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Friday, 3 August 2012

Hunger, sleep deficit and Biryani

The year 2000 for me is clouded in an exhilarated sleep deprived haze. As an intern that year, life was a heady cocktail of emotions. Elation at finally being a doctor was mixed with generous proportions of despair at still knowing too little and fogged out everything else.
The incomparable intoxication of sleep deficit ruled and left room for little else. One memory that does stand out though – is that of lumbering noisily up the stairs to a first floor apartment in Frazer Town. A bunch of us would arrive there sometime in the late afternoon – invariably unannounced, insatiably hungry and unerringly boisterous after hours of being cloistered in our white coats. Triumphant survivors of self generated near wreckages of the wards we were posted to.
As we pushed open the door to the apartment oblivious of the existence of non – intern life on the planet, we would run headlong into a beautifully serene sight. Razia Aunty would be seated on the corner most sofa with her head covered, her eyes on the Quran and her beads in her hand. One look at us – dishevelled but proud, battered but not done in yet and she would quickly stall her prayers to rush into the kitchen to put together a meal.
Everyone has their own Ramzan memories and this one is mine. All through the month of fasting when she wasn’t cooking for her own family she would conjure up these wondrous meals for a bunch of hungry aspiring doctors so that they could revel in their few successes and go on to greater ones. Today’s post is just for you Aunty.
Ultra quick Biryani
1.     Wash and clean Curry Cut chicken (chicken with medium sized pieces basically).
2.     Measure out 2 cups of rice. Use the best Basmati with the longest grains that you can find.  Wash the rice well and place it in a strainer to drain off the water.
3.     Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pressure cooker. Fry a chopped onion till it turns golden.
4.     Add a tsp of ginger garlic paste
5.     Add a chopped tomato – followed by a good amount of salt. The salt should be a little more than you would normally add to a curry because the rice will be added to this later and needs to get salted as well.
6.     Wait for the tomatoes to lose all their water and become a thick masala.
7.     Now add Shahi Biryani Masala and fry a bit. You get this heady aroma.
8.     Now add 4 cups of water to the masala and add the chicken.
9.     Give the chicken one whistle in the cooker
10.    Allow the cooker to cool and then open
11.   Add the washed rice to the cooked chicken and mix
12.    Now cook the rice in the same cooker without the lid on.
13.     When the rice is done, mix well with a fork and serve hot


  1. Super like. My mom says hello and that u should come visit. We miss Ayesha.

    1. Yes I would love to meet you guys. I think of aunty every day through Ramzan certainly. This is a post from the deepest recesses of my heart

  2. I had tried during my post college days without the benefit of this details. Your process makes it simpler.

    1. Yes even though it is devoid of the "dum" as in "dum ki biryani" of the North Indian cooking - it does work

  3. Really, how can one make cooking so simple yet so tasty.
    However, I like the accompanying stories even better.
    Carry on.

    1. I am so glad you like the stories. They are an integral part of my cooking. Every meal either creates a memory or jogs an old one

  4. Although I am a vegetarian, well, almost, if the occasional chickens in the graph were to be ignored, your story sucked me in till the rice was done and served piping hot! Those memories are not without a message though, or is it only me that is imagining it?

    1. This in fact is a real life story and it is thanksgiving in a sense to my wonderful Razia Aunty who kept us afloat through that year of night duties and reprimands. The message I guess is that a mother's love transcends all.(Razia Aunty is the mother of a very close friend)