May 24, 2011

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Biryani is a versatile rice dish that goes well along with any type of curry. It is great for parties or for an elaborate weekend meal. I always make biryani the easy way as a one pot meal. I just dump the spices, rice and vegetables in the pressure cooker and cook it up. But this time I wanted to make it the regular way. I cooked the rice and the vegetables separately, layered the rice and vegetables and allowed the flavors to blend in the oven. It takes time and effort to make this biryani but truly worth the effort. I adapted the recipe from Anu's place.

You could use vegetables based on availability and preference. 

For the Rice
Basmati Rice - 2 cups
Onion - 1 medium sized
Tomatoes - 2 small ones
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tablespoon
Green chillies - 2 slit lengthwise
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Oil/Butter - 1 tablespoon

Whole Spices
Bay Leaves - 3 to 4 leaves
Cinnamon sticks - 2
Cloves - 4
Cardamom/Elaichi - 4
Cumin seeds/Jeera - 1 teaspoon
Star Anise - 2

Cauliflower florets - 1/2 cup
Carrots - 2
Green beans - 1/2 cup sliced lengthwise
Potatoes - 2 medium sized ones
Green peas - 1/2 cup

For the marinade
Curd/Yogurt - 1.5 to 2 cups
Red chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin/Jeera powder - 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Kasoori methi leaves - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
Salt to taste

Soak basmati rice for 30 minutes in water.
First, prepare the vegetables and marinade. Chop all the vegetables in equal sizes. To the yogurt, add all the spice powders and whisk well together.
Add a little water if required. Add the marinade to the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate. Allow the veggies to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the rice. In a wide saucepan, add the oil or butter and add all the whole spices. Once the spices start giving out their aroma, add the soaked rice and give it a stir. Also add salt, chilli and turmeric powder, the required amount of water (water:rice ratio - 2:1), cover and cook until the water gets completely absorbed. Fluff the rice with the fork once it gets done.

To prepare the vegetables, in a saucepan, add a little oil. Add the onions and saute until they turn translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and green chillies and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes and saute them for a minute. Then add the marinated vegetables along with the yogurt. Cover and cook on low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. take care to cook on low heat since the yogurt might curdle more and result in a sour mixture. Once the veggies get well cooked, switch off the heat.
 Now comes the assembling part. In a baking dish, add a layer of rice, almost half the rice followed by a layer of vegetables. Top off with the remaining rice and garnish with some cilantro.
Cover tightly with an aluminum foil and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes at 300F. Fluff the veggies and rice with a fork together before serving.
Serve warm with a simple raita, boiled eggs and chips. Makes a great weekend lunch!

Sending this to Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Priya.

May 16, 2011

Mirchi ka Salan

Even though I have seen several versions of Mirchi ka Salan around in the blog world, I haven't really tasted it myself. I only knew it was really spicy because of the jalapenos or peppers present in the curry. We happened to taste this in an Indian restaurant one weekend and got hooked to its taste. I knew, i had to make it at home and got a bunch of jalapeno peppers just to make this curry. I adapted this recipe according to our tastes and it turned out to be truly delicious. this recipe is a keeper.

This is a specialty of the cuisine of Andhra which is famous for all its spicy stuff starting from biryani to pickles. Whole chillies or pepper are pan fried in oil and then added to a thick gravy made with a mixture of sesame and peanuts which mellows down the spice level of the peppers making it tolerable to eat!I removed the inner seeds of the jalapenos to reduce the heat level. If you want the curry to be really really spicy, go ahead and leave the seeds in there at your own discretion!

Jalapenos/Chillies/Peppers (any variety) - 6
Red chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Cumin/Jeera powder - 1 teaspoon
Tamarind pulp - from a lemon sized ball of tamarind
Oil - 2 spoons

To grind into a smooth paste
Peanuts - 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds - 2 tablespoons
Onions - 1/2 chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch
Cloves - 3 to 4

For the tadka/tempering
Oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Jeera/cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Methi/fenugreek seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Curry leaves - a few

  • First prepare the jalapenos. Slit the jalapenos from the bottom about half way keeping the stem/stalk intact. Carefully remove the pith present in the center of the peppers along with the seeds. Take care to wash your hands immediately after handling the peppers to avoid hand burns.
  • In a wide skillet, add the oil. Once the oil turns hot, add the prepared peppers. Immediately cover with a lid because the oil starts spluttering outside. After about a minute, open the lid and give the peppers a turn. Cover and cook for two more minutes until the peppers have charred a little bit and the skin turns color. Remove the peppers and keep them aside.
  • Grind the ingredients listed into a smooth paste adding a little water.
  • In a saucepan/kadai, heat the oil for tempering and add the mustard seeds, jeera, methi and curry leaves one by one. Add the charred jalapeno peppers, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder and the ground paste. Also add the tamarind pulp. Add about 1 cup or required quantity of water and required amount of salt to taste.
  • Cover and allow the gravy to simmer for around 12 to 15 minutes. The gravy should thicken and soak the jalapeno peppers with all the goodness!

Garnish with cilantro.

Serve along with chapatis, rotis, naan, plain rice or pulaos. Also tastes great with curd rice!!

Ready for some spice in your life?

May 14, 2011

Show Me Your Soup - Roundup

Here is the roundup of Show Me Your Soup event. Thanks everyone for your delicious soup entries.

Sameena Pratap - Ladies Finger Soup
Sameena Pratap - Oats Soup

Sweet Artichoke - Spinach Ginger Soup
Krithika - Mixed Vegetable Soup

Hasna - Hot and Sour Soup
Smitha - Tomato Carrot and Bottlegourd Soup

Meghna - Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli
Urmila - Asparagus Soup

Supriya - Veggie Noodle Soup
Supriya - Roasted Red Pepper Carrot Soup

Chitra and Dibs - Horse Gram Thin Soup
Usha - Spinach Orange Soup

Usha - Bone Soup
Ila Nila - Celery Soup

Sameena Pratap - Sweet Corn Veg Soup

Do check out the current event - Show Me your Summer Cooler! going on now at Dil Se..

May 11, 2011

Paneer Butter Masala - Version II

Paneer Butter Masala or Paneer Makhani is a signature Indian curry made with Paneer or Indian cheese. This tastes best with homemade paneer. I usually make PBM according to this recipe, but this version is richer due to the addition of cashews. You can never go wrong with this recipe. It is so easy to make this and tastes delicious with naan or rotis or chapatis or any kind of rice!

This curry is similar to other paneer gravies, except that, it is more rich due to butter and the gravy is thickened by using onions, tomatoes and cashew paste rather than just cream. I omitted the cream, since I felt the gravy was already rich with the addition of butter and cashews.

Onion - 1 medium sized
Tomato - 2 medium sized
Paneer - about 250 grams
Butter/Ghee - 2 tablespoons
Ginger garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
Green chillies - 2
Green peas - 1/2 cup(optional)
Jeera/Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cumin/Jeera powder - 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Garam masala - 1 teaspoon
Chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Cashews - around 10 to 12
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish

  • In a kadai heat 1 teaspoon of oil and add chopped onions and saute for about two minutes until they start getting brown in color. Then add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute until the raw smell goes away. Then add the diced tomatoes and saute until the tomatoes turn mushy. Switch off the stove and allow the mixture to cool.
  • When the mixture gets to room temperature, add this mixture to the mixie along with the cashews and blend into a smooth paste.
  • In a kadai, add the butter and add the cumin seeds. once they start spluttering, add the blended onion-tomato mixture and saute until the raw smell goes away. Add the turmeric powder, cumin-coriander powder, garam masala and chilli powder and salt. Mix together and saute for about a minute.
  • At this point, add the diced paneer and saute until the mixture coats the paneer. Also add the peas if using. Green peas is usually added only in mutter paneer and not in paneer butter masala. but I like the fact that the peas adds a little more color and sweetness to the dish. Allow to cook for a minute and then add half cup of water. You can substitute the water with heavy cream or a little milk. However keep the heat low so that the milk doesn't curdle. I just added water.
  • Cover with a lid and allow the gravy to simmer on low heat for about 5 to 7 minutes until the paneer absorbs all the spices and the flavor. 

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with your favorite side. I served this delicious curry with green peas pulao!

May 9, 2011

Almond Meal Cookies

It is Sweet Punch time of the month again! We are celebrating our one year anniversary and we were allowed to bake any item of our choice! We have been baking pizzas, wholewheat almond cookies,  fruit crumbles, molten lava cakes and many more interesting bakes! I chose to adapt Martha Stewart recipe this month and bake this delicious almond meal cookies. They were perfect for tea time and they tasted very much like the chinese almond cookies served at restaurants after meals.

 They are so easy to put together and can also be made with fresh almonds instead of almond meal. I just had a pack of almond meal from TJ's waiting to be finished up and hence used it in this recipe.

Almond meal - 1 cup
Unsalted butter (at room temperature) - 1 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Egg - 1
Finely grated orange zest - 1 teaspoon
All purpose flour/maida - 1 cup
Baking soda - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon

Note: If using whole almonds instead of the almond meal, toast 1 cup of almonds in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 5 to 6 minutes. Allow it to cool and pulse in a food processor until finely powdered. Do not over process as it might turn into almond butter.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer or with a whisk until it turns fluffy. Add the whole egg and the orange zest and continue beating until it turns into a smooth mixture.
  • In another bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together - the flour, almond meal, salt and baking soda.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
  • Grease or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using 1 level tablespoon per cookie, roll dough into balls. Place on prepared sheets, at least 1 inch apart. Using the floured end of a thick wooden spoon handle (or your thumb), press lightly in the center of each cookie. Place a whole almond or sliced almonds in each indentation.
  • Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly; transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Enjoy with tea or as a dessert!

May 4, 2011

Show me Your Summer Cooler!

It is summer in most parts of the world and it is time to chill out with some refreshing summer drinks! It might be so hot outside and you might not feel like slaving yourself cooking up meals at the kitchen. Go make yourself a refreshing drink to chill yourself and beat the heat! Summer involves so many activities like outdoor water fun, gardening, beaches, bike rides, beach trips and outdoor games. Top all these fun activities with summer coolers!

All you have to do is to whip up a quick and refreshing summer cooler, blog about it and send it across to me. It can be any type of drink - lemonades, sodas, ice teas, fruit juices etc.

Here are a few guidelines..
  • Post a recipe of your favorite summer drink in your blog during the month of May. Archived entries are not allowed.
  • Please link back to this announcement and feel free to use the logo.
  • Also do shoot me an email to divyablogs[AT]gmail[DOT]com before May 31st with the following details.
  • Name
  • Blog Name:
  • URL of the post:
  • Picture of the drink:  
Thanks for sending your lovely entries for Show Me Your Muffin event. Will be posting the roundup soon.

To start, check out this watermelon lemonade recipe! Now, GO chill out with your favorite drink!
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