Friday, February 25, 2011

Vegetable Biryani

Some of the vegetarian readers of my blog have requested the recipe for a vegatarian version of biryani. The procedure is a little bit different but the ingredients and spices are very similar.  Use any vegatable you desire for this recipe. Sometimes I use frozen mixed veges. If you omit the cottage cheese this could be suitable for vegan cuisine. Substitute   tofu or cooked drained beans instead.

Ingredients (generously serves 4):
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups long grain basmati rice washed and drained
250 gms cubed paneer (Indian cottage cheese-omit for vegan version)
2 cups vegetables (peas, green beans, potato, carrots)chopped
4 cups water
salt to taste
Few strands of saffron soaked in 1 teaspoon of hot water (for 2-3 mins)
1 large red onion chopped fine
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
Dry whole spices: coarsely ground:
½ teaspoon each of whole dry cumin and coriander,
5 whole cloves
1 long stick cinnamon
4 green cardamoms and 2 black cardamoms
2 pieces mace
Few black peppercorns
Dry ground spices:
½ teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
Red chilli powder (for desired heat level)
¾ teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder)
1 teaspoon dry mint
  1. In a large pan heat oil and lightly fry cubed paneer till golden brown. Keep aside. 
  2. In the remaining oil add all the dry spices and let them spatter for 30 seconds. 
  3. Add onion ginger and garlic and fry till it turns golden brown. Add rice and fry lightly for 1 minute. 
  4. Add all the vegetables along with the ground spices and salt and fry for 2-5 minutes till everything is well infused with all the spices. 
  5. Add water and saffron and give a stir to mix well. 
  6. Cover and monitor till it comes to a rolling boil. Then simmer covered for 10 minutes till rice is almost done. 
  7. Add the fried paneer and mix. take the pan off heat and cover, let stand for 2-5 minutes. 
  8. Serve with Raita. For raita recipe click

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls

Sweet and sour chicken balls make a wonderful appetizer, dinner item or just a snack. Serve these over plain rice or noodles for dinner, or pile high in a plate with toothpics for a party starter. This dish is a great hit with kids and adults alike. Make sure you have a large quantity, as these mini delights go fast.
The sweetness of honey with the tartness of vinegar together with garlic, soy sauce and hot sauce the flavours blend in very well. You can make the chicken balls and freeze for upto 6 months. To use simply defrost and cook in the sauce and serve. Can use gound turkey, lamb or beef for this recipe.

Ingredients: makes about 25
For the chicken balls
1lb minced chicken or turkey
1 egg
3 green onions chopped fine
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
salt and chilli powder
For the sweet and sour sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2-3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp soysauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
2-3 tbsp hot chilli sauce or 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 inch ginger grated
  • Mix all the ingredients for chicken balls together and shape into 1 inch balls.
  • Deep fry or bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes till brown and cooked through. Keep aside.
  • In a saucepan mix all the ingredients for the sauce and bring to boil. Stir in the chicken balls and cook till the syrup is bubbly and clear for about 4-5 minutes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chocolate Eclairs and Cream puffs

Eclair au chocolat... a magnificent dessert and a delightful French classic. A concoction of choux pastry with a filling of whipped cream and chocolate glaze topping, every bit delicious. This is my valentines dessert this year. Happy Valentines day everyone.

Valentine Treasures
By Joanna Fuchs
Valentine treasures are people who
have often crossed your mind,
family, friends and others, too,
who in your life have shined
the warmth of love or a spark of light
that makes you remember them;
no matter how long since you’ve actually met,
each one is a luminous gem,
who gleams and glows in your memory,
bringing special pleasures,
and that’s why this Valentine comes to you:
You’re one of those sparkling treasures!

Choux Pastry
Ingredients: makes a dozen

3/4 cup water
6 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. 
  2. In a saucepan, combine butter, water and salt over medium heat and bring to boil stirring constantly. 
  3. On boil remove from heat and stir in all the flour to make a smooth batter. 
  4. Return to heat and cook stirring constantly until the mixture leaves the side of the pan. 
  5. Remove from heat and cool the mixture completely before adding eggs. 
  6. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is fully mixed before adding the next. It should make a stiff enough dough to pipe. Fill up the dough into a piping bag with 1/2 inch nozzle. 
  7. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe this mixture in the desired shape. Make 4 inch long eclairs or small round cream puffs. 
  8. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes till they are well risen. 
  9. Lower the oven temperature to 350 F and continue baking for another 15 minutes till completely dry. 
  10. These should be completely firm when taken out of the oven, or they will collapse. 
  11. When they are completely cool, use a sharp knife to slit the horizontally and pipe in whipped cream. 
  12. Spread chocolate glaze on top of each and give a dusting of powdered sugar.

Chocolate glaze

4 oz semisweet chocolate
pinch salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp sugar
  1. Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. 
  2. Add salt and sugar and stir for a minute until smooth. 
  3. Use it while its still spreadable. If it starts to set, heat it a bit.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Meethe Chawal (sweet saffron rice)-- Happy Basant Panchami

सरस्वती नमस्तेभ्यम वर्देही कामरूपिणी
विश्वरूपी विशालाक्षी विद्यां देहि सरस्वती
Basant Panchmi meaning the fifth day of spring is celebrated throughout India to mark the end of winter. This day is dedicated to goddess Saraswati who showers the wealth of knowledge. To welcome spring the color yellow plays an important role. Everyone wears yellow colored clothes, offer yellow flowers and make yellow food colored with kesar (saffron). The fields are covered with mustard crop and its yellow flowers spread a radiance of gold all over, enhanced by the golden rays of sun.

Since childhood I remember this day as the yellow day and also as the day when we had meethe chawal or sweet saffron rice. Now every year I make them on this day so that my girls become a part of this beautiful and simple ritual. So here goes my version of this dish. Happy Basant Panchami everyone.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 cups plain steamed basmati rice
pinch saffron
1 tsp milk
1/2-3/4 cups sugar
1 large carrot grated
1/3 cup each golden raisins and sliced almonds
1 tbsp oil
1tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
3-4 whole cloves
2-3 pieces whole cinnamon
6-8 chooti elaichi (green cardamom)
2-3 drops pure almond extract(or vanilla extract if you prefer)
  1. Soak saffron in milk and keep aside 
  2. In a large pan heat oil and ghee, add cloves and cinnamon. 
  3. Add the raisins, almonds and grated carrot. Stir for 3-4 minutes till carrots become a bit tender. 
  4. Now add the rice and saffron and mix well. You will see the beautiful golden color in the rice from the saffron and carrots. On medium heat stir for about 3-4 minutes till all the flavours blend together. 
  5. Take out all the seeds from the green cardamom and crush into fine powder. 
  6. Add sugar and cardamom powder along with almond extract and mix for 1-2 minutes till the sugar blends with the rice. 
  7. Serve hot and enjoy.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Three Cheese Lasagna

It takes a while to prepare and requires many ingredients but its worth the effort. A one dish meal with every food group. Lasagna is a classic pasta casserole dish with layers of pasta, cheese and sauce. Many variations exist depending on the type of sauce and cheese being used and if it contains meat and or vegetables.
I am posting this recipe for a friend of mine. I haven't seen her in over 14 years, yet she still remembers the lasagna I made once as I do her biryani. Since then my version for this recipe has changed hopefully for the better.

1 Package Oven ready lasagna noodles
3/4 cup each shredded mozzerella and monterey jack(or your fav blend)
For the cheese sauce
400gms ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1lbs fresh spinach washed and finely chopped
For the tomato sauce (makes 9 cups with meat and 12 without )
2 tbsp olive oil
4 large red onions chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 lbs ground chicken or lamb
12 large tomatoes chopped
1 can tomato puree
1 can tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
3-4 bay leaves
2 tsp each basil and oregano
hot pepper sauce (optional)
5-6 cups chopped vegetables(carrots, green peppers, celery, zucchini, mushrooms)
  1. To make cheese sauce mix all the ingredients together. Keep aside. 
  2. To make tomato sauce/meat sauce heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add onion and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes till onions soften a bit. 
  3. Add ground chicken/lamb and vegetables(for meat sauce) or only the vegetables(for vegetarian version). Cook on high stirring often for about 2-4 minutes till chicken cooks a bit. 
  4. Add all other ingredients and bring to a rolling boil for about 3-5 minutes. 
  5. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes stirring every so often. 
  6. To assemble the casserole take a deep rectangular baking dish and grease it. Spread 2 cups of tomato sauce at the base evenly. Layer lasagna noodles on top without overlapping since they will expand on cooking. Spread half the cheese sauce evenly over the noodles. Top with another layer of lasagna noodles. Now spread 2 cups of tomato sauce evenly covering all the noodles. The moisture from the tomato sauce will cook the noodles. Sprinkle with half the shredded cheese evenly. Arrange another layer of lasagna noodles, followed by cheese sauce, followed by lasagna noodles , followed by tomato sauce, followed by the final layer of shredded cheese. 
  7. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 35-40 min till everything is bubbling in there and noodles are cooked. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the cheese. 
  8. Take out of the oven and cover with foil again. Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving. 
  9. I usually serve this with a salad.