Vegetable Dum Biryani

Mixed Vegetable Dum Biryani and a bowl of simple cucumber raita was our menu on last Saturday.  I still have a long way to go to make perfect biryanis. There are a few things I have learnt from my past experiences –

  1. Use only the best quality of long grain Basmati rice.
  2. Do not over cook the rice. Keep it a little undone. The rice gets cooked further when you keep it on dum.
  3. The quantity of vegetable gravy mixture and the cooked rice should be equal.
  4. Do not cook the vegetables when making the gravy. They should get cooked when kept on dum.
  5. The vegetables should not be finely chopped. They should be in big chunks.
  6. Use Kewra essence and saffron for the extra flavor. I used Blue Bird Kewra essence which is easily available.
  7. A very important ingredient with biryani’s is patience. Biryani’s typically have a longer preparation time. Add the right amount of patience and you will make the best biryani that will indeed treat your taste buds.

So here is my recipe for Vegetable Dum Biryani. Do let me know how it turns out…

Ingredients for the rice-

2.5 cups basmati rice soaked for 20 minutes,

2.5 liters water,

8 to 10 mint leaves,

2 tsp salt,

3 green cardamoms (choti elichi),

2 black cardamoms (mothi elichi),

6 cloves,

2 small pieces of cinnamon,

3 to 4 drops of kewra essence

Ingredients for the vegetable gravy-

200 grams cubed Paneer,

1 cubed potato,

1 cup cauliflower florets,

5 to 6 soaked soya nuggets,

10 mushrooms cut into 4 pieces each,

10 French beans cut into 2 inch pieces,

1 carrot diced,

12 garlic cloves,

2 inch piece of ginger,

3 green chilies,

A handful of coriander leaves,

A handful of mint leaves,

2 cups curd,

1 ripe tomato cubed,

3 to 4 large onions sliced thinly and fried till brown,

3 to 4 bay leaves,

A few pieces of cashew nuts,

5 tbsp oil,

Salt to taste

Ingredients for spice mix-

2 tsp red chili powder,

2 tsp coriander powder,

1 tsp caraway seeds (Sahi jeera),

4 cloves,

1 tsp pepper powder,

1 piece of cinnamon,

1/8th piece of nutmeg,

1.5 tsp poppy seeds (Khas khas),

3 green cardamoms,

1 black cardamom,

1 tsp fennel seeds (Badishep)

Method for the Vegetable Gravy –

Dry roast the ingredients of spice mix (except red chili powder and coriander powder) allow it to cool.

Grind to a fine powder with red chili powder and coriander powder. Keep aside.

Make a paste of coriander leaves, mint leaves, ginger, garlic and green chilies with little water and keep aside.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry potatoes till golden brown. Drain and keep aside.

In the same oil lightly fry French beans and cauliflower florets for approx 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and keep aside.

In the remaining oil, fry bay leaves and cashew nuts for a few seconds.

Add all the vegetables, tomatoes and green masala paste, the spice powder and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.

Mix in the curds and salt. The vegetable mixture should be little salty, so add little extra salt. Also it should have lots of thick gravy.

Also mix in 1/4th of the fried onions. Stir well and switch off the gas.

Method for the Rice –

In a large vessel put all the ingredients of rice except the rice and bring it to a boil by covering the vessel.

Let the water boil on for say 10 minutes. The water will become light green in color because of the mint leaves and the spices will leave its essence in the water.

Now drain and add rice to the water and allow the rice to just cook till 3/4th done. This will take approx 5 minutes.

Strain the water completely from the rice and reserve 1 cup of this strained water.

Final stages of the Biryani –

In a heavy bottomed pan pour the vegetable mixture and ½ o the fried onions.

Place half of the rice on top of the vegetable mixture and sprinkle some fried onions.

Splash 1/4th cup of the drained water reserved from the previous step.

Add the remaining rice and on top again sprinkle the remaining fried onions and splash the remaining water.

Cover the vessel tightly with a lid (I kept a heavy rice cooker on top of the lid) and place it on a griddle (tava) on a low flame for a total of 30 minutes.

Open the lid just before serving and serve it hot with cucumber raita.

Rava Idli (Semolina Dumplings)

This is one simple and easy idli recipe that does not need any length preparation and fermentation. Triveni my colleague and friend gave me this recipe after pestering her for days together. I made some modifications to it to suit our taste.  I did all the preparations the previous night and on the next day I just soaked the rava in curds. You can make this for a busy weekday breakfast.

This is one breakfast which my in-laws liked very much. My FIL gave me 5 stars for the preparation. 🙂

Ingredients-

2.5 cups Rava (semolina),

2.5 cups sour curds,

1 cup buttermilk,

½ cup water,

½ tsp baking soda,

½ tsp unflavored fruit salt (I used ENO),

3 tsp oil,

1.5 tsp mustard seeds,

2 tbsp gram dal,

5 green chilies,

Few curry leaves,

1/4th tsp asafetida,

1 tsp sugar,

Salt to taste

 Method-

Heat oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds.

Next add the gram dal and fry for half a minute. Fry finely cut green chilies and curry leaves along with the dal.

Add asafetida and mix in the rava.

Keep stirring the rava for approx 5 minutes. Switch of the gas and let it cool. (You can perform the above 4 steps the previous night and keep)

Mix curds and butter milk in the rava.  Add salt and sugar. Allow the batter to stand for 10 minutes.

Add little water if you feel the batter has become too thick. The batter consistency should be little thicker that normal idli batter.

Mix baking soda and fruit salt in half cup of water and stir it very well in the batter.

Grease idli mould with little oil and steam these idlis for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with spicy chutney.

Mixed Vegetable and Spinach Soup

Here is another nutritious soup for the kids and even adults with a mix of all vegetables and healthy spinach. Usually kids don’t like the vegetables floating in the soup so pureeing it to a smooth paste becomes easy to feed them. You can omit cheese if your child does not like it. Also, you can add all different types of vegetables to this. Milo is particular about Anaya eating her share of vegetables. To ensure this I made this soup for her and I am going to make it often. At first she did not like the sweet-sour taste of the soup… but once her taste buds got used to the taste she wanted more… To entertain her while she enjoyed the soup I recited the “Soup Story” to her… The story was nothing more than the method to make the soup :-). She seemed to have enjoyed the story and before I could realize she had slurped the entire bowl of soup…  So here is the recipe of Mixed Vegetable and Spinach Soup.

Ingredients-

1 tbsp chopped onion,

1 tbsp chopped tomatoes,

1 tbsp carrot,

1 tbsp chopped French beans,

½ tbsp fresh green peas,

1 tbsp chopped cabbage,

1 tbsp chopped spinach,

1 tsp ghee,

1 small cube of cheese,

A pinch of ground pepper

 Method-

Heat ghee in a pan and lightly toss onion, tomatoes, carrot, French beans, green peas, cabbage and spinach for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add sufficient water and allow the vegetables to cook.

Once cooled, blend it to a smooth paste.

Mix in grated cheese, little salt and pepper and cook till cheese melts. Serve warm.

Bombay Ducks (Bombil) Curry

This is a very tasty and easy method of fish curry specially made out of Bombay Ducks. The recipe was shared with me by my colleague and friend Supriya. I guess it’s a Maharashtrian preparation. When I made this for the first time, I did not have coriander leaves. I tried it again with the leaves and the taste was amazing. It’s a little spicy curry which goes well with rice.

You can also try this curry with prawns.

Ingredients-

12 pieces ofBombayducks,

8 cloves of garlic,

5 pieces of dried kokum,

2 to 3 tsp red chili powder,

½ tsp coriander powder,

1/4th tsp garam masala powder,

½ tsp turmeric powder,

2 tsp oil,

Water,

Salt to taste

Grind to a fine paste the following –

10 cloves of garlic,

A piece of ginger,

2 green chilies,

A handful coriander leaves (optional),

1/4th cup water

 Method –

Wash the fish well, apply salt and keep aside,

Heat oil in a pan and fry crushed garlic till light brown.

Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and stir well.

Immediately add 2 cups of water (Take care not to burn the masalas).

Add the ground paste, salt and kokum pieces and let it boil thoroughly.

Adjust salt and addBombayducks.

Cover the pan with a lid and allow the fish to cook. This will take approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Do not stir the curry else the fish will break.

Serve hot with steam rice.

Mashed Cheesy Potatoes

Here is a very simple mid meal snack I made for Anaya the other day. I started giving her cheese at the age of one. She likes to eat cheese, so I thought of mixing it with potatoes to make it more filling. You can also add shredded vegetables to this to make it healthier.

Above is the picture of Mashed Cheesy Potatoes with Anaya’s favorite , Mr. Sponge.

Ingredients-

1 small boiled peeled and mashed potato,

1 small cheese cube,

1 cup milk,

A pinch of pepper powder,

A pinch of salt

Method-

Blend mashed potato, milk and grated cheese well with a spoon.

Allow it to cook on a slow flame by stirring continuously. (approx 3 to 4 minutes)

Add salt and pepper.

Add more milk if it becomes too thick.

Indian GooseBerry/ Amla Pickle

 

As you all know Amlas are a good source of vitamin C. It’s compulsory at my place to eat a few pieces of it whenever it is available in the market. It used to be a punishment for me to eat them. Milo started making fresh amla juice on the weekend. That was again a pain to drink. Last time when my parents visited me they got amlas from the market and my mom made this pickle. It tasted superb and we all liked it. It’s a good way to consume amlas if you are fond of pickles. This pickle gets spoilt if kept out, so always store under refrigeration.

Ingredients-

½ Kg Amla (Indian Goose Berries),

1 cup lime juice,

2 tsp turmeric powder,

4 to 5 tsp red chili powder,

3 tsp mustard seeds,

½ tsp asafetida,

2 tsp oil,

Salt approx 2 to 3 tsp

Method –

Deseed amlas and slice them. Apply salt, turmeric and lime juice and let it marinate for 7 to 8 hours at room temperature.

Keep tossing the pieces after every hour.

After 7 to 8 hours mix in the red chili powder with the amla pieces.

Adjust salt.

Heat oil and splutter mustard seeds and add asafetida.

Remove from oil, allow it to cool. Pour the oil in the amla mix.

Coarsely crush the mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle and mix it well with the amla pieces.

Mix the pickle well, store it in airtight clean jars under refrigeration.

Masala Fish (oil free)

This is one type of fish that is enjoyed by all at my place. The good thing about this preparation is it is oil free and does not take a lot of time to cook. Big fish fillets specially King Fish or Ravas (salmon) is used in this.  I shared this recipe with my friend Ivy and she promised to give me a snicker if her kids like this preparation. I indeed got one. 🙂

I got the original recipe from Shilpa of Aayis Recipes. Thanks Shilpa!!

Green Masala Fish

Ingredients –

1 fish fillets (preferably king fish),

Salt to taste.

For the green masala –

A handful of coriander leaves,

A handful of mint leaves,

2 green chilies,

12 pods of garlic,

A piece of ginger,

½ tsp cumin seeds,

Juice of 1 lemon,

1 tsp grated coconut (optional),

Salt to taste

Method-

Wash the fish fillets, apply salt and keep aside.

Grind together coriander leaves, mint leaves, green chilies, garlic, ginger, cumin seeds and coconut with very little water.

Mix in the lemon juice and little salt.

Apply this paste to the fish fillets and let it marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Wash the blender with a cup of water and mix in the remaining masala and keep this masala water aside.

Take a frying pan, keep the fish fillets in the pan and pour the masala water all around the fish. Do not pour the water on the fish.

The water should be just enough to cover the fish from the sides. It should not cover the top layer of the fish.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook on a slow flame.

After approx 5 minutes, open the lid and keep the flam on high and allow the water to dry up.

The fish is ready. No need to turn it. Serve with some fresh salads.

Red Masala Fish

Ingredients –

2 fish fillets (preferably king fish),

Salt to taste.

For the red masala –

2 tsp red chili powder,

2 tsp coriander seeds powder,

1/4th tsp turmeric powder,

A pinch of fenugreek seeds,

A small piece of tamrind,

12 pods of garlic,

A piece of ginger,

4 to 5 curry leaves

Salt to taste

Method-

Wash the fish fillets, apply salt and keep aside.

Grind together red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric, fenugreek, garlic, ginger and tamarind with very little water.

Mix curry leaves in the ground masala.

Apply this paste to the fish fillets and let it marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Wash the blender with a cup of water and mix in the remaining masala and keep this masala water aside.

Take a frying pan, keep the fish fillet in the pan and pour the masala water all around the fish. Do not pour the water on the fish.

The water should be just enough to cover the fish from the sides. It should not cover the top layer of the fish.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook on a slow flame.

After approx 5 minutes, open the lid and keep the flam on high and allow the water to dry up.

The fish is ready. No need to turn it. Serve with some fresh salads.