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Vegetable Biriyani In Pressure Cooker


Biryani is a layered rice dish made with meat or vegetables and spices, usually prepared with  basmati rice. Making biriyani the authentic way can be a quite time-consuming and laborious process. So here is an easy, quick and hassle-free vegetable biriyani cooked in a pressure cooker, with no compromise on taste. 

I rarely make the dum style biriyani as it's an elaborate process. Whenever we are in a mood for biriyani, I prefer this simple one pot biriyani. The amount of water and cooking time is crucial while cooking in pressure cooker, else the rice may get overcooked and mushy.  After few trial and errors, I finally succeeded in getting perfectly cooked rice. This biriyani can be packed for lunch box too. Serve this spicy biriyani with raita and papad.


VEGETABLE BIRIYANI RECIPE

{ Spicy mixed vegetable biriyani cooked in pressure cooker }
Serves 3


Ingredients:

1 cup basmati rice
1 large onion, sliced
1 small tomato, finely chopped
1 medium potato
1 medium carrot
8-10 green beans
⅓ cup green peas
3 tbsp curd / plain yogurt
3 tsp biriyani masala
½ tsp red chilly powder (optional)
Salt to taste

To grind:
20-25 mint leaves
3-4 sprigs coriander
2-3 green chillies
3 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger

To temper:
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp ghee
1 bay leaf
½ inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
2 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
½ star anise

Preparation:

1. Grind mint, coriander, green chilly, garlic and ginger to a coarse paste without adding water. Set aside.

2. Cut potato and carrot into small cubes. Cut beans into 1-inch long pieces.

3. Wash basmati rice and soak in 1 ½ cup water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Method:

1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pressure cooker with oil and ghee. Add bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, star anise and fry until nice aroma comes.

2. Add onion and saute until they turn soft. Add the mint paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then add tomatoes and fry till they turn mushy.

3. Now add the vegetables and fry for a minute. Add yogurt, biriyani masala, red chilly powder and mix well. Fry for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add rice and gently combine. Add 1 ½ cup water, salt and mix well. Bring to boil and close with the pressure cooker lid.

5. Pressure cook on high heat for 1 whistle, then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Once pressure subsides, open and fluff rice gently with fork.

Serving Suggestion ~ Plain yogurt or raita and papad.

Notes and Tips
  • Adjust the amount of green chillies and biriyani masala according to your preference.
  • Soaking the rice reduces the cooking time and gives longer grains, so do not skip it.
  • You can finely chop mint, coriander, green chilly, garlic and ginger, instead of grinding.
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Vendakkai Sambar | Ladies Finger Sambar


Sambar can be made with a variety of vegetables and each vegetable gives a unique flavor to the sambar.  Vendakkai / ladies finger sambar is one of my all time favorites. I have already posted some other easy sambar recipes - radish sambarpumpkin sambar and vendhaya keerai sambar, check them out too. 

Ladies finger is quite expensive here and not available all-year around. So whenever I see good ones, I buy few to make pachadi or sambar. This is an easy and no-grind sambar recipe, perfect for beginners and bachelors. It goes well with any thoran/poriyal or vegetable stir-fry and with idli/dosa too. We totally enjoyed this vendakkai sambar with rice and kathrikai kara curry. Let's see how to make this simple and flavorful sambar.


VENDAKKAI SAMBAR RECIPE

{ South Indian lentil and ladies finger (okra) curry }
Serves 2-3


Ingredients:

½ cup toor dal / yellow pigeon peas
2 tsp coconut oil
12-15 vendakkai / bhindi
8-10 shallots / chinna vengayam
½ tbsp tamarind paste / gooseberry-sized tamarind
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 ½ tsp sambar powder
½ red chilly powder
Salt to taste

To temper:
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chillies
Pinch of asafoetida / hing
Few curry leaves

Method:

1. Wash and pressure cook the dal with 1 ½ cup water and a pinch of turmeric powder for 3 whistles. Mash well and set aside.

2. Soak the tamarind in 1 cup warm water and extract the tamarind juice. If using tamarind paste, dissolve in 1 cup warm water.

3. Wash the ladies finger well, put on a towel or tissue paper and dry it completely. Trim the end and cut into 1 inch long pieces.

4. Heat a kadai and add 1 tsp coconut oil and ladies finger. Fry in medium-high flame until brown spots appear. Set aside.

5. In the same kadai, add 1 tsp oil and fry the shallots for 3-4 minutes. Add the fried ladies finger, tamarind extract, turmeric powder, sambar powder, red chilly powder and salt.

6. Bring to boil and boil until raw smell of tamarind goes. Then add the mashed dal, water if required and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

7. In a small pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add dry chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves. Pour over the sambar.

Serving Suggestion ~ Rice and thoran/poriyal, or idli/dosa.

Notes and Tips
  • You can use any oil but I recommend using coconut oil as it adds a nice flavor.
  • You can also add a small tomato after frying the shallots.
  • Adding red chilly powder is optional.
  • Frying ladies finger removes the sliminess, so do not skip it.
Read More >>

Watermelon Agua Fresca


Agua fresca is a popular Mexcian drink made from fruits, flowers blended with sugar and water. Agua fresca literally means 'fresh water' and you can find this refreshing drink served by roadside vendors all over Mexico. Summer's officially over here but it's still very hot. To keep hydrated in summers, we must drink plenty of water and fresh juices. This drink is a great thirst quencher for hot summer days.

Agua fresca can be made using a variety of fruits, but the most popular ones are melon and pineapple. You can keep it simple or infuse more flavors by adding herbs. Watermelon is made up of 90 percent water, which helps in keeping us well-hydrated during hot days. So get a watermelon, make this low-calorie drink and cool your body in the blistering heat.

WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA RECIPE

{ Mexican drink with watermelon and lime/lemon }
Serves 2-3


Ingredients:

4 cups watermelon, cut into 1" cubes
½ - 1 cup water
1 tbsp lime / lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
Few mint leaves
Ice cubes

Method:

1. Blend the watermelon and water in a blender until smooth. Strain the mixture.

2. Add lime juice, sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Keep chilled in fridge until ready to serve.

3. Pour in glasses and add ice cubes. Garnish with mint leaves.

Notes and Tips
  • Adjust sugar according to your preference. You can also use natural sweeteners.
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Eggless Spinach Feta Muffins


After all the sweet bakes for past few challenges, Priya of Priya's Versatile Recipes suggested some savory muffins for this month's Home Baker's Challenge. I love savory muffins and quick breads, especially warm and fresh from the oven. This time I had no dilemma in choosing the recipes as these spinach and feta muffins have been on my list to try for long time.

These muffins loaded with spinach and feta cheese turned out so light and fluffy. You could have them by itself, but a little dab of butter takes the muffins to another level. The sun-dried tomatoes add a freshness and sweetness to the muffins. I had spiced it up with some cayenne pepper and black pepper powder. Overall it's a delicious muffin to have for breakfast or evening tea. 


EGGLESS SPINACH FETA MUFFINS RECIPE

{ Savory muffins with spinach, feta and sun-dried tomato }
Recipe Source ~ Taste
Yields 12 muffins


Ingredients:

150g baby spinach
150g feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup chopped semi-dried tomatoes
¼ cup finely grated parmesan

Dry ingredients:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cayenne pepper / red chilly powder
¼ tsp pepper powder

Wet ingredients:
1 ⅓ cup / 330ml  milk
90g butter, melted
¼ cup plain yogurt

Method:

1. Wash the spinach well to remove any dirt / sand and dry them well. Trim off the stems and chop them finely.

2. Preheat the oven to 200 C | 400 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease and flour the pan.

3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cayenne pepper, pepper powder. Add spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, 2 tbsp parmesan and stir to combine.

4. In another bowl, add milk, yogurt, melted butter and whisk until well combined. Add this to the flour mixture and mix with a spatula until just combined.

6. Fill each muffin cup about ¾th full. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the muffins.

5. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the muffin pan on a rack and allow to cool.

Notes and Tips
  • Do not over mix the batter. Just mix until everything is combined.
  • I didn't add extra salt as the feta cheese was salty enough.
  • If you don't have sun-dried tomatoes, substitute with seeded and chopped tomato.
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Coriander Chutney | Kothamalli Chutney


Idli and dosa are a staple breakfast and dinner item in most South Indian homes. So I'm always on the look for different chutney recipes to serve with dosa and idli. Coriander chutney is one easy and quick chutney that goes well with idli and dosa. It can also served with bajji and bonda. Check out my kothamalli (coriander) thogayal for rice.

This chutney is a good way to use up your leftover coriander leaves bunch. I love the raw flavor of coriander leaves, so I don't saute the leaves. If you don't like raw taste, you can fry them a little. The coriander stems are more flavorful than leaves, so I add some of the tender stems also to the chutney. If you are bored of coconut chutney, try this flavorful chutney for a change to serve along idli and dosa.

KOTHAMALLI CHUTNEY RECIPE

{ South Indian style coriander leaves chutney }
Serves 2


Ingredients:

½ cup coriander leaves, tightly packed
Few tender stems (optional)
1 garlic clove
3-4 shallots / chinna vengayam
2-3 green chillies
1 tsp roasted gram / pottu kadalai
2 tbsp grated coconut
¼ tsp tamarind paste / pea-size tamarind
½ tsp sesame oil
Salt to taste

To temper:
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp mustard seeds

Method:

1. In a pan, heat oil and add shallots, garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes. Switch off and add green chilly, coriander leaves, coconut, pottu kadalai and tamarind. 

2. Give a mix and allow to cool. Once cooled, grind everything adding salt to a smooth consistency adding little water as required.

3. In a small pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, pour over the chutney and mix.

Serving Suggestion ~ Idli or dosa.

Notes and Tips
  • Adjust the amount of green chillies according to your spice preference.
  • You can skip the garlic if you don't like the taste.
  • If you don't like rasw taste of coriander, saute them for a minute.
Read More >>

Kathirikai Kara Curry | Spicy Brinjal Fry


Brinjal is one of my favorite vegetables! More than in curries, I like it roasted or in a simple stir fry. Brinjal is a low calorie vegetable and it's high in nutrients. Sadly I don't often get Indian brinjal in the markets, but whenever I see fresh ones, I pick up quite a few. I either make a simple roast with garlic or this spicy brinjal fry. I didn't know what to name this dish and since it's a spicy one, I felt kara curry is apt..!!!

Kathirikai kara curry is a spicy brinjal dish with freshly ground coconut, shallots, garlic and spices. The preparation of this dish does not take much time and is quite easy to make for beginners and bachelors. This can be served as a side dish to rice and sambar or rasam. It goes well with curd rice, variety rice and even chapathi too. Try this spicy kathirikai fry and let me know how you like it.

KATHIRIKAI KARA CURRY RECIPE

{ Spicy brinjal fry with freshly ground coconut, chilly, shallots and spices }
Serves 2-3


Ingredients:

3 long brinjal / kathirikai
½ tsp tamarind paste / marble-size tamarind
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp sambar powder
Salt to taste

To grind:
3 tbsp grated coconut
4-5 dry red chillies
4 shallots / chinna vengayam
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp fennel seeds / sombu
¼ tsp coriander seeds

For tempering:
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp split urad dal
Pinch of asafoetida / hing
Few curry leaves

Method:

1. Halve the brinjal and cut then into ¼ inch thick slices. Dissolve the tamarind in 2 tbsp water and set aside.

2. Grind coconut, red chillies, shallots, garlic, fennel and coriander seeds to a coarse mixture without adding any water. 

3. In a large pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add urad dal, asafoetida, curry leaves and fry till dal turns golden.

4. Add the brinjal and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric powder, tamarind water and salt. Cook in low flame until brinjal is tender, stirring in between.

5. Add the ground masala, sambar powder and toss until masala is well coated. Fry in medium flame for 6-8 minutes until masala is cooked.

Serving Suggestion ~ Rice and sambar or rasam, curd rice or variety rice.

Notes and Tips
  • The brinjal should be just cooked enough and hold shape, it should not turn mushy.
  • Adjust red chillies according to you spice level.
  • You can also use round purple or green brinjals.
  • Fennel adds a nice flavor to the masala, do not skip it.
Read More >>

Mango Strawberry Mesclun Salad


For this month's IFC, we are exploring Bordeaux Cuisine from France. Bordeaux, a port city in southwestern France, is known for its fine-tasting wines. The Bordeaux cuisine is full of very particular flavors, aromas, and colors. Saraswathi, the host for this month, gave us 3 wonderful recipes from this region from which I chose to make this salad.

Mesclun is a mix of assorted salad leaves, originating in France. The traditional mix includes chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces and endive, but you can use any mix of greens. This colorful salad with greens, strawberries, mango and cranberries makes a refreshing summer treat. Serve with soup and bread or as a side to grilled foods.

MANGO STRAWBERRY MESCLUN SALAD RECIPE

{ Mixed greens, strawberry and mango salad with balsamic vinegar dressing }
Recipe Source ~ All Recipes
Serves 2


Ingredients:

2 cups mixed salad greens
10 strawberries, quartered
1 mango, peeled and cubed
½ red onion, sliced
3 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp toasted slivered almonds

For the dressing:
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste

Method:

1. In a bowl, add sugar, olive oil, vinegar, salt and whisk well. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

2. In a bowl, mix salad greens, strawberries, mango, onion and dried cranberries. Before serving, add the dressing and toss well. Sprinkle with almonds.

Notes and Tips
  • Add the dressing just before serving, otherwise the salad will get soggy if it sits too long.
Read More >>

Thandai


Thandai is a popular North Indian drink made during Maha Shivaratri and Holi. It's an exotic milk based drink with almonds, pistachios, peppercorns, fennel, cardamom, saffron and dried rose petals. On the occasion of Holi, thandai is mixed with 'bhang' to make an intoxicating drink. This spiced almond milk is a healthy drink to have especially during summers and its known to have cooling effect on the body.

Thandai is an important part of Holi, the Indian festival of colors. Seeing many thandai posts from fellow bloggers, I got tempted to try this thandai. I referred Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe and made few changes to suit our taste-buds. The heat has cranked up very high today and this thandai was such a refreshing drink to cool down. Try this fragrant and delicious thandai recipe for this Holi.

Wishing all my friends and readers a a very bright, colorful and happy Holi..!!!

THANDAI RECIPE

{ Spiced milk with almonds, peppercorn, fennel, cardamom and rose petals }
Serves 2


Ingredients:

2 ½ cup full-fat milk
3 tbsp sugar
Few strands saffron
Few pistachios, chopped

For thandai masala:
¼ cup almonds
2 tsp melon seeds
3-4 green cardamom
6-8 peppercorns
2 tsp poppy seeds / khus khus
1 tsp fennel seeds / saunf
½ tsp dried rose petals

Method:

1. Soak almonds in water for 1 hour. Soak melon seeds, cardamom, peppercorn, poppy seeds, fennel seeds in water for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile boil the milk and add sugar. Simmer till the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

3. Peel the skin of almonds and grind with melon seeds, cardamom, peppercorn, poppy seeds and fennel to a smooth paste adding water as required.

4. Add the ground paste, rose petals and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours for the flavors to mingle.

5. Strain the mixture through a strainer and add saffron. Pour into glasses and garnish with chopped pistachios and serve chilled.

Notes and Tips
  • You can serve the thandai without straining too.
  • If you don't have dried rose petals, substitute with ¼ tsp rose essence.
  • Cashewnuts can be added instead of melon seeds.
Read More >>

Sweet Corn Soup


I'm not a soup person at all. The only soup I don't mind having occasionally is tomato soup, that too only if its laden with croutons! Lately I have been experimenting with different kinds of soups and I'm totally into soups now. So you can see more soup recipes coming up in the blog.

This sweet corn soup is one of my current favorites. This creamy sweet corn soup is light and healthy, and if you pair with a salad or bread makes a filling and hearty meal. Use fresh corn ears instead of tinned or frozen ones to get a good flavor for the soup. This soup does not take much time to prepare and makes a light and delicious meal with some toasted bread. Let's see how to make sweet corn soup.


SWEET CORN SOUP RECIPE

{ Creamy soup with fresh sweet corn and milk  }
Serves 2


Ingredients:

1 sweet corn
1 tbsp olive oil / butter
½ of medium onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 cup vegetable stock / water
½ cup warm milk
¼ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp corn flour
Salt to taste
Cracked pepper to taste

Method:

1. Remove the leaves and silks from the corn and wash once. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels of the corn cob. Set aside ¼ cup of corn kernels.

2. In a large pot, heat oil and add onion, celery and fry for 1-2 minutes. Then add the corn kernels and fry for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add 1½ cup vegetable stock or water and cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until the corn is cooked completely.

4. Transfer to a blender and puree to a smooth consistency. Alternatively, use a stick blender and blend until it becomes smooth.

5. Turn the heat on and add remaining vegetable stock, milk, reserved corn kernels and bring to boil. Simmer the soup and add oregano, salt and pepper.

6. Dissolve the corn flour in 2 tbsp water and add to the soup. Simmer until the soup thickens to the desired consistency.

Serving Suggestion ~ Toasted bread or salad.

Notes and Tips
  • You can add little cream at the end to make the soup more creamy and rich.
  • Use fresh corn for the soup instead of canned or frozen ones to get full flavor.
Read More >>