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Vegetable Biriyani

Biriyani!!! This dish stands for herbs and spices… Travelled long way from Iran to India..Biriyani is a dish made of rice with the combination of veg/non veg and spices. It is enormously popular in India and liked by many. While dining out I have seen many people consider this dish as mandatory to be in the table. Yogurt sauce called “Raita” is served along with biriyani to calm down the spiciness. Raita is a simple yogurt seasoned with selected vegetables.

Servings:  2        

Preparation Time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins
Level: Moderate
Ingredients:
*        Rice                                                      1 Cup
*        Green peas                                           30 gm
*        Carrot                                                    50 gm (Half of big size carrot)
*        Cauli flower                                          100 gm
*        Green beans                                         5 nos
*        Onion                                                    150 gm (1 no. Medium)
*        Tomato                                                  100 gm  (1 no. Medium)
*        Green chilli                                            2 nos
*        Bay leaves                                             2 nos
*        Cloves                                                    2 nos
*        Green cardamom                                   2 nos
*        Mace                                                      a pinch
*        Cinnamon                                               1 no , 5cm stick
*        Turmeric powder                                    ¼ Tsp
*        Salt                                                         as req
*        Curd/Yogurt/lemon jucie                       2 Tbsp
*        Ghee                                                      2 Tbsp
*        Vegetable Oil                                        1 Tbsp  
For grinding:
*        Ginger                                                   15 gm
*        Garlic                                                    5 cloves or 20 gm
*        Green chilli                                           1 no
*        Mint leaves                                          15 gm
*        Coriander leaves                                  15 gm
*        Cloves                                                  2 nos
*        Green cardamom                                 1 no
*        Fennel seeds                                       ½ Tsp
*        Cumin seeds                                        1 Tsp
Method:
Preparation:
·         Wash rice 2-3 times or till water runs clear. Fry them gently in a kadai by adding 2 Tbsp Ghee.
         Boil the rice till it is half done in a vessel with 2 cups of water and 1 no. of  clove, cardamom
         cinnamon and bay leaves. Drain the water completely and keep the rice separately.
·         Chop the onion, tomato & green chillies. Roughly chop the carrot and green beans. Wash green peas
         and cauliflower. Use medium size florets of cauliflower.
·        Roast few cashew nuts in ghee till brown.      
·         Make a paste of ginger, garlic, green chilli, mint leaves, coriander leaves, cloves, cardamom, mace
   fennel seeds and cumin seeds by adding little water. 
Cooking:
·         Heat 1 Tbsp Oil in a pressure cooker. I used 2 litres Hawkins’s cooker.
·         Add bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves respectively.
·         Add the sliced onion. Fry till onion turns golden brown.
·         Add turmeric powder and sauté well.  
·         Add the ground paste and salt. Stir fry for a minute and add vegetables.
·         Mix to combine masala and the vegetables well.
·         Pour 1 cup of water drained from the rice. Check for salt and seasoning. Adjust if required.
·         Add 2 tbsp of curd or yogurt or lemon juice at this stage.
·         Now spread the rice on top. Sprinkle some coriander leaves and fried onions (Optional).
·         Close the lid. Bring it to full pressure. Reduce the flame to low and cook for another 2 mins.
·         Turn off the heat and allow to cool naturally. Mix the rice with the vegetables before serving.
·         Garnish with cashew nuts.
·         Serve warm with raita




For Onion Raita
·         Slice the onion and green chilli.
·         Beat 1 cup of curd/yogurt adding little salt.
·         Mix the onion, green chilli and coriander leaves with the curd/yogurt.
·         Raita can be made with many variations. You can add diced cucumber, shredded carrot, mint leaves
         cumin etc.. to the yogurt
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Pavakka Theeyal/Kaippakkai Theeyal/ Bitter gourd curry

Another vegetarian dish from Kerala “Kaippakkai Theeyal”. Kaippakkai meaning “Bitter gourd”. You could also use vegetables like yam, pearl onion, raw mangoes, eggplant in place of bitter gourd. It’s a curry made with roasted spices,coconut and the vegetables are boiled in tamarind water.  
When we hear the name bitter gourd most of our face changes to no no mode..  But trust me, this

recipe is full of flavours. From sourness from the tamarind, sweet from coconut & jaggery, to slight bitter from the bitter gourd makes this dish delicious.
I like my theeyal with steaming hot rice and chutta papadam (Papad toasted in charcoal or fire). Give it a try and I am sure you will like it.

Servings:  2        

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Level: Moderate
Ingredients:
1)      Bitter gourd                                       100 gm
2)      Pearl onion                                        30 gm (5-6 nos)
3)      Asafoetida                                         a pinch
4)      Tamarind                                            5 gm
5)      Turmeric powder                                ¼ Tsp
6)      Jaggery                                               ¼ Tsp
7)      Coconut Oil                                            1 Tbsp
8)      Water                                                 1 ½ Cups             
For grinding:
9)      Coriander seeds                                1 Tbsp
10)   Peppercorns                                       ½ Tsp
11)   Garlic                                                 2 cloves (Optional)
12)   Dried red chilli                                   2 nos
13)   Fenugreek seeds                               ½ Tsp
14)   Coconut (Grated)                               ½ Cup/50 gm
For Tadka:
15)   Mustard seeds                                  ½ Tsp
16)   Curry leaves                                      10 nos
17)   Pearl onion                                        2 nos
Method:
Preparation:
1)      Dry roast the ingredients given under grinding except coconut and transfer to grinding jar.
2)      In the same pan dry roast the grated coconut till brown and transfer to the same grinding jar.
3)      Grind them using ½ cup of water to a paste.
4)      Chop the pearl onions coarsely.
5)      Slice the bitter gourd thinly.
6)      Soak the tamarind in ½ cup of warm water for 5 mins. And squeeze them to extract tamarind paste.
Cooking:

1)      Heat ½ Tbsp Oil in a pan.
2)      Add asafoetida and chopped onions.
3)      Fry till onions turn golden brown. Now add little turmeric powder.
4)      Add the sliced bitter gourd. Saute well to combine.
5)      Add the ground paste and salt. Stir fry for a minute till it is mixed well with the vegetables.
6)      Pour in the tamarind water, mix well and bring to boil.
7)      Once boiled, reduce the flame to low.
8)      Close the lid and cook till the bitter gourd becomes soft.
9)      Finally before turning the heat off add jaggery. Turn off the heat and transfer to serving bowl.
For Tadka
10)   Take another pan and heat oil.
11)   Add Mustard seeds. When it splutters add curry leaves and sliced onions.
12)   Fry till onion become golden brown.
13)   Pour the tadka onto the theeyal.
14)   Serve with steamed rice.

Note:

1)      Theeyal also can be made using okra, eggplant, raw mangoes, yam, pearl onions. 
2)      Adding jaggery is optional. Adding jaggery lessens the bitterness from the bitter gourd.
3)      The brown colour of the curry comes from the fried coconut and coriander seeds.
 So you need to fry them well.

Bhindi Fry (Okra/Lady’s finger Fry)

When I was a kid, I hated my vegetables like all other kids do. I’d always tried to get away from the veggies my mom used to pack for lunch. It was like eating something which isn’t meant for human beings ;). I never ever thought I’ll have to come across a person who loves the veggies and without them will not survive. Yes! That’s my hubby.. He doesn’t care if I haven’t cooked any curry for rice. Instead he needs a large portion of poriyal/veg side dish for his rice/roti.
I started liking subzi /vegetables after going to the beautiful city “Surat” in Gujarat. I have been there for almost 5 years and I hope that changed our palate. I can proudly say Surat food changed my perspective on food. The way they cook their food and feed the guests with lots of passion is  never forgottable and will always remain with us.
My passion towards food and cooking is all started from there. And now it’s never ending journey..
From wide vegetarian dishes served in Gujarat, we love our Bhindi ki subzi (Okra/Lady’s finger). Lady’s finger is unique in taste and texture. I have posted Bhindi fry recipe with Gujarati touch, which I usually prepare to accompany roti (Indian wheat bread) 

Servings:  2        

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Level: Moderate
Ingredients:
1)      Lady’s finger/Okra                             250 gm 
2)      Onion                                                 200 gm
3)      Tomato                                              150 gm/1 big size
4)      Ginger                                               15 gm
5)      Garlic                                                 5 cloves
6)      Cumin  seeds                                    1 Tsp
7)      Turmeric powder                               ¼ Tsp
8)      Coriander powder                             1 Tbsp
9)      Cumin powder                                  1 Tsp
10)   Red chilli powder                              1 Tsp
11)   Garam masala powder                     ½ Tsp
12)   Salt                                                    as req
13)   Dried Fenugreek leaves                    ½ Tsp
14)   Jaggery                                              ½ Tsp    
15)   Dry mango powder(Optional)           ¼ Tsp
16)   Vegetable oil                                    2 Tbsp  
Method:
Preparation:
1)      Wash the lady’s finger in running water and pat dry each one with dry cloth.  
2)      Chop them into two halves and slit them in the middle. Keep it aside
3)      Chop the onions and tomato finely.
4)      Make a paste of ginger and garlic.
5)      Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan. Add the chopped lady’s finger. Fry for 5 mins in medium flame.
This step is to avoid the stickiness of lady’s finger. Turn off the heat when the lady’s finger
 is no more sticky.
Cooking: 
1)      Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a frying pan. Add cumin seeds.
2)      When cumin seeds splutter add the chopped onions and little salt. Salt helps to fry the onions fast.
3)      Fry the onion till golden brown and add ginger garlic paste.
4)      Sauté for few seconds and add chopped tomato. Stir fry for 2-3 mins till tomatoes are soft.
5)      Now add turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder and dried fenugreek
leaves. Sauté for 1 min.
6)      Add the partially fried lady’s finger and mix well. Add the remaining salt.
7)      Close lid and cook for 5 mins in low flame.
8)      After 5 mins of cooking, add dry mango powder which is optional, garam masala powder and jaggery.
9)      Stir well and cook another 3 mins. Turn off the heat and transfer to serving bowl.
10)   Serve with roti (Indian wheat bread)



Note:    

1)      Stir frying lady’s finger alone prior to cooking will avoid the sticky texture to the dish.
2)      Dry mango powder is used to give a tangy flavour. It’s totally optional. Instead of mango powder
you can use ½ Tsp of lemon juice.
3)      Gujarat foods are always little sweet since they add Jaggery/Gur. Again it is optional if you don’t like
your vegetable to be sweet..

Sunday Breakfast 3

Hi friends!!
This Sunday was very beautiful. After so many days being cloudy, we got to see our bright sun. Anyways we had no plans to go out since we’d been BBQ partying the whole evening of Saturday.
I remember when we were staying in North China, our friends would invite us for a get-together event. We’d be around 7-8 people from different countries. Collection of breads, sausages, sauces, cheese were the dinner themes. We loved the slices of brown bread layered with cheese and sausages of our taste topped with mustard sauce. Yummy!!
After we moved to Guangzhou, We missed all of that.. Our friend Martin is from Germany. Few days back he went to Germany for holidays.We requested him to bring us German brown bread. We were excited when Martin brought us the bread. But we had no sausages or cheese with us. So I made some mashed potato salad and fried egg to go with the bread. And some fresh pineapple juice We loved the potato salad.. I added pickled gherkins and olive to it for extra kick..


Recipe for Mashed Potato salad:

Servings:  2        

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Level: Easy

Ingredients:
1)      Potato                                 200 gm 
2)      Pickled Gherkins                 20 gm
3)      Olives                                  5 nos
4)      Mayonnaise                        2 Tbsp
5)      Black pepper powder          1 Tsp
6)      Salt                                      as req
Method:
1)      Boil the potatoes with little salt in a pan for about 10-15 mins till it’s tender.
2)      Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
3)      Peel off the skins and mash it using potato masher or hands.
4)      Chop the pickled gherkins and olives.
5)      Add all ingredients to the cooled potato.
6)      Combine well.



Note:

    
1)      You can use fresh cucumber and olives instead of preserved ones.
2)      Be creative to add anything to the mashed potato like apple, ham etc
3)      I have seasoned my salad with little Italian herbs since we like the taste of herbs in salad, which is totally optional. Usually the recipe don’t call for it.

Vishu 2012!!

I took a while to post our “Vishu” feast since I thought to post the menu recipes at first. Our menu had few of traditional dishes. It’s been always difficult to plan whole meal for two persons. So I selected few main dishes to serve along with rice. For those who haven’t read my past posts about “Vishu” here goes a brief description 
“Vishu” is the New year in accordance with Malayalam Calender. It falls on the next day of Tamil New year. The most important event in Vishu is the “Vishukkani” meaning “the first thing seen on the day of Vishu after waking up”. Vishukkani consists of arrangement of various fruits, mirror, konna poo (Yellow flower), raw rice and urli in the pooja room of the house.
Another famous ritual is “VishuKaineettam” where elder people gift money to the young people.
This year I prepared Aviyal, Olan, Cabbage Thoran, Brinjal Sambar with rice and Ada prathaman served as dessert. It was almost like being in hometown. 

Olan

One another Side dish from Kerala. Very simple to cook yet tasty. Olan recipe has very few ingredients and less time taking dish to prepare. During any festivals in Kerala you can find “Aviyal” , Olan, Kalan, Thoran etc.. served as side dish for steamed brown rice. And most of the recipes including dessert will have coconut as an ingredient. I prepared this recipe for “Vishu”.
“Vishu” is the New year in accordance with Malayalam Calender. It falls on the next day of Tamil New year. The most important event in Vishu is the “Vishukkani” meaning “the first thing seen on the day of Vishu after waking up”. Vishukkani consists of arrangement of various fruits, mirror, konna poo (Yellow flower), raw rice and urli in the pooja room of the house.
Another famous ritual is “VishuKaineettam” where elder people gift money to the young people. We used to wait the whole year to get the gifts from our elder members from family ;).
 Olan is prepared with Ash gourd and coconut milk. In some places it is prepared with Ash gourd and black eyed bean as well. Here I have posted Olan recipe which uses only Ash gourd and coconut milk.

Servings:  4        
Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Level: Easy
 Ingredients:

 1)      Ash gourd                          100 gm 

2)      Coconut milk                      3 Tbsp
3)      Salt                                     as req
4)      Coconut oil                         2 Tbsp
5)      Curry leaves                       8-10
Method:
1)      Peel off  the skin of ash gourd and chop into thin slice square  
2)      Take 1 ½ cup – 2 cups of water in a pan. Add ash gourd and salt.
3)      Place it on heat and cook for 8- 10 mins.
4)      When its cooked enough add 1 Tbsp of coconut milk and stir well. After few secs add
 another Tbsp of coconut milk and mix again. Do it same for the rest of milk.
5)      Check the ash gourd for doneness. Turn off the heat and transfer to bowl
6)      For garnishing heat coconut oil in a tawa. Add curry leaves. Pour this on the Olan.
7)      Serve with steamed rice
Note:
    
1)      You can use Black eyed bean and pumpkin along with Ash gourd

Aviyal

One of my favourite side dish is Aviyal which is from my motherland Kerala. I used to be very proud whenever I’d to say I am from Kerala. Mostly the reasons behind feeling that way are it’s been my birthplace, as it got the title “God’s own country”and undoubtedly the cuisine.

My family migrated from Kerala to Tamil nadu even before my birth. So I can say that the relationship between me and Kerala is just my birth and the summer vacation we have at our Grannies home during schooling.

Everytime when we visit Kerala I’d always have these jobs to do, jumping into the lake, walking by the sides of deep Canal (even if I feel nervous), collecting the fallen mangoes, having our meal served in banana leafs 3 times a day ;).. 
Picking the mangoes was always my routine job. We had 4 mango trees of different kind. Since we always go in summer which is the mango season, we would grab a basket half of our size and go to each tree, collect the mangoes and of course one in hand to bite.  
The good thing about their food is they grow vegetables at their garden. And most of the days they cook with their garden vegetables. Hardly few times I see them buying from markets.
So Aviyal is a side dish for rice, prepared with many vegetables whatever available at your garden cooked with Kerala’s identity “Coconut” and a touch of sourness from curd.
Only recipe you need not worry about unavailability of any vegetables I mentioned in here.. But you definitely require coconut and curd. I got this recipe from my mom. Hope you guys find it easy to cook. Traditionally, vegetables like Yam, Drumstick, Raw Banana, Raw Mangoes Carrot, Ash gourd, Pumpkin, Bitter gourd, Cucumber, Green beans and Cow beans are used. Here I don’t get Yam, Drumstick, Raw banana. So it’s all upto you to add or omit any vegetable.

Servings:  6        
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Level: Moderate
Ingredients:
1)      Carrot                                  100 gm 
2)      Green beans                       50 gm
3)      Ash gourd                           100 gm
4)      Pumpkin                              50 gm
5)      Cow beans                          50 gm
6)      Bitter Gourd                       100 gm
7)      Green chillies                     2 nos
8)      Cumin seeds                      1 Tbsp
9)      Coconut (Grated)               1 Cup
10)   Curd                                    1 ½  cups (Adjust depending on sourness)
11)   Turmeric powder                ½ Tsp
12)   Red chilli powder               ½ Tsp
13)   Coconut Oil                        1 Tsp
14)   Salt                                     as required
15)   Curry leaves                       8- 10 nos
Method:
1)      Chop all the vegetables approx. 5cm in length. You need to peel the skins of Ash gourd & Pumpkin before chopping them.
2)      In a deep pan, add all the chopped vegetables with turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt.
3)      Pour 1 cup of water and cook by closing lid with reduced flame.
4)      Grind together grated coconut, green chillies and cumin seeds to a coarse paste by adding little water time to time.
5)      When the vegetables are half cooked pour in the coconut mixture and combine gently.
6)      Again close the lid and cook for 5 more mins or till the vegetables are soft.
7)      When all vegetables have been cooked, add the beaten curd and mix very gently. Make sure not to break the vegetables.
8)      Turn the heat down and transfer to another bowl
9)      For garnishing heat coconut oil in tawa and add curry leaves.
10)   Pour on the Aviyal. Serve as side dish for steamed rice.


Notes:
1)      As I mentioned earlier you can use yam, raw papaya, raw mango, drumstick or any other kind of vegetables. But make sure the vegetable are little hard like yam or carrot. So that it won’t disappear while cooking
2)      Adjust the quantity of curd upon the sourness. If it is too much sour reduce the quantity of curd and add little water to it.