Sunday, August 15, 2010
Simply put, biryani is nothing but rice layered alternately with meat or fish or even vegetables. The taste, however, is anything but simple to describe. Aromatic from the use of saffron and rose water, subtly flavoured from the sprinkling of spices, biryani is a one pot meal that is extremlely satiating.
True, making biryani is time-consuming. There are spices to be ground and onions to be fried; there are many small steps that make their way to a delicious biryani and absolutely no room for any short cuts. But one whiff of the cooked biryani and all the effort taken and the time spent in making it seem totally worth it.
Biryani is a crowd pleaser and this vegetable biryani is something that gets made very often, especially when we are entertaining. It has taken me numerous attempts and many a charred vessels to get finally get it right, here's how I make it.
grind to a paste:
Rice: 1 1/4 cup
Assorted Vegetables: 1 1/2 cups ( I use carrots, cauliflower, french beans and green peas)
Paneer: 1/2 cup
Tomato Puree: 2 tbsps
Yogurt: 1/3 cup
Cashewnut powder: 2 1/2 tbsps
Dry spices: Red chilli powder - 3/4 tsp, turmeric - 1/4 tsp, garam masala - 1 tbsp, salt to taste
Whole spices: bay leaf - 1, cloves - 6, cinnamon - 1" stick, black cardamom - 1
Raisins: 1 tbsp
Saffron: 1 pinch, soaked in 1 tsp rosewater and 1 tsp kewra water
Ghee: 2 - 3 tbsps
Oil: 2 tbsps + as required for deep frying
Onion: 2 medium sized
Mint leaves: 1/3 cup
Coriander leaves: 6 sprigs
Garlic: 6 cloves
Ginger: 1" piece
Potato: 1 large
Onion: 1 large, sliced
a few mint leaves
Peel and slice one onion. Toss the slices in a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp sugar. Deep fry till golden brown.
Peel and cut the potato into 1/4" thick circles and fry till golden.
cook the rice:
Soak the rice in water for half an hour. Heat ghee in a vessel, add the black cardamom followed by the strained rice. Fry gently till the grains are all coated with the ghee. Add 2 cups boiling water and some salt and cook the rice.
Once cooked, fluff with a fork and spread it onto a plate to cool.
prepare the vegetable curry:
Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and steam till they are just cooked.
Grind the masala paste. Heat oil and add the whole garam masala. Let it sizzle for half a minute and then add the masala paste to the pan, fry till the raw smell disappears.
Add in the tomato puree and fry another 5 - 7 minutes. Sprinkle a few drops of water if the puree sticks to the pan. Whisk together the yogurt, cashewnut powder and the dry spices; fry till the oil separates.
Mix the steamed vegetables, the paneer cubes and the raisins into the fried masala paste and toss gently for about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle a little water if the curry sticks to the bottom of the pan.
assemble the biryani
In a heavy bottomed vessel, melt some ghee.
Spread half the rice. On top of the rice, sprinkle a pinch of the garam masala followed by 1/4 of the fried onions. A few mint leaves and whole green chillies go next.
Then spread the cooked vegetable curry followed by the remaining rice.
Pour the saffron water over the rice. Layer the fried potatoes on the rice, sprinkle the remaining fried onions, some mint leaves and whole green chillies.
Seal the vessel with 2-3 layers of aluminium foil and cover with a tight fitting lid.
Place a frying pan on the gas and put the vessel that you just layered the biryani in on top of the pan. On the lowest possible heat setting, cook the biryani for about 25- 30 minutes. (Putting the vessel atop a pan and then heating the biryani ensures that the rice won't stick to the bottom and get charred).
Alternately, you could also layer the biryani in a similar fashion in a microwave proof bowl and microwave on high for about 10 mins. But the aroma of the stove-top method is something the microwave method simply cannot replicate.
I serve with the biryani with this eggplant raita and some papad. Finger licking good.
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!