Paradise Hotel, a landmark on Sardar Patel Road in Secunderabad which is so hard to miss. A crowded road with equally crowded biryani house which has been serving thousands of people day and night since 1953. I still clearly remember, 6 years back when I first visited Hyderabad; lunch at Paradise was ranking very high on our must-to-do list. Their signature biryani was truly succulent, flavorful and aromatic! It was a delicious experience.
When I first came across the recipe for Hyderabadi Birynai at Swasthi’s Indian Healthy Recipes, I knew I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to cherish my experience in my own kitchen. And the reason I came across this wonderful recipe is SNC – South Vs North Challenge started by Divya Pramil. She is a versatile cook and blogs at Youtoocancookindianfood.blogspot.com. Divya has created two groups – Southern Group and Northern Group as you can guess you become part of a group based on the region you belong to in India. I liked the idea and it’s quite unique. This is my first time participating in SNC and I am so excited about it.
I will be part of Northern Group. You can read more about the challenge on Divya’s blog. Being from Maharashtra, I feel this is a great opportunity for me to learn both South Indian and North Indian dishes.
So here it comes, my vegetable biryani
It’s easy to prepare but has multiple steps and if it’s your first time it will take little longer. My rice was cooked little longer but the flavors and the taste was quite up to my expectation.
Here’s what you need.
Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani
One pot meal with simple ingredients yet exotic flavors
Take a deep breath. It's a long list of ingredients and an equally long list of steps, quite daunting when you read it first time. Stay with me and it will be done in 45 minutes!
- Wash rice grains and soak them in cold water before starting with other preparation.
- Keep all vegetables ready by washing them and chopping as desired. I used some asparagus but that's optional.
- Next thing is to prepare the vegetable masala. In a medium pan, heat 2 tbspn of oil or Ghee and add all whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, shahee jeera, star anis) and let them roast for a minute or so until you can smell their distinct aromas.
- Now add ginder garlic paste and green chilis.
- Add diced potatoes and saute them for a 1-2 minutes.
- Now add all other vegetables and mix them.
- Add biryani masala, red chili powder and sail and mix well.
- Now add 1/2 cup yogurt, mix everything and let it cook for 5 minutes. keep a lid on so that it cooks faster with the steam.
- We want the dry masala so cook it uncovered for another 3-4 minutes until all the moisture goes out. Add some chopped mint leaves and cilantro leaves and keep it aside.
- Heat 1/4 cup milk and add saffron to it. Keep it ready.
- In a small kadhai or pan, add 4 tbsp of oil and fry the onion slices until they turn dark brown. It takes around 10 minutes.
- In another bigger pan, add 4 cups of water and the soaked rice. Add a tsp of Ghee or oil, some salt and cumin seeds. Let it simmer for a while until the rice is 3/4th done. This is important as we are going to cook the rice again so make sure it's not well done.
- As soon as rice is ready, place a tawa on a low flame and a big steal pan or cooker on the tawa. You may call it as a modern way of cooking "dum" biryani.
- Add half of the vegetable masala cooked earlier, add some yogurt and some fried onions. Then add some rice. Make two such layers. On top add cashews, raisins and fried onions and chopped cilantro leaves.
- Pour the saffron milk on top.
- Now you have two options, you can seal the top with wheat dough or you can use a thick towel with a heavy lid on top it. I used the latter option.
- Let the rice cook for another 10 minutes on medium flame and then switch of the heat and let it sit for another 5 minutes.
- Serve it hot with raita.
It's very important to keep everything ready when your rice is about to be done else it will cook more than what you want and the grains will not remain separated. I did this mistake and my rice was little overcooked. So plan it ahead.
Hearty Soup for cold winter days
The best thing I loved about butternut squash is that it’s practically indestructible. It lasts for months (as long as you store it in a dry, cool place) I was instantly attracted to buy a butternut squash and I did think of making soup on the very same day. The day did arrive only after few months. I peeled it and was pleasantly surprised to find it in a perfect condition. And hence the story of my butternut squash soup ended on a sweet note.
Trust me, peeling it is the hardest part. Adding onion is a good idea to cut the sweetness. Many blogs have recommended to add a green apple which I didn’t have and waiting for one might have turned into wasting couple more weeks. I had fresh rosemary, thanks to my colleague. So I used some rosemary while roasting, it added a peppery flavor to it which was pleasant. Thyme goes well with any sweeter squash and also with sweet potatoes so if you have fresh thyme feel free to use some.
Butternut Squash Soup
A healthy and hearty soup with tough outside yet soft inside butternut squash
- Wash and chop a carrot in half inch pieces.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Peel and dice butternut squash into half-inch cubes. Also cut onion into equal sized pieces.
- Spread these cubes on a baking sheet and sprinkle some olive oil so that the pieces do not stick to the sheet and it also prevents them from burning.
- Sprinkle some salt and pepper.
- If you are using any fresh herbs, chop them and sprinkle on top.
- Roast these vegetables for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Let them cool down a bit.
- In a big saucepan, heat 1 table spoon of butter.
- Add Ginger-garlic-chili paste if you are using it. It's optional but I find it better to offset the sweetness from carrots and butternut squash.
- Add carrots to the pan and saute for 5 minutes.
- Now add roasted squash and onions and saute for few minutes.
- Add 2 cups of broth or water. I used water and din't notice any difference.
- Blend everything with immersion blender or a standalone blender. Adjust the amount of water or broth as per your taste.
- Now take the soup in the same saucepan, add more salt or pepper as needed. Add a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes. It's ready to be served.
Note - The smaller you chop your vegetables the faster they cook so the exact time will vary. Please check after 15 minutes if they are done.
Linking to Vardhini’s Dish it Out – Squash and Sugar event happening here at MyHomeMantra
The inspiration for this smoothie came from the ‘Power Juice’ recipe by Chef Parag. He used beet root and carrot juice together with lemon juice. I was looking for a creamy texture so instead of just using juices I decided to make a smoothie. Needless to mention it’s loaded with vitamins and mineral from beet root and carrots and hence the name! To make sure it’s perfectly sweetened I used dried figs and dried apricots and also raisins, I know I am genius 🙂 The result was outstandingly creamy, sweet, a beautiful pink smoothie which we have made a regular part of our diet!
Very low in calories AND fat, rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and dietary fibre, contain no added sugar; perfect as breakfast smoothie or even as a dessert!
Beetroot Carrot Smoothie aka VitaMAX Smoothie
A rich, creamy smoothie with no added sugar!
Serves : 2
- In a small bowl, take all dried fruits such as figs and apricots and raisins and and also cashews and add enough milk to immerse all contents. Soak the fruits in milk overnight or for 6-7 hours. Keep it refrigerated.
- Peel a beetroot and also cut both the ends. Then cut it into quarters.
- Peel carrots if needed, cut both ends and chop them roughly.
- Stem these veggies in a steamer for about 10 minutes or until they become tender.
- Once steamed, let them cool down a bit. Optionally add these to cold water to quicken cooling process.
- In a blender, add steamed carrots, beetroot and the soaked dried fruits. Also add the milk used for dried fruits.
- Blend everything together. Add more milk as needed.
Linking it to Foodomania’s Christmas Cook-Off Contest
Eating salad is a proven way of cutting down calories without compromising on necessary nutrients. A typical Maharashtrian Koshimbir is the best example of such a salad. Even if you don’t like raw carrorts, I bet you will enjoy this Gajarachi Koshimbir –
2 fresh medium carrots, grated
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tb spoon peanut(groundnut) powder
1 tb spoon sugar
1 tb spoon fresh lemon juice
2 medium green chiliis, finely chopped
salt to taste
4 springs of cilantro, finely chopped
This is the simplest recipe so far. Grate carrots , chop tomatoes and ground roasted(optional) peanuts. Mix everything together with salt, sugar, green chilies ( can be substituted with red chili powder) and lemon juice. Toss everything together and garnish with finely chopped cilantro leaves. I sometimes add roughly chopped cashew nuts along with peanuts.
Some people use a standard tadka(phodni) including curry leaves (कढीपत्ता) but I like it without any tadka.
A quick look at its nutritional value –
Carrots, as we all know, are excellent source of Vitamin A and tomatoes provide Vitamin C and some dietary fiber. The peanuts provide proteins and some essential fatty acids. So, it’s perfect.
Sending this to Healthy Diet~ Veg Side Dishes by Priya
Pav bhaji is my weak point. It tastes best when you have it at a road-side place or not-so-healthy place It was a long time since I made it so when we invited Kandy for dinner, pav bhaji was our first choice. He loved it. This is how I made it.
If you are not making khada pav bhaji, roughly chop green pepper, carrots and potatoes. Add these veggies and also cauliflower florets to a pressure cooker with enough water to soak all veggies and let them cook for not more than 3 whistles. Add some salt and whole garam masala to the pressure cooker, if you like.
While that’s happening, finely chop onions and tomatoes, and also garlic and grate ginger. Heat oil in a big pan. I like to add some Amul butter with the oil, but feel free to skip this step. Add cumin seeds, don’t wait long till you add garlic else cumin seeds start burning. Let the garlic pieces turn brownish and then add onion. Add some salt which helps quicken the frying process. Once onions are done, add tomatoes and let them cook down. Add tomato puree, if you have it.
At this point, you are ready to add the masala. Add red chili powder and half of pav bhaji masala and let that mix nicely with the oil and rest of the ingredients. Don’t let it become dry, add some water if needed. And now it’s time for all other veggies and green mutter. If you are using frozen mutter, you can add them directly to the pan else you might want to cook them in advance. Drain the water and mash down the veggies using a wooden / steal masher. That’s makes that process very easy and add it to the masala. Also add the water you used for cooking the veggies. Now add salt and more masala if you like and let it come to a boil with lid on. Let it simmer for a few minutes and keep the lid on to lock down all flavors.
Now comes the best part, just before serving, heat some butter in a small tadka pan and add some pav bhaji masala and let it fry nicely. The smell is out of the world! Add this masala butter to the bhaji and mix it. That’s makes it restaurent style.
Garnish it with chopped onions mixed with finely chopped cilantro and lemon juice! Enjoy with hot toasted pav and be gentle with the butter, just for that day