Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rendez Vous With A Foodie - Rafeeda of The Big Sweet Tooth

We might have crossed so many friends in our life, some may stay and some may go but some will never go and they will stay in our heart for ever. This blogging world brought me many friends who later became my virtual sisters and the number of virtual sisters are increasing day by day, but never mind i just adore the support and the love they brings me. Whenever i ask their support, they will definitely shower me with their huge support, thats why i created this event Rendez vous with a Foodie. I know i can trust my co-bloggers aka my virtual sisters to join their hands to make this event and trust me they proved that and this event is a big hit. I have to say big thanks to each and everyone for giving me this support.

If you are my follower,you might have noticed that every 7th and 20th of the month i'll be introducing a newbie blogger to this immense virtual world.My today's guest is known other than Rafeeda of The Big Sweet Tooth, a wonderful person, absolutely a very sweet sister who cares a lot for others. Earlier i thought she might be a homemaker who cooks quite often then later from her posts i came to know that she is a working mom with two adorable kids. I was astonished to see how frequently she blogs and participates in many challenges eventhough she is busy working mom.

Initially, her blog's name attracted me a lot, coz am also having a big sweet tooth. When you saw someone who is having the same taste and same passion for foods obviously you will get attract to them and you may turn curious to know more about them.This is wat happened for me when i crossed Rafeeda's space, happy that she is an adorable person who have a huge heart thus i simply became her ardent fan. Actually I always love her Malabar dishes and obviously i was waiting eagerly for her guest post. Trust me, she didnt disappointed me and send me a wonderful,droolworthy Malabar Biryani. Thanks Rafee Sis, coz of you finally my space have a wonderful Malabar biryani now.

Now let's hear from Rafeeda..

Salaam and Hello to everybody…

I guess at this moment, I should tell all of you that I am on cloud nine. Being a fairly new blogger, when Priya akka started her series “Rendevous with a Foodie”, I just thought of asking her if I could be a part of it. The humble person that she is, “yes!” came the immediate reply and here I am being featured on her space! I don’t think akka needs any introduction – she is an inspiration to all the foodies, who are in awe with her cooking skills, and more than that, her blogging skills, especially with the ease she publishes her posts every day without missing on any challenge. I have to really say that I really admire her time management skills and envy her family who get to eat such lovely food featured on her blog on a daily basis!

A little bit about myself – I am Rafeeda, who blogs at “The Big Sweet Tooth”. A working mother with two lovely daughters, who takes to cooking to relieve the daily stress of life – that’s a synopsis of myself! Just as my name says, I have a mighty sweet tooth, which I am trying to fight day in and day out to keep my weight getting out of control! I started my blog in January 2013 as a little diary to maintain my trials, as well as to vent out my feelings! The way  my blog is going as of now, Alhamdulillah, all due to the grace of the Almighty, I really feel blessed! 

Priyaakka had given a few questions to answer as a part of the series. So I guess I will just go on and answer them!

1)Tell us about your blog and you?
I guess I have already covered that in the brief introduction. I am basically a Keralite, bought up in the world hub called Dubai, and therefore in love with the multicultural environment that the country offers!

2)Before and after blogging, tell us what blogging changed your life?
Before blogging, I was actually careless about my time! The biggest virtue that I have learned once I started blogging was time management. Now I try my maximum not to waste a single minute, without doing anything. I have come to realize what a big blessing time is and how you need to utilize it, even though there are still some plugs to be closed! Another thing is that blogging has helped me widen my horizon as far as food experimentation is concerned. I am trying to put my hands and legs into other areas, which otherwise I would have never ever tried.

3)When and what motivated you to blog about food?
I had a little blog of mine, which was more of random ramblings. I used to go to food blogs and get so excited about them, that I started posting little recipes that turned out well for me. Then one fine morning, on January 17, 2013, I just randomly decided that I have to keep my ramblings and my recipes separate. Thus was born “The Big Sweet Tooth”. Whether I have managed to keep my ramblings and recipes separate is really to be seen! I’m so glad that I did start it, because I have come across so many similar-minded friends to be with…

4)There are a tons of blogs/pages on food these days, what accordingto you is the speciality of your blog and the food you cook?
I would never want to compare the way my blog is with other blogs, as I feel that there is something we all can learn from each other, whether it’s blog designs, photography techniques, writing skills – what not? According to me, I feel the personal touch and the simple recipes are what makes my blog interesting.

5) When it comes to cooking, who is your inspiration?
My umma is a big inspiration. I would never call her a great cook, even she would say she isn’t, because her cooking skills were very limited and she never liked to experiment. But whatever she makes, tastes just too good. Her lack of interest in experimenting is what is pushing me to experiment, I should really say! Apart from her, I guess all the lovely ladies who put in so much effort to cook and blog about it, which includes yourself akka, also push me to try and do what I can!

6)Every newbie blogger faces tons of challenges when its comes to blogging, tell me about one of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is to have your own little audience. Some people are blessed with family, relatives and friends, who give very good support but I don’t think everybody is. Looking out for an audience who will read and relate to you is really difficult. Alhamdulillah, I feel blessed to have found a regular audience who connect with me on a daily basis. Another challenge is to feed your blog with posts that are good enough to keep your audience in place – the pictures, the contents and the recipe itself. I have a lot more to improve on my photographs, which I am working on with my current set of limitations, but I feel that I am improving, slowly but steadily!

7)What is your best recipe and your favourite recipes you have blogged till now?
Even though the most viewed recipe on my blog seems to be the Eggless Mango Cheesecake, my favorite that I have blogged till now is the Eggless Tiramisu Cake. This was the cake I had made for our 9th wedding anniversary. I did the post with the same excitement that I had made the cake, stretching myself for two days. In fact, this was the first cake that I had decked up and everybody thought it was a decent attempt for the first one. I guess how much ever better posts may come up, this recipe will hold a very close place in my heart.

8)Few tips about food photography?
I am no one to be talking about food photography, as I have a lot to learn. Mainly, it’s the light factor. I’m not fortunate to be photographing in day light, since my cooking is all done at night. I try to keep it simple, not trying to put too many things into my photographs. Of late, what I have learned is to use a photo editor tool to enhance your photographs. I am using Photoscape, and trust me it really helps in photos looking much better than the original, even if there is a problem with the light.

9)What is your budget for the props,do you have any or else do you manage with your household stuffs?
I actually don’t have any budget for the props. Being working gives me a flexibility to buy the things I want. Whenever I see items at a really good price, I buy them, especially since crockery is expensive in this part of the world. I try to keep my budgets to the minimum whenever possible.

10)How do you plan your blog posts? Do you post rarely,regularly or once a week?
I actually don’t plan my blog posts. I cook whatever I want to try, if it comes out well, I click pictures and post it as a draft on my blogger using my phone. I look at my drafts while deciding what I need to post for the coming days, apart from the recipes done for challenges, which I post at the specified time. Normally, I have quite a bit of drafts in my list, so that it helps me during my rainy days! As of now, I do 5 posts a week on an average. I would love to continue to do so, but if not possible, I would love to do at least 3 posts a week.

11)Do you have any other passions apart from food blogging or blogs you own?
As I am working, a lot of my hobbies take a backseat. I love to read, chitchatting with friends, sightseeing and window shopping! However, my schedules don’t really allow me to give everything a full swing.

So there it is, I hope I have been able to answer all questions very sincerely and honestly. When it came to deciding a recipe for akka, it was really difficult. Giving a recipe to the food blogging queen is a challenge in itself, isn’t it? After racking my head quite a bit, I decided I will not give her a sweet dish – not doing justice to my blog name! – but something which is so synonymous to the Malabar area – the biriyani!

The cuisine of Malabar is simple but aromatic and delicious. It concentrates on making food with very limited ingredients. Meat, fish and eggs carries a lot of importance in Malabar side cooking, unfortunately not much of vegetables are used! So there you go, I decided I will give my labor of love, the way my umma makes her chicken biriyani. Till she handed over the keys for Friday lunch making to me, every second Friday featured this biriyani onto our tables and how perfectly she used to make it. Even though I got the taste so close to what she does, there is something extra in the food that our mothers serve, isn’t it? So the Malabar Chicken Biriyani, it is for this special guest post of mine.

Malabar Chicken Biriyani
Serves 4-6

1 kg chicken, cut into medium pieces
3 cups basmati rice
3 large onions, thinly sliced
4-5 chillies (increase for spiciness)
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup yogurt
1 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
1 small bunch mint leaves, chopped
1 small lemon
3 tbsp ghee
5-6 cashews
5-6 raisins
2 tsp rosewater
2 tbsp garam masala powder
4 cloves
6 peppercorns
1 small pc cinnamon
3 cardamoms


Heat half the ghee in a deep saucepan. Add half of the onions and the green chillies slit and cook till transparent. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook till the raw smell is gone. Add in the chicken and fry for five minutes. Add the yogurt and salt, cover and cook. When the chicken is half done, add the lime juice, half the mint and coriander leaves and mix well. Now cook till the chicken is tender and the water is absorbed. Set aside. 

Wash and drain the rice. In a large pot, heat up lots of water with salt and the whole masalas (cloves to cardamoms). When the water starts boiling, add the rice and cook till 80% done. Drain immediately and set aside. 

In a frying pan, add in the remaining ghee. Fry the remaining onions, sprinkled with salt till crisp and brown. Drain and set aside. Now fry the cashews and raisins till done. Drain and set aside. 

Heat a chappathi tawa on the stove for dum. In the same saucepan as the chicken is cooked, sprinkle half of the fried onions, cashew and raisins along with 1 tbsp garam masala powder. Layer in the cooked rice over the chicken and level on the top. Sprinkle the remaining chopped coriander and mint leaves, remaining fried onions, cashews and raisins, remaining 1 tbsp garam masala powder, rosewater and finally the ghee in which the onion-cashew-raisins were fried. Wrap the top with aluminum foil and close the lid tight. Keep it on the hot tawa on low flame for around 15-20 minutes for dum. 

Serve warm with pickle, raita and pappadam!!!

Before I bid adios, I want to say a big thank you, coupled with a gigantic hug for Priya akka, for giving me this chance to work with her for a guest post. Doing this post has been a lovely experience for me, I really hope that all of you have enjoyed reading it, and more than that, my host has also loved this post!

 Happy eating and blogging!!!  


meena said... Reply To This Comment

Rafee, yummy looking biriyani usual drool worthy.
Priya u have my favorite blogger here.

Priya said... Reply To This Comment

Nice biriyani and such a nice sweet chat you had.

Unknown said... Reply To This Comment

lovely post and more to know adout raf:)super yummy biryani

Rafeeda AR said... Reply To This Comment

thank u so much akka for this great opportunity... i'm overwelmed by the introduction... :) :) it is you who is a sweetheart, for being supportive of all the new bloggers out there... thank u once again, akka...

Renuka said... Reply To This Comment

That's a nice initiative! And the biryani looks yummmy!

Resna said... Reply To This Comment

Wow this is really an awesome page...yummy guest post for great blog love this..

Eat n Eat little More said... Reply To This Comment

Loved reading.. :) Kudos to both... Great to know more about Rafee

Shabbu said... Reply To This Comment

Delicious biriyani... Lovely guest post...

Vidya Chandrahas said... Reply To This Comment

Yummy and tempting biryani..It is nice to know more about Rafeeda. Love this interview.

Visit my new blog in your free time dear..

Anupa Joseph (Palaharam) said... Reply To This Comment

Mouthwatering biriyani Rafee :)

Beautiful guest post...loved going through it :)

Sangeetha M said... Reply To This Comment

Lovely guest for this session and nice to know more about Rafee, i love her simple and mouth watering recipes and the catchy intro she writes for every recipe..Good work Rafee keep it up :)
this Malabar Chicken Biryani sounds so flavorful and yumm..inviting pics there!

Unknown said... Reply To This Comment

Like always the Biriyani looks delicious Rafee. Priya and Rafee thank you for this awesome post and recipe. God bless!

Faseela said... Reply To This Comment

Lovely guest post from rafee

Asiya Omar said... Reply To This Comment

Rafeeda the lovely person, Priya, Thanks for sharing about her and the traditional Malabar Briyani.

Ambreen (Simply Sweet n Savory) said... Reply To This Comment

This biryani looks so delicious. Nice to know more about you, Rafeeda!

Rafeeda AR said... Reply To This Comment

thank u so much for your kind words, friends... :)

Ruxana Gafoor said... Reply To This Comment

Wow what a lovely guest was like going through a magazine...interview,recipe,comments..etc..hats off ladies..great effort :)

Unknown said... Reply To This Comment

Rafee so nice to read more about you and your blog. You sure are a great time manager :) enjoyed this biryani... great post aks and Rafee hats off

Sona - quick picks/pick quicks said... Reply To This Comment

soo happy to see you featured in here, Rafeeds ! and truly agree to you , Priya..what you have said about her ! Rafeeds..perfect recipe for the post ! very very tempting biriyani..infact., who can say no it this wonder potmeal..anyways !

Unknown said... Reply To This Comment

lovely guest post!!
Haffa's Kitchen

LOTUS said... Reply To This Comment

Looks delicious malabar chicken birryani....thanks for sharing Rafeeda....thanks Priya....