Friday, July 31, 2015

Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani

Me and my wonderful friends have always maintained that Biryani always equals mutton biryani and you cannot actually call anything else a biryani at all; and I'm sure my non-vegetarian friends would agree to the core. As I have not been eating meat for quite a long time now, I have always prepared chicken biryanis and fish biryanis and loving and embracing my biryani with all my heart.

To a non-vegetarian like me, the first choice for biryani would undoubtedly be mutton/chicken and that's the reason I haven't prepared anything remotely which would both be vegetarian and a biryani; well I call the vegetarian version a pulao. But recently I had vegetarian friends over and that was the sole reason to make me try my hands on making a vegetarian biryani. I did not want to serve a pulao, but something special; so I chose to prepare this Hyderabadi Vegetarian Biryani: inspired from my recipe of Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani which I have prepared and devoured many a times.

This is an elaborate recipe with long preparation time, and even though I never imagined, I actually loved the light and royal feeling, both at the same time with each bite of this flavorful biryani: the goodness of vegetables, the aroma of spices and the royal taste with cashews and saffron will make you drool just at the sight of this amazing dish. So let's move on to the awesomeness !!


For the rice:

Rice: 3 cups
Cloves: 3
Green cardamom: 2 (add seeds and covers too)
Black cardamom: 1
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch

For the curry:

Cooking oil: 6 tsp.
Shahi jeera: 1 tsp.
Black cardamom: 1
Mace: 1
Cloves: 3
Cinnamon: 1 inch
Bay leaves: 2
Onion (chopped): 1 big size
Ginger-garlic paste: 4 tsp.
Tomato (finely chopped): 2
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp.
Potatoes (finely cubed): 3
Carrot (peeled and cubed): 2
Peas: 1 cup
Yogurt: 1 cup

For the biryani:

Ghee: 2 tsp.
Cooking oil: 4 tsp.
Onion (thinly sliced): 1 big
Cashew nuts: 6-8
Mint leaves: a handful
Coriander leaves: a handful
Saffron strands: 3 pinches
Milk: 1/2 cup

  1. First we will prepare the rice: Boil the rice as you normally do. If you want to see how I boil rice without a rice cooker, check this link: How to make perfect boiled rice. I drain the water and cover and let cook in steam and that's where I add the spices: cloves, green cardamom seeds (and covers separately), black cardamom and cinnamon. 
  2. Add the spices after draining the water and before covering. Or you can add the spices while boiling the rice as well if you don't want to drain the water.
  3. Now we prepare the vegetable curry. Heat oil on medium flame and add the whole spices: shahi jeera, cardamom, mace, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves. 
  4. Add the chopped onions and let fry until they turn transparent.
  5. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry until the raw smell goes away. I have used grated ginger and garlic in this recipe.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and sprinkle a little salt. Let cook until the tomatoes are soft and mushy. Add the red chilli powder and mix well and let cook for another minute.
  7. Add the chopped and prepared vegetables: potatoes, carrots and peas. You can also add cauliflower and green beans if you like but I did not add in this recipe. Sprinkle little more salt and mix everything well. Let cook for about 2 minutes. 
  8. Add the yogurt and mix well. Do not add any water. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. If adding cauliflower, add the florets to boiling water before adding to the curry. 
  9. Remove the cover and turn off the flame. The curry is ready and now we will layer the biryani.
  10. Layering the biryani: Take a heavy bottomed pan and add the ghee to the base. This will prevent the biryani from sticking to the base.
  11. Add a thin layer of rice and spread evenly. Add a layer of the prepared vegetable curry.  Sprinkle chopped mint leaves. 
  12. Add another layer of rice and another layer of vegetables over it. Sprinkle the chopped coriander. Add the final thin layer of rice over it and cover everything evenly with the rice layer. 
  13. Add the milk over the layered biryani and sprinkle the saffron strands over it. Cover and add weight over the lid (or seal it with dough) and put this complete setup over minimal flame for about 20 minutes to let every flavor mix in together and produce a wonderful taste.
  14. While the biryani is cooking on slow flame, prepare the onions and cashews. Heat the oil and another pan and add the sliced onions. Let fry on medium flame until the onions fry completely and start getting brown and crispy. Drain the oil and remove the onions on kitchen paper to absorb extra oil.
  15. In the same oil, fry the cashews until they start becoming little brown on the sides. Turn off the flame, drain the oil and remove the cashew too on a kitchen paper. 
  16. To use up less oil in your biryani, fry the onions before you begin to prepare the vegetable curry. In step 3, first fry onions, then cashews and use the same oil for making vegetable curry.
  17. Open the lid carefully and top with the fried onions and cashews. Mix carefully and serve hot. The accompanists for Hyderabadi Biryani is always Hyderabadi Mirch Ka Salan but you can also prepare Tamatar Ka Salan or Baby Onion ka Salan to go with the biryani.  

I had prepared this as a main course meal for my guests so did not prepare Salan but rather served it with rich and creamy Dal BukharaBoondi RaitaMint coriander chutney and Mango Shrikhand for dessert.

Loved this recipe? Do leave a comment and share a picture; join me on my Facebook Page for regular recipe updates and Pinterest.

Looking for more vegetarian rice and biryani varieties? Try this Green Broccoli PulaoKashmiri PulaoMint RiceMalabar Vegetable Dum BiryaniAchaari Coriander PulaoMix Vegetable Pilaf and Qubooli Biryani.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Murungakkai Sambhar (Drumstick Sambhar)


Toor Dal (Split pigeon peas): 1 cup
Cooking oil: 3 tsp.
Onion (chopped): 1 (optional)
Tomato (chopped): 1
Green chilli (chopped): 1
Drumsticks according to taste
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp.
Tamarind: 2 tsp.
Sambhar powder: 2 tsp.
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.
Fenugreek seeds: 1 tsp.
Curry leaves: a few
Dried red chilli: 1
Coriander leaves to garnish (optional)

  1. Wash and boil the toor dal with salt for 5-6 whistles or until the dal is soft. Let the pressure release by itself and then open the pressure cooker and mash the dal.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add the onions and fry until they are transparent. I learnt this recipe from a friend who told me no onions are added in this sambhar but I added it for flavor. So this step is optional.
  3. Add the tomatoes, green chilli and the chopped drumsticks. Add the salt and fry for few minutes until the tomatoes are soft and mushy. 
  4. Add the red chilli powder, tamarind and sambhar powder and mix well. Let cook for another minute. The drumsticks will take more time to get tender so we will cook them more together with the dal.
  5. So add this mixture to the boiled and mashed dal and add a cup of water. Let cook on medium flame for about 10-15 minutes so that the masala is incorporated and the drumsticks are also tender. Turn off the flame.
  6. Prepare the tempering: Heat a tsp. oil and crackle the mustard and fenugreek seeds. Add curry leaves and red chilli and mix and fry for a bit.
  7. Turn off the flame and add this tempering to the sambhar. Cover for 10 minutes. Open and stir well, serve piping hot with idlis, dosa etc.
Looking for more sambhar recipes? 

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yellow in nature: Making life beautiful

The yellow glistens;
It glistens with various yellows,
Citrons, oranges and greens; 
Flowering over the skin.
- Wallace Stevens

Yellow is the shade of life. Yellow is the sun. Yellow is the hope, cheer, happiness, optimism, joy. Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. Beams of golden yellow carry the promise of a positive future. Yellow instills energy, open communication, and can spark creative thoughts.

Nowhere in nature you can find purer color than sunlight passing through the petal of a flower.
- Larry K. Stephenson

Yellow wakes me up in the morning. Yellow gets me on the bike everyday. Yellow has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice. Yellow makes me suffer. Yellow is the reason I'm here.
- Lance Armstrong.

Everything that is yellow is not gold: it is also the color of nature, the color of sun, the color of brightness and cheerfulness. Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment and happiness.

How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.
- Van Gogh

The colors red, blue and green are real. The color yellow is a mystical experience shared by everybody.
- Tom Stoppard

Yellow flowers are like physical manifestations of sunlight. I'm growing a garden of sunglasses just to help save eyesight and make the world a little cooler.
- Jarod Kintz

Although yellow occupies one-twentieth of the spectrum, it is the brightest color.
- Derek Jarman

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Grilled Coriander Chicken (and 8 Marinating mixes)

I love to marinate whole chicken breasts and then grill them to a juicy perfection to get flavor in every bite and enjoy the wholesome goodness of chicken. I have experimented with different kinds of marinating mixes and coriander marinade is one of them. Today I'm writing about the coriander marinade and how to prepare grilled coriander chicken and sharing various different marinade mixes. These marinade mixes can also be used for paneer or marinating vegetables to be grilled.


Chicken breast: 1

For the marinade:

Yogurt: 1 cup
Salt to taste
Garam masala: 2 tsp.
Lemon juice: 2 tsp.
Coriander leaves (finely chopped): a handful

For the masala:

Cooking oil: 3 tsp.
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp.
Asafoetida: a pinch
Onion (sliced): 1
Tomato (chopped): 2
Ginger (grated): 1 inch
Green chilli (chopped): 1
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp.
Cumin powder: 1 tsp.
Coriander powder: 1 tsp.
Garam masala: 1 tsp.
Coriander leaves to garnish

  1. Wash and clean the chicken breasts and make small cuts all over the surface of chicken. This is so that the marinade seeps in perfectly to produce the juicy flavor.
  2. Now mix all the marinating ingredients in a big bowl and marinate the chicken in this mix, cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours. 
  3. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees C for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Oil the grill and keep the marinated chicken breasts over the grill and grill for 30 minutes at 150 degrees C. After 15 minutes do the knife test and if the knife comes out clean, turn off the oven and leave in the grilled chicken for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and keep aside.
  5. While the chicken is grilling, we prepare the tomato masala bed. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When they crackle, add the sliced onions and fry until the onions start to become transparent.
  6. Add the tomatoes, ginger and green chilli and salt to taste and let cook until the tomatoes are soft and mushy.
  7. Add all the dry spices: red chilli, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala. Mix well and let cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the flame and take out in a serving dish.
  8. Add the grilled chicken to this masala bed and garnish with coriander leaves and lemon wedges. Sprinkle black salt if required and serve !!

Now I will talk about the various kinds of marinades which I have used for grilling chicken. 


I have marinated the whole chicken breast and instead of the traditional way of grilling the chicken tikka on the skewers, this recipe is created by grilling the whole chicken breast and added to a basic curry masala. Get the recipe for chicken tikka masala here: Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe


Tandoori Chicken is a popular North Indian dish: roasted chicken marinated with a mix of yogurt and spices and grilled in a cylindrical oven "tandoor".. Whole grilled chicken garnished with coriander leaves and lemon wedges and to be served with mint-coriander chutney. Get the recipe:


This marinate mix is flavored with yogurt, pickle oil and pickling spices which gives a whole new dimension to the dish. This has become another favorite in my household after the tandoori chicken when it comes to grilling. Serve it just like that, smeared with lemon juice or prepare another side dish: Achaari coriander pulao with the remaining marinade mix. When you try this once, I bet you will want to eat this again and again. Get the recipe here:


As the name suggests, hariyali marinade is a mixture of greens: an abundance of mint and coriander. The marinade is prepared with mint and coriander leaves, ginger-garlic and lemon juice and grilled; then mixed with a spicy curry so it can be relished with rice and/or chappati (Indian flat bread). Get the complete recipe here:


In an attempt to do something different than the usual for grilling the chicken breasts, I came up with the idea of marinating the chicken with a spicy mix and a dash of kasoori methi for an added flavor, then preparing a different curry with freshly prepared garam masala and mixing in the juicy grilled chicken, topped with green chillis.. Get the recipe here:


Who would have thought that a marinade can be prepared from chopped tomatoes! Well that's what I experimented with and voila! it was a successful attempt. Grilled with the goodness of the tomato marinade and mixed with a flavorful base curry which is prepared with a lot of whole spices and fried whole baby onions; served with whole wheat roomali roti to make a lip-smacking meal. Get the recipes here:


Well, I'm sure a lot of people prepare hasselback potatoes very often; so why not the same with whole chicken breasts? Hasselback chicken: marinated in a ginger-garlic paste with the added essence of mint and poppy seeds and added to a yogurt-tomato curry; and best served with whole wheat laccha paratha to make a complete, delicious and unforgettable meal. Get the recipe here:


Kolhapuri Chicken (Tambada Rassa) is usually prepared with mutton and I have prepared it with chicken instead. Also, instead of making a curry with chicken, I grilled the whole chicken breast. What's special in this dish is the use of a wonderful, aromatic, flavorful Kolhapuri Spice mix which is added to the base curry along with the use of many whole spices, making it a spicy dish: fireworks on your platter !! Get the recipe here: 

I hope this whole collection of marinating mixes will be useful. Please share feedback by leaving comments and if you love my recipes, don't forget to like my Facebook Page for regular recipe updates and join me on Pinterest

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mango Shrikhand

Today is a very special day in my life: today was the day I had met my husband for the first time, few years ago.. We celebrate this day: 17th July every year as a "first-met day". Even though both of us are not a fan of sweets and desserts, today's event calls for something sweet..

So I made this quick and easy dessert with fruit and it tasted heavenly.. The best part: this is a no cook, no bake dessert made with just minimum ingredients (and who doesn't love those food items which require minimal effort?)


Mango: 1
Hung curd: 2 cups
Sugar to taste
Saffron strands: a few

  1. Peel the mango and dice it. Add to the mixer and make a puree and take out in a bowl.
  2. Take the hung curd in a big bowl (to mix everything easily) and slowly add the mango puree and mix well. You can use a hand whisk for the same. I have made this twice, once with hung curd and another time with creme fraiche and it came out wonderful. So you can use creme fraiche as well instead of yogurt, but comes out thicker when made with hung curd.
  3. Add the sugar. Add sugar according to the sweetness of mango. If the mango is very sweet, add less and more if the mango is not that sweet. Mix everything well with a hand whisk (or simply with a stirring spoon or spatula).
  4. Taste and adjust sugar accordingly and pour into the serving bowls. Decorate with saffron strands and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. Serve chilled. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mint Egg Salad

Well, I must admit that I have never been a fan of salads. But I guess this is how it's always supposed to be. Life happens, we grow up and start loving salads (okay, not really loving but begin to be attracted towards salads, developing a relationship of sorts). I had never imagined that I could be eating salad for a main course !!

But well, what's the best time for eating just salads for lunch: cooling, refreshing salads other than hot summer days. This is the healthy salad I had for lunch with a glass of spiced buttermilk and trust me, I felt full and light, both at the same time.


Boiled eggs: 2 How to make perfect hard boiled eggs
Green lettuce
Baby carrots: a few
Round red radish: 4-5
Cucumber (sliced in rounds): 1
Red cabbage
Mint leaves: a handful
Parsley leaves: a few for garnish
Rock salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste

  1. Peel and halve the boiled eggs and place in a wide dish in which you will make the salad. 
  2. Wash well the green lettuce and the red cabbage, chop and add to the dish.
  3. Peel and wash the baby carrots, remove the tops and tails (if required) and add.
  4. Add the cucumber and red radish. Add the mint leaves (I add whole so the whole salad has the wonderful minty flavor, but you can add chopped if required).
  5. Garnish with parsley leaves (or any other greens) and grate one carrot above the salad. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Toss and enjoy !!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Breaking Stereotypes

India is a beautiful land of diversities: diversity in religion, language, culture, weddings, clothing, traditions, food and so much more. While everything has its positive and negative sides, the diversity of the country comes with something unwanted: stereotyping. From the beginning of time, there has been stereotyping people on the basis of color, sex, caste, religion, profession and what not. Being a woman, I myself have been stereotyped number of times in my country. It's high time our country and it's people need to break those stereotypes, so here's how to go about that. These images will prove that generalizing, assuming and stereotyping needs to stop and how we need to look at everyone as a unique individual with an identity.

All image credits:


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