Hello, and a recipe

I thought I could live on Twitter. It allows me to work 10 hour days at four different clinics and still keep in touch with what’s happening in the world. It’s my newsfeed, entertainment, communication system and everything else rolled into one phone app.

It’s pretty darned hard to share a recipe on Twitter, though. God knows I’ve tried.

So here it is- a lotus stem biryani so delicious it made me write a blog post. 🙂 Loosely adapted from this recipe.


1 tbsp vegetable oil

1-1.5 lbs raw lotus stems

1.5 cup plain yogurt (greek or homemade)

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp fennel seeds, powdered

1 tsp cumin seeds, powdered

1 tsp powdered coriander seeds

1/2 tsp dried ginger powder

1/8 tsp mace, powdered

1/4 tsp powdered cinnamon

1/8 tsp powdered nutmeg

1.5 cups long grain basmati rice

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick cinnamon

3 small green cardamom pods

1 black cardamom pod

1 bay leaf

4-5 cloves

a handful of fresh mint

a handful of fresh cilantro

1-2 hot green chillies, minced

– Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

– Start by prepping the lotus stems and the rice. You can find fresh lotus stems at most Asian/Indian grocery stores. Look for ones with closed ends, as they are less likely to have dirt in the veins. Cut off the ends, scrub clean in plenty of water, and boil/pressure cook in 2 cups of water until you can easily poke through one with a fork. Cool and peel, then slice into bite sized pieces.

– While the stems cook, take a saucepan and soak the rice in 2.5 cups water, salt, and the whole spices- cinnamon, cardamom pods, bay leaf, cloves. When it turns opaque (about 10 minutes), cook the rice by bringing it to a boil, covered, then simmering at low heat until all the water is absorbed. Do not stir until the rice is done, then fluff gently with a fork. Remove the whole spices if you wish. (If you’re new to cooking rice this way and want the grains to be completely separate like in restaurants, add 1 tbsp of oil to the water.)

– In a bowl, beat together the yogurt and all the other spices. You can add a little lemon juice to the yogurt if it’s not sour. The blended mixture should taste like a spicy tandoori marinade.

– Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add the sliced lotus stems  and saute for 5 minutes until the stems are golden brown and somewhat crisp. Turn the heat to low and add the yogurt blend. Stir occasionally and cook on low heat until the sauce thickens and coats the stems. Taste and adjust seasoning.

– Coarse-chop the mint/cilantro/green chillies.

– In a 10 inch baking dish/casserole, layer the biryani. Spread half the rice in the bottom, cover with half the curried stems, half of the mint mixture, rest of the rice, rest of the fresh herbs, and finally the top layer of curry.

– Cover tightly with a couple of layers of foil/an oven safe lid, and bake for 20 minutes until the flavors blend. Serve warm.


About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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24 Responses to Hello, and a recipe

  1. Vijay says:

    Yay! She’s blogging again. And posting droolworthy pics. :P~…

  2. jaklumen says:

    It’s pretty darned hard to share a recipe on Twitter, though. God knows I’ve tried.
    *cue Handel’s Hallelujah chorus*

    But lotus stems are a bit too exotic for me.

    • Vijay says:

      Jaklumen, I’m from India, and the Lotus is our national flower, but Lotus Stem Biryani is too exotic even for me! :O

      • jaklumen says:

        Hi Vijay. I rather doubt it’s a matter of taste for me, as my family sometimes has trouble following my eclectic choices (not excluded to cooking). It’s a matter of access… I’m not sure where I would find it.

        The two Asiatic groceries I go to are Vietnamese, and they carry a variety of imports, but I am not sure I remember such there. I will make a note to see if they even have lotus stem/root on my next visit.

  3. Knot Telling says:

    Welcome back to the blog!

    Looks delicious – wish I could source some of the ingredients here. I’ll have to investigate…

  4. Japanese grocery stores carry canned lotus root. I wonder if I can use that in lieu of fresh lotus stems. (You say stems, but I think it’s the root that’s harvested. And I don’t have any trouble eating it, unlike the gentlemen at the top of this thread. *cough*)

    Just from looking at this recipe, I can tell it’s good. I’m going to the store tomorrow to buy lotus root. And it’s so good to have you back! Even though I see you on Twitter, it’s not the same as blogging.

    • jaklumen says:

      unlike the gentlemen at the top of this thread


      You misunderstand. I’ve never eaten it– and I wouldn’t mind trying to eat it. But I’ve never heard of it, until now. I haven’t the slightest clue where to find it. We don’t have Japanese grocery stores here that I am directly aware of; and I do not recall seeing canned lotus root in the Asiatic stores I have frequented.

      I appreciate you have referred to me as a gentleman, but may I please save face now? I could not track down garam masala, for example, until our esteemed blog author sent me some. Please, I ask the benefit of the doubt.

      • Okay, sorry, I should have read your response closer. But in this age of internet shopping, not being able to buy canned lotus root is no excuse now.


        I will have to say, I hated the stuff as a child, at least the way my mother and grandmother prepared it. It tasted like rubber disks cooked in that generic Japanese broth of mirin, soy sauce, sugar and dashi (broth made from dried bonito flakes). Purple’s recipe looks infinitely better.

        • jaklumen says:

          But in this age of internet shopping, not being able to buy canned lotus root is no excuse now.

          Poverty (shipping costs and all that). (Yes, really, Cimmy and I are both on disability.) But enough excuses; I’ll look for it at the groceries I mentioned. I am sure I merely overlooked it, now that I think about it. Rubber disks? So it would seem that I should be careful how I cook it.

          All other ingredients should be in my kitchen or super easy to get. But I should note that I’ve been quite remiss in following any of the recipes here; so if I finally follow through, that’ll be a first. Bonus points if my family eats it and likes it… they aren’t always as adventuresome as I.

    • purplesque says:

      Yep, canned would work! (I thought about mentioning it, but I haven’t really used it- yet.)
      Stem/root- I guess it’s technically a rhizome. I stick with stem because that’s what I learnt growing up. 🙂 Here’s my question, though- have you ever had the fresh fruit of lotus with those little, incredibly delicious seeds? They used to sell it by the river just outside Delhi….

      • Yes! Lotus seeds are seen more often in Chinese cuisine than Japanese, but I love them. Now that it’s Chinese New Year’s, you see candied lotus seed in Asian groceries all over here. Eating them on New Year’s Day is considered good luck. I should drop my resistance to sweets and get a little package…it’s a holiday, right? Sort of?

        They also make a surprisingly tasty addition to congee and Chinese vegetable soup. Gah, I’m hungry now. I need to go to the store and pick up some real food. Dad went to the store yesterday and brought back hamburger. As he has for the last two weeks. 😦

  5. robpixaday says:

    YAY!!!!!!! You’re here!!! How wonderful!

    I hope things are going great!
    Sounds like a dandy recipe (I’m trying to imagine flavors that I’m not familiar with)….and LOL re posting recipes on Twitter. That can’t be easy!

  6. LG says:

    Of course, it did, purp. Since I read this post, I have been craving for that curry. @#%^$

    • purplesque says:

      Hey- it’s super easy, and one my mom made often in the winter. She used potatoes, tomatoes, nutrella soy nuggets, lotus stems, and radish pods. A simple cumin-coriander tadka, and a quick curry to go with paranthas was ready. Do you get lotus stems where you are? You could try it…

  7. amelie says:

    Wow, I’ve never had lotus-anything. Thanks for this recipe! Will be great for winter.

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