive and tasteless. I had no idea the dried plums were so different. I wouldn't have had any choice, but to use prunes, but that was very interesting to know. I loved the flavours together, especially with the creaminess from the yogurt.