Recipe: Chicken biryani (Indian chicken and rice)

For the longest time, I held an incorrect preconception that biryani is too difficult to bother with at home. However, once you get the hang of it, it is about as involved as making your own meat sauce and putting together a lasagna with it. I can honestly say that the most cumbersome part was making the trek out to Central Square to obtain Indian spices!

R is usually extremely disciplined about not taking second helpings, but today he specifically requested this for dinner and ate an unprecedented three servings. Try it for yourself!

Adapted from Cooking the Globe


Fried onions

  •  3 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 4 serrano chilis
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2″ piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric


  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken up
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bashed with a wooden spoon


  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • Plenty of salt

Finishing touches

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp onion-infused oil (from your fried onions)
  • 3 tbsp water


  1. Marinate the chicken.
    1. Combine all marinade ingredients, except for chicken and greek yogurt, in a mini food processor, and process until minced fine.
    2. Mix into yogurt and add chicken.
    3. Marinate in the fridge for 3 hours.
  2. Soak the rice.
    1. Soak rice in a large bowl with plenty of water for about an hour.
  3. Make fried onions.
    1. Heat oil over medium heat in a saute pan, until the back of a wooden spoon dipped in the oil starts bubbling within three seconds.
    2. Fry onions until golden brown.
    3. Scoop out onions with slotted spoons onto a paper towel lined plate.
  4. Boil the rice. 
    1. Drain rice from its soaking water.
    2. Get a large pot of water boiling and add the rice. Be sure to salt water until it is as salty as ocean-water; otherwise, the biryani will be bland.
    3. Boil rice for 7 minutes and drain.
  5. Make a quick chicken curry.
    1. Use same pan that was used for the fried onions. Preserve all but 3 tbsp of onion-infused oil in a glass container.
    2. Toss in all spices in the curry ingredient list and cook for about a minute.
    3. Add chicken with all the marinade and allow to come to a simmer.
    4. Add tomatoes, and allow to come to a simmer and cook for about 13 minutes.
    5. Scoop out the chicken and cook down the gravy for about 7 minutes.
    6. Remove from heat and add chicken back in.
  6. Assemble and cook.
    1. Take a 3.5-quart dutch oven or similar heavy-bottomed, lidded cooking vessel. Add 2 tbsp of onion-infused oil and water at the bottom.
    2. Add 1/3 of the rice.
    3. Layer with 1/2 of the curry.
    4. Top with 1/2 of fried onions.
    5. Repeat steps 2-4.
    6. Finish layering with the rest of the rice. Drizzle melted butter on top.
    7. Place lid on top, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes.
  7. Fluff the biryani and serve!




Recipe: Indian red onion chutney

I adore this chutney. This is the lovely red-colored onion condiment that many Indian places serve with pappadums or leave on the table in a jar with a small spoon. Indian food eaten at restaurants is pretty heavy stuff, whipped up with generous quantities of cream and butter, compared to home-made. This tart and savory chutney serves as an excellent foil to cut the heaviness… that is, on your palate, not your waistline…

For many years I’ve used a recipe that used tomato paste. It was tasty, but the texture and flavor was not quite right. This recipe that a redditor received from her Indian sister-in-law is much more closer to the real deal. Apparently there are regional variations in the recipes used to make this onion chutney at Indian restaurants in the US, so your mileage may vary in terms of similarity with your favorite place.

Load up your curry with this goodness. It is the perfect accompaniment to chicken tikka masala or butter chicken. It goes nicely with saag paneer as well! I’ve also read some fun ideas for this chutney, such as using it as a cracker dip or blending it with cream cheese to make bagel spread.

Adapted from a posting on this thread


  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely (red or yellow are both fine)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin


  1. Mix all ingredients together. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Recipe: Gazpacho Seville

Gazpacho brings back fond memories. It reminds me of sitting in my friend’s sunny porch in Coolidge Corner after work one summer afternoon, sipping cilantro-grape gazpacho with vodka martinis. It also makes me think of a lazy afternoon meal we had in the Albayzín last year, with hills of homey white building and the bluest blue sky as backdrop, itinerant musicians playing pretty tunes.

Unfortunately, the gazpachos themselves in those happy moments did not impress. I thought myself not a fan and never considered making some myself, until we had a large volume of excellent produce from R’s garden that needed to be used up quickly. I wanted to try out my new Vitamix that came in a couple days ago, so decided to give this NYT recipe a whirl. I was pretty impressed at how tasty this was! I think the magic was in the high quality produce, since gazpacho is a simple dish that allows each ingredient to shine. I’m really looking forward to more batches of this with the rest of our garden tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos, and onions coming in the next few weeks!

Recipe adapted from the New York Times


  • 2 pounds well-ripened tomatoes (I did not chop or core)
  • 2 cloves large garlic
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded and white membranes remo.ved, leave in if you like it spicy)
  • 1 persian/english cucumber, about 8 inches long (peeled)
  • 1 small onion (peeled)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  1. Throw all the produce in a blender and blend until very smooth. Since I used this beast of a mixer, I left all the produce whole. For other blenders, it might be good to chop up the vegetables some.
  2. Turn down the mixer to a low speed. While the blender is still running, pour in the vinegar and salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a thin stream until the gazpacho is emulsified and creamy-looking, a bit like salad dressing. Add pepper to taste.
  3. Store in a glass pitcher and chill for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight.

Recipe: Shrimp yaki udon a la Wagamama

One of my favorite work lunch is yaki (stir-fried) soba at Wagamama. I really am not a fan of their broth based ramens, but this I could eat daily if possible! I order it with udon substituted for soba noodles and with shrimp only. I recently came across their official recipe and gave it a whirl. It came out very similar to the version at the restaurant!

Chicken may also be used with or without the shrimp. Use one thinly sliced chicken breast or thigh and add in with bell peppers.

Recipe adapted from Wagamama’s website

Makes two large servings



  • 3.5 oz light soy sauce (I used green Kikkoman)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (I used red Kikkoman)


  • Two 8 oz blocks of frozen udon
  • 6 oz shrimp, peeled
  • 1 small onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • Large handful beansprouts
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced thinly
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Put all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, and simmer over low heat for about 8 minutes.
  2. Cook udon according to package. Use salted water for added flavor. Be sure to preserve a little cooking water and drain.
  3. Put onion, beansprouts, shrimp, and udon in a large bowl and toss with the finished sauce.
  4. Heat a large saute pan over high heat until droplets of water sizzles. Add oil and cook peppers for about 3 minutes. Do not disturb too frequently, so that the peppers get a bit of nice char.
  5. Add the noodles and veggies in the large bowl to the saute pan. Stir constantly, otherwise it will stick like nobody’s business. Do this for about 3 minutes.Thin it out a bit with reserved water if it looks too dry.
  6. Add the eggs and stir fry for another minute or so.

Recipe: Meatloaf

I’m currently working on cutting down on the amount of refined carbs and increasing protein intake, in order to get some energy boost after work to fuel my workouts and study sessions for my credentialing exams (first one is tomorrow – eek!). Having to squeeze into a bathing suit for our upcoming Dominican Republic trip is also a good incentive as well…

I’ve been looking around for a meatloaf recipe that does not call for bread or breadcrumbs as binders. This one I’ve found in a Betty Crocker cookbook calls for quick-cooking oats, which adds some nice fiber and even more protein to the beef.

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook


  • 1 lb 85% lean beef
  • 1/2 cup finely minced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 tbsp
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup ketchup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Add all ingredients EXCEPT KETCHUP into mixing bowl and mix well. Shape into a loaf and put in a 8 x 5 loaf pan. Note that the loaf pan won’t be completely filled.
  3. Coat top of meatloaf with ketchup.
  4. Bake for about 1 hr 20 mins, or until meatloaf is cooked to an internal temperature of 160F.

Recipe: Caesar salad

I’ve loved caesar salad for as long as I can remember! This version uses yogurt as a base, instead of an emulsion made from oil and raw egg, or God forbid, jarred mayonnaise. I love this healthier version, which packs in a boost of protein and has less fat than traditional caesar without sacrificing any of that savory, zippy flavor that I love. Without a raw egg, the dressing keeps a bit longer in the fridge as well. It’s delicious as a veggie dip, too.

Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven


Dressing (makes enough for 4 dinner servings)

  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup 0% Greek yogurt
  • 3 cloves garlic*
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 5 anchovies packed in oil*
  • 1 tsp oil from anchovies
  • Few turns of black pepper
  • Water

Salad (makes enough for 2 dinner servings)

  • 2 cups dinosaur kale, tough ribs removed
  • 2 cups romaine, torn
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked (I used these amazing instructions!)

* start with one of each if you’re not a fan of either ingredients, then add more to taste.


  1. Combine all ingredients (EXCEPT water) in a mini food processor and pulse.
  2. The dressing will be fairly thick. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse, until dressing reaches desired consistency.
  3. Toss kale and romaine with half the dressing. Top with chicken breasts and serve.
  4. Dressing will keep for a few days in the fridge, tightly covered, but it never lasts very long at my house. The dressing thickens up in the fridge, so you may need to add more water to thin it out a bit.


Recipe: Kalbi style flank steak

I recreated an amazing dish we had at Empire last week, a Korean style flank steak, and it turned out really well! R is not a fan of repeat meals, but he mentioned that he would be happy to eat this weekly. The apple is the secret ingredient in getting the meat nice and tender. Kiwi or Korean pears also do wonders for tenderizing the meat!


  • 2 to 2.5 lbs flank steak
  • 1/4 of medium sized onion
  • 1/4 of medium sized apple, unpeeled
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1″ segment ginger, peeled
  • A couple turns of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp clear liquor that isn’t flavored too strongly (vodka or rum is good)
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp honey or corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Cut steak into nice sized slab. I cut my 2.5lb piece into 5 pieces.
  2. Soak meat in cold water for about an hour.
  3. Puree all ingredients except for the steak in a blender or a food processor until smooth.
  4. Place steak and marinade in a gallon ziploc bag. Allow to marinate at least 24 hours in the fridge.
  5. Lay down a piece of foil on a large skillet or frying pan and preheat on medium high, until a few drops of water dropped on the foil sizzles. The foil is essential – this marinade really gets baked on otherwise!
  6. Take steak out of gallon ziploc and shake off excess marinade. Lay down on pan without crowding the pan or having the pieces touch. Allow to cook for 4 minutes on each side without disturbing. This yields a medium rare steak.
  7. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain. Serve with rice and kimchi.