Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rawas/Surmai ( Salmon/Kingfish) Dum Biryani with Dill; Diabetes Friendly Thursday Eid Special.

Would you call me a liar if I were to tell you that I can make Biryani using only ONE teaspoon oil??? Well, the proof is here. Why don't you try this recipe for yourself and see how it turns out?? You don't need your food to be oozing oodles of oil for it to be tasty. This is something that was ingrained in me at a very young age by my mother. She managed an entire month with only 1/2 liter oil!! This included making the occasional fried items too.. Cooking healthy and eating healthy is a mind thing. You have to retrain your mind to "think healthy". This is what we at Team DFT do. We think healthy, we cook healthy and we want to promote this amongst everyone that we come across. It has to be a paradigm shift.

This week is Eid for our Muslim brothers and sisters. In their honor, Team DFT is bringing to you a variety of healthy, delicious  biryanis and pulaos that you can make and enjoy in your homes. 

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Being a diabetic does not mean that you cannot eat carbohydrates ( rice )at all! You just have to be mindful of what you eat and how much you eat. Diabetes educator Emmy Suhl of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston states " there is no such thing as a diabetes diet." The best diet for someone with diabetes is your basic, healthy diet." Just swap unhealthy food with healthy foods. Fill your plate up with non-starchy vegetables and a small portion of rice the way I have done in this plate with the biryani. This way you would have satisfied your palate and your stomach. I promise you that you will not walk away hungry!!

Without further ado, let me tell you about this Fish Dum Biryani that I have made today and what I did to make it healthy. The basic recipe for this is courtesy one of my very talented cousins, Seema. Seema is an excellent cook. I love her food. I have modified her recipe to make it even healthier. I have used parboiled basmati rice instead of regular basmati rice. 

Parboiled basmati rice is less processed, has more nutritional value and gives a better yield per cup of uncooked rice with 3 cups for each cup of uncooked rice as compared to 2 cups cooked rice per cup of uncooked regular basmati rice. The base for this Biryani is cilantro( coriander leaves), mint leaves, green chillies, ginger and garlic. I added dill to this which and the Biryani even more flavorful and added additional dietary fiber and nutrients. Coming to the fish, I usually make this with kingfish steaks only. The reason being that Kingfish steaks don't disintegrate. They hold themselves upon cooking. This time however, I decided to make it healthier by also using Salmon ( Rawas) steaks. Salmon as we all know is extremely nutrient dense. I have broiled the fish instead of searing them in oil. Last but not the least, the biggest change I made to make this Biryani healthy is baking the onion slices in the oven to make them crispy instead of deep frying them!! This was something I have been wanting to experiment with for a long time now. I tried by baking little bit of red onions and little bit of white onions to see which one fairs better. I found that the red onions gave better results. The only oil I used is 1 tsp oil to sauté onions, tomato and the green masala. I also wanted to make this recipe such that it is simple and easy to make. I think I have accomplished that. I have therefore given options to accomplish the different steps in the recipe in a healthy manner.  Please do share your thoughts and opinions.


Servings: 6-9 people ( Serving size: 1 small fish steak served with 1 cup biryani rice).



For marination:
Fish steaks:  6-8 small steaks ( if big pieces, use 3-4, about 600 grams). I have used a mix of Kingfish( Surmai) and Salmon( Rawas).
Salt: 1 tsp
Black pepper powder: 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice: from 1 small lemon.

For grinding:
Coriander leaves( cilantro): 1 small bunch, leaves plucked and separated.
Mint leaves: 1/2 cup
Green chillies: 6 medium sized ( you can adjust based on your spice levels).
Ginger: 1 inch piece, chopped
Garlic: 4-6 medium cloves, chopped
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Water : 1 cup

For the curry:
Cooking oil : 1 tsp
Onion: 1 medium, chopped
Tomato: 1 small, chopped
Dill leaves: 1 cup
Cinnamon stick: 1 one inch piece
Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Water: 1 cup

For the Biryani rice:
Water: 12 cups
Parboiled basmati rice: 3 cups
Cinnamon stick: 1 one inch piece
Cloves: 3 nos
Cardamom: 3 nos
Bay leaf: 1 medium-sized
Saffron threads: 3-4 nos
Fried ( baked)onions: 1/2 cup, for garnish  ( optional)



1. Wash the basmati rice thoroughly, soak it in water for 1 hour. Drain and keep aside.

2. While the basmati rice is being soaked, wash the fish slices, marinate with salt, black pepper and lemon juice for minimum of 15 mins.

3. Preheat the oven at 450 deg F .Slice one large onion thinly. Spread it on a baking sheet and place it in the middle rack of the oven.

Bake for approximately 20 mins or until golden brown, flipping the onions once in between . Do not let them char as the onion will then taste bitter. ( If you do not have an oven, you can skip this step entirely!)

4.Grind together all the ingredients listed under" for grinding" to a smooth paste and keep aside.

5. Arrange the fish in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil the fish 2 mins on each side. Do not cook the fish completely. ( If you do not have the option of broiling you can sear the fish on both sides on a tawa ( skillet/griddle) . Keep aside.

6. Bring 12-15 cups water to a boil. Add to it the soaked and drained basmati rice , salt, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and salt. Cook until the rice is Al-dente, around 10 mins. Turn off the flame, drain the rice completely. Now mix in the saffron threads. Keep aside.

7.In a sauté pan, heat one teaspoon oil. Add chopped onions and sauté until they turn slightly golden.

Add the chopped tomatoes, and sauté until they are wilted. 

Add garam masala powder and sauté for a couple of seconds. Now add the ground paste, dill leaves and let it cook for 2-3 mins.

Add in the grilled fish slices, water and cook until the fish is completely cooked. Turn off the flame.

8. In an earthen pot/ regular pot layer the fish curry and the rice, starting with the fish curry and ending with the rice.

Top it with fried onions( optional) and some sprigs of dill or coriander leaves.


9. Cover the pot with a piece of aluminum Foil, sealing the edges. Place the lid of the handi( pot) on top.

10.Now place this handi on a tawa ( griddle) and let it cook for 15 mins on very low flame.

11. Just before serving, mix it gently. The fish pieces may break.

12. Serve hot with raita, onion slices and any other salad of your choice. I have served with cucumber raita , cabbage-red radish slaw and slices of cucumber and onion.



Cooking made easy:

The process of Dum is entirely optional. If you don't want to be bothered, just layer the fish curry an rice , garnish with fried onions, dill/ cilantro and serve hot with raita/ salad of your choice. It will still taste delicious.

The other options of making Dum Biryani is by placing the pot in the oven and baking it for 15-20 mins at 350 deg F.

There is another easy way of doing Dum Biryani. I call it the modern way. Just layer the fish curry and rice in an electric rice cooker, garnish it with fried onions and press " cook" button on the rice cooker. Comes out perfect!


Footnotes ( Tip for healthy living):

Now let us look at the health benefits of some of the key ingredients used in this Biryani. First and foremost is parboiled rice. Parboiled rice has a lower GI of 38 compared to white basmati rice which has a GI of 52 and regular white rice has a GI of 89 and therefore prevents blood sugar spikes. Parboiled rice has also been found to have less starch, more fiber, calcium, potassium, Vit B-6 than regular white rice and is gentle on the digestive system. Read the references for further information.

We all know that Salmon is great for our health as it is one of the best sources of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Quite often people with diabetes suffer from other co-morbidities like high blood pressure, heart problems and obesity. Omega-3 fatty acids are supposed to promote better functioning of the cardio-vascular system. You can find more information about all the health benefits of salmon in the references cited below.

Dill is a very potent herb. A little bit goes a long way. It belongs to the same family as parsley, cumin and bay leaf. It is a great source of calcium, manganese, iron and flavonoids known for their anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-viral properties. Dill has strong anti-microbial properties. Dill has been purported to regulate insulin levels in diabetics and also help reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels thereby being heart-healthy too. Dill also is great for digestive issues as it has anti-spasmodic properties. Dill is might help stabilize irregular menstrual cycles and help promote fertility in women. You can read more in references below.



I am not a nutritionist or dietitian. My knowledge and information is based on my research and reading from different resources. Please consult your doctor or dietitian before making any changes to your diet.


Go ahead , indulge and celebrate with all these other Biryanis & Pulaos from team DFT!

Shailja: Shrimp Biryani 

Food for thought:

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. Unknown