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Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetable Biryani (Indian Spiced Rice)

Cashew nut snack, roasted and salted

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Christmas is around the corner (trust me it’ll creep up on you really fast, so you better have your gifts ready :-D ), and I like to add a little Indian flair to my Christmas Eve dinner. Ok, I’m obviously not Christian, but being born and brought up in Staten Island, I can say I know a thing or two about Christmas festivities and how important it is, religiously speaking. However, I tend to use Christmas as an excuse to indulge in food and gifts- yes, I’m still a child and there is NO shame in that! For some reason squash reminds me of the holidays- maybe because it’s all over the supermarket in ridiculous quantities and they’re pretty cheap! Just look how cheap you can get some Acorn Squashes at Freshdirect averaging around $1.24 for 1! While using this inexpensive vegetable, I decided to put my Indian twist on Stuffed Acorn Squash.
I roast the squash with some masalas, scoop it out and toss it with Spicy Biryani along with cashews and saffron. It has the perfect winter touch with warm flavors of clove, cardamom, cinnamon and spicy masalas- it’s sure to keep you cozy on a cold snowy day! Biryani by the way is a traditional spicy-roasted basmati rice, served in different varieties across India. It comes in Chicken & Lamb Biryani, but we’re not too concerned with that here :-P . Actually, Wikipediahas a pretty good definition of it! Did I mention this dish is Vegan– yes, I know amazing! So why don’t we get started on my Indian inspired Christmas dish?!
Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetable Biryani:
  • 4 acorn squashes cut in half, gutted
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice soaked in water
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 tbsp garam masala (click for a homemade recipe or store-bought is fine)
  • 1 medium red onion- diced
  • 3-4 small sweet peppers- diced
  • handful cashew nuts– chopped a bit
  • pinch of saffron
  • handful cilantro– finely chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp biryani paste- recipe BELOW (or store-bought)
  • 1 medium onion- cut into thick slices (garnishing)
  • salt to taste
  • coarse black pepper
  • PAM original flavor
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet place the squash halves, spray with PAM and sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp garam masala. Place in the oven and BROIL till tender and charred- about 10-15 minutes.

2. While the squashes are roasting, in a large skillet, spray with PAM and add vegetable oil and set over medium heat. Add the cashews and saute until fragrant and slightly darkened. Add onions and peppers, sprinkle with black pepper and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Once the onions and peppers are soft, but now brown, add the soaked basmati rice (make sure not to get any water in it!). Saute for 5-7 minutes. You want to toast the the rice.

3. Remove the squash from the oven and cool for a few minutes before handling. Score the squash into small cubes, WITHOUT cutting through the skin. Scoop the cubes out into a bowl and set aside. Keep the shell aside, DON’T throw out!

4. Once the rice is toasted add 1 cup of water, pinch of saffron, cover and cook on medium-low heat, about 15 minutes. You want the rice to be cooked thru, not mushy so don’t mix it around too much! Once the rice is cooked, add the cubed squash, tossing gently (you don’t want the squash to break and mush around the rice). Add the Biryani paste and toss to coat. Mix in 3/4 of the chopped cilantro. Taste for salt and biryani flavor- it should be strong, spicy and aromatic.

5. In a small skillet, spray with PAM and set over medium-high heat. Add onion slices, and saute without breaking up the circles. Cook until brown-ish about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

6. Fill each squash bowl with rice, just coming over the top. Top each one with an onion round and sprinkle with remaining chopped cilantro. Serve with yogurt or raita.

Serves 4

Biryani Paste:

  • 1 medium white onion- diced
  • 1 beefsteak tomato- diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic- crushed and minced (click HERE for amazing garlic tips!)
  • 2 tbsp ginger- freshly grated (need help Tackling Ginger?)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (it should be spicy!)
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • 4-5 hefty tbsp Biryani paste (I use Patak’s Brand)
  • PAM original flavor
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a medium skillet, spray with pam, add oil and set over medium-high flame. Add onions and tomatoes, saute until golden-brown about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chili powder and cilantro. Saute until vegetables are soft and fragrant about 4-5 minutes. Add the biryani paste and mix well, making sure all the veggies are coated. Remove from the heat and let cool (10-15 minutes).

2. In a grinder/food processor, add the biryani mixture and grind until smooth (slightly chunky is ok). Store in an air tight container. Can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer- for a while!

Makes about 1/2-1 cup

Can’t Get Enough Healthy Vegan? Check these out:

Tandoori Tofu Masala “Salad”

Spicy Cumin Potatoes with Green Chili Tofu

Indian Sloppy Joe (Pav Bhaji)

Baked Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Idli & Vada (South Indian Delight)

Creamy Maharashtrian Chole

 

 
 

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Baby Octopus & Fennel Risotto Recipe

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true "par...

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With the temperatures dropping a wee bit at the beginning of this week it has encouraged me cook more ‘substantial’ meals, by this I mean risottos, pasta or roasted food which I have steered clear of for the past few months in preference for something lighter and refreshing. I’m not saying it has gone cold but after several months of hot humid weather even a drop to temperatures in their low 20s (centigrade) makes me excited about winter food and baking again. I think P has been craving winter food, he loves stodgy carb loaded food whereas I avoid them. As part of our European trip back home to Europe this year I am taking him to visit where I lived in Frankfurt in June and I just know he is going to be in heaven eating in the Keipern (Bistros) on plates of dumplings and pieces of meat that hardly fit on the plate.

This risotto is hardly stodgy, far from it, it is creamy and light with the fresh lemon and fennel coming through and it didn’t have me toiling for long over the stove top either. The sun is out again this morning though so I imagine we will be back to salads again tonight!

Ingredients – makes 2

  • 8 baby octopus
  • 4 cups stock, approx (chicken, fish or vegetable)
  • 2 cups Aborio rice
  • 2 fennel bulbs, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt and black pepper to season
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  • To cook the octopus I use my BBQ with an open flame which prevents the octopus from ‘stewing” and gets nice char grill but you can fry it on a very high heat.
  • Season the octopus with salt & pepper and a little olive oil and slice in half if not very small pieces (for faster cooking). For BBQ cooking place on a skewer and grill on high for 2 minutes, just until cooked. For pan cooking, place a cast iron pan on a high heat and quickly fry the octopus for 2 minutes in batches. Do not put all the octopus in the pan at once as the heat will drop and the octopus will stew in it’s juice and be rubbery.
  • Heat the stock in a pan.
  • Remove the core and fronds from the fennel before slicing thinly.
  • Add the olive oil to a large frying pan over a low heat then the garlic and fennel. Fry gently until the fennel is opaque and soft.
  • Add the rice and turn the heat up to medium and stir the rice so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate before starting to add the hot stock.
  • Turn the heat down again and start adding the stock one ladle at a time, stirring the rice to release the creamy starch. Allowing each ladle of stock to be absorbed before adding the next ladle of stock.
  • It will take about 15-18 minutes for this process, taste the rice to see if it is cooked and soft but still with a slight bite. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked add boiling water in place of the stock.
  • Remove risotto pan from the heat and stir in the butter, lemon zest, Parmesan & char grilled octopus then place the lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes.
  • Serve immediately with cracked pepper.

And for some exciting news this week, my blog along with a few other fab Kiwi bloggers was mentioned in the NEXT magazine this month. Here is the article and do visit the other bloggers mentioned.

 

Source: http://peasepudding.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/fennel-and-baby-octopus-risotto/

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Rice, Seafood, Vegetables

 

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Sindhi Kadhi Indian Recipe

Cooked Basmati Rice and peas (beans), with pin...

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Sindhi Kadhi is a dish that is fully rounded and has so many levels of flavor. The hints of sweet and tangy combined with the spiciness and the beautifully colored vegetables is a feast to the eyes and to the hungry stomach. Change out the vegetables, eliminate some you don’t like or add on the ones you love – it’s a very forgiving dish. Enjoy this Sindhi Kadhi with some plain white Basmati Rice and you’ll need little else to satisfy the soul.

 

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

Water – 5.5 Cups + .5 Cups
Besan/Chick Pea Flour – 1/3 Cup
Drumsticks – 1 Cup, cut to 1″ length
Carrots – 2 med. peeled, washed and cut
Cauliflower – 2 big florets, cut to bite-size
Green Beans – 10, cut to 1/2″ pieces
Potato – 1 medium, cubed
Green Chillies – 4 or to taste, slit
Small Eggplants – 3, cubed
Oil – 1 tbsp
Methi / Fenugreek Seeds – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1/2 tsp or to taste
Salt – to taste
Jaggery – 2 tbsp or to taste
Tamarind – 2 tbsp or to taste
Cilantro – for garnish

Method:

1. In pressure cooker, combine the Chickpea Flour and the 5.5 cups of Water and remove all lumps.
2. Pressure cook for 1 whistle and allow the pressure to release by itself.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup Water and the Drumsticks and allow them to come to a boil.
4. Once the Water and the Drumsticks have come to a boil, low heat to a simmer and cook till ready to use.
5. In a big open pan, heat Oil on medium heat and add in the Fenugreek Seeds and allow them to sizzle.
6. Add in Turmeric and Red Chilli Powder and immediately after that all the Vegetables (Potatoes, Green Chilies, Carrots, Cauliflower, Beans & Eggplant)
7. Turn the flame up to a high, mix and coat all the Vegetable with the Oil.
8. Cook for about 3 minutes or till the Vegetables get a slight golden brown and lower the heat to a medium.
9. Add in the Chickpea Flour and Water, add the Drumsticks and the water, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
10. Add in the Salt, Jaggery and Tamarind Paste and mix.
11. Increase heat and allow the Kadhi to reduce and thicken up to a thin custard consistency.
12. Garnish with Cilantro and serve with Rice.

 

 
 

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Betty’s Celestial Cheese Rice Strata

In this video, Betty demonstrates how to make her Celestial Cheese-Rice Strata. This is a beautiful and tasty casserole that goes with almost any entrée. I hope you can use it over the holidays!

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked regular rice (Use 1 ½ cups rice, 1 ½ cups water, 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, for 14 minutes.)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 oz. diced pimiento, drained
2 ½ cups milk
4 eggs, well-beaten
½ teaspoon seasoned pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ to ½ teaspoon hot sauce (Use more, if you like it hot!)
½ teaspoon salt, optional (I omitted the salt, but the casserole will be better with ½ to ¾ teaspoons salt.)

Place half of the cooked rice into a lightly greased 13-inch by 9-inch by 2-inch Pyrex baking dish. Top with half of the cheese and half of the pimiento. Repeat layers. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour mixture over rice layers. Bake at 325 for approximately 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve immediately! This is a great addition to any table, and it is wonderful at holiday and potluck dinners! I hope you enjoy it! Have a Very Merry Christmas! Love, Betty & Rick ♥♥♥♥♥ ( This was made at Christmas 2010 lol)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Betty's Kitchen, Cheese

 

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Bettys “Good Luck” Hoppin’ John Recipe

Green, yellow and red bell peppers from the ca...

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In this video, Betty demonstrates how to make a traditional New Year’s Day dish, “Good Luck” Hoppin’ John. In the South, the belief is that if you eat Hoppin’ John on New year’s Day, you will have good luck all year long! I have a previous version of Hoppin’ John, which you may prefer, but this is my creation for New Year’s Day 2011.

Ingredients:

4 to 6 slices uncooked bacon
1 to 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ medium onion, chopped
15-oz. can blackeye peas, undrained
(2) 10 ¾-oz. cans beef broth
enough uncooked long grain white rice to fill a beef broth can
sprig of fresh rosemary or other herb for garnish, optional

In a frying pan, place 4 to 6 strips of bacon. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and place on paper toweling to drain. In a medium-sized saucepan, place (2) 10 ¾-oz. cans beef broth and 1 equally-sized can of long grain white rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly with a lid, and cook for 14 to 15 minutes, until rice absorbs beef broth. In the meantime, heat 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil in a deep skillet. Add 1/3 chopped green pepper, 2 cloves minced garlic and ½ chopped onion. Saute until onion is clear. To the deep skillet of sautéed vegetables add your cooked rice and a 15-oz. can of undrained blackeye peas. Stir all together, and return to heat for a short time to distribute heat to the blackeye peas and to intermingle flavors. Ladle out you Hoppin’ John into a nice serving bowl, and crumble (or slice) 4 to 6 slices of crisp bacon over the top. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary or other fresh herb, if desired. Serve immediately as a main course or as a side dish. I wish you the Happiest New Year! I hope this recipe brings you good luck throughout the year! (wink) –Betty ♥

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 12, 2011 in Betty's Kitchen

 

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Awhadi Mutton Biryani Recipe

based on :Image:Lamb-Cuts-Brit.png also used s...

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Different in cooking style from the regular biryani, this recipe uses cooked meat. The taste also differs as this biryani is more moist and delicately flavoured than regular biryani. as all Indian dishes, the long list of ingredients may make it look tedious. But the trick is in gathering all things in one place and then merely assembling it all together. Prep is important!!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 kg mutton
  • 1/2 kg basmati rice
  • 100 gm butter
  • 100 ml cream
  • few strands saffron

MARINADE:

  • 3 fried onions, ground to a paste
  • handful coriander leaves
  • 3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 300 gms yogurt
  • 1 tsp red chilli pd
  • 1 tsp turmeric pd
  • salt to tast

For rice:

  • 1 tsp clarified butter
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 black cardamom
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 10-15 mint leaves

For mutton:

  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp coriander pd
  • 2 pinches nutmeg pd
  • 2 pinches mace pd
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom pd
  • 2 handfuls fresh mint

METHOD

  1. Marinate mutton overnight or at least 3 hrs.
  2. Parboil rice with all the ingredients.
  3. Mix the butter and cream and microwave for 30 seconds.
  4. Soak the saffron in the butter-cream mix.
  5. Heat ghee/oil in a cooker, and sizzle all the whole spices mentioned in the mutton ingredient list.
  6. Add ginger garlic paste and coriander powder and fry a while.
  7. Add the mutton, with 1/2 cup water and pressure cook till nearly done.
  8. Remove whole spices.
  9. Add the remaining ingredients and cook till done.
  10. Reserve a cupful of the gravy.

ASSEMBLY:

  1. in a heavy bottomed pan, layer the mutton, then rice, and then the saffron cream mix.
  2. Repeat layers.
  3. Sprinkle the top of the rice with slivers of fried almonds and burnt onions.
  4. Put a lid on the pan and seal the edges with a thick flour dough.
  5. Cook on low flame for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve warm with the reserved gravy (called qorma) and curd raita.

 

Serves: 6

Recipe posted by sweetjaw on nigella.com

 

 
 

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