Monday, December 26, 2011

Baby Potato Biryani

Come Sunday morning and I am surrounded by a variety of smells in my kitchen.No not from my kitchen but the surrounding ones.While I am whipping up our late breakfast,I hear people pounding and mixing and getting ready to make their elaborate Sunday lunches.Most people I know make Biryani on Sundays mainly because it takes a long time to get done and people usually do not mind waiting to eat something as delicious as a Biryani.
Keeping this in mind,I decided I should try making something elaborate too.My Biryani and pulao is anything but elaborate,taking only about half an hour of my time and few minutes in the pressure cooker.So I chose this recipe from Prathibha's blog,which I had bookmarked ages ago.

The Biryani by itself is delicious and paired with some simple salad and papad makes for a great meal.All I wanted after finishing my lunch was a long nap!

Baby Potato Biryani Recipe
Recipe source - Mallika Badrinath


Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Baby Potatoes - 200 gms(15-16 potatoes)
Onions - 2 big,thinly sliced
Fresh curds - 1/4 cup
Tomato juice - 3/4 cup,freshly extracted from 2-3 tomatoes
Water - 1 cup
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
Fresh coriander leaves - 1/2 bunch(approximately 1 cup loosely packed)
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnish
Salt to taste
Oil - to deep fry/shallow fry
Ghee - 1 tsp

To roast and grind

Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 4
Grated dry coconut -  2 tbsp
Green chillies - 2
Fresh Ginger - 1' piece
Oil - 1/2 tsp


To prepare the rice

Wash basmati rice and soak in water for 10 mins.
Cook basmati rice with 1 cup water and 3/4 cup of freshly made tomato juice in cooker for 2 whistles or on stove top until the water is drained.
Fluff up the rice with fork and spread on a plate and cool the rice completely.Add a tsp of ghee and mix slightly.

To make the masala paste(1)

Grind washed coriander leaves to a fine paste.Beat the curds properly and add the ground paste to it and mix well.

Masala paste(2)

Heat 1/2 tsp oil and add coriander seeds,red chillies and fry until they change their color and add grated coconut and fry slightly.Cool these ingredients and grind along with green chillies and chopped ginger to a fine paste.

Prepare the baby potatoes and onions

Pressure cook baby potatoes for 1 whistle and simmer it for 4-5 mins or pressure cook for 2 whistles.
After the pressure goes down remove them and let them cool.Peel off the skins and pierce each potato with fork in 2-3 places.This helps in potato not to burst while frying.
Heat oil in a deep heavy kadai and deep fry them over medium flame until they are golden brown in color.Drain them on a kitchen towel and keep them aside.You could also shallow fry the potatoes on a tawa.

Also deep fry thinly sliced onions until they are crisp and golden brown in color.Remove them and drain off excess oil in a kitchen towel and keep them aside.

Assemble the Biryani

Take 2 tbsp of oil from the pan and pour into another wide kadai and add ground masala paste and fry well until the raw smell goes away.
Add baby potatoes and half of the fried onions to it and mix well until the masala coats all the potatoes.
Reduce the flame and add curds(mixed with coriander leaves paste) and also add cooled cooked rice and salt and cover it and cook over low flame for 5-6 mins giving a dum to the rice which enhances its taste by absorbing all the flavors.
Remove the lid and mix everything properly.Add remaining fried onions and garam masala powder and mix well and switch off the flame.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve it hot with mixed vegetable raitha and papad.

  • This Biryani is very mildly spiced,so make sure you use good quality garam masala,preferable homemade.You could also use whole garam masala and saute them before adding the masala pastes.
  • Ideally,the baby potatoes should be deep fried,but shallow frying on a tawa with some oil gives equally delicious results.
  • As with dishes of similar kinds,the biryani tastes better the next day.So make sure you keep some in a microproof box and reheat and eat it the next day for a tastier version:)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Crust N crumb Plum Cake Mix-Product Review

I seldom bake using cake mixes.Or rather if cake mixes were cheap(and good!)I'd have never learnt to bake.So it was with slight apprehension I got this packet of cake mix which was highly recommended by the shopkeeper at Staines,Ernakulam where I do my shopping for baking products,tins and other stuff.It has been almost 3 months since I got it and it would have definitely have gone unnoticed if not for the kitchen clean up during our shifting.
I have no clue if I'd be baking my yearly Fruit cake this year as I'd be neck deep in settling down in the new house and I have family visiting during Christmas.So I decided to try this anyway.It is quite easy to bake using a cake mix as you are basically required to mix everything together without all the weighing and sifting.

Have to say the cake batter smelt wonderful and I had high hopes about how the cake's gonna turn out.Not disappointing at all.Though honestly,it is no match to the meticulously made fruit cake but works out well as a substitute in a hurry.It is easier to bake this cake than to go out to bakery to buy one and it costs only 60rs!
I found the cake to be a little on the dry side but taste wise it was like those plum cakes you get off the shelves from bakeries.The taste improves as you keep it so make sure you bake the cake in advance if serving for guests.There are options to bake this cake in the microwave and also in the pressure cooker.
Check out their website for more info.

Disclaimer-This is not a paid review.I used this product and thought of sharing my experience with my readers.

Wishing all my readers who celebrate a very Merry Christmas.If you are looking to bake a fruit cake from scratch,do check out my archives and posts-

Christmas Fruit Cake - 2008
Christmas Fruit Cake - 2009
Christmas Fruit Cake - 2010

and here's an Eggless Version.Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Paneer Tikka Masala

I love my Paneer Tikka.Most of the times,it features on my order list when we dine out and by my own judgement,if the Paneer tikka is good,the main course would be awesome too.Recently,we had it at Dhabba Express,Cenotaph road and were licking our fingers,it was that good.
I wanted to recreate it at home one day for lunch but I had not marinated the ingredients ahead in time.So did a twist there and made this well recommended Paneer Tikka Masala from Vahrevah.The recipe is very simple to put together and works well even if you are in a hurry.I had prepared Jeera Rice and Raita and this made for a Jhakaas combo.
Paneer Tikka Masala

For the marinade-

Paneer - 200gms,cut into cubes
Capsicum - 1,chopped
Onion - 1,chopped 
Tomato - 1,chopped
Thick curd - 1/2 cup
Red chilly powder - 2 tsp
Kasoori methi - 1 tsp,crushed
Salt to taste
Lime juice - 1 tsp
Oil - 1/2 tsp

For the gravy

Oil - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds/Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Onion - 1 big,chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
All purpose flour/maida - 1 tsp
Tomato puree - 3/4 cup(puree 2 medium tomatoes to get this amount)
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Water - 1 cup
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup,chopped

Mix together the ingredients for the marinade,starting with curd,chilly powder,kasoori methi,salt,lime juice and oil.
Tip in the cut vegetables and mix well,keep this aside to marinate for 15 minutes or so till you prepare the gravy for the curry.

In a kadai add oil and crackle cumin seeds.Tip in the chopped onions and saute till they start turning golden.Add a pinch of turmeric and ginger garlic paste.
Add maida and keep stirring.Cook it for 3-5 minutes till the raw smell of maida and ginger garlic paste disappears.

Simultaneously,in a flat tawa add a tsp of oil and saute the marinated vegetables till they get cooked and browned evenly on both sides.
Add tomato puree to the sauteed onions and mix well.Mix in coriander powder,cumin powder,garam masala and saute till you see oil floating on top.Add water and let the whole thing come to a boil.Simmer for a while,about 5 minutes.

Add the roasted vegetables and paneer to the boiling gravy and mix well.Check seasoning.Cook for 5-7 minutes and garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Pasta Bar Veneto,Chennai-Restaurant Review

We've been in love with pasta for a while now.After shoving it aside and refusing to taste it,we've come to a stage where we do not mind having it for dinner at least twice in a week.I think we are making up for the lost time:)
Picnik collage 
However,we were not too fond of Pasta served in restaurants(whenever we tried).Having taken a liking to it,we had specific tastes as to how a perfect pasta should be.With these thoughts in mind,we decided to check out the exclusive Pasta restaurant aptly named The Pasta Bar Veneto,which came in highly recommended by a dear friend.
We went to the Alsa Mall outlet where we sat facing the popular sandwich carts hoping that our pasta did taste better than those sandwiches and we were not disappointed.The restaurant has a quaint neighbourhood cafe feel.The menu is quite extensive with lots of choices to choose from for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.It takes a while to pronounce those names though.
We ordered for a salad named Instalata Mista and loved it.Reminded us of those lovely platters of salads from Pizza Hut(Do they serve it now?).Crunchy lettuce with roasted bell peppers,olives and zucchini,it was a treat to the palate.The accompanying Garlic bread was just about ok though.Again,I love the ones they serve in Pizza hut.
                                       Malai Curry di Verdure
I chose to have Pasta Indian style.Farfalle pasta with fresh green peas,capsicum,broccoli and sweet corn in a cashewnut based malai gravy.Yeah,I know the choice is strange.Ajay frowned when I ordered but it turned out fine.I love my pasta and the accompanying sauce as well so was slightly disappointed with the almost-dry looking pasta but the flavors were awesome.The portion is quite huge and I couldn't finish it all my own.I had ulterior motives here as I wanted to dig into the dessert section!
For dessert,I had absolutely no doubts what to choose.The oh-so-popular Mud pie.Loved the way they recommended it to us.If you are a chocoholic like us,you'll flip on this one.Chocolate and chocolate all the way through.Perfect way to end the meal.
A meal for two with salad,two main dishes(including non-veg)and a dessert would cost approximately 700-900 INR.They do home delivery in specific locations too.

Food - 8/10
Ambience - 7/10
Service - 8/10

The Pasta Bar Veneto is at -

Egmore: 1st Floor, Alsa Mall, Egmore, Chennai. Ph 044 4214 5534. 

T.Nagar: 32 / 59, Burkit Road, T.Nagar, Chennai. Ph 044-4212 6680. 

Disclaimer-This is not a paid review.I liked the restaurant and thought of sharing my experience with my readers.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Eggless Dates-Fruit and Nut Cake

Blink and it is December already!I've been planning so much for the 'first week of December' since last few months and now that it is here,I am caught unawares.Let me elaborate.We are finally shifting to our own abode by this weekend and I am excited as ever.But all the packing and disposing stuff is taking up most of my time.
Blogging,blog-hopping,even baking has taken a back seat.I had decided to bake this cake much early than this and schedule the post but see what happened.I saw Sweet Punch posts popping up all over the blogosphere and I was jolted out of my daydreams.Luckily,I had decided on this recipe so everything happened quite fast.Baked this cake yesterday night and posting it here now.
Picnik collage3 
This would probably be my last bake in my present kitchen and last bake of the year too.Can't wait to set up stuff in my new kitchen and start baking and blogging from there:).

Dates Cake is a constant bake in my home,here and in Ernakulam.The nutty taste with the delicate flavor of dates is a winner.So I was eager to see how this new recipe would turn out.I modified the recipe a bit by adding grated carrots and chopped nuts into the cake making it a fruit and nut cake.Check out the video here by Lakshmi Nair.
Eggless Dates Fruit and Nut Cake Recipe
Recipe source - Lakshmi Nair


Seedless dates - 200gms,chopped fine
Carrot - 1 medium,grated
Mixed nuts - 50 gms(I used Cashews,Almonds and Walnuts)
Sugar - 1 cup
Garam Masala* - 1 rounded teaspoon
Oil - 1/2 cup
Water - 2 cups
Flour - 2 cups
Baking soda - 2 tsp


In a thick bottomed saucepan,mix in the dates,carrot,mixed nuts,sugar,garam masala,oil and water.Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
Switch off the flame and cool to room temperature.
Sift together flour and baking soda.
Mix the sifted flour with the cooked date mix and beat with a wooden spoon till you get a smooth batter.
Preheat oven to 180C.Grease a 6 cup Bundt tin**.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

  • *Garam masala in a cake is a unique trick I learnt from Deeba of PAB.I assure it would not give out a curry taste.The flavor of the mixed spices elevate the cake to a fruit cake level.Of course,you'd have to use homeground garam masala.The readymade ones give out a funny taste.
  • You could make your own masala for this cake by powdering together 3 cloves,1/2' stick cinnamon and 1 cardamom.
  • **I have used a Bundt tin here,you could use an 8' round or a 9' square cake tin.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beansaa Talasani/Beans stir-fried with Garlic

One thing I wasn't prepared for after marriage into a South Canara(Mangalore)family was the extensive use of Garlic.Here I am,from a typical amchi household where we didn't even cook with onions even!Of course after I started cooking North Indian and Chinese dishes(without Garlic of course),onions did a slow entry into our house,but Garlic was a no-no.
I realized that garlic is something I'd never fall in love with.

To start with,the pungent flavour kind of puts me off and the fact that most of the times,it is added as whole cloves into a curry or stir-fry(as opposed to paste or minced garlic)was a further bummer.Ma-in-law completely understands my plight and removes a portion aside for me before adding the whole garlic tadka.

Ajay,on the other hand loves garlic.I mock him sometimes saying that even if I made a garlic stir-fry,he'd eat it with full gusto.So I guess you'd know by now that this stir-fry is a garlic loves delight.Simple beans stir-fry elevates to a different level when made this way.Don't go by my word,if you like garlic,you'd love this for sure.

Beans Talasani Recipe


Beans - 1/4 kg,ends cut and side strings removed
Red chillies - 2-3,roughly cut
Whole garlic cloves - 5-6(or more,if you like-keep the peels),crushed slightly
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt to taste


Chop the beans side wise into even pieces.
In a kadai add oil and saute the garlic cloves in it till they start turning brown.Mix in the chillies and saute for a minute.
Tip in the beans,add salt to taste,sprinkle a few tbsps of water.
Cover with a lid and cook for 5-10 minutes or till the beans are cooked.
Serve with rice and dal.

  • Talasani is the generic name for stir-fries using garlic as tadka/seasoning.Beans can be replaced with yard long beans,gherkins or any vegetables of your choice.
  • Of course,if you are like me and do not like garlic,skip the garlic and make a tadka using mustard seeds and red chillies.The stir-fry would still taste great!

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