Yakhni (Stock) Pulao

What happens when you stumble upon a beautiful recipe book with stunning photographs? Don't you start pinning your favourite recipes in your mental scrapbook and wondering whether the pantry has a stock of all the ingredients and perhaps that one special spice to add a twist to the recipe you have just seen to make it more personal, to improve upon the original and make it personal?

I start day dreaming about it and make a menu planning out the elaborate details or sometimes simply noting it down if I am not feeling too lazy to pick up the mighty pen.

Today's post  is one of such recipe that I was hooked to, when I first came across a lovely book long time back. This book was called "The foolproof cookbook for brides,bachelor's and those who hate cooking" by Rohini Singh. It had some good collection of simple recipes for self satisfaction and were crowd pleasing too.

I loved this particular recipe because the whole process of cooking rice in stock that is infused with meat and whole spices renders an amazing flavour to the dish. This recipe is a milder version of biryani and has a fine delicate balance of flavours.

Recently when I was browsing at our local library I found a lovely book "Indian Kitchen"by Maunika Gowardhan. She takes us on a captivating journey of recipes to suit our moods and feelings.  I love her saying " whatever your mood, the book will inspire you to add Indian cooking to your weekly menu". Her introduction about elaborate meals cooked in Indian houses is touching and emotional and transports me to the old memories of elaborate meals and spreads my mum and my mother in law whips up happily.

The books has great recipes and stunning photographs. I have bookmarked few recipes and this particular recipe of Yakhni pulao caught my attention and this is the first time  I am using lamb instead of Chicken. It was such an amazing Sunday lunch. Here is an recipe adapted from the lovely book

Here is the recipe adapted from the book - Indian Kitchen by Maunika Gowardhan.

500g to 600g Lamb diced into pieces with bone
1 medium sized  onion chopped
1 inch ginger minced
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
4 -5 cloves
4 to 5 cardamon pods
1 stick cinnamon stick
1 tsp fennel seeds

For the Pulao

1 1/2  cups basmasti rice
2 tablespoon oil/ butter/ ghee
2 bay leaves
2.5 inch cinnamon stick
5 green cardamom pods
2 onions thinly sliced
1teaspoon ginger paste
1teaspoon garlic paste
Green chillies to taste
1teaspoon nutmeg
salt to taste

In a big stock pot, add onions, wholes spices and lamb pieces with bones. Add a litre of water and bring it to boil. Simmer the heat and cook it for about an hour. You can use the stock immediately or if you have time, as Maunika has mentioned. Let it rest in the pot overnight and it will amazingly enhance the flavors.

Discard the onion and whole spices. Reserve the stock and meat. 

Soak the rice for 30 minutes, Use a heavy bottom pan or cast iron pan. Add butter/ oil, when hot, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and cardamom pods and fry them for a few seconds until they realise the aroma. Add sliced onions and fry the over a medium heat until they are soften and light golden brown. Add ginger and garlic pastes along with green chilles and add rest of the spices ( nutmeg and cinnamon). Cook them for couple of minutes

Mix in cooked lamb and rice.. Season it with salt and add 3 cups of  reserved stock. Cover and cook on a  low heat for about 20 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked and liquid is absorbed.

Remove from fire and serve it with raita. 

Gluten free Almond and Orange cake

My dad always used to remind us growing up that the business of Life is “LIFE” not business. His words ring so true to me now, however in the humdrum of the daily urban rush, the burnt toast and the missing bus to work, I sometimes choose to ignore the reality of what life is really meant to be. With popular adages like “there’s so much to do and so little time” and the rush of everything from the myriad exponentially increasing pages of face book to the bottomless cups of coffee and the never stopping inflow of mails in the inbox, sometimes life becomes a hamsters wheel and I feel trapped in this plastic cage running for certain but just not knowing where I am running towards….

There’s another beautiful saying that I have stuck to my cubicle that reads “I gave up my life to be the person I wanted to be ….Was it worth it”!!! this sentence somehow grounds me and brings me back to reality and I take a few “One Minutes for Myself” during the day just to reconnect with the real me and bring me back to the multitude of colors that life has to offer from the monochrome of the binary world.

Lately and perhaps destiny wills this thus my choice of reading of mindfulness and meditation and the mantras of daily exercising and consciously slicing out “MY Time” from my 24 hour clock helps me reconnect with reality. Like the saying in English, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world can cause a massive storm in another likewise simple changes in one’s life can bring about a profound difference to one’s attitude towards life and wellbeing. I am living proof of this, having joined the 5 am club and waking up early every morning to catch up on MY time that I invest generously for my reading, meditation and exercising before my little world wakes up and demands all of me I feel very much in control and I often wonder why I hadn’t learnt this simple magic tip a few years earlier. Loosing the last 5 kilos has also made all the difference to my general perspective in life.

I have also been realizing that it is important to “live in the present” and not in one’s mind. Life is a lot more generous & forgiving than what we make of it and give credit to, and honestly every one of us is so wrapped up in the challenges that we create for ourselves that we barely have time to think of the others. 

We all have to learn to be like water, ethereal, unyielding and yet all encompassing. Water is beautiful parallel to how we should live our lives and remember to measure our lives as a glass half full rather than a glass half empty, and why worry about the emptiness anyway, because like the master says, if your glass is completely full where will I take residence in? One can only accept and absorb more if one has more space. Declutter your life and create space so that it can be filled with overflowing love, compassion and beauty. A healthy dose of sunshine, beautiful books to read and genuine friends makes a life worth living for. 

Sorry this post of mine has been peppered with lots of my random musings but like my dad mentions the business of life is life not business…..

Coming to today’s post, I simply love this decadent cake which is a bit of indulgence but certainly promises you to another level of bliss. Adapted from Australia’s sweet baking favourites, this cake combines the heavenly taste of dark chocolate, orange and almond meal that imparts a moist texture and yet is crunchy around the periphery leaving one is a dream like state. 

 The candied orange toppings adds extra zest to the cake. Since oranges are in season and they are juicy and bursting with flavours.  It was injustice to ignore the  amazing aroma they add to the cake. 

1 1/4 cup almond meal
1 cup castor sugar
1 cup dark chocolate melted
150 grams unsalted butter
4 eggs
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/3 cup boiling water
1 Orange zest

Combine cocoa powder with boiling water and mix it with  chocolate melt, butter, egg yolk, sugar. zest and almond meal in a large bowl.

Using electric blender, beat egg white until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the chocolate mixture in two batches.

Pour the mixture in  the greased spring form tin of 20 cm and bake it for 45 minutes or more until firm.

Cool the cake and top it with the candied orange slice and drizzle it with the syrup.

Candied Orange
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 navel orange, sliced 1/4 inch thick

In a pan, combine the water and sugar and boil it. Add the orange slices and cook over a moderate heat, turning them occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a thin syrup and the orange slices are translucent, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until the syrup is thick and the slices are tender but still intact, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer the orange slices to a rack to cool. Reserve the syrup and use it while serving the cake..