What are the warm comforting foods that you usually prefer for winters? I most of the times do with Moong dal Khichdi or a big bowl full of just plain hot Dal. I have never really been a rice- eater. And specially the rice variety spiced up with lots of spices and oil, ghee etc. Nopes, not my thing at all !
My regular readers would know how I have gradually pushed myself to enjoy something else than the plain boiled rice. I have tried Lemon rice, Coconut fenugreek rice, beetroot tawa pulao and also this low cal Microwave biryani in the past and feel quite confident with these limited versions. I still have a long long way to go in terms of adopting the love and taste towards different varieties of pulao and rice dishes. So that I can start trying newer varieties, not only Indian but International too. Some day !
So, this Biryani just happened like that. Out of sheer curiosity and little faith that it would turn out something which I would like. Well, the taste was certainly amazing since S and all our friends swore by it. As for me, I still have to develop the taste of pungent whole spices in rice, so next time if I prepare this I will keep the spices at a medium level. But for those who love rice in any form and enjoy it on its own without Dal or any vegetable aside, this is a wonderful recipe which is not so difficult to make and gives very aromatic results.
To start with - An authentic vegetable biryani is always slow cooked on dum. This cooking on dum gives the biryani its uniqueness and originality. This is how the biryani has the beautiful medley of the aromas, flavours and tastes caused by the blending of the ingredients used in making it.
Dum Pukht is a technique of cooking in steam by not allowing the steam to pass. Dum Pukht literally means choking off the steam. The food is kept in a sealed container – usually clay pots (also known as handi in India) which are sealed tightly with wheat flour dough. This does not allow the steam to pass. The food gets cooked in its own steam and juices on a slow fire infusing the flavors and aroma of its own herbs and spices in the food. Nutrients are not lost in this process and thus the food is nutritious too.
This tradition of dum pukht originated in Persia where the dish was prepared, sealed and then buried in hot sand to mature. Dum Pukht is part of the Awadhi Cuisine which is from the city of Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh. With time, the technique got evolved and now its used in variety of cuisines such as Hyderabadi, Mughlayi, Punjabi etc. In fact, it has rooted its presence in the Western Countries in the form of slow cooker. The slow cooking technique is becoming common day by day due to its convenience and flavourful results.
Traditionally the Hyderabadi Biryani was made with Lamb, gradually the range widened to other options like Chicken, Mutton and Vegetable as well. But the main cooking technique or process remains more or less the same. Some whole spices ( as called “Khade Masale” in Hindi ) and some spice powders ( like Garam Masala ) are used to give rice the taste everyone relishes. The best part is that the subtle flavours of the Garam masala, onions and yoghurt get thoroughly infused in the vegetables but the original raw taste is retained as well.
This recipe has been taken from Swasthi's Blog for SNC challenge Celebration month, where Divya from “You too can cook” is celebrating the first year anniversary of this wonderful challenge event.
Recipe Source :- Swasthi's Indian food blog
Serves:- 3-4 people
What you need?
For cooking rice:
2 cups Basmati rice ( washes, rinced at least 3 times, and then soaked for an hour )
1 ½ tsp Shah jeera
3 cups Mixed cubed veggies (I used carrot, potatoes, green peas, broccoli and cauliflower )
For the spiced vegetables:
2nos Green chillies (slit opened)
1tbsp Ginger garlic paste
1tsp Biryani masala powder (I used MDH Hyderabadi Biryani Masala )
1/2tsp Red chilly powder
1/4tsp Turmeric powder
Whole spices :
4 Green cardamoms
1 Black cardamom
1 inch Cinnamon stick
2 Bay leaves
1/2 tsp Shah jeera
1 Star anise
Few Saffron strands
1/4cup Warm milk
1/4cup Mint leaves (chopped finely)
Few coriander sprigs (chopped)
1/2 cup cashews ( and raisins if you like )
1/2 cup cashews ( and raisins if you like )
To fry Onions:
2nos Onions (sliced thinly)
1tsp Corn flour
Oil for frying - almost 4-5 tbsp, only half of which will be used and you can drain the remaining and use it for the Vegetable masala
How to make?
First fry the onions:
- Chop the onions thin length wise. Heat oil for frying the fried onions, mix the corn flour to the thinly sliced onions, fry in oil until they turns golden brown.
- Drain the excess of oil and keep aside on a paper towel.
Then cook the rice:
- Heat 3 1/2 cups of water and add the shah jeera,oil and salt to it.
- Once the water starts boiling,add rice into the pot. Cook until the rice gets almost cooked. It should not be fragile enough to break within the fingers. Drain extra water if remaining and keep aside.
Start with the Biryani:
- Soak the saffron strands to the warm milk and keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a big kadhayi or wok. Throw in the whole spices as in bay leaves star anise,cinnamon stick,green & black cardamoms,cloves and fry until a nice aroma comes from. This ususually takes 3-4 minutes.
- Now add the shah jeera and fry for few seconds.
- Add in the ginger garlic paste, cook for few minutes.
- Then throw in all the vegetables and saute for few minutes, covered on a medium flame
- Once its half done, say after 4-5 minutes, add the spices- red chilli powder,briyani masala,salt, turmeric powder and fry for few minutes, all covered.
- Take off the lif, stir and turn the flame to lowest. Pour in half cup yogurt and mix well. Cook uncovered for 6-8 minutes more till the water evaporates and you are left with yoghurt coated vegetables.
- Now add half of the chopped mint leaves, slit opened green chillies,mix well and cook just till the vegetables are soft enough. They should still be crunchy and in their shapes, not mushy at all. Turn off the flame and keep aside
Assemble the layers:
- Take a large vessel or pressure cooker.
- Put half of the vegetable mixture onto the vessel top it with fried onions, pour the remaining yogurt now,mix well and check for salt. Now layer half of the rice and sprinkle some cashews.
- On top of it layer again the remaining veggies, add in the fried onions, layer again with rice, top it with cashews, chopped mint and coriander leaves. There could be two or three layers each of both rice and vegetable mix depending on the cooking pot you have choosen.
- Heat a tawa/ griddle, keep the biryani layered vessel over it and turn it in lowest flame.
- Pour in the saffron milk, cover the vessel with damp kitchen towel,keep a heavy object on the lid and cook it in low flame until the rice gets well cooked. This will take 20-25 minutes of extremely slow cooking. You may check in between to confirm that vegetables dont get overcooked or rice doesnt get mushy
Serve hot with raitas or any gravy of your choice.
My notes and tips:
- You may prepare this briyani in oven as well, instead of going for slow cooking on stove top. Follow the recipe till rice and vegetables get cooked, and then assemble/layer them in an Oven proof dish in the same way. Cover it with a foil tightly with no loose end, and then place a heavy oven safe lid on top ( or just some ceramic plate would do too ). Cook it in a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes at 180 degrees and serve
- If you like the lemon flavour, squeeze lemon juice once the biryani is done.
- I usually use 1:1.5 cups for rice:water ratio so have given the measures accordingly. But you may use the measurement according to the variety of basmati rice you use.
- Always use a heavy bottom pan or pot you have for slow cooking the biryani so it doesn’t get burnt or stick at the bottom. I used a my 4 ltr pressure cooker and covered it with a thick kitchen towel, and then placed a ceramic plate , and lastly a filled sauce pan on top.
- Whenever my Mum used to make it, she used to seal it with dough strips on sides. Which is also a very effective way of ensuring there is no leak of steam from inside.
- To serve in style, you may assemble and layer the biryani in small ramekins individually and then keep them all in oven. Take them out after 20-25 minutes, open and serve fresh with chilled raita
This goes off to SNC celebration challenge