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.


Tomato Rice

Tomato rice is a quick fix lunch or dinner recipe. You can call this tomato pilaf or tomato rice or whatever else you want, the result is an aromatic tangy rice with a beautiful color. Its a breeze to whip up this one pot meal.  Makes a great lunch box recipe too. Pair it with potato chips and yogurt for a complete meal.


1 cup  rice

4 medium size tomatoes finely chopped

1 medium size onion cut lengthwise

1/2 cup green peas

1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

2 green chilies slit vertically

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves

3-4 curry leaves

2 tablespoons oil

1 bay leaf

2 cloves

1 cardamom

1 one inch piece cinnamon


1. Wash and soak rice in water for 20 minutes.

2. Heat oil in a pan and when hot add bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Fry for 30 seconds.

3. Add curry leaves and chopped onion and cook till onions turn golden brown.

4. Add ginger garlic paste and cook for a minute.

5. Add finely chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chili powder, green chilies and salt and cook till tomatoes become mushy.

6. Add drained rice, green peas and 2 cups of water and mix well.

7. Cook covered on medium flame for 20 minutes.

8. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

9. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Egg Fried Rice

This is a great dish to make when you have left over rice. Refrigerated rice works well for fried rice. You can throw in some vegetables and break and egg for protein or make the same with tofu too. This can be made in 15minutes if you have rice available. I made this for lunch one Sunday and shared it with our neighbor M. He loved it so much that he told me twice that it was just perfect:)  So I guess this is a keeper!



2 cups cooked rice ( I used left over basmati rice)

1 medium size onion cut lengthwise

1 cup vegetables ( I used a mix of grated cabbage, carrot and frozen green peas)

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon red chili sauce ( I used sriracha)

2 teaspoons oil

1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder

2 Eggs




1. Heat oil in a wok and when hot add onions and cook till onions turn translucent.

2. Add vegetables and sauté on high heat for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add soy sauce, chilli sauce, salt and pepper and mix well.

4. Add cooked rice and mix well and cook on medium flame for couple of minutes or until the rice is hot.

5. Push the rice to one side of the wok and break the eggs on the other side.

6. Scramble the eggs until its cooked well and gently mix with the rice.







Vegetable Rice Pilaf

Pilaf also known as Pulao or Pilau is a middle eastern dish made with seasoned long grain rice and vegetables or meat. In the US, I have seen pilaf served as a side with meat entrées. In India pilaf  is served for main course.  Whether served as a side or main course, this aromatic dish will make people go back for seconds and even thirds. Its a great comfort food which can be put together in under 30minutes. Make this on a Sunday night when you need a “pick me up dinner” to eat away the Monday blues:)


1 cup basmati rice or any type of rice

1/4 cup diced carrots ( I used shredded carrot)

1/4 cup green peas

1 medium size onion finely chopped

1/4 cup tightly packed mint leaves finely chopped

1/4 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves finely chopped

2 teaspoons oil

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1inch cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 green chilli slit vertically

1 clove

1 cardamom



1. Wash and clean the rice thoroughly and soak in 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes.

2. Take a heavy bottomed pan and add oil.

3. Once oil is hot, add fennel seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamom, bay leaf and clove and sauté for few seconds.

4. Add the chopped onions and green chilli and cook till it turns translucent.

5. Add chopped mint and cilantro leaves and cook till the leaves start to wilt and a nice smell fills your kitchen.

6. Add vegetables and salt and cook for 5 minutes.

7. Drain the soaked rice and add it to the vegetable/spice mixture and gently sauté for 5minutes. Take care not to break the rice grains.

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

9. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.

10. Rice should be done at this stage. If there is still some water left, cover and cook for few more minutes.

Lemon Rice

Lemon rice is an integral part of south Indian cuisine. I remember during school days back in India 4 out of 10 kids would bring lemon rice for lunch. You can put this together in under 10 minutes if you have cooked rice available. This explains why lemon rice makes a great lunch box recipe. The zesty lemon meets the humble white rice in this simple recipe to create a myriad of flavors. Enjoy!


1 cup cooked white rice

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 green chillies slit vertically

1/4 inch piece ginger grated

1/4 cup peanuts

2 teaspoons oil



1/2 teaspoon urad dal

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon channa dal

1/2 teaspoon asafetida powder

1 dry red chilli

5-10 curry leaves


1. Take the cooked rice in a plate and gently separate the grains using a fork.

2. Add turmeric powder and salt to the rice and mix well.

3. Take oil in a pan and once hot, fry the peanuts until golden brown and keep them aside.

4. Add grated ginger and green chillies and sauté for a minute.

5. In the same pan, add ingredients under listed under  tempering/tadka and fry for few seconds.

6. Add the fried peanuts, ginger, green chillies and tempering to the rice.

7. Add lemon juice and mix gently without breaking the rice grains.

Mixed vegetable sambar rice

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have small quantities of different vegetables lying in your fridge, not  enough to make a dish by itself? During those times, please make this and you will love yourself more for not wasting any vegetables:-) This is a quick one pot meal and paired with appalam or potato chips it is simply blissful! The original recipe is from here. Feel free to add any vegetable that is begging to be used in your fridge.


1 cup rice

3/4 cup toor dal/ pigeon peas

2 teaspoons tamarind paste

2 cups chopped vegetables ( I used French beans,green pepper, carrot, green peas)

Pearl onions 4

2 teaspoons sambar powder

1/2 teaspoon asafoetida

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

Tadka/ Tempering

1 teaspoon oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Few sprigs of curry leaves


1. Clean the rice and dal well and add 3 cups of water and let it soak for 15minutes.

2. Heat oil for tempering in pressure cooker and add mustard seeds and curry leaves.

3. Add pearl onions and cook till turns golden brown.

4. Add tamarind paste in 1 cup of water.

5. Add asafoetida, turmeric and sambar powder and salt.

6. Add the vegetables and let it cook for a minute.

7. Add the rice and dal along with the water and mix well.

8. Close the lid and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles.