One Pot Vegetable Biryani

Mixed Vegetable Biryani in a pressure cooker - with vegan option
Vegetable Biryani

After all the meat that we had eaten to usher in the new year, it was time for some vegetable detox. On a serious note, I ended up buying way too many vegetables from the produce market on the way back from PYO strawberries at Phil Greig's. Further, biryani is a very easy to carry picnic food too, considering we are planning a small hike/picnic tomorrow - marking the completion of the 4 day weekend down under. The weather was quite unkind for the first 2.5 days. Here's hoping for better weather tomorrow. 

Coming to the biryani - there are many ways to make a biryani - from the cumbersome dum biryani to mughlai biryani to this adaptation of a pulao - a one pot meal. Most households in middle class India would make some version of a pressure cooker biryani with the dum biryani saved for special occasions.

Don't let the long list of ingredients deter you in anyway. It is very simple and easy to put together.

Note : I use a gas cooker which I will swear by anyday and the timings may vary if you use any other type of cooker.

Print This Page Prep time:
Cook time:
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Ingredients : Serves 4
    An easy one pot, flavour packed meal of vegetables and rice ready in 40 minutes
  • 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter (replace with oil for vegan)
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 green chillies (adjust as per taste)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp whole black pepper corns
  • 1 2inch long cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 medium sized potato
  • 1 medium sized carrot
  • 10 green beans
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1.5 cups of rice - I used sona masuri but you can use basmati rice
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • A generous pinch of kasuri methi(optional)
  • Salt to taste - I used about 1 tbsp
  • Coriander to garnish
How I made the One Pot/Pressure Cooker Vegetable Biryani
  1. Finely slice the 1 large onion
  2. Slit the 4 green chillies (adjust per taste)
  3. Heat 2 tbsp ghee and 2 tbsp oil in a pressure cooker
  4. Throw in the whole spices - 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 4 green cardamom, 1 star anise, 1 bay leaf
  5. Once the aroma rises, throw in the onions and sliced green chillies
  6. Turn the heat to low and let the onions fry. Keep an eye on them from time to time and proceed with the prep for the remaining.
  7. Peel the 4 cloves of garlic and inch knob of ginger. Pound them along with 1 tsp whole black pepper corns in a mortar and pestle to as fine a paste.
  8. Quarter the 2 potatoes.
  9. Chop the carrot into 2inch long pieces
  10. Chop the green beans into 2 inch long pieces
  11. Mix the onions. Add 1/2 tsp of salt to aid the browning
  12. Prepare the 1/4 cup of green peas by microwaving for 30 seconds in water if using frozen
  13.  Chop the 1 tomato
  14. Pick and wash the rice.
  15. Once the onions are dark golden brown, add the ginger garlic pepper paste
  16. Fry for a minute until the raw smell is gone. 
  17. Mix 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tbsp red chilly powder in a little water and add it to the cooker. 
  18. Fry for a minute and then throw in the 2 quartered potatoes
  19. Fry for about 5 minutes.
  20. Throw in the tomato fry until fat separates.
  21. Put in the 1.5 cups washed rice, 1 chopped carrot and 10 green beans. Fry for a minute.
  22. Add the peas, 1 cup coconut milk, 2 cups of water
  23. Put in the 1/2 tsp garam masala, generous pinch of kasuri methi and lemon juice. 
  24. Adjust the salt such that the water tastes a little bit on the salty side. 
  25. Close the lid. Increase heat.
  26. Once the pressure starts to rise, turn heat back to low and cook on low for 8-10 minutes and turn off. Let the steam release on its own.

    Serve with raita. I blended 4tbsp yoghurt with 2tbsp fresh coconut scrapings, salt and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds. To this I added another 4tbsp yoghurt and whipped it through. If you don't have coconut, just fresh cumin powder transforms the yoghurt to a delightful raita.
    Use whipped coconut cream or coconut yoghurt to make it a complete vegan meal.

Nutrition facts: Per Serving
366 calories
15.5 grams fat


Herbed Citrus Marinated Lamb Cutlets

Marinated Lamb Cutlets
French Lamb Cutlets

What better way to usher in the new year [and get back to giving the blog some attention] than to cook up something easy yet delicious?  These lamb cutlets that I made following the recipe from here were deliciously juicy and had us feeling like we had eaten at a fine dining restaurant. And yes, meat can be "Light and Refreshing". The orange is a very interesting addition which takes this to new levels. Make these and I am sure that you will agree.

Marinated French Lamb Cutlets

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Ingredients : Serves 4 as an appetizer
  • 12 french lamb cutlets
  • 1 small to medium sized orange
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2tbsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
How I made the Herbed Citrus Marinated Lamb Cutlets
  1. Using a hand scraper, grate the medium sized orange to get the zest.
  2. Juice the orange
  3. Pound the 4 cloves of garlic in a mortar and pestle
  4. Mix the orange juice from 1 medium sized orange, orange zest, 2 tbsp of lemon juice including lemon zest, 1.5 tsp salt, minced 4 cloves of garlic and 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper powder
  5. Using a fork, prick a few holes in the 12 lamb cutlets to help ensure better marination
  6. Place the lamb cutlets in a ziploc bag and pour the marinade over. Mix well and rub it in to ensure that all pieces are coated. Place the closed bag into the refrigerator overnight to marinade.
  7. Remove the cutlets from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking
  8. Preheat oven to 120 degree C
  9. In a pan, heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil
  10. Place the lamb cutlets without crowding them and cook on high to seal the meat until there is a dark brown colouring on both sides. 
  11. Place these on a baking tray and put in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.  I had used an airfryer and hence they needed just under 10 minutes
The resultant juicy, light and flavour packed lamb cutlets were gone in minutes.
We had this with braised red cabbage as a main.
Lamb Cutlets Marinate

Light and Refreshing Marinated Lamb Cutlets using Oranges, Oregano, Lemon And Garlic

Beetroot, Feta and Dill Quiche (Indian flavours) - In a Philips AirFryer

Happy Bastille Day!

We had eaten this beetroot quiche and I wanted to recreate it as soon as I saw that beets were the produce of the week. However, I adapted it to be more likeable to the Indian taste buds. The sweetness of the beetroot goes very well with the sharpness of the goat's cheese feta and the dill then just comes in and lifts those flavours completely.
Beetroot Feta Dill Quiche
Indian Style Beetroot Feta and Dill Quiche

For the Quiche base (Serves 2 as a meal)
Preparation Time :
Cooking Time :

  1. All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
  2. Whole wheat flour/Rice flour/All purpose flour - 1/2 cup [NOTE: You could just use 1 cup of all purpose flour]
  3. Salt - 3/4 tsp
  4. Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
  5. Cold butter cut into cubes - 1/4 cup (salted is fine) [NOTE : You could use upto 1/3 cup. The more you use, the more crisp and flaky the resultant tart will be]
  6. Ice cold water - 2 tbsp or more to get the dough together
How I made the Quiche base:
  1. In a bowl, mix the flours, red chilly powder and the salt.
  2. To this, add the butter and mix it in until it forms coarse bread crumbs. This can be done in a food processor as well.
  3. Add the water little by little until the dough just comes together.
  4. Wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  5. Pre heat the airfryer to 180 degree C.
  6. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out into a .5cm thick circle on a cling film.
  7. Flip the dough into the quiche/tart tray using the cling wrap to hold it all together. Ensure that there are no cracks
  8. Use a fork and make some holes in the dough.
  9. Blind bake the base for 15 minutes.  If using a proper oven, blind bake for 25 minutes.
This base is good for baking other kinds of savoury tarts as well.
    For the beetroot filling
    Preparation Time :
    Cooking Time :
    Ingredients :(Serves 2 as a meal)

    1. Beetroot - 1 large
    2. Onion - 1 small
    3. Green Chilly - 1 or 2 according to taste
    4. Garlic - 3 cloves
    5. Red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
    6. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
    7. Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp
    8. Oil - 1 tbsp
    9. Water - 1/2 cup
    10. Salt to taste
    Assembly :
    1. Goat's milk feta cheese - 1/4 block - coarsely broken into largish crumbs by hand
    2. Eggs - 2 beaten
    3. Dill - about 4 tbsp chopped finely
    4. Toasted walnuts
    How I made it :
    For the beetroot filling:
    • Peel the beetroot
    • Chop the beetroot into 0.5cm wedges - this helps also with presentation
    • Chop the onion finely
    • Chop the green chillies
    • Pound the garlic into a rough paste
    • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan.
    • When hot, add the green chillies, garlic and onions.
    • Saute till onions are translucent.
    • Add the red chilly powder and fry for 10-15 seconds. Take care not to burn the powder.
    • Add the beetroot. 
    • Add salt to taste 
    • Stir fry for about a minute.
    • Add the water and let this cook for about 10 minutes, preferably till all the water has evaporated and the beetroot is 80% cooked.
    • Add the garam masala powder and turn off heat.
    Indian Beetroot Feta Dill Quiche Recipe
    Beetroot Feta Dill Quiche

      For the Assembly :

      1. Place one layer of the beetroot masala into the quiche base.
      2. Pour half the egg mix.
      3. Sprinkle some of the dill and goat's cheese feta.
      4. Top with another layer of the beetroot. You can place the beetroot wedges such that they are popping out as an edge
      5. Top with the remaining dill and goat's cheese
      6. Pour the remaining egg so that the gaps are all filled in.
      7. Top with walnuts and bake at 160 degree C for 15 minutes or until the egg has set. If using a normal oven, bake at 180 degree C for about 25-30 minutes.

      A riot of flavours - strength of dill pairing well with the sharpness of the feta mingling into the sweetness of the beet


      Kumara Coconut Pie Bake

      Kumara Pie Bake

      Raw kumara should be the best friend of a person on a extreme fat loss diet. Not only is the raw kumara low in calories and nutritious but eating it raw causes the digestive system to burn those calories trying to digest the kumara. 

      However, we usually boil the kumara and eat it with a seasoning of salt and pepper for a quick weekday breakfast. 

      I had some leftover from breakfast this morning  and so I tried this kumara coconut pie bake. The result is a light, refreshing dessert. 
      Kumara Coconut Pie

      Recipe by Joey

      Prep time:
      Cook time:
      Total time:
      • 2 medium orange kumara
      • 1/2 cup thick coconut cream
      • 1tsp vanilla essence
      • 1 egg
      • 2-4tbsp sugar (adjust as per sweetness desired)
      • A handful Dessicated coconut
      • A handful slivered almonds
      How I made the Kumara Coconut Pie Bake:
      1. Boil/steam the kumara.  Set aside to cool.
      2. Pre heat the oven to 180 degree C
      3. Blend the kumara, coconut cream, egg. sugar and vanilla essence in a mixie jar until smooth.
      4. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl.
      5. Level the top.
      6. Sprinkle dessicated coconut and slivered almonds.
      7. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
       Serve warm or chilled.

      A delightful light dessert of sweet kumara with freshly grated coconut

      Spiced Vegetable Somen Recipe

      Spiced Vegetable Somen

      My adaptation of the Japanese noodle salads. The Redergize salad from the food truck garage changed the way I saw salads. I have concluded that salads, rather than a cooked meal, can outplay the taste buds. I have, now, stocked up on quinoa and somen noodles, amongst other items, to make quick weekday lunches and dinners. This is a quick weekday lunch which can be had cold as well.
      A quick, healthy dinner almost just thrown together with vegetables in the fridge
      Recipe by Joey
      Prep time:
      Cook time:
      Total time:
      Yield: 2 servings
      • 1 bundle Somen noodles
      • 1 cup shredded vegetables like carrots, cabbage, red cabbage
      • 2 spring onions chopped
      • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
      • 4 cloves of garlic
      • 4 dry red chillies (adjust as per spice level desired)
      • 2.5 tbsp soya sauce
      • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
      • 1 tbsp maple syrup
      • Salt to taste
      • Coriander leaves for garnish
      How I made the Somen Noodle Salad
      1. Cook the somen noodles as per the instructions on the pack.
      2. Blitz together the garlic, soya sauce, red chillies and oil.
      3. Mix in the maple syrup into the above blitzed mixture.
      4. Mix in the vegetables and the noodles.
      5. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and garnish with coriander leaves. 
      Best had cold. 

      Carrot and Walnut Loaf

      I've been missing in action here lately. Blame it on paranoia if you will. The scale has started to rotate further clockwise. I realize that I need to nip it in the bud before it would become the nightmare that it had once been. I still remember the feeling on the day when I bought my first 28 inch waisted jean. "When did this happen?" was what I remember asking myself. I always was a 24-26 inch person. It took me some time and a lot of will power to lose that weight. So, I've been  doing a few extra dance moves which always give me a happiness high. And while I battle these issues, the husband battles with the extra stress at work which has caused him to lose a lot of weight. Added woes should I say? In a house of two people, one is trying to put on some weight while the other needs to be extra cautious.

      As I prefer fresh and home made goodies to store bought items, I try to make snacks for Pras to have at work. This carrot and walnut loaf idea struck me when we went to Theobroma for a hot chocolate last weekend. So, here's how I made the loaf. I adapted the recipe from one of the many sources online and I am just not sure which recipe I adapted so please forgive me. I am much grateful to all the sources of recipes out there. A multitude of devices means it is harder to track.
      Carrot Cake

      For the Carrot And Walnut Loaf (Makes 10-12 slices):
      Preparation Time : 15 mins
      Cooking Time : 1hr to 1 hr 15 mins
      Ingredients :

      1. Whole wheat atta - 2 cup
      2. Baking Soda - 1 tsp
      3. Eggs - 2
      4. Grated carrot - 2/3 cup
      5. Chopped Walnuts - 1/2 cup
      6. Chopped raisins - 1/3 cup
      7. Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp
      8. Nutmeg powder - 1/2 tsp
      9. Oil - 1 cup
      10. Jaggery - 1 cup(use the dark jaggery to get the right colour)
      11. Curd - 4tbsp
      12. Milk - to get dropping consistency. May not be required
      How I made the Carrot and Walnut Loaf :
      1. Sift together the atta and baking soda just so as to ensure that the soda is well spread through the mix.
      2. In as little water as possible, melt the jaggery on the stovetop. Strain to remove impurities and keep aside to cool.
      3. Preheat oven at 170 degree C
      4. Prepare a loaf tin of 10cm * 20cm by lining with baking paper or applying a coat of oil followed by a dusting of flour
      5. Lightly beat the two eggs.
      6. In a bowl, mix the carrots, walnuts, raisins, oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, eggs and jaggery.
      7. Add the atta mix. Fold it in without beating.
      8. Add in the curd and check for folding consistency of the batter.
      9. If necessary, add milk a tablespoon at a time to get the folding consistency of the batter. The batter should not fall out in lumps but smoothly fall and develop folds like the folds of a cloth.
      10. Pour into prepared loaf tin and bake for 1hr to 1hr 15 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
      11. Cool on wire rack and remove from tin when cool.  Optionally, spread a frosting of your choice.
      12. Cut into slices and store in airtight container.  
      A healthy take on a cafe staple - A moist Carrot Walnut Cake

      A complete meal - Cauliflower Pulao And Veggie Kofta Gravy

      A busy but fulfilling day at work is essential for me to be in a really good mood to cook. And sometimes I come home to cook a hearty meal just to feel like I have achieved something for the day.
      Some trawling revealed all tomato based malai kofta curries and I was looking for a creamy white gravy to put the cream to good use. So I just decided to make it my way and oh boy - we were licking our plates and then the pan after the contents were emptied into up the dabbas for the next day's lunch. To add more veggies to the meal, I made it along with Cauliflower Pulao. I've made this kind of pulao with Cabbage before and it was amazing but since I wanted to include as many veggies into the meal as we had the lemon creamcheese muffins for lunch, I added the cauliflower instead.
      Veggie Kofta Gravy

      cauliflower florets

      For the Cauliflower Pulao (Serves 4):
      Preparation Time : 10 mins
      Cooking Time : 15 mins

      1. Basmati Rice - 1 cup
      2. Coconut Cream - 1/2 cup
      3. Cinnamon - a 1 inch long stick
      4. Cloves - 4
      5. Oil - 1 tbsp
      6. Onion - 1 sliced
      7. Cauliflower florets - 2 cups
      8. Green Chillies - 2 slit
      9. Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
      10. Salt to taste
      11. Water - 1 cup
      How I made Cauliflower Pulao :
        cauliflower pulao tadka
      1. Wash and soak basmati rice.
      2. In a cooker, heat 1 tbsp oil.
      3. Throw in cumin seeds, cinnamon and cloves. Allow them to crackle.
      4. Once they crackle and fill your nostrils with their strong aromas, throw in the green chillies.
      5. Fry for 30 seconds and then add the onions.
      6. Fry the onions till translucent.
      7. Next add the Cauliflower florets.
      8. Fry for 2 minutes.
      9. Add coconut cream, water and adjust salt.
      10. Add drained rice. 
      11. Cover and wait for the pressure to build.
      12. Once the pressure has built up, lower the flame and leave for 8 minutes. 
      13. Turn off flame.
      14. Fluff up once the pressure is released.
      For the Veggie Kofta Gravy (Serves 4):
      Preparation Time : 30 minutes
      Cooking Time : 30 minutes
      Ingredients :(Serves 4)
      For the Koftas:
      1. Potatoes - 2 medium sized
      2. Carrot - 1 small finely chopped
      3. Green Beans - 10 finely chopped
      4. Green Chilly - 1 or 2 according to taste
      5. Cashewnuts - 1 tbsp chopped
      6. Raisins/Kismis - 2 tbsp chopped
      7. Salt to taste
      8. Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
      9. Garam masala powder - a pinch
      10. Cornflour - 1-2 tbsp
      11. Jeera/Cumin powder - 1 tsp
      12. Oil for deep frying
      For the Gravy:
      1. Onion - 1 medium sized
      2. Garlic - 1 clove
      3. Ginger - same size as garlic
      4. Cashew bits - 2 tbsp
      5. Khus khus/Poppy seeds - 1 tbsp
      6. Warm water to soak cashew and khus khus
      7. Fresh cream - 1 cup
      8. Water - 1/2 cup
      9. Salt to taste
      10. Cinnamon - a 1 inch stick
      11. Cloves - 4
      12. Kasuri Methi - 1 tbsp
      13. Turmeric Powder - 1/8 tsp
      14. Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
      15. Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
      16. Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
      17. Oil - 1 tbsp
      How I made it :
      For the koftas :
        vegetable kofta recipe
      • Boil the potatoes. 
      • Zap carrot and beans in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for 3 minutes.
      • Peel, mash potatoes and add to carrot and beans.
      • Add chopped green chillies, salt, red chilly powder, cumin powder and garam masala powder.
      • Add chopped cashew bits, raisins and cornflour.
      • Taste and adjust seasoning according to liking and shape into balls.
      • Heat oil for frying.
      • Fry veggie balls till golden brown and set aside.
      vegetable kofta balls
      vegetable kofta recipe

      For the Gravy :

        Vegetable Kofta Recipe
      1. In a pressure cooker, cook onion and 1 tablespoon of water on high for one whistle.
      2. In warm water, immerse cashew bits and khus khus for 10 minutes.
      3. Puree the onion once the pressure is released.
      4. Grind the cashew and khus khus paste.
      5. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the ginger and garlic.
      6. Heat oil in a pan.
      7. Add the cinnamon and cloves.
      8. Once they crackle and leave out their aromas, add the kasuri methi and fry till fragrant.
      9. Add the onion paste.
      10.  Fry the onion paste till it all comes together as shown in the picture to the right.
      11. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder and fry for 30 seconds.
      12. Now add the pureed cashew and khus khus paste. 
      13. Fry for 3-4 minutes till the onion and cashew paste blend together well. Adjust salt.
      14. Add the fresh cream and 1/2 cup water. Allow it to come to a boil.
      15. Add garam masala and turn off heat.
      Before serving, place the kofta balls into the gravy and serve hot with rice, pulao or rotis.

      A good dose of veggies making a hearty meal with a rice pulao


      Blueberries!!! From picking to preserving

      (NOTE: This one has been in the drafts for more than 4 weeks now, but there's not a word I have changed cause it all holds so good and true. I am loving the jam and a friend to whom I had given a bottle gave me a telephone call just to let me know that the jam was really good and that her son too had praised it)

      Here is a glance of the stuff I've been using the preserve for
      A delightful no bake dessert that is usually a crowd pleaser
       Blueberry Cheesecake
      Blueberry CreamCheese Muffins
       Blueberry and Cream Cheese Cupcakes

      Blueberry Preserve

      A glance through the newspaper while catching up on office gossip caught the words "Pick your own blueberries". Twas an ad by the 400 acre blueberry orchard. Some googling revealed that blueberry season ends mid Jan. I discarded the thought of going blueberry picking thinking I was late and began looking for orchards offering  PYO Strawberries. But blueberries sounded more posh so I made the husband make a quick call to confirm if we could go for the blueberry picking and they said they were open all days from 8am. So it was decided that we'd go blueberry picking and if time permitted, go for a trek at the famous Blue Springs. Another post on that coming up real soon. The day before we went, a colleague mentioned the Hamilton gardens as a must visit. So we had a plan.

      Our flatmate joined us but we never really knew who he was picking the berries for. I had instructed the husband to strictly pick the ripe ones and the ones that came with just a slight feather nudge. We both managed to pick 2kgs together. Our flatmate had picked 2.3 kgs single handedly. Imagine my fear when we had to pay for that 2.3 kgs as well. I was hoping and praying that they were all good. Skeptically I opened up the bag which had the berries which he had picked to clean and sort. Kudos to him, they were good enough but now we were stuck with 4.4kgs of blueberries. So, I decided to make a preserve. I had eaten Kitchens of India Strawberry and Mint preserve back in India so I decided to make Blueberry and mint preserve with most of them. Some I used in pancakes, some I froze, some I distributed amongst friends and some are still in the fridge waiting to be used in muffins and the odd baking. 

      Now, this is the first time I was gonna make a jam/preserve and that too in a huge quantity. My friend had mentioned to me about how canning had to be done and what mason jars were but I had never done something like that before. So I had to google, not only for the canning but to confirm if the combination of blueberries and mint would go well. This blog confirmed it and had easy to follow instructions for the canning. So all set. The previous evenings, I cleaned and picked the stems from the berries. I also chanced upon Revati's Strawberry jam recipe and decided to use the balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice. The next morning, I washed them berries and mashed them. Leaving them to macerate in sugar, we headed out to buy jars for canning.

      Briscoes had these real cute vintage mason jars which I picked up. I did see a canning kit for 50$ but decided that it was not something that I should pick up when I was trying something for the first time. After all who knew it would yield 5 jars of delicious yummy jam. Anyways, once back home, I turned on the heat to medium and let the jam and sugar cook. The whole process of making the jam and canning them and sterilizing, etcetera took about 5 hours. We got five 500ml bottles of jam from the 3.5kgs of berries. I added minimal amount of sugar as blueberries are already quite sweet. I gave myself a pat on the back this morning after having the jam on my toast. (Psst.. I had it again with some fresh cream as an after dinner easy dessert just now too)
      Blueberry Mint Preserve Recipe

      Detailed below is the recipe I used as well as how I went about the canning. I am not sure if I've nailed it so I will be putting my jars into the fridge to be on the safe side. 

      Preparation time : 1.5 hrs picking by 3, 1 hr cleaning and sorting, 1 hr for macerating
      Cooking time : about 1 hour plus extra for canning

      Ingredients (makes 2.5litres of jam):

      1. Blueberries - 12 cups as tightly packed as you can or approximately 2.6kg
      2. Sugar - 2.5 cups
      3. Balsamic Vinegar - 2tbsp
      4. Mint leaves - about 15 leaves
      Apparatus required :
      1. 5 canning jars of 500 ml capacity each
      2. 1 pakkad - something with which you can have a good grip of the tops of the jars
      3. 5 litre cooker or bigger vessel
      4. Kitchen towels
      5. 2 frozen spoons - keep stainless steel spoons in freezer while you get your jam cooking
      How I made the blueberry mint preserve :
      Sterilizing the bottles :

      1. In the cooker heat water till the brim such that it will immerse completely the bottles that you will be using for preserving.
      2. Place only the bottles without the lids in the water and boil for 10 minutes. 
      3. For the lids, do not boil as if you are using the seals, the heat will melt the rubber coating. Just place in  warm water and let it simmer.
      Onto the jam :
        PreservingBlueberry Preserve
      1. Wash mint leaves and keep aside to dry
      2. Wash and pick blueberries, sorting them so as to remove rotting ones. Overripe or underripe is perfectly fine for the jam. Remove any stems. Infact, I kept the just ripe ones for making muffins or froze them for use later in the year.
      3. In a huge pan, throw in the blueberries and mash them. I used my hands and the potato masher. Hands have a better effect.
      4. Add the sugar and let it macerate for about an hour.
      5. Turn on heat on medium and let it slowly come to a boil. 
      6. When it comes to a boil, keep stirring frequently to prevent any sticking/burning. Continue doing this for about 20 minutes.
      7. You could also do this on high flame if you are going to be constantly on watch and stirring.
      8. To test for doneness, use frozen spoons as suggested here. Take a spoon at a time from the freezer. Dip in jam and place back in the freezer until neither cold nor hot. Since I was cooking on medium to low flame, it was not that hot. In less than a minute, it was at room temperature and was set. I did give it a boil for a few extra minutes just to be doubly sure. I love the consistency of my jam. It is not to runny and not too thick. It is easily spreadable and mixes well in cream for desserts. 
      9. Throw in the balsamic vinegar and mint leaves.Turn off heat and let these sit for about 5 minutes.
      10. Now put the hot jam into the bottles leaving 1 inch from the top.
      Sealing the bottles
      1. Place the seals and screw up the lid until finger tight and place into the hot water in the cooker or any vessel which ensures that it is completely immersed. Boil for 10 minutes. Take out and leave in a corner untouched for at least 12 hours. I did hear from my colleague who made 18 bottles of plum jam that the best way is to allow them to cool as slowly as possible and they kept theirs under a blanket. By the time I had known this, my jam had already cooled down. So you could try that. His grandmother made jam that way and they had jam even after she had sadly passed on.
      2. Inspect all bottles after 12 hours. If the lid of any of them can be pushed further, it means the seal has failed. These need to be kept in the fridge and used first. The others are good to be used for up to a year. 


      Eggless Whole Wheat Thumbprint cookies

      Background daemon threads running every now and then in the back of my mind - gotta use up the jams, gotta use up the whole wheat flour before it expires, expiry date of cream is nearing, expiry date of milk is nearing and so on. It is so difficult to live in a developed country where everything is sold in bulk. So what do I do with all the store bought jam? I now have 3 jars of homemade blueberry preserve (recipe coming soon - blame on laziness to edit the pictures) and so had to get rid of the store bought jam especially since we had stocked up on them during the "super deal of the week" at the supermarket. No, I don't want to be done with my own preserve, I want them to last as long as I possibly can but before they expire. I was too lazy to make these whole wheat pop tarts so I decide to take a short cut and try my version of the jim jam biscuits that I so loved from britannia.

      Super easy and super fast. Not to forget the heady wafts of the butter as the cookies bake. Not only was I in seventh heaven while they baked but later too when Pras downed them one after another without allowing them to completely cool.
      Soft Sweet Sublime! These bite size wonders disappear in no time

      Ingredients (Makes 28 cookies of 2cm diameter each) :

      1. Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
      2. Chilled unsalted butter cut into cubes - 100g
      3. Ice cold water - 1/4 cup
      4. Salt - 1/4 tsp
      5. Jam/Preserve - enough to fill all the cookies
      How I made the thumbprint cookies:
      1. In a food processor bowl, add the flour and salt.
      2. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degree C.
      3. Add the chilled cubed butter.
      4. Turn on the food processor and wait till the flour starts to form crumbs.
      5. Now, start slowly pouring in the cold water. You may not need the entire amount. You need to add just enough to get the dough to come together in a lump. 
      6. Stop the food processor. Split the dough into small balls of desired size.
      7. Take each ball in your right hand and make a deep impression with your thumb. You may need to adjust the other sides which could get a bit thick. Place onto a baking sheet/tray. The cookies have enough butter so there is no need to grease the tray. Repeat for all other balls. 
      8. Bake for 12 minutes in the oven.
      9. Now take the cookies out of the oven. Don't turn off the oven yet. Put in the jam into each of the cookies. Don't overfill as it will ooze over. You may need to press the cookies a bit as the centres may have risen.
      10. Bake for another 8-10 minutes.
      11. Cool 
      I am not sure how long they will stay as ours were over before I knew it. I am going to make it a point to make better use of the oven and bake in slightly larger quantities and that should not be a problem cause you can see how easy it is to make eggless wholewheat thumbprint cookies.


      Banana Cake with Coconut Cream frosting

      So it was a perfect coincidence, the husband's birthday on Friday and having to make molten chocolate cake for my cooking course assignment. All the ingredients were hastily purchased on the way home but a sudden change in plan on seeing the sole ripe banana in the fruit basket. I succumbed to its beckoning.
      I have made banana cake multiple times before and here is one of my older recipes. A colleague used to make it for her daughter and seeing how simple it was, I would make it every now and then. I remembered the banana cake slice that we were served after the HP Walkathon in 2012 and did some tweaking, adding some cinnamon. The result was really good and the cake was almost gone by the end of Friday. I am sure that had we not gone out for dinner, we would have licked the plate clean.

      An easy throw together cake split into layers and finished with a light frosting using coconut cream
      Now since I was
      all set to make the molten chocolate cake, I did not have any cream and so used coconut cream for the frosting. Ironic that I used milk in the cake but a vegan frosting(duh!! Isn't life full of choices?). On a happy note, banana and coconut - perfect mallu combination for the perfectly mallu husband. (No, he won't accept it).

      Now, from my cooking course, I do know that the shape/size of the baking tin do affect the results. Hence, I am sharing here the details of the tin that I used. Also please do read the tips below. A good friend did indicate this to me when we joined a online baking partners group but it did not answer all the questions and neither did I do much investigation back then.

      Ingredients (For a 20 cm diameter circular cake): 

      1. All purpose flour : 1/2 cup
      2. Whole wheat flour : 1/2 cup
      3. Baking powder - 1 tsp
      4. Sugar - 1/2 cup
      5. Salt - 1/8 tsp
      6. Banana - 2 medium sized(15cm) ripe
      7. Egg - 1 
      8. Oil - 1/4 cup
      9. Cinnamon stick - 2inch long, 0.7mm thick
      10. Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
      11. Milk - 2 tbsp
      12. Walnuts - 1/4 cup chopped(optional)
      For the frosting :
      1. Coconut cream - 1 tin
      2. Sugar - 4 tbsp
      3. Cocoa powder - for dusting

      How I made it:

      1. Preheat the oven to degree 180 degree C.
      2. Prepare your baking tin by applying/spraying oil and then dusting lighting with some flour.
      3. In a bowl, mix ingredients 1 to 5.
      4. In a blender/mixie jar, blend ingredients 6 to 10.
      5. Now mix the dry ingredients in 3 to the wet ingredients in 4. Mix to combine. Do not beat. Fold in the walnuts if using some.
      6. If the batter is too thick, add milk till it comes to folding consistency. By folding consistency I mean that the batter should not fall in lumps when poured from the ladle. It should fall like a nice ribbon.
      7. Quickly pour this into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes. Once I had poured the batter into the tin, it was about 1.5 inch in thickness.
      8. Allow it to cool completely.
      9. Now, take a piece of thread - enough to go around the whole cake.(double the length if required). Use this thread to cut the cake into halves. Take one end of the thread and hold in a position midway through the height of the cake. Take the other end around the cake trying to maintain the height and bring the two ends of the thread together.  Now pull the thread ends in opposite directions such that they pierce through the cake and become straight and taut in the middle of the cake, ensuring the cake is completely cut into two.Take the top layer aside and turn it upside down.
      10. Beat the coconut cream till stiff peaks form.  Add sugar and mix well. 
      11. Spread half of this coconut cream on the bottom half of the cake. Place the top half of the cake on top of the bottom half. Spread the remaining coconut cream and using a strainer, sprinkle cocoa powder.
      Tips :
      • Use the mentioned tin size or a suitable replacement in another shape. This is very important as the size of the tin decides how long the cake is to be baked as well as the temperature setting. A rough idea would be that heat penetrates at the rate of 0.0014cm per second through water. Now the cake is mostly water, so measure the thickness of your cake and accordingly bake. Also remember that the heat will diffuse from both directions if using a proper OTG. So that affects the cooking time as well. 
      • If not using the frosting, you could increase the sugar to 3/4 cup but this could make the cake too sweet depending on the sweetness of the bananas used. So go with your inner gut feeling. The bananas I used were sweet without the frosting itself. The frosting is not very sweet as it is a few tablespoons of sugar.

      Radish/Mooli Paratha

      Okay, never ever use bare hands to handle the radish in this recipe. Ever! I made this after so long that I forget and ended up having redness and itching on the back of my hand for about an hour. The itching has reduced, thanks to the coconut oil but the redness still persists. Anyways, getting back to the post.

      Another one of my favorites. Parathas are generally loved but stuffed parathas make me feel like I am eating something healthier. Despite their foul smell, these parathas are so delicious that they can hardly be avoided.

      Radish is an edible root vegetable. Baby  radish are used in salads raw. In South India, they are added to sambar and in North India, made into parathas. In Mexico, they have a special radish festival wherein carvings on radish are displayed at common spots.

      Radish juice is considered to have cleansing powers and is good for the kidney. Some also believe that it helps fight cancer. Adding to all those benefits, this recipe ensures to make maximum use of this veggie, so do try it.
      Divine Indian flatbread stuffed with a spiced raddish filling and cooked in desi ghee

      Preparation time : 40 minutes - depends on what method is chosen to extract the radish juice
      Cooking time  : 2 minutes per paratha

      For the stuffing:

      1. Radish - 2 medium sized
      2. Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
      3. Kasuri methi - 1 tsp
      4. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
      5. Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
      6. Amchoor/Dry Mango powder - 1/2 tsp
      7. Oil - 1 tbsp
      8. Salt to taste
      For the dough:
      1. Whole wheat flour - I usually take enough to make a smooth dough with the extracted radish juice. So start with a little and add as you go.
      2. Salt to taste
      3. Oil - 1 tbsp
      4. Radish juice - extracted when making the above stuffing. You can use plain water as well.
      How I made it :
      1. Wash and scrape the radish.
      2. Grate the radish. A medium sized grater will do.
      3. Now, extract the juice from the grated radish. You could either use a muslin cloth or wear a food grade glove and squeeze handfuls of radish. Retain this juice. Remember that the more juice you remove, the better. The drier the filling/stuffing, the easier it will be to roll out the paratha.
      4. In a pan, heat 1 tbsp oil.
      5. Put in the cumin seeds.
      6. Once they start to change colour, add the kasuri methi.
      7. In 30 seconds, put in the red chilli powder. 
      8. Before the red chilli powder starts to burn put in the turmeric powder, grated juiced radish and salt to taste.
      9. Fry till the radish goes as dry and all the masalas are well mixed. 
      10. Now add the mango powder. Mix well and let the stuffing cool. Taste and make adjustments to your taste. 
      11. While the stuffing cools, made the whole wheat dough. Mix the flour, salt, oil and radish juice to make a nice smooth soft dough. The dough when pressed with a finger should kind of bounce back. Make sure it is not too watery/sticky as that will make it harder to roll out. Start with a little flour and keep adding as you go as it is not possible to give an exact measurement. The amount of radish juice will differ based on size, freshness and effectiveness of juicing method used. 
      12. Now, split the dough into small balls.
      13. Roll each ball out into a disc of about 5mm thick.
      14. Place a sufficient amount of stuffing, proportional to the size of the disc in the centre.
      15. Pull the ends together as can be seen in the collage above. 
      16. Apply some dry flour and roll out into a thin disc. Don't worry if the dough comes apart. You can always patch it up with some dry flour. Just ensure that you have the filling spread evenly around and the thickness of the paratha/disc is uniform throughout. 
      17. Repeat for all the balls made in step 12, provided there is enough filling. Else use this dough to make simple plain parathas.
      18. Heat a tawa/flat pan. 
      19. One at a time, place the rolled out parathas on the hot pan. Once you see that there are small air pockets forming, apply some oil/ghee and then turn. Lower the heat and let this cook for about a minute or until maillard reaction kicks in and there are enough brown spots. Apply pressure with the means of a flat ladle to help uniform cooking of all areas of the paratha. Turn, increase heat. Apply more oil/ghee if desired. Cook till maillard reactions cause brown spots- about 40 seconds.
      Serve hot with curd/pickle/papad.

      • If you do get redness and itching from handling the radish, apply coconut oil and wave your hand up and about in the air, even if people think that you are crazy. Breathe! It will subside and all will be well.
      • Make the stuffing as dry as possible to enable easy rolling.
      • Make the chapati dough as smooth and non-sticky to enable easy rolling.
      Trivia :
      • Maillard reactions, named after a scientist, are those reactions which cause the browning of food. These occur at temperatures of 120 degree C. It is these maillard reactions that provide that awesome taste to food. Yes, some food have their own flavour but it is this which enhances that flavour as well as the aromas that our nose detect. It is basically a chemical reaction of carbohydrates and proteins in amino acids which releases many sub compounds. These sub compounds are very volatile and escape easily into the air. 

      Assorted eggless pull apart rolls

      All of a sudden I was seeing a lot of pictures of eggless pull apart garlic rolls on all social networks and I thought that I should give them a try. If so many people could get it right, so could I. I shuddered at the thought of Pras's reaction as I remembered the failed attempts at baking bread in my combo microwave back in India. I decided to stick to the recipe and do as it says. I succeeded the first time and so the next time, I not only used half the quantity of whole wheat flour but also used my own fillings. An easy snack for those lazy weekends at home.

      My first attempt
      Pull Apart Rolls

      Second time around

      A fulfilling snack/accompaniment sure to leave your kitchen smelling divine

      Preparation Time : 5 minutes or nill depending on the filling that will be used
      Cooking Time : 30 minutes for baking. An additional hour and a half for proofing the bread

      Ingredients (8 rolls):
      For the bread:
      1. Whole wheat flour - 3/4 cup
      2. All purpose flour/Maida - 3/4 cup1.5 cups With Whole wheat, they are harder if kept for the next day
      3. Sugar - 1 tbsp
      4. Salt - 1 tsp
      5. Water - lukewarm - 1/2 cup+1tbsp
      6. Olive oil - 1tbsp + 1tbsp
      7. Yeast - fast action - 1/2 tbsp - I used Edmonds yeast and don't think I am going to look at any other yeast brand as long as I am in NZ.
      pull apart rolls ingredientsFor the filling :
      • Garlic butter filling
        1. 6 tbsp butter
        2. 2 cloves of garlic
        3. 2 tbsp chopped coriander or basil or oregano
      • Caramelized onion chutney
      • Dark chocolate chips and freshly grated coconut
      • Peanut butter
      How I made it :
      Step 1 : Proofing the dough
      1. In a bowl, warm the water such that it is lukewarm - about 40 degree C.
      2. Dissolve in the sugar and salt. 
      3. Add the yeast and set aside.
      4. Mix in the two flours and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. 
      5. Once the yeast mixture is nice and frothy/cloudy, add it in. 
      6. Mix the dough which gets less sticky as you knead it. 
      7. Once the dough comes together, apply oil on the outside. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm area for about an hour, till the dough doubles in size. I usually keep mine in direct sunlight
      Step 2 : Assembling the roll and further proofing
        pull apart rolls stuffing
      1. Knock the dough down and then split it into 4 smaller balls. 
      2. Roll out each into a long rectangular shape of about 1/2 inch thickness.
      3. Spread the filling of your choice.
      4. Roll from one end to another.
      5. If they are too big, cut them into 2 inch long cylinders. 
      6. Make them stand with the cut side facing up on a baking tray.
      7. Apply some more oil on each of them. If making them with the garlic butter, you could use the remaining garlic butter instead of oil. 
      8. Set aside for proofing for at least 20 minutes.
      Step 3: Baking
      1. Place the rolls in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree C and bake for 30 minutes. 
      Serve hot with a cup of tea or coffee. They disappear in no time so don't hesitate to make more.