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Vegetable Biryani
Vegetable Biryani is a rich and exotic rice dish with spicy vegetables and is a perfect feast for any occasion or a party. Even though it takes a lot of time to prepare this, the final dish is all worth the effort.

Biryani is a rice-based dish made with spices, meat/fish/eggs/vegetables. It originated in Iran (Persia) and it was brought to India by Persian travelers and merchants.
Biryani is derived from the Persian word 'Beryan' which means 'Fried before Cooking'. In the olden days, rice was fried (without washing) in Ghee. It did two things: It gave the rice a nutty flavor and it burned the outside starch layer gelatinizing it. After the rice is stir-fried, it was boiled in water with spices till half cooked.In an earthen pot called Handi, the rice and meat/vegetables are layered; bottom and top layer are always rice. An interlayer of some condiments may be introduced between the meat and the rice. Cardamom, Mace, Screwpine essence, rose water may be added to give flowery and herbal aroma. The Handi is sealed and put on the coal embers to cook. For Calicut Biryani, the Handi is placed on the embers produced by coconut shell. The seal is broken only when ready to serve.


What type of rice to make Biryani?
Historically, long-grain brown rice was used in North India; while, short grain Zeera Samba rice was used in South India. In Bangladesh, puffed rice is used. Parboiled long grain rice has following advantages:
1) Long grain rice has low Amylopectin starch, making it less sticky.
2) Parboiling makes the starch gelatinized making it further less susceptible to being sticky.
3) The brownness of the rice is due to the bran on the rice. The bran gives the 'chewy' texture to the grain.
Most common rice used today, is white Basmati rice.


What types of vegetables are used to make Biryani?
In Calcutta region, potatoes are the most common item. Cauliflower, carrots, peas, sweet bell peppers and green beans are traditional. New items include Jack fruit, Bottle gourd, and Garbanzo beans. 

Difference between pulao and biryani:
The difference between biryani and pulao is that while pulao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice is cooked by separately from the thick sauce (curry of meat or vegetables). The curry and the rice are then brought together and layered, resulting in a dish of the contrasting flavors of unflavored rice (which has a hint of the aromas and juices of the curry) and intensely flavored sauce and meat or vegetables.

Recipe

 
 
With Dipawali approaching fast, cleaning and decorating the house has begun and from today onwards my sweet preparations will take a front runner till “the day”. I started with the most time consuming mithai moong dal burfi, rich and creamy, enjoyed and cherished throughout Rajasthan where it is believed to be made during the winter due to the fact that this dessert keeps the body warm. It takes a lot of patience as the dal (lentil) has to be sautéed slowly in low heat for a long time. If you are anti-calorie in your house – then forgive me for posting this and tempting you…ghee is revered in this dish and shines (and I mean it literally!) through this dish. If you know how velvet feels, then you will know how the texture of this halvah should be. Velvety smooth with a creamy texture where one spoonful simply vanishes in your mouth before you even realize what’s happening.

Recipe