Friday, January 30, 2009

Hyderabadi Dum Ki Biryani

No one but a hyderabadi can appreciate this nawabi style biryani. We hyderabadis rant and rave about the flavors and aromas associated with this dish and could go on and about the biryani from Paradise or Hyderabad Biryani House and talk you to death about the layers of fluffy basmati rice and spiced veggies or meat. We are so much in love with this dish not only because it is yummy but bring back memories of good old days in Hyderabad. Everytime there is a new restaurant in the bay area that promises to serve up a good version of this dish, it becomes an instant hit with this audience. This recipe is one that I arrived at over the years and is totally infallible in pleasing crowds. I won't say this is simple or easy because it needs quite a few ingredients and is a little elaborate to assemble. I practiced and perfected this with Renuka during my Master's so a lot of credit goes to her. A funny incident I remember is when I had some friends over and one of them who wasn't familiar with the whole layered biryani concept, ended up mixing it all up before serving himself and boy I made him jump out of his skin when I screamed. The best accompaniments to this biryani are mirchi ka salan and raita. I made a boondi raita to go with this and it works well too. This recipe is for a veggie version but you can always use marinated meat with a similar recipe.


  1. Onions - 2 finely chopped
  2. Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
  3. Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  4. Cauliflower - 1 small head chopped into big chunks
  5. Carrot - 2 chopped into small cubes or long slices
  6. Beans - 12-15 chopped into small pieces
  7. Green peas - 1 cup
  8. Potatoes - 2 peeled and chopped
  9. Cloves - 5
  10. Green Elaichi - 3
  11. Black Elaichi - 2
  12. Shahi Jeera - 1 tsp
  13. Cinnamon stick - 1 inch
  14. Whole black pepper - 1 tsp
  15. Star anise - 1
  16. Bay leaves - 2
  17. Everest biryani/pulao - 2 tbsp
  18. Jeera Dhania powder - 1 tsp
  19. Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  20. Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  21. Yogurt - 1 cup
  22. Basmati rice - 3 cups
  23. Water
  24. Salt
  25. Saffron - 1/2 tsp
  26. Milk - 1/2 cup
  27. Lemon - 2
  28. Mint - 10 leaves
  29. Vegetable oil - 3 tbsp (You can use ghee for added flavor)
  30. Cashewnuts - 10, fried in ghee

  1. Mix the basmati rice with about 6 cups of water and cook it.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a thick bottomed pan and sautee the potatoes, cauliflower, carrot and beans one after another until they are semi cooked and start browning on the edges. I like them charred a bit and sautee them until crispy. Remove the vegetables onto a paper napkin to soak the oil out.
  3. Heat the rest of the oil and to it add the cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardomom, shahi jeera, black pepper and bay leaves. Once you smell the aroma, add the onions and fry them until they are golden brown.
  4. Add the ginger garlic paste and stir for 5 mins. Add in the vegetables and peas, biryani masala, salt, jeera dhania powder, red chilli powder, turmeric and mix it all up. Once the masalas are blended, add the yogurt and mix it in. Place the lid on the pan and cook the veggies until they soften a little. Do not cook them until they are mushy. We still want a little crunch to them.

5.Turn off the gas and add the chopped mint leaves to the veggies.

6. Microwave the saffron for 15 seconds and add the milk to it. Make sure the strands all dissolve in the milk to give it a nice yellow/orange color.

7. Now start layering the rice and veggies in either a rice cooked or an oven friendly tray - alternate one layer of rice with a layer of the veggie gravy and top each rice layer with a couple of spoons of the saffron milk. This is a painstaking but very rewarding step. Shown in the pic below -

8. If using a rice cooker just set the rice to cook again and since it is already warm it will finish up in 10-15 mins. If using the oven, cover the tray/dish with aluminum foil and steam for 20 mins at 300.

9. Before serving, squeeze the lemon juice over the top and garnish with some chopped mint and the fried cashews. This dish tastes even better the next day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Venn Pongal, Chakkarai Pongal and Ullunda Vadai

Image Credit: Sriram (my hubby)

Sankranthi was one of my favorite festivals as a kid and I spent hours and hours many days prior to and after the festival flying and chasing kites. I have very fond memories of this festival and wish I can go back to Hyderabad for one Sankranthi to relive the excitement. The Sankranthis I celebrate here have been reduced to cooking and eating festive fare. Typical maharashtrian fare for Sankranthi is the Tila Chi Vadi that I have blogged about previously. My husband and sister both enjoy this immensely and it does not survive very long in my pantry when I make it. Typical tamilian food is venn pongal which is a savoury pongal, chakkarai pongal which is a sweet version and ullunda vadai. The credit for these recipes goes to my in laws and the lovely Meenakshi Ammal cookbook that they gifted me. I am sending these recipes to three events -

  1. Venn pongal, chakkarai pongal and ullunda vadai to Festive Food: Makara Sankranthi hosted by Indian Khana
2. Venn Pongal and Chakkarai pongal to Harvest: The Festival of Rice hosted by Bengali Cuisine

3. Venn pongal and vadai to FIC Yellow event hosted by TumYumTreats

Thanks to Asha of foodieshope for pointing me to all these fun events that I could participate in:)

Venn Pongal:


  1. Rice - 1 cup
  2. Moong dal - 1 cup
  3. Ghee - 1 tbsp
  4. Green chillies - 4 finely chopped
  5. Curry leaves - 10
  6. Cumin/jeera - 1 tsp
  7. Whole black pepper - 1 tsp
  8. Ginger - 1 inch piece finely chopped
  9. Water - 5 cups
  10. Salt
  1. Boil the rice and moong dal with 4 cups of water in pressure cooker until it is soft.
  2. Heat the ghee and add the ginger, green chillies, curry leaves, cumin and black pepper and roast until you can smell all the flavours.
  3. Add the cooked rice and dal and salt and more water (depending on the consistency of the cooked rice and dal) and mix thoroughly.
  4. Allow the mixture to steam and top off with a little more ghee if you like. Enjoy hot with sambhar or gotsu or just as is.

Chakkarai Pongal:

  1. Rice - 1 cup
  2. Moong dal - 1 cup
  3. Jaggery - 1 cup grated
  4. Elaichi powder - 1/2 tsp
  5. Milk - 1 cup
  6. Cashews - 10-15
  7. Ghee - 2 tbsps
  8. Raisins - 10
  1. Boil the rice and moon dal in the pressure cooker.
  2. Heat a pan and boil the cooked rice and moong dal with the milk and some water if required until soft.
  3. Add the jaggery and 1 tbsp ghee and allow it to melt.
  4. Fry the cashews and raisins in ghee and add to the mixture above. Chakkari pongal is ready to be devoured with the vada.

Ullunda Vadai:

  1. Split urad dal - 2 cups
  2. Green chillies - 2 finely chopped
  3. Dried red chillies - 3 finely chopped
  4. Ginger - 1 inch piece finely chopped
  5. Curry leaves - 10 finely chopped
  6. Coconut slivers - 1/2 cup
  7. Salt
  8. Black pepper - 1 tbsp roughly crushed
  9. Oil for deep frying
  1. Soak the urad dal with water for 2 hours and then grind it with very little water and salt to taste.
  2. Add the green chillies, red chillies, ginger, curry leaves, coconut slivers, black pepper to the urad dal batter and mix well.
  3. Wet your palms and place a tbsp of batter on the palm. Use wet hands to pat it flat and make a hole in the center.
  4. Heat oil and drop the vada and deep fry until golden brown. Enjoy hot!!!