Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Seepla Vegetable Biriani - A Spicy Vegetable Rice

 As I enjoy the delicious Hyderabadi Vegetable Biriani meticulously prepared by Dibs here at the 
moment , it strikes me that I have not posted the recipe of 'Seepla Vegetable Biriani' in Chitra Amma's Kitchen till now !

'Seepla Vegetable Biriani' was our entry for the Blogger Aid Cook Book released six years ago !  Here is what Dibs wrote in our blog post dated March 4, 2009 about this special version of Biriani:
"Biryani or Biriani, is one of the most popular rice based dishes, popularized by Muslim merchants and travelers across the Middle East and South Asia. There are as many delicious adaptations as there are regions. For example, there are distinct differences between a Sindhi Biryani, a Bengali Biriyani, the Awadhi Biryani of Lucknow, or the famous Hyderabadi Biryani.

Of all the special Birianis, the one made by Rukmini from our native village Seeplaputhur, is the one we cherish most! Her dish is reminiscent of the delicious flavours and aromas of kitchens in deep interior Tamil Nadu. It is made of ingredients that are quite unusual for Biryanis! Suffice to say you would not find this kind of Biriani, anywhere in the world! We are naming this unique recipe ‘Seepla Vegetable Biriani’ after our village Seeplaputhur, and sending it for the
Rukmini’s biriany has a unique flavour . My family loves the South Indian tinge in the dish which is not available even in the best of biriani joints. The secret? She includes coconut, pepper, curry leaves, sambar powder and cumin seeds along with the other regular ingredients commonly used in its preparation. Give it a try and you may also get addicted to it. 

Both Chitra Amma, and I tried this recipe at Bangalore and Sydney respectively, with local ingredients to test out proportions and so on. Both birianis turned out delicious – the vegetables and rice were cooked just right, and every grain had absorbed the yummy masalas!

You can see Chitra Amma’s Bangalore trial here :

 This is my trial at Sydney !" 

Now here goes the recipe!
Rice – 2 tea cups
Carrots – 2
Potatoes – 2
Beans – a fistful
Curd – ½ a cup
Salt – 2 tsps
Onion – 1 big
Fresh ginger – 2” piece
Garlic - 6 pods
Green chillies – 2
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Sambar powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Coconut gratings – 2 tbsps
Fresh mint leaves – ¼ cup
Cumin seeds – ¼ tsp
Black pepper – ½ tsp
Cinnamon – 2” piece
Cloves – 8
Cardamom – 4
Curry leaves – a few
Fried bread pieces – a few
Onion slivers roasted into a golden colour – ¼ cup
Cooking oil – 6 tbsps
1. Grind all the ingredients given into a smooth paste and keep aside.
2. Wash rice and soak for 20 minutes.
3. Cut all the vegetables into thick and long pieces.
4. Heat 2 tsps of oil in a pan and add half of the cumin seeds.
5. When it is fried add half of the cinnamon sticks, cloves and the cardamom.
6. Add half of the slightly crushed pepper and fry.
7. Pour the seasoning into the rice and pressure cook with three and a half cups of water. Let it cool.
8. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and add the remaining cumin seeds, pepper, cinnamon, cloves , cardamom and the curry leaves.
9. Add the cut vegetables and sauté with a pinch of salt.
10. When the vegetables are crisply done add the ground masala and fry until the oil comes out.
11. Add the curd and cook until the white colour of the curd changes into a reddish colour and blends into the masala.
12. Add salt and cook for two more minutes, and remove from flame.
13. Add the cooked rice and blend with the gravy without mashing up the dish.
14. Add the fried onion slivers and blend again.
15. Put back the pan on low flame and cover with a lid.
16. Let the flavour seep into each and every grain of rice.
17. When done decorate with fried bread pieces . 

18. Blanched almonds, fried cashew nuts or fried paneer pieces are other options for garnishing. 

Keep the biriani tightly covered with a lid so that it does not lose its flavour. Let it settle down with the flavour of the seasoning for a while before you start relishing it. Warm it up in a microwave or steam it in a pressure cooker just before serving.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tanjaavoor Kallichottu Kaapi - Tanjore style thick and strong coffee.

'Coffee Gyaan !
Kallichottu' in Tamil means a drop of thick and milky sap of the cactus plant . A cup of thick coffee  (similar to the thickness of Kallichottu ) prepared with a dash of strong filter coffee and a glass of freshly boiled cow's  milk is thus termed as  'Kallichottu Kaapi' or Degree kaapi. We enjoyed this exotic coffee in all 'Kaapi clubs' in Tanjaavoor district during our tour in South India.
When our neighbor who is a coffee planter gifted us with a bag of coffee beans I decided to roast and grind coffee powder as my grandmother did years ago. The next day as I enjoyed the exotic flavour of the filter coffee prepared using the fresh powder, I remembered that I had not done a post on my favourite Filter Coffee after all these years of blogging ! So here is a post on how I prepared the Tanjaavoor Kallichottu Kaapi / Degree kaapi for my family stating from scratch.
To make the coffee powder I used a blend of 1kg of coffee beans and 100 gms of BRU Roast and Ground Green Label  filter coffee  powder. This adds to the strength and flavour of the blend. 


Coffee Beans

Start roasting the coffee beans in a heavy bottomed kadai on high flame stirring continuously.

Roast in a heavy bottomed kadai


When it starts to change colour reduce flame and keep roasting and stirring continuously.

Colour change

At this stage the seeds will start cracking emitting a very pleasant aroma. Keep roasting and stirring.

Sift in a colander

When the seeds turn dark brown in colour switch off flame and pour the beans into a colander and shake well. This will  prevent the seeds from roasting more in its  own heat, and the burnt husk  also gets separated.

Roasted seeds and BRU

Spread the seeds in a large plate and allow to cool. When the seeds are thoroughly cooled allow them to sit in an airtight box overnight. 
Grind the roasted seeds  into a coarse powder on the next day.

The coffee Blend

Blend the BRU  Roast and Ground Green Label  filter coffee powder together with the freshly ground powder. Store in an airtight container to keep the aroma intact.

Wash and dry the coffee filter. Spread 4 tablespoons of coffee powder evenly inside the filter.

Making filter coffee

Bring water to a boil and pour it gently around the coffee powder till the powder is covered evenly ( about 3/4 cup of boiling water is sufficient) and cover with the lid.

Boiling cow's milk

Boil one tumbler/ lota ( 2 cups ) of fresh organic cow's milk in a small saucepan.

Adding decoction

Reduce flame and pour the fresh decoction from the filter into the milk until the coffee turns golden brown in colour.

Making  foam
Switch off flame and pour the coffee into an ever silver tumbler/ lota in a slow and steady stream to make a foam on top.

Kallichottu Kaapi
Your  tumbler / lota of hot and strong Kallichottu Kaapi / Degree Kaapi is ready!
My family prefers coffee without sugar.You can stir in sugar to taste if needed.
Freshly boiled cow's milk combined with freshly filtered coffee gives the best 'Degree Kaapi' ever.

Coffee Gyaan
Here, I have shared my 'Coffee Gyaan' with you! Enjoy the fresh aroma of coffee and sip the freshly prepared Tanjavoor Kallichottu Kaapi / Degree Kaapi at leisure!