Vegetable Biryani

Biryani- the very mention of the name conjures up the image of perfectly cooked fragrant basmati rice with a melange of vegetables seasoned with an array of whole and powdered spices, the precious saffron that lends the yellow-orange hue, slight tang from the yogurt with herbs like cilantro and the quintessential mint. By now you all must have clearly imagined this delicacy and may be wanting to make it too. I’m primarily a rice lover and do not prefer rotis or paratha. Having said that I do love freshly made Indian breads like naans, kulchas and parathas. Vegetable biryani is definitely on my favorite foods list.

Biryani originated in the Indian subcontinent and is mainly made with a variety of meat and rice. Festivals like Eid, which the Muslim community celebrates is incomplete without biryani. Purists may disagree that vegetable biryani is not biryani after all. But it is a great option for non meat eaters to relish this delicacy. Serve this dish with raita of your choice or Mirchi ka Salaan.

I didn’t make biryani at home for a long time, intimidated by the fact that the dish might not turn out as delish. But the key is to cook the rice perfectly. If it is overdone the biryani will be mushy. In other words each grain must be separate. Try making vegetable biryani for special occasions and share with your loved ones.

Servings

4-6

Prep Time

About 30 minutes

Cook Time

15 minutes for vegetables + about 15 minutes for rice

Total Time

About 1 hour

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for 15 minutes
  • 2 big cardamom
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½” piece of cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamom
  • 15-20 strands of saffron
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 14 -15 green beans, cut into thirds
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • ¾ cup green peas, frozen or fresh
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 “ piece ginger chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup yogurt, whisked
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee or oil
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ -1 tsp red chili powder
  • 15-20 mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 big onion, thinly sliced +1 tbsp oil
  • ¼ cup water, optional
  • For biryani masala:
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ “ piece cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 5-8 whole black pepper
  • 1 cup wheat flour + water to make a dough
PREPARATION

Step 1
Soak saffron in 1 tbsp of milk.

Step 2
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and saute 1 big onion. Keep sauteeing until the onion turns brown and translucent. Keep aside.

Step 3
Drain the rice and cook in a pot of water along with the whole spices- both cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves. Keep a close eye not to overcook and drain the rice in a colander. Let the rice cool. Add the saffron milk to the rice and mix lightly.

Step 4
Make a dough with wheat flour and water and keep aside.

Step 5
Add the spices mentioned under the biryani masala in a coffee grinder and make a fine powder.

Step 6
Heat ghee or oil in a pan add ginger and garlic. Stir for a minute. Now add potatoes and saute for 2 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the beans, carrots, peas and tomato. 

Step 7 
Add yogurt, turmeric powder, red chili powder and cover and cook until the vegetables are done. If you need water add or if there is enough sauce you can skip this. Add the biryani masala, cilantro and mint and mix well. 

Step 8
To layer the biryani take a wide dish, spread a thin layer of oil or ghee and spread a layer of the vegetable mixture followed by a layer of cooked rice. Repeat one more layer of vegetable mixture and rice. Top with sauteed onion and more herbs.

Step 9 
For the final cooking place it on a stove top covered and seal the edges with dough around cook for 15-20 minutes on low-medium flame. 

Step 10
Remove the dough used for sealing and discard. Serve biryani with raita or Mirchi ka salaan.

Notes:
Leftovers can be refrigerated for 1-2 days.

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The famous proverb "you are what you eat” as quoted by the French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is very true. Food nourishes you from the inside out. Good health is of utmost importance to me. Vegetarianism and Veganism are gaining immense popularity these days. Natural, organic, healthy and homemade is my mantra.

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