Thursday, December 18, 2008

Vegetable Biryani

This is my mom's recipes. She would always make this dish mostly on weekends as it takes quite some time to create. We were introduced to biryani in Bhopal which is also very famous for its chicken and mutton biryani. You may try biryani at any number of restaurants, but the flavor and the taste of this dish is incomparable when make at home from the freshly ground spices and vegetables. The difference between pulao and biryani can seem like a thin line, but they are both differently prepared. Pulao is vegetables and rice cooked together. Biryani is a dish made with layered vegetables or meat, onions and rice. Read more about biryani here.


For the rice (Step 1):
2 cups basmati rice
2-3 star anise or badal phool
1 teaspoon jeera or cumin seeds
2- 3 pieces of cinnamon or dalchini
3-4 cardamom or elaichi
1-2 bay leaf or tej patta
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 medium onion
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon oil

For the Garnishing
(Step 2):
5 medium red onions (thinly sliced)
handful coriander leaves or cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
10-12 broken roasted cashew nuts(optional)
1 teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoon raisins (optional)

For the Vegetables
(Step 3)
2 cups mixed vegetables (beans, carrots, potato, peas, sweet corn, cauliflower)
1/2 cup paneer (optional)
2 medium red onions paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon green chili paste (or as per taste)
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves or 3-4 fresh leaves
5 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves or cilantro
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3-4 cloves
1/2 inch cinnamon piece
3 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon turmeric power
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (or as per taste)
salt as per taste

For the rice: (Step 1)
Wash and soak the basmati rice in warm water for around 45 minutes. Drain the water and leave aside. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Add anise, cardamom pods, cinnamon and bay leaf. Fry for a minute and add finely sliced onions. Fry till onions are brown. Add the rice and fry for 4-5 minutes. Heat water double the quantity of rice - 1 cup. For 2 cups of rice use 3 cups of hot water. Add salt for taste. Add the hot water to the rice and cook till the rice is half done. Keep the juice of 1 lemon aside for final step.

For the garnish:
(Step 2)
Finely slice the onions and fry them in 3 tablespoons of oil till they are brown. Mix in raisins, roasted cashew nuts,salt and chopped coriander leaves. Keep aside.

For the vegetables:
(Step 3)
Chop the vegetables. If you are using cauliflower, then fry it in a teaspoon oil till it is brown on all sides. Follow the same procedure with the paneer. Saute rest of the vegetables. Roast coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Grind the seeds into a fine powder with cardamom, cinnamon,cloves and dried mint leaves if using.
Heat oil in pan and add ginger -garlic paste. Fry for 2 minutes on medium flame. Add green chili paste. Fry for a minute. Add onion paste and fry till the raw smell goes away. Add chili powder, turmeric powder. Add milk and chopped coriander leaves and mix well. Add the vegetables, paneer and coat the vegetables well with the masala. Add salt for taste and cook covered for 10 minutes.

For the biryani:
Put 1 tablespoon oil in a pressure cooker or a pan with tight fitting lid.
1) Put 1 tablespoon of the garnishing from step 2.
2) Add a layer of vegetables from step.
3) Then add a layer of rice from step 1.
4) Add some lemon juice and sprinkle a little (around 2 pinches) garam masala powder.

Repeat step 1 to 4 for all the vegetables, rice and garnishing. Cover lid and cook on a low flame for 25 minutes or till the rice is cooked. Cooking on a low flame (i use the range2 or 3 out of 9 on the coil) is important to ensure that the biryani is not burnt at the bottom of the cooker. Serve hot with dahi raita.

Preparation time: 1 -2 hours
Serves: 3-4