Friday, May 30, 2008

Joys of Grocery Shopping and Layered Biryani

Let me take a poll out here. How many of you enjoy, really enjoy your grocery shopping? Please do let me know because I would like to know if I am in the minority out here.

If there is one thing I really enjoy, I think it has to be grocery shopping. I get such immense pleasure in picking out the perfect fruit and vegetables. I drool at the sight of the piles and piles of fresh, glistening with goodness, produce. Can you imagine, I have the patience to pick out Ladies Finger ( should that be fingers? as I pick so many of them) one by one and I need little over 2 kilos each time to feed my large family who have a real weakness for the veggie. Anyway, I think foodie that I am, I can take any amount of time and it is never a pain for me to go veggie shopping. I pick each one up lovingly, take in its delectable aroma, happily contemplating what it will end up as.... It is just so satisfying.

Anyway now on to the Layered Biryani...

I have been in a culinary rut the last couple of months and have been sticking to "same ole same ole" ( my kids words, not mine). We are in that " Mom, dont we know any other type of vegetables to make for dinner?" refrain.

Anyway, thought why not make layered biryani. Always sounds so good and this was particularly easy to make (the final product looked like I had slaved over the stove though, which was a wonderful thing)


3 large onions, sliced finely and deep fried till golden brown.
2 teacups of mixed vegetables diced into big pieces ( you can use cauliflower, carrots, beans, potatoes, peas etc).
4 green chillis
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
2 teaspoons ginger/garlic paste
30 grams of Biryani masala powder
1 teacup curd

3 cups basmati rice
salt to taste
2 cloves, cardamom each
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 teaspoon jeera ( Cumin seeds)
2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons Ghee

few strands saffron soaked in 3 tablespoons of hot water


Heat oil. Add chopped vegetables, 2/3 of the fried onions, chopped coriander leaves, chopped mint leaves, curd, biryani masala and salt to taste. Can add 1/4 cup water if required.

Cook well till the oil comes out on the sides and the vegetables are 80 % done but still have a crunch in them.

Simultaneously, heat the ghee in another pan. Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, jeera and the bay leaves. Add the basmati rice, fry for a couple of minutes and then add 5 cups of hot water and salt to taste.

Cook till 80 % done. Drain extra water if there is.

Layer the vegetable mixture in the serving dish. Top with the rice. Sprinkle the saffron water over the rice to add a little colour. Sprinkle the remaining fried onions on top along with 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander.

Cover and bake in the oven for about 15 minute. This will result in the grains of rice getting cooked completely yet remaining separate.

Serve hot with raita of choice.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

My first holiday abroad was to the US. It was a trip that I will always remember for many reasons. I tried out so many different types of cuisines each day. Those days, the restaurant scene in India had not quite exploded the way it has today. Today, even in a small town or in the conservative deep down south, you will find pastas and other international cuisines. There was not so much exposure to different tastes back then. I had it better than most because my job was in a hotel where we had the opportunity to try out various cuisines.
So one of the requests I had of my brother was that everyday we try out something new. He was quite obliging and so if one day we had Italian food then the next it would be Carribean food. The next two meals would be Mexican and Mediterranean. It really was an explosion of flavors on the tastebuds and a fantastic experience.

But one memory that I carry back to this day has to be eating cinnamon rolls at the mall. Cinnabon was always a stop when we were at the mall. The aroma wafting out of there was amazing. Always bought a extra few rolls to eat at home the next day. Since then every holiday has included eating these rolls (and putting on a few kilos just eating.)

Then last year, I made a serendipitous discovery that Cinnabon had an outlet at the Dubai Airport. That promptly meant my poor husband, on EACH and EVERY visit had to lug these large boxes back for us to eat. Dozens of rolls in each of them. Imagine his plight. But he was always so sporting about it.

Finally decided, I just had to make them for myself. This recipe has been in my book from the early days of my browsing the net for recipes. I got this one from . Just as usual, never got around to it making it. I finally said to myself, the time is now and made sure I made it immediately. Fortunately, I had all the ingredients required at hand.

It came out very well and the kids simply loved it.

Now for the recipe....


For the rolls:

1 cup warm milk (45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons active instant yeast

For the filling:

1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

For the Icing:
75 grams cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix the active instant yeast through the flour. Then add the other ingredients for the rolls. Knead well till it forms a smooth ball. Cover with a plastic sheet and leave aside till it doubles in size.

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. (Hint: Tightly close the bottom of the rolls to prevent the filling from running out). Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Chennai Bloggers Meet and Aloo Tikki

Today was quite an exciting day, one that I was looking forward to for a while. I have been off blogging for a few months now due to various personal reasons and despite having many commitments, I was simply determined to go and meet everyone. I have to put on record here that I bravely drove many miles to make it there as I was I think the only one from the other side of town.

We had such a blast all trying to guess who the others were (Confession- I had not done my homework well and was struggling a little bit in this department) but all in all it was great catching up with everyone. It ended up being a warm gathering of friends, rather than strangers meeting for the first time. Internet anonymity is all very well but there is definitely something to be said about old fashioned "in person" meeting

Now the all important topic of food. It was so yummy and I think everyone quite lived up to why they were blogging about food. Each dish on the table tasted sumptuous with mouth watering dishes. I needed to immediately take a 5 mile walk to burn off all the extra calories I must have put on eating all that. Fortunately I am off sweets, so that was one less sin I had to worry about. I made Aloo Tikkis as a starter as the food was going to be predominantly Indian.

Now for the Aloo Tikkis. They are one of the simplest yet scores very high on the satisfaction scale.

For about 20 tikkis you will need the following ingredients:

1 Kg Potatoes ( boiled, peeled and mashed)
2 tbsp Coriander leaves
4 green chillis chopped up really fine
2 slices bread
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 & 1/2 tsp amchur powder ( dry mango powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1/4 cup Maida ( all purpose flour) mixed in 1/4 cup water to make a coating paste
Bread crumbs
Oil to deep fry.


Boil, peel and mash the potatoes.

Crumble the bread slices and mix it in as well along with the coriander leaves and green chillis.

Add the dry powders to this.

Shape into tikkis and dip into the coating batter then place in a plate which contains the bread crumbs to liberally coat it.

Deep fry and serve hot along with green chtuney/sweet tamarind chutney/tomato ketchup.