The idea for the above pic comes from a food photo, I saw on the Pinterest, by Dennis Prescott. It looked like a party on the platter 😊 Actually, while carrying the props and bowls in this particular tray, to the place where I usually do my photo shoot, the whole set up reminded me of his pic and I decided to go ahead with it just because it looked so pretty!
The coronavirus lockdown will last till, at least, 14th April and I have no clue when I will be able to return home to Mumbai. The wheels of the blog are certainly going to come to a halt for a few weeks. This is the last post that I have pulled out from my draft folder to share. Hoping you all are doing well. Please stay home and stay safe.
“There is no such thing as veg biryani” – These exact words were used by my daughter, for admonishing me, when I had first served this for a meal to her 🙈😂 There is mutton pilaf and a mutton biryani or chicken biryani but no vegetable biryani in her book. May be she is partly correct about it… but then how are we vegetarians supposed to enjoy our biryani!
I was never too fond of eating meat yet it was made regularly in my marital home. I ended up quitting meat often in the past since I used to feel over whelmed by so much meat in my diet. However in December 2016, I quit it for good. Having said that, when I was a non vegetarian, Awadhi chicken biryani used to be one of my absolute favorite meal. In curries, Goan Prawn Curry and once in a while the Tamarind Coconut Fish Curry was something I used to relish.
I had earlier, in my post on Awadhi Chicken Biryani, shared how an Awadhi biryani differs from the Hyderbadi Biryani. Since the flavor profile of Hyderabadi biryani requires a robust taste of spices, therefore it serves well the purpose of making a flavorful veg biryani by this method than the Awadhi way, coz it’s flavor profile is supposed to be delicate. However, let me put to rest any doubts that you may have that this biryani is too spicy or overwhelming on the taste buds. The flavors of the lovely spices, with addition of herbs and the basmati rice, that is made fragrant with saffron, make this vegetable biryani a treat to savor. It won’t be wrong to call it one pot comfort meal. (I strongly advice however, to serve this biryani with the suggested accompaniments for a perfect balance of flavors.)
I am providing the list of ingredients according to the chronology of the requirement and process of cooking.
10 – 12 strands Saffron (about a pinch)
3 tbsp Milk (vegans can use plant based milk)
1 tbsp Mint Leaves
2 tbsp Ghee (vegans can use melted vegan butter)
2 tbsp finely chopped Coriander/ Cilantro
250 gm Onions, peeled, washed and thinly sliced (ensure to have even slices)
200 ml Cooking Oil
2 tbsp Cooking Oil
1 tbsp Ghee (vegans can use melted vegan butter)
8 – 10 Black Peppercorns
½ tsp Shahi Jeera (Caraway Seeds)
5 Green Cardamoms
1 Black Cardamom
½ inch Cinnamon Stick
2 small Bay Leaves
2 medium Potatoes (peeled, washed & diced) OR 7 – 8 Baby Potatoes (peeled, washed & halved)
½ C diced Carrots
1 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
2 Green Chilies, turned to paste (mine were hot and this amount sufficed)
½ C shelled Green peas (fresh or frozen)
¼ C French Beans, trimmed, washed and cut in 1 inches size
1 C Cauliflower florets
1/3 C finely chopped Methi (Fenugreen greens) OR ½ tsp dry crushed kasoori methi
Salt to taste
¾ tsp Kashmiri Lal Mirch
½ tsp Turmeric
1½ tsp Coriander Powder
½ tsp Garam Masala
¾ C Yogurt (Mine was thick & creamy home made, not Greek yogurt though)
1 tbsp Lime Juice
¼ tsp Cardamom Powder
1½ tbsp Mint Leaves
250 gm / 1 C plus 1/3 C Basmati Biryani Rice
¼ tsp Shahi Jeera
½ inch Cinnamon stick
2 Small Bay Leaves
1 Black Cardamom
1 tsp Salt
¾ C Pomegranate Arils (adjust amount as required)
¼ C fried Cashews (adjust amount as required)
Handful Mint Leaves
Kachumber (Indian salad consisting of finely chopped onions, tomatoes and cucumbers with a squeeze of lime and some salt)
Yogurt, as required
Making a biryani (of any kind) can appear like a daunting task, especially because there are a lot of ingredients / components. Therefore, my advice to anyone and everyone, is to first gather and keep all ingredients together, both for cooking veggies and for rice and then proceed to cooking. Else you will be running all over the place and miss out on ingredients and feel overwhelmed. Also read the procedure twice to get the hang of what needs to be done. Believe me, it is completely manageable and the end result is very rewarding 🙂
FOR COOKING VEGGIES
Before we move on to the cooking the veggies, soak saffron in warm milk and set aside and also get the birista ready. For the birista, heat a frying pan (should not be small in size) and add the oil
Once the oil begins to heat, carefully tip in the sliced onions.
Fry the onions, gently and continuously tossing them around with a slotted spoon, till they attain nice golden color. (do not go beyond this level else onions will burn and let me tell you, they burn pretty fast!)
Once the desired color is attained, immediately (yes, without losing even a second) remove the onions with the slotted spoon over an absorbent sheet or two plies of kitchen roll (tissue) to get rid of excess oil. Your birista is ready, set it aside.
For making the veggies, in a broad and heavy bottom pan, with deep sides, add oil and once it begins to heat, add the whole garam masala (black peppercorns, shahi jeera, cloves, both cardamoms, bay leaves) Saute for half a minute on medium heat stirring around the spices.
Add potatoes and fry them on high heat, while stirring them, till they their skin turns golden in color.
Now add the carrots and fry it along with potatoes till the carrot pieces get seared.
Add the ghee at this point along with ginger garlic paste and green chili paste. Fry for fifteen to twenty seconds and then add shelled green peas, beans, cauliflower and methi. Add salt, Kashmiri Lal Mirch, turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala.
Stir around and saute the contents till the potatoes are half cooked.
Switch off the heat and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lime juice and cardamom powder.
Add this yogurt mix to the par–cooked veggies along with mint leaves and three tablespoons of birista. Gently mix together and allow the mixture to sit/ marinate while you make the rice.
FOR COOKING RICE
Pick and wash rice in plenty of water till the water runs clear. Soak the rice in plenty of water for half an hour (that are the instructions provided by the rice brand I use)
In a large pot take plenty of water (onen and half litre to two litres) and add the aromatics / whole spices.
Bring it to boil. Drain the water from the soaked rice and add the rice to the boiling water. Add salt and stir the contents.
Cook rice till it is cooked upto seventy percent. The rice should hold some resistance when you press it between your thumb and a finger. Immediately drain the excess water by passing it through a colander.
Reserve the rice and remove the whole spices.
LAYERING FOR BIRYANI
Place the veggies pan on the stove (do not switch on the heat at this point) and if the veggie mix has dried out, add two to three tablespoons of water and gently stir it in. (Pls note that it is important for the veggies to have some amount of liquid since they will be cooked over low heat for 15 – 20 minutes. They will either dry out or burn if there is not sufficient moisture)
(At this point also, check for the done-ness of the veggies so you can adjust the cooking time accordingly)
Spread out the veggies evenly in the pan and then spread out the rice, evenly, over the veggies.
Drizzle the rice with ghee and saffron milk. Sprinkle the mint leaves, coriander leaves and two table spoons of birista (add more if you like to).
Cover the pan with a tight lid and switch on the heat. Keep the heat at high for half a minute to forty five seconds. Then reduce the heat and cook the contents for fifteen minutes. (the cooking amount will depend on the level of done-ness of the veggies and rice)
Switch off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. Allow the contents to sit for fifteen to twenty minutes before you open the lid.
Serve with the suggested accompaniments. These accompaniments pair beautifully and complement the flavors of the biryani really well. The yogurt and pom arils especially help tone down and balance the spiciness of the biryani.
Serves – 3 – 4
Thank you so much for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!