another chilly day

Namaste, everyone. Yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to tell you all about the news from our garden, which today, again, is hardly anything. You may remember me from such enjoyable posts as “Still More Weather” and “Invasion Of The Pods”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically horticultural pose.


You can see it’s warming up a little bit. Almost balmy today. I don’t know why this picture is crooked, but it is.


You may wonder what the guy I live with does when he isn’t ordering seed or just moping around the house. Today he decided to make a biryani.


The chicken doesn’t need to be fully cooked. (The guy I live with says he’s a failed vegetarian.)

You wash some basmati rice and then soak it for half an hour, then drain it.


Then you make a sauce with ghee, tomato sauce, and dried fenugreek leaves. He got this recipe from Raghavan Ayer’s 660 Curries.

pure cow

pure cow


the finished sauce

the finished sauce

Then you boil some water, salt it, add the rice, and boil it for a couple of minutes. Turn down the heat, and cook it for only a few minutes.

Meanwhile, you heat some cream or half-and-half, and add some saffron threads. My mommy used to collect saffron threads every autumn.



The cream is blended into the drained rice, and then a layer of rice, half the total rice, is put in an oiled casserole, with the sauced chicken on top. This is covered with the rest of the rice and baked for about 45 minutes at 300 (149C).

The guy I live with said to mention all this in case you thought he didn’t do anything, and I was the only one who did.

I got to go on my walks, of course, even with all this biryani business. This was my afternoon walk. I like to think of it as my after-dinner walk. Most of the paw prints you can see are mine, but some aren’t. Some were left by coyotes.



If it looks cold, that’s because it is. I like this weather a lot, and the guy I live with doesn’t mind it very much, because he used to stand outside in weather like this back in the last century. I haven’t had problems with my paws icing up because the path has gotten pretty hard.

The guy I live with says this is looking in the direction of Tucson, where he says the weather is a little different from here.


Well, that was my day. Sorry if this was kind of boring. The guy I live with got to make a biryani, and I got to go on both of my walks, spend some time out in the garden, and do all the lying around at which I’m especially good.

Until next time, then.


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10 Responses to another chilly day

  1. Lucie K. says:

    I think “all this biryani business” may be one of your best phrases yet, Chess!

    • paridevita says:

      I like phrases, thank you. The guy I live with wanted to show way more biryani pictures, in order to make the post “more interesting”, but I didn’t think it would have.

      • Ness says:

        Oh, it would have, Chess. Really. There were too many moves one had to guess.

      • paridevita says:

        That’s because he made me edit out all the parts about marinating the chicken and making his own balti masala and stuff. I didn’t want it to be too boring, because I never get any biryani.

        Okay, well, one tablespoon (T)=15 ml; one teaspoon (t) = 5 ml.
        The balti masala is made by toasting 2t fennel seeds, 2t coriander seeds, 1t cumin seeds, 1t mustard seeds, 1/2t cloves, 1/2t cardamom seeds, 1/2t nigella (kalonji) seeds, 3 bay leaves, 2 broken up cinnamon sticks each about 3 inches (7.6cm) long. Toast in a pan until the seeds, except the nigella which doesn’t turn color, turn brown, then cool on a plate. Then grind, and add 2t cayenne and 1/2t ground nutmeg.
        (Kalonji is sometimes called black cumin but it is not black cumin—Indian people, namaste, please don’t try to tell the guy I live with differently—real black cumin is kala jeera, a cumin. You hardly ever use it for anything.)
        Anyway, then you made a paste of 1T garlic and 1T ginger, with water, in a mini food processor. Mix this with some yogurt, a cup or more, and 2t balti masala and 2t Kashmiri chili powder (subsititute half paprika and half cayenne), and some salt.
        Marinate this overnight, or for at least two hours.
        The chicken, always skinless in Indian recipes, can be broiled or grilled. Just to sear it really.

        Then the rice is washed and soaked for half an hour, then drained. Fresh water brought to a boil, salted, rice added, brought to a boil again for a minute or two, then heat lowered, cooked for another few minutes. You don’t need to cook the rice completely since it will be baked later.
        Then the rice is drained, returned to the pot, and the heated cream or half-and-half with saffron is stirred in.

        The sauce is 2T ghee (pure cow, of course), half a cup or so tomato sauce, 2T dried fenugreek leaves, a little cayenne and some salt. Cooked for about ten minutes, covered, to marry the flavors. You can use fresh or frozen fenugreek too. You will smell like fenugreek for a couple of days. Not a bad smell.

        Then in an oiled casserole, layer of rice, chicken with sauce, layer of rice, and baked.

  2. petabunn says:

    It wasn’t boring Chess, it was variety. I especially like you inn the snow pictures. And at the end of a fulfilling day there’s nothing like a lie down with one of your toys. The only thing which could have made it better was if you had a biscuit or a special treat. Bet you did!

    • paridevita says:

      I agree, nothing like a good lie down with my toys. The guy I live with and I tend to fight a little over the couch, because he takes his naps there, too.
      I did get biscuits, thank you.

  3. Ooh ooh, a recipe! Thanks, Chess. My two favorite blog types are food blogs and garden blogs. Here combined, giving me joy, I grow the herb zahtar amongst the roses, I suppose I can add fenugreek. . We’ve got a great herb nursery up in North County, Pearsons. I’m about due for a visit to them. Of course, I’ll have to look for that cookbook too. Thank you for more photos of yourself, exterior and interior, such a cute one with your cuddly toy.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says “Get the cookbook, but when you make saag paneer use all spinach.”
      My mommy did ban the toasting of fenugreek seeds in the house, though. Made the house smell like fenugreek for days. Kind of a toasted, brown, maple syrup smell.
      Two toys, actually. Two of my many, which I play with all the time. Sometimes the guy I live with has to perform surgery on them, but they always pull through.

  4. Miss Kitty says:

    All hail from the Piedmont area of North Carolina. You are lucky to enjoy the beauty of a white winter, Chess, especially since you contrast so handsomely against the purity of the snow. We have been wallowing in days of constant rain, mildly cold weather and nothing exciting as the icy conditions originally predicted. For a change, I was allowed inside where it was warm and cozy cause as the gal I live with says “this weather isn’t fit for a duck.” Which I don’t quite understand cause I’m not a duck and I’ve never even seen a duck. You and the guy you live with entertain us a lot and we so enjoy a good story. Thank you for bringing humor and interesting topics into our day.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with was born in North Carolina, “on the banks of the Cape Fear River”. In July, no less. He lost his accent at an early age because his father was wounded in Korea and so everyone moved to Arlington, Va., because his father was in Walter Reed Hospital. Then they moved to Long Beach, California, where no one had an accent. But he’s heard that phrase, not fit for a duck. Maybe because it’s too wet.
      I’ve seen ducks, though; they live in the canal here and I frighten them on my walk. I yell ….well, of course I yell “Duck!”

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