Friday, December 14, 2012

Potluck Fiesta

The holiday season is all about meeting family and friends. And what better way to meet and greet other than a potluck. Aparna and I also had our share of potlucks for this holiday season, a couple of weeks back. Both our potlucks (in Orange County and in the Bay Area) were loads of fun and let’s just say the crowd and the food were equally appealing.
Aparna made her mouth-watering Kacchi biryani. This recipe has been adapted from the Kacchi Biryani recipe presented by Komali Nunna in her gorgeous cookbook titled Trader Joe's-Simply Indian. Aparna has had the pleasure of working with Komali on two occasions and is always enamored by her gorgeous photographs and extraordinary creativity.
I made my version of the vegetable kofta. I can vouch for the deliciousness of Aparna’s biryani and as for my kofta, well…the vessel was empty at the end of the dinner :-) Need I say more?
Kacchi Biryani
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
Mixed vegetables and paneer/tofu (optional) – 2 ½-3 cups
Yogurt – 2 cups
Minced garlic – 2 tbsps
Minced ginger – 2 tbsps
Minced green chili – 1 tbsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Roasted cumin powder – 1 tbsp
Curry powder – 1 tsp
Ground black pepper – 1 tsp
Salt – 2 tsps
Lime juice – 3 tbsps
Oil – 2 tbsps
Chopped cilantro – ¼ cup
Chopped mint – ¼ cu
For Rice
Basmati rice – 3 cups
Salt – 2 tbsps +1 tsp
Saffron – 1 tsp (approx)
Hot milk – ½ cup
Oil – ½ cup
Raisins – ¼ cup
Sliced almonds – ¼ cup
Large onion (thinly sliced) – 1
Cilantro and mint for garnish
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and marinate the vegetables and paneer/tofu (if using) in the
refrigerator for 4-24 hours. Take it out at least an hour or so before cooking, so that it comes to room
temperature. Wash the rice and soak for 1 hour with 1 tsp of salt.
Meanwhile, toast the saffron threads on low heat and crumble over the hot milk. Keep aside. Heat oil in
a skillet, add the raisins and fry until they are plump. Remove them onto a plate and into the same pan
add the almonds and sauté until they turn a shade darker. Keep them aside with the raisins. To the same
pan add the onions and fry them, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown. Keep them aside and
reserve the left over oil.
Preheat the oven to 375oF.
As the oven is heating, bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large vessel. Add 2 tbsps of salt. Once it starts
boiling, add the rice and boil for 3-4 minutes. Drain the rice into a colander. Take an ovenproof dish,
place one layer of the vegetable mixture, top with half of the fried onions, and continue to layer the rice
and vegetables. Drizzle the saffron milk and reserved oil. Cover the vessel with a foil and bake for 1-1 ¼
hours. Let it rest for 15 minutes before opening.
Mix gently to incorporate all the flavors. Garnish with the raisins, almonds, cilantro, mint and remaining
onions. Serve with raita and papad or Gomathi’s Vegetable Kofta. Bon Appétit.

Vegetable Kofta
For Kofta
Potatoes – 2 diced
Sweet Potato – 1 diced
Raw banana – 1 diced
Green peas – ¼ cup
Carrots – 2 diced
Cauliflower florets – ¼ cup (optional)
Green peas – ¼ cup
Paneer/ cottage cheese cubes – ¼ cup (optional)
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Garam masala – ½ tsp
Chaat powder – 1 tbsp
Bread crumbs – 1 cup + more for rolling
Oil for deep-frying
For gravy
Onion – 2 chopped
Tomatoes – 4 diced
Garlic cloves – 2 chopped
Ginger – 1 tsp
Cashews – ¼ cup
Salt to taste
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Butter – 1 tbsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Pressure-cook all the vegetables to three whistles. Remove from stove and allow it to cool completely. Mash the vegetables to a pulp. I would recommend doing this with a spatula or your hands. Using a blender might make the vegetables thin and watery. Add salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala powder, chaat powder, and the breadcrumbs to the vegetables and mix it well. Separate the mashed vegetables into equal sized portions.
Take a deep pan for frying and heat oil. Roll the divided vegetable balls with breadcrumbs. Fry the balls until they turn crisp and brown. Remove and allow it to cool in a plate.
In a pan, heat oil and sauté onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and cashews until they are well cooked. Allow this mixture to cool and then blend the sautéed mixture to make a fine paste. In a soup pan, add butter and allow it to soften. Pour the ground paste in the pan. Add the spices and 2 or 2 ½ cups of water. Allow it to boil for 2 minutes, then simmer, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from stove and allow it to cool.
Take two or three ladles of the gravy. Place the koftas in a vessel and spoon the gravy on top very slowly. Make sure the koftas are completely cooled or they will break when the gravy is poured on top of them. Let this sit until serving time.
Just before serving, heat up the remaining gravy for a minute or two and then spoon the rest of the gravy slowly on top of the koftas. Serve warm with Aparna’s delicious vegetable biryani or roti.


  1. wow lovely spread :) making me hungry

  2. Heard of Kacchi Biryani for the fist time, also a lovely kofta gravy to go with. No wonder the meals were such a hit!

  3. Gauri, it is called Kacchi because the rice is cooked only for a few minutes before putting it inside the oven.

    Thanks Priya.

  4. Kachi biryani -- this is something new!!! n greatt veg kofta!