Vegetable Biryani

Vegetable Biryani
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.

Preparation and cooking time: 50-60 minutes
Serves: 5-6 
2 cups vegetables (peas, carrots, potato, beans, corn, methi leaves)
1 large onion, finely sliced
½ cup chopped coriander leaves
½ cup chopped mint leaves
Ghee/butter for greasing
Oil for sauté
1 cup thick curd/yogurt
½ tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tbsp coriander powder
Few saffron strands soaked in ¼ cup lukewarm milk
10-12 cashew nuts

Biryani Masala – dry roast for 2-3 minutes and grind into powder:
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamoms
¼ tsp shah jeera
4 pepper corns

Alternatively: 2 tbsp MTR pulao masala /any biryani masala

Ingredients to cook rice:
2 cups Basmati rice
3 cloves
3 black cardamoms
½″cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
½ tbsp oil
¾ tbsp salt
Water as required

1. In a bowl, mix red chili, turmeric, coriander, biryani masala, yogurt and salt and combine well.
2. Soak a few saffron strands in ¼ cup lukewarm milk for 10 minutes.
3. Cook basmati rice with bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, elaichi, mint leaves, oil and salt till its cooked. Immediately spread the rice on a large wide plate and let them cool. Do not overcook the rice.
4. Heat 1 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp ghee in a pan, add sliced onions, sauté for 8-10 minutes till caramelized. Remove and keep aside. Sauté the cashew nuts till golden brown and keep them aside as well.
5. In same pan heat oil, add cumin seeds and let them splutter Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for a minute. Add the veggies and cook them till they are tender. Now add the yogurt mixture and cook covered for another 5-10 minutes on low heat. Care should be taken that the mixture doesn’t burn.
6. Preheat the oven at 350 degree F/180 degree C. Take an oven proof dish to assemble the biryani. Grease it with ghee/butter. Divide the vegetable mixture, rice, coriander and mint leaves, saffron milk, cashews and onions into two portions for layering inside the dish.

7. Spread half of the cooked vegetables, onions, cashews as first layer in the dish. Next spread the rice over the vegetable layer. Now sprinkle coriander, mint leaves, cashews and pour the saffron milk over the rice.
Repeat the process for the second layer. Place the rest of the vegetables on the first rice layer, and then place the rest of the rice on top of it, sprinkle rest of the onions, coriander leaves, cashews and saffron milk.
8. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
If you don’t have an oven, assemble the ingredients in a deep vessel (preferably heavy bottomed to prepare the biryani).Cover with the lid and over it place some heavy weight. Cook on medium high flame for 3-5 minutes. Remove the vessel and place an iron tawa over low flame. Place the vessel on the iron tawa and cook on low flame for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and keep covered for 5 minutes.
9. Combine the rice gently and transfer into a serving bowl. Serve hot with raita and pickle.

Vegetable Biryani
Vegetable Biryani