South African Recipe

I haven’t spent much time in my kitchen the last few days, it’s been light meals and rushing around. My middle son has started college, and yes he is studying at a culinary school, wants to become a chef so he can teach his mum a few professional tricks. Our home feels empty with 2 of my boys now almost out the house, my 17 year old is staying at the college residence. Although he drove me crazy when he was at home I miss him terribly. The only positive is that I got to cook a Spicy Durban Chicken Curry, only because I didn’t have to hear his moans about the fact that he hates Chicken Curry and even more so if it was chicken on the bone.

This Spicy Durban Chicken Curry will definitely tantalize your tastebuds with it’s robust flavours. There are many different versions of cooking a chicken curry but my favourite is this one, cooked the South African Indian way with no fancy frills, just plain old chicken curry.

If you have eaten a curry cooked in a South African Indian home you will know a lot of our meat dishes are cooked with meat on the bone. The bone adds loads of flavour to the sauce or gravy as we know.

We do cook our chicken curry very similar to the way we would cook a Durban Lamb Curry https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/durban-lamb-curry/ . There’s is no quick fix to cooking a delicious curry, you cannot achieve the same results if you just add all the ingredients to the pot and just cook it in a hurry. You do have to layer the flavours, saute your onion and garlic, roast your spices and let the curry simmer on a low heat. The longer it simmers the more flavourful it becomes. It’s even more delicious if you allow it to stand for a while before serving.

I remember my mum sometimes cooked the chicken curry and then popped it into the oven for a short while, this totally enhanced the flavour of the curry. Like I have mentioned in a previous post it is best to roast your spices and grind them, you can store them in an airtight bottle. I don’t grind a whole lot, just enough to last me a couple of weeks so that way I know it still maintains its freshness. Nothing beats freshly ground spices.

If you love curries then you may also want to try some of these recipes:

https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/mince-curry-potatoes/

https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/gadra-borlotti-bean-curry/


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Spicy Durban Chicken Curry
Spicy Durban Chicken Curry cooked with Indian Spices
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Instructions
  1. Heat ghee and add the whole spices, cinnamon, bay leaf, elachie, black elachie, star aniseed. When it becomes fragrant add onion, chilli and curry leaf
  2. Saute until onion is slightly brown
  3. Add ginger/garlic paste and saute for a further minute
  4. Add the ground spices, coriander, cumin, soomph, chilli powder, masala and turmeric
  5. Mix well, add a few drops of water to prevent scorching and fry for a minute
  6. Add the chicken and potatoes. Season with salt. Simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes
  7. Add half cup of water and simmer until potatoes are tender and soft. The tomatoes and amount of water I've added creates enough gravy, however you can add more if required. Please note that your gravy should be thick, not runny
  8. Sprinkle in the garam masala and crush the methi leaves with your fingertips and add it in. Mix well. Turn heat off and allow your curry to stand at least half an hour before serving.
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I did post another version of my Vegetable Breyani or Biryani previously. However, this South African Vegetable Biryani is a long winded version and I would say more delicious. It is worth all the effort you put into it though.

This flavour-packed rice dish is an absolute favourite amongst vegetarians and goes down a treat even with meat-eaters. I call this South African Vegetable Biryani my “wedding version” as it tastes just like the one that was served at Indian weddings.  Especially if it’s accompanied by Dhall, you can double the recipe here, and a crunchy carrot salad. In South Africa Vegetable Biryani is typically served with dhall, do try it and you will thank me.

My list of spices may seem like a lot but it is these long list of spices that brings this delectable recipe together. South African Vegetable Biryani is a bold and flavorful dish. If it’s too spicy for you then you can always cool it down with some yogurt or raita. Lots of different vegetable can be used to create this dish but I prefer to use firm vegetable. There’s nothing worse than a mushy biryani. You have to be careful not to overcook your rice too.

Cooking the Biryani in the oven for an hour definitely keeps the grains whole and separated. I find that I am more in control of my cooking when it’s cooked in the oven. Biryani can easily scorch on the stovetop, if you not careful and it can be easily overcooked too. Rice is usually half-cooked before being added to the spiced veggies and you can add some turmeric or a little sprinkling of egg-yellow food colouring for the yellow colour. I love the addition of potatoes and you can steam and fry your potatoes. This method keeps the potatoes whole and speeds up the cooking process.


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South African Vegetable Biryani

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Instructions
  1. Cook the rice together with the elachie, cinnamon stick, some salt and turmeric (only if you not using food colouring) and set aside. If you are using food colouring sprinkle some over the rice but do not mix yet.

  2. Steam potatoes for a few minutes until almost cooked, season with some salt and shallow fry. Set aside

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon vegetable or light olive oil. Add the cumin seeds and once it starts to burst add the cinnamon stick, black cardamom, star aniseed. Once fragrant add the bay leaf and onion together with the thyme and curry leaf

  4. Once onion is translucent add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute

  5. Add the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, soomph, chilli powder and masala. Add a few drops of water and cook for a couple of minutes

  6. Add the vegetable, mix well. Season with salt. Cover and cook on medium heat. After 5 minutes add the mint and tomatoes. If your vegetable is drying up too quickly add some water and lower the temperature until the vegetable is cooked and tender.

  7. Add the rice and potatoes to the veggies. Mix it all together. Add a cup and a half of water. Scatter the cubes of butter over the rice and cook in the oven at 180 degrees celcius for 1 to 1&1/2 hours.


Recipe Notes

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For the vegetable, you can steam it for a few minutes until it's tender or you can cook it from scratch with the spices. I did steam my vegetable before adding to my spices. When adding the food colouring to the rice let is stand for a few minutes before using a fork to mix the colouring into the rice, this way it you will create little specks of colour in the rice. Do not substitute the butter with margarine, the flavour will definitely not be the same.


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Vegetable Makhani is similar to Butter Chicken as it’s exactly the same sauce that’s used minus the chicken. It consists of a rich, creamy sauce and cashew nut paste can be added to the sauce but I prefer not to add it, it’s because it feels rather strange adding nuts and fruit to my curries. I grew up eating South African Indian food which is never cooked with any nuts or fruit so I’m not about to start now, well maybe I’m just not that adventurous. All the same this Vegetable Makhani is still absolutely delicious without the nuts.

I remember eating this dish at an authentic Indian restaurant here in Johannesburg and it was the most delicious vegetarian dish I have ever eaten, however I think they got a new chef at the restaurant and it never tasted the same again. So I thought I will try making some myself and I think this recipe is as close to the real thing. It has the right balance of spices and a hint of sweetness, I never liked a sweet curry but these authentic creamy sauces does need that hint of sweetness, it makes all the difference.

You can add any vegetable you want to this dish but I think firmer vegetable works better, it doesn’t get all mushy in the sauce and you can add paneer. I prefer making my own , you can totally omit the spices if you are using my recipe for Spicy Paneer

There’s nothing better than eating this curry with rice or  freshly made naan bread, it’s wonderful to soak up all that sauce, I’m drooling just thinking about it. I prefer to steam my vegetable before adding it to the sauce and I think this is a quick and easy way too. You can add vegetable according to the amount of  sauce you prefer in your curry, if you want a whole lot of sauce then add less vegetable but if you want less sauce you can add more vegetable. I add about 2-3 cups of vegetable together with a little bit of paneer.

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Easy Vegetable Makhani
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Instructions
  1. Steam your vegetable for a few minutes until cooked and set aside
  2. Heat oil and add cumin seeds. Once the seeds start to burst add the bay leaf and onion. Sauté the onion until it's translucent. Add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  3. Add the ground cumin, coriander, chilli powder, masala and turmeric. Cook for 2 minutes, it will form a thick paste, add a few drops of water to prevent it from burning
  4. Add tomatoes and yogurt. Season with salt and add the sugar. Cover and simmer on low heat until the tomatoes are cooked, the oil will surface to the top when it is ready.
  5. At this stage remove the bay leaf and blend the sauce until it's smooth. add it back to the pan and add the fresh cream together with the fenugreek leaves, crush this between our fingers and then add it. Add your vegetable and if you are using paneer, you can fry it in a little butter or oil and add it to the sauce. Add garam masala and serve hot with naan bread or rice
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Who doesn’t love Butter Chicken, it is one of the most popular Indian dishes and just the mention of it gets everyone salivating. My kids absolutely love Butter Chicken, although I had to stop making it for a while because they had too much of it and didn’t want to hear the word butter chicken. Now that they’ve had a break they are happy to eat it again and this time it was super-delicious. I’ve created many versions of this recipe and I was never totally satisfied so I’m constantly tweaking my recipe until I know it’s perfect.  I’m hoping this is my final tweak as this recipe couldn’t be more perfect. I must have tried making a hundred different versions, just kidding…well not exactly a hundred but enough to make me crazy. I’ve cooked this chicken dish for all my family and friends and everyone loves it and I’m also sure everyone’s had a different version of this recipe.

I think it’s a really simple dish to prepare and even the most novice cook can make this dish with ease, especially if you have the right recipe and all the ingredients. As I always say freshly roasted and ground spices are the best so if you do have the time it will be worth it. I also love using fresh tomatoes but here in Johannesburg we don’t always get the kind of tomatoes I use in my cooking so I have to sometimes settle for canned tomatoes.

I don’t always use butter when cooking my sauce as the cream adds enough creamy, richness to the dish. However, everybody prefers to cook this dish their way so if you prefer butter or ghee over oil feel free to use it.  This recipe seems to have tick all the boxes for now, although I could change my mind in a few months. I am really indecisive, ask my hubby that sometimes goes shopping with me, my indecisiveness may lead me to create another version of this dish. So if I post another recipe in a few months don’t be too surprised. If you’re looking for a vegetarian dish with the same sort of creamy, delicious sauce then you’ve got to try my Paneer Makhani

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Butter Chicken
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Instructions
  1. Marinate the chicken with the Tandoori marinade and yogurt and refrigerate for an hour or overnight
  2. Heat oil and add cumin seeds, fry until it starts to burst. Add bay leaf and onion. Sauté until onion is translucent.
  3. Add ginger/garlic paste and fry for a further minute.
  4. Add turmeric, ground cumin, coriander, Kashmiri chilli powder, masala. Mix well and cook the paste for 2 minutes. Add a few drops of water to prevent scorching
  5. Add the tomatoes, season with salt. Add sugar. Cover and simmer on low heat until tomatoes are cooked, about 20 minutes
  6. Whilst the sauce is cooking you can flash fry the chicken or pop it into the oven using the grill function just until it browns. Do not overcook your chicken if using breasts. Set aside
  7. Once the tomatoes are cooked, crush the fenugreek leaves in your hands and add it to the sauce together with the garam masala and cream. Use a stick blend and blend the sauce until it's smooth and creamy
  8. Add the chicken and let it heat through. Switch off the stove and let the chicken cook through in the sauce. Serve with roti, basmati rice or naan bread
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What better to serve on a rainy day in Johannesburg, curry of course! I ate the most delicious Chickpea and Butternut Curry at a restaurant over the weekend and I had to re-create it for my family. Chickpea has become a hit in our home, of late, but it becomes boring if you try the same recipe too often. I have a family that needs to be constantly introduced to new flavours and recipes, they get bored easily. Thank goodness my mum taught me how to cook and I have a little bit of a right brain to bring out some creativity in the kitchen.

I only ever remember eating fried chickpeas when I lived at home, I don’t know if my mum knew there were other ways to cook chickpeas back then. Not that I minded eating the fried chickpeas, it was delicious. How the world has changed. Now you can cook chickpeas in so many different ways, you’re spoilt for choice.

This is a rich, fragrant dish and I definitely recommend using freshly ground spices, makes the dish even more aromatic and flavourful. I used coconut milk but you can substitute it for cream if you want a richer curry. I also cook everything as spicy as I can but please feel free to reduce the amount of chilli if you can’t handle too much heat. A great dish for a main meal and can be served with naan bread or basmati rice. I served mine with naan bread, recipe will follow shortly.

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Chickpea and Butternut Curry with Coconut Milk
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Instructions
  1. Chop up the butternut and set aside. Blend the onion, chilli, ginger/garlic into a smooth paste.
  2. Heat oil and fry the onion mixture until the onion is transluscent
  3. Add the cumin, coriander, chilli powder and garam masala. Mix well and fry for a minute. Add a drop of water to prevent it from burning
  4. Drain the chickpeas and give it a quick rinse, I prefer to do this but you don't have to. Add the chickpeas and butternut and mix it well with the spices.
  5. If you are using the Knorr stockpot you can add it in and add a cup of warm water with it. If you using a cup of vegetable stock then add it now but do not add any more water.
  6. Add the can of coconut cream.
  7. Mix it all together and simmer on a low heat until the butternut is soft but not mushy and the sauce reduces.
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The name of this dish derives from the fact that it is cooked in an Indian wok, called Kadai and it’s cooked with tomatoes, onion and bell peppers. It is different to Paneer Makhani, I would say not as rich and creamy. There are two different variations to cooking Kadai Paneer, one is the dry version and the other with gravy. Paneer has become so popular and there are hundreds of recipes using paneer. I have posted a Spicy Paneer recipe previously. You can use the same recipe and just omit the herbs and spices.

I am excited to try other paneer dishes and if I do I will definitely share them with you.

 

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Kadai Paneer
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Instructions
  1. Blend the onion, chilli and ginger/garlic paste until smooth. Heat oil and add the onion mixture until onion is translucent.
  2. Add the chill powder, coriander powder, garam masala and turmeric. Fry for a few seconds.
  3. Add the pureed tomatoes and bell pepper. Season with salt and simmer until tomatoes are cooked
  4. Add the cream and heat through. Add fenugreek and paneer. Turn off heat and garnish with coriander. Serve with roti or naan bread
  5. Recipe adapted from https://vegecravings.com/kadai-paneer-gravy-recipe/
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My kitchen is my sanctuary, people have places in their home that helps them relax, my kitchen is what helps me relax. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog, I wanted to share more than just my recipes and my passion for cooking. I want to share my story and how my kitchen, my hobbies and passion keeps me healthy, sane and fulfilled.

There are so many women out there that are stay at home moms and I hear them say they are bored or their lives are not fulfilled, trust me I’ve been there too. I wont exactly say I was bored, I was never bored as I’ve always kept myself busy but I also felt that my life lacked meaning and fulfillment after I left my corporate job. I made a conscious decision to resign from my full-time job and take care of my sons but I was never content just being home and taking care of my family,

I always wanted more to my life. It’s why I always had a hobby, learnt a new skill, worked part-time jobs, did a little catering from home.  I am a qualified nail technician, I did a few beauty courses  and I work from home now. Although I don’t earn as well as I earned in my corporate job it gives me some financial independence. This also keeps me sane and gives me the space I need, my duty is not only to be a mother and wife but I also have a duty to take care of myself.  I think a woman should always be independent and be skilled at something, Life is really unpredictable and you never know when you may need to use that skill or have your own money.  I was in my first relationship for 10 years and I never thought I will ever divorce but I had reached a point of choosing between sanity and staying alive or an unhappy, abusive marriage and I chose to rather save myself but I could only do that because I was financially independent. I could only walk away from a life of hell because I was able to survive on my own, I had a job, I owned my own home and I owned my own car. I know of women that are stuck in abusive marriages because they are not financially independent. They fear what life would be like when they step out on their own and yes it is a scary thought but imagine how easy it would be if you had money of your own. . Again, this is why your financial independence is a priority, above anything else a woman should be able to walk away from a bad relationship and should be able to take care of herself without depending on a man.

I’m lucky to have been given a second chance in life, I am now married to a wonderful man who takes great care of my boys and I, but I will never forget the struggles I faced and it’s why I’m determined to always learn, to always improve my skills and most importantly to always feel fulfilled. There’s an amazing affirmation written by Louise Hay and I think every woman should practice this “I love you, and  I am beginning to make positive changes in my life right now. Day by day I will improve the quality of my life.  it is safe for me to be happy and fulfilled”. Change always begins with you and if you start loving yourself, you will start taking better care of yourself.

I look forward to sharing my life in the kitchen and for now here’s my recipe that was created with love in my kitchen today. This is another fuss free recipe and I promise to bring you more fuss free recipes so you can have more time to love yourself. You can double the recipe if you cooking for a family!

 

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Indian spiced chicken with baby potatoes and carrots
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Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Cut up your carrots and your potatoes.
  2. Pop all the ingredients in a large bowl, mix them really well and rub the spices into the chicken. Place in an ovenproof dish, cover wiith foil and bake until the potatoes and carrots are soft. Remove the foil and cook further until the chicken is slightly brown. Serve hot with some crusty bread!
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Firstly, I’m not even sure what’s the correct word for this dish anymore, far too confusing for my brain. Pilaf or Pulao is supposed to be a dish with a touch of spice and the rice and curry is mixed together and then cooked. Breyani or Biryani on the other hand is supposed to be a layered dish, a little more spicy than a Pilaf. Even for an Indian this can be much too confusing at times. I love food and I love reading all of the history behind some dishes but at the end of the day if something tastes great, quite frankly does it really matter if it’s a Breyani or a Pilaf.

I tried to keep this dish as simple as I could, it can be a tedious task but so worth it so you really don’t mind putting in a bit of effort. It is great to marinate your chicken overnight but if you don’t have the time to prep in advance it’s perfectly ok not to. I decided to make this on the  spur of the moment so I didn’t have time to prep in advance but it still tasted divine. It is a beautiful piquant dish and so worth the effort put into making it.

I used a cup and a half of rice but you an always increase the quantity to two cups. I also used about 80 grams of butter but you can easily leave out the butter or add less butter. If you not eating Pilaf everyday you can indulge in a little extra butter. It’s also best to roast your spices and grind them yourself, nothing beats freshly ground spices, the aroma is nothing compared to a store bought one.

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Chicken Pilaf/Pulao
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Instructions
  1. Wash rice, season with salt and cook until it's half done. Sprinkle a little food colouring in, cover and set aside. Do not mix in the food colouring immediately. After a few minutes it will give the rice a few different tones, when mixed.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 deg celcius. Boil your potatoes until half cooked, season and shallow fry them, set aside
  3. Heat oil on low heat, add the 2 pieces of cinnamon stick, elachie, star aniseed and bay leaf. Fry until fragrant and add onion, curry leaf, chilli and thyme. Sauté the onion until it is a little brown
  4. Add the ginger/garlic paste. Fry for a minute. Add the chilli powder, masala, ground coriander, cumin, soomph, turmeric, ground cardamom and garam masala. Add a few drops water and fry for a minute, then add the yogurt, mix well
  5. Add the chicken and the mint. Season with salt. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes
  6. Mix the curry, potato and rice together. Place the cubes of butter on top of the rice. Sprinkle a cup of water over the rice and cook in the oven for an hour. You can leave it in for a short while longer if it's not fully cooked and add a few extra drops of water, if required. Once cooked garnish with coriander.
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The only bean I ate whilst growing up was the red speckled beans, I hated anything else in a bean form. My mum cooked these beautiful pink beans and it was called Gadra beans, I have no idea where the name comes from but I discovered on Google that the real name for these white beans with pink hues is Borlotti beans. I remember when I still lived at home going to the market on a Saturday was a real treat, my mum and dad used to visit the Verulam market which is in Kwazulu Natal, where I was raised. They bought the freshest vegetables and although it was cheap, Indians had to always bargain with the farmers. Some still do. I wish I had that trait but I don’t, I’m better at giving away things for free and I suck at bargaining so I won’t even try.

Barlotti beans is not so easily found in the supermarkets in Johannesburg, however Food Lover’s Market and Checkers Hyper do stock loads of vegetables that are consumed by the Indian population. I get really excited when I see the vegetables I grew up eating, I didn’t love these beans but now it has become a firm favourite on my meat free days.

In South Africa there are literally hundreds of variations to cooking any one dish. My mum cooked this dish totally differently to the way my mum-in-law cooks it. My mum created a dish, almost like a dry curry and my mum-in-law cooks it like any other bean curry with potatoes and lots of gravy. I prefer my mum-in-laws method as I get to add my most loved veggie to it, potatoes. Once cooked the beans have a creamy texture and a nutty flavour. It is a good source of protein and can be served with roti or rice.

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Gadra (Borlotti) Bean Curry
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Instructions
  1. Heat ghee on a medium heat and add cinnamon stick and star aniseed. Once fragrant add bay leaf, onion and curry leaf. Saute until onion is slightly brown
  2. Then add the ginger/garlic paste. Fry for a minute and then add all the spices and fry for a further minute. Add a few drops of water if required.
  3. Add the beans, season with salt and mix well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until all the moisture dries out
  4. Add half cup of water. Cover and cook until beans are soft. You can add a little more water during cooking time if it dries out
  5. Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Add another half cup of water, cover and cook on a low heat. Please note the amount of water required depends on how much gravy you want and also depends on how fast or how soft your potatoes cook. Some potatoes cook really quickly and therefore you have to ensure your beans are soft before adding in the potatoes and be careful not to add too much water. If your potatoes are a more firm and takes longer to cook you may require more water as the longer the cooking time the more the gravy will reduce.
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This is another Indian classic dish. It’s made with veggies and basmati rice or any long grain rice.  It is healthy and delicious with whole spices that makes this dish so fragrant. I wish you could smell my home whilst I was cooking this breyani, smelled divine. With my picky eating family I normally  think twice before making a veg breyani, I think the fact that it has veggies  in it is enough to put my two boys off dinner but they eat or they starve.  I always try and make dishes to please everyone in my family except me but today I thought I will be selfish and make something I can enjoy too. Breyani, I know can be a tedious process but trust me this breyani is cooked in one pot with no fuss and can be ready in just over an hour. I used green beans, carrots and peas with potatoes. Please try and use vegetable that remain firm, you really don’t want your vegetable getting all mushy in your breyani.  I bought a bag of basmati rice which cost me a small fortune but it was the worst rice I’ve ever cooked, I usually buy the Maharani Basmati rice, which is of excellent quality but the store that I normally get it from was out of stock. I settled for another brand and was highly disappointed. Therefore I had to use normal long grain rice for this breyani. But rest assured it is still delicious. You can double the recipe if you feeding a larger crowd but this was enough for my family of 4, with leftovers.

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One Pot Vegetable Breyani
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Instructions
  1. If you are using Basmati rice you can soak it for half hour, add the spices as in STEP 1, season with salt and give it a quick boil for about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. If you have some egg yellow food colouring you can add some to the rice but this is optional. If you are using long grain rice, such as Tastic (which I've used), you can soak it for half hour, season and cook until it's half done. Here too you can add some food colouring should you wish and fluff with a fork.
  2. Boil the potatoes until they are half cooked and set aside. Pre-heat the oven at 180 deg celcius. Heat oil in a flat pot, add the cinnamon, bay leaf, star aniseed and black cardamom. Allow it to fry for a few seconds, once itl becomes fragrant add the onion.
  3. Add thyme and chilli and let it saute with the onion until the onion is slightly brown. Remove half the onion and set aside.
  4. Add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the green beans, carrots and peas. Fry for 3 minutes. Add masala, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, fennel, garam masala and turmeric, mix well and let it saute for 3 minutes. Add tomato and mint, season with salt. Cover and allow it to simmer until tomatoes are cooked.
  5. You can now add the potatoes and rice. Give it a little mix. Pour in a cup of water. Sprinkle the onion on top. If you are using butter you can add that on top too. Cook in the oven for an hour. If you think it needs to cook for longer you can add a little more water and cook until it's fully cooked.
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