If you are still in the holiday mood and want to reach out for the festive dishes, try some rajma with jeera rice, pav bhaji with freshly baked pav and plenty of butter or rotund puris with potatoes and chutney. Curries are often part of celebratory buffets, and here we have mirchi ka salan, spicy chicken curry, chicken kofta curry and tangy prawns curry.
For an exclusive traditional dish celebrating the festival of thiruvadirai, you have to read this post on kali and thalagam.
If you are done with the excesses of the holiday table and want to head towards homely fare, try this traditional thali which takes simple food to a whole new level. For tasty dishes cooked with the minimum of fuss, try potato onion in yogurt, radish and snap pea saute, varan phal or tamarind coconut chutney.
Legumes are among the lucky foods supposed to be eaten at the new year for good luck, and just in time, we have recipes for chana masala, black eyed peas curry and pumpkin hummus.
If you're trying to eat more fruits as part of a healthier diet, what better way than to sneak them into dessert? Here, beets star in mini muffins and chocolate-beet cake, oranges find their way into orange and chocolate chip cookies and orange truffles, bananas transform into eggless muffins, carrots cook into a carrot-sooji halwa, figs add "figginess" to rice pudding and when time is running short, you can make this 2-minute pineapple dessert. Want some protein and antioxidants with your dessert? Try these peanut butter bites. For a rice pudding with a difference, try the Portuguese arroz doce.
And the marathon ends up smelling like roses with this edible rose garden that is just too pretty to eat (just go and take a look).
As my contribution to the party, I decided to make a dish that has been bookmarked for ever. As the finale of a long bout of frenzied cooking, it had to be something a bit more festive and elaborate than the average dish you see here, so here's Recipe #1: Vegetable Biryani, inspired by Ammani's post; the recipe was published in a British newspaper. I loved reading Chai Pani and I am sorry Ammani's not posting there any more, but I do enjoy her other blog.
I make vegetable biryani often and have posted my recipe a while ago, but each time I make biryani, I tinker with the recipe. This one was intriguing because of the combination of mushrooms and eggplants in it. I adapted the original recipe, both techniques and quantities, to suit my own style.
I had to laugh when I read the candid statement "Cooking time - a long time" at the beginning of Ammani's recipe. Yes, biryanis are more elaborate than the usual quick rice pilafs, but don't worry, it does not take ages to make. After all is said and done, I needed one hour to put this together, which is not that long in terms of cooking for a special occasion, is it? Now, there are 2 things I started off on ahead of time, and the 1 hour also does not include the final cooking time, just the hands-on time you will need.
I added a new ingredient to my pantry for this dish: rosewater. I'm excited to see if the taste comes through in the final dish.
Mushroom Eggplant Paneer Biryani
Start with these 2 steps. They don't need much supervision.
1. Roast the vegetables: On a large baking sheet, mix chunks of baby bella mushrooms (10 oz pack) and 2 large Japanese eggplants with salt, pepper and olive oil. Bake at 425F for 30-35 minutes or until browned and tender.
2. Savory liquid: In a pot, mix 4 cups water, 1 tsp. salt and the following spices, preferably whole or ground if that's all you have: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, fennel, bay leaf, nutmeg shavings. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let the water steep in the spices for 30 minutes or so.
Then, make all the components of the biryani:
A. Fried goodies: Shallow-fry cashews and paneer cubes until golden brown. Set aside.
B. Gravy: In the same pan, fry 2 large sliced onions until nicely browned. Add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, salt, red chilli powder, garam masala (the best you can find), pinch of dried mint and 2-3 cups tomato puree and cook until a thick gravy is formed. Stir in the roasted vegetables and set aside.
C. Sweet liquid: Mix ¼ cup warm milk with a hefty pinch of saffron, cardamom powder, and 4 tbsp. rosewater. Set aside.
D. Mince 1 cup fresh cilantro. Set aside.
E. Rinse 2 cups Basmati rice, then place it in a pot. Strain the savory spice water you made above into the rice and cook the rice in this water until tender. Pour the rice into a colander and let it cool down a bit.
Make layers of the ingredients (the order, more or less, is E, B, A, C, D, E, B, A, C, D, E, A, C, D which sounds way too complicated than it actually is). Place a parchment paper on the pot, then cover it (the parchment paper creates a tight fit of the lid). Cook on low heat for 45 minutes or so.
Here's a look at the layered biryani. The all-important gravy layer is hidden, though.
I'll update this post tomorrow morning to tell you if we liked the biryani. I suspect it will be delicious!
I am at the end of trying forty new recipes in forty days, with so many friends joining me in the last leg of the run and making it even more fun and exciting. We ate well in these 40 days, and I realized all over again that as long as I am learning new things and keeping myself busy, it is easy for me to be happy.
Now allow me to say...
[Paperclip Ice Skates in Crochet: Pattern here]
Cheers to the arrival of twenty-ten and may it be full of laughter and love and good food for us all.