Rice Varieties.

Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biriyani – and not a drop of oil/ghee!!!

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I have always loved the flavour of Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani which is slow cooked in the dum with the flavours of various layers of rice and marinated vegetables, intermingled with the aroma of cilantro, mint and spices. My neighbour in Bangalore Gayathri always used to make Hyderabadi Vegetable Biriyani and share it with me. On one occasion, when her mom was visiting her, she offered to teach me to make it the elaborate way, with loads of ghee and oil, marinated vegetables etc and the end result was an extremely delicate taste of the biriyani which would explode in to a hundred flavours in the mouth. This is a version made WITHOUT A DROP OF OIL, on requests from many of my readers. Please feel free to add ghee if needed and if you feel that its very dry.

INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups Basmati Rice.

4 Cups Water.

1 Onion diced small.

1 Onion diced in to long slices.

2 Medium Carrots diced.

20 Florets of Cauliflower.

1 Cup French Beans diced.

3/4 Cup Green Peas.

6-8 Green Cardamom Pods.

2 Large Black Cardamom.

15 Cloves.

1 Bay Leaf.

1 1/2 Inch Cinnamon Stick.

1 Tsp Caraway/ Shahi Jeera.

2 Tbsp Fresh Ginger Garlic Paste.

1 Tsp Turmeric Powder.

1 Tbsp Red Chilli Powder.

1 Tbsp Dhania Powder.

1/2 Cup Yoghurt.

1/2 Tsp Rose Water.

1 Cup Tomato Puree.

A few strands of saffron.

1 Tsp Garam Masala.

1/4 Cup Chopped Corriander.

1/4 Cup Chopped Mint.

PREPARATION:

  • Wash the basmati rice a couple times and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Move the rice to a rice cooker and add 3 green cardamom,  one black cardamom, 5 cloves and a 1/2 inch of cinnamon. Cook until 3/4`ths done and set aside. Drain excess water and allow to cool for some time.
  • In a non stick pan add the remaining green cardamoms, black cardamom, clove, cinnamon, caraway seeds and bay leaf. Saute for a couple of minutes and add the onions, carrots, cauliflower, french beans and green peas.
  • Add a little salt and the ginger garlic paste and mix well. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and dhania powder.
  • Around the same time, heat a cast iron skillet and spread the long slices of onions on the tava. Keep the flame on medium low and allow to grill/ carmelise.
  • Whisk yoghurt with rose water and saffron. If the consistency is too thick feel free to add a little milk to make it creamy. Set aside.
  • At this time, pour in the tomato puree in to the pan along with 1/2 tsp Garam Masala and mix well.Simmer for about two minutes.
  • Take a large glass bowl or simply use the rice container in the rice cooker.
  • Arrange a layer of rice at the bottom. Over that, arrange half of the cooked vegetables  followed by another layer of rice. Sprinkle half of the remaining 1/2 Tsp garam masala powder, half the coriander leaves, half the mint leaves and half the yogurt mixture. Sprinkle a little of the carmelized onions.
  • Arrange the remaining vegetables followed by the remaining rice.
  • Sprinkle remaining yogurt mixture, mint leaves, corriander leaves and the grilled onions. Cover with a silicon lid and cook in the microwave oven for four to five minutes on HIGH (100%). Else finish up the cooking in the rice cooker for about 7 minutes or so. Please keep checking to make sure that the rice is cooked well enough to be served.
  • Let it stand for five minutes, garnish with more finely chopped cilantro  and then serve.
  • Scoop out vertically down so you can get the rice and the vegetables in one scoop.
  • Hot Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani without a drop of oil is ready to be served with cold Carrot Raita.

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Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Sweet Poornam Wheat Poli (Wheat flour flatbread stuffed with delicious coconut jaggery filling)

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Poli is a traditional Indian sweet made during many festive occasions. There are basically two varieties of Poornam Poli – one thats stuffed with a coconut jaggery filling and the other with a bengal gram and jaggery filling. Both are extremely delicious and every household have their own way of doing these festive treats.  Traditionally  the outer dough of the Poornam Poli is made with maida and its a slightly laborious process. The maida is mixed with turmeric and a pinch of salt and doused with gingely oil. The traditional poli also requires to be made by flattening the maida on to a greased banana leaf and spreading with the fingers, which are also greased with more gingely oil. Its then “stuffed” with the poornam and spread out again on to the leaf, with more oil. Normally after a session of “poli making” the kitchen are so heavily oiled and get so greasy. It requires a lot of cleaning up after. TOday my version is made more healthier by making the outer dough with Wheat Flour and rolling the stuffing the polis just like you would, a paratha!  If you miss the elasticity of the maida, you can try making them with 50% atta and 50% maida.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Wheat Flour.

A Pinch of Salt.

A pinch of turmeric.

1/2 Cup Warm Water.

2 Tsp Gingely Oil.

1/2 Cup Jaggery.

1/2 Cup Coconut.

1/8 Cup Water.

1/4 Tsp Cardamom Powder.

PREPARATION:

  • Add a pinch of salt, turmeric and the gingely oil and knead the wheat flour with warm water slowly and firmly until you get a soft pliable dough. This is extremely important for the easy spreading of the polis. It should feel soft, and pliable. If you feel its too hard, add a few drops of water and oil and keep kneading until you get the required texture. Spread a layer of oil on the ball and keep covered with a damp cloth.

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  • In a flat heavy bottomed vessel, add the jaggery and water and allow it to melt. When it starts boiling, add the measured grated coconut.
  • Keep stirring until you get a slightly solid consistency – one where you can make a poornam ball. ( This is almost similar to how we make the poornams for the Sweet Kozhukattais.)
  • When its a little cool, make little poornam balls and set aside.
  • Take a large lemon sized ball and make a dent with your thumb. Shape in to a form of a diya and drop a poornam ball inside the depsression. Now close the edges and seal it by twisting the top.

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  • Dust with a little flour and flatten them  in to round chappathis, like you would do with an aloo paratha.
  • Cook the sweet poornam filled chappathis over a hot tava greasing it with ghee or gingely oil.
  • Sweet Wheat Poli with Coconut Jaggery Poornam is ready for Neivedhyam.
  • It has a lot less oil and fat, and subsitution of wheat flour for all purpose flour makes it all the more healthier.
  • Half the carbs – double the fun!!
  • Sweet Wheat Polis are traditionally made in our household during Pongal.
Sambar / Rasam / Kuzhambu Varieties.

Karivepalai Kuzhambu. ( Curry Leaves roasted , ground and simmered in a tamarind gravy)

Karivepillai Kuzhambu.
Karivepillai Kuzhambu.

This Karivepilai Kuzhambu is a great option on a day when you dont feel like going for simple home cooked satvik food. Many times I take this option on a sunday afternoon for lunch as its filled with pepper and curry leaves, both of which act as a cleanser for the stomach. Teamed with Milagu Jeeraga Rasam and Simple Beans Poriyal, its an awesome sunday lunch option.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 Tsp Urad Dhal

2 Red Chillies.

1 Tsp Black Pepper.

1/2 Cup Curry leaves packed.

2 Cups Tamarind Water.

Asfoetida.

Salt.

To Season:

1 Tsp Bengal Gram.

A few Curry Leaves.

1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.

PREPARATION:

  • Wash the curry leave, pat them dry with a kitchen towel and allow to air dry for a few minutes.
  • Roast the first three ingredients in about a spoon of gingely oil- Red Chillies, Pepper and Urad Dhal on a medium flame until you see them turn light brown and there is a gentle aroma.
  • Add the washed and dried curry leaves and quickly turn down the flame.
  • Pulse the roasted ingredients in the mixer until you get a coarse powder. Set asided.
  • In a kadai, add about 2-3 tbsp of gingely oil and season with bengal gram and curry leaves. Add the tamarind water and the required amount of asfoetida, salt and turmeric powder.
  • Add the pulsed powder and allow to simmer on a medium flame until the raw smell goes and some of the water evaporates and the kuzhambu thickens.
  • When its cooked, dilute about 1/4 cup of water with a spoon of rice flour and mix it well. Add this to the kuzhambu for the thickening of it.