Lentil and walnut nut roast – “Pâté” de lentilles et noix


It has been a long time… 10 months without blogging… but it has been 10 amazing months, because you see, I have an adorable help in my kitchen… In Spanish, to give birth is said dar la luz, litterally “give … Continue reading

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.

B&W Wednesday – Torta di nocciole – Hazelnut gluten-free cake – Gâteau aux noisettes sans gluten

(en français, plus bas)

Last week, Mr Artichoke and I decided to enjoy a long weekend in Piemonte, a region in Nothern Italy, famous from its wines, truffles, hazelnuts and many other goodies. We are so lucky to live only a few hours drive from this marvellous country and I often wonder why we are not travelling there more often…

This time, we decided to visit Torino and some pretty places around its region (Alba and Barolo). We were not sure on what to expect of Torino and its reputation of a very industrial city…

Well, fear not the industrial city: Torino has a beautiful historical center and a concentration of very good restaurants… It also has the biggest streeet market in Europe: the Mercato di Porta Palazzo, which spreads its vegetables, fruits, flowers, clothes, etc… on about  53000m2!

As visiting fruits and vegetable market is one of my favourite activity when travelling, I would like to share some snaps with you and send some of them to Susan’s event: Black & White Wednesday, an event that I have been waiting too long to take part in.

A busy market…

Autumn’s delight: pumpkins

Cinderella’s dream…

Guess what? my favourite vegetables …

Pretty chillies: I could put them in a vase!

Colourful grapes….

Fresh olives…

I bought some and am trying to prepare them in brine.

Loved these bi-colour aubergines…

So many yummy Italian Cheeses….

Nocciole… Hazelnuts, a quintessential Piemontese product

Ooops, and I also would like to share with you a very simple and tasty recipe, typical from the region of Piemont: la torta di nocciole, or hazelnut cake. It is a moist and very flavourful cake, which only needs few ingredients. I used fresh hazelnuts brought back from our trip. It took me quite some time to crunch all of them and then powder them, but it is perfectly fine to use already ground hazelnuts!

ingredients for a 20 diameter round cake tin:

35g butter, soft, at room temperature
150g sugar
2 egg yolks
1 pinch of salt
200g hazelnut, ground
2egg whites

Preheat the oven at 180°C.
Mix butter and sugar.
Stir in the egg yolks.
When it is well combined, add a pinch of salt and the powdered hazelnuts.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff.
Gently stir into the mixture.
Line a baking tin with parchment paper and pour the mixture into it.
Bake for 40 minutes.

Gâteau aux noisettes, sans gluten

La semaine dernière, nous avons décidé, avec Mr Artichoke de passer un long week-end dans le Piémont, une région au nord de l’Italie, célèbre pour ses vins, truffes, noisettes et de nombreux autres bonnes choses… Il faut dire que nous avons vraiment beaucoup de chance de vivre à quelques heures seulement de ce merveilleux pays et je me demande souvent pourquoi nous n’y allons pas plus souvent …

Cette fois, nous avons décidé de visiter Turin et sa région, (Alba et Barolo ). Cependant, nous n’étions pas sûrs de ce que nous allions trouver à Turin, avec sa réputation de ville industrielle, pas forcément jolie …

Eh bien, il ne faut pas craindre cette réputation de ville industrielle: Turin a un beau centre historique (ce n’est certes pas Florence ou Rome, mais c’est très joli quand même) et une concentration de très bons restaurants … Elle abrite également le plus grand marché en plein air d’Europe: et selon mon guide, les légumes, fruits, fleurs et beaucoup d’autres choses sont dispersés sur 53000m2. Etant donné que me promener dans les marché aux fruits et légumes est une de mes activités favorites lorsque je voyage, je voudrais partager quelques photos avec vous (voir ci-dessus) et envoyer certaines d’entre elles à l’événement de Susan: Black & White Wednesday, un évènement auquel j’espérai participer depuis longtemps!

Oups, je voudrais aussi partager avec vous une recette très simple et savoureuse,typique de la région du Piémont : la torta di nocciole, ou gâteau aux noisettes. C’est un gâteau très parfumé et moelleux, qui n’a besoin que de très peu d’ingrédients. J’ai utilisé des noisettes fraîches ramenées de notre voyage. Il m’a fallu un certain temps pour les débarrasser de leur coquille et les réduire en poudre, mais il est bien entendu possible d’utiliser directement des noisettes en poudre!

Ingrédients pour un moule de 20cm de diamètre:

35g de beurre, mou, à température ambiante
150g de sucre
2 jaunes d’oeufs
1 pincée de sel
200g de noisettes, moulues
2 blancs d’oeuf

Préchauffer le four à 180 ° C.
Mélanger le beurre et le sucre.
Incorporer les jaunes d’œufs.
Quand le mélange est uniforme ajouter une pincée de sel et les noisettes en poudre.
Dans un autre récipient, battre les blancs d’œufs en neige ferme.
Incorporer délicatement au mélange.
Tapisser un moule avec du papier sulfurisé et verser le mélange dedans.
Cuire au four pendant 40 minutes.