Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry Christmas

Wishing all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
Nativity scene, Christmas Village and Christmas tree we keep in our house

Fruit Cakes I bake for Christmas 

May Santa bring us all the gifts we wish for and fill us all with peace and happiness !
Cake for hubby's friends

In my kitchen :)

Fruit cake I made

My handmade wreath for Christmas 2019

Cake cutting for Baby Jesus

Greetings from our nephew and niece 

Birthday celebrations by my sister in law Gowri for my thambi Venkatesh !

Christmas gifts :)

Treats for Santa and reindeers ,  Christmas eve 

Gifts from Shakthi ....Love these watches 

Kesari for Christmas morning !
Christmas party I prepared for my neighborhood friends

Chicken dum briyani

Chicken dum biriyani

Christmas Party !

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Cranberry hot & sweet pickle

Cranberry shows up during Thanksgiving and Christmas in most of the US houses , as it is a tradition to serve this fruit as a sweet jelly along with dinner. It is considered to be one of the healthiest fruits.
Cranberry jelly can be bought from any stores. I love the way how this is conveniently available in all seasons in cans. Just pour the jelly straight out of the can into a cute bowl and it's done , you got a side dish !

Even though I too love this convenient can of jelly, I love to buy this in the fresh form also.
I made a hot and sweet Indian pickle out of it this week and it is one of the yummiest pickles I have ever made. We love the taste very much and in my view this tastes like mango pickle. Try this and let me know ! Click to see my spicy cranberry pickle too.

Cranberry pickle with roti and broccoli usili.

mortar to powder the masalas

Hot and sweet cranberry pickle

Cranberry - 2  cups (1 small pack)
salt - 2 tbsp
brown sugar - 3 tbsp
sesame oil - 3 tbsp
red chili powder - 1 tbsp
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Apple cider vinegar - 1 tbsp (preservative)
mustard seed - 1 tsp
hing (asafetida) - 1/4 tsp
Masala to powder:
Mustard seed - 1 tsp
fenugreek (methi seed) - 1/2 tsp
oil - 1 tsp

Rinse and clean the cranberries.  Using a clean kitchen towel remove the moisture and let dry for few hours or overnight. 
Roast the mustard seed and methi seed using a tsp of oil. Let cool and powder. Keep aside.

Heat the  sesame oil (any cooking oil) in a kadai (wok),   let it start to crackle . At the same time add hing and immediately add the cranberries and  saute till they starts cracking. Cranberry will get thick and mushy now. Add salt.
When the oil starts showing off the edges, add the red chilly powder, turmeric powder, brown sugar, powdered masala and stir well till the raw smell of red chilly powder goes.  Mix vinegar.
Switch off the flame and let the pickle get cool. Store in glass bottles.
Cranberry pickle is ready! Keep it refrigerated.

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with curd rice or chapati.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Vegetable briyani in Dutch Oven

During this Thanksgiving sale, I asked my hubby to buy me a 'Dutch oven'. (The tradition is , most people buy Christmas gifts during these sales).  So he started looking for some deals in Kohl's. But a week before 'Thanksgiving' day, we saw a 6.5qt 'ChefElect' brand Dutch oven in a nearby Shoprite. It was on sale and that price of $30 seemed more elusive , as most of the brands of that size would come around $70 or more. I could see this one has a larger circumference and shorter when compared to others.  So we decided to buy it and I told him that I found my Christmas gift. But my hubby dear insisted me that, this is his 'Thanksgiving' gift for me :) and I can start cooking with that from this Thanksgiving :) I definitely like his ideas when it comes to early Christmas gifts :)
So I decided to prepare his favorite a briyani. I made a vegetable briyani for 'Thanksgiving' lunch. Instead of a traditional 'Thanksgiving dinner', we had this as lunch and would start enjoying the shopping in the evenings. This has become our usual way of celebrating 'Thanksgiving' nowadays 😃
My dutch oven (in front), behind that is my instant pot. 

Traditionally briyani should be cooked in a heavy bottom vessel in slow cooking method. Even though I prepare briyani using many gadgets like pressure cooker, electric cooker or in dosa tawa dum method,  I totally enjoyed preparing 'briyani in Dutchoven' , as this tasted exactly like the traditional 'Dum briyani'. The thickness of the cast iron dutchoven and its heavy tight lid and the self basting features inside the lid are the secrets behind this aromatic briyani. Also this is a fool-proof method instead of going through all those processes that calls for ina dhum briyani method. So if try my recipe once, you will definitely say that, Dutch oven and briyani are made for each other 💕

Cook covered for 30-40 minutes at lowest heat setting.
Vegetable briyani is ready
Our Thanksgiving lunch : Veg briyani, egg curry, raitha, mini pecan pie

Thanksgiving lunch

Homemade ice cream with store bought pie

Cinnabon (center of the roll)  in mall , we had on Thanksgiving night.
Cauli flower - 1/4 flower (chopped 1 cup) , green beans - 10 , carrot - 2 , fresh green peas - 1/2 cup , dry soya chunks - 1 cup, butter beans or rajma (cooked) - 1/2 cup

Basmathi rice (long grain) - 3 cups
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Red onion - 2 (medium size)
green chillis - 5 (slit).
Lemon - 1/2
ghee - 2 tsp (to add at the end)
rose essence - a tiny drop
whole plain yogurt - 1/2 cup
coconut milk - 1 cup

To temper:
peanut oil - 1/2 cup + ghee 1 tsp
Fennel - 1 tbsp
bay leaves - 2
star aniseed - 1,
cinnamon stick - 2 inch
cardamom - 4
cloves - 4
Stone flower (kal pasi -Tamil ) - 1 piece
mace - 1 tiny bit
nutmeg - a tiny bit
almond or cashew  -10
raisins- 10.
salt - to taste

Masala 1:
Tomato - 4

Masala 2:
cilantro- 10 stems
mint leaf -1 handful.
green chilly - 10
black pepper - 1 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp

Masala 3:
Ginger -1/3 cup (chopped)
Garlic - 1 whole

Wash and clean the vegetables. peel the skin of carrot and cut into long thin slices.
Cut the green beans in to long pieces.
Pluck 5 -6 florets from the cauliflower.
Defreeze the green peas.
Boil the dry soya chunks for 2 minutes and put it in cold water. Squeeze the water and keep it along with vegetables.

Wash the rice and soak it for 1/2 an hour in cold water.

Grind all the masala 2 and 3  separately.

Chop onion and keep aside.

Chop tomato and keep it aside.

I use coconut milk powder sometimes. I mix 2 tbsp coconut milk powder with 1 cup water and take it as coconut milk. But fresh milk tastes better.


Heat peanut oil +  ghee in a  dutch oven.
Put all the items given for tempering and fry few minutes till fennel gets reddish hue.

Then goes the chopped onion .
Fry it till golden brown and add the ginger garlic paste and stir well till the raw smell goes (not more than 30 secs).

Now add the tomato paste and cook till the oil oozes out of it. Add turmeric powder. In this point if needed add 1 tsp garam masala powder or briyani powder.

Then add the cilantro , mint paste and cook till the oil start oozing out. Now put the vegetables and add salt. Just stir well. Don't cook them now. Add the yogurt, coconut milk. rose essence. Pour water just enough to cover the vegetables. Check for salt.

Meanwhile boil some 10 cups of water in a separate vessel and add the soaked rice. Cook it until it is half done (5 mins). Drain the hot water and add the half cooked rice along with uncut green chillies. Squeeze some lime juice over.

Close with the lid and reduce the flame to minimum.

Cook for an hour , the biryani will be ready!

Serving suggestions:

Garnish with 2 tsp ghee , chopped cilantro , mint leaves.
Serve vegetable biryani hot with onion raitha .
Serves 6 people.

Vazhaikkai Poriyal (Plantain stir fry)

This vazhaikai poriyal was a staple in our house as we had some (lot) of banana trees in our backyard. I have seen amma running there to pic...