Today's Guest blogger: Lata Raja of Flavours and Tastes

The guest post section is back in action. Today's guest blogger is none other than Lata Raja of Flavours and Tastes . Lataji as we fondly call her is a very amicable, easy-to-approach person. She has an awesome array of recipes in her blog that includes specialities from various cuisines. Many new bloggers (including me) look upon her as a mentor as she is readily available to guide, give suggestions and appreciate our efforts.. Now without hijacking the post, here we go to see what Lataji has to say...

C & S: Tell us about yourself I am a woman who just loves life as it is. Have been blessed with many things wonderful and I keep counting all those blessings.

C & S: What does Cooking mean to you?Cooking is still a learning process for me. I love to put ideas from all over to work in my day to day cooking. And to share them I write a blog @ Flavours and Tastes.

The blog was primarily to help document recipes for my daughter and her friends (who were taking up campus living with kitchen facilities), to try and cook their meal by themselves. Later the blog became a hobby and has evolved into what it is today.

Cooking was once an everyday chore, later developed to an interest. Now I would only be too happy to cook as many dishes for my family and friends.
Cooking and writing for the blog has taught me to be more attentive to my recipes, given me the confidence to try some dishes I would have not thought possible.

C & S: Your inspiration/role model/favorite cook
I draw inspiration from everyone, elders in the family, friends who are innovative. My fellow bloggers are my main influence. Of course some cookbook authors and television show hosts are serious inspiration.

C & S: Your favorite Cuisine
South Indian cooking is the top of charts, though Indian vegetarian food is my favourite. I would always willingly try any cuisine so long as it is vegetarian.

Traditional Vegetable Biriyani

Biriyani needs no introduction and just the blend of aromatic spices, rice and vegetables is sufficient to bring a healthy appetite about.
This one though is the first of the biriyanis I have ever watched someone cook for us and tasted, long many years ago. For a family who did not eat garlic and spices, even rarely, one of my aunts cooked it with permission from my grandmom. That was the first time, I recall that we had biriyani! The rest of the aunts and my mother soon copied the recipe and were trying it as a special treat for us kids! Thus I have the recipe and wanted to cook it for virtual friends here.

Recipe:Serves four people.
1 ½ cups basmati rice
3 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups cubed vegetables that include shelled peas, potatoes, french beans, carrots and bell peppers
1 medium onion sliced in fine strips
3 tablespoons Ghee
1 bay leaf
Salt as required
For the masala:(to be ground to a very fine paste, adding as little water as possible)6-8 shallots pealed
2 teaspoons grated coconut
1 ½ teaspoon broken and soaked cashew nuts
1 tight fist full chopped coriander leaves
4 cloves garlic
1” piece of ginger
2 green chillis (can add according to required level of heat)
2 pods green cardamom
2 pieces Marathi moggu (optional)
4 cloves
2” piece cinnamon
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cooking poppy seeds (optional / or increase the coconut a bit)

Grind the paste. Recover the adhering paste with some water. This water may be added to the raita to flavor the same.

Method:1. Wash the Basmati rice well and soak it in water for about 30 minutes.
2. Drain the water and spread the rice on a cloth to allow it to dry until about moist.
3. Meanwhile, steam the vegetables separately until they are cooked but the crunch is felt.
4. Heat one tablespoon of ghee in a pan. Add the bay leaf and then the sliced onions. Saute until the onions are pink.
5. Add the masala paste. Cook this on a low flame until very aromatic and the ghee separates.
Remove this from the pan.
6. Add some ghee if required and drop the drained rice. Toss the rice in the pan for a few minutes allowing it to roast a bit.
7. Heat the vegetable stock or water in a pan. Add the rice and cook the rice until tender, but separate grains showing.
8. Remove the rice from the pan. In a flat dish, mix gently the rice, the cooked paste and the vegetables well.
9. Heat the rest of the ghee in the pan. Add the above rice mix and cook on a low heat gently turning the biriyani over for a few minutes.
Serve hot with onion raita.

Onion Raita:Slice one medium onion in very fine strips. Chop one green chilli very fine too. Chop fresh coriander leaves.
Combine all of the above and some salt as desired in a bowl of whisked yoghurt. The water which was recovered from the grinding of the masala can be added to this.


Well, I am sure that left all of us slurping and drooling. Thank you Lataji for the wonderful recipe! Till I meet you all again with another interesting post, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!


lata raja said...

Thank you Rohini, for giving me an opportunity to reach to most of your readers through this post. I am only very happy to be featured here.

chef and her kitchen said...

Nice 2 know more abt lata ji..she is definitely one enthusiastic person I hv come across...nice series..keep going!!

Ms.Chitchat said...

A nice interview with Lata. I love her recipes and her blog is a ready-reckoner most of the time. Thanks Rohini for the guest post and looking forward for many more interesting ones.

Sandhya Hariharan said...

Nice to know more about you Latha Aunty...
Rohini.. Welcum back....again....

kitchen queen said...

a wonderful interview with Lata and nice to know about her.welcome back Rohini.Hoping to see more of ur recipes too.

Dolly Sharma said...

Rohini..First and foremost a very big welcome to you..thanks for coming back to the bloggyworld. I really missed ur posts.

I could'nt agree with you more about Lataji..I love her space and her collections of awesome recipes. Not to forget her interesting tidbits. Its a nice interview getting to know a bit more about Lataji..

This Biryani looks yummyilicious and the preparation is very different than the one I make. Bookmarked !!!

Saraswathy Balakrishnan said...

Very tempting yummy briyani:)

camelia said...


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Reva said...

Wow , what a wonderful way to appreciate talented versatile bloggers ...:) Loved the interview and most of all the yummilicious biryani...
Very nice to know about Lataji.. so much to learn from her blog.
First time here and I loved it.. feels very much at home..
Very proud to follow u ..

Jojoba said...

Hey, you stated in a much more direct way what I was trying to communicate, thanks, I will recommend your site to my friends.

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gwl said...

I luv rice items.......certainly should try it.

gwl said...

Mouth and eyes are both wide opened.

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