26 October 2008

The Great Indian Vegetable Biryani



There are some recipes that escape even a voracious cook - and for me Biryani has been one of them. In most friends' house parties this is one dish that unfailingly features as the main course - a pot of vegetable biryani for the non meat eaters and a mutton biryani for the others. Besides it is commonly ordered in our favourite Punjabi restaurant Urban Tadka (UT) which you must have heard from me pretty often on this blog. In UT, the biryani is made in individual clay pots sealed with dough and baked in the tandoor - and in all my biryani encounters, I can easily rate theirs as the best. One evening when DH suggested vegetable biryani with raita for dinner - it struck me that this is one dish that has eluded me all these years and why not try my hand at it.

Of all the recipes I found on food blogs and general food websites, I found this video by Vah Chef Sanjay Thumma very educative. Only problem with his video that he doesn't mention how much of each ingredient to use. So here's my version of his recipe.
Since there quite a lot of ingredients, I will include them along with the directions.

Special apparatus
A large pot along with a wide pan or pot in which the first one will sit comfortably in case you plan to finish off the final stage on stove stop, or else you can bake it off in the oven.

Preparation
  1. Wash 2 cups long grained basmati rice gently and soak for an hour in a large bowl.
  2. Slice 4 medium onions very finely, separate. You can either deep fry these or bake them in the oven till brown or shallow fry them on a non stick pan coated with oil on a very low flame (around 15 minutes or so)
  3. Vegetables for the biryani - 1 small cauliflower broken into large florets
    2 medium carrots, scraped and cut into large pieces
    3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large wedges
    1/2 - 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
    2 large capsicums, deseeded cut into large squares
  4. Fry 3 tbsp cashews and then 2 tbsp of raisins in hot ghee on a low flame, drain and keep aside.
  5. Chop roughly 1/2 cup mint leaves and 1/2 cup coriander leaves. Keep aside.
  6. Soak a large pinch of saffron strands in 1/2 cup of warm milk. Keep aside.

Directions

  1. Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a large non stick pot.
  2. Add to the hot ghee, 3 bay leaves, 3 sticks of cinnamon 1" each, 2 black cardamoms, 2 green cardamoms, 4 cloves, 2 tsp cumin seeds and toss on a low flame.
  3. Next, add 2 tbsp of ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute till cooked.
  4. Throw in all the chopped vegetables, 2 tsp of salt, 2 tsp of red chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 2 tbsp of coriander powder, 1 tbsp cumin powder, 2 tsp garam masala powder, 3 slit green chillies, handful of mint leaves and saute well to coat all the vegetable chunks evenly. On a low flame let the vegetables cook till they are 60-70% done, sprinkling some water at intervals if necessary. To this finally add 200 grams paneer cut into large cubes and toss well.
  5. Once the vegetables are in the nearly done stage, add 3 cups of thick homemade / Greek yoghurt and stir on a low flame till the veggies are well coated with the spicy yoghurt sauce. Check for salt and adjust as per taste. Keep this aside.
  6. Meanwhile bring to a boil around 3-4 Litres of water in a large pot - add around a tsp of salt, 2 bay leaves and 1 tbsp ghee / oil and add the drained soaked rice grains. Let this boil for around 5-7 minutes and check if nearly done. At the 75% done stage drain the rice out in a colander. Turn this onto a large plate, spread it out gently with forks and let it cool.
Assembly (for the stove top method)
  1. In the large pot (that fits inside of another pan), first layer the half the rice. Add half of the vegetable-paneer-yogurt mix. Top with half of the browned onions, fried nuts-raisins and chopped herbs.
  2. Add a cup of beaten yogurt on top of this.
  3. Top with rest of the rice and repeat the remaining onion-nuts-herbs layer over the rice.
  4. Cover the pot with 2-3 layers of thick aluminium foil. Cover with a fitting lid.
  5. Place 2-3 cups of water in the larger pan. Keep over high heat. Place the covered pot with biryani in this pan and let the water simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the pot from the pan and keep aside for 30 minutes or so for the flavours to develop fully before serving.
  7. Serve with any vegetable / fruit raita that is chilled.

For those of you who would like to bake off in the final stage, layer as above in a oven proof deep pan and seal well with foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve as above.



Although this was not as good as my favourite restaurant's biryani, this is mighty good for a first attempt and I would give all credit to Chef Sanjay's video, which you might check out for a quick recap. I hope the quantified ingredients here make it a tad simpler for those of you wanting to try out the Great Indian Vegetable Biryani.

This recipe serves around 6-8 people for a main course along with raita made from 1 Litre yogurt.
I understand that the list of ingredients runs pretty long, but really you'll find most of the stuff in your pantry. The paneer is optional here, but it adds a nice variation to the texture of vegetables. You could also try boiled chickpeas as a protein addition instead of paneer.
(all ingredients for this recipe are marked in bold in the various stages of description)

37 comments:

Divya Vikram said...

i made veg biryani for lunch today..Pretty much the same method..Nice one!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Biryani is a dish I tend to make for entertaining, but not for everyday. I don't know why -- whenever I do make it, I think I should make it more often!

Raaga said...

when I've made this, I haven't ever taken pics :) am eating pongal now and don't mind if you send this over for dinner tonight.
Also nankhatai in oven now

santoshi said...

I love biryani

Dibs said...

You have a nice collection of tambram recipes. I thought my mom's recipes are tambram, until I realized they are tam-kan-bram ;-), that comes from living so many years at Blore!

I tried many dishes from vah chef ..most of them turn out very well. I just made this a few weeks back too, and it was 'soooper' as they say!

Kamini said...

Who doesn't love biryani?! It's a lot of work, but totally worth it. Your recipe looks really terrific, I can't wait to try it out!

Simran said...

Have you heard of Northern Tadka? It's in Malad. They also make biryani in clay pots and the one I absolutely adore is chhole aloo biryani.

Sheela said...

Gosh! How are you, girl?! I haven't visited any of my favorite blogs in a while and I am just catching up - and, I'd love to have this biriyani when we meet ;)

Emailed you :)

Cheers!

Gabriel said...

Very nice. I have also a site for recipes for cooking. See. I love your recipes. I am from the Slovak Republic. Be translated through Google translate http://www.irecepty.com

bee said...

thanks for the detailed instructions, nandita. jai loves biryani, so i'd love to try this.

Anupama said...

You are very right about certain recipes eluding even the most keen cooks. I have often eaten Biryani in restaurants and at friend's but made it myself barely once. Yours looks gorgeous and what I wouldn't give for a plateful with that tomato raita.

Gaurav said...

that looks good.Biryani is def one of my fav things to eat.

Mystic said...

Hope you and your family are safe in Mumbai!

Cynthia said...

Dear Nandita, sorry you have not heard from me in a while. I lost all my feed last month and I am still in the process of gathering them again.

So sorry about what has been happening in Mumbai for the past few days. I pray that you and your family were kept safe.

white on rice couple said...

This is comfort in a bowl for me....I would love to try it one day!
How marvelously vegetarian, full of Indian flavors!

Sunshinemom said...

I love biryani flavors! Your pics make me miss it right now:) But not the one we get in hotels - I find them too spicy. Urban Tadka is an exception - I too love their food, and the ambience!

Foodista said...

Looking at your post makes me crave for biryani! It looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe

Archana said...

Gr88 biryani recipe Nandita....i tried ur recipe and made biryani for the very first time today and it came out very well!!!

Alka said...

Thats a way i wud like to indulge myself...spicy biryani with some chilled raita and papad achar...sounds unhealthy but still i would prefer it day in and day out....and this looks so nicely dressed up too :-)

pete said...

I love biryani rice with potatoes masala. Nice recipe. I have an vegetarian and food blog. Would you like to exchange link? Drop me a line if you agree. Thks

Anonymous said...

HI Nandita,
well i am regular visitor of your blog...ur recipes are really easy to make and delicious to eat .....but u have not posted new recipe for quite a long time....please do post a recipe soon....

Curry Leaf said...

Hi Nandita,
I am Sweatha of TastyCurryLeaf blog.I tried out your Hasperat Burrito for this months MBP and it came out tasty.Thanks for the recipe and do visit my post(http://tastycurryleaf.blogspot.com/2009/01/hasperat-inspired-breakfast-burrito.html) as and when you get time.Waiting for more recipes from you,...

health insurance said...

Hello! I have tried making this recipe of yours. It is tasty and delicious!!!

Anu said...

I just came across your blog Nandita - a very well put together one!
I am with you on the search for the elusive perfect biriyani - thats one dish I hope to master this year!
Anu

Saffron Spice said...

Great recipe. Will have to try this next time in the kitchen.

Pritya said...

Hi nandita, I like the name of your biriyani – the great indian…smile. Vah chef is really good, some of my nephews are just hooked to his site, and actually make a lot of dishes after seeing his site. Cheers!

sumati said...

Nice recipe.. Very informative,Hey, great post. Really great tips for beginners,Thanks...Very informative website with important details.
This article does help with me learning how to swim. here we are also having some cooking article plz visit..thanks

suraj said...

helo this is nice post..thanks for sharing.keep ur good one.

workhard said...

I find cooking biryani a very very very long procedure... unless some one offers to help me out

Work from home

sura said...

it's a lovely recipe,my family members loved it. it has become easy for me to get all the ingredients at one resource www.myethnicworld.com.

mahesh said...

i will make it..............
need bpo jobs without a single rupee!!!!!!!! a genuine job from home.

Work from home

Collin said...

I have been looking for a good and easy biryani recipe for a long time. Yours was perfact and the way you have written the recipe with ingredients needed in each steps made it so easy to follow. And sure enough biryani came out perfact.

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MyBangalore said...

mybangalore provided some food related gallery and articles. Its worth to visit.
Link is here
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Nita said...

I tried Veg Biryani for the first time ever..and it turned out awesome!
Thanks for the lovely entry.

maami said...

Just tried this for the first time....u have made a pregnant woman happy....esp since i live abroad and have little access to indian food

Restaurants in Mangalore said...

You done a impressive work..

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