Vegetarian Biryani with spicy paneer

(la traduction en français arrive sous peu…)
My quest for the perfect biryani recipe has started a few years ago. After tasting the best biryani ever in a restaurant in Dubai, I wanted to be able to eat in my own home the delicate and delicious taste of the spices, and the perfect texture of the rice… I tried many recipes, even bought some ready made spices-mix (a total heresy for me!) but it seems I never managed to get it right… Eventually, I gave up, I even gave up eating biryani in restaurants here in Geneva, as they usually turned out even worse than my attempts…
However, when my dear Heavenly Housewife challenged us to prepare a biryani, I decided it was time to try once more… And I did well!
The result was beyond my expectations! Of course, it is far from the perfection of the biryani I ate in Dubai, but seriously, it is pretty close to it…
The list of ingredients is quite long, and the preparation might seem lenghty, but fear not, it can be done in… let’s say about 2 hours (not counting the cooking time in the oven) and the preparation can be spread on two days (pls see my note at the bottom of the post)
By the way, what is a biryani?

The name “biryani” come from the Persian word beryān/biryan which means “fried” or “roasted“. There are many kinds of biryanis and it is a festive dish both in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines. The origin of biryani in India comes from the Moghol dynasty (originally from Persia) who brought many delicate and eleborated dishes to the already rich Indian cuisine.  Biryani is made from a mixture of spices, basmati rice, meat or vegetables and yogurt.  Unlike pulao in which all ingredients are cooked together, the main components of biryani are cooked separately, then layered and finally slowly cooked in the oven.

And before sharing the recipe, I can only advise you to visit these talented bloggers for more biryani-love:

Vegetarian Biryani with spicy paneer

Recipe adapted from IndiaCurry (here)
ingredients for 4-5 servings:
  • Spiced water
8dl water
2 cm fresh ginger, chopped
6 black cardamom pods, crushed
10 black peppercorn
4 cm cinnamon stick, broken in half
4 whole cloves
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
2 Bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Spiced milk

2 dl milk
2 cardamom pods, crushed
a pinch of Saffron strands
1 teaspoon rose water

  • Rice

150g (1cup) Basmati rice
2 cups spiced water
a few saffron strands
1/2 teaspon salt

  • Vegetable Layer

1 tablespoon Ghee (or neutral oil, such as sunflower)
1 medium onions,chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
½ cup green peas
salt to taste
¼ cup yogurt
½ cup spiced water

  • Paneer Layer

200g paneer, cubed
1 tablespoon Ghee (or neutral oil, such as sunflower)
1 medium onion,chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1cm ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder

  • Garnish layer

1 tablespoon ghee (or neutral oil, such as sunflower)
2 medium onions, chopped
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
3 tablespoons cashews
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped fresh peppermint leaves

  • Chapatti dough to seal the pot

2 cups wholemeal flour
Water to knead the dough (about 1/3 cup)


1. Prepare the spiced water: put the water and the spices indicated under “spiced water” in a pot and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Drain and keep aside.

2. Prepare the spiced milk: put the milk, cardamom pods and saffron in a pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Let it cool, remove the cardamom pods and add the rosewater.

3.Prepare the paneer:Heat the ghee in a pan, add the onion. Fry for 2-3 minutes, add the spices. Fry for 2-3 more minutes. Add the paneer. Stir well to coat it with the spice and fry for a few minutes. Keep aside.

4. Prepare the vegetable: Put the ghee in a pan, add the onion. Fry for 2-3 minutes, add the spices. Fry for 2-3 more minutes. Add the vegetable, season with salt and pepper and stir well. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/2 cup of spiced water and the yogurt. Simmer until the vegetable are nearly cooked (about 10-15 minutes).

5. Prepare the garnish layer: Heat the ghee in a pan, add the onions and fry them until golden brown. Add the cashew and almonds. Fry for 2 more minutes. Keep aside and add the chopped herbs.

6. Prepare the rice: Rinse the rice until the water is clear. Put in a pot and add 2 cups of spiced water and 1/2 a teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil Reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let is stand for 10 more minutes.If there is water that has not been absorbed, drain it.

7. Prepare the chapatti dough: slowly add a little water to the flour until combined. Knead for 2 minutes. Keep aside.
8. Layering the biryani: Preheat the oven to 210°C. Spread one layer of rice in a pot. Sprinkle about 2-3 teaspoons of spiced water and 2-3 teaspoons of spiced milk on the rice.
Add the vegetables, spreading them evenly. Cover with one thin layer of rice, sprinkling about 2-3 teaspoons of spiced water and 2-3 teaspoons of spiced milk on the rice.
Add the paneer, spreading it evenly. Add a thin layer of rice, sprinkling about 2-3 teaspoons of spiced water and 2-3 teaspoons of spiced milk on the rice.

Add the garnish ingredients and finally, top it with a final layer of rice. Sprinkle with about 2-3 teaspoons of spiced water and 2-3 teaspoons of spiced milk on the rice

Take 1/3 of the dough and roll it in a 1 cm diameter log. Place it around the edge of the pot. Roll the rest of the dough in a circle, a bit bigger than the diameter of your pot. Cover the pot with it, pressing the edges on the log, so that it is well sealed.

Put in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.Then, reduce heat to 180°C and cook for 20 more minutes.

When serving, cut off the bread lid and stir the biryani with a spoon to combine all the flavours.


1. If you are short of time, you can prepare steps 1 to 5 the day before and keep all the items in the refrigerator.

2. It is not necessary to seal with a chapatti. You can seal the pot with a tight lid or with foil, tightly wrapped around the pot.

3. You can add cauliflower and/or other veggies. Similarly, paneer can be omitted or replaced by boiled eggs.

Pomegranate and Cucumber salad- Salade de grenade et concombre

(en français, plus bas)

Today, I would like to say a few words about a beautiful fruit: Pomegranate, which is very present in Persian cuisine.

Its seeds look so similar to gems, that they have even given their name to one of them: garnet (well, this is more striking in French, because Pomegranate is “grenade” and garnet is “grenat”)

Did you know that the tree producing pomgranates is among the oldest tree ever cultivated by men? (along with figs and dates)

The origin of pomegranates is in Persia, and this fruit was among the staple food of the nomadic population, because it is easy to carry, full of water and has many medicinal properties. That is why the nomads traveled with them all the way to India and China, expanding the areas where these fruits were grown…

Pomegranate later arrived in Europe around the 10th century, via the Moors who introduced it in Spain and even called a city by its name: Granada.

In many antique civilizations (Mesopotamia, Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece), pomegranate symbolized fertility and life.

Ayurvedic medicine, the millennia old Indian traditional medicine, not only uses the seeds as remedies for various ailments, but also the rind and bark.

According to recent studies, pomegranate is one of the fruit which has the most antioxydants properties! Drinking pomegranate juice is supposed to reduce cardiovascular diseases and blood pressure!

Coming back to food, pomegranate can be used in different forms:

In Persian cuisine the fresh and the dried seeds are used in a variety of dishes, as well as the molasses and juice…. From starters to stews, from soups to rice and side-dish, the Persian cuisine uses pomegranate in all the possible ways!

In Indian cuisine, is mainly (but not exclusively) used dried or in powder (recipe here or here ). Dried pomegranate seeds are called in Hindi: “anardana”.

In Levantine Middle Eastern cuisine, it is mainly pomegranate juice (recipe here) and molasses(eg: muhammara, here) that are used.

For detailed info on how to open, cut , etc.. a pomegranate, click here.

sources and more info about pomegranates: here, here, here and here

The recipe for this pomegranate and cucumber salad is slightly adapted from the Australian/Lebanese Chef Greg Malouf, whose new book “Saraban” is about Persian food.

This month, I am hosting AWED on Persian cuisine, don’t forget to send me your recipes!

Ingredients for 4 servings

adapted with some small changes from Greg Malouf’s recipe found here.

4 small cucumbers or 1.5 regular cucumber
2 tablespoons of flaked almonds
Seeds from ½ pomegranate
2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
2 tbsp chopped chives
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon sumac
80 g feta, diced
To decorate: sumac

Dry roast the almonds in a pan or in the oven. Let them cool down completely.
Peel the cucumbers. Cut very thin cucumber strips, lengthwise. The best way to do so is to use a vegetable peeler. Once you reach the seed, turn the cucumber of ¼ and start peeling this side, which does not have seeds, and so on… Put the strips in the refrigerator.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, sumac, salt and pepper.
Just before serving, combine the cucumber and pomegranate and put them in the plates. Pour over the dressing.
Sprinkle with feta cubes and almonds. Decorate the plate with a few pinches of sumac.

Sending this delicious and healthy salad to Pia of Cook Healthy, who is hosting “Innovative Salads: cucumber

Salade de concombre et de grenade

Aujourd’hui, j’aimerais vous parler d’un beau fruit: la grenade, qui est très présente dans la cuisine persane.

Ses graines ressemblent tellement à des pierres précieuses, qu’elles ont même donné leur nom à l’une d’elles: le grenat.

Saviez-vous que l’arbre produisant les grenades est l’un des arbres cultivés depuis des millénaires par les hommes? (avec les figuiers et les dattiers)

L’origine de grenades est en Perse, et ce fruit faisait partie de  l’alimentation de base des populations nomades, parce qu’il est facile à transporter, plein d’eau et a de nombreuses propriétés médicinales. C’est pourquoi les nomades voyagèrent  et apportèrent ces fruits jusqu’en Inde et en Chine, élargissant considérablement les zones où ces fruits sont cultivés …

La grenade est arrivée plus tard en Europe autour du 10ème siècle, grâce aux  Maures qui l’a introduisirent en Espagne et  appelèrent même une ville par son nom: Granada/Grenade.

Dans de nombreuses civilisations anciennes (Mésopotamie, la Rome et la Grèce antiques), la grenade symbolisait la fertilité et la vie.

La médecine ayurvédique,  médecine traditionnelle indienne vieille de plusieurs millénaires, utilise non seulement les graines comme remède pour soigner diverses maladies, mais aussi son écorce.

Selon des études récentes, la grenade est l’un des fruits qui a le plus de propriétés antioxydantes! Boire du jus de grenade est même censé réduire les maladies cardiovasculaires et l’hypertension!

Pour en revenir à la cuisine, la grenade peut être utilisée sous différentes formes:

Dans la cuisine persane, on l’utilise les graines fraîche ou séchées  dans une grande variété de plats, mais aussi  la mélasse et le jus de grenade…. Que ce soit en entréou en ragoûts,en soupes ou dans le riz, la cuisine persane utilise la grenade de toutes les manières possibles et imaginables!

Dans la cuisine indienne, on utilise principalement (mais pas exclusivement) les graines séchées ou en poudre. Les graines de grenade séchée sont appelées en hindi:anardana.

Dans la cuisine du Levant, ce sont surtout le jus de grenade et la mélasse de grenade (par exemple dans le muhammara, ici) qui sont utilisés.

Pour des informations détaillées sur la façon d’ouvrir, couper, etc. une grenade, cliquez ici.
sources et plus d’infos sur les grenades: ici et  ici

La recette de cette salade de grenade et concombre est adaptée de celle du chef Australien/libanais  Greg Malouf,  dont le nouveau livre “Saraban” est sur la cuisine persane.

J’organise le AWED du mois de janvier, dont le thème est la cuisine persane. N’oubliez pas de m’envoyer vos recettes!

Ingrédients pour 4:

Source: recette de Greg Maalouf, avec quelques légères modifications, trouvée: ici (en anglais)
4 (petits) concombres ou 1,5 concombre normal
2 cuillères à soupe d’amandes effilées
les graines d’une moitié de grenade
2 c. à soupe de feuilles de menthe finement hachées
2 c. à soupe de ciboulette hachée
le jus de ½ citron
2 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
½ c. à café de sumac
80 g de feta, coupé en dés
Pour décorer: quelques pincées de sumac

Faire griller à sec les amandes dans une poêle ou au four. Faire refroidir complètement.
Peler les concombres. Découper des bandes de concombre très fines, dans la longueur. La meilleure façon de le faire est d’utiliser un épluche-légumes. Quand on arrive vers les graines, il faut tourner le concombre d’ ¼ et continuer à faire des bandes avec un côté sans graines, et ainsi de suite … Mettre les bandes de concombre dans le réfrigérateur.
Préparer la sauce en fouettant le jus de citron, l’huile d’olive, les herbes, le sumac, le sel et le poivre.
Juste avant de servir, mélanger le concombre et le graines de grenade et les mettre dans les assiettes. Répartir la sauce dessus.
Poser des cubes de feta et les amandes. Décorer l’assiette avec quelques pincées de sumac.

Okra (bhindi) with tomato & coriander – Gombos à la tomate et coriandre

(recette en français, plus bas)

When I started reading my copy of “Plenty” (Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook), my “waow” and “I must try this one” were popping out on every page… One of the reason that makes me adore and almost worship Ottolenghi’s recipes is the way he blends spices and flavours…Sometimes, the combinations seems really bold and very unusual (mushroom with cinammon??) until one actually prepares the recipe and actually tastes it …  His influences are, of course Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, but they go further, to Persia, India and Asia… The original recipe for these okra, for example, has dried lime, which is frequently found in persian, morrocan and gulf-region cuisine. I have already prepared it a couple of times and each time, it was a big hit. (one more recipe that Mr Artichoke liked very much and a great way to have him enjoy eating  veggies!!)

ingredients for 4 servings:

recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”, with a few minor changes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 medium onion, thinely sliced

2 capsicums (red or green), cut into stripes

1 green chilli

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1 bunch coriander, chopped

3 medium-size tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon paprika

400g okra (fresh or frozen), stalk removed and cut into 3cm chunks

a dozen pitted black olives, cut in half

1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon mint, chopped

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven at 200°C.

When it is hot, put the okra on a baking tray, covered with parchment paper and drizzle some olive oil on them. Sprinkle with some salt and roast for about 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the coriander seeds and when they start to pop, add the chopped onion.  Reduce heat to medium and fry for about 10 minutes, until the onion become soft.

Add the chilli, peppers, parsley and the coriander. Stir well.  Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the paprika, tomatoes and a cup  of water. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 5 minutes. If it becomes too dry, add some more water, the consistency should be of a thick gravy.

By that time, the okra should be roasted. Add them in the pan, along with the olives, salt and pepper.

Before serving, add the lemon juice, stirring delicately and sprinkle with a tbs of mint and a tbs of coriander.

Serve as part of a mezze, as starter, with pita bread or bagette, or as main course, with rice.

The mushroom on the pictures are another of Ottolenghi’s recipes: cinammon mushrooms. Try it , it is surprising, but so yummy!! (here)

I am sending these okra to:




Aipi of US Masala and Priya of Mharo Rajasthan’s recipes for today’s Bookmarked recipes no.25





Gombo à la tomate et coriandre

Lorsque j’ai commencé à lire “Plenty”, (livre de recettes de Ottolenghi) , je prononçais des  “waow” et “je dois essayer celle-là” à chaque page … Une des raisons qui me fait adorer et être une totale adepte des recettes d’Ottolenghi, est sa manière de mélanger les épices et les saveurs … Ses influences sont, bien sûr, la cuisine méditerranéenne et moyen-Orientale, mais elles vont plus loin, en Perse, en Inde et en Asie … La recette originale pour ces gombo, par exemple, utilise des limes séchées, que l’on retrouve dans les cuisines  persanne, marocaine et de la région du Golfe. J’ai déjà préparé cette recette plusieurs fois et à chaque fois, elle a eu beaucoup succès. (et youpi, ça fait une recette de plus pour que M. Artichoke aime manger des légumes!)
Ingrédients pour 4 personnes:

recette adaptée de “Plenty” de Yotam Ottolenghi, avec quelques modifications minimes

1 cuillère à soupe d’huile d’olive

1 cuillère à café de graines de coriandre

1 oignon moyen, haché

2 poivrons (rouge ou vert), coupé en lamelles

1 piment vert, haché

1 bouquet de persil, ciselé

1 bouquet de coriandre, ciselée

3 tomates moyennes, coupées en petits dés

1 cuillère à soupe de paprika

400g de gombos (frais ou surgelés),  coupés en
morceaux de 3 cm, sans la base

une douzaine d’olives noires dénoyautées, coupées en deux

1 1 / 2 cuillère à soupe de jus de citron

1 cuillère à soupe de menthe, hachée

1 cuillère à soupe de coriander, ciseléesel et poivre


Préchauffer le four à 200 ° C.

Quand il est chaud, disposer les gombos sur une plaque de cuisson, recouverte de papier sulfurisé et verser un filet d’huile d’olive.
Saupoudrer d’un peu de sel et faire rôtir pendant environ 15 minutes.

Chauffer l’huile dans une poêle. Ajouter les graines de coriandre et quand elles commencent à frétiller, ajouter l’oignon haché. Réduire à feu moyen et faire frire pendant environ 10 minutes, jusqu’à ce que l’oignon devienne translucide.

Ajouter le piment, le poivron, le persil et la coriandre. Bien remuer . Cuire pendant 5 minutes.

Ajouter le paprika, les tomates et une tasse d’eau. Couvrir avec
un couvercle et laisser mijoter pendant environ 5 minutes. Si ça commence à attacher, ajouter un peu d’eau, la consistance doit être d’une sauce épaisse.

A ce moment, les gombos  doivent être cuits. Les ajouter dans la
casserole, avec les olives, du sel et du poivre.Avant de servir, ajouter le jus de citron, en remuant délicatement
et saupoudrer avec une cuillère à soupe de menthe et une cuillère à soupe de coriandre.

Servir dans un mezze, ou comme entrée, avec du pain pita ou de la baguette, ou comme plat principal, accompagné de riz.

Les champignons en arrière-plan sont un autre plat du génial Ottolenghi: des champignons à la canelle: surprenant, mais délicieux! (recette ici, en anglais)