Sunday, March 31, 2019

Veg Biriyani Recipe

Ingredients

  • One Potato - dices into small cube sized pieces and soak in water
  • Beans - about 10 of them chopped into medium pieces, soak in water
  • Carrot - about 2 of them chopped into medium pieces, and soak in water
  • Onions - big ones, 2 of them sliced thin and long
  • Green peas - a handful
  • Mint and Coriander leaves - one medium sized bowl
  • Ghee - 2 to 3 teaspoons
  • Curd - 4 tea spoons
  • Groundnut oil - 4 to 6 teaspoons for the onions to caramelize (same can be later used for vegetables to be cooked), 4 teaspoons for the spices to be cooked along with rice
  • Basmati rice - One cup upto brim (standard cup measure)
  • Multi spices pack - 2 packs (contains cloves, elaichi, cinnamon, star anise)
  • Bay leaves - 3-4 for vegetables, 2-3 for rice
  • Shahi jeera - for vegetables (2-3 teaspoons)
  • Turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala, biriyani masala, salt, cumin powder
  • Ginger garlic paste - 2-3 teaspoons
  • Methi leaves - half a handful
  • Chillies to taste (I used one long chilli, you can desire to add 2) - diced into medium pieces

Preparation

You need 2-3 vessels. Of these one is a small one for caramelizing onions. The other two are fairly bigger and preferably made of cast iron as it to withstand cooking heat.

Caramelizing onions

Of the diced onions, take 1/3 of that and fry it in the oil, until they start turning golden brown. You need to keep stirring and turning them around and the moment you see them moving towards reddish brown colour, take them out and let them dry and cool off on a tissue so that all oil is removed. Keep these caramelized onions for later.

Rice Prep - Parallel step 1

You need to do these steps in parallel with the next one which is veggie saute, but you can start this one so rice keeps cooking when we do the veggies. For this we begin doing as below

  • one cup basmati rice filled to brim is to be washed in water and all the dust to be removed
  • Put 3-4 teaspoons of oil in a vessel and add spices to the oil once its warm
  • Add 1/2 handful shahi jeera, 3-4 cloves, 2-3 bay leaves, 2 cinnamon bark pieces, 3-4 elaichi and nicely fry in oil
  • Once you smell the aroma and its sufficiently fried, add the washed rice into the vessel and 2.5 cups of water (using the same cup as the rice was measured in) to the vessel
  • Add one spoon of salt and keep the flame low to cook the rice, vessel can be kept open as this will give time for you to do step 2 below

Veggie saute - Parallel step 2

  • Take 4-6 teaspoons of oil in a vessel and heat it. Add 4-6 elaichi, 3-4 cloves, 3 bay leaves, half a handful shahi jeera, and 2-3 cinnamon bark pieces to the hot oil. You can feel the aroma as you gently turn them around in the oil. Always keep the heat at medium or low. Never on the high side as it can burn the vessel and the food inside leaving it utterly distasteful.

  • Add the chillies and stir

  • Add the shahi jeera and stir

  • Add 2/3rds of the uncaramelized onions and continue stirring.

  • Add 1.5 spoons of salt, 1/2 spoon turmeric, 1/2 spoon red chilli powder, 1 spoon cumin powder, 1 spoon biriyani masala, 1/2 spoon garam masala

  • Potatoes naturally have water content in them which is needed while stirring when oil content goes low, so add these first along with the ingredients already added so far. Stir these potatoes nicely into the spicy mixture until the absorb all the spices well. At this stage the potatoes will begin to let out the water they have so we need to continue with others

  • Add the carrots next, and add 1/2 spoon salt more and stir

  • Next is Beans and green peas - add these and continue stirring

  • Add 1/2 spoon turmeric, 2 spoons garlic ginger paste, 1/2 spoon of garam masala, 1/2 spoon biryani masala, 1/2 spoon red chilli powder, 1/2 spoon cumin powder and saute the vegetables well.

Tip: If you find vessel is losing water and oil content and going dry, take some water into your palm and sprinkle it into vessel. Max only 2 times in one go, and continue stirring. You can do this sprinkling water two times, again a total of only two times. Only to ensure that vessel is never dry.

Bonus tip : never keep stove in high it will burn the vessel and burn your food. The last thing you need is this.
You need to keep the vessel oiled and moist at all times until the veggies consume all the spices.

Bringing everything together

  • Once the veggies are prepared, switch off the flame, it will remain warm (dont close the veggies)
  • At this stage the carrots and potatoes will feel undercooked. To check spice content, eat a cooked carrot piece and if you feel ok, then nothing more to add. It is ok for it to be little salty and if you need more spice add chilli powder and saute it with a spoon of oil and half a handful of water until the spices merge to the preparation

Getting the Biryani together

  • Take a fresh cast iron vessel, into this pour all the veggies prepared and form a bed of veggies
  • Next put the semi cooked rice and form a bed of rice on the veggies
  • Add 3 teaspoon of melted ghee to the top all around
  • On this rice, put coriander and mint leaves all over and add caramelized onions as well
  • Next put more rice on top of that and again form a bed of rice
  • Add more mint and coriander leaves and the rest of the onions on top
  • You can add ghevar water and saffron to this on top if you want it, I did not use both
  • Add 2-3 teaspoon ghee again on top
  • Now put this whole thing on low flame, close the top of the vessel and let the mixture cook for 5 minutes (not more than this because everything is already cooked and just needs to finish)
  • After 5 mins, sprinkle half a handful of water into the container at top, close the vessel again for 5 minutes
  • Turn off the stove and wait another 5-10 minutes as the remaining heat will let the veggies cook fully underneath as well as allow rice to be fully cooked state (you can break the rice with your fingers to see if its cooked)

Serving suggestion

Take a tablespoon and go from top all the way until the end of the vessel to pick rice, veggies everything in one go, and serve onto the plate for eating. Biryani can be served with curd raitha to make it tasty for your guests.

This set of measures are such that the Biryani made would be suitable for two to four people.
Enjoy your meal and let me know if you got the taste right in the comments !

Written with StackEdit.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Car Rentals in Kuala Lumpur - SoCar vs GoCar

Introduction

As I was headed to Malaysia for a trip for 10 days, I needed an option to commute within the country. While renting cabs with drivers was definitely an option, there was no privacy enough, and there was no way to make my own decisions on where I wished to go when. I was not so keen to rent a cab outside of KL city.

We had plans to visit multiple places such as Cameron, Penang, Langkawi so I needed a vehicle which I was willing to drive myself. It was the best option as it would give me the convenience without burning a hole in my pocket. The trip itself was turning out to be expensive and I wanted a good option for inside the country travel.

Things that I was looking for

As any first time car rental customer, I had some concerns, so I needed these

  • Easy rental mechanism, including driver sign up and validation of
    license
  • Preferably use local Karnataka (state license from india) - without the need for IDP
  • App based car handling
  • Easy fueling
  • Easy breakdown service if needed anywhere within the country

Options available

Based on the market services available in Malaysia, two common providers of cars had their apps listed - GoCar and SoCar. The former had tie ups with Renault and had new cars such as Captur and Almera (Sunny) while the latter had tie ups with Perodua and Toyota to a large extent and had more exotic cars if required.

While GoCar did not cover fuel for their rental rate, SoCar did. However the story did not end there. In this review, since I rented SoCar, I will talk about only that service. Maybe the next time I would try out GoCar although I do not expect any major differences in terms of what you basically get for your money.

SoCar

There is something you need to know during your registration on both the apps. You need mainly three things.

  1. Your passport copy

  2. Your driving license copy

  3. Your own selfie of you holding your driving license

Please bear in mind that item 3 should be taken in such a way that you stand far away with the license in your hand. If you take a photo too close to you, that would be rejected. I faced multiple rejections before I got it quite right. If you face a rejection its only because both you and you holding the license is not clearly visible. Correct it and you should be through.

Some things about the app

The app is well defined. You find the common options that you expect to see. You can choose source and destination options, timings and even use the map to find where you want the car from. There are also some options for home delivery of the car for some extra money which can be a boon at times.

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The makers of the software have ensured finer options such as clock entry, drop downs, display of car choices are perfectly available on the screen making the app good enough to use to get the job done.

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Car control

This is the best part of the app. You can control the car directly from the app. You can unlock or lock the car from the app itself.

Other than lock and unlock there are also buttons for horn, and hazard lights in case you need the support of these means to locate your car. There are also two icons for roadside assistance and support call if you would need those. Personally I would say that this is the most important screen as far as driving the car around is concerned. I undertook a trip spanning Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands, Penang, Kuala Perlis and back - which was almost 1500kms and never once did I feel anything in this screen did not work properly.

Profile section

The profile section of the app provides options to refer and earn, details on your reservations, payment options, promotions, notices from SoCar and help topics. It also provides an option for contacting support where you can “ASK” questions. You must be aware that the replies take typically a few hours to a few days so it is not that straightforward from the app. Better thing to do will be to call SoCar support if need be.

Promos

The last screen of the app provides promos as per the season and the occassion. These are either discounts or referral based bonuses as seen below. It is upto you whether or not you wish to use these and sometimes there are good deals in terms of discounts.

GoCar

The GoCar app is similar to the SoCar one, but GoCar has aligned with the Renault Nissan alliance in Malaysia so they have more Almera (Sunny) cars and Renault Captur besides the usual local brands and others like Toyota. These cars have rates that do not include fuel rates so its only the rental rate per day. But the car choices are good here as well.

The app is a bit basic compared to SoCar, and since I did not hail a car, I am not sure if the car can be remotely controlled from the app for lock/unlock etc. However I did notice that there were options to look for cars and call their support staff, besides options for making and viewing reservations, payment options, and promotions and deals.

In a later post I will talk about a few nuances of driving rental cars, but for this post I will leave you here with these details so you can take your pick of which car rental service you wish to rent while in Malaysia. Let me know your comments.