Cauliflower & Mixed Vegetable Biryani ~ Layered Basmati Rice with Saffron

There are many ways to make a Biryani, a layered basmati rice dish scented with whole spices like cardamom, cloves and bay leaves, laced with saffron, sprinkled with nuts, cilantro and a generous amount of garam masala.

This week one of our customers, Jay was looking for a recipe to prepare Biryani, the vegetarian way which actually reminded me I haven't made Biryani in a very long time. I always prepare my Biryanis vegetarian, and this was a great chance for me to make it and post the recipe -- especially since my mouth was kinda watering while reading the request!

This recipe makes a modest sized portion, serving 4-6 people (opposed to 8-10 people like the other Biryani recipes I have on file). It's a nice recipe to make on the weekend and can be enjoyed for a couple of extra meals during the week. Any curry will go nicely with it and serve it with plain yogurt on the side.

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As for the veggies, I used a combination of carrots, mushrooms, green beans and yes, cauliflower all chopped up quite finely and nicely. I love how the cauliflower soaks in the flavours of the Biryani Masala lending the vegetable mixture a bit of density.

I must say a good rule of thumb for any Biryani preparation is to select and choose a top quality basmati rice, which will take the dish 'over-the-top'!


CAULIFLOWER & MIXED VEGETABLE BIRYANI

Method of Preparation:

1) VEGETABLES: In a skillet, fry onions in 2 tsp. of ghee on medium heat until slightly brown. Mix in crushed tomatoes and ARVINDA'S BIRYANI MASALA and salt. Add mixed vegetables, nuts and 1/4 tsp. ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA. Stir to combine and cook for a couple of minutes. Set aside. 

2) In a small bowl add 2 tbsp. of water with saffron. Set aside to soak.

3) RICE: Wash and rinse rice in a couple of changes of water and soak for 15 minutes. Drain. 

4) In a large pot, add soaked rice, ARVINDA'S WHOLE SPICES, salt and cover with plenty of water. Cover with lid and bring to boil until rice is nearly cooked (al dente). Strain rice.

5) In a skillet, fry sliced onion in 1 tsp. of ghee until slightly cooked. Set aside.

6) ASSEMBLY: Grease a medium sized casserole dish with ghee or oil. Spread half the rice evenly on bottom of dish. Sprinkle in half of soaked saffron (with water). Sprinkle with half the amount of cilantro. Add all cooked vegetable mixture and spread out. Add remaining cooked rice, sprinkle with remaining saffron (in water). Top with sliced onions.

7) Cover with foil and bake in a 350F preheated oven for 15 minutes. Garnish with remaining cilantro and sprinkle of ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA.

Ingredients:
1 CUP mixed vegetables, finely chopped (cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, green beans)
1 large onion, finely chopped
¼ CUP crushed tomatoes, canned
1 TBSP. ghee
1½ TSP. ARVINDA'S BIRYANI MASALA
2 TBSP. cashews or pistachio nuts, halved
¼ TSP. salt
½ TSP. ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA
¼ TSP. saffron, soaked in water
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced, to garnish

Rice:
1 CUP premium basmati rice
2 EACH cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise & peppercorns from ARVINDA'S WHOLE SPICES
½ TSP. salt or salt to taste
1 TSP. ghee
¼ CUP cilantro, chopped to garnish
 

"Master Curry Sauce": 3 curries to warm up for winter

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Back in December, one of our customers inquired about Arvinda's Curry Powder, mentioning they were planning to try the "Master Curry Series" over the holidays. Master Curry Series?!?! Sounds fascinating! We were intrigued as this was something we wanted to try!

We later found out, LCBO Food & Drink Magazine writer Eric Vellend, published a "Master Curry" series of three recipes using a "Master Curry Sauce" in the coveted Holiday 2017 issue using Arvinda's Curry Powder and Arvinda's Garam Masala. Curries don't typically come first to mind during the festive time of year but of course it makes perfect sense! Post Boxing Day, after all the traditional holiday recipes are tested, tasted, eaten (and exhausted!), it is the perfect chance to try new recipes to share with family and friends.

Although I didn't get a chance to try the "Master Curry" recipes over the holiday season, I pulled out the magazine to try them this January. With all the cold weather and snowy conditions we're experiencing (not that I'm complaining), it's curries I crave and what I cook to keep warm. Chilies find a way to comingle with the fragrance of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and turmeric, which does a thing or two to help warm the body up. It really is the a perfect food for some of the coldest days of the year.

The Master Curry concept is genius - you make one master base sauce using a high quality curry powder to create the base flavours and use it to create three completely different curries. In this case, the recipes featured in Food & Drink are as follows:

  • Master Curry Sauce Tofu & Peas (I made it with paneer instead of tofu);
  • Master Curry Sauce Shrimp and
  • Master Curry Sauce Chicken

Recipes available on page 222, LCBO FOOD &DRINK HOLIDAY 2017.

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We found the curries to be delightful! Once the Master Sauce is created, making one of the curries takes only 10-20 minutes (less time for the tofu and shrimp curries, more time for the chicken curry). Making the Master Curry Sauce is the perfect task to take on over the weekend when you have a bit more time. In that way it will be easy to create various curries--each different--during the week when dinner needs to get on the table quickly! In addition, it's a great way to add some turmeric to the daily diet.

If you prefer more intensity, you can make the recipes using Arvinda's Curry Masala

If you have a chance to try out the recipes, please share your photos and comments. We'd like to say thank you to Eric Vellend for the Arvinda's Curry Powder mention - many thanks for the lovely recommendation which is much appreciated! :)

GARAM MASALA MULLED WINE

Arvinda's Garam Masala contains a lot of the spices you would find in a mulled wine, namely cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. 

Mulled wine is the perfect warming festive drink to serve during the colder months, paired with appetizers or sweets. It sure would be lovely to sip this around a crackling fireplace in the midst of the festive season.

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GARAM MASALA MULLED WINE

Method of Preparation:

1) In a pot, add raw cane sugar, the juice of one orange and a splash of red wine. Mix together to combine and stir on medium heat. Add ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks and vanilla pod.

2) Mix and allow spices to become fragrant. Pour in rest of red wine. Gently simmer on medium low heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir in port just before serving and garnish with orange slices.

Ingredients:
750 ML bottle red wine (use a half decent red table wine, Merlot is good)
½ CUP raw cane sugar
2 large oranges
2 TSP. ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA
2-3 cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, each from ARVINDA'S WHOLE SPICES
1 vanilla pod, slit in half
½ CUP port (optional)

Fruity Christmas Chai Spiced Cookies

One fun way to use Arvinda's Christmas Chai Masala is in your holiday cookies.

Try these cute little fruity Christmas cookies that will add some spice and flair to your holiday table.

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FRUITY CHRISTMAS CHAI SPICED COOKIES

Method of Preparation: 

1) Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and mix. Add baking powder and vanilla extract. Mix. Fold in flour. Add ARVINDA'S CHRISTMAS CHAI MASALA. Fold in candied peel, citrus peel, currants and cranberries.

2) Chill dough for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

3) Preheat oven to 350F.

4) Roll out cookies into small 1-inch diametre balls and flatten with palm of your hand. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

5) Bake for 13-18 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Make 45 small cookies.

Option: Drizzle with melted white chocolate to finish cookies.

Ingredients:
1/2 CUP butter, softened
1/2 CUP brown sugar
1 egg
1/8 TSP. baking powder
1/4 TSP. pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 CUP all-purpose flour
1 1/2 TSP. ARVINDA'S CHRISTMAS CHAI MASALA
1/4 CUP mixed candied peel
1/4 CUP mixed citrus peel
1/4 CUP currants or raisins
1/4 CUP dried cranberries   

Christmas Chai Snow Crescents (Eggless & Gluten-Free)

This year we made most of our Christmas cookies gluten-free. We love them because they're light and crispy, and they've been a hit amongst all our guests so far.

This season we doubled the batch, stored the dough in the freezer and baked these cookies as we needed them so they're always fresh and crispy on the day of serving them.

If you haven't done your holiday baking as of yet, try making these Christmas Chai Snow Crescents which are easy, delicious and festive to cheer up any Christmas dessert table!

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CHRISTMAS CHAI SNOW CRESCENTS (EGGLESS & GLUTEN-FREE)

Method of Preparation:
1) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325F.

2) In a large bowl, cream butter with sifted icing sugar. Add ARVINDA'S CHRISTMAS CHAI MASALA (or ARVINDA'S CHAI MASALA) and almond extract and mix. Sift in flour and mix. Fold in ground almonds.

3) Take a small ball of mixture and roll between palms of the hand to form a cresent. Continue with remaining mixture.

4) Bake for 15 minutes in the oven or until slightly golden brown. Cool on wire rack. To garnish cresents, dip into icing sugar to create a festive snow finish.

Ingredients:
½ CUP butter
½ CUP icing sugar + extra for ‘snow’ finishing
1 TSP. ARVINDA'S CHRISTMAS CHAI MASALA (or ARVINDA'S CHAI MASALA)
1 TSP. almond extract
1 CUP gluten-free flour mix
½ CUP blanched almonds, finely ground

No Sugar Added: Chai Spiced Orange Chocolate Truffles

I usually make a big batch of these Chai Spiced Orange Chocolate Truffles and stash them in the freezer. I love these because they are indulgent but without any added sugars. I use medjool dates to sweeten the pot!

These would be also nice to gift during the holidays or placed on your Christmas cookie plate. When you bite into one they are soft and melt-in-your-mouth. Store in the freezer for up to one month and they will hold their shape.


CHAI SPICED ORANGE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Method of Preparation: 

1) In a bowl, soak medjool dates in hot water for 30 minutes. Set aside.

2) In a double boiler over the stove, gently melt chocolate. (A double boiler is a pot of boiling water with a bowl placed on top to melt the chocolate. This way chocolate won’t burn). Stir in cream, vanilla extract, ARVINDA'S CHAI MASALA and orange zest.

3) In a food processor, purée dates with water until a smooth paste. In a separate big bowl combine date paste with chocolate mixture. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes.

4) Form into truffles and roll in coconut. Enjoy on a treat day!

Ingredients:
1 PKG. pitted medjool dates (340g)
1/4 CUP hot water
300G dark bittersweet chocolate
1/2 CUP 10% light cream
1/2 TSP. vanilla extract
1 TSP. ARVINDA'S CHAI MASALA
zest of an orange
1 CUP shredded unsweetened coconut

 

Indian-inspired antipasto: Marinated Tandoori Bocconcini Bites

These Marinated Tandoori Spice Bocconcini Bites will add some holiday colours to your next party table.! Serve alongside cheese platters and antipasto items. Delicious they are, especially for those who like a bit of spice!

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MARINATED TANDOORI BOCCONCINI BITES

Method of Preparation:

1) In a bowl, mix olive oil with ARVINDA'S TANDOORI MASALA. Toss with bocconcini, cubed peppers and onions. Marinate for a couple of hours.

2) On a grill or sauté pan, slightly cook peppers and onions. Thread onto toothpicks with bocconcini. Garnish with a light sprinkle of flaked sea salt.

Ingredients:
18 bocconcini cheese balls (regular size)
1 TBSP. olive oil
2 TSP. ARVINDA'S TANDOORI MASALA
½ green pepper, cubed
½ red pepper, cubed
½ red onion, cubed
flaked sea salt, to garnish

Arvinda's Christmas Chai Spiced Rum Balls

Rum balls always make a nice addition to a holiday cookie plate. We made some using the sweetness from dates spiced with Arvinda’s Christmas Chai Masala. Yum, they melt in your mouth.

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CHRISTMAS CHAI SPICED RUM BALLS

Method of Prepation: 

1) In a bowl, soak medjool dates in hot water for 30 minutes. Set aside.

2) In a double boiler over the stove, gently melt chocolate. (A double boiler is a pot of boiling water with a bowl placed on top to melt the chocolate. This way chocolate won’t burn). Stir in cream, spiced rum, and ARVINDA'S CHRISTMAS CHAI MASALA.

3) In a food processor, purée dates with water until a smooth paste. In a separate big bowl combine date paste with chocolate mixture. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes.

4) Form into truffles and roll in chocolate sprinkles. They store best in the freezer.

Ingredients:
1 PKG. pitted medjool dates (340g)
1/4 CUP hot water
300G dark bittersweet chocolate
1/2 CUP 10% light cream
2 TBSP. spiced rum
1 TSP. ARVINDA'S CHRISTMAS CHAI MASALA
1/2 CUP chocolate sprinkles

GARAM MASALA SPICED HOLIDAY CAKE

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Not only amazing in this cake, try garam masala in your spiced holiday cookies, fruit cake and my favourite – hot chocolate!

The savoury Indian spice blend really compliments any sweet or dessert containing fruit, rum or dark chocolate. Think of how salted caramel or dark chocolate with chili works so well together, it’s a similar combination.

This Garam Masala Spiced Holiday Cake makes a great hostess gift or can be served at your next Christmas or holiday dinner party. The recipe makes enough for a bundt pan with a little batter leftover, which I easily popped into a parchment-lined loaf pan.


GARAM MASALA SPICED HOLIDAY CAKE

Method of Preparation:

1) Grease a bundt pan. There will be leftover batter—in that case, set aside a loaf pan as well. Preheat oven to 325F.

2) In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar. Beat in eggs. Add vanilla.

3) In a separate bowl sift together flour, cocoa, ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA, baking powder and baking soda. Fold into wet ingredients. Add soaked raisins.

4) Mix in milk. Fold in yogurt. Pour batter into cake pans.

5) Bake in oven for 45 minutes. Insert a knife into middle of cake and if it comes out clean remove from oven. Bake until fully cooked.

Ingredients:
½ CUP butter, softened
1 CUP sugar (or jaggery)
2 eggs
1 TSP. vanilla
1 ¾ CUP flour
2 TBSP. cocoa powder
2 TBSP. ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA
1 TSP. baking powder
1 TSP. baking soda
½ CUP golden raisins, soaked in 2 tbsp. amaretto or spiced rum
¾ CUP milk
¼ CUP yogurt
¼ CUP dates (to garnish on top of loaf pan)