I'm still reeling from all the excitement of India winning the World Cup. So proud of the team and what an awesome captainship from THE Dhoni. He stepped up when needed and just took the cup for the team along with pace and patience. And just to decide to end it in style with a huge six speaks volumes about the man's style and substance. Speaking of Dhoni's style, did you see his new look? No matter what kind of a hairstyle he has, be it Musharraf's favorite long locks, or a short cut or just a totally shaved summer look, Dhoni is always just a drop dead gorgeous guy.
I know its wild and terrible to draw a parallel from Dhoni's hair to Vegetable Biryanis. But there is a subtle metaphor somewhere along the line. You see, vegetable biryani can also be prepared in many many ways and whatever the way is, it is still a drop dead tasty one pot dish. Always.
This is just one way of making Vegetable Biryani. This recipe uses vegetable marinated in yogurt for a couple of hours. The rice and the veggies are cooked separately and layered together and put in the oven finally for a little bit so all the different flavors infuse together. You'll see as we go.
Start with your favorite veggies for the biryani. I went with the usual classic biryani vegetables. Cauliflower, Potatoes, Carrots, Green Beans and Peas. Chop all the veggies into big chunks. I picked small potatoes and just cut them into four equal wedges.
Now to make the marinade. Take about 1 1/2 cups of fresh yogurt either homemade or store bought. Add all of these below -
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli or paprika powder
1/2 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp salt (enough to taste for the veggies)
1/4 tsp dried ginger powder
1/4 tsp dried kasoori methi leaves
fresh ground black pepper
Whisk together all the ingredients with the yogurt. If the yogurt is too thick, you can add a little water to thin it down.
Pour the marinade over the veggies and mix well.
Cover this bowl of veggies and let it just sit for a couple of hrs. Every 30 mins, open up and mix well so that the marinade is not settled at the bottom and all veggies get a good coat of the paste.
While that is chilling, soak about 2 cups of basmati rice in water for about 20-30 mins.
Let's start with preparing the rice for the biryani.
Here are the spices for cooking the rice with.
Bay Leaves - a few
Cinnamon - 1-2 sticks
Cloves - a few
Star Anise - a couple
Elaichi (cardamom pods) - 3-4 opened up
And to cook them all - about 2 tsps of butter
Melt the butter in a wide pan. Add all the spices above and saute for just a min until the aromas start flying up.
Drain all the water from the soaked rice and add just the rice in here. Fry for a couple of mins with the butter and spices.
Add all these seasoning to the rice.
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp salt (or enough for just the rice)
Mix well and fry for a min.
Then, add the required water. For 2 cups of rice, I added about 4 cups of water.
Turn the heat on to low-medium.
And cover the rice and let it cook slowly.
After about 10-12 mins, the rice is perfectly done and fluffy and just the right consistency for the biryani. Let this rice cool a little.
Now, moving on to make the veggies for the biryani.
Chop up some fresh ginger and garlic and a couple of green chillies. Add about 2 tbsp oil ( you can use butter again if preferred) to a wide pan and throw in the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies. Then, add about 1 tsp of fresh cumin seeds.
Add 1 cup of onions sliced lenghtwise to the pan and saute until translucent.
When the onions are almost done, add about 2 tomatoes chopped into big pieces.
When the tomatoes look a little cooked, go ahead and add all the marinated veggies to the pan. Immediately, turn the heat to low because you don't want the yogurt to split here.
Cover and cook this in low heat for about 15-20 mins or until the veggies turn a little tender. You should be able to slice through the potatoes in the pan easily but at the same time they should not turn mushy.
Now, they're cooked perfectly. Switch off the stove.
And some fresh finely chopped cilantro. Mix well.
Now, the next step is to layer the rice and veggies in an oven safe serving dish.
Fill the bottom of the serving dish with a thick layer of the rice. Press down so there is an even layer at the bottom.
Gently add the veggies on top of the rice and form a second layer. I added all the veggies in here and pressed them down even.
Top off the veggies with the remaining rice.
Finally, in a tbsp of ghee, fry some cashewnuts and raisins and add on top of the rice. Also, soak a few strands of saffron and add on top.
Cover this whole dish with aluminum foil. And 30 mins before serving, move the dish to a preheated oven at 300F and heat up for about 15 mins. You can also make this ahead and refrigerate it. If the rice is from the refrigerator, you'll need a little more time in the oven.
Gently using two forks, fluff the rice along with the veggies just before serving.
Serve hot along with a side of cool raitha. We met with a couple of friends on a friday night and this is what I took. My friend had made Dabeli and I even took pictures of her making it - will come up soon in a post.
Like I said, Vegetable Biryani can be made in many ways. They all lead to just a hearty satisfying meal at the table. Make yours today and enjoy a heartening meal.
Enjoy. Peace Out!