27 Feb

Vegetable Dum Biryani | Product Review: Zaiqa Spices

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Finally I did it.

Just like I had this mental block taking on baking which now seems like a lifetime ago. I also had this block of making the first Biryani.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

The reasons were plenty – one being that I never manage to keep the grains as separate as should be. So rice dishes are a big panic button for me. Then Biryani is considered a non-vegetarian fare and vegetarian version is frowned down upon.

You get the gist.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Finally I overcame that fear and chose to tackle it. I also break my kitchen hiatus of last 2 months with this biryani and a full-fledged meal of Dal Makhani, Paneer Do Pyaza, Boondi Raita, Seviyaan and Naan. Finger-licking meal.

For this sumptuous biryani I made use of Zaiqa spices which are personally made and packaged by Anisa Arif of Zaiqa – The Spice Store. She and I are connected on Facebook through a group of passionate home chefs and bakers.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

When she approached me to review her range of spices I was thrilled to say the least as I had heard great reviews about her spices from other fellow members of the group.

She sent me over a range of spice mixes to cook from. I was overwhelmed. She is a dear! The best part I liked about the spices are that they are customised to suit ones need. You have no-onion, no-garlic mix for Jains (read: me), then you have spices for non-vegetarian fare and so on. Also the mixes come with 2 types of recipe behind each package making it so easy to create fantastic dishes with these.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

I settled on trying the Biryani and Kadai Jalfrezi Masala from the selection. The result for Biryani are for here to see and devour with your eyes. I will share the images of Paneer do Pyaza soon.

The spices are pretty easy to use and you can make many recipes using these. You can store them in refrigerator and they stay fresh for a year after opening.

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

You can order these spice mixes by contacting Anisa. She is based in Chennai and ships worldwide.

Website – http://shop.zaiqathespicestore.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ZaiqaTheSpiceStore

Contact No. – +91 9940 555 657

Vegetable Dum Biryani

Vegetable Dum Biryani

The steam cooked and rich Vegetable Dum Biryani to tantalise your senses.

Yields: 1 large vessel of Dum Biryani

  • Vegetable Layer:
  • 50 grams of cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • 50 grams of carrot, chopped 3/4" long diagonally
  • 50 grams of french beans, chopped 3/4" long diagonally
  • 50 grams shelled peas
  • 1/2 capsicum, halved and sliced 3/4" long
  • 1 big potato, halved and sliced into 3/4" long ribbons
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced 3/4" long
  • 1 tomato, halved and sliced 3/4" long
  • 2 green chilles, chopped 3/4" long diagonally
  • 3 bayleaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 big cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 1 teaspoon of Zaiqa Biryani Spice Mix
  • salt to taste
  • Rice Layer:
  • 11/4 cup of basmati rice (long grain)
  • 3 3/4 cups of water
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • salt to taste
  • few drops of color - optional
  1. For the vegetable layer - In a wok, heat the oil and let all the whole spices except cardamom powder temper till they release the wonderful aroma.
  2. Then add onions and fry them till golden brown. Add the remaining vegetables along with cardamom powder. Allow them to cook till tender.
  3. Add the Zaiqa Biryani Spice mix. Divide the cooked vegetables in 2 portions. Set aside.
  4. For the Rice Layer - In a big pan, boil water with salt, bayleaves, cloves, milk and oil (the ingredients under rice layer). You can cover the pan while the water boils.
  5. Add rice, allow it to cook uncovered on medium-high flame till hald cooked like al dente stage. Strain the rice, reserving the liquid. I usually use this liquid to make curries or even knead dough. Divide the strained rice in 2 portions.
  6. Grease a heavy bottom big pan or vessel liberally. Spread one layer of rice in the vessel. Sprinkle 1-2 drops of color on top. Now spread one layer of vegetables on top of it. Repeat with the second layer of rice, color and vegetables. You can divide in more layers if you like. Seal the vessel with aluminium foil.
  7. Place the vessel on low flame and allow the biryani to cook for 5-10 minutes. Place a griddle pan (tawa) on low flame and move the biryani vessel onto the griddle. Now allow it cook on this indirect heat for another 20-30 minutes or longer if desired.
  8. Serve hot with raita.
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour

23 Feb

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

Some of you would know that I am a Fashion buyer by education and profession till blogging bug bit me. I am an M. Tech. in Fashion from NIFT and have worked with brands like UCB and Lifestyle International buying for their stores across India for all categories – ladies, men’s and kids. You want to know more about how I became a food blogger and photographer? Read here.

So yes, I like to think myself a sort of authority on Indian retail and fashion specifically when it comes to commerciality of a product.

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

I felt at home when I was asked to try and review a range of MyFIT by Van Heusen recently.

Van Heusen has always been my favourite brand when it comes to formals the ‘Power Dressing’, so to speak and have gifted V few choice products over the years. I was very intrigued to understand and experience how can you improve perfection.

V has maintained himself very well over the years passing and can flaunt a no-paunch bod through sports, treks and thankfully no gym. So it’s always been a task to get him stuff from other brands, when you age and rise in professional hierarchy you want to move away from early twenties look that you once carried but at the same time you do not have the body to fit into the conventional late-30’s profile of an Indian man. Read – paunch, flab all over, heavy butts.

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

Which leave you nowhere to buy from when you start looking at profile of a brand. Most shirts would be loose on him if goes for a 40 and very fitted like a teenager when you look at buying a 38. The same scenario with trousers and jeans too.

I was intrigued to understand how Van Heusen has come up with the solution to solve such dilemma for many men across India. In their words -

My Fit is not a customisation or a made-to-measure solution, despite it having a few customisable features. My Fit is a solution which helps you find the perfectly fitted shirt & trouser. It gives you the power to pick from an array of options to fit your body type.

V and I went to the closest store near our house, that’s on New DP Road, Aundh. The store staff was completely aware of the range, the solution, the fabric swatches and very helpful.

They took V through whatever he wanted to try and based on his body shape and size gave valuable suggestions. From an array of shirt fits – Athletic Fit, Plus Fit, Healthy Fit, Custom Fit, Slim Fit and Tall Fit, V ended up selecting an Athletic Fit.

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

MY FIT also gives you the option of styling the shirt with different collars, cuff and sleeve length based on your preference.

    • There are over 100 fabric options to choose from,
    • 13 sizes across 6 Fits
    • Sleeve in Full Sleeve and half sleeve with 3 sleeve lengths
    • Cuff variations include chisel and French cuff
    • Collar Options include Half-Cut Away and Mandarin

V still chose a size 40 in shirt but with different fits available, he could select a much required slimmer fit without compromising on the professional look he desired.

Similar trial took place for My FIT trouser range and he fitted nicely into a size 33, which is usually not found in any brand. The regular sizes for any brand is 32, 34, 36 and so on.

V is very happy with selection, making, finish and over all experience of MY FIT by Van Heusen.

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

Van Heusen My FIT Experience

There was a slight delay in delivery of shirt from their end which took 15 days to reach me but styles are worth the wait!

20 Feb

Naan without Yeast

Naan without Yeast

Being a north Indian, Naan evokes memories of dhaba, dal makhani, paneer do pyaza and many such rich punjabi dishes.

It is not wonder that I have made and eaten Naan several times. Some times it turned out gorgeous and sometimes it didn’t.

Naan without Yeast

Naan without Yeast

The reason for not turning out great usually that it would not stick to the griddle or tawa and would keep on slipping from it making it difficult to evenly cook or making the process of balancing tawa and naan into a kitchen dance.

Naan without Yeast

Naan without Yeast

Then I came across fellow blogger Hina’s recipe here and I realised what simple trick solved my dancing mess in kitchen. All it needed was little water applied on it before placing on the tawa. And I was set.

Naan without Yeast

Naan without Yeast

I made some of the best naans using this tip. My recipe is also very similar with just a bit of tweaking to suit my taste. I made her recipe as well.

Today I will share her recipe and her method.

Naan without Yeast

Naan without Yeast

Best yeast free naans for all those rich gravies and dals.

Yields: 10-12 naans

  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of curd, sour at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee)
  • salt as per taste
  • lukewarm water as required
  • 1/4 cup onion seeds/ nigella seeds (kalonji)
  1. For even mixing, sift flour, baking powder and soda together in a large bowl.
  2. Create a small well in the center of dry mixture. Add salt, sugar, curd and ghee in the well.
  3. Mix well using your hands or wooden spoon. Allow it to rest for couple of minutes.
  4. Using your fingertips, knead the dough into a firm dough ball while adding lukewarm water 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Form a smooth ball and allow it to rest covered with a cling film in a warm corner for 4-5 hours.
  6. When ready to cook, If you have a tandoor preheat it or heat up a tawa. Break the dough into smaller dough balls.
  7. Press the dough ball into a small disc, sprinkle nigella seeds on it. Roll out the dough into tear shaped naan. The seeds will now stick well to the naan.
  8. Apply little water on top of the naan using your fingers or a pastry brush. Place it on the hot tawa with wet side down on tawa.
  9. Cook on medium flame, the naan will puff up, now flip over the tawa allowing the naan to directly cook on the flame from other side, still sticking to tawa from one side.
  10. If you are using a tandoor, then stick the naan on the dome lid of the tandoor and allow it to puff. Then gently scrape it off the lid and allow it to cook on the wire rack of the tandoor from the other side.
  11. Apply ghee while serving. Serve hot with some delectable main dish.
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

16 Feb

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Last few weeks have been super hectic and promise to remain same for another couple of months as I have taken on a full-time project along with lot of reviews/ blogging/ product sampling and blah blah… You get the gist.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

So after a few weeks of some heavy researching in ecological fabrics like cotton, bamboo, recycled polyester, soyabean etc and travelling, I finally got a breather of a day and here I am writing a fresh post in Mahabaleshwar series.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Today I will cover the cooked food – street food available in Mahabaleshwar along with photo blog of Mapro and inside peak into a mud tandoor.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Just like strawberries, pink radishes, mulberries, charcoal grilled corn cob is a must have in Mahabaleshwar.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

It beautifully compliments the weather and adds to the story of a hill station. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

To this add some hot chai (Indian tea) with froth created using the sweeping motion between the pan and glass. Mmmmm…

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Then there are bicycle-Icecream vendors, Bhel Puri stalls.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

I love the way the bhel walas create the pattern in the farsan. Just awesome work. Don’t you think?

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

The tandoori roti images are from my stay at Savoy Hotel.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

I was lazing in the room with night being quite chilly and I was not keen on leaving the warmth of the quilts.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

V prodded me to go and not miss the chance of lifetime where I can actually do close-up shots of a tandoor churning out gorgeous rotis.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

And I thank him for bugging me.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

This post is incomplete till I showcase images of some mouth-watering pizza, sandwiches, candies, strawberry cream and a general tour of Mapro farm and restaurant.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

It is one of the best pizza I have ever eaten including calories. Love.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

A visit to this place is a must at least once a trip and if I can squeeze in more, then all the better.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

There’s one more part coming up which I will focus on some activities one can indulge in during the stay in Mahabaleshwar like Boating on Venna Lake, Go Karting, para-gliding point among few.

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog - Part 3 | Travel Story

Mahabaleshwar Photo Blog – Part 3 | Travel Story

06 Feb

Pan-Fried Black Chana Kebabs

Pan-Fried Black Channa Kebabs

These Chane (Black Chana) ke Kebabs are a party favourite every time I have made them. Never failed to please them. And I have made them countless times. It is a recipe which I can now make in my sleep probably.

Pan-Fried Black Channa Kebabs

Pan-Fried Black Channa Kebabs

Sometime ago, we had a potluck party at our place and I had dal makhani, naan, dum aloo and kebabs on my list. To my horror, when I started frying these beauties, they fell apart. I was almost in tears and scraped the snack totally from the menu. Asked V to bring some munchies from outside for his drink buddies.

Since I didn’t have time and nor was in a mood to experiment to salvage them. I just pushed them in the farthest corner of refrigerator for the day and forgot.

Pan-Fried Black Channa Kebabs

Pan-Fried Black Channa Kebabs

Next day armed with some patience and better frame of mind, I decided to tackle them. My gut feel was that for some reason the batter was too dry and that is why falling apart and not binding well together. Putting this assumption to practice, I just added 1-2 teaspoons of water, just enough to slightly wet the dough and let it come together.

And it worked! I was happy.

Pan-Fried Black Channa Kebabs

Pan-Fried Black Channa Kebabs

But instead of deep-frying them as in original recipe, I chose to pan-fry them this time.

The result was exactly same but healthier. So, who wants to try this? Have you also had something gone horribly wrong when you are hosting a party?

 

Pan-Fried Black Channa Kebabs

Pan-Fried Black Channa Kebabs

A healthier version of my all-time party favourite Black Chana Kebabs.

  • 250 gms – Black Channa
  • 2 medium – Onions (finely chopped)
  • 3-4 – Green Chillies
  • 2 Tbsp – Cornflour
  • 1 tsp – Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp – Red Chilli Powder
  • Salt – to taste
  • a pinch – Asafoetida
  1. Soak channa overnight. Boil it with little salt & then allow it to cool.
  2. Drain water (preserve as stock for innumerable uses) & coarsely ground channas once it is cooled. Add little water to grind if required.
  3. Mix in onions, chillies & other ingredients.
  4. Now form into small balls, slightly press them to flatten.
  5. Heat a flat bottom pan, add 1/2 tablespoon oil and gently place the flattened balls on and around the oil. Allow the kebab to cook from one side on low flame for about 5-7 minutes, then gently turn it around and let it cook from the other side.
  6. Serve hot with chutney.
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 40 minutes

Sending this to MLLA  – My Legume Love Affair # 80. MLLA is one of the oldest running monthly food event started by Susan of Well Seasoned Cook & now mantle held by Lisa.