Mexican style rice

For all the serial whatsappers and facebook addicts, I believe many of you would have come across touching stories in your newsfeed that “will make you cry, leave you stunned, will make your day” where the husband/wife/friend/son/daughter realized they’re missing real conversations with real people because they’re staring at their phones all day. I bet you have liked and shared these stories too. And? Am I the only emotional nut taking forwards seriously? I once turned a vegetarian because I read a forwarded message on how foie gras was made. I couldn’t keep it up too long  though because I couldn’t subsist on nothing. Our family was an exclusive non-vegetarian group then. But shortly after I gave up, my maamiyaar turned vegetarian and now we’re a very inclusive group. Timing. Not one of my strong points and never on my side. The little fella is missing for 20 minutes but everything is silent. They’re not fighting, nothing is broken, none of them have run up crying and the TV is not on. All of this can mean only one thing. Look for your phone. It’s gone. So is the grandmother’s phone. Hasini and Yuvi are curled up on the bed with a smartphone each playing games and colouring pictures. Everybody is staring at a screen. No one to talk to. Not even little Yuvi. Best time to try something in the kitchen. Maybe some Mexican style rice. I rinse the rice and beans, heat up the oil, peel the onions and start chopping the garlic. At that point when I am committed, when I am more in than out, when the oil is hot and when I’ve just thrown in the garlic, Yuvi shouts out to me “Ammaaaaaaaaaaaa“. Timing. Never on my side. Prep Time: 10 mins Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 4  Ingredients – Mexican style rice Long grain rice/Basmati rice – 2 cupsTomato puree – 3/4 cupGarlic – 4 cloves chopped fineOnion – 1 medium chopped fineGreen peas – 1/2 cupFresh red beans – ½ cup (substitute with butter beans or other quick cooking fresh beans of your choice)Green chillies – 4 slit lengthwiseCinnamon – 1 inch stickWater as necessarySalt to tasteOil – 3 tbsp Ingredients – Salsa Chopped tomato – ½ cupChopped green capsicum – ½ cupCoriander leaves – a handful choppedLemon juice – 2 tspSalt to tasteSugar – 1 pinch Method 1.       Rinse rice well in 2-3...

Bisi Bele Bath – Karnataka one-pot rice, lentil and vegetable medley

As the campaign trail hots up, so does the state-wise blogging marathon. We’ve already cooked our way through a dozen states and are now at Karnataka, our very friendly neighbour. The best Bisi bele bath and Vangi bath that I’ve tasted were in Bangalore. You have to give it to the Kannadigas. They really have a way with these rice dishes. I love their curry podis and I like their sambar as well, all laced with a subtle sweetness. I’ve lived in Bangalore for roughly 3 years and I managed to NOT pick up a single full sentence in Kannada. I have a great appreciation for their food though. Although I call it a one-pot medley, it is made in several pots and pans and involves multiple steps but is worth every minute. I enjoy the Bisi bele bath served in weddings here in Chennai with sambar onions and potatoes and everything else that is traditionally never a part of Bisi bele bath. Jagan likes Bisi Bele Bath too – one of the few vegetarian rice dishes that he approves of. Although I’ve made Bisi bele bath several times before, I wanted to try the authentic Karnataka version this time. I relied heavily on the Bisi bele bath recipe at veggiebelly and it is more of a thesis on Bisi Bele Bath than a post – Stunning photographs, minute detailed instructions and a beautiful recipe. I like it that she says “Don’t open the ground up spice powder until you’re ready to add it to the bath or you’ll lose the aroma”. I love that kind of meticulousness. The Bisi bele bath turned out fabulous. I’ll definitely be making it again. I would just be cautious while adding the spice mix towards the end, adding it in in small increments and tasting it as it is very easy to go overboard and I really do like my Bisi bele bath with a little less masala. The best accompaniment to Bisi Bele bath is potato chips. Make this for a weekend lunch and serve hot drizzled with ghee alongside potato chips. Don’t bother making anything else. It’s a complete meal unto itself. And rememer that bisi bele bath has everything in it – rice, lentils and vegetables. It will be very filling. Less is more. Always use smaller quantity of rice for your bisi bele bath than you usually would if...

Baby Corn & Peas pulav

I love pulav because it’s a no-fuss, easy one-pot meal that is ready in just under half an hour. No sambar, rasam and a dozen other accompaniments. I made this baby corn and peas pulav with Seeraga Samba rice which is the rice they use in Thalapakatti biryani. It’s not as long as the basmati rice but it has wonderful flavour and aroma which makes it a great choice for biryanis and pulavs. I served this pulav along with roasted baby potatoes. I am sending this to Blogging Marathon #33 for the theme Fiction with Food. Pulavs and biryanis are nowadays my go-to dishes for weekend lunches. But I once made a biryani, a horrendous biryani that my friends would remember even now. The story today is the making of that horrendous biryani. I’d not cooked for large numbers (around 7-8 people is not large at all now, but it was then) before and I’d never made biryani before. We were in Bangalore then and we had invited our friends over for lunch. This was during my early married days. Among the friends was a vegetarian as well. My menu was this – Carrot Halwa, Vegetable biryani, Aloo Jeera, Chicken biryani, raita and boiled eggs. Everything went wrong that day. We started late and we had only the dessert ready by the time our friends arrived. So we served the carrot halwa first. Carrot Halwa was fantastic though. While my friends chatted away wondering if I’d serve lunch for dinner, I struggled with the biryani. I was all the while on the phone clarifying measurements with my mom. Instead of doing the whole thing in a pressure cooker, I’d chosen to boil the rice halfway through and then mix it with the masala. As I’d feared, I’d overcooked the rice and when I combined the hot rice with the masala I was left with biryani bisibele bath. My hungry friends had no choice but to eat it but they had a hearty laugh. I’d managed to screw up the eggs as well. They were misshapen and overcooked. My friend asked me which chicken had laid such strange eggs. They’d have a mild heart attack if they knew I am writing a food blog now. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 5-7 Ingredients Baby Corn – 200 gm chopped into bite sized oblong piecesPeas – 200 gmSeeraga Samba Rice/Basmati rice/Long...

Sweet Corn Fried rice

Sweet corn fried rice is a kid-favourite rice dish that is easy to put together (if you forget the vegetable chopping part for a minute) and would make a great main dish for a kid’s get-together. The adults will enjoy it just as much. The best thing about fried rice is that you can put in just about anything you fancy – mushrooms, peas, paneer, bean sprouts, shredded chicken, chopped up fried eggs or anything else and it’ll rarely disappoint you. When you are making fried rice in big batches like I did here, it is best to switch off the stove, combine the rice and vegetables and then heat through for a few minutes to avoid the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan and lots of scraping and stirring which would again break the rice. If you are doing in small batches, you can do this real time in a wok and even toss them around like they do in the fast food joints which would render that nice smoky flavour. A wok with a long handle is on my wish-list for some-time now. If I did get one I don’t know where I’d put it. The kitchen is already bursting at its seams with pots, kadais, sattis and gundaans. The kadais are already piled one atop another, masala dabbas in 3 lines and a another line stacked on top, the microwave oven stowed away in the loft and my convection oven and baking paraphernalia moved to a separate room. I think we should start using up the head room like they do in airplanes and trains (upper, middle and lower berths). Lower berth is full, middle is where we operate and half the counter is anyway occupied already. Upper berth is what we should target going forward. Prep time: 20 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 6-7 Ingredients Sweet corn – 300 gmLong grained rice/basmati rice – 3 cupsCarrots – 2 finely choppedGreen beans – 200 gm finely choppedGreen Capsicum – 1 finely choppedYellow capsicum – 1 finely choppedOnions – 2 large finely choppedGarlic – 6 cloves – finely mincedSpring onions – 3-4 chopped fine – whites and greens separatedSoy sauce – 2 tbspSugar – 1 tspWhite pepper powder/Black pepper powder – 2 tbsp (adjust)Salt to tasteOil – 2 tbsp + 3 tbsp Method 1.      Rinse the rice in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear....

Chettinad style Chicken Biryani

This chettinad style chicken biryani comes close to the Thalapakatti style biryani in terms of flavour and taste. The freshly roasted and ground masala powder adds wonderful aroma and beautiful flavour to the biryani. The core of this biryani is this masala powder. It is a heady masala combination which just cannot fail – hot, aromatic and lip-smacking. Red chillies, whole black peppercorns, fennel, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon – you could try using this masala powder for your chicken gravies and kormas and I’ll tell you it is absolutely fantastic. Serve this biryani with chilled raita and boiled eggs for a perfect weekend meal. My husband a very picky eater gave the thumbs up to this biryani and my dad, a very conservative eater (he hates experimentation) finished off the biryani in no time, which all means it really is good. I was worried I had made too much biryani and that I’d have to do the refrigerate-reheat-refrigerate routine the next day but guess what, there was no biryani left over. If every family had to have a family dish (like a family song), biryani would be our family dish. Dosai would also be a strong competitor though. Biryani defines our family – grandiose, masala rich and extra large. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 30 minsServes: 6-7 Ingredients Chicken – 1 kiloBasmati rice – 3 – 1/2 cupsCurd/Yogurt – 1 cupOnions – 2 large chopped fineTomatoes -2 large chopped fineGreen chillies – 2 slit lengthwiseRed chilli powder – 1 tbspTurmeric powder – 1 tspFennel seeds/Saunf/Sombu – 1 tbspSeaweed/Kalpaasi – 1/2 tspMarathi moggu – 1Cinnamon – 2 inch pieceCloves – 3Ghee – 3 tbspOil – 4 tbspSalt to taste Dry masala powder Whole dry red chillies (long variety) – 5Whole black pepper corns – 1-1/2 tspFennel seeds/Saunf/Sombu – 1 tspCoriander seeds/Dhania – 2 tspCumin – 1/2 tspGreen Cardamom – 2Cloves -2Cinnamon – 1 inch piece Paste Ginger – 4 inch piece peeledGarlic – 10 clovesCoriander leaves – a handful Marinade Ginger-garlic-coriander paste – 1 tbsp (from above)Curd – 2 tbspTurmeric powder – 1/2 tspRed chilli powder – 1 heaped tbsp.Salt to taste Method 1.      Wash and clean the chicken and cut into fairly large pieces. Marinate the chicken pieces with the ingredients called for under marinade for 20 minutes or more. 2.      Rinse Basmati rice/long grain rice in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Soak basmati rice in...

Chicken Biryani cooked in Coconut milk

This is yet another biryani variant. Here we cook the rice and marinated chicken in coconut milk and whole spices which yields a delightfully mellow, aromatic biryani and perfectly seasoned, succulent chicken that has soaked up all the wonderful masala. This biryani tastes great with raita, boiled eggs and a hot spicy gravy. I used only half the chilli powder that I’ve specified in the recipe so that my kids don’t find it too hot. But feel free to adjust it as per your taste. Biryani is the firm favourite of the entire family and we make it at-least once in 2 weeks. My kids are so fond of biryani and they’re so familiar with the usual party menus that embarrassingly enough every time we go to a party, my kids loudly demand biryani and that even before the buffet is open. Vegetable biryani or pulav is also biryani to them. Every home has its own biryani recipe and biryani is always made in that way and in no other way. I’d strongly recommend that you try a new biryani recipe every time you make biryani. Really, there are so many ways to make biryani, that you may find a recipe that’s even better than your standard recipe. I can safely say that this won’t be the last variant that I am posting. Preparation time: 20 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 5-6 Ingredients Chicken – 1/2 kiloBasmati Rice – 3 cupsCoconut milk – extracted from 1 medium coconut – roughly 2 cupsOnions – 2 large sliced thinlyTomatoes – 2 large choppedCloves – 3Cinnamon – 2 inch pieceStar anise – 1Marathi Moggu – 1 inch pieceGreen Cardamom – 2Fennel seeds – 1 tspKalpaasi/Sea weed – a big pinch, roughly 1/2 tspRed chilli powder – 1 tbspTurmeric – 1/2 tspGaram Masala powder – ½ tsp (optional)Oil – 4 tbspGhee – 4 tbsp + 1 tbspCoriander leaves – a handful chopped for garnishSalt to taste Marinade Ginger – 2 inch pieceGarlic – 6-8 clovesGreen chillies – 3 choppedFennel seeds/Sombu – 1 tspRed chilli powder – 1 tbspTurmeric – 1/2 tspSalt to taste Method 1.      Rinse basmati rice in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Soak the rinsed rice in water. Set aside. 2.      Wash and clean chicken, cut into big pieces and set aside. 3.      Grind together the ingredients called for under marinade except the spice powders to a smooth paste. Dump...

Peas Pulav

Peas pulav is an elegant, delicious one-pot meal, fragrant and gorgeous. It tastes as good as it looks – pristine white perfectly long rice grains specked with fresh green peas and ever so lightly caramelized onions. Scrumptious! Pulav is relatively simple, the coconut milk is the only point that stops me from calling it a somberi recipe. Other than the coconut milk extraction there is no major prep work involved. You could just as easily make this for a weekday lunch. Perfect for lunch boxes too. To me, Pulav or even biryani is any day quicker than sambar. And while we are on Sambar, people tell me how often do you make sambar at home (Jaya TV Jackpot question)? Once a week minimum to 2 or even 3 times a week in my case. Once a week is fine. But anything more and I get cranky. In churning meal after meal every day for so many years I think women (I didn’t say any particular group, please make your own assumptions, imagine as desired) get into this mind-numbingly boring programmed menu routine. Friday means Sambar, Ammavasai also Sambar, other festivals – Sambar. Sambar comes with its own baggage. Sambar has to be had with potato thokku (spicy Potato side dish) – compulsory. Hero’s mother has to be Saranya. Formula Menus – formula meals. One day when we didn’t make Sambar and didn’t make Kozhambu either (another formula: Milagu kozhambu + Cabbage kootu = Aala vidu da vegetarian Saturday), I made Peas pulav! I served Peas pulav with crisp deep fried cauliflower (coming soon). Pulav is also a kid-pleasing rice dish that is sure to tempt even the picky eaters. So go ahead and break the Sambar routine. Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 15 minsServes: 4-5 Ingredients Basmati Rice or any long grain rice – 1 – 1/2 cupsGreen Peas – 3/4 cup Coconut milk – extracted from 1 small coconut (approximately 1 – 1/2 cups)Double beans – a handful (optional, I added because I like them)Onion – 1 large sliced fineGreen chillies – 1-2 slit lengthwiseGarlic – 4-5 pods sliced roughlyFennel seeds (sombu) – 1 tspCloves – 3 Cardamom – 1Cinnamon – 1 inch pieceStar anise – 1 small pieceKalpaasi (sea weed) – 1/2 tsp (optional)Bay leaf – 1Water – as requiredSalt to tasteOil – 2 tbspGhee – 2 tbsp + 1 tbspSugar – a pinchCoriander leaves – a...

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