Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vegetable Biriyani

One good thing about cooking at home is the ability to change the dish and make it your own. I love vegetable biriyani. Particularly when it is made in Hyderabad style. But there are few things I don't like. The fried onions they use in it is not appealing to me. Plus the amount of veggies is so minimal that you will be fishing for vegetables in a restaurant biriyani. So, I tweaked it to suit my taste. Go ahead and use about a cup of fried onions if you like them in this recipe. Use it while layering the vegetables and rice before baking or cooking for the second time. I added the nuts while toasting the spices so that they are crisp and not soggy.
One Year Back - Maddur Vada/Deep fried onion crackers
Two Years Back - Vegan Soudough Applesauce Pancakes
Three Years Back - Roasted Red Bell pepper Soup
For the Rice part:
Basmati rice - 2 cups soaked for an hour in enough water
Oil - few drops
Salt - 1 tsp
Black Cumi / Shah Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Green cardamom - 2 whole
Black cardamom - 1
Cinnamon - 1/2" stick

For the Vegetables part:
Potatoes - 3 medium peeled and chopped into large chunks
Carrots - 3 medium peeled and chopped into long thick sticks
Cauliflower - florets from a small head
Green peas - 1 cup frozen (optional - See Notes)
Cilantro and Mint leaves - chopped about 1 generous cup together
Oil - 4 TBSP
Shah jeera / Black Cumin - 1 tsp
Green cardamom - 2 whole
Black cardamom - 2
Cinnamon stick - 1"
Cashews - 1/4 cup (You could add some almonds too if you like)
Ginger - 1" piece peeled and grated
Garlic - 5 pods minced
Green Chillies - 5 - 6 chopped into big chunks (or make a paste of it)
Yogurt - 1 cup divided use
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 TBSP 
Biriyani Masala - 2 - 3 TBSP depending on how strong you want the flavor to be (you can use store bought)

To make the vegetable masala:
In a pan, heat oil. When hot, add black cumin, green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon stick, cashews, green chillies, ginger and garlic. Saute till cashews are lightly golden and add potatoes, carrots. Mix well and sprinkle some salt. When potatoes and carrots are cooked for 5 minutes, add cauliflower. Mix well. Aim is to cook vegetables until they are tender but still have a bite to them. About 75 % of cooking. After 5 minutes of adding cauliflower, add green peas. Mix well and add biriyani masala. Stir well to coat all the vegetables with it and then add half a cup of yogurt. Mix well. Add sugar and cook till most of the water has evaporated from the vegetable mixture. Turn off the stove.

To make the rice:
In a pan, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil. Add few drops of oil, salt, and the whole spices mentioned in the For the Rice part: above. Add the drained rice that you had soaked in water and stir. When the rice is boiled for about 5 - 6 minutes, check if you can cut grain of rice. You should not be able to mash it. If you can mash it, you have over cooked the rice. Drain the rice reserving about 1/2 cup of the liquid.

To assemble:
Take a shallow dish (See Notes). Add the remaining 1/2 cup of yogurt to the vegetable mixture. Lay a layer of the vegetables in the shallow dish. Top it with a handful of cilanthro and mint leaves. Top it with a layer of rice. Do this until you finish all your vegetables and rice. Add the 1/2 cup of reserved rice water to the dish and cover with a tight lid. You can either bake in the oven at 400 F for 30 minutes or you can create a water bath on the stove and place this dish in it and cook for 20 - 25 minutes. When done, you should have a fluffy rice and after few minutes, mix it with a fork so that the whole masala and vegetables get mixed very well. Check for salt and adjust if needed. Serve with raita or your favorite side dish.
This post is written for weekend cooking post that I write with Srivalli  and  Vaishali,  

Traditionally, people don't use peas in it. I like peas so used it. Also, the ratio of vegetables to rice that I have given is towards more vegetables. You get few pieces here and there in a restaurant biriyani. If you follow the method of using the oven to cook the final part, make sure the dish you are using along with handles is oven safe. Lot of people place fried bread pieces before baking or cooking for the second time. It just adds extra calories to the dish and I avoid such things.

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  1. This biryani is always a delight to make and have...looks so good Champa..

  2. Nice Biryani.Even I like the biryani which is full of veggies and I use loads of green peas in it.


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