Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mushroom Biryani (Mushroom and Rice Casserole)

I was in two minds about posting this recipe. I loved this biryani but my husband, though loved the taste did not appreciate the appearance. We are vegetarians and to him this vegan mushroom biryani looked like non-veg preparation and so he was not impressed. But I loved the delicate flavors of this biryani so much that I wanted to share and chronicle the recipe.

I am not a mushroom fan. My husband loves "mushroom matar". On this occasion I wanted to try something else with it and so I turned for inspiration to internet. This recipe from HolyCow! fitted the bill as I was meaning to use up the can of coconut milk staring at me from pantry for quite sometime. I did not intend to make a vegan biryani but that is how it turned out to be. Sans some changes I followed the recipe . I saved us some calories by omitting the nuts. Also I did not use peas. I served it with simple cucumber mint raita. 

I have not tasted many authentic biryani's so cannot say how authentic it taste because of coconut milk as the ingredient but by itself it is a fabulous dish to prepare. Very delicate flavors of cardamom, cinnamon and robust texture of mushroom with coconut milk rounding up the taste. One can try other vegetables instead of mushroom and cream or yogurt instead of coconut. 

Ingredients & Recipe (adapted from Holy Cow!)

1 1/2 cups long grain Basmati rice
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 cloves
4 cardamom pods
1-inch stick of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
3 cups water

Start by boiling the water with turmeric and whole spices. When water comes to rolling boil add rice to it. Lower the heat and let it cook for 10 min. To get the biryani with each grain separated it is important not to over cook the rice. I leave it just a tad under cooked so that  it does not get mushy when being cooked with spices and mushroom.

8 oz mushrooms, quartered (I used button mushroom)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup coconut milk
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic paste (Freshly grated ginger and garlic add lot of flavor)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp canola oil

While rice is cooking chop the mushrooms, onion and tomatoes and make the ginger garlic paste .
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in another, larger pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Add ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.
Add the mushrooms and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are mushy.

While mushroom and tomato mixture is cooking dry roast following spices and grind them.If you are in rush like me ,instead of fresh spice mix opt for quicker alternative of Garam Masala and coriander powder combo though am sure freshly roasted and grinded spices take this biryani to different level.

1 tbsp coriander seed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 green cardamom pod
1 black cardamom pod
3 cloves
1-inch stick of cinnamon

When tomatoes are cooked add toasted spices and give a good stir.
Add coconut milk and salt. Give everything a good stir.
Flatten this mixture and add  the layer of cooked rice on top of it.
If you want you can add one more layer of raisins and cashews toasted in ghee. I omitted.
Cover with tight fitting lid and let it cook for 15 mins on very low heat.
Garnish with coriander and serve it with mint raita. Yummmm..!

To prepare the Raita take 2 Cups of  Yogurt. Smooth-en it out with spoon or blender. Add 1/2 cup grated cucumber, salt, 1 tsp roasted and grinded cumin. Mix everything.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sabudana Khichdi

Not so often cooked food sometimes become the most sought for even if it is the simplest preparation. The recipe I am talking about is one of them. Simple, tasty but classified as fasting food in India.

In India 'fasting' for religious reasons is pretty common. With every 'vrat' (fasting) comes the norms what to eat and what to omit. While growing up I have seen my mother following these dietary guidelines for fasting days very religiously. Then, my mind could not grasp why something that we eat everyday suddenly becomes forbidden. Though even now I do not agree totally to the rituals of religious fasting but for me it has become more of  practicing control over my senses. On few fasting days like Janamashtami some real tasty dishes were made. Sabudana Khichdi was one of them. I liked it a lot but I guess never ate it more than couple of times in the year. After my marriage I do not reserve it for special fasting day but for more often breakfast ritual. 

There are few tricks to prepare sabudana also known as sago or tapioca. Soaking time is very important otherwise khichdi gets lumpy and sticky. No one likes that gooey mass. When I am making for breakfast I soak it the night before . On other occasions I try to soak it at least for 4 hours. Other thing important is to not use too much water to soak. Just  a centimeter above the sabudana level. We want all the water used to be soaked up by the sabudana. It will plump up by soaking water. 



2 cups sabudana soaked overnight or for atleast 4 hours.
1 small potato diced very small
Chopped green chille to taste
1/4 cup Roasted and crushed peanuts
Chopped coriander
Lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
1/2 tsp Sugar
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp oil


Add oil to the shallow frying pan placed on medium heat. When oil is little hot add cumin and mustard seeds. Once they are done crackling add potato and green chilli.. Keep stirring the potato till it is soft and has golden edges. Sometime when I am presses for time I nuke the cubed potato with little water in microwave before putting them in pan.

Meanwhile fluff up the sabudana with fork and add salt, sugar, black pepper, lemon juice and give it  a good mix. We do not want to mix sabudana too much when it is cooking in the pan .

Once potatoes are done add roasted and crushed peanuts. They add a nice crunch and moreover added protein is always welcome.

Finally add the sabudana. Gently mix it and let it sit for few mins till you see it turn translucent  That is the indication that it is cooked. Granish with cilantro and serve hot. On this particular day I served a tall glass of Thandai milk alongside.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine favors for kids

Handmade cute little things are my weakness. I adore such stuff and feel good about making them. Moreover now I think 'creation' is such a powerful thing to do, I want to pass this love to my daughter.

She has a Valentine party in her Montessori class. Kids will exchange cards etc. I came across so many wonderful make yourself Valentine favors all over the internet. This one caught my attention. Easy to do and I had everything I would need to make something on that lines. I wanted to involve her also in the process . She helped me glue things together. It is a very easy project to do with kids . We can cut flowers and leaves from construction paper and give them to glue it with lollipop. If kid can write they can write themselves. Here I wrote for my 3 and half year old.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Whole Wheat Bread

For longest time I have been wanting to bake a bread. By now I had bookmarked so many recipes that to pick one was difficult. Once I tried the very famous no-knead bread. But it did not work from me

Then I started to look for whole wheat version for making myself feel better.  It is not 100%  whole wheat but with picky eater on my hand I wanted to try something with combination of all purpose and whole wheat flour. And I found this recipe on one of my favorite web spaces theKitchn. I am not repeating the recipe here as I followed the recipe exactly but did goof up a little bit in end. While putting the loaf for baking I forgot (was watching the movie Vanilla Sky!) to drop the temperature from 425F to 375F as mentioned in the recipe. Also, my loaf did not rise as much in the second rise even though I kept in thee oven with lights on. But I am pretty satisfied with the results.

Bread came out nice. Unlike 100% whole wheat breads it was not very dense. Light and chewy to our liking. We devoured the hot sliced bread with generous serving of butter. Nothing like home made bread just out of the oven.  This recipe yields two loaves . I have only one loaf pan and I did not want to halve the recipe in first attempt I baked only one loaf and kept the other half in refrigerator. Will bake tomorrow, though not sure about the results after being in fridge for night.

A must try recipe. Personally for me baking this bread was so therapeutic. Moreover recipe does not need too many ingredient and I had everything in my pantry except the whole wheat flour and time. We usually use Atta to make chapati so I do not stock whole wheat flour of any other sort. For this bread I used king arthur whole wheat flour.
Loaf ready to be baked

Baking bread is little long process, knead the dough and wait for first rise and then second rise and then baking itself. With kids around I though I will multitask with other kitchen activities but then it did not work out and  I finally started with Saturday night dinner. After kneading the dough and putting it or first rise went to put kids to sleep. After kids were asleep started watching movie and then after about 11/2 hour made the loaf and kept it for second rise. And then finally baked. It was pretty late in night but all worth it. Me and  my husband snacked on it right when it came out of the oven.
Baked Loaf

I always had hard time picking from the wide array of breads available in stores. But after my toddler started eating bread we have been buying Pepperidge farm hearty White. Makes excellent sandwiches but it is white bread . Not so good. Want to move away from that. Which is your favorite?