Since my introduction to what N terms “real” Biriyani, the one made from a poultry base, I have come to realise that the veggie Biriyani makers have a tough job. For making a meat biriyani is way easier and tastier any day. The-Best-Friend shared her chicken dum biriyani recipe with me over a year ago. I have gotten better at it and you can find the elaborate recipe here. If you think that is extensive, wait till you read the rest of this post detailing a veggie biriyani procedure, that I have figured after many trials to closely compete with the meat counterpart. So here goes –
Feeds 4 ravenous adults
For masala –
- 1 Tsp coriander seeds
- 1 star anise
- 1 nutmeg skin
- 3 green Cardamom
- 1 black Cardamom
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 3 Pepper corns
Dry roast the above ingredients and beat them into a powder; I prefer the mortar pestle way so that the masala is slightly coarse.
For the veggie marinade –
- Garlic pods – 4
- Ginger – 2 inch cube
- Mint – 3 sprigs
- Cilantro – handful
- Star anise – 1
- Cardamom – 2
Make a paste of the above ingredients. Add salt. Keep aside.
Remaining Ingredients –
- Basmati rice – 3 cups
- Pudina – a bunch
- The veggie set – Beans, cauliflower, peas, carrots ; Potatoes can be added as fillers, but I usually opt it out for it makes the dish very heavy and takes longer to cook.
- Thick yogurt – 2 cups
- Coconut milk – 1 cup
- Onions – 1 and 1/2 finely chopped. 1/2 cut length-wise
- Tomato – 1 medium chopped
- Soak the Basmati rice in water for atleast 1 hour. 2 to 3 hours is ideal.
- Toss the cut veggies except onions and tomatoes in the marinade and keep aside for around 30 minutes.
Preparing Rice –
- In a flat vessel, add ghee and let 2 cardamoms and a nutmeg skin splutter.
- To this add mint leaves and toss them for a minute or two.
- Now add the drained rice and let is fry till it gathers enough ghee grease.
- When the rice is devoid of all moisture and attains a slight brownish tinge, remove from the burner and prepare to cook.
- Add a water + coconut milk mixture to the rice in 1:1 ratio. This will make sure the rice is only 3/4th cooked. Add salt.
While the rice cooks –
- Start by frying finely cut onions in ghee or a ghee and oil medley along with spluttered cloves and shah-jeera ( caraway seeds )
- Follow this with the veggie marinade and tomatoes. Keep it closed and let cook.
- As the vegetable mix starts to ooze water, bring it to a mild simmer on low flame. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Now add the thick yogurt and continue to cook on low flame to prevent yogurt from breaking into curdles.
- As the yogurt gravy starts to pop, add the ground masala and let it blend in slowly.
- The veggies take from 20 to 40 minutes to reach the almost cooked state. Cooking it on a low flame also ensures the gravy does not dry up completely.
When the veggie gravy is almost done –
- In an oven safe vessel with a lid (preferably a soup-pot or wok like shaped one) grease the bottom with little oil or ghee.
- Add a layer of the 3/4th cooked rice followed by the veggie layer, another layer of rice, veggie again, finishing off with a layer of rice.
While this cooks in the oven at 360F to 380F for about 25 to 35 minutes-
- In the pan you made the veggie gravy, fry the onions you cut lengthwise until deep brown.
- Also toss in some cashew nuts and before turning the burner off, sprinkle the cilantro as well.
- Before the oven cooking comes to an end, add the garnish thus ready to the top of the biriyani.
- Remove from oven, mix the layers gently.
If you have a heavy bottom vessel, like the cast iron ones, you may use that for the layering and cooking on stove top instead of using the oven.
Serve hot with a spicy curry and raita. Our curry today was N’s special preparation ( no points for guessing, it came from the poultry )