Friday, 20 July 2018

Cooking Chicken Biriyani

Everyone makes biriyani a different way. 
This is the first time I’m making it, 
but I want to write down what I did – 
so that I remember next time!

Chicken Biriyani

Dry ingredients – 
dried red chillies, black pepper, 
green cardamom, black cardamom, star anise, 
clove, cinnamon, mace powder, 
salt, dried plum, bay leaves and some salt.
Other ingredients – 
Ghee, Thai red chillies, Indian green chillies, 
garlic, ginger, coriander leaves, 
a large onion, half a lemon, 
tomato, tomato paste.

Cut chicken, wash, and set aside to drain well

Grind all the dry spices except for black cardamom, and set aside
Grind garlic and ginger together and set aside
Fry 6 cups of basmati rice in a little ghee, 
add some cloves, green cardamom and cinnamon whole, 
along with some crushed garlic, 
and set aside the rice.

I coloured some rice red, and some yellow with food colour and turmeric.

Stir-fry a large onion, add the garlic/ginger mixture when brown.
Add chicken, tomato and black cardamom and stir-fry till brown.

Cook for a few minutes. Separate the liquid from the pieces of chicken.
We need to add 11 to 12 cups of liquid to cook the rice, 
that’s why we are separating the liquid – to measure it.

Add water to this liquid to make up 11 to 12 cups 
(I say 11 to 12 cups because, 
there is always some liquid in the chicken that was separated)
Bring to boil, add the rice, stir well, add sufficient salt and cook shut on low flame. 
Make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the pan. 
When the rice is partially cooked, add the lemon, coriander leaves and bay leaves. 
Turn off the flame and leave the rice to cook shut.

At this stage you can add the chicken, mix well, 
make sure there is enough salt, mix gently, 
so that the chicken doesn’t come off the bone.

Keep shut for a while before serving 

There's enough to give away to our friends!

While I was cooking this, 
I also made this eggplant dish to go with it
Here's the recipe for cooking eggplant with tomato

And don't forget to open a bottle of Shiraz!
(if you didn't already do that before starting to cook)

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


"You can lie to all people some of the time, 
and some of the people all the time, 
but you cannot tell lies to all the people all the time"
- John Koshy
18th July 2018

This photo is available here

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Venus and the Moon

Tonight Venus is supposed to have a date with the moon,

and in addition to Venus (on the left),
we are supposed to see Mars, Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter.

But from where I am in the middle of the city, surrounded by lights, 
all I can see is a crescent moon, 
orange from the city dust!

Friday, 13 July 2018

"Music is a world within itself with a language we all understand" - Stevie Wonder

"Music is a world within itself
With a language we all understand
For there's Basie, Miller, Sachmo
And the king of all Sir Duke" 
- Stevie Wonder

Love this version with Alana Alberg playing the bass guitar!

Get Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder from iTunes

Parakeet in the Backyard

Not sure if this is someone's pet,
 but it spends most of the day in our backyard

So well camouflaged among the leaves of the birch tree 


Thinking of going for a swim on a hot summer afternoon?

On the ash tree

                                                            More wildlife photos here

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Cooking Jackfruit Seeds

A friend gave us some Jackfruit
We ate the fruit, but I decided to cook the seeds instead of throwing them away.

Remove the seeds from the fruit ...

Cooked the seeds for a few minutes, that was easy.
But removing the outer skin from the seeds took more than 90 minutes.
(While removing the skin, 
watched an entire World Cup football match, 
which went into extra time, and then the penalties) 
And I was still removing the skin ...
Added turmeric powder, 
cumin powder, 
salt, and red chilly powder to the partially cooked seeds
(shown below on the left)
Chopped onions 'n garlic and crushed dried red chillies

Sliced some fresh coconut.
Stir fried the onions, garlic, coconut and dried red chillies till brown

Then added the Jackfruit seeds and stir fried till brown

So tasty!

I bet you won't find this dish within a thousand kilometres of where you are in North America!

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Monarch Butterfly on the Queen of Hearts

With the sole purpose of attracting butterflies to the backyard, 
two months ago I planted the Buddleai 
(also known as the Queen of Hearts)
This is a flower native to China.

The flowers are quite huge,
about a foot long!
And I've been looking after them in the hope of seeing butterflies

I look out of the window now 
And see this butterfly joyfully fluttering by,
so I quickly put on my hat, grab the camera and run outside,
Lo and behold!
Of all the flowers in the garden,
it chooses to sit on the Queen of Hearts!!!

This Monarch butterfly more than made my day!!!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Birds in our Backyard

Spring, summer, autumn or winter,
These are all the birds that visit our backyard throughout the year.
Some of them more often than others, but all are always welcome.
This is their backyard!

Downy Woodpecker

Is this a Parrot or a Parakeet?

Baltimore Oriole


Cooper's Hawk

White-crowned Sparrow

(I bet this flew in from downtown Toronto!)

A Hairy Woodpecker?

Common Grackle
(Drying up after a hot summer afternoon bath!)

No idea what this bird is

Juvenile male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
(I know this for sure, because I checked with the experts in Ontario!)

Not sure if this is a different Hummingbird
(It came at night!)

A young Coopers Hawk



Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Blue Jay

Male and Female Mallard

Female Cardinal

Male Cardinal

Mourning Dove and chicks!

House Sparrows


House Finch or Purple Finch?


Common Parakeet also known as a Budgerigar

This post will be updated if new arrivals are spotted.
If I've got some of the bird names wrong,
please feel free to correct me in the comments below.