Monday, July 30, 2012

Vegetable Biriyani

Vegetable Biriyani is an exotic dish with the inviting smell of saffron. It makes a very good party food. It may look a little time consuming but in the end, you will feel it was definitely worth your time. Enjoy cooking!!!

For Rice:
  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Oil (Preferably Olive oil)
  • 2 pinch Saffron threads
  • 2 tbsp warm Milk
For Marinating:
  • 4 cups chopped Vegetables (Carrots, Beans, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Green Peas, Potato)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Curd
To Grind:
  • 1 Cardamom
  • 1" Cinnamon
  • 2 medium Tomatoes
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1" Ginger
  • 2 Green chillies
For Vegetable Gravy:
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 Black Cardamom
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/4 tsp Salt (Adjust to taste)
For Garnish:
  • 1 tbsp Sliced Almonds
  • 1 tbsp Melted butter
  1. In a big bowl, add the ingredients for marinating except the vegetables and mix well. Now add the chopped vegetables and mix well so that the vegetables are coated well with the masala. Close it and keep aside to allow it to marinate for 30 min. 
  2. Now wash and cook the rice separately with oil, salt and water.
  3. Soak the saffron threads in warm milk for 15 min.
  4. In the mean time prepare the ground paste with the ingredients to grind.
  5. Heat a large wok and add the oil. Add the black cardamom, star anise, bay leaf, cumin seeds and asafoetida.
  6. When the cumin seeds start crackling, add the ground paste and stir well till it begins to leave oil.
  7. Add the marinated vegetables, salt, Garam masala and cover and cook on medium heat till they are tender but not mushy. Switch off and keep aside.
  8. Now gently fluff the cooked rice with a fork and fold in the saffron milk.
  9. Now take a huge bowl that is oven safe and put half the cooked vegetables and spread it into an even layer.
  10. On top of the vegetables, add half the cooked rice with saffron and spread it into an even layer.
  11. Add the remaining vegetable gravy on top of the rice and spread it evenly.
  12. Now add the remaining rice and spread it evenly.
  13. Spread the melted butter evenly on top and add the chopped almonds.
  14. Preheat the oven to 350F and cover the bowl with aluminium foil and place it in the oven for 30 minutes.
  15. Yummy Vegetable biriyani is ready to serve.
Suggestions / Notes
  1. If you don't have an oven, you may use a microwave safe bowl and arrange the biriyani and place it in microwave (covered) on high for 5 min.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


"Inno Thiru Aadi Pooram, yemakkaka anno ingu Andaal avadharithaal. 
Kunnaadha vaazhwaana vaikuntha vaan bogam thannai igazhnthu Azhwaar thirumagalaaraai"

Today being Thiru Aadi Pooram (Andaal's birthday), this is the special prasadam made for this day. This is an Iyengar speciality and the recipe is from my mom.

  • 3/4 cup Raw Rice 
  • 1/4 cup Moong Dal
  • 1 1/2 cups Jaggery (Adjust to taste)
  • 6 cups Milk
  • A handful of Cashews (broken to bits)
  • A handful of Almonds (broken to bits)
  • 2 tbsp Ghee
  • A pinch of Cardamom powder
  • A pinch of Saffron strands (optional)
  1. In a pan, heat 1 tsp ghee and fry the cashews and almonds till they turn golden brown. Keep aside.
  2. Fry the moong dal and rice in the same pan till they turn a light golden brown.
  3. In a cooker vessel, add the rice dal mixture and 5 cups of milk and place it in a cooker and cook it for 5-6 whistles.
  4. Melt the jaggery in a small vessel and filter the jaggery. Add this jaggery to a thick bottomed vessel along with the cooked rice dal mixture, remaining ghee, remaining milk, cardamom powder and saffron.
  5. Simmer and cook for a few minutes till the mixture reaches the desired (semi solid) consistency.
  6. Garnish the Akkaravadisal with the fried cashews and almonds.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Aadi Paal

This is a payasam made of coconut milk and jaggery and is a must have on the Aadi pandigai (the first day of the tamil month of Aadi.). This recipe serves 4.

  • 3 cups Coconut Milk 
  • 1 cup powdered Jaggery
  • A pinch of Cardamom powder
  • A pinch of Saffron (Optional)
  • A handful of Cashews broken to bits
  • A handful of Raisins
  • A handful of Almonds broken to bits
  • 1 tsp Ghee
  1. Heat ghee in a thick bottomed vessel. Add the cashews, raisins and almonds and roast them till they turn a golden brown and keep these aside.
  2. Add around 1/4 cup water to the jaggery and microwave it on high for 3 min till the jaggery melts. Strain it and add to the hard bottomed vessel and heat on medium high till the jaggery liquid thickens and froths up.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the coconut milk extract, cardamom powder and saffron. Allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Add the roasted nuts and raisins and serve!

Homemade Coconut Milk

Many recipes use coconut milk. While there are many brands of ready made coconut milk available in the market, homemade coconut milk is the best and free from preservatives too.

  • 1 medium size coconut
  • Water as required
  • Break the coconut into two and scrape each halves or as required and soak the grated coconut in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. 
  • Grind the coconut mixture in a blender.
  • Place a sieve or strainer over a large bowl. Line it with a double layer of cheesecloth. Pour the ground coconut extract into the lined strainer. 
  • Lift the cheesecloth, pull the edges together, and squeeze out the coconut milk. This is the first extract of coconut milk. Keep aside.
  • Again, grind the squeezed coconut with a cup of water and take out the second extract of coconut milk as in the previous step. Keep aside separately.
Suggestions / Notes
  • The second extract of the coconut milk can be used instead of water in cooking the dishes that call for coconut milk. The first extract of coconut milk will break down if boiled on high. Hence it should be used only in the final step and also only on low flame.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Shortbread Cookies

I am a fan of the Scottish Shortbread cookies and wanted to try them at home and the result was awesome. Make sure you use the best, tastiest butter as that is the main ingredient here, responsible for the taste.

  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 cup Butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
  1. In a bowl beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the Sugar, salt and vanilla extract and beat the ingredients till smooth. Stir in the flour and make a soft dough.
  2. You can make small balls of the dough or if you want to use the cookie cutter to shape the cookies, flatten the dough into a disc shape and cover it with a parchment paper and freeze it for 10 min. Then flatten the dough with a rolling pin to 1/4" thickness and use the cookie cutter to cut the cookies.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F and line the cookie sheet with the parchment paper.
  4. Place the cookies on the cookie sheet and bake them at 350F for 10 min. These cookies will not brown much, so when the edges/ the bottom side turn a golden brown, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.
  5. Yummy shortbread cookies ready to eat!!!

Curries for Indian Flatbreads

Paneer Butter Masala
Methi Malai Mutter
Channa Masala