Chettinad Style Vegetable Biryani

After a 3 month blogging hiatus, i am back and ready to share recipes with you again. I can’t promise there won’t be quiet weeks but i can promise that i won’t disappear for months on end again:)vegetable biryani

Chettinad cuisine is famous for its use of variety of spices and its popular for its fragrant biryanis and curries. I’ve been making Arundati’s mushroom biryani for ages now and its always a huge hit among friends and family. I followed the same recipe for this vegetable biryani and boy! I can’t tell you enough about how much we loved it. Star Anise is an integral spice in Chettinad cuisine, make sure to use this spice for added flavor. This recipe involves marinating the vegetables, i usually let it marinate overnight and have noticed that this definitely adds depth and flavor to the rice. This recipe can give any restaurant biryani a run for its money. Its flavorful and fabulous, minus the oil slick you find in most restaurant briyani.


Ingredients for the rice

2 cups Basmati rice, washed and soaked in 2 cups of water for at least 30 minutes

3 cups  onion, finely sliced

2 cloves

2 bay leaves

2 star anise

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 one inch piece cinnamon

3 tablespoons oil

Ingredients for the marinade

3 cups vegetables ( a mix of carrots, beans, potato), sliced lengthwise

2/3 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped


1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and fry the chopped onions until golden brown, set aside

2. Mix all the ingredients listed under marinade along with one cup of fried onions from step 1 and keep it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

3. In a deep, heavy bottomed pan, add oil and when oil is hot, add all the whole spices and cook for a minute.

4. Add the marinated vegetables along with any remaining marinade and cook for 10 minutes until the moisture evaporates and oil starts to separate.

5. Drain and add the rice to the pan and saute gently for 5 minutes.

6. Add 4 cups of water to the rice mixture and bring it to a boil.

7. Add more salt, if needed and garam masala and mix well.

8. Cover with a lid and cook on medium flame for 15 minutes.

9. Simmer for 10 minutes until rice is cooked.

10. When ready to serve, gently fluff with a fork and sprinkle remaining fried onions on top.


Vegan Sweet Corn Pilaf

Sweet corn is always a hit among adults and kids. Apart from corn on the cob, there are several ways to spice up this humble corn. Try the corn sundal or this pilaf and you will start appreciating corn with a whole new level of respect. This pilaf is not heavy on spices, but is very flavorful and versatile. It makes for a great picnic or lunchbox recipe and will make a tasty and delicious dinner paired with paneer masala. Add colorful peppers, green peas and carrot and make it a wholesome meal. I love the crunch and subtle sweetness of corn and mixed with spices and fragrant basmati rice, it makes a great one pot meal.

corn pulao


1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for at least 30 minutes.

1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic corn

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 Thai green chili, chopped

5-6 cashewnuts

1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns

1 one-inch piece ginger, minced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 small stick cinnamon

2 cloves

2 green cardamom

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro


1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large pot and when its hot, add cloves and cinnamon, cook for a minute.

2. Add onions and sauté till they begin to brown.

3. Add minced ginger, garlic, green chili, peppercorns and cashews. Cook for couple of minutes.

4. Remove from heat and it let it cool. Grind to a smooth paste with little water when completely cooled.

5. Heat remaining oil in the pot and add bay leaf and cardamom. Cook for a minute.

6. Add ground paste, corn, cilantro and mint. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat.

7. Add drained rice and sauté for couple of minute, without breaking the grains.

8. Add 2 cups of water and salt, bring it to a boil.

9. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the all the water is absorbed and rice is cooked.

10.Gently fluff with a fork and serve hot.

Vegan Burnt Garlic Fried Rice

Indo- Chinese, a fusion cuisine is immensely popular in India and some dishes and recipes are unique to India and are almost unheard of in China. This burnt garlic fried rice is one such dish. Its quite hard to find a good Indo-Chinese restaurant outside of India. Inchins Bamboo Garden located in Redmond comes close to what we get back in India and this burnt garlic fried rice is one of my favorites from their menu. I’m not sure why this is called burnt fried rice, because there’s nothing burnt or smoky about this rice. Fried garlic is the star in this recipe and if you are a garlic fan, this is the ultimate treat for you. This recipe is very close to what you get at Inchins in terms of flavor and taste. At Inchins, they use basmati rice and chili paste, while I have used jasmine rice and whole chilies. We paired our rice with semi-homemade Manchurian. This rice combined with ginger-scallion noodles makes a great vegan Indo-Chinese meal.

burnt garlic fried rice


2 cups cooked rice (preferably one day old)

8 cloves garlic, sliced

1 bunch green onions, green and while parts finely chopped

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, finely chopped

4 dried red chilies

1 tablespoon oil

freshly ground black pepper



1. Heat oil in a pan and when oil is hot, add 4 cloves of sliced garlic and fry them till they turn golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside.

2. In the same pan, add dried red chilies and cook for a minute.

3. Add remaining sliced garlic and onions, sauté for a minute.

4. Add cooked rice and mix well.

5. Add soy sauce, black pepper and salt and cook till the rice is thoroughly heated.

6. Garnish with fried garlic and cilantro and serve hot.


Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Jelly Tea Sandwiches

Regular readers of my blog know that no tea party of mine is complete without a good finger sandwich. I think I like tea parties only because I get to make/eat scones and sandwiches. Whether its a chutney cheddar or cucumber cream cheese, dainty sandwiches always hold a special place in tea parties. So when a surprise baby shower was planned for a friend, I knew I was going to make sandwiches and this time with my most recent discovery, red pepper jelly. For those who haven’t tasted red pepper jelly, it is mildly sweet and spicy and perfectly pairs with cream cheese or goat cheese. It tastes good on bread and crackers and goes well with any type of cheese.


I have used herbed goat cheese in this recipe, but plain cream cheese works well too. This sandwich is creamy with sweet and savory notes from the pepper jelly and the surprise ingredient, pecans make it a winner. I wasn’t sure about adding the pecans, but I think it turned out to be the highlight of this recipe. This recipe from an old issue of Southern Living is a keeper and is going to be a regular on my tea party menu.



4 oz goat cheese, softened

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup unsalted, toasted pecans, finely chopped

1/4 cup red pepper jelly

14 slices bread


1. Stir together cheese, parsley and pecans.

2. Spread the cheese mixture on 7 slices of bread.

3. Spread the remaining slices with red pepper jelly.

4. Top with cheese covered slices, remove crusts and cut into 4 triangles or squares.



Paneer and Green Peas Curry/ Mattar Paneer

Paneer aka Indian cottage cheese has become quite popular all over the world. It is not dairy-free but rennet free, so certainly a good option for vegetarians. This cheese doesnt melt at high temperatures, therefore it can be safely used in curries. If you have dined at an Indian restaurant,  you would have seen a whole page dedicated to paneer curries. Hidden among  tikka andbutter masala, you might have seen this humble mattar paneer masala. Mattar in Hindi means green peas and this in my opinion is a healthier version compared to paneer butter masala or tikka masala unless you decide to make this vegan paneer tikka masala. Every family in India, especially North India may have their own authentic recipe for making this dish. This is my way of cooking this dish and it is quite flavorful without being greasy. You can use organic extra firm tofu and leave out the cream for a vegan version of this recipe. Serve this curry hot with rotis or rice and pair this with baked golden beets fritters along with masala coke for a simple and complete Indian meal.

mattar paneer


1 cup cubed paneer

1/2 cup green peas ( i used frozen)

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 large tomatoes, chopped

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 one inch piece cinnamon

2 cloves

1 teaspoon red chili powder (reduce the quantity if you want it less spicy)

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon garam masala (available in Indian grocery stores and Whole foods)

1 tablespoon cream

1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi (optional)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped


1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan. When oil is hot, add cinnamon and cloves, cook for 30 seconds.

2. Add chopped onions, cook until they turn golden brown.

3. Add minced garlic and ginger, cook for a minute.

4. Add chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt, cook till they turn soft.

5. Remove the pan from heat and let it cool. Grind to a smooth paste when completely cooled and set aside.

6. Add remaining oil to the pan and when its hot, add cubed paneer and pan fry till they turn golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

7. Add cumin seeds to the pan and let it cook for 30 seconds.

8. Add ground onion-tomato paste along with garam masala, turmeric, salt, coriander powder
and red chili powder.

9. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water based on your desired consistency and bring it to a boil.

10. Add green peas and give it a quick stir.

11. Add paneer cubes and mix well to coat in the spices.

12. Add cream, dried fenugreek leaves and cilantro, mix well.

13. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Vegan Ginger Scallion Noodles

Noodles are an integral part of Chinese cuisine. Noodles symbolize longevity, therefore a must eat on Chinese New Year’s day and birthdays. Asian stores even sell “longevity noodles” around this time of the year, they come coiled in a big bundle, it is considered unlucky to cut up a strand . Anyway, this ginger scallion noodles recipe adapted from here is made with ramen noodles, i bought the non deep-fried, vegan version from the Asian store. You can also use regular ramen noodles and discard the seasoning mix that comes along or any other noodles of your choice. These noodles burst with fresh flavors from ginger and scallions , don’t you just want to dive into the bowl in the picture? The good news is, it can be put together in a flash, make this on Friday and enjoy a long, happy life:)



10 oz noodles

1 tablespoon oil (i used vegetable oil)

1 large bunch green onions, white and green parts sliced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari

1 teaspoon red chili flakes



1. Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large pan and when its hot, add green onions, ginger, garlic and cilantro. Stir the ingredients for a minute in oil and remove pan from heat.

3. Add sesame oil, soy sauce, red chili flakes, vinegar and salt to the pan. Mix well and let it sit for 10 minutes.

4. Toss with cooked noodles and serve hot.

Lentil Rice With Egg Roast- A Guest Post From Shobana At Madras Masala Catering

Shobana is a talented cook, mom of 2 adorable kids under 5, mommy blogger and more importantly a good friend who i greatly admire for starting her own catering business. I can personally vouch for her creations in the kitchen and Yumjay, is a die-hard fan of Shobana’s chicken biryani, an aromatic Indian rice dish made with spices and meat or vegetables. As the name suggests, Madras Masala catering provides authentic south Indian dishes both meat and plant based ranging from curries to idlies to desserts. Shobana delivers catering orders to clients in Bothell, Redmond, Bellevue, Renton, Seattle, Issaquah and Sammamish for a small additional fee. With the holiday seasoning coming up, if you want to host an Indian party at home or work without fuss in the Seattle area, leave the menu planning and catering to Madras Masala . Join Shobana and her followers on Madras Masala facebook page for daily and weekly updates on menu, specials and more. Today Shobana is sharing her recipe for a simple south Indian comfort food, lentil rice with egg roast.

arisi parupu sadam

Arisi paruppu sadam loosely translates to rice and dal/lentil cooked together with mild spices. This dish was first introduced to me in 1998 when I attended my undergrad at a college in Coimbatore and I fell in love with its simplicity right away – both in terms of the ingredients and the taste. Don’t get me wrong.  I love my spices but there are days when you just want to give your palette a break! This dish is that. You can keep it plain or add some vegetables and make it a one pot meal. A few ingredients put together in a short time, and you have a satisfying dinner on a week night.

Ingredients for rice

1cup Sona masoori rice/ white rice

½ cup split pigeon peas/ toor dal

1 tablespoon oil/ghee

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

4-5 curry leaves

1 Green chili

1 teaspoon Ginger garlic paste (or substitute with half teaspoon each of minced ginger and garlic)

1/3cup onions, finely chopped

¼ cup Tomato, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon Turmeric powder


Ingredients for egg roast

2 boiled eggs, shelled and cut in two

¼ c onion

1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne powder

1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder

2 teaspoons oil

fresh cilantro, finely chopped


Method for rice

1. Wash and soak the rice and lentils together for at least 30 minutes.

2. If using a pressure cooker (recommended), place on the stove and when hot, add a tablespoon of oil or ghee.

3. Temper with mustard and cumin seeds. When they splutter add a few curry leaves and the sliced green chili.

4. Add the ginger garlic paste or mince and sauté for a couple of minutes.

5. Then add the onions and tomatoes and cook with a pinch of salt to cook faster.

6. When the onions and tomato have cooked down to a mushy pulp add the turmeric and cayenne powders. Mix well.

7. Drain the water from the rice and dal mixture and add it to the pressure cooker. Roast the rice mixture for about 3 minutes to mix it well with the onion tomato base.

8. Add about 2-2.5 cups of water/broth/stock of choice to this. Mix well again and adjust salt and spice.

9. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles. If you would like a softer consistency on the rice add an additional half cup of cooking liquid and cook for an additional whistle.

10. When pressure goes down open the lid and mix well. Top it off with a fistful of chopped cilantro and top with a teaspoon of ghee (optional).

11. If you would like to any vegetables like carrots, green beans, peas etc, add it after Step 6.

Method for egg roast

1. In a pan heat up 2 teaspoons of cooking oil and add the onions.

2. Saute and add the spices and continue to cook taking care not to burn the spices.

3. Place the eggs, cut side down on the onions and reduce the heat.

4. Place a lid on the pan and let it roast for a couple of minutes checking to make sure the onions are not burning.

5. When the egg has browned and crisped as needed, remove from pan and serve with the rice.