Vegetable Biriyani

    This dish is a variation of the traditional Biriyani and is cooked for those who like a vegetarian alternative. There
    are numerous ways of making Biriyani - this is just one of them. Every cook in India has a subtle variation which is
    often kept a closely guarded secret.

    Serves 6:
    Preparation time: 1 hour


    Ingredients:
  • Basmati rice, washed – 3 cups
  • Water 1 litre
  • Mace, Nutmeg, Black Fine Cumin Seeds and White Pepper, ground together in equal proportions 4 teaspoon
  • Salt – 2 teaspoon or to taste. (1 teaspoon each for rice and for the vegetables.)
  • Ghee – 3 tablespoon
  • Rose Water 1 teaspoon
  • Kewra Water2 teaspoon (1 teaspoon each for rice and the vegetables.)
  • Yellow food colour 2-3 drops (Optional)
  • Vegetables of your choice, skinned and chopped in large chunks 500 gm (Carrots, red and green Pepper, Potato,
    Cauliflower etc.)
  • Oil 5 tablespoon
  • Onions, chopped into long thin slices – 2 large
  • Ginger paste – 2 teaspoon
  • Garlic paste – 2 teaspoon
  • Green chillies, chopped – 2 or to taste.
  • Milk – 3 tablespoon
  • Saffron – 12 strands
  • Coriander, freshly chopped – 1 small bunch.
  • Cashew nuts – 50 gm (1/3 cup)


    Method:
  • Boil a large pan of water. Cook basmati rice for 10 minutes or until it is half cooked. Keep stirring to ensure it does
    not stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain off the excess water and spread evenly on an oven proof dish.

  • Add 2 teaspoon of the dry ground spices, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoon ghee, 1 teaspoon rose water and 1 teaspoon
    kewra water to the rice. Add a 2-3 drops of yellow food colouring randomly over half the rice. Keep aside.

  • Boil the potato and steam all the remaining vegetables (cauliflower, carrots and pepper). They should not be over-
    cooked. Drain all excess water and keep aside.

  • Heat oil. Fry onions, ginger paste, garlic paste and green chilli. Then add the boiled and steamed vegetables to it. Fry
    for a few minutes before adding all the remaining 2 teaspoon of dry ground spices (Mace, nutmeg, fine cumin seeds
    and white pepper). Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of kewra water to it. The vegetables should be well coated
    with the spices.

    Final Steps:
  • Add saffron strands to milk and warm for 30 seconds. Layer the rice and cooked vegetables alternately. Make
    random holes and sprinkle the saffron milk on the rice. Cover and cook in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes at
    180º C. This finishes cooking the rice and also allows the food colouring to ‘set’. Take the rice out from the oven.
    Give it a stir with a fork and see the rice turn colour.

  • Garnish with fried cashews nuts and chopped coriander. Serve hot with raita.


    Variation:
    You can substitute chicken with lamb, mutton, beef, prawns or vegetables. You can also garnish with halved boiled
    eggs.


    Tip:
    The rice should not be completely cooked. The final cooking is done in the oven. When you are draining the water
    from the rice, it should be almost cooked but not all the way!

    (Contributed by Rima Bhutoria.)