Blogging Marathon# 39 – Indian States: Day 26
State: Tamil Nadu
Dish: Chettinad Vegetable Biryani
We are coming all the way south of India to Tamil Nadu. Capital of Tamil Nadu is Chennai, formerly known as Madras. For most of the North Indians, people from the south are all Madrasis. I have been called that quite a few times in my own life. So the point is, it is the most famous South Indian state. It is most known for its monumental ancient Hindu temples and classical dance form Bharata Natyam.
We visited the famous temples in Tamil Nadu and I’ve been to Chennai to present a paper during my graduation. Food wise there is hardly anything to go wrong in Tamil Nadu with fluffy idlis, crispy dosas and other delicious South Indian dishes being sold at both 5 star restaurants and at road side stalls.
Tamil Cuisine is rice based and forms the major portion of their diet. Their are regional sub-varieties in Tamil cuisine, like Chettinadu, Kongunadu, Madurai, Tirunalveli and so on.
Today’s Dish: Initially I was planning to make ‘Kachipuram Idli’ today, but then changed my mind and started searching for some Chettinad recipes. The Chettiar community, who is the majority in this region, are a very successful trading community. Chettinad cuisine is one of the spiciest and the most aromatic in India. It is famous for its use of variety of spices used mainly in non-vegetarian food. The dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas, and topped with a boiled egg that is usually considered essential part of a meal.
After looking through a number of dishes and knowing my love for biryanis, I finally decided to make this Chettinad style Vegetarian Biryani. It was spicy, flavorful and delicious. I served it with some onion raita (yogurt, finely chopped onions, pinch of salt) and some mango juice.
Recipe adapted from Vegetable Platter:
Chettinad Vegetable Biryani
- 1 cup Basmati Rice
- 1 Onion - large, thinly sliced
- 1 cup Tomato puree
- 1 Potato - medium, peeled and chopped
- 1 Carrot - medium, peeled and cut into long sticks
- ½ cup Green beans - chopped
- ½ cup Cauliflower - cut into florets
- 1 Pepper Green - small, chopped
- ½ cup Green Peas
- 2 chilies Green - slit (add more if you like it spicy)
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- to taste Salt
- ¼ cup Onions Fried - homemade or storebought
- 3 tbsps Mint leaves - finely chopped
- 2 tbsps Cilantro leaves - finely chopped
For the masala/ spice paste:
- 1 Red Onion - small, chopped
- 2 tbsp Coconut Grated
- 2 Ginger " - piece, grated
- 3 ~ 4 cloves Garlic
- 5 ~ 6 red chili (adjust as per taste) Dry
- 1 tbsp Coriander seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 2 tsp Fennel seeds
- 1 Cinnamon " stick
- 4 Cloves
- 4 Black Peppercorns
- 4 pods Cardamom
- Prep the Rice: Rinse and soak the rice for at least 30 minutes. Then boil the rice in 4~5 cups of water along with salt, 1 bay leaf, 3 cloves, 3 cardamom pods and 1" cinnamon stick. Cook until the rice is 70% cooked, about 8~10 minutes. Drain the water and set it aside to cool.
- Make the Masala/ Spice Paste: Heat 2tsp il in a pan; add the ingredients under 'Masala' except for coconut. Cook until the spices are nicely toasted and smell fragrant. Cool slightly and grind into a smooth paste along with coconut and little water.
- Make the Vegetable Curry: Heat 2tbsp oil and 1tbsp ghee; add bay leaf, cumin seeds and cook till seeds start to splutter. Add the onions and green chilies, cook till the onions are slightly browned around the edges.
- Add the veggies and cook covered until the veggies are tender. To speed up the process, veggies can be microwaved until tender and then added to the onions.
- Add turmeric and the ground masala paste, mix well and cook for 3~4 minutes.
- Add the tomato puree and cook for 4~5 minutes. Finally add salt and garam masala; mix well and turn off the heat.
- Make the Biryani: In a heavy bottomed deep pan; add ⅓rd of the rice - followed by ½ of the curry; 2nd layer: ⅓rd of the rice and the remaining ½ of the curry; final layer: remaining rice - fried onion and chopped mint and cilantro. Cover tightly with the lid and cook for 10~15 minutes.
- Serve hot with any raita.