Easy Vegetable Biryani

I am a die-hard biryani lover! Be it a chicken biryani, mutton biryani, egg biryani or simply a veg biryani….I just can’t get enough of it! When I have lots of vegetables in my refrigerator and I am in no mood to cook, I do a simple and healthy fried rice but when I have some time on my hands, vegetable biryani with a simple cucumber raita it is!

Pilaf or pulao as we call it in India, is more well-known to the general public abroad than biryani. Eventhough both are rice dishes cooked with vegetables, they are both vastly different from each other. In biryani, meat/veggies and rice are cooked separately before being layered and cooked together on low heat. Pulao is a single-pot dish: meat/veggies and rice are simmered in a liquid together with spices, until the liquid is absorbed.

Biryani has lots of different stages and layers and thus, preparation for making biryani takes much much more time than cooking it. The important thhing here is that the end result is glorious and so much worth it! The magic ingredient is the fried onions.  Give this recipe a go and enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups Basmati rice

At least 2 cups of Selection of vegetables of your choice, chopped well (You can use as many as you like. The more the merrier!). I use-

-Cauliflower

-Carrots

-Frozen Peas or if you are using fresh, steam them a bit beforehand

Some fried brown onions

2 tomatoes- finely chopped

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

1 cinnamon, 3 cloves, 1 bayleaf and 2 cardamoms

3 Boiled baby potatoes, cut in halves

2 tablespoon curd

Some fresh coriander and fresh mint

1 tbsp red chilly powder

2 tbsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 green chillies

1 tsp garam masala powder

Salt as per taste

A heavy bottomed pan and aluminium foil

Method:

-Par-boil the rice with a good amount of salt, some cumin seeds and a bayleaf till they are around 50 percent done.  Set aside.

-Shallow fry your boiled eggs and boiled baby potatoes gently with a pinch of turmeric, red chilly powder and coriander powder. Set aside.

-Fry your onions on medium-low heat till they are brown and crispy and keep them on a kitchen towel so that it absorbs the excess oil. Keep aside.

-In a pan, take some oil and when it gets hot, add your cumin seeds, green chillies, condiments and g.g paste. Fry for about half a minute. Add chopped carrots and fry till they get soft. Add cauliflower and peas and fry well. Add tomatoes and curd along with the dry spices and salt. If your par-boiled rice doesn’t taste much salty, put the salt generously in the vegetable mix. Cook till you see oil leaving the mixture. Put the flame off and we now have all the elements to layer up the biryani.

Layer up!

-In a heavy bottomed pan, spread a thick layer of the veggie mixture. Cover it with half of the rice. Sprinkle coriander leaves and mint leaves and fried onions. Sprinkle a pinch of garam masala and 1 teaspoon of clarified butter. Repeat the process.

-On the top layer make holes gently with your fingers and place your boiled eggs and potatoes in them. Seal your pan with foil and place the pan-lid on top tightly so that there’s no room for steam to escape. Press the foil edges that are sticking out from the edges of the lid towards the bottom so that the foil gets even more packed and firm.

-Place your biryani on a tawa/ frying pan so that the bottom layer doesn’t get burnt. Cook on high flame for 3-4 mins and then on low flame for around 20 mins. Eventhought the biryani is packed, you will still get a gorgeous aroma wafting in the house. That’s when you know biryani is done!

-After turning off the heat, let the biryani sit inside the packed pan for around ten minutes to imbibe the leftover steam.

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-Open the pan and mix gently with a flat spatula. Serve hot with vegetable Raita.

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