Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Finish Line

It is here, the finish line, the end of 7 days of non-stop cooking, eating and blogging by the marathon cooks. Are you ready for the last potluck for 2009?

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).

*** *** ***
For the last 3 years, we have been celebrating New Year's Eve with our neighbors. My next door neighbor, who happens to be a wonderful cook, makes a huge dinner. We get to enjoy a relaxed evening with plenty of food and good company, and as a bonus, we only have to walk 10 steps to join this party- no battling the cold, no searching for parking spaces, no dealing with rowdy crowds and drunken drivers outside.

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...

(a) Whew!


[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.


  1. thanks for this event, nupur. great job.

  2. Wish U , V & Dale a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
    Hope the new year will bring some new series from u ( and that I can hopefully join)! Good Luck with everything.

  3. Dear Nupur, what a lovely post! Wishing you and your loved ones a Very Happy New Year!!! :)
    You hubby saw your website and now have started to push me to make some Marathi dishes from yours. :D As he is half-Maharastrian and love marathi food equally. I have prepared myself for 2nd marathon. :D

    Here, your mushroom biryani looks so festive. I have to try a lots of recipes from you and others.
    Thanks for everything! :)

  4. Thanks for beautifully guiding us to the finish line. Lets do this again soon. The spread looks tasty and this Biryani with eggplants is getting me very interested.

    Wishing you and V a Very Happy New Year, dear Nupur.

  5. Here's wishing you and your family a very happy and prosperous 2010, Nupur!

  6. Dear Nupur, first accept my heartiest wishes for 2010. I pray and hope this New Year brings you loads of happiness and prosperity.
    Coming to your recipe, that's an interesting combo. Have never used eggplants in Biryani and yes the rose water does impart a beautiful flavour, have tried once and was quite happy with the result.

  7. Thanks Nupur, for organising such an awesome pot-luck party.. it was truly a lot of fun reading so many posts every day..:) the biryani looks so delicious... I bet it would be huge hit in the party.. Have fun :)

    Wishing you & your family a very Happy and Joyous 2010.


  8. Wonderful way to end the marathon Nupur. Thanks for hosting. Happy New year!

  9. Happy New Year, Nupur! And thanks for organizing this. I just posted my day 7 entry. Will read your post in detail after I get some dinner..:)

  10. Happy New Year to you, your family and all your readers.

  11. Allow me to say Wow! for the 40 day recipes and the cute knit!Happy New Year to you and your family

  12. Congrats Nupur on reaching the finish line completing forty recipes.Kudos to you,for compiling 7 day countdown marathon event.Even while juggling so much,amidst kitchen plumbing issues et all,you kept posting delectable dishes.It was a delightful event and thank you for hosting this event.Happy New Year!

  13. What a wonderful, fragrant way to end this spectacular marathon and year! The biryani looks amazing, amazing, amazing!

    Thank you so much for letting me participate in this wonderful event!! I hope we can keep sharing, and swapping stories and recipes over this brand, new year ... Wish you a very, very Happy New Year, dear Nupur!!

  14. It was a fun week, went by so fast.
    Thanks again for the lovely event.
    Card looks wonderful.. Have a Happy 2010.

  15. That is one beautiful biryani, Nupur! How could you go wrong adding brinjals to anything :) Love the adorable skates, too!

    The marathon was just the ticket to get me back to the kitchen -- so much fun meeting new folks and trying new recipes -- thanks for that and for your unfailing kindness.

    Wishing you all a Happy Healthy New Year!

  16. Wow, what a marathon it was, Nupur, Well done! Love the biryani and the tiny little shoes.. they are the cutest things around :) I have been knitting for a few months now and I don't know why I never thought of these before!!

  17. Nupur I too love crafts
    I am into crochetting and a bunch of other things...
    Thanks for the wonderful marathon and the beautiful round ups
    I enjoyed participating in this event ... it was pure fun

    Wishing you a very happy new year

  18. That's a very special biryani to kick off the new year.. Looks soooooooo yumm.. First bookmarked recipe for new year.
    Happy New Year.

  19. Congratulations on completing the cooking marathon.
    Have a fantastic new year

  20. wishing you all the best for the new year and many more to come.....looking for a recipe i landed on ur blog a couple of years ago and like you have bookmarked so many recipes and suscribe to so many blogs with the hope that some day i will try all of the reicpes that have caught my attention....but with a hubby not so adventurous in the food dept i guess it will all have to wait....and pls pls pls can i have the pattern for the little stockings....they look so very cute

  21. thanks a lot for thinking of this great event and letting us be a part of your last lap of the challenge. I loved each and every moment of this Recipe Marathon and thanks again for doing a great job of updating all 23 participants recipes each day. after work, family and your own cooking that's a real tough job to do!

    love this biriyani recipe. eggpalnt in biriyani is new to me but thats how you learn. lovely click. and eyeing that pair of socks. so very cute.

  22. bee- Thanks!

    Manasi- Thank you, and your husband and baby boy the same :) I'll have to think of something for the new year after I recover from this one!

    Sonia- Thank you for the sweet wishes :) That's great, I hope you enjoy cooking up the Maharashtrian dishes, there are several blogs where you will find wonderful dishes from this region. If you have questions about any recipe, feel free to contact me.

    indosungod- Oh, I knew you would be interested now that eggplants are involved :D They were lovely, creamy chunks in the rice. Thank you for the wishes!

    TBC- Thank you, and I want to wish you a wonderful year ahead too!

    Pari- Thank you so much, I wish you much joy and peace in the coming year too. The rosewater did add a subtle hint, now I have some other uses for it too!

    Siri- People did enjoy the biryani and everyone eagerly took home leftovers too :D Thank you for the wishes!

    ruchikacooks- Happy New Year to you too!

    Lavanya- Just updated the post with your entry :) Thanks for participating!

    Kamini- Thank you so much for the wishes!

    Madhuli- Thank you, I can't believe I pulled it off :)

    susvaad- I'm so glad you enjoyed participating, that is far and away the most important thing.

    Sheetal Kiran- Thank you so much, it is a good recipe and turned out very well! Yes, I hope we continue to keep up the cooking and the camaraderie in the new year :)

    Madhu- Yes, the days just sped by in the excitement of the marathon :) Thanks for participating!

    Linda- I'm with you on the brinjals; I can never get enough of them ;)
    Thank you for the wishes, and yes, health is the important wish of all!

    PJ- You knit, too? These particular things are crochet though, do you crochet as well? And I can't help asking, are you on Ravelry- the knitting website? If yes, I'd love to see your knits there.

    Koki- I'm so glad you enjoyed participating- thanks for the wonderful entries!

    Pavani- LOL, the bookmarking starts again for another year! This one is delicious though. Happy New Year to you too!

    delhibelle- Thank you and wishing you the very same!

    Priyadarshini- The pattern for the little ice skates is here (and I have updated it in the body of the post too):

  23. Dear Nupur,

    Great recipe to round off the Marathon.......

    Wishing you and your Family A Very Happy & Prosperour 2010!!
    Thanks for hosting the marathon and I really enjoyed it a bit including working with technical snags....... I have posted the seven 7 (though rather late)....
    Best Wishes

  24. Nupur,
    Here's wishing you a Happy New Year2010! Congratulations on finishing the wonderful food marathon, we all enjoyed it from the sidelines!
    May this year be filled with good health, happiness and lots of good food!!!

  25. This marathon was so much fun, it was great to read all these posts. Great job, Nupur! Wish you and your family a very Happy New Year!

  26. Your blog is one of my must-reads every day. And I come away feeling energised about cooking - an activity I would otherwise regard a chore. I adore your attitude towards it and long may it continue.

    Today, I was delighted to find you linking to me. I am very very touched.

    I raise my cup of more kuzhambu to you. More more!!

    Happy new year, Nupur! You are a darling.

  27. Nupur, regarding your last comment: yes, I knit and crochet.. actually I have crocheted more but recently I am shifting more to knitting :) These go in phases you know! I have an account on ravelry but haven't really uploaded any projects yet. I should do that soon! I really admire your persistence in knitting and crocheting though; for me all the projects I undertake need to be less than a week ones.. anything more than a week and I find a new interest by then :)

  28. Happy New year Nupur! Enjoyed your marathon.

  29. Happy New Year dear Nupur. Have a great 2010 with V and Dale.

  30. Hi Nupur,

    Congrats on completing the marathon. It sure is no easy feat to cook 40 recipes in 40 days, especially with so much variety.

    This event is truly an inspiration for a non-blogger like me to try out recipes from bookmarks.

    Looking forward to more interesting recipes and events from your blog.

    Wishing you and your family a Very Happy New Year


  31. What a lovely post Nupur and congratulations on pulling off your 40 day-er and the marathon. This has been wonderful; the most fun I have had since my qualifiers;).

    Thanks again for all your work! A very very happy new year.

  32. Nupur happy new year!!! Loved all your recipes in the marathon,...

    For this biryani I would like to know WHAT Kind/Brand/homemade Garam Masala DID YOU use..???? Thx a bunch!!!

  33. Thanks for hosting a wonderful event like Recipe Maratho Nupur. am glad I could be part of so many wondeful cooking experiments and bloggers who are so enthu about food.

    You have been an excellent host. Happy New Year to you and your famiy.

  34. 40 day recipes!! I just watched Julie and Julia and I appreciated your effort a lot more. And the Paperclip Ice Skates too.
    Happy New Year.

  35. Thats a lovely post Nupur. Happy new year to you and your family!

  36. Rujuta- Thanks for the wishes and for your participation.

    Namita- It was so much fun because of the people watching and cheering from the sidelines, so thank you for being there! I hope you and your family also have a fantastic year ahead :)

    Radhika- Wishing you and your family the very same- yes, I have to go back and try so many recipes from the marathon now!

    ammani- Oh, how I miss your food blog posts; you are one of a kind! And yes, I want to duck my head in shame, because you are a "real" marathon runner, unlike these food fest marathons! Happy New Year to you and your lovely family!

    PJ- Like you, I love the quick and simple knitting and crochet projects. Luckily, there are so many of those. These ice skates took 15 minutes each to crochet :D

    Bharti- Thank you and wishing you the same- glad you enjoyed it!

    BongMom- Happy New Year to you too! I can't wait to read of your blog this new year.

    rv- Thank you so much, and I hope you have a fantastic year too! Yes, I am glad I cooked from my bookmarks, because I found so many wonderful recipes that I will try again and again.

    Mathangi- OK that made my day :D I am so so glad you were able to participate, and I hope you keep cooking and writing and enjoying life all around in the new year.

    Aruna- I made my own garam masala using this recipe:

    Ashwini- Thanks for the wishes and for your participation, and I hope 2010 brings you more good eats!

    radha- It is an effort but also a lot of fun :) Happy New Year to you too!

    Srivalli- Thank you, and Happy New Year to you and your family too!

  37. Wonderful Round up of the Marathon,Nupur.Love the flavors of the biryani.My best wishes for 2010 :D

  38. Wish you a very Happy New Year Nupur and of course to V and Dale too :)

    I had great fun following this event!


  39. hppy new yr ahead 2010, always lovely post and ya luved those cute paper clips,.;-)

  40. Nupur, S here from ruchikacooks.

    Since you said about the kitchen pipes and given the latest weather(freezing and even below that), just wanted to check if you all are OK. Hope you have secured the connections by now and all is well. If not, may be you can insulate the pipes and keep'em safe :)

  41. Yasmeen- Best wishes for the new year to you too!

    Miri- Thanks, and so glad you enjoyed it. Happy New Year to you and your family too!

    notyet100- thanks :)

    ruchikacooks- Yes, the kitchen is back to normal :) thanks so much for your concern.

  42. wow! what a marathon, but sounds like fun!

  43. Hi Nupur, Just wanted to let you know that I tried the recipe with Broccoli rabe and followed your tip of using spinach & rabe to the T (I measured the puree to the last ounce in a measuring cup :-)) and I just loved it. Thanks for your post and tip, I'm thinking abt befriending Mr. Rabe.

  44. Didn't know you crocheted, Nupur! I am not on ravelry (but am here). I do crochet a lot - and knit some too - mostly baby sweaters, hats, booties, afghans :)


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