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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Potato Dahibada Stuffed with Veggies

This recipe takes me back to my childhood, when I was in 9th grade and when for my Home Science (home economics) project I had to cook something that did not contain any grains or beans.

You see, in India some people do a kind of fast where they are allowed to eat fruits, veggies, yogurt, milk and potatoes, yams etc but no grains or beans. Kind of Gluten free diet if you would say.

After brainstorming a little, with my mom's help I came up with this recipe. We used to make stuffed veggie Dahibada using the same recipe except the outer coating was of soaked and ground Urad dal mixed with some Moong dal. So instead of doing the outer coat with dal based batter, we decided to use mashed potatoes.

Now the question was how to keep the vada from opening up while frying and how to avoid using flour to keep it all together. Then my mom thought of Arrowroot powder which is not made of grain. It is made from a root of a plant. It would work well to keep the potatoes from opening up in hot oil

I will put some info about arrowroot powder at end of this recipe. I must say that as a teenager then I was so proud that we succeeded in preparing this recipe without using any grains or beans and it came out perfect.

It has always been a hit ever since, whenever I prepared it for any occasion over many many years. And BTW yes, I did get an "A" on this home economics project in 9th grade ;)

Here is the recipe.


For outer shell:

* 2 large potatoes Boiled and mashed

* 1 cup arrowroot powder

* 1 teaspoon salt

For stuffing

* 3 medium potatoes boiled and cubes in small pieces

* 1 onion

* 4 cloves of garlic

* 3-4 Serrano peppers

* 1 teaspoon ginger paste

* 1 cup mixed veggies cooked in microwave(frozen peas, corn, carrots, and beans cut in to small cubes)

* 2 tablespoon olive oil or any cooking oil

* 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

* 1/4 teaspoon asafetida

* 1 teaspoon urad dal

* 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

* 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

* 1 teaspoon cumin powder

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder

For additional stuffing:

* One onion chopped with 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro leaves

* 4 Serrano peppers sliced

* 1 small packet of raisin

* 30 pieces of cashews or cashew halves

* 2 table spoon Black pepper corn

* 2" piece of ginger peeled and cut in small sliced strips

For frying:

* Will need 1/2 cup of arrowroot for rolling the balls before frying them.

* Vegetable Oil for deep frying.

For seasoning and presentation:

* 6 cups of plain low fat yogurt

* 1 cup of sour cream (non fat)

* Tamarind chutney (recipe on this blog)

* Mint cilantro chutney (recipe on this blog)

* Crushed roasted cumin seeds

* Salt

* Cayenne pepper powder

* 1 Chopped onions mixed with 1/4 cup of Cilantro for garnish

* Handful of Bhel Sev (thin gram flour noodles from local Indian grocer) for garnish (I did not have it so I did not use it)


Prepare outer coating:

* Boil all 5 potatoes together in pressure cooker. Cool the pressure cooker.

* Peel and mash 2 potatoes.

* Mix the mash potatoes with Arrowroot powder and salt, until dough like consistency.

Prepare seasoned potatoes and veggies stuffing:

* Peel and cut 3 potatoes and set aside.

* Cover and set aside.

* Chop and grind onions, Serrano pepper, garlic in food processor.

* Cook frozen veggies on a steamer in microwave for 3 min.

* Heat oil in a pan, when oil is hot, add cumin seeds, and when these crackle add asafetida.

* Immediately add urad dal and sesame seeds and stir for few seconds until these are light brown.

* Add onion, chili and garlic from food processor and add ginger paste.

* Saute until onions are light brown and translucent.

* Add cooked veggie and saute for 1 min.

* Add cubed potatoes, salt, cayenne pepper powder, cumin powder and turmeric powder.

* Mix well and turn the heat off, set aside.

How to prepare Dahibada balls:

* Divide the mashed potatoes mixed with arrowroot in to little bigger than golf size balls. (this recipe will make about 15 balls. Cover with wet cloth and set aside.

* Divide chopped onion and cilantro mix in to 15 equal portions as well, set aside.

* Divide the seasoned potato in to 15 equal portions and on each portion, place 2 pieces of cashews or cashew halves, 4-5 black peppercorns, 5-6 raisins, 2-3 slices of ginger and 2-4 slices of serrano pepper on each portion. (this tedious process is to make it easier to stuff and so that equal amount of each ingredient is in each ball)

* Now take the mashed potato and arrowroot balls in palm of your hand, press it until flattens to about size of your palm.

* Place the seasoned potatoes/veggie portion with all the other stuffing and place each portion of onion/cilantro.

* Close the ball very carefully and then roll the ball in the arrowroot powder.

* Heat oil for deep frying at 375 F in a frying pan.

* When oil is hot, drop the Dahibada balls in the oil with care and deep fry until it is turned golden brown evenly.

* Place the balls on paper towels with layers of newspaper under the paper towel to let all oil soaked by paper.

Serving Instructions:

* Whisk and mix plain yogurt and sourcream until smooth.

* Place the dahibada balls in a bowl.

* Generously pour plain yogurt over it.

* Sprinkle salt, cayenner pepper and crushed roasted cumin seeds over it.

* Drizzle tamarind chutney and mint/cilantro chutney over it to taste.

* Garnish with chopped onions, cilantro and bhel sev.

A delicious savory dish is ready to enjoy :)


* If arrowroot is not readily available you can use corn starch.

* You can follow same recipe for stuffed dahibada with outer shell made out of soaked and ground urad and moong dal. I will be posting this recipe later.

* This recipe yields about 15 Dahibada, they are pretty big in size, so you can count one per person if serving as a side dish, or if serving as only snack by it self, then can safely count two per person.

Here is some info about arrowroot:

Arrowroot, or obedience plant (Maranta arundinacea), Bermuda arrowroot, araru, ararao, is a large perennial herb found in rainforest habitats. It is cultivated for a starch obtained from the rhizomes (rootstock), which is also called arrowroot.

A perennial plant about two feet high, arrowroot has small white flowers; and fruits about the size and form of currants. The rootstocks are dug when the plant is a year old, and often exceed 1 foot (30 cm) in length and 0.75 inches (19 mm) in diameter. They are yellowish white, jointed and covered with loose scales.

The plant is naturalized in Florida, but it is chiefly cultivated in the West Indies (Jamaica and St. Vincent), Australia, Southeast Asia, and South and East Africa. It used to be very popular in British cuisine, and Napoleon supposedly said the reason for the British love of arrowroot was to support their colonies.

Arrowroot tubers contain about 23% starch. They are first washed, and then cleaned of the paper-like scale. The scales must be carefully removed before the extraction of the starch because they impart their disagreeable flavor if allowed to remain.

After the removal of the scale, the roots are washed again, drained and finally reduced to a pulp by beating them in mortars or subjecting them to the action of the wheel-rasp.

The milky liquid thus obtained is passed through a coarse cloth or hair sieve and the pure starch, which is insoluble, is allowed to settle at the bottom.

The wet starch is dried in the sun or in a drying house. The result is a powder, the "arrowroot" of commerce, and it is at once packed for market in air-tight cans, packages or cases.

Arrowroot starch has in the past been quite extensively adulterated with potato starch and other similar substances, so care is needed in selection and buying.

Pure arrowroot, like other pure starches, is a light, white powder (the mass feeling firm to the finger and crackling like newly fallen snow when rubbed or pressed)

It looks very much like corn starch, but odourless when dry, but emitting a faint, peculiar odour when mixed with boiling water, and swelling on cooking into a perfect jelly, which can be used to make a food for vegetarians very smooth in consistency — unlike adulterated articles, mixed with potato flour and other starches of lower value, which contain larger particles.

In US I found it at local GFS store. You can order it from Amazon too.

Info on Arrowroot source:

Recipe by Surekha's mom Mrs. Kasturben and Surekha
Photographs by Suerkha.
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Veggie Biryani with Paneer

Biryani, biriani, or beriani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n) which means "fried" or "roasted".

Biryani was originated in Iran (Persia) and it was brought to South Asia by Iranian travelers and merchants. Local variants of this dish are popular not only in South Asia but also in Southeast Asia, Arabia, and within various South Asian communities in Western countries,

The spices and condiments used in biryani may include, but are not limited to, ghee, nutmeg, mace, min, pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic. The premium varieties include saffron.

The difference between biryani and pullao is that while pullao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice (plain or fried) is cooked separately from the thick sauce (curry of meat or vegetables).

The curry and the rice are then brought together and layered, resulting in a dish of the contrasting flavors of flavored rice (which is cooked separate with spices) and intensely flavored sauce and meat or vegetables.

This recipe yields about 8 - 10 servings. I must admit, it is a multi-steps recipe and can be tedious but end result is worth all the trouble.


For Rice:

1.5 cup Basmati rice

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon olive oil

Fresh lime juice from 1 large lime

To prepare paneer:

1 14 oz slab of paneer

Oil for deep frying

To prepare onions:

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion sliced

2 teaspoon garlic ginger paste

1/4 teaspoon asafetida divided in two parts

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of sugar

To prepare nuts:

15 pieces cashew nuts (save some for garnish)

1/4 cup of sliced almonds (save some for garnish)

1 teaspoon of butter

To prepare veggies:

1 teaspoon of butter

2 tablespoon of Olive oil

2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2-3 dry red chili pods

2-3 bay leaves

3-4 pods of black cardamom pods

4 pods of green cardamom pods

1 1" stick of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of black pepper corn

1/2 teaspoon of cloves

6-8 cloves of garlic chopped

2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon of coarse black pepper powder

2 cups of frozen Caribbean veggie mix (red pepper, yellow carrots, broccoli florets, green bean

1 cup of frozen peas

1 cup of frozen mix veggies (chopped red carrots, corn, beans and peas)

2 teaspoon salt adjust to taste

2 tablespoon fresh finely chopped mint leaves

1 teaspoon of Kasoori Methi leaves (optional)

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 tablespoon of Tandoori barbeque masala

1 tablespoon of Dhanshak Masala

1 cup plain yogurt + 1/2 cup of water

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Few strands of Saffron

2 tablespoons melted butter


Prepare Rice:

Wash rice in water until water is clear.

Soak it in 3 cups of water for 10 min.

Add salt, olive oil and fresh lime juice.

Cook rice in Microwave per my recipe for plain rice on this blog.

As soon is rice is done, open the lid so it does not cook any further.

Gently toss it with wooden spoon, keep is uncovered to cool.

Prepare the Paneer, Onions, Nuts,and veggies while rice is cooking in following manner:


Cut paneer in 1" cubes and deep fry and set aside.

If prefer not to fry, you my use paneer cubes without frying.


In a sauce pan heat 2 tablespoon of oil and oil is heated add 1/4 teaspoon of asafetida.

Add cumin seeds when these crackle add asefetida followed by bay leaves, dry chili pepper pods, cloves, black pepper corn, cinnamon, and bay leaves.

Add onions and ginger garlic paste.

Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Saute until onions are caramelized brown.

Turn the heat off and set aside.


Heat 1 teaspoon of butter in a pan.

Add cashews and almonds.

Saute few seconds until light brown.

Turn the heat off and set aside.

Vegetables And Gravy:

Heat Olive oil in a pan.

Add chopped garlic.

Add all the chopped vegetables, salt, mint leaves and Kasoori methi, saute and cook on medium heat until they are tender but not mushy.

Add all the spices and mix/toss well.

Turn the heat off.

Mix saffron, turmeric, water and yogurt and set aside.

Prepare The Biryani:

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F

Take 9 x 13 baking glass dish, now alternate layer of plain rice and seasoned veggies, sauteed onions, fried paneer, and nuts.

Toss gently.

In the end add yogurt and water mix to empty frying pan that you seasoned the veggies in.

Pour this over rice and veggies evenly.

Garnish with remaining sliced almonds and cashews evenly over the rice, and then spread melted butter over the entire dish.

Cover the pan and bake for about ~15 minutes.


You can any mix veggies, and can substitute broccoli with cauliflower.

You can omit frying paneer, can add just plain cubed paneer, however be very gentl when tossing the biryani as the plain paneer may crumble.

You can add slice mushrooms as well.

Can be served with yogurt curry or Raita.

Some add fresh grated coconut (~1/2 cup) to vegetables. You may if you like coconut.

Some people add little tamarind paste to the vegetable once cooked and before adding them to the rice.

Be gentle when tossing and transferring the biryani, so the rice does not break as a mushy biryani is definitely not very appetizing.

Enjoy :)

Information on Biryani source:

Recipe and Photographs by Surekha.
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