TAlthough found in countless forms on menus across India, the best biryani is often said to come from Lucknow in the northwest and Hyderabad in the far south, although Kolkata also occasionally has a look. Nobody, it has to be said, specializes in vegetarian biryani – lamb or chicken are more common – but in a country with over 400 million vegetarians, it’s definitely a thing.
Prepare and soak 45 minutes
cook 75 minutes
500 gm basmati rice
25 grams butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 generous pinch saffron
100gm chana or captive from
4 garlic cloves
Salt and Pepper
2 green peppers
50 grams fresh coriander
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Half a teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon hot pepper powder
200gm full fat yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
300 gm cauliflower
300 grams zucchini
10 green beans
2 cardamom podsslightly crushed,
1 bay leaf
200 gm whole wheat flour
Vegetable oil, fry
2 tablespoons peeled almonds
1 tablespoon raisins
few coriander or mint
1 Soak and rinse rice
Start by soaking the rice in cold water for 45 minutes, then drain and rinse until the water runs clear (soaking cuts the cooking time, which helps add flavor, while some of the surface starch washes away, so the rice is less likely to spoil. It clumps together later – the separate grains Raqqa is the goal with basmati rice.
2 Start on the base
While the rice is soaking, melt the butter, milk, and saffron together in a small skillet (or microwave) and set aside. Put the dal in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Remove any scum from the surface, reduce heat, simmer 30 minutes, or until tender, then drain.
3 Make the spice paste
Peel garlic and mash until it becomes a coarse paste with a pinch of salt, trim and roughly chop the pepper and coriander.
Put them all in a bowl, a small chopper or mortar, add the ground ginger and spices, and whisk or mash them into a paste, adding just enough yogurt and lemon juice to soften the mixture.
Add the rest of the yoghurt and lemon juice, season and set aside.
4 Prepare the vegetables
Separate the cauliflower into florets. Peel the carrots and cut into 2 cm cubes. Peel and remove the squash, and cut the pulp into small cubes. Cut the beans into about 2cm lengths (you can use almost any vegetables you want here, although I avoid anything too delicate and leafy, as it won’t hold up well in the long cooking time).
Put all the vegetables in a bowl, add the yogurt mixture, stir until coated and leave to sit.
5 Cook the rice
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the drained rice, ground cardamom pods and bay leaf, and cook for six to eight minutes, until softened.
Drain it well (I throw the rice back into the hot pan afterwards, so that any remaining moisture evaporates), then mix in the dal, spices, and everything.
6 Cook the vegetable mixture
Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan) / 400°F / gas mark 6. Place a large casserole dish with a lid (it should be large enough to hold all the vegetables and rice) over medium-low heat. Add the vegetables and dressing (if the yogurt is too thick, add a little water to make it smoother), and cook, stirring constantly, for five to seven minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Check and adjust seasonings as necessary.
7 Add the rice and chop it
Gently place the rice and dal mixture over the vegetables, then pour the saffron-soaked milk and butter mixture over the top.
Mix the flour with enough water to make a rough dough, then roll it out into long sausages. Line the edge of the casserole with the sausage dough and press the lid from the top to close.
8 Bake the rice and fry the onions
Put the pot in the oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the onions into thin slices and sprinkle the slices on kitchen paper to get rid of any moisture on the surface. Heat a deep frying pan about a third full of oil until bubbles form around a stick (or similar) dipped in it. Fry the onions in batches, until golden and crunchy, then drain on kitchen paper.
9 Feet With The Curly
For maximum theatrical presentation, remove the lid from the tagine on the table, sprinkle the top of the biryani with crisp onions, peeled almonds, raisins, and chopped cilantro or mint, and encourage your guests to dig in. Pickles and sauces pair well. With biryani, as does simplicity KachumberOr a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.