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October 2012 COTM: 660 Curries -- Contemporary Curries, Biryani Curries, Curry Cohorts

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Contemporary Curries …. 647-686
Biryani Curries …. 687-704
Curry Cohorts …. 705-756

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  1. Poori (Puffy Whole-Wheat Breads) p. 725
    These are deep fried treats, and once I did a few I figured out how to make them puff up nicely. Mr. Iyer specifies a low-protein flour. I used "00" flour -- it has less protein than all-purpose flour, but is not whole wheat.
    It's simple to mix a little oil and then warm water into the flour, knead it a bit, and let it rest. Small balls of this dough are rolled out into flat rounds about 3-4 inches diameter and slipped into hot oil. You poke and push the pooris into the oil at first to prod them into puffing, the steam inside inflates them. My pictures show both successful puffs and a flatter one. It would be the best of plans to make a favorite legume or potato curry and serve it with these. They cook (puffed and browned) in a blink.

    22 Replies
    1. re: blue room

      Wow, am I ever impressed, blue room.

      I'm chomping at the bit. I've requested the book from the library, it was due last week, and still hasn't been brought back. Grrrrr.

        1. re: blue room

          Those look really professional blueroom. How did you stop them from being too oily? Also, did you hand roll or use a tortilla press?

          1. re: Rasam

            I thought they were pretty oily! But also hot and crispy.
            I rolled them with a rolling pin.

          2. re: blue room

            Ooh, I missed these earlier. Lurvely job.

            1. re: luckyfatima

              I think now I'd rather have a bread I can hold, fold, scoop with, and top. I'll do a different bread from this book soon. Suggestions?

              1. re: blue room

                Why not try simple roti, the daily flat bread? Actually pooris are easier to get right than rotis. Parathas are easier than rotis, too. But if you can master rotis, it means you will have something that suits most meals. You'll have to go to the Indian store and buy proper chapatti/roti flour, though.

                1. re: blue room

                  I suggest roti too, his directions are foolproof and it's healthier than it tastes! Just make sure you eat them right away (though I do put rolled out, uncooked rotis between wax paper and put them in a ziplock bag in the freezer for quick cooking at a future date).

                  1. re: sarahcooks

                    "foolproof" rotis, that got my attention, I'll have to take a second look at his recipe.

                    1. re: qianning

                      Ha, well I am a fool, because I made some today and they wouldn't puff and they were tough. I wasn't meticulous about following directions this time and rolled them out in advance. You can't do that, roll them out as you cook them or they won't puff. I found that it took a little more water than he calls for, but my flour was a bit old and probably extra dry. Just follow his directions to the letter and you shouldn't have any trouble. The first time I made them they worked like magic, I was so impressed. Also, don't freeze them like I suggested above if you care about toughness. You should probably do what he says in the book instead :)

                      1. re: sarahcooks

                        Well, you are making me feel better at least, rotis and chapatis are a real bete noire of mine. After many attempts I did get some malaysian style roti chanai to come out right, once, and never made them again because I was pretty sure I couldn't repeat that stroke of luck! I've never gotten anything other than tough when I try to make roti.

                        1. re: qianning

                          Till today I can't make decent rotis at home, though I love them and prefer them to rice. Too labor intensive for me (though practice would make me much more skilled).

                          Result is I eat store bought WW tortillas which family won't eat. They eat rice. We save our roti longings for restos or India trips where someone else mixes dough, rolls, toasts them :)

                          1. re: Rasam

                            You can get quite decent ones in the Indian stores round me. They also have fresh naan deliveries every day.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              True. Also TJ has decent frozen naan, and there are also women who make and sell chapatis in bulk for people like me :). I have never quite gotten organized .....

                              1. re: Rasam

                                Not that I make them often, but my naan in the oven using a pizza stone are pretty good, well edible anyway! And the local Indian store has a brand of frozen that we like. But good chapatis, bought or home-made, are are more problematical for some reason.

                                1. re: Rasam

                                  We always have some of the TJ frozen naan in our freezer. It's really good stuff.

                                  I will toot my own horn and say that I'm good at making rotis and parathas. The key is to keep the dough (atta) a bit loose. If it's too stiff, your rotis come out hard and dry too. I make homemade naan on the grill when I remember to plan ahead, but roti atta is always in my fridge.

                                  1. re: boogiebaby

                                    I must admit I'm envious. I have only tried to make naan once and it was an unmitigated disaster. It was a recipe from "The Food of India" that called for quite a bit of yogurt in the dough and I ended up with a sticky mess. As for Roti, my experience with Naan scared me off flat bread baking, but I might give it a go this month.

                                      1. re: blue room

                                        I'm sure - I put more water than called for in mine and I think it still wasn't enough. It needs that moisture to turn into steam and puff it up.

                                        1. re: blue room

                                          Yes,it should pretty soft. Then when you roll it out, you make a small ball, dip it in dry flour, then roll it. The dry flour keeps it from sticking in the rolling pin.

                                        2. re: boogiebaby

                                          +1 on the envy boogiebaby. Most women I know effortlessly mix the dough in a few minutes and just turn out excellent rotis. With me, you can see the hard work and the results are mediocre on a good day .....

                      2. OK, for revisions in future publications, don't mean to be too obnoxious but some grammar stuff in curry cohorts popped out at me, I am sure the editors edited for English but not Hindi: p. 709 kala elaichi pulao should be kali elaichi pulao.

                        Also on p. 711 kisi punjabi mitr de naal gall kar lo magar I am pretty sure that "mitty" chawal is not dirty rice, but mithi chawal, or sweet rice. Punjabi vich meethi nu mithi kende ne...this is a garam masala-ey rice with sugar added in it, a famous dish of Punjab.

                        Also, throughout the book, sabit/sabut is written as sabud. I haven't seen this variation and wasn't sure if this was a Mumbai thing (Mr. Iyer is originally from Mumbai) or a transliteration choice.

                        One more: p. 744 hari aur laal mirchi KI achaar should be KA achaar.

                        That leads me to the recipe: I made green and red chiles with cracked mustard on p. 744

                        This is so extremely easy and is a must try recipe. I am usually too lazy to try homemade pickles, as it sometimes involves doing things like waiting 2 weeks while turning the jar over every day and such. But this pickle is ready in a matter of hours as a new pickle and can be kept for up to 2 months.

                        Basically, I had just picked a bunch of red and green chiles from my garden a couple of days ago. The instructions say to slice the crosswise but for some reason my mind went blank when I was looking at the recipe and I couldn't remember if crosswise meant horizontal or vertical. I ended up slicing each chile in half and then slicing it into 1/4 inch pieces. So already I started out diverging from the instructions. I followed the rest pretty well, though.

                        Basically, you just heat up mustard (or canola) oil and then add coarsely crushed mustard seed to that. Then you pour this hot oil mixture on top of your sliced chiles. Then you add salt, turmeric, and lime juice. I used a little less salt and a little more lime juice than suggested just because I wasn't really sure how much the suggest 4 oz of chiles would be, I just used a large handful, and added seasonings based on what looked right to that many chiles.

                        They are marinating on my counter now and I will be having them with dinner. I can't wait!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: luckyfatima

                          Fatima-ji: ekdum sahi farmaaya aapne: your grammar comments are absolutely correct and leave me in awe of your linguistic prowess. Mr Iyer, a Tamilian (Tamil language is poles apart from Hindi) who grew up in Mumbai (known for motley mixed street slang Hindi) has therefore probably not had the best immersion in correct Hindi. No idea what knowledge his editors/proofreaders have had.

                          OTOH: at least he HAS that much info. Many (if not most) Northern Indians have no idea of Southern languages and mores and often adopt an obnoxiously snobbish / pejorative attitude toward anything peninsular, all dubbed erroneously as "Madrasi".

                          Getting the gender wrong in Hindi is a common error: the whole ki vs ka thing.
                          Urk! It is NOT mitti chawal (muddy rice) but meethi chawal (sweet rice) and you are absolutely correct on the Punjabi tinge to the pronunciation = mitthi which may have led to the mistake.
                          And Sabud should indeed be Sabut.

                          And once I saw a book on Indian children's food that had been translated by someone French I think, because "roti" had been translated throughout as "roast" (!!) as in "I come home from school and have a piece of roast for a snack". :) (I know in French roti = roast, but really). Also there were some Sanskrit verses that had been printed upside down so that the line across the top of the Devanagari alphabet appeared on the bottom as a line on which the letters sat (rather than the line from which they hang).

                          Please do tell how the achaar turns out. I have wanted to make achaar for several years now, but not yet gotten around to it.

                          1. re: Rasam

                            One of my best friends from my Dubai years is a Tamil Iyer from Mumbai and she had very excellent Hindi as well as English, and I kind of guessed that Mr. Iyer had a similar "tarbiyat" (Hindi mein tarbiyat ko kya kahenge?) since he came to the US for university. Gender is difficult for a lot of non-native speakers including myself.

                            I actually think being a Tamil from Mumbai is a great background to have as a foodie writing on Indian regional cuisines. Being a minority from the South in that environment, one is raised with a consciousness of difference, and I can just imagine his fascination with his diverse neighbors' family snacks and meals as in the book he describes himself recalling a particular friend's mother's cooking, a Goan neighbor here, a Parsi neighbor there, a Sindhi schoolmate, and so on.

                            My mother in law uses the term Madrasi...very bad, I know. It's just lack of awareness and Northern-centric focus. I am not especially familiar with much of South India myself, nor do I speak any South Indian language. Maybe one day I will get a chance to rectify that.

                            The achaar turned out beautifully, BTW.

                          2. re: luckyfatima

                            I'll respond as the token Punjabi person on this thread. :)The recipe called "Mitty Chawal" in the cookbook is not the punjabi "mithay Chawal". The Mitty Chawal recipe's description states that it is called Mitty chawal because it is the color of dirty rice. Punjabi mithay Chawal is cooked rice mixed with with lots of ghee and sugar (or gur/Jaggery). Depending on who makes it, it may have some whole cardamoms or raisins in it.

                            1. re: boogiebaby

                              Thanks for the correction, boogiebaby. So true, it would have to be mithe and not mithi anyway.

                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                Thanks Boogiebaby. I also had though that mitty=dirty was a mistake in translation (meant to be meethay chawal). So glad that it is accurate.

                                ETA: so is there really a dish called mitty chawal (muddy rice or dirty ) in Punjabi cuisine?

                                RI used to reply on these threads, but have not seen his input for many days. Is he no longer reading, or are the comments not something he wants to respond to? He could also have clarified some of these translation questions ......

                                1. re: Rasam

                                  Not that I'm aware of. I'd have to ask my mom or my MIL (she lives in India). As I was going through the book, I did notice that the author gave some dishes his own name. I wonder if he did this for this recipe as well. I tried to google Mitty Chawal and nothing came up.

                            2. Buttery Basmati Rice with Spinach and Onion, page 713

                              This is a lovely rice pilaf with cumin seeds, onion, spinach cooked in ghee before adding the rice and salt. I have to admit, my execution was a bit lacking and I managed to overcook the rice a bit due to distraction. But nonetheless, delicious and loved by all. I am tempted to try it next time with some kale or collard greens which I prefer flavor-wise to spinach. There will definitely be a next time, too.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                The first time I made this recipe I used chard and it was a huge hit. I've made it with spinach in subsequent times as this is one of my favorite recipes, but I like it a bit more with the chard. I have no doubt kale or collards would also be wonderful.

                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                  Buttery Basmati Rice with Spinach and Onion (palak pulao) - p 713

                                  This recipe is proof that a little butter goes a long way! There's a rich, creamy butteriness to this rice dish even though I used less than the 2 tbsp called for in the instructions. It was a welcome side to another very spicy dish I made last night, and fit the bill for something quick that I could get onto the table more quickly on a weeknight.

                                  Since I was trying to use up some random ingredients in my fridge last night, and only had about half of the required amount of spinach on hand, I grabbed a half cauliflower that was sitting around, cubed it and threw it in to the pan with the onion. It browned nicely and had a great texture, and I thought the flavour worked well with the greens and cumin. Very easy recipe, and when made with parboiled basmati it cooks up much more quickly (I skipped the soaking stage and cut the steaming time in half at the end).

                                2. Cardamom and Nutmeg-Flavored Baked Custard with Almonds (Lagan Nu Custard) p. 754

                                  Not a curry at all, but a nice dessert from the book. Milk, eggs, and sugar are flavored with vanilla and nutmeg. The addition of almond and cardamom make it a little exotic. Perfect after high seasonings in your mouth!
                                  (It looks like there are only two desserts in the book, the other being a cheesecake.)

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: blue room

                                    Cardamom, nutmeg, custars, almonds? That sounds fantastic! And so pretty with the two layers. I'm surprised to see it's served room temp; I bet it's nummy cold, too, and would be refreshing after a hot curry. Those would be tasty seasonings in junket. Or ice cream . . . mmm

                                    1. re: juster

                                      It's not really two-layered, just a slightly browned skin on top. I too wondered about the room temp (I stuck then in the fridge.)
                                      The suggested scoop of vanilla ice cream on top was strange to me -- maybe a scoop of ice cream on a slice of pie would be strange in India!

                                    2. re: blue room

                                      I love custard, and this one sounds wonderful. You're right that it seems perfect to follow a highly seasoned meal. Hope I can find the time to try this; thanks for pointing it out!

                                    3. Nutty Rice with Cashews, Almonds and Fresh Mint (Kaaju Badam Chawal) on page 712.

                                      This was a last-minute addition to dinner tonight, which consisted of Sweet Pineapple with Coconut Milk and Coffee from page 645, Cinnamon-flavored black eyed peas, pg. 323, and Chile-Smothered Pork with Vinegar (Pork Vindaloo version 3) on page 229. I was going to make plain basmati rice, but then I realized I had some mint to use up and plenty of nuts in the house, so I figured why not?

                                      This recipe calls for the rice to be washed, rinsed and soaked. Ghee is heated and almonds, cashews, bay leaves and an onion are sauteed for a few minutes, then the drained rice is added. Stir, add water, simmer until the liquid on top disappears. Stir once and turn down the heat, cover and cook 10 mins, then let rest. Before serving, stir in fresh mint and cracked pepper.

                                      I used up all of my onions while making onion paste so instead of sauteing the onion for this recipe, I pulled out some of my caramelized onions from the onion paste pan and threw them in once the nuts were toasted. I also used coconut oil for the saute, and only about 2 teaspoons rather than the two tablespoons called for. Despite my changes, this rice was WONDERFUL - chock full of toasty nuts and sweet onions, what could be bad about that? It went extremely well with the vindaloo, but would really be delicious with anything. Mr. Iyer's technique also resulted in perfectly cooked rice, which has always been a difficult thing for me to master. Yum.

                                      BTW, this recipe states that it serves 6 - that's pretty unrealistic, IMO. Basmati doesn't seem to expand as much as other rice - I think I probably ended up with about 2 cups of cooked rice from one cup of dry, and even with the nuts added, this amount would barely serve four with normal appetites. DH and I almost finished it by ourselves (it is really, REALLY good!).

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                        I made this tonight and loved it too. The only change I made was to fry the cashews in the butter first, then remove them before continuing with the recipe. That way, I had crisp cashews for the top of the rice.
                                        The rice ended up perfectly cooked and I think I had about 3 cups. With other dishes, it may feed 6, but not in my house!

                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                          Nutty Rice with Cashews, Almonds and Fresh Mint (Kaaju Badam Chawal) on page 712

                                          I made a half recipe of this last night for 2 and we ended up with leftovers (I served it with paneer). My only change was to chop the nuts a bit instead of serving them whole due to personal preferences. Neither one of us would've minded having the nuts even more finely chopped. Overall, very good rice and worth a repeat.

                                        2. Dirty Rice with Caramelized Onions (Mitty Chawal) p. 711 http://tinyurl.com/9vut5zr

                                          Chopped red onions are sautéed in ghee, a touch of sugar and pounded spices (cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon) until caramelized. Steam the basmati rice (previously rinsed and then soaked in water for 20 minutes) mixed with the onions.

                                          luckyfatima (so glad to have your expertise) in a side bar had mentioned that Dirty Rice might have been mistranslated and should probably be sweet rice. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8716.... After trying the dish, sweet rice is very fitting. The rice was very aromatic and slightly sweet which tempered our VERY spicy red hot chicken with okra and potatoes.

                                          1. Mango Cardamom Cheesecake with a Pistachio Crust - p. 751

                                            This dessert rounded out our non-traditional Canadian Thanksgiving meal. I was a bit worried attempting this one as I'm working with a new oven that I haven't really baked in yet, but the cheesecake came out beautifully. No cracking, perfectly cooked, and the crust was nicely browned. The pistachio crust was a nice change of pace from more traditional graham cracker crusts. I had to use salted nuts and skipped on the added salt as suggested. It worked out fine. I wanted just a bit more mango taste in the cheesecake itself, but the flavor with the cardamom was still excellent. I forgot to look for mango pulp at the Indian grocery and couldn't find any at the regular grocery store, so I ended up making the puree with mangoes that could've been just a bit more ripe, so that may have also contributed to the lack of intense mango taste. I garnished with pomegranate seeds which added a nice tart contrast to the cheesecake.

                                            All in all, this was a great cheesecake that I wouldn't mind serving at an Indian-themed dinner party.

                                            25 Replies
                                            1. re: TxnInMtl

                                              Mango Cardamom Cheesecake with a Pistachio Crust - p. 751

                                              Took a caution from you, TxnInMtl -- just made half a recipe (a little 6 inch diameter cake pan) of this promising dessert. My crust was a plain piecrust round on the bottom because I was most interested in the mango & cream cheese mix flavor. Unfortunately I agree that the mango doesn't come through, or maybe the cardamom muddied it. (?) I had ripe mangoes and used them for both the cheesecake and the puree. The puree is very pretty, I'd use it again for a topping, but I'm disappointed in the cake flavor as a whole. A regular cheesecake surrounded with, or smothered in, or accompanied by, ripe mango slices, maybe a better idea.

                                              1. re: blue room

                                                I rarely make desserts at home (husband has no sweet tooth, kids are too young to care about anything but cookies, so I will end up eating the whole thing myself!) but this recipe has me coming back again and again to read it...interesting about the mangos. Sliced on the side sounds good, too.

                                                1. re: blue room

                                                  I like the idea of a cardamom-mango puree poured on top of a regular cheesecake!

                                                2. re: TxnInMtl

                                                  We'll be making this cheesecake as written for our dinner club Indian feast on the 20th and I will report back. I think the problem with mango flavour that both of you are experiencing is due to flavouless mango that we typically get in NA. We'll use canned, hopefully, made in India.

                                                  1. re: herby

                                                    herby, I sampled some of the mango bought for this and it was really full o' mango flavor (used to eat them from trees in Hawaii when a kid.) So beware -- maybe a test run first? Though 2 cheesecakes in 10 days might not be practical.
                                                    Either way, let us know.

                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                      I'm curious, what variety of mango did you use? I've heard so much about the famous Alphonso mango, and the author does wax on a bit about it in the tips for this recipe... I want to try the cheesecake, but I'll be looking out for Alphonso puree in the South Asian markets first.

                                                      1. re: geekmom

                                                        I looked up just now the Alphonso mango (Google images) and they are smaller and more slender than the ones I bought. Also a brighter orangey yellow. Mine were about 6 inches long, maybe 4 inches in diameter -- biggish, and green. It took 4 days to ripen to a reddish color, not all over, maybe 2/3 of the surface. There was a nice "give" when I pressed, like a ripe avocado. And just delicious, that half-peach, half-pineapple description is as close as I've heard. It's possible that the canned ones/pureed are superior, if you do the cheesecake please let us know if you can definitely taste mango!

                                                  2. re: TxnInMtl

                                                    Just a suggestion for those using fresh mangoes instead of canned in these recipes: if you judge that the fruit is somewhat flavorless, then add some extra sugar to the recipe (powder the sugar finely in a spice grinder, maybe along with the cardamom, then add it to the puree). It may also benefit from a small dose of vanilla and lemon zest.

                                                    First puree the mangoes and then taste the puree. If it seems lackluster then doctor the puree with the above suggestions.

                                                    1. re: Rasam

                                                      Also, IMO, the canned mango pulp sold at indian stores is very sweet and very mango-ey. I'm not a big fan of it because I prefer less sweet desserts and I'm not a huge mango puree fan. I don't mind eating fresh mangos with a bit of bite to them, but I can't eat the squishy mangos oozing juice like many Indian people prefer. My husband always tells me that I must the only indian person who doesn't like mangos!

                                                      1. re: boogiebaby

                                                        I'm not Indian, but I am also particular about mango - I like them firm and with lots of tartness. Once they get squishy and sweet and oozy, I am not interested. Same with peaches. Tartness rules!

                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                          I noticed there are some recipes in this book that call for green or under-ripe mangoes. I'm intrigued to try them!

                                                        2. re: boogiebaby

                                                          I also think the canned mango pulp has lots of added sugar. I too prefer fresh mangoes, less metallic tasting obviously. But I love mangoes all ways: from tiny rock hard sour unripe, to full on gooey sweet. Z'all good!

                                                      2. re: TxnInMtl

                                                        Thanks to TxnInMtl and blue room, my son (11) and I tried this recipe on Saturday. For his first attempt at cheesecake, he did extremely well - though I note we need to do some lessons on the importance of thoroughly scraping down the bowl while mixing up the filling. :-)

                                                        First a little aside about the mangos (re: the discussion above, on mango varieties). I bought all the ingredients and spices at my local Indian grocery and the gentleman behind the counter lit up when he saw my can of Alphonso mango puree. He said "You can get these fresh, when they're in season." and I told him that I had been looking for them for years with no luck. After several minutes of enthusiastic conversation about how these are the BEST, most flavourful mangoes in the world, so sweet and delicious, etc, he showed me a long chain of bits of cash register tape all stuck together with scotch tape and said "This is my list of customers who are waiting for fresh Alphonso mangoes in the spring. Would you like me to add your name?" Of course I was quite happy to agree. Apparently he will be calling me sometime in May 2013 and I will report back about these magic mangoes and compare them to my current favourite, the Ataulfo mango. :-)

                                                        OK now back to the recipe. I did use canned mango puree, and noted that it's 93% mango pulp and 7% sugar syrup; so those of you who are finding that your homemade mango puree is lacking punch, I would definitely agree with the suggestion to add more sugar. The finished product's flavour was lovely, a strong rich mango flavour but not overpoweringly sweet and the little bits of cardamom provided a nice counterpoint. The pistachio crust tasted great. I decided to use a slightly larger crumb than recommended by Iyer, so we had to make the crust quite thick and it browned nicely on the outside during the pre-baking; really quite a spectacular idea for a cheesecake crust, and I will be trying it with other fillings in the future.

                                                        I topped my cheesecake with pomegranate seeds, and although they added an interesting colour to the cheesecake, and the pop of the seeds in the mouth was fun, I didn't feel like they really needed to be there. I would have liked to try raspberries, but they're not in season here and I'd rather wait for the real thing than use the sad tasteless imports.

                                                        1. re: geekmom

                                                          That's so exciting about the mango list!
                                                          Lovely review and photos.

                                                          1. re: geekmom

                                                            Gorgeous results! <3

                                                            Lucky you about those Alphonsos. I love them.

                                                            1. re: geekmom

                                                              "...a strong rich mango flavour..." Great! That's what I'll be striving for next time.
                                                              Good story, and a beautiful cake. I agree raspberries would be pretty too, though that shiny gold is hard to beat.

                                                              3 cans of Alphonso pulp online -- over $20 ! Do you remember the brand you bought?

                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                Yikes, $20 is steep! Does the $20 include shipping? I think I paid $3.99 a can.

                                                                You're in luck - today is garbage day, but the recycling bin hasn't been emptied yet so I was able to check the brand name on the can. Rellure: http://www.amazon.com/Rellure-Alphons...

                                                                1. re: geekmom

                                                                  Thank you! "...the recycling bin hasn't been emptied yet so I was able to check..." A search of the trash is more than an internet search--
                                                                  talk about kindness, to strangers.

                                                            2. re: TxnInMtl

                                                              Mango Cardamom Cheesecake with a Pistachio Crust (Aam Elaichi), p. 751

                                                              I rarely make cheesecake, mainly because although I don't have much of a sweet tooth, I do love cheesecake, and if it's hanging around, I will inevitably eat it. I solved that problem by making half a recipe, in a 6-inch springform pan, for four of us. I should have made the whole thing as this was a HIT. It was clear that two of the diners would have been happy to have another piece, and DH was moping about the next day as to the absence of leftovers!

                                                              After reading the helpful reviews here, I decided to make a couple of tweaks. I added the cardamom to the ground pistachios for the crust instead of adding it to the filling. Since I started with raw and unsalted nuts and wanted a hint of saltiness in the crust, I doubled the amount of salt. We were all crazy about this crust--everyone remarked on it--and I will definitely use it for other pies and tarts. (I think a 50/50 pistachio/graham cracker crust would be good, too.)

                                                              For the filling, I opted to leave out the mango. I added some vanilla and baked at 350F for 30 minutes and then went a little rogue on the baking, following the instructions from another recipe for adding a sour cream layer: I removed the cake (and pan of water) from the oven and cranked it up to 450. After 15 minutes, I spread some sweetened sour cream on top of the cake and stuck it back in the oven for 12 minutes. I pulled it out, cooled it to room temp, and then put it into the fridge overnight.

                                                              I decided to use my mango puree as a final topping instead of in the filling. I bought frozen mango pulp (Goya brand--just pulp, nothing added, excellent flavor), defrosted it and poured about a cup over the finished cake. I was very pleased with the result, very mango-y. (Like geekmom, I found my pomegranate seeds superfluous--the cake was lovely without them--but since I had them, I used them.)

                                                                1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                  Attention all lovers of this cheesecake: the Indian shop owner was true to his word and called a few days ago to announce that Alphonso season is here! You all have the chance to hunt down these mangoes that Raghavan Iyer raves about during the very narrow window of opportunity -- apparently they are only available fresh at this particular time of year. I think I will try the cheesecake again with my own homemade Alphonso mango pulp.

                                                                  1. re: geekmom

                                                                    That's so great that you got a call about it. I have yet to find alphonso mangoes in my area--but maybe there's an underground mango trade that I'm unaware of! I'll put my sleuthing hat on. I would love to hear what you think of the fruit....

                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                      For those of you who has never tasted an Alphonso mango before in their life, you have no idea what you have been missing!! its ambrosia. u can smell the sweet perfume of a ripening alphonso from quite a distance. mangoes available here in North America are no where close to anything remote to an alphonso. i dont trust the ones that are claimed to be alphonsos by the indian stores.
                                                                      oh.. how i wish i was in India (especially in the western ghat area) during this time of the year, when its peak season for the alphonsos..

                                                                2. Fresh-Squeezed Lime Juice with Soda and Pepper, p. 755

                                                                  The final recipe in the book, this is simply sparkling limeade with addition of coarse salt and
                                                                  cracked black pepper: Squeeze limes, whisk their juice with granulated sugar until the latter is
                                                                  dissolved, add club soda, salt, and pepper.

                                                                  I'll admit that upon my first sip, I wasn't quite convinced, but as I continued to sip the concoction
                                                                  grew on me and despite its not being anywhere near the heat of a subcontinental summer here, I will agree with Iyer that it is a quite refreshing drink. He also suggests adding "a peg (or two)" of gin or vodka, so naturally I tried that - I used Tanqueray Rangpur gin, which includes lime in its botanicals so seemed a good choice - and it was very nice. With and without booze, the salted-and-peppered drink worked well with spicy food. I'll definitely make it again, and not just when I'm cooking South Asian food.

                                                                  I do wish he had given a volume amount for the lime juice rather than simply calling for the juice of 3 medium-sized limes, because some limes are juicier than others. I halved everything else, but ended up using three limes because it was clear I needed that much juice to have enough for 1/4 cup sugar (at least in my estimation).

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                      Lime-squash with pepper? Wow. Mr. QN often adds salt to his simple syrup for lime-ade, but no pepper yet. If I remember I'll have to try that next time.

                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                        Sounds lovely. Will have to remember this one for the heat of the summer.

                                                                      2. Tortillas with a spiced turkey filling, p 659
                                                                        This is my first post on this forum, and I hope it's OK to adapt the recipes because I had to play with this a lot -- wasn't able to find the correct chiles for either the masala or the sauce, used cubes of leftover Thanksgiving turkey instead of cooking ground turkey with the beans, and did whatever I could do cut down on the heat so that my kids would eat it. I also had some interesting adventures trying to grind down the Dabeli masala blend without a grinder - not recommended, and I will be buying a grinder today :-)
                                                                        In spite of the changes, I think the flavours I achieved were true to what is described in the cookbook -- "This bellows out its layered flavours and textures in each mouthful."! The combination of the warm, slightly sweet corn tortillas with beans, turkey and onions along with a generous amount of melted asadero cheese and fresh chopped cilantro, the fantastic clove-based masala blend and the aggressive punch of the chile sauce worked extremely well. I have never tried Mexican/Indian fusion before and if this is an example of what you can make I am very curious to try more.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: geekmom

                                                                          I would missed this for sure, very glad you posted. Reading over the ingredients in the book, the corn tortillas seem natural.

                                                                          1. re: geekmom

                                                                            Not book related, but I make tostadas using leftover Chana Masala or Rajma instead of refried beans. I just mash them a little so they stay on the tostada shell. If I have it, we will add mint or tamarind chutney in addition to the usual salsa and hot sauce. :)

                                                                            1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                              That sounds really yummy!! Thanks for the idea. If I am ever lucky enough to have some leftover chana masala that is not wolfed down by my family, I will definitely try it.

                                                                          2. Asparagus with Tomato and Crumbled Paneer, pg. 679

                                                                            This was super fast and easy. It took significantly less time than the 30 or so minutes set out in the recipe, because my asparagus cooked very quickly. Basically, you saute onion, add curry powder and cook for a few seconds, add asparagus and water and simmer. Add paneer, salt, tomato, and cook till cheese is warm. Top with cilantro. This used the mild Madras curry powder, which I had on hand from other recipes.

                                                                            This was very mild, creamy, and tasty, making it a good foil for spicier, more full-flavored curries. (I'm not saying it wasn't flavorful, just that it was light.) I don't think it was meant to be creamy, but my homemade paneer didn't get as firm as I think it should have (I'll post about that in the appropriate thread), so some stayed in little chunks but much of it melted into a kind of sauce. We thought that was really nice, actually, so no complaints there, but it's hard to say just how it would have been with firmer paneer. I had some left over, and ate it cold, which I might have liked even better. Tasty recipe and perfect for a quick weeknight side.

                                                                            1. Pork Ribs with a Sweet-sour Glaze, pg. 663

                                                                              We had ribs in the freezer, potatoes in the pantry, and found good-looking corn at a farm stand, so decided to have an Indian-themed barbecue meal. It all turned out great, and it was fun doing a riff on a classic American meal. The other recipes, which I'll report on in their respective threads, were Mashed Potato Curry with LIme Juice and Corn and Tomato Medley.

                                                                              This is not a weeknight recipe, because the ribs have to be cooked for quite a while on the grill (you can also do them in the oven. That reminds me... one of the reasons this month's COTM is so great is that our oven is currently out of commision, and there are hardly any oven recipes. Yay!) The sauce and glaze require a little prep time (not tons), but are easy to do while the ribs are cooking (as were the side dishes), so get the ribs on, then proceed with the rest!

                                                                              First, the ribs are rubbed with ginger paste, garlic paste, salt, and turmeric and refrigerated overnight (mine went two days). Then they're grilled over medium heat (I had to turn my grill to low) for an hour to an hour and a half, with the glaze brushed on during the last 10-15 minutes. Sauce served on the side.

                                                                              The glaze is just tomato paste, jaggery or brown sugar, cider or malt vinegar, canola oil, dried kashmiri chiles (I used cayenne and smoked paprika cuz that's what I had), Balti masala, and salt, all stirred together. The sauce is sauteed onion with pounded green chile and garlic mixed in and cooked for a minutes, then tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, and turmeric added and cooked for a few minutes. Water to deglaze, cooked till thick.

                                                                              While this didn't scream Indian, we both really enjoyed it. The glaze, especially, was delicious, and I've saved what was left over (I had fewer ribs than called for) to use on something else. It was gently sweet and sour, a little spicy, a bit tomatoey, and aromatic with the Balti masala (if you don't love cloves, maybe use a little less, as the flavor was noticeable, but not overwhelming to us). The sauce was oniony and lighter than I expected. Very tasty, and went well with the glaze without overpowering it. This whole meal was delicious -- familiar but with an Indian flair!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: juster

                                                                                Hmmmm. I have several lamb belly ribs in the freezer that need a purpose. This sounds like it might just be perfect. Thank you for the great report.

                                                                              2. Spinach Soup with Red Lentils, pg 651.

                                                                                This is one of Mr. Iyer's contemporary curries and was the first one which was not a real winner for us. This soup/dal wasn't bad, but was just a little ho hum for us.

                                                                                So make: masoor dal is rinsed in water and then boiled in fresh water. CUmin, corander and green cayenne chiles are then pounded in a mortar. Onion and garlic is fried in oil 5-10 minutes, to be joined by the pounded spice mix. Then you start adding spinach a bit at a time until a full 1.5 lbs is added. I used a mix of spinach and collards, since I had some collards that needed to be used and we like the strong flavor or collards. Since the collards are so much heartier, I added them first and let them cook down a bit before adding the tender spinach. Then the cooked lentils are added to the spinach/spice mix and pulsed together with immersion blender. Salt and Balti masala is then added and the soup is simmered for another 5 minutes. In truth, I did not have Balti masala and we are not huge fans of the fennel flavor (which is in Balti masala) so I subbed some Punjab garam masala instead.

                                                                                The end result was a pretty green dal which was certainly super healthy, but just a little boring. Maybe subbing out for the balti masala was a big mistake. I also did cut back the number of green cayennes, although I have been doing that in all the recipes for the kids and this is the first one which was a little flat. I have a lot of leftovers and am thinking about how I should try to make it more exciting. I'm thinking maybe some lime juice? diced tomato? Not sure. I'll see how my leftover experiments go.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                  Maybe try a splash of hot sauce? I had been thinking of trying this dal recipe, and if I do, I will let you know if it turns out bland with the spice blend that Iyer recommends.

                                                                                  1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                    Follow up on the spinach soup with red lentils. Leftovers were very enjoyable with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of additional salt and Punjab garam masala. When I got to the end, there were a few too many coriander seeds left mainly whole for my taste. I don't mind crunching on cumin seeds, but found the coriander unpleasant. Not sure if my mortar and pestle skills are deficient or if it's a cultural preference, but I think I the future I will grind coriander before adding to things.

                                                                                  2. Sri Lankan Pearl Rice with Lemongrass (Muttu Sambha), pg. 721

                                                                                    Funny how looking at one dish can lead to several others. So the red lentils with gogura, led to cashew curry, led me to this dish which RI recommends be served with the cashew curry. Since they both involve coconut milk, I really thought this might turn out to be gilding the lily, but as usual Mr. Iyer was right, it is a marvelous combination.

                                                                                    I made the recipe exactly as written except for two things. 1) For my rice I used genjimai, a short grained Japanese brown rice and 2) Since I was using a different rice, I washed it my way (washed/rinsed well, them drained, then allowed to sit damp for a while in the strainer) rather than using RI's approach. It all worked out fine.

                                                                                    To make the rice, first brown chopped onions in oil along with chopped (oops, grated in my case) lemongrass, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sick. Once the onions are browned, add the rice, salt, coconut milk, turmeric, and some water, bring to the boil and boil uncovered for about 8 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Stir once, cover and reduce heat to very, very low for 10 minutes. Then let the rice rest for an additional 10 minutes, then serve. It is rich, so really it shouldn't be a week night dish, but it isn't very demanding, what the heck we thought it tasted just fine on a Wednesday evening.

                                                                                    1. Perfumed Basmati Rice with Black Cardamom Pods, page 709

                                                                                      Another really nice rice dish. I was actually intending to repeat the Buttery Basmati rice with Spinach and onion (pg 703), but realized I had used all the spinach and other greens over the course of the week. I wanted a rice to surve with my lamb curry and saw that this one echoed the black cardamom and bay leaves in the lamb curry with the addiition of saffron and onions.

                                                                                      I actually cut back a bit on the black cardamom (calls for 5 pods, I used 3) because I have in the past occasionally found green cardamom overwhelming, but the black cardamom was a nice background note and very subtle with only 3.

                                                                                      Very nice and I find his pilaf directions yield perfectly cooked basmati, which just makes these curries sing, in my opinion.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                        Black Cardamom with rice....I have to look into this one, it sounds great.

                                                                                        1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                          Perfumed Basmati Rice with Black Cardamom Pods, page 709

                                                                                          I chose this rice for tonight's dinner for the same reasons as greeneggsnham. Loved the idea of echoing the black cardamon and bay leaves from our lamb curry in the rice. I have NEVER ever cooked rice this way.

                                                                                          Ghee is heated over medium-high heat and then the cardamon and bay leaves are cooked until the sizzle. Add red onion and cook until the edges turn brown. Then saffron is added along with the rinsed rice. The rice is stirred to coat and cold water is added. Then you let the mixture boil for 8 minutes, until there are craters. Then the cover is put on and the heat taken way down.

                                                                                          Can't argue with the results. Nicely perfumed rice, that was very different. I wasn't able to use the full amount of saffron since my jar was just about empty.

                                                                                        2. Naan, pg. 729-730.

                                                                                          I'm not sure what possessed me to make naan, since I don't have a tandoor or a grill or a pizza stone, but the recipe looked quick and simple so I figured why not. You mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, then stir in a little buttermilk and some warm water to form a soft dough. Knead briefly, cut into four equal pieces, shape into rounds and let them sit for a half hour. Pat out into 5" rounds, salt, slap on a hot surface for a few minutes and slather with melted ghee.

                                                                                          Anyway, since I didn't have any of the called for equipment, I used my cast iron griddle pan, heated in a 500 degree oven and then under the broiler. I made a half recipe of the dough and cut it into three pieces, but each one was still plenty big to make a 5 inch round - I probably should have made them even a little bigger, because they were a little thick. I also used regular butter instead of ghee. Still, the naans were pretty tasty! Not as tender as what you get in restaurants, but still good, and easy peasy!

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                            That is encouraging. My naan efforts have not led to particularly edible results.

                                                                                            1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                              I'm planning on making roti tomorrow -- I hope it's simple too. I've never had the real thing, so making it properly could be an elusive goal! I'm going for *flexible and flavorful.*

                                                                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                I'm impressed! Making stuff like that at home intimidates me.

                                                                                                1. re: biondanonima


                                                                                                  My original plans for making this on the grill fizzled out along with the last of my propane. I don't know what crazy voice told me it would be a good idea to turn the oven on to the hottest setting on the most stiflingly humid and scorching day of the year, but I guess that's just the way I roll.
                                                                                                  Like biondanomina, I had to improvise with equipment a bit, using a clay comal-type dish in lieu of a pizza stone (shhh, it's actually a large terra-cotta plant pot base), and like her, I also found that the bread, patted out as written was really thick, so I ended up with five 8" rounds from my full batch. I didn't read the directions fully and put too much water in to start, so had to add quite a bit more flour than was called for, but I was conscious to keep the dough as moist and sticky as possible.
                                                                                                  These turned out much better than I expected! Nice and soft, a little chewy, but with a nice tang from the buttermilk (which was just milk & lemon juice in my case), and very quick from the lack of yeast. I'd make these again, and I'm definitely going to try it on the grill one day--would love to attain those gorgeous golden-brown bubbles that come from the higher heat source.

                                                                                                2. Roti (Griddle-Cooked Whole-Wheat Flatbread) p. 727

                                                                                                  I'd say this attempt was 80 to 85% successful! First, I think it's important to have the right flour -- it's like whole wheat, but not the same. I bought "durum atta" flour. Made a half recipe, (this is flour, salt, water only) let it rest for half an hour. Then rolled out smallish golfballs of dough to be 6" thin discs. Cooked these one at a time on a cast iron griddle for about two and a half minutes, until bubbles started to form. Then you flip them and they begin to puff up sort of all over. This video I found, about minute 3:15, will show you:
                                                                                                  Mine did not puff so dramatically or fully (a pic below of one beginning to puff.) They do deflate of course, (pic of several in a stack.
                                                                                                  )I know these are available commercially, but I'm a happy chapati having made some.
                                                                                                  Oh -- the salt is just a little more than I prefer -- just a touch.

                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                      Yes, they are available at the store and if you look on sites like Sulekha.com you may be able to find an Indian lady near you who makes these in large batches for sale and you can freeze them, BUT nothing beats fresh home roti right off of the stove! Good job for the first time.

                                                                                                      Rotis are tricky. Iyer describes and explains a bit about the properties of "kanak" (golden) wheat berries on p. 38, sort of giving info insight on why having desi wheat flour for this is so important and why you can't just use stone ground whole wheat form any store. You can make the rotis soft by adding a touch of oil or a little bit of plain white flour also. But the taste of pure wholewheat rotis is really something to relish.

                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                        Well Blue Room you inspired me to try again, and I can't believe it but they were actually edible. Yippee! I really have no idea what was different from my earlier (ages ago) attempts, but I did use Chakki Atta, and I did follow the direction (minus a little salt) exactly, and it did work.

                                                                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                                                                          Oh I'm sure they were far beyond edible!

                                                                                                          It's so satisfying when a specialty bread recipe works. I tried once to make something called "baps" (Scottish) -- twice they flopped! I gave up.
                                                                                                          I'm so pleased with this book -- it's a little much to cram several curries into one month, but we'll have the book for always. And so many of the recipes are perfect with the roti.

                                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                                            Believe me edible is a huge improvement over previous attempts.

                                                                                                            Totally agree with you about this book, it has been a pleasant surprise for me.

                                                                                                        2. re: blue room

                                                                                                          I admit that I tried to make Roti one day recently. I read the complex instructions with waxed paper, and foil, and I thought, why, I can just roll them between the wax paper. May I suggest you do NOT take this shortcut?

                                                                                                          I served naan pulled from the freezer that night.

                                                                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                            Well, I give you all kudos for trying. So far, I've not had the courage.
                                                                                                            Any flatbreads--any Indian breads,really--have come from packages, usually frozen (though I have to say I've found a particular brand--"Deep," I think--to be pretty good).

                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                              What a wonderful name! Deep bread...
                                                                                                              deep lunch ... deep dinner...

                                                                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                Deep is a HUGE Indian food provider. Many of the lentils and spices that I buy at the INdian store have this label.

                                                                                                          2. Yogurt-Marinated Lamb with Rice, Saffron and Mint (kacchi briyani) page 690

                                                                                                            My first briyani! I knew I wanted to make a lamb dish from 660 curries this past weekend but I also knew I didn't want to be standing in front of the stove for the 45 minutes immediately before dinner. This briyani called out to me with the promise of a nearly one-pot meal, as well as the flavors or lamb, yogurt, black cardamom, saffron, mint....

                                                                                                            Well, this dish delivered on both counts. The prep is spread out over a few steps, but relatively simple. Lamb is marinated in a yogurt and spice mixture (ginger, garlic, chile, salt and Punjabi garam masala) with fresh mint and cilantro. I actually had no cilantro and so had to omit that. The rice is then cleaned and soaked for an hour. Then ghee is heated and cumin, black cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon stick are fried briefly. Sliced red onion is added for 3-5 minutes. Saffron threads are stirred in, followed by the drained basmati rice. Cold water and salt are added and the rice is par cooked for 3-5 minutes.

                                                                                                            At this point, the lamb is put in a casserole (I actually marinated it in the dish I was going to cook it in to save dishes), melted ghee is poured on the lamb and then the par-cooked rice mix is layered over the top. Put the top on and into the oven it goes for 1 hour.

                                                                                                            My briyani shared the oven with some cauliflower that I roasted as an accompaniment. This smelled INCREDIBLE while it was cooking. I was really blown away by how good it smelled. The saffron really came through but you also smelled the lamb and spices and onions. I loved the moment of anticipation when I brought the covered earthenware dish to the table and lifted the lid to a puff of delicious steam. There were literally oohs and aahs from my kids.

                                                                                                            The verdict... I really liked this. It seemed like Indian comfort food to me. The lamb was very tender and moist and the rice was incredibly fragrant and savory. I didn't love it, but I think it's in part because it didn't quite taste as good as it smelled to me. My husband LOVED this. He kept commenting on how good it was and immediately asked me to make it again. The kids were a bit luke warm. They ate it, but didn't love it. I'll probably make it again in part because I think you could make it up to layering it all together in advance, making it a doable weeknight meal since I could have my nanny pop it in the oven at the appropriate time. I thought the roasted cauliflower was a great side. I wish I had made some Raita or kachumber to go with it, because I think the contrast of a cool fresh crunch with it would have been very welcome.

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                              Thank you, greeneggsnham -- one more of the 660 proven delicious.

                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                This book really just keeps on giving, as far as I'm concerned!

                                                                                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                                  Sounds wonderful. My first taste of Indian food was biryani, and it was truly love at first (argh, I know) bite.

                                                                                                                2. Rice ith Yogurt and Mustard Seeds (p 710)

                                                                                                                  I know it's not Oct any more, but I'm getting ready to make this rice and am confused by the recipe as written in the book.
                                                                                                                  After rinsing the rice multiple times, at the end of step one it calls for a final soak in 1 1/2 cups of water for 20-30 minutes, then drain.
                                                                                                                  Then step 2 calls for bringing the pot to a boil - but here's my confusion... there's no longer any water in the pot to boil, it was just drained! Am I misreading something, is there a typo, or are you really just supposed to heat the soaked rice without any additional water?

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: acecil

                                                                                                                    That is confusing, indeed. If it were me I'd rinse and soak then cook the rice as you normally do. With fresh water...

                                                                                                                    BTW: It's perfectly fine to pull up past COTM threads and post reports or info. We do it all the time.

                                                                                                                    1. re: acecil

                                                                                                                      Well, probably too late to help, but I looked at Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for Yogurt Rice, after soaking and draining the rice she has you add the rice in LOTS of boiling water (12 cups of water for 1 cup of rice !) and after boiling it hard for about 12 minutes, drain it again, and then add it to the yogurt mixture.

                                                                                                                      1. re: acecil

                                                                                                                        I just looked it up. It says to drain, then to Cook the rice for 5-8 minutes, then cover and cook again for 8 minutes. I'm thinking there's enough water in the soaked rice to steam it.

                                                                                                                        When I make yogurt rice, I just cook the rice like normal and then combine with the yogurt/spices.

                                                                                                                      2. Saffron Rice Layered with Lamb-Tomato Curry (Gosht dum briyani) pg. 688

                                                                                                                        I was having a dinner party with some good friends on a cold, wintery Sunday night. I had been feeling very uninspired about what to make, but somehow Indian seemed like it would be a welcome change of pace. The description of this dish as a "perfect one pot meal" as well as the fact that it could be made ahead save for the pastry lid sold me on this one.

                                                                                                                        The prep was somewhat involved but could be almost completely done in advance. Cubed lamb is marinated in ginger and garlic overnight. This is then seared in oil to which tomato paste, fried onion sauce, salt, tumeric, Punjab garam masala, water and cayenne (which I significantly reduced because I was feeding 5 children in addition to the adults). This is simmered until the lamb cooked and tender. While this is cooking, you prep the rice. It is washed and soaked for an hour. Then cumin, black cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon are fried in butter or ghee. Sliced onion is added, followed by saffron. The drained rice is added in followed by water and salt. The parcooked rice and lamb are now ready to go, but he says in the notes that these can be made up to 2 days in advance. I made the lamb the day before and the rice the morning of the party.

                                                                                                                        At assembly time, a large casserone is layered with lamb, then rice, then lamb, then rice and then a sheet of puff pastry is put over the top to seal. Into the oven it goes to cook for 35-45 minutes.

                                                                                                                        I made a few adjustments. First, since I was cooking for 9, I doubled the whole recipe. I also cut back a bit on the tomato sauce and water in the lamb curry because it seemed like otherwise it would be soupier than we would prefer. I was a little leery of cutting back too much because I wasn't sure that the rice would cook well with a drier lamb curry. It was fine though and I would cut back again next time. I also cooked the briyani a few minutes extra since it was doubled and I was starting from cool components rather than hot.

                                                                                                                        When I served this, it looked impressive (as anything draped in puff pastry does) but I was a little nervous because it was a total leap of faith. With the pastry shell I had no way of telling that it was cooked and done. Thankfully, I have enough faith in Iyer to smile and put it on the table and trust the recipe.

                                                                                                                        And the result... it was fantastic! Really, really good. I am glad I cut back the sauce for the lamb because it was on the verge of being too saucy, in my opinion, but the flavors were fantastic. And the puff pastry was really a welcome flavor and texture component (not to mention the drama of breaking through to reveal the deliciousness underneath). Of the 5 children at the table, 2 were not too crazy about it, but the other 3 dug in. And all the adults were very happy.

                                                                                                                        I served with a mint-yogurt chutney, onion chutney and a red pepper almond chutney as well as aloo gobi. Definitely a repeat