Tuesday, 7 July 2015

MA'S CHICKEN PILAF/MAYER MURGIR POLAO - RECIPE OF LOVE



Looking at me with her large doe eyes, Ma put her hand on mine and in the most reassuring tone said, " Trust me, everything will be fine". No sooner were these words uttered, would I be engulfed in her love and see magic happen. The situation would turn around in my favour, not because the things happening would change, but I would draw immense strength from her words and gain so much confidence, that the same me would see the situation in a different perspective and win over. Yes, every single time I was not sure of a life situation, this was what Ma did and continues to do. 

I think all of you will agree with me and must have experienced and are still experiencing this, in your lives. Mothers make our lives so much easier, don't they? I am sharing with you today MURGIR POLAO or CHICKEN PILAF which is again a recipe from my mother's repertoire. 



DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PILAF AND BIRYANI :

Although Pilaf and Biryani are traditionally both rice and meat dishes, there is a subtle difference between the cooking technique and the intensity of spices used in both these dishes.

The Pilaf is cooked using a one pot cooking technique. Here the meat is first cooked partially with all the aromatics, herbs and spices. Then a pot is taken and the cooked meat is layered at the bottom followed by the uncooked rice and finally the garnishings. The pot is then covered with a tight fitting lid and placed on a low flame. If the Dum or cooking in its own style method is used then the lid on the pot is sealed with a wheat flour dough. In either ways the Pilaf cooks on very low heat, slowly integrating all the flavours beautifully throughout the pot. Also in many home kitchens the uncooked rice and partially cooked meat with its gravy are stirred and mixed together, before the lid goes on top. Also the spices used in a PILAF are more subtle and used in moderate quantity. This makes the PILAF aromatic but keeps the colour light and the taste suitable for most palates. 


As most of us are familiar in a BIRYANI firstly both the meat and rice are cooked separately. The meat is almost or fully cooked whereas the rice is 70% cooked. Both the meat and the rice are cooked in their respective spices,aromatics and herbs before the layering in the pot is initiated. In BIRYANI the parboiled flavoured aromatic rice is layered twice or more between the meat and the garnishing or additional spices. Once the layering is over then fragrant water like that of screw pine and rose are sprinkled lavishly over the top. Also saffron is used in good quantity and finally goes on the lid which is then tightly sealed with the wheat flour dough and the pot put on the flame to allow the BIRYANI to cook in its own steam. 

The spices used in a BIRYANI are more intense and gives a heady aroma once the lid is opened. The colour is also expected to be having a more warmer hue than that of a PILAF. Also many a times handful of the semi - cooked rice are coloured in saffron or pistachio green before going in the pot to be assembled, to give the BIRYANI a vibrant and rich look.


HISTORY OF PILAF : 

The earliest references of the PILAF is found, mentioned in the history of Bactrian hospitality. The Bactrians are known to have served PILAF to ALEXANDER THE GREAT. BACTRIA was an Eastern Persian (Iranian) province and is geographically located in modern day Afghanistan. BACTRIA was the birthplace of Emperor Alexander's wife ROXANA .

The recipe of PILAF is also found in the books of the tenth century Persian Scholar ABU ALI IBN SINA. The Mughals brought PILAF with them to India. 

A variety of PILAF dishes are popular throughout the GLOBE, both VEGETARIAN and NON-VEGETARIAN. Some of them are mentioned below.
1) KABULI PILAF
2) PERSIAN PILAF
3) TURKISH PILAF
4) MUGHLAI PILAF
5) SHAHJAHANI PILAF
6) ARABIAN PILAF to name a few.

With time chefs have added their own touch and come up with many different versions of the PILAF. They have kept the soul and traditional way of cooking intact, only experimenting with different grains, vegetables and ingredients. I have given a few examples below.

2) SHAHI PILAF
3) AFGHANI YAKHANI PILAF
4) IBRAHIMI PILAF
5) MIXED VEGETABLE PILAF etc.


MA'S CHICKEN PILAF/MAYER MURGIR POLAO RECIPE : 

AUTHOR : PIYALI
SERVES : 4
CUISINE : PERSIAN/MUGHLAI
TYPE : MAIN COURSE
TIME : 15 MINUTES PREPARATION AND MARINATION + 45 MINUTES COOKING

INGREDIENTS : 

FOR THE PILAF MIX : 

1) 2 Dry Red Chillies
2) 1 Tbsp Coriander seeds
3) 1/2 Tbsp Cumin seeds
4) 1/2 Tbsp Shah Jeera/Black Cumin Seeds
5) 1/2 Tsp Turmeric powder
6) 1 Bay Leaf
7) 2 Brown Cardamom
8) 4 Green Cardamom
9) 4 Cloves
10) 1/2 inch piece of Cinnamon
11) 1 Tsp Carom seeds/Ajwain
12) 1 Tbsp Screw Pine Water/kewra

1) 500 Gms Chicken on the bone, skinned and cut into medium sized pieces.
2) 500 Gms of Basmati Rice
3) 1 Tsp Garlic Paste
4) 1/2 Tbsp Ginger Paste
5) 1 Large Onion thinly sliced
6) 200 GMs Yogurt 
7) 125 Ml or 1/2 Cup Milk
8) 1 Tbsp oil to Fry the onion
9) 2-3 Tbsp Oil or Ghee for cooking
10) Salt to taste
11) Pilaf Mix 
12) Juice of 1 Lemon

FOR GARNISHING :
1) 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves chopped
2) 1 Tbsp fresh coriander leaves chopped
3) 1 Tbsp of whole cashew nuts

COOK WITH ME IN EASY STEPS :

STEP 1:

In a wok dry roast Dry red chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black cumin seeds, bay leaves, brown cardamom, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and carom seeds. When fragrant coarsely grind them in a grinder adding turmeric and screw pine water. The PILAF Mix is ready and keep aside.

Slice the onions finely. In 1 Tbsp of Ghee/Clarified butter fry the onions till crisp and golden brown. Keep aside.

Wash the chicken pieces and place them in a mixing bowl. In another bowl mix together PILAF Mix , ginger paste, garlic paste, with yogurt and 1 Tsp Salt. Add the lemon juice and mix the chicken well in it. Next add the PILAF yogurt mix, rub the chicken pieces nicely in it and leave it to marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Wash the rice and keep it aside after draining the water from it.


STEP 2 :
In a pan/wok add the oil / clarified butter and when hot add in the marinated chicken pieces along with half of the fried onions leaving the remaining half for garnishing. On low flame cook the chicken covered till it is almost cooked. Once almost cooked add 3 Cups of water ( 1Cup=235 ml approximately) stir and remove from the flame.

STEP 3 :
In an earthen or deep bottom pot add the almost cooked chicken along with the gravy. Now add the rice. Next add in the 1 Cup milk, remaining fried onions, chopped fresh mint and coriander leaves, cashew nuts. ( I have not stirred it at this point as I have followed my Mother's recipe to the tee but you can stir it if you wish). Cover the pot tightly with a lid. You may seal it with wheat flour dough to cook on Dum or just cook like that. Cook on slow flame. Do not remove the lid or stir if you are not cooking on Dum. But allow it to cook on its own slowly till it is fully cooked. After removing from the flame, allow it to rest for 5 minutes before opening the lid. Mix and plate.


Serve piping hot with a delicious minty cucumber RAITA


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MA'S CHICKEN PILAF/MAYER MURGIR POLAO RECIPE : 


AUTHOR : PIYALI
SERVES : 4
CUISINE : PERSIAN/MUGHLAI
TYPE : MAIN COURSE
TIME : 15 MINUTES PREPARATION AND MARINATION + 45 MINUTES COOKING

INGREDIENTS : 

FOR THE PILAF MIX : 

1) 2 Dry Red Chillies
2) 1 Tbsp Coriander seeds
3) 1/2 Tbsp Cumin seeds
4) 1/2 Tbsp Shah Jeera/Black Cumin Seeds
5) 1/2 Tsp Turmeric powder
6) 1 Bay Leaf
7) 2 Brown Cardamom
8) 4 Green Cardamom
9) 4 Cloves
10) 1/2 inch piece of Cinnamon
11) 1 Tsp Carom seeds/Ajwain
12) 1 Tbsp Screw Pine Water/kewra

1) 500 Gms Chicken on the bone, skinned and cut into medium sized pieces.
2) 500 Gms of Basmati Rice
3) 1 Tsp Garlic Paste
4) 1/2 Tbsp Ginger Paste
5) 1 Large Onion thinly sliced
6) 200 GMs Yogurt 
7) 125 Ml or 1/2 Cup Milk
8) 1 Tbsp oil to Fry the onion
9) 2-3 Tbsp Oil or Ghee for cooking
10) Salt to taste
11) Pilaf Mix 
12) Juice of 1 Lemon

FOR GARNISHING :
1) 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves chopped
2) 1 Tbsp fresh coriander leaves chopped
3) 1 Tbsp of whole cashew nuts

THIS IS WHAT YOU DO :

1) In a pan dry roast all the spices under PILAF MIX except turmeric powder and screw pine water. When fragrant remove from flame, cool and grind to a coarse powder adding turmeric powder and screw pine water. Keep ready to use.

2) Prepare the marinade for the chicken. Add yogurt, PILAF MIX, ginger garlic paste and 1/2 Tsp salt and mix well. In a large mixing bowl add the chicken, lemon juice, and the marinade. Rub the chicken pieces well and mix and leave the chicken to marinate for at least 15 minutes.

3) Take a pan. Add clarified butter. Add the sliced onions and fry them till golden brown and crisp. Keep aside.

4) Take a pan/wok. Add oil/clarified butter. Add the chicken along with the marinade and 1/2 the fried onion. Keep the other 1/2 for garnishing. Cook the chicken covered without adding any water at this point.

5) Once almost cooked add 3 cups of water to the chicken. Mix and remove from the flame.
TIP : I have added 1 CUP rice to 2 Cups water. I have used 2 cups of rice approximately. Therefore I have used total 3 cups of water and 1 cup milk. Depending on the instructions on your rice packet adjust the amount of water keeping the amount of milk constant at 1 cup.

6) Take a deep bottom pan or earthen pot. Put the almost cooked chicken along with the gravy into it.

7) Add the uncooked rice, milk, garnishing.
TIP : I don't stir as I want to leave everything in the pot to come together on its own. You may stir if you wish.

8) Cook covered tightly with a lid and leave it on a slow flame to cook at least for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. 
TIP : You may cook on DUM by sealing the lid of the pot with wheat flour dough. In this case leave the pot on low flame for 45 Minutes. If you are not cooking on DUM then do not on pen the lid till 1/2 an hour at least. After that open to check if the rice is cooked and if yes remove from flame and if no leave it on covered for another 15 minutes. Do not stir or mix till it's fully cooked.

9) Once cooked leave it to rest covered for 5 minutes. Mix and serve piping hot with RAITA.