Having stayed in Hyderabad for over thirteen years, I had to learn how to make Biryani and so I did! finally! It is so good to learn from a professional (the chef’s name is Narayan) – I learnt so many small tips and tricks along the way as we made the biryani.
I have to mention that there is a lot of ghee and oil that goes into this- which is not very healthy- but you can limit the use and the next time I do it for my family I am going to boil the veggies rather than fry them. It might take a bit off the richness in taste and texture too, but well, health comes first.
For now I want to come back to the taste. I honestly couldn’t find the right adjectives, the rice were cooked to perfection, the aroma infused by the spices making the biryani delicious, the ghee adding richness to the texture, the veggies adding the flavor to the mix and an underlying taste of mint. As I sat down to relish the biryani, I knew that my taste buds are not going to get over this ambrosial flavor for a long time to come :-)
Serves 3-4, Cooking time – 1.5 – 2 hours
300 Gms of basmati or any long-grained rice
1 bay leaf (tejpatta)
25 mm (1”) piece cinnamon (dalchini) sticks
1-2 cloves (laung)
2-3 green cardamom (elaichi) & 2 Black Cardamoms(badi elaichi),
Shah Zeera (black cumin seeds) 2 tsp
Whole black pepper (sabut kali mirch) 2-3
Nutmeg (Jaiphal) – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Ghee (Clarified Butter) – 2 Tbsp
Mint and Coriander leaves chopped fine
For The Vegetables
Oil to fry veggies- or the healthier choice is to boil them.
In terms of quantity- veggies should be 1/3 of the rice- so in this case 100 Gms
~1 1/2 cups chopped mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, French beans, paneer cubes and potatoes) I don’t prefer capsicum and cauliflower as they their flavor tends to overpower the biryani- the vegetables can be cut in diamond shape.
2 tbsp oil
3 onions chopped long
2 tsp ginger- garlic paste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1.5 Tbsp curd
Salt, chili powder, coriander powder, Garam Masala (fresh- home made preferable)
Chopped Coriander and Mint leaves
Cashew nuts for garnishing
Soak a few saffron strands in milk
Wash the rice (not more than two times) Soak rice in water. Keep aside.
In a vessel pour water (for rice) – slightly more than double the quantity of rice and then add ghee, cloves, small cardamom, black pepper, shah zeera, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, black cardamom, nutmeg and mace. Add some chopped coriander and mint leaves as well. Cover this with a lid and let it simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Once the spices have released their flavor, strain the rice and add it to simmering water. Let it cook.
It will take another 10 to 15 minutes- once you notice they are cooked (80%) strain them with a help of sieve. All excess water will be drained out. Cook the rice 80% only because they will be pressurized later.
While the rice/water are simmering, slice onions- thin and long- and fry them in 2 tbsp oil, once they are golden brown, take them out and keep aside.
Now fry the rest of the chopped vegetables in the leftover oil. (You can boil them as well which is a healthier option)
Place the veggies in a bowl and add half of the fried onions. Now add approx 1.5 tbsp of curd and spices such as coriander powder, red chili powder, freshly ground Garam Masala, turmeric powder and salt as per taste. Add the ginger Garlic paste. Again, add chopped coriander and mint leaves. Mix well and keep aside. If there is oil left after frying the veggies and onions, add to this. Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Now you are almost done with it!
Transfer ½ of the rice mixture in a handi- a big and heavy utensil, and spread half of the rice evenly with the back of a spoon. Now layer the marinated vegetables on top of the rice and spread it evenly. Layer rest of the rice on top the vegetables and spread them evenly. Sprinkle the remaining onions, cashew nuts and raisins on surface of the rice, add green coriander and mint leaves too. Pour 2 tbsp melted ghee from top. Sprinkle the saffron soaked in milk on top of the rice. Now cover the biryani tightly and properly and dum (pressurize) it for 10 -15 minutes- keep it on low heat- alternatively you can place the handi on a non-stick tava (griddle) and cook on a slow flame for 25 to 30 minutes.
Open the lid and let the rich Biryani aroma spread! Biryani is always served hot. You can serve it with Raita, curd or Chutney. What a meal this makes!