Posts Tagged ‘peas’

Vegetable Biryani- Chettinad Style



Known to be the spiciest and the most aromatic cuisine of India, the Chettinad cuisine is one of my favorites. I’ve spent many glorious evenings in Chennai wiping away plates of Biryani and sucking on spicy succulent crab meat while my totally vegetarian best friend V, looked on with great amusing interest. I’m sure her smirk would disappear in a tick had she only known the great void (tragedy) her vegetarian life had conferred on her.

Anyway, coming back to serious cooking,  here’s a vegetarian version of the popular Chettinad biryani which is so flavorful that I’m sure even a die hard meat eater would easily go for a second helping :) .

1 lb veggies of your choice. (I used, cauliflower and broccoli florets, diced bell peppers and carrots, peas and  potatoes cut into long strip like fries)
3 cups basmati rice
1 large  or 2 medium sized red onions finely sliced
3 large tomatoes, diced in chunks 
2 tbsp chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
11/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp chopped mint 
5 cloves
4, 1/4 inch pieces of cinnamon
2 bruised whole cardamom
1/2 tsp red chili powder, alter this based on tolerable spice level
2 tsp paprika, for color
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder  
refined vegetable oil
2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup curd
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

Spices for Grinding

3 cloves
2,1/4 inch pieces of cinnamon
seeds from 1 cardamom
1 tsp of fennel seeds


  • Soak washed basmati rice with 4 cups of water and set aside for an hour. 
  • Dry roast the spices mentioned for grinding and grind to a semi coarse powder
  • Heat refined oil in a wide bottomed pan that can be fitted with a tight lid and doesn’t let steam escape and fry the veggies one at a time until almost cooked and set aside.
  • In the same pan add ghee and  add more oil if necessary,
  • When hot, add the whole cloves, cinnamon and cardamom and let them puff up.
  • Add the chopped onions and sauté until deep brown (the onions should look fried).
  • When the oil comes clear, move the onions to the sides of the pan and add turmeric and the ground spices to the oil accumulated at the center of the pan and sauté for 30 secs.
  • Add remaining ginger-garlic and sauté for a minute.
  • Add in the diced tomatoes, chili powders and sauté until oil separates.
  • Reduce the flame to low and add the coconut milk, curd, lemon, salt, cilantro and mint and let it simmer.
  • Add 1 tbsp of ghee, salt and cook the rice until the water boils and the rice is only  3/4 done.
  • Drop in the fried veggies into the masala mixture mix well and flatten it at he bottom of the pan
  • Pour in the boiling rice into the pan making the rice form a layer on top of the masala and veggie mixture and has no direct contact to the bottom of the pan.
  • Close the pan tight shut and let it sit on the very low flame for 15 – 20 min or until the rice at the top is done.
  • Remove from the stove and mix in the rice and masala
  • Serve with raitha and mango pickles.
  • Navratan Korma


    Navratan Korma, meaning a mixture of nine gems is a delicious vegetarian dish from the Mughlai cuisine. The nine gems indicate the nine veggies, fruits and nuts that go into the dish. Influenced by the imperial kitchens of the Mughal empire this is as grand and as rich as any vegetarian dish can get.



    10 oz of paneer/cottage cheese
    1/2 cup cashew nuts 
    1 large onion chopped
    1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    1/2 tsp cumin powder
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/2 tsp white pepper powder
    1 tsp punjabi garam masala
    1 1″ piece of cinnamon
    2 bay leaves
    1 pod of bruised cardamom
    4 cloves
    3-4 cups mixed veggies(I used cubed potatoes, chopped French beans, diced carrots,green peas,cauliflower florets, diced bell pepper)
    1/4 cup pineapple chunks
    10-12 raisins
    2-3 tbsp heavy cream
    2-3 tbsp refined oil
    Salt to taste


  • Cut the paneer into slabs (not cubes) and toast them on both sides in a non stick pan in 1 tbsp of oil. Make sure you don’t over do it. Both the sides should have just a slight hint of brown to bring out the nutty flavor of the paneer.
  • When all the slabs of paneer are toasted cut them up into small cubes, sprinkle a little salt and set aside.
  • Grind 1/4th cup of the cashews along with the onions.
  • Parboil with salt all the veggies individually (cooking time for each varies) and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan.
  • Add turmeric and cumin powder and sautéfor 30 secs.
  • Add the remaining cashew nuts and the whole spices.
  • When the spices puff up add the cashew onion paste and the ginger garlic paste and sauté until oil separates.
  • Add the garam masala and pepper powder.
  • .Add one cup of water and bring to boil.
  • Add the the veggies, paneer, raisins and pine apple and let it simmer until the veggies are cooked.
  • Garnish with heavy cream
  • Server hot with Indian breads
  • Mutter Paneer



    Apart from  the obvious 35lbs of sweets, guess what else I carried back from India? 40lbs of mud and stones!! Don’t believe me? Wait till you see my future posts where I plan to flaunt all my new acquisitions as subtle props in my pictures. You can’t even begin to fathom how happy I’ve been ever since each and every piece of them arrived into my kitchen untarnished to its last element! My mother frowned as I packed the 10 kgs of earthen pans and the 5 kgs of granite. What are you going to use them for? she grumbled. Like she didn’t know *eyes rolling*. Of course from now on I’m going to cook ALL my meen curries in the meen chattis and all my pounding will happen with the granite mortar and pestle. I have to admit (though reluctantly), my mother’s concerns are not totally baseless. I tend to go overboard at times. While people carry fine silks and jewelry back from India, I carried 5 kgs of copper khadais, cast iron unniappam pan, a brass idiyappam press, chirattas for puttu etc etc, apart form these mud and stones. I know I can’t fool anybody let alone my mother when I say I plan to use them all. But, like I’ve said before, I love to make sure my kitchen is well provided with all the right contraptions, lest I fall under the category of the ‘inexperienced’ and the ‘ill-equipped’.

    The mortar and the pestle till date is the best addition into my kitchen(Thank you, Sophie!). I don’t know if you have noticed in some of my older pictures, I do have a tiny one already, made of brass. My mother had gotten that made when I moved to California as a new bride. But today I’m proud to say that my cooking and my kitchen have out grown that size. YES, Ma! I do cook. I do cook much more than you think I do!!  (argghh, Mothers! You can’t live with them. You can’t live without them!). This morning as I made Roy’s favorite Mutter Paneer, I had my spices pounded in a second and my cashew nuts ground in a jiffy all the while singing a Bollywood number that I’d recently picked up from my trip. Yes, singing at 6:45 in the AM. Can you believe that?  Only because I didn’t have to fish out the Magic Bullet and  its ever so many accessories  from my drawer of ‘gadget confusion’, plug it in, shake it up and down and waste valuable 15 minutes of the ‘morning panic’ just to grind  a tsp of spices and 5 cashew nuts. Ma, I’m veRRRRy glad I carried the stones!!!! 😉



    14 oz of paneer/cottage cheese
    2 cups of shelled peas
    1 large onion chopped very fine
    3 tomatoes pureed 
    1 &1/2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    1 tsp coriander powder
    1 tsp roasted cumin powder
    1/2 tsp 3 Cs spice mix
    1 star anise 
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    2 green chilies chopped fine
    1 tsp kashmiri mirch/paprika
    3 tbsp heavy cream
    5 –6 whole cashew nuts
    1 tsp kastoori methi /dried fenugreek leaves
    1 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish

    2 –3 tbsp of refined oil


  • Cut the paneer into slabs (not cubes) and toast them on both sides in a non stick pan in 1 tbsp of oil. Make sure you don’t over do it. Both the sides should have just a slight hint of brown to bring out the nutty flavor of the paneer.
  • When all the slabs of paneer are toasted cut them up into small cubes, sprinkle a little salt and set aside.
  • Toast the cashew nuts, pound them to a fine powder and keep aside
  • Heat a tbsp of refined oil, add star anise and cumin and sauté for a minute.
  • Add in the chopped onions, sauté till golden brown
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute
  • Add salt, chilies, turmeric, coriander, spice mix, powdered cashew nuts and tomato puree and sauté till the oil comes clear.
  • Add peas and kastoori methi and sauté till the peas cook.
  • Stir in the paneer cubes and let it boil for a couple of minutes till it all comes together.
  • Take off the flame. Garnish with heavy cream and cilantro
  • Serve hot with Indian Breads .