Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mushroom Briyani

While growing up, I'd never given mushrooms much thought.  After moving here I saw it everywhere - burgers, soups, salads, pizza, pasta - its there everywhere. I also learned that mushrooms are top in antioxidants that help fight illness. There were not my favorite in the beginning, but eventually this chewy vegetable got on my staple vegetable list as I learned more and more recipes on mushrooms. Now I love all sorts of mushroom dishes, but if I have to choose one of my favorite recipes, it would probably be this mushroom briyani. Its a nice alternative from the regular veggie briyani when I'm in the mood for a change in my kitchen.

This recipe has been evolving ever since I learned the original recipe from my sister a few years back. After making a few slight changes to better suit my taste, it has now become the standard version everytime I make it. So, here is the recipe for those who are looking for a nice mushroom dish.

  • Chopped mushrooms - 2 cups
  • Basmati rice - 2 cups
  • Onion - 1 medium sized - finely chopped
  • Ginger & Garlic paste - 1 tbsp (freshly made)
  • G.chillies - 2 - slit lengthwise
  • Chopped corriander leaves - 2 hands full
  • Chopped mint leaves - 1 hand full
  • Heavy cream - 2 tbsp
  • Coconut milk - 1/2 cup (canned coconut milk is fine)
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 3 tsp
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
  • Cloves - 3 pieces
  • Butter - 1 inch cube
  • Curd/Yogurt -  2 tbsp
  • Soak the basmati rice in water for 10 mins.
  • In a large deep pan (with lid), melt the butter and add 1 tbsp of oil. Add cinnamon and cloves, once they pop-up, add the slit green chillies and chopped onions. Fry for 2 mins.
  • Now add ginger and garlic paste and fry well for a few mins.
  • Add corriander and mint leaves and fry for a min until a nice aroma comes.
  • Now add the chilli powder, corriander powder and salt. Fry and cover in low heat for a 2 mins until the raw smell starts to go away.
  • Add the curd and heavy cream and mix well.
  • Add the mushrooms and mix well with the spice mixture. Cover and cook for 8 - 10 mins. The mushroom must have been semi-cooked at this stage.
  • Drain the water from the rice and add the rice to the mushroom mixture. Mix well.
  • Mix the coconut milk in 3 cups of water and add this to the rice.
  • Check for salt and spice and adjust to your taste.
  • At this stage you can transfer this mixture to an electric rice cooker and cook until done.
  • I usually cook it in the same pan on the stove. This does not let the rice become sticky or overcooked. For this, you have to bring the mixture to boil and then simmer the heat fully, cover and cook for 15 mins (checking and stirring gently a few times).  You can sprinkle some water if required to reach the correct consistency.
Serve hot with raita or any curry on the side.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Vegetable Stew with Coconut Milk (Thengaipal Sodhi)

I love stews, especially during cold weather.  The coconut milk flavor combined with mild spices is a perfect combination for many everyday meals like rice, idli, dosa, idiyappam etc. Packed with fresh veggies and mild spices, this sure is a winner in our home.  This originally is a slow cooking recipe and if you ever have that extra time, you can toss all the ingredients together in a slow cooker and let it cook over night. I tried it just once and the taste was out of the world! However, the quicker stove-top version also comes out quite nice.

This dish is famous in southern part of my home state and I have already posted a different version of this here.  Every region has its own flavor and offers different twists to the same dish and this one is very different in my opinion.


Cabbage - 1 inch pieces - 1/2 cup
Drumsticks - 2 inch pieces - 5 (Optional)
Yellow Pumpkin - 1 inch cubes - 1/2 cup
Peas - 1/2 cup
Potato - 1 inch cubes - 1/2 cup
Carrots - small cubes - 1/2 cup
Brinjal - 1 inch cubes - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coconut milk - 1.5 cups
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few

For the paste:
  • Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Roasted chana dal/Chana Dalia/Porikadalai - 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • G.chillies - 4 
(I add a litle extra of all the above if I plan to have it with rice so the flavor stays when mixed with hot rice too)
  • Chop the veggies as mentioned above.
  • Dilute half of the coconut milk with 2 cups of water. Heat a large wide pan, add the diluted coconut milk, turmeric, salt, drumsticks and brinjals. If using American eggplants, you can add them at a later stage since they can get cooked fast. Let them cook for a few mins.
  • After the veggies are semi cooked, add all the remaining veggies and cook for a few more mins. Add little water if needed.
  • While the veggies are cooking, make as paste with the ingredients listed above for the paste. Add this paste to the vegetables, add the remaining coconut milk and simmer for 10-15 mins until the flavors are well blended and the veggies are fully cooked.
  • Heat oil in a small pan, season with mustard leaves and curry leaves. Pour on top of the stew and cover immediately. Remove from heat.
  • Mix the seasoning well, before serving. Serve hot with Rice, dosa or idiyappam. I actually enjoy just the stew in a bowl!