Chettinad Vegetable Biryani ~ Tamil Nadu Special | How to Make Chettinad Vegetable Biryani | Indian Cooking Challenge - February

For the Indian Cooking Challenge this month, we travel little down from last month, to the famous Chettinad of Tamil Nadu. Chettinad Cuisine is very famous all over the world. While I don't know if all the recipes that are famous as with either Chettinad suffixed or prefixed, I have enjoyed some of their special dishes and I know I would love to make and feed my family from this cuisine anytime.

So when I was almost very late to decide what to plan for this month, I happened to chat with PJ, with the intent of asking her to suggest something. After much deliberation on various dishes that she had in mind, she sent me this Biryani link for us to check out. Since this blog was specialized in Chettinad recipes, I was sure this will be authentic. The recipe is adapted from this blog, with my own interpretation with few ingredients. 

The main ingredient that is supposed to bring out the speciality is the usage of Marathi Moggu or Marati Mogga. This Indian Spice is used extensively in Karnataka's special Bisi Bele Bath. Ever since I knew Amma making this Bisi Bele Bath, I have always known her using this particular spice and that's what I always knew, gives its characteristic aroma and taste.

However of late I haven't been able to get my hand on this spice and whenever I ask the shopkeeper, I am given these long ones, which goes by the same name as Marathi Moggu. However from my own experience and taste, I know it's not the same. Even at looking it, I can say that this particular long spice will be very pungent and we will not be able to grind it, as you are supposed to do with the Bisi Bele Bath's special spice blend. 

Marathi Moggu

Many years ago, I did a lot of research and was on the hot trail of finding out what this Marathi Moggu called in English and what else to know. I came to know that it's called Kapok Buds or Indian Capers. The unripe flower buds are supposedly used in Italian cuisine, where these are pickled in brine. These Mogga are the dried ripe fruit. I am not a botanist, so I can verify this information. However, it's been my most researched spice. Given my interest in Indian Spices, I love to read and know more about the many spices we have. Unfortunately, information over the internet is never always trustworthy So I leave for individuals to decide on themselves.

In any recipe, you can substitute the Maratha Moggu with more cloves, trust me, it will never work. So one is lucky to have used this spice and known the taste.
Jeera Samba rice vs Silky Ponni Rice

Chettinad Vegetable Biryani / Kaikari Biryani

Ingredients Needed:

Jeera Samba Rice - 3 cups 
Mixed Vegetables - 2 cups
Small onions / Shallots- 3/4 cup
Tomatoes, finely chopped - 2 nos
Green Chillies - 4 nos
Ginger Garlic paste- 2 tbsp
Red Chilli powder- 2 tsp
Coriander powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Pudina / Mint leaves- handful
Coriander leaves- handful bunch
Cashew Nuts- 20 nos
Ghee- 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Water- 4 and 1/2 cups

Masala tempering

Bay leaves- 2 nos
Cinnamon stick 1" piece- 2 nos
Cardamom- 4 nos
Cloves- 6 nos
Marati moggu- 1 no
Annachi poo / Star Anise- 1 
Black Stone Flower - little
Javitri / Mace - 1 no
Oil- 1/4 cup

How to make the Kaikari Biryani

Wash and soak the rice for 30 mins.

Wash and dice the vegetables like potato, carrot into medium cubes, cauliflower into medium florets, slice green beans into 1" lengthwise and some green peas.

Peel and chop the shallots. Chop the tomatoes. Fry the cashewnuts in ghee until golden brown. Clean and chop both pudina and coriander leaves. Break the green chillies into half. 

Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add the whole spices tempering to the hot oil and saute for 1 minute.

Next add the shallots, green chillies to the pan, saute until onion turns pale. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute until raw smell leaves. Add the mixed vegetables to the pan and fry for 3 minutes. Add chopped pudina and coriander leaves (reserve some to garnish) to the pan and saute for 1 minute. 

At this stage add chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder to the vegetables and mix well until tomatoes are tender. Add water to the pan, slightly cover with lid and bring vegetable mixture to boil.

When the water reaches rolling boil stage, add drained rice along with required salt to the pan. Stir well to combine everything and cover with lid, Pressure cook for 3 whistles, 

Once the pressure falls, remove the lid, garnish with fired cashews, coriander leaves. 

Serve with onion Raitha.

Jeera Samba is the special rice used in such biryanis, to get the aromatic and typical taste. If this is not available , you can use short grain basmati rice.

Marathi Moggu can be replaced by adding couple of more cloves, however the taste may not be the same.

The original recipe listed Annachi poo and Star Anise separately, while it's one and the same. So I add Black stone flower and Mace. The final biryani was very aromatic and tasty.

The method to mimic dum style can be achieve if you cook with just the lid covered without putting the pressure cooker on whistle, and by cooking in low flame for 10 mins, by which time about 1/2 of the water is absorbed and you get separated rice grains completely cooked in the vegetable broth.

Nanari Drink

On the Sunday I made this Biryani, Hubby Dear had got Nanari Syrup and made us a drink for us to enjoy with the biryani. Nanari is a herbal drink, famous in Andhra, I believe it's in other states as well, as expected. However I got to taste it again after a long time and it sort of rekindled my childhood memories on some delicious drinks. I am not still sure if this was it, however I enjoyed it then, which was during a trip to hubby's native place, and now when he made it again specially for me.

Here's a toast of Nanari with the special Indian Cooking Challenge!

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