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.

Cuchaule (saffron bread) and some Swiss folklore – Cuchaule et un peu de folklore suisse

(en français, plus bas)

Cuchaule is a saffron soft round bread, very typical from the Fribourg canton of Switzerland. (The famous Gruyère cheese comes from this area).
Last weekend we went to Charmey, a very scenic village of the Gruyère region to attend the “désalpe” and brought back some delicious cuchaule and mountain cheeses…. I got inspired to try to bake my own cuchaule as the delicious saffron taste is quite addictive!
Désalpe is a big colourful event, celebrating the cows coming down from their summer mountain pastures, back to the farm in the plain. The cows’ head are decorated with flowers and the sheperds and farmers are wearing traditionnal clothes ( also known as “armailli”, in local dialect).
I can’t resist showing you some pics of this event:

Seriously, is it not the cutest cow ever!! 

Ingredients for a medium size Cuchaule, about 500g

Recipe adapted from “A la mode de chez nous” by M. Vidoudez & J.Grangier

350g flour

6 g yeast

3 tablespoons lukewarm water

75g sugar (take out one tablespoon and use it for yeast proofing)

1.5 dl milk

0.5 dl cream

30g butter1 small egg¼ or ½  teaspoon, saffron powder
½ teaspoon salt1 egg yolk combined with two tablespoons of milkMethod:Proof the yeast: combine yeast with the water and one tablespoon of sugar. Keep aside for 10 – 15 minutes. The top should become foamy.

In the meantime, put the butter over a “bain-marie” (double boiler) and simmer until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and keep aside for 5 minutes to cool down a little.

Lightly beat the egg with a fork and add it to the butter. Stir until well-combined. Add the saffron powder and salt.

In another bowl, combine together milk, cream and sugar. Stir well and add the yeast mixture.

Sift the flour in the bowl of your food processor. Using the hook for bread, add the yeast mixture and start to mix on low speed. Add the butter-egg-saffron mixture.

Knead the dough for about 8 minutes. The dough becomes soft and a little shiny.

Cover with a towel and let it rise for two hours.

After 2 hours, shape the dough into a large ball. Put it on a baking tray, layered with baking paper and cover it with a towel and let it rise for about 1.5 hours.

Preheat the oven at 200°C.

Make crisscross cuts with a knife, on the top of your loaf and glaze with the milk- egg yolk mixture.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes. The crust should be golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack.

Cuchaule, brioche au safran

La cuchaule est un pain rond et mou au safran, typique du canton de Fribourg en Suisse. (Le célèbre fromage de Gruyère provient de cette région).
Le week-end dernier nous sommes allés à Charmey, un village très pittoresque de la région de la Gruyère pour assister à la «désalpe». J’ai donc bien entendu ramené quelques délicieuses cuchaule et plein de fromages de montagne ….

Etant devenue très accro au subtil goût de safran, j’ai décidé d’essayer de préparer une cuchaule moi-même!
La désalpe est un événement coloré et très important dans la vie d’un village, célébrant le moment où les vaches descendent de leurs alpages d’été,pour retourner dans leur ferme dans la plaine. Les vaches sont décorées avec des fleurs et les bergers et les agriculteurs portent des vêtements traditionnels (appelé «armailli», en dialecte local).
Je ne peux pas résister à vous montrer quelques photos de cet événement: (voir plus haut).

Ingrédients pour une Cuchaule taille moyenne, environ 500g

Recette adaptée de “A la mode de chez nous”, par M. Vidoudez & J. Grangier

350g de farine

6 g de levure

3 cuillères à soupe d’eau tiède

75g de sucre (dont on prélèvera une cuillère à soupe pour mélanger à la levure)

1,5 dl de lait

0,5 dl de crème

30 g de beurre

1 petit oeuf

¼ ou ½ cuillère à café de safran en poudre,

½ c. à café de sel

1 jaune d’œuf, délayé dans 2 cuillères à soupe de lait


Mélanger la levure avec l’eau et une cuillère à soupe de sucre. Laisser reposer pendant 10 – 15 minutes. Le dessus du mélange doit devenir mousseux.

Pendant ce temps , faire fondre le beurre au bain-marie. Retirer du feu et laisser refroidir 5 minutes.

Battre légèrement l’œuf avec une fourchette et l’ajouter au beurre. Bien mélanger. Ajouter le safran en poudre et le sel.

Dans un autre récipient, mélanger le lait, la crème et le sucre. Bien mélanger et ajouter le mélange de levure.

Tamiser la farine dans le bol de votre robot culinaire et fixer le crochet pour le pain. Ajouter le mélange levure-lait-sucre et commencer à pétrir à vitesse moyenne-lente. Ajouter le mélange beurre-oeuf-safran.

Pétrir la pâte pendant environ 8 minutes. La pâte doit être souple et un peu brillante.

Couvrir avec un linge propre et laisser lever pendant deux heures.

Après 2 heures, façonner la pâte en une grosse boule, que l’on dépose sur une plaque de cuisson, recouverte de papier sulfurisé. Couvrir d’un linge et laisser lever pendant environ 1,5 heures.

Préchauffer le four à 200 ° C.

Faire des croisillons à l’aide d’un couteau sur le dessus de votre cuchaule et dorer avec le jaune d’œuf délayé dans 2 cuillères à soupe de lait.

Cuire au four pendant environ 35-40 minutes. La croûte doit être dorée.

Laisser refroidir sur une grille.

Servir avec du “moutarde de Bénichon”, du beurre, de confiture ou du fromage.

Healing Foods: Artichoke and banana flowers Round-Up & giveaway winners

Artichokes and banana flowers? I know that one of the two might still have a mysterious aura for some of you, but after seeing the 17 recipes for this month’s Healing Food series, I am sure that you won’t resist the temptation of discovering them…

You might however wonder what the connection between artichokes and banana flowers is.

The explanation is simple: initially I had chosen artichokes as theme for this month’s Healing Foods, but shortly after the announcement, I was informed that artichokes can’t be found in India…  So, I first came with cardoon, which is from the same species than artichokes, but it turned out that it was not available in India either… Mocha or banana flowers then came to my mind. Not only do they look and taste a bit similar but they required quite some time to trim and prepare, exactly like fresh artichokes…

I am very impressed by the quality and originality of  recipes sent by 11 talented ladies for this event and I would like to thank all of them for their creativity! You are awesome, ladies – vous êtes géniales, Mesdames! Merci beaucoup!

A big thank you to  Siri to have given me the opportunity to host this event during the month of March and to Pritya books who is generously giving away these two great books:

Cooking At Home With Pedatha: Awarded Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the World 2006, this book documents the culinary legacy of an illustrious Indian grandmother for posterity.


Sukham Ayu: Winner of Best Health & Nutrition Book in the World 2009 – Second Place, this beautiful book has been researched at KARE, an idyllic Ayurvedic research & rejeuvenation establishment near Pune.

There are still many artichoke recipes that I want to share with you but I ran short of time during March, so I could only post two recipes and repost 2 old ones. My future personal challenge will be to come up with a recipe for actually sweet artichokes… so stay tuned!

Before discovering who are the lucky winners of the books, let’s discover the round-up for the month of March:

The recipes are shown in the order I received them click on the pic or hyperlink to go to the recipe:

Johanna from “Green Gourmet Giraffe”  prepared artichoke muffins that she took  for a picnic at the zoo:

The preparation of  these Banana flowers chops brought back lovely childhood memories to Sukanya from “Saffron streaks” ,:

Janet from “The Taste Space” has been experimenting with variations of her recipes. I really enjoyed reading the creative process behind these beautiful Artichoke and Spinach Rice Paper Rolls with Lemon Rosemary Baked Tofu

Priya from “Priya’s easy and tasty recipes” – first experimented with artichoke calzone :


… and she liked this veggie so much, that she got inspired for two more recipes:

a very innovative artichoke and curry leaves chutney and…

and an equally innovative artichoke, potato and mushroom curry:

Nivedita from “Panfusine – Iyer’n Chef” was happily singing ABBA’s songs  and nearly choked of delight when she first tasted her artichoke masala vadai,

Did you know that artichoke existed in the Greek Mythology? Discover what happened to the beautiful Cynara  and enjoy these  delicious artichoke lasagna sent by  Ivy from “Kopiaste … to Greek Hospitality”  :

What about an Indo-Iranian fusion dish?

Malli from “Malli’s Mint and Mimosa” loves Iranian chelow kebabs and got inspired to prepare a vegetarian version using banana blossoms : check out her Iranian black bean Kebab with mocha :

Simona from  “Briciole”  is fan of  Italian artichokes, she prepared a hummus with artichoke, check her post to see  how many strands has the beautiful home-made challah bread she served with it…

Don’t be scared of fresh baby artichokes! Amy from “Savory moments” was nicely surprised on how easy it is to clean and trim them and she prepared these  delicious lemon and thyme braised baby artichokes:

Are you tempted to cook banana flowers but you are no sure on what is the edible part and how to extract it? Fear no more, Vijitha from “A Foodie in her cooking hat” has not only sent us this Banana Flower stir fry, she is also providing a thorough explanation on how to prepare the flowers.

Nawel from “Jeux d’épices et Saveurs” is proud to share the recipe of  “Artichoke, fava beans and dry tomatoes stir fry” , which will be featured next month in a French magazine. As her recipe was in French, the translation has been provided below the picture :

Ingredients for  4 servings
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
280 g peeled frozen fava beans
4-5 frozen artichoke hearts
130 g chickpeas
5 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp strong or mild paprika
½ bunch chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 ½  tbsp olive oil
100 ml water
Salt and pepper
Cut artichoke hearts into quarters. Cut the sun-dried tomatoes in three.
Peel the shallot and chop it finely. Peel the garlic cloves and crush them.
Heat the olive oil in a pan, on low heat and add the shallot.
Fry for 1 minute. Add the artichokes, beans, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper.
Stir and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the cold water, stir and add the spices.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 more minutes.

And finally, voilà your Sweet Artichoke’s artichoke recipes….

An artichoke and chickpeas curry, that can be eaten cold as salad, which is really great when you have left overs… (here)

… a rather unusual way of eating artichokes, as filling for these savoury hazelnut sandwich cookies (here)

and,  from Sweet Artichoke’s archives:

I had celebrated my 100th post with an artichoke tapenade, which was also my first posted recipe with artichokes!

I did not come back from our trip to Roma with designer shoes or clothes, but with fresh Roman artichokes, bought at one of the local market… delicious in these pasta ai carciofi (here)

By now, I do hope that you are feeling hungry…. and tempted by these goodies….

It is my pleasure to announce the lucky winners of the two books:

*drums rolling….*

I first prepared an alphabetical list of all participants:

Then I went on

which drew number 11 and number 8.

Congratulations to Vijitha and Priya!

Please send me your contact details at: