Pondicherry is an Union Territory, about approx 150 Kms from Madras and takes about three hours by road.
Though I have visited the place many times before marriage, the trips after marriage and with kids, are what are still so fresh in mind. We used to leave in the morning and reach Pondi around afternoon, just in time for lunch and then spend a most relaxing time on the beaches. The resort we visit, has a beautiful view of the beach with a private access as well. The best things we remember are the open showers, the hammock and the swings.
Not just the place, the ECR from Madras to Pondi is equally so beautiful. Just mere words are not enough the express the beauty of the luscious greenery you find on the way. Coming to the times we spent there, one of the most memorable one is what I have shared on my personal blog. That was when the boys were just two and half and were handful, running all over the place and getting drenched every other time from the garden hose pipes that were fixed. We had a wonderful weekend and have visited again. However that one trip, always remain fresh.
Now coming to the food, that special to Pondicherry, I had the toughest time, deciding what to make. Since its cuisine is a mix of most South Indian States, more of TN involved, I hardly had anything that I could make. There was absolutely no special bread prepared that I have not yet posted. So I resorted to looking out for Rice based dishes. I asked Priya Suresh
for ideas, again the recipes were mostly what I had already posted.
I read about Lourdes Tirouvanziam-Louis, who wrote The Pondicherry Kitchen
. And thought if I could make something from this book, it will surely meet the requirement. Searching her book online lead me to many reviews that had mostly the gravies, chutneys covered. I even read a google online book that shared the condiments etc. I saw that she had listed some Rice dishes as well and was badly searching for this. I am not sure on this, however the same google book showed up the rice dishes after a period. So I saw some interesting rice based dishes that slightly different or so I want to believe.
The book had more non vegetarian rice dishes, and the vegetarian versions something I have already have on the blog. So I took the mutton biryani and substituted with Soya Chucks.
I had the soya chunks more than a whistle and it was little on the softer side. So had to fry them before adding to the rice. The rice was very tasty and I attribute it to the long spice that goes by the name Marathi Mogga, which in sense it is not. However for name sake, until I find out its name, let's call that as such, and that's what gave the rice the characteristic hotel taste. The best surprise was the Brinjal Curry. The author calls it Chutney, though it's more than a chutney as it has coconut milk added. I have never added coconut milk to brinjal in this way. And the chutney was really so yum! You must try it, if you are a brinjal fan. It has that creaminess that comes because of the thick coconut milk, and that smoky aroma as it was roasted on flame. Well it was very smooth and blended so well with the biryani. This side dish is truly something that doesn't overwhelm the rice and at the same time holds it's unique taste.
All in all our Pondicherry was a smashing hit. Though I was upset I couldn't get a bread to make, I am happy I have a rice and a pachadi that I will be most surely be repeating.
Brinjals - 4 medium nos
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds, Urad dal - 1 tsp
Onions - 2 big
Curry leaves few
Green chilies, finely chopped - 2 nos long
Salt to taste
Tamarind pulp - 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped - 1 tbsp
Coconut - 1 cup thick coconut milk
How to make
Coat the brinjals with oil, roast over flame, until completely charred and vegetable is soft. Peel the skin, making sure the charred bits are removed. Cut off the stems and mash with fork.
In a pan, heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and urad dal and let them splutter
Add the onions, curry leaves, green chilies. Shallow fry for a couple of mins, then add the brinjals and saute well . Add the tamarind pulp, cook for couple of mins.
Then the chutney is almost done, add the coconut milk and simmer.
Serve with Briyani
How to make Soya Vegetarian Biryani
Soya Chunks Biryani
This is served with brinjal chutney
For the Soya Chunks:
Soya nuggets - 1 cup
Water twice the amount
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
For the Biryani
Basmati rice - 2 1/2 cups
Water - 3 & 1/2 cup
Ghee / Oil - 4 tsp
Cloves - 5
Cinnamon - 2 " piece
Cardamoms - 3
Bay leaf - 1
Star anise 1/2
Black Stone flower / Raati Puvvu - 2 nos
Onions, julienne - 2 big / 1 cup
Green Chilies, slit - 3 long
Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Tomatoes, finely chopped - 2 medium
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Curds - 1/2 cup
Mint leaves - handful
Coriander leaves, finely chopped handful
Nutmeg, powdered - two pinches
Saffron pistils, soaked in 2 tbsp hot milk - 3 -4 strands
How to make the biryani
Rinse and pressure cook the soya nuggets for 1 whistle. Once the pressure falls down, remove and drain in a colander, rinse couple of times.
Then heat a pan with oil, fry the nuggets for 5 mins.
Should be very careful in pressure cooking the soya for just one whistle and try to remove the pressure.
Since mine turned out a bit soft, I sauted them separately in a pan. Else it can be fried before adding the rice in the biryani itself. I added after the water was almost cooked.
For the Biryani
In a deep pan, heat the ghee, add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf, star anise, onions and green chillies, and fry till the onions are golden brown.
Add the garlic and ginger pastes, and fry till golden brown.
Add the tomatoes and fry for 2 minutes. Cover the pan and cook on low heat till the tomatoes are soft.
Add the red chilie powder and salt.
Add the curds, mint, coriander leaves and nutmeg. Combine everything well. Then drain the rice and add to the pot. Simmer and let all the moisture evaporate.
Cook on high heat for 5 - 7 mins. Once the water starts to be absorbed, reduce, cover tightly with another lid and simmer. After 5 mins, add the saffron mixture on the rice and don't stir.
Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 15 mins. This gets cooked well when you cook in the dum style.
Serve with Katirikaiy chutney and Onion Raitha.
Since I used basmati, you can always reduce ½ cup from the actual amount of water to be used.
Don’t stir very frequently. Use a spatula and not a ladle.
Adjust salt after adding all the ingredients. You can adjust it by adding it to the milk in the end if it needs more salt.
If you feel the rice is more soggy, cover the mouth of the pan with a newspaper, cover tightly with the lid and simmer for 5 mins. All the extra moisture will be absorbed.