Showing posts with label Casseroles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Casseroles. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Madrasi Vegetable Biryani

The pictures below show the vegetable biryani made at two different times with a slightly different technique. Adding the beetroot to the sauce colours all the vegetables and the rice as well, so it looks like beetroot colour all over. But if you layer the beetroot pieces on top of the rice it stands out like a jewel in the crown and makes the biryani more colourful and I prefer doing that. Also I feel a difference in flavour too though both are equally good.  I have shown both the methods below with pictures.

Vegetable Oil - 1 cup
Cloves - 10
Green cardamoms - 10
Cinnamon sticks - 2 x 3"
Basumati rice - 5 cups
Onions - 5 medium to large size
Potatoes - 4 - 5
Peas - 1 1/2 cups
Carrot - 1large
Green beans - 2cups
kohlarabi - 1
Beetroot - 1 
Cauliflower florets - 2 cups
Plum tomatoes - 4 large 
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 cup
Yoghurt - 1 cup
Saffron - a pinch
Cilantro - 2 cups chopped
Mint - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 10
fresh lemon/lime juice - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Peel, wash and cut potatoes into big chunks. Peel carrots, kohlarabi and beetroot, wash them and cut into thin dices and keep them aside separately. Cut beans each into 2 pieces. Separate cauliflower florets, wash, towel dry and keep aside. 

Deep fry all the vegetables separately except the beetroot as it colours the oil. 

Pre soak the basumathi rice for half an hour, after rinsing in several changes of water until clear. For golden sela rice, it has to be soaked for 2- 4 hours.

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot. Add the whole spices - 10 cloves, 10 green cardamoms, and 2x 3" cinnamon sticks. 
2. Peel, wash and slice 5 large onions and add them to the pot

3. Fry the onions on medium heat till they are golden brown.

4. Add ginger garlic paste, turmeric and red chilly powder. 

5. Add green chillies and tomatoes.

6.Turn over and cook till they soften a bit.

 7. Add yoghurt and mix well.

8. Add a few mint leaves. 

9. Add chopped fresh cilantro.

10. Meanwhile fry all the vegetables separately and the beetroot at the end, otherwise it will color them all. Do not fry the peas.

11. Add all the fried vegetables and green peas.

12. Sprinkle 1 tsp lemon juice, adjust the salt and mix all the vegetables well with the saiuce gently. 

13. Pre soak basumathi rice for 1/2 an hour. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the basumathi rice and 2 -3tbs salt. Cook for a few minutes till the grains become just a little soft on the outside but still gritty when you press them between your index finger and thumb (you should keep checking from time to time). At this stage you should drain the rice to the last drop

14. Transfer all the contents of the pot (the sauce with the vegetables) to the roaster and place it in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade. 

15. Immediately layer the drained rice on top of the sauce in the roaster simmering in the oven.

16. Add the fresh mint and coriander.

17. Add a pinch of edible orange food colouring on one side and mix it with a little rice as seen in the picture.

18. Sprinkle the coloured rice on top of the white rice. Add the saffron milk. Close the roaster lid and steam in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade for 10 mins.

19. Remove from the oven when done and let it settle for 5 mins. Then open the lid and mix the rice with a round or flat spatula gently starting from the bottom and then folding in with the rice on top.

20. Mix well till all the white rice is coated with the sauce. Now close the lid and put it back into the hot oven for 5 more mins.  The vegetable biryani is now ready to eat. Serve hot with onion yoghurt chutney and enjoy!


1.  It is very important to use good quality long grain basumathi rice which has been aged.

2 Adding the beetroot pieces along with the other vegetables to the sauce colours the rice and all the vegetables in it as you can see in the picture. If you want it coloured it is fine. But I prefer adding the beetroot pieces as a layer on top of the rice, which makes them stand out like a jewel in the crown.

Take a look at the pictures here after step 10:

11. Add all the vegetables except the beetroot pieces. Mix well

12. Add fresh lemon juice, mix well then transfer the sauce with the vegetables to a roaster and place it in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade. 

13. Now top the vegetable sauce in the roaster with a layer of 3/4 cooked basumathi rice, then put all the beetroot pieces on top of the rice. 

14. Add another thin layer of rice over the beetroot pieces. Throw in some fresh mint leaves and lots of chopped cilantro. Colour a little of the rice in the corner of the roaster with edible natural food colouring and sprinkle the coloured rice all over the top layer which makes it look so decorative and colourful. Finally sprinkle a few drops of saffron milk (saffron dissolved in milk) here and there as the last finishing touch before closing the lid on the roaster. Let it steam in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade for 10 mins. 

15. Remove the roaster from the oven when you get an aroma of the biryani which means it is done. Do not open the lid immediately as you could burn your face - it is steaming hot! let it sit for at least 5 minutes so all the juices get absorbed. Then wear your kitchen gloves and slowly open the lid little by little, while keeping your face away from it. Take a flat or round spatula and gently turn over the rice from the bottom to mix it. Start from one side of the roaster and as you turn the rice over the sauce from the bottom, mix well lightly and gently and enjoy!

As it is vegetable biryani you can mix all the biryani in the roaster, then reheat again before serving. With all the other biryanis it is not recommended. It is better to mix only as much as you want to serve, as there is a tendency for the meat pieces to break. But the foremost thing is to mix gently and carefully with a flat spatula. Also it cools down fast as all the steam comes out if you mix everything all at once. Everyone loves to eat steaming hot biryani, so we mix when we serve and keep the lid closed.                                                                                                    

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lamb Suthriyan (Indian Pasta)

Suthriyan is a traditional muslim pasta dish made by the muslim community in Chennai. It is mostly made with lamb or shrimp and coconut milk. Whenever I make it here in Canada, it brings back to me vivid memories of my past of how we enjoyed eating Suthriyan at our family get togethers and picnics,  how we would all sit together around the pot of Suthriyan, heap up our plates and eat to our heart's content till we wiped off  the pot all clean. Oh, so delicious indeed were the lip smacking Suthriyan with the chunks of lamb melting in your mouth!

Suthriyan (indian pasta) are made with white flour and are available in the stores in Chennai. There is another kind of suthriyan made with chappati flour (finely ground wheat flour) which are made at home by rolling out flat breads, cutting them into diamond shapes and then drying them on a piece of clean cloth spread on the table or in the sun. These are a bit chewy and not as soft as the white suthriyan which melt in the mouth. 

Suthriyan should be first cooked in boiling water to which coconut milk is added before mixing in the gravy. This cooking technique not only enhances their flavour but also keeps them separate (does not make them stick  together in clusters) and helps them cook faster as well. If you add them directly to the gravy to cook them, they will not cook evenly and you will be left with some cooked and some half cooked ones. So it is sometimes better not to take short cuts.

The cut of lamb that you choose is also important. It is preferable to add a few pieces of lamb breast along with the lamb shoulder with the bones for this recipe. The excessive fat on the top should be trimmed off leaving the thick wedge of edible fat (which is hard and doesn't peel off) under which is the layer of soft meat on the bone and it should be cut into single short rib pieces. The soft and succulent shoulder pieces blend with the softness of the suthriyan pasta and melt in the mouth. The lamb breast is also soft and chewy and it adds more meaty flavor and taste. So delicious and yummy!

 Here's the recipe.

Lamb Shoulder  1.5 kg (Shoulder meat plus some pieces of lamb breast)
Suthriyan - 1 kg
Vegetable oil - 1 cup
Onions - 5 large (1lb) thinly sliced
Tomatoes - 4 large (400gm) quartered.
Mint leaves - 1/4 cup
Cilantro - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 6 whole
Fresh Lemon - 1/2
Ginger garlic paste - 200 gm
Yoghurt - 1 cup (3.5%) or home made from whole milk. 
Coconut milk - 2 cans ("Real Thai Coconut milk" or extract milk from 1 fresh coconut).
2 litres of Water for boiling Suthriyan
Cloves - 10
Green cardamom - 10
Cinnamon sticks - 2
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt to taste.
1 small sliced onion to sauté for garnish
Ghee (Clarified butter) - 2 tsp

1. Remove the skin, trim the fat, clean and wash the lamb pieces well and set aside.

2. In a pot heat the vegetable oil, add the whole spices - cloves, cardamom and cinnamon sticks to the oil followed after a few seconds by the sliced onions. Fry them on medium heat.

3. When the onions turn golden brown add the ginger garlic paste, turmeric and red chilly powders.
Mix the spices then add the lamb pieces and roast them in the masala till they turn opaque and harden a bit.

4. Now add the quartered tomatoes, whole green chillies, salt followed by thick whisked yoghurt, mint leaves and chopped cilantro. Mix well and pressure cook for 15 mins or cook on low medium heat for 45mins - 1 hr till the lamb is soft and tender. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon after the lamb is cooked and let it simmer.

5. Add 1/2 a can of coconut milk (reserve the other half for later) and leave to simmer on low heat till the sauce thickens a bit and the oil comes to the top (another 10 minutes).

6. Meanwhile bring to boil 2 litres of water in a big pot. Add the Suthriyan slowly little by little while you keep stirring gently to keep them apart. Add 1 tbs of salt and the 2nd can of coconut milk. Cook till just al dente. Switch off the stove.

7.  Now add the cooked lamb with the sauce to the cooked Suthriyan. Simmer on low while stirring  gently from the bottom of the pot to mix well and to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Add more chopped cilantro and the reserved 1/2 can of coconut milk, mix well and let it simmer for sometime. Adjust the consistency - simmer longer if too thin and if too thick add a little water. It thickens very fast so avoid cooking on high heat after adding the Suthriyan to the sauce.

8. The final seasoning is done with a tadka or tempering. Sizzle the sliced onion in hot ghee (clarified butter) till golden brown and pour it over the Suthriyan in the serving dish. Garnish with mint and cilantro. Serve hot with some mint chutney on the side. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cheesy scalloped potatoes

I usually made scalloped potatoes in the traditional style which I found quite bland. So I gave a twist to the recipe by using caramelized onions and cheese in between the potato layers as well as at the top. It turned golden brown in the oven and the dish looked not only appealing but also very tasty. The caramelized onion enhanced the flavour and it was so yummy.

Potatoes - 6 medium size
Onions - 2 big ones
Brown sugar - 2 tspns
Milk - 1 cup
Butter - 2 tblspns
Olive oil - 2 tblspns
Dried chives - 1 tspn
Dried parsley - 1 tspn
Cheddar cheese - 1/4 cup
Mozzarella cheese 1/4 cup
Black pepper ground- 1 tspn

1. Boil the potatoes, peel, cut into slices and set aside.
2. Melt 1 tblspn of butter with 1 tblspn of olive oil in a pan.
3. Caramelize the onion slices by adding a little brown sugar. Remove from pan and set aside.
4. In the same pan add the remaining one tablespoon each butter and olive oil.
5. Stir in flour followed by milk and make a smooth white sauce.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Take a baking dish, grease the bottom and sides with butter. Put the caramelized onions at the bottom.
8. Spread the boiled potato slices in a layer over the onions.
9.Sprinkle some dried chives, dried parsley, salt and black pepper followed by grated cheddar cheese.
10. Spread one more layer of the boiled potato slices followed by the same herbs and spices.
11. Now pour in the hot white sauce over the potatoes and top with grated mozzarella cheese.
12. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 mins until it turns golden brown on top. Serve hot with beef ribs or chicken roast and salad. Enjoy!