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Staying Motivated to Cook: Our Favorite Indian Dishes + Pork Biriyani

I really wasn't cognizant of how much the boys motivated me to cook - multiple dishes, appetizers, and even desserts. Now that it's just me and Jake, a salad has sufficed for dinner and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was all I made for lunch the day after we dropped off R. Yikes. I am in need of empty nest cooking motivation!

Jake wanted to invite a departing co-worker over for dinner and it was a great reason for me to create multiple dishes in one evening. It turns out the friend never showed up - he had broken his foot! - so we had lots of leftovers and I delivered dinner to my parents the following day.

The last time AndrĂ©s came over for dinner, I served a Kimbap Sushi Hybrid along with Hawaiian Saimin. When I asked Jake what I should make, he said...

Butter Chicken

Palak Paneer

Whenever I make Indian food, my favorite is Palak Paneer. But for the centerpiece of the table, I decide to make a biriyani. Usually I make lamb or beef biriyani, but I had pork in the fridge.

Pork Biriyani

Spice Blend
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon black cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 3 teaspoons peppercorns (we used a mix of white, black, pink, and green peppercorns)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 6 white cardamom, seeds removed and pods discarded
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 T butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 to 2 pounds pork (we used a boneless loin), cubed
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons ground almonds
  • 2 cups basmati rice cooked with a pinch of saffron threads
  • fresh cilantro for garnishing
  • Also needed: a large bowl for molding the biriyani
Prepare the spice mix by placing all the whole spices - except for the cinnamon - in a pestle. Grind with the mortar. Grate the cinnamon and stir in the cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, ground ginger, and nutmeg. Put to one side. In the same pestle grind the garlic and ginger with one teaspoon of salt until you have a rough paste. Set aside.

Place your meat in a large mixing bowl. Add in the dry spices, ginger, and garlic. Massage the spices into the pork. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large pan - we used a Dutch oven - melt butter in a splash of oil. Brown the meat until golden on all sides. Remove meat from the pan and stir in the onions. Stir well. When the onions begin to soften, add the meat back in to the pan.

Add the tomatoes, vinegar, yogurt and ground almonds. Stir well to incorporate all of the spices that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Add enough cold water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil, cover, and let simmer for three hours, until the meat is tender. You can stop at this point and resume the following evening...or keep going if you
have planned far enough in advance to not be eating dinner at midnight!

Layer some of the curry into the bottom of the bowl you are using as a mold. Press saffron rice into a layer. Then repeat: curry, rice, curry, rice until the bowl is full. Press firmly to compress the mixture before inverting onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with a bowl of the remaining curry and a batch of Homemade Naan.

This Indian menu definitely gave me some cooking motivation. Stay tuned for more of my empty nest cooking adventures. This is certainly a shift in menu planning and execution for me!


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