(one of) the final installment(s) of the indian (food) summer

About a month ago I had the privilege of eating some home-cooked biryani as well as one of my favourite vegetarian dishes—rajma and rice. I can say that I had no role to play in the preparation of either dishes, and probably fortunately so, since they would have ended up inedible otherwise. Ramesh, our cook, is a genius when it comes to preparing biryani and I’m more than happy to be pampered and spoiled by his good cooking!

Biryani is an Indian dish that basically comprises of rice and a meat (in this case, chicken) cooked together. As you can tell, I don’t really have any idea of how it is actually prepared but talking with people who do know how to prepare it and observing them passively, I take it the two main steps are making the (chicken) curry and then making the rice and mixing them together and perhaps cooking them a bit more. Ramesh’s version features a “layered” style, wherein most of the meat is at the bottom and then there are layers of rice and other various goodies above it. It’s breathtakingly good, especially when enjoyed with a side of raita, which is basically a yoghurt-based watery mixture containing onions, tomatoes, and sometimes cucumbers. Enough talking, though, let’s see some pictures!

A huge pot of Ramesh’s biryani
A huge pot of Ramesh’s biryani

A huge helping of biryani (that is a normal-sized plate!)
A huge helping of biryani (that is a normal-sized plate!)

A look at the biryani as well as the aforementioned raita
A look at the biryani as well as the aforementioned raita

This blog has been dominated by meat so let me remind my readers that I am in fact not a carnivore. In fact, I enjoy a number of vegetarian dishes, one of my favourite being rajma. Rajma is the Hindi name for kidney beans and the way I like it best (as almost anything) is as a curry with rice. I have no idea how it is prepared but its red and tastes delicious!

Rajma curry
Rajma curry

Rajma with rice and Kunduru Bhaja in the background
Rajma with rice and Kunduru Bhaja in the background

Finally, let’s take a look at some food from Orissa, when I was at my mom’s house in Cuttack. I’ve never actually lived there but all my cousins at some period or another have been living there so the feel of family and bonding is great. As a result, we end up with some pretty large meals enjoyed by about 10-12 people simultaneously (there are 9 cousins all in our range and 2 more that are slightly younger but still welcome :P). Seeing that this may be last time in Orissa for a while, I was pampered with one large meal (you’ll see what I mean in a moment) as well as some mutton curry… yeah if you haven’t noted by now, we Oriyas love our mutton!

The grand spread!
The grand spread!

Yummy in my tummy… notice the stark contrast between my plate area and Pinku’s (one of my cousins)
Yummy in my tummy… notice the stark contrast between my plate area and Pinku’s (one of my cousins)

Yep, the grand spread represented my first meal at Cuttack this year and consisted of no little than 10 dishes. There was the breakfast that I hadn’t yet had in the form of idli and sambar. Then there was lunch, which consisted of rice, daal, paneer curry, some dish that I can’t remember now, saag, kunduru bhaja, kakharu phula bhaja and salad. Dessert was served alongside in the form of mangoes. In short, quite a large meal and one that I struggled to finish but ended with a smile on my face! This meal alone was probably responsible for 10% of my weight gain in those 10 days in Orissa!

And now the mutton…

No need for words to describe the taste!
No need for words to describe the taste!

What was judged the “reddest” curry and thus the one that should be photographed
What was judged the “reddest” curry and thus the one that should be photographed

So there’s the end of another food-astic blog! I will have one more up soon about my parents 30th anniversary which featured plenty of scrumptious eating, but that deserves its own separate little post. Must separate home-cooked and restaurant-prepared food, because home-cooked is just so much more deliciously wholesome!

A huge helping of biryani (that is a normal-sized plate!)

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