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How much is a "glass?"

Big Bunny

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I picked up a couple of packages of Shan brand spice mixes for a friend to experiment with.

The instructions call for so-many "glasses" of water. How many ounces might that be? Is there some standard?



Food is all about history and geography.

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I picked up a couple of packages of Shan brand spice mixes for a friend to experiment with.

The instructions call for so-many "glasses" of water. How many ounces might that be? Is there some standard?



I would guess eight ounces, as that was the size of most of the glasses in the goods old days in India/Pakistan. Even Coco Cola I believe at that time came in eight ounce bottle.

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Hi Big Bunny,

no help with the "glass" measurements here, but as someone who experiments with Pakistani packaged biryani masala mixes, i often reduce the cooking times and water content/volume when preparing the "korma" base, especially with US broiler/fryer chicken, even lamb shoulder chops. YMMV, wildly, because my preference is for a not-melting meat texture. When put on "dum" or steam, meat seems to tenderize very rapidly or well. Since this step is obligatorily included, I make an allowance for it. Also, i am not a fan of the "green" spices, ciliantro, chilies, [even tomato] in any biryani, but then again, your preferences may vary. The green spices show up in the Hyderabad-Deccan redaction, perhaps even to leser extent in the Bombay/Ismaili versions.

If you have the desire/opportunity, you may wish to try the National brand biryani mix, as well as the LAZEEZA brand [several different biryani types].

If you ever wanted to try your hand at your own biryani from scratch, you may find these interesting: [get iranian saffron, btw, although its price has gone up to $78/oz. It will last for 5-7 years in the freezer.]


# 132 [pictoria for technique] # 147, #155 [ for time modification]


post 194

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Thank you for your insight, v. gautam.

I have seen Lazeeza brand at my local Halal butcher. I will give them a try.

These packages are quite useful to someone who doesn't usually keep all of the spices on hand.


Food is all about history and geography.

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If your local Halal butcher is from Pakistan, there is a strong possibility that with a bit of personal history between you two, he might be persuaded to prepare [from his home kitchen, as a special order] biryani for you. This adventure should not be missed, if available. Eid-ul-Fitr is coming up, popularly called Chaand Raat, or Night of the (Crescent) Moon. People are in a very expansive mood, distributing food to friends and customers alike!! So a few thoughtful and sympathetic expressions of goodwill and greetings, sincerely meant will go a long way to cement a personal relationship.

In North Indian Muslim cookery, the art of meat cutting is as important as that of cooking. This is a dying science,a s none of the younger generation is prepared to undergo the long and thankless apprenticeship involved. Ask your butcher about this, and get him to show you how he slices the meat for kebabs in thin strips holding the knife with his feet. The cuts and thinness of this makes for the right kebabs. Other dishes like biryani depend entirely on the cuts of meat and the correct cooking of the fat and manipulation of meat and gelatinization of rice: a whole universe of interplays of textures and aromas, a symphony orchestra.

We have created a forum to discuss a few of these aspects, step by step.

When you prepare the paboiled rice or dum, you need to lightly flavor and salt it. One traitiona way was to add a ittle ballof cheesecloth containing a few weet spices, like cardamom, cassia, cassia leaf, cloves, shahzeera/shiahzeera into the cooking water for a hint of flavor. A more elborte way was to prepare a yakhni, a flavored stock. Yet a third way was to sizzle the sweet spices in a tiny bit ofhot ghee and add water in which to parboil the rice, gelatinizing it.

The hybrid basmatis we have available in the US seem to require minimal handling. Quick washing, very little soaking, and not even 5 minutes parboiling in copious water before draining and immediately being set on dum. It is desirable to keep the rice a tad undercooked than overcooked. For fussy cooks, when doing high quality chevon or lamb kacchi-pakki or raw meat-par-cooked rice, biryani, it sometimes is worthwhile to add the rice in 2 batches: the lowermost batch slightly more undercooked, the topmost layer, a bit more cooked. Top means the rice layer that comes above the layer of rice sitting immediately above the meat.

Remember in all these cases, there is ONLY 1 layer of meat, sitting on the bottom, and only 1 layer of rice, above it. All the creatures made with multiple layers of meat and rice are outside our purview.

There are other types of biryanis, zarebirian etc. with different (higher) proportions of ghee, and yoghurt investing the raw meat marinade which later gives up water to the rice, cooking it, and then the ghee and fat fom the cooking meat further fries the rice, gelatinizing the grain in a particualr way. The amounts of the liquid and the meat-rice-ghee proportions have to maintained in prescribed proportion, as does the shape ofthe vessel, and the quality of the rice. Here, Long grain Basmati is not necessariy the first choice.

There are hundreds of aromatic rices in India, of various lengths and starch properties. All evolved along the foothills of the eastern Himalayas and migrated south and west (e.g. Persia).

[There are some people who go around preaching that "pilafs" originated in Persia. They have not the slightest knowldge of the etymology of the word pilaf, palAnna, pala + anna and that this meat + rice, and legume + rice (khecarAnna) dish had ancient roots in India [including the us of aromatic rice] predating its appearance in Iran. ]

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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