Kibti ~ Lost Recipe from the Royal Kitchens of Patiala

Kibti ~ Tender chicken thighs marinated in yogurt & aromatic spices and slow cooked in ghee, caramelised onions and saffron. Topped off with slivered almonds 🤍

The sheer diversity of Indian cuisine is overwhelming. Each region has its own history and culture which reflects heavily on its food. But sadly over time many such brilliant recipes that highlighted the ingenuity of the cooks/ khansamas have faded into oblivion or remain undocumented.

Whether it’s our ancestral kitchens or the secret recipes of the royal chefs, these glorious recipes must be preserved and handed down through generations. In this era of convenience and instant gratification, it’s crucial that we celebrate such lost recipes and hidden gems that gives us an insight into the incredibly rich food heritage of India.

A decadent treat from the royal kitchens of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, Kibti (or kibiti) is an appetiser with layered flavours. It’s the perfect example of how simple spices and minimal techniques can result in a dish with a complex flavour profile. Our ancestral kitchens were sheer genius when it came to creating unique gems. I was delighted to be a part of a beautiful collaboration #forgottenfoodofindia on Instagram that gave me an excuse to deep dive into our rich Indian culinary heritage😀

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was a well known connoisseur of food with some of the most enterprising and skilled royal chefs who always looked to indulge his tastebuds. Kibti was one such delicacy which he loved and also served in the lavish parties he hosted.

A small trivia~ Apparently he had once ordered for a 1400 piece George V gold and silver dinner service cutlery from London (weighing 500kg!) just to honour the visit of Prince of Wales.

Ingredients:

For marination:

8 boneless chicken thighs

4 tbsp hung yogurt

8-10 black peppercorns

5 green cardamoms

4 cloves

1 large mace

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

1 green chili minced (optional)

Salt to taste

For the cooking:

1 large onion, sliced

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp red chili powder (I used kashmiri red chili powder)

Few saffron strands

Ghee (clarified butter) for shallow frying

Almond slivers for garnishing

Method:

Dry roast the green cardamoms, peppercorns, mace and cloves. Grind them into a powder. Also soak 10-12 almonds in hot water and then peel the skin and chop them in slivers.

Now marinate the chicken with the yogurt, spice mix, ginger-garlic paste, minced green chilli and salt for at least 30-45 minutes. Heat 1 tsp ghee in a pan and roast the almonds until slightly brownish. Remove from the pan and keep aside,

Heat some more ghee and add the chicken thighs and spread them evenly to ensure they get enough space for browning. Cook on each side until they are nicely browned on medium heat. Now add the remaining marinade and the onion slices and continue to cook until the onions get caramelised on med-low heat.

Once the onions become soft and blends into the chicken, add the red chilli powder and coriander powder and give it a good mix until everything is well combined.

When the chicken is perfectly browned on the outside and juicy from the inside, add 1 tsp of ghee and sprinkle some saffron strands over the chicken.

Remove after 5 minutes and garnish with almond slivers before serving.

Easy Filipino Chicken Adobo

From crystal clear blue waters to some of the best white sand beaches in the world, the Philippines is abundant with natural beauty but its food is relatively less explored as compared to Thai or Vietnamese.

The classic Filipino chicken adobo is a foodie’s delight- sweet and tangy, braised in a sticky glossy sauce. Heaven on a plate 😋

Known as the unofficial national dish of the Philippines, all families have their own version and style of making chicken adobo. It’s surprisingly easy and a no fail recipe with the meat simmered in a fusion of vinegar, soy, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns.

Ingredients:

8-10 (bone-in) chicken pieces

1/3 cup cane sugar vinegar (or any other regular vinegar)

1/4 cup light soy sauce

2 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)

1/4 tsp black pepper powder

1 tsp whole black pepper corns

2 large bay leaves, torn into smaller pieces

1 tsp grated ginger

6 fat cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 onion sliced

2/3 tsp cornflour mixed in water for a runny slurry

Salt to taste

Any white oil for frying

Method:

Marinate the chicken (bone-in) pieces in palm sugar, light soy sauce, vinegar, grated ginger, black pepper powder and some chopped garlic. Keep aside for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a wok with oil and lightly fry the chicken pieces (without the marinade) until they are golden brown. Remove them from the wok.

Add a little more oil in the same wok and throw in the chopped onion and garlic. Sauté until they are cooked. You could also add some chopped red chilies.


Now add peppercorns, bay leaves and the chicken pieces along with the marinade. Continue to stir fry for a couple of minutes on high heat.


Add little water, cover the wok and let it simmer on low heat for at least 30-35 minutes.

Now remove the lid and add the cornflour slurry if you want to thicken the sauce. It is supposed to be sticky and brown, not runny.

Cook for some more time until your desired consistency is reached or until the sauce has almost reduced to half.

Serve hot with rice 🤍

Nasi Goreng ~ From the streets of Indonesia

Nasi = Rice, Goreng = Fried, the dish literally translates to fried rice. Let’s explore the streets of South East Asia and its glorious cuisine this week 🙂

Day old rice tossed with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), belacan (shrimp paste) and leftover veggies/ meat creates this beautiful umami rich fried rice topped with a fried egg.

One of the most talked about dishes of south east Asia (with several dubious recipes floating online!), the authentic nasi goreng is rather simple- with only stir-fried left over rice and a fried egg, as served in most local eateries across the length & breadth of Indonesia and Malaysia.

But if you want to make it into a complete wholesome meal like I did, just throw in any left over veggie, some protein and you are sorted! But what’s not optional is the kecap manis and fried egg on top😋

Don’t fret if you don’t have kecap manis. Simply reduce dark soy sauce (preferably low sodium) and brown sugar in a pan on low heat until it becomes darker & sticky. Ta-da!
You can add this sweet soy sauce to a host of Asian stir fries😉 Meanwhile you could also check out the Asian aisles of your supermarket or any Asian grocer and get a bottle of this dark and luscious velvety goodness.

Shrimp paste (belacan) gives the dish its umami flavour and elevates its taste to the next level! You can skip it if you don’t have, but do give it a try once. It does smell funky but believe me it really makes a difference in the taste and is actually much subtler in flavour once cooked.

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

200 g boneless chicken cubes

2 portions of cooked rice, a day old (if you don’t have overnight leftover rice, simply cook fresh rice and allow it to cool in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, don’t skip this!)

2-3 tbsp kecap manis

2 tsp chopped Thai red chilies

2 tbsp chopped garlic

1 finely chopped medium sized onion or 2-3 shallots

1 large cup veggies of your choice (I used chopped red bell pepper, beans and carrots)

1/2 tsp belacan/ shrimp paste (you can add slightly more or reduce based on your preference)

2 eggs

Salt to taste

White oil for frying

Method:

Marinate the boneless chicken cubes with 1/2 tbsp kecap manis. Keep aside.

Heat a wok; once smoking hot, add oil and throw in the chopped shallots (or onion), garlic and Thai red chilies. Sauté for a while.

Now add the chicken and spread it in the wok to ensure that it sears nicely. Stir fry for a while until the chicken is nicely browned. Next add your veggies and continue to stir fry on high heat. Adjust the salt according to your taste (remember soy sauce has salt, so go easy).

Add a bit of shrimp paste if you have and mix everything together so that the paste is evenly combined with the chicken and veggies.

Now add leftover rice (preferably short-grained) and the remaining kecap manis and stir fry for some more time. the rice and veggies should look glazed and nicely coated with the sauce.

Meanwhile prepare two fried eggs in a wok (no salt needed).

Serve hot with fried egg, cucumber slices and prawn crackers🤍 Makan time now!

Authentic Kolkata Biryani- Tracing Roots & Bridging Cultures


The classic Kolkata chicken biryani with its juicy tender meat, mild & fragrant spices & succulent potatoes, is inspired heavily by the Awadhi style.

As I write this, fond memories of Arsalan, Shiraz & Aminia just keep coming back🤍 The city’s love for this stellar dish can be experienced through the countless biryani eateries strewn across its length and breadth.

Source: YouTube

The seeds were planted in the mid 1800s when the 10th Nawab of Awadh (or Oudh) was exiled from Lucknow and his properties were seized by the British. He moved with his entourage to Metiabruz in Calcutta, which soon became a cultural mecca thriving with musicians, courtesans, royal kitchen khansamas (cooks), skilled darzis (tailors), et al.

The Nawab was a man of taste and a well known connoisseur of food. He had his royal kitchen khansamas with him who were some of the best of those times- highly skilled, enterprising and always innovating to indulge and delight the Nawab’s tastebuds.

That’s how Awadhi biryani which is cooked in the dum-pukht style reached Calcutta. In dum-pukht style of cooking, the rice and the meat korma is cooked separately and then layered in the pot on which the lid is sealed tightly with dough so that the steam doesn’t dissipate and flavours remain intact.

This ingenious method results in the exotic aromatic juices from the meat to ooze into the rice and potatoes, creating a subtle yet exquisite flavour in the biryani.

All great so far!

But how did the humble (or not so humble) potato and egg come into the picture?

If you ask me, I would say the potato is my favourite thing about biryani. Only those who have tasted Kolkata biryani would truly understand what I’m saying! Undoubtedly, it is the humble soft potato that connects true blue Calcuttans across the globe and sparks debate (at the drop of a hat) about the best biryani joints in Kolkata.

There’s a lot of literature out there discussing the origin/ history of adding potatoes. On researching, most sources lean towards the theory that with the Nawab’s wealth depleting, the purse strings were tightened but being a gourmet, he always enjoyed having his royal meals. So his khansamas began innovating in the kitchen to find ways to satiate him, hence the inclusion of potatoes (and later on eggs) to stay within budget. Click here to read more.

But there’s another side to this claim which states that potato was actually considered an exotic vegetable. According to the great-great-grandson of the Nawab Shahanshah Mirza, as mentioned in an article published by Hindustan Times, potato cultivation was sparse in those days and hence not readily available, making it a luxury produce.

The khansamas simply experimented one day with potatoes in the biryani which the Nawab seemed to relish and approve of, and that’s how potatoes got introduced in Kolkata biryani 🙂 You can read the complete article here

For the chicken biryani, I blindly followed Manzilat Fatima’s brilliant recipe (she draws her lineage from Awadh’s royal family), noting down every single ingredient and technique that went into making this phenomenal dish, which she shared in a YouTube video by Delhi Food Walks🤍 Only exception being the eggs which I added, as I love eggs 😀

Manzilat Fatima’s famous Kolkata biryani recipe


I have tried her recipe for at least 7-8 times now and every single time the flavours simply knock your socks off! There’s no going back now. Watch the video to get her mind blowing recipe or you can continue to read below where I have broken down her recipe in 4 simple steps (for 3 servings):

Step 1

Peel 4 potatoes and fry them in mustard oil. Sprinkle salt, 1/3 tsp turmeric and a little red chilli powder while frying. Add little water, cover and continue to fry them. Keep aside when almost done.

Now heat some more mustard oil and fry 1 large red onion to make barista. Drain and keep aside on a paper towel.

Step 2

Heat mustard oil in a handi (or a deep bottomed pan). Add 4-5 cloves, 6 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom and 2 cinnamon sticks. Fry for a while and add the fried barista again. Throw in 2 fat cloves of crushed garlic and fry for a few seconds.

Now add 2 tbsp hung yogurt and mix well. Add little red chilli powder, 2 tbsp biryani masala (I used Shan Pilau Biryani masala, it’s fantastic!) and mix well. Now add 2 inch grated ginger and fry everything for a while. Add 6 chicken thighs (bone-in) and cook on medium heat for 5-7 mins. Lower the flame, cover and keep cooking.

Step 3

Wash and soak 11/2 cup rice for 1 hour. Drain and keep in a colander. Now boil a pot of water and add 4 cloves, 4 cardamoms and 2 bay leaves while boiling.

Once it comes to a rolling boil, add 1 tbsp lemon juice, salt to taste and the drained rice.

Cook until the rice is about 90% done.

Step 4

In the korma handi/ pan, gently place the potatoes and sprinkle a tsp of kewra water. Next, assemble the rice and pour half a cup of milk mixed with 1 tsp biryani masala on top.

Mix 2 tsp kewra water with saffron strands and drizzle over rice. Drizzle some ghee (clarified butter) and place 2 boiled eggs. I had some extra onion barista which I sprinkled on top. Now place an aluminum foil on top of the handi and seal it properly.

Cover with a lid on top and cook on low heat for 30 mins. Keep a standing time of at least 5 mins.