Winter Treats: Woodpeckers, Wren and Wonderful Rice!


a lone carolina wren at the sunflower feeder

Sunday was a snow day. It snowed all morning. In the afternoon, we went out and cleared off the driveway and walks. Then it snowed again all night.
Come Monday morning, before work, I had to fight the snowblower to clear a path out of my driveway. I love winter, though, I really do.

I love it because the birds flock to the feeder with a passion born of necessity — something they don’t face in spring. Suet takes the place of insects, and even the shiest of creatures, a little carolina wren, was undeterred by my noisy foray into the white wilderness.


carolina wren peeking from behind suet cage


downy woodpecker


and his big cousin, hairy woodpecker. they are almost identical but the hairy is larger with a longer bill, and lacks the spots on the outer tail feathers

There is something about a snowstorm that brings out the best in me. Maybe it’s the birds after all! No matter that we’d shoveled all morning, and I was feeling lazy. Sunday was an evening for cooking, and my not-so-little girl-child wished hard for chicken. It won’t be long before she’ll be off on her own, thought I, so I ventured out in the lull of the afternoon just to get chicken. I cooked it with broccoli and pasta, just the way she likes it, especially for her. And I felt good πŸ™‚

Even after cooking a bit for the kitties, I had enough chicken left for another dish.
I remembered ISG’s biryani. She made it with seeraga samba rice, which I don’t have, but I do have sona masuri. So last night, I tried ISG’s version.

I followed the recipe (always a wise idea for me!) — the method to the letter — ingredients with very few little changes: ISG used chicken masala and I used Nawabi meat masala instead. This masala has stone flower, which adds a special taste. I also added a black cardamom, just because I love them and it seemed it would fit with the star anise and cloves and cinnamon which ISG’s recipe called for.

It was the first time making biryani in the pressure cooker, and it won’t be the last. When I opened the cooker, the aroma flooding the kitchen was enough to make my mouth water.

The dish itself was sublime — spicy and rich — I took some to work today with hastily made cucumber raita, and a few of my coworkers gleefully gobbled it up.

Thanks ISG, for another fantastic recipe! πŸ™‚


Two winter delights!

ISG’s spicy, delicious chicken biryani from the pressure cooker ~ on canary twisted optic by imperial glass, circa 1927


carolina wren in wintry wonderland



  1. Happy Cook said

    I don’t get anymore sonamasuri rice.
    I have been looking around a lot here.

    Hi HC — I noticed it’s gone up alot in price here, lately. Hope you can find some soon! πŸ™‚

  2. Asha said

    I don’t see any birds here since last week, suddenly got very cold and snowed y’day. But we are expecting upper 50s F tomorrow again, so they might get out of their nests or wherever they are! πŸ˜€

    Biryani looks yum. I am amazed at all your Indian cooking and your love for it. Most Americans here think Indian food is smelly and spicy. They ask me at the parties “how do you deal with the “smell”?” which makes me smile.They mean “aroma?” right, hehe! Most of these people have never even tried to cook or eat Indian food before! Small town folks, eh?! ;D

    Asha you’re making me smile — out of their nests ‘or wherever they are’ πŸ˜‰ Down there I expect they may well be in their nests!! πŸ™‚

    Small-town or big-city, those party-goers you met just don’t appreciate wonderful aromas, right!! πŸ˜‰ Tonight I made lower fat non-fried kadhi pakora-pancake. That’s my new year challenge — eat up all the spicy goodness without gaining another 20 lbs! Thanks for your kind words as always, Asha. Can’t go wrong with ISG’s recipes, or yours either! πŸ™‚

  3. indosungod said

    Great pictures of the birdies Linda. The chicken biryani is my comfort dish for a lot of reasons, can’t really go wrong with it really. Sona Masuri should work great too and it looks good no wonder it vanished. Adding cardamom is very common especially for meat dishes, some strange reason I don’t like them in savories whereas in sweets they are ok. Biryani tastes even better as it ages, but I don’t really care for the old chicken pieces, finish them off when fresh and savor the rice the next day πŸ™‚

    That’s exactly what I did too ISG — ate up all the chicken and next day the rice was even better πŸ™‚ I don’t know why I love black cardamom so much. It’s quite pungent camphor tasting — but sometimes I toss a few in a pan with cin. and cloves to make a little kitchen aroma even when I’m not cooking. Thanks again for the great recipe! πŸ™‚

  4. sandeepa said

    I don’t seen many bird s either, maybe I will get a feeder for next winter.

    Loved that biryani on your beautiful plate

    hi Sandeepa! So glad to see you πŸ™‚ You should definitely get a feeder — so easy and fun to feed the birds and the kids will love it I’m sure. Thanks for your kind words πŸ™‚

  5. Kizzy said

    What a beautiful bird your hairy woodpecker is – a what a wonderful photograph! Well captured!

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