TAlthough found in countless forms on menus across India, the best biryanis are often said to come from Lucknow in the northwest and Hyderabad further south, although Kolkata can sometimes be seen as well. Neither, it must be said, specializes in vegetable biryani (lamb or chicken are more common), but in a country with over 400 million vegetarians, it’s definitely one thing.
Prepare and soak 45 min
cook 75 min
It serves 6
500 g basmati rice
2 tablespoons of milk
1 generous pinch of saffron
100g chana or masoor from
4 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
2 green chilies
50 g fresh coriander
2 tablespoons of grated ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
200 g whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
10 green beans
2 cardamom pods, slightly flattened
1 bay leaf
200 g wholemeal flour
Vegetable oil, fry
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 tablespoon sultana raisins
A few sprigs of coriander or mint
1 Soak and rinse the rice
Start by soaking the rice in cold water for 45 minutes, then drain and rinse until the water runs clear (soaking reduces cooking time, which helps with flavor, while rinsing removes some of the starch from the surface, so the rice is less likely to clump later (the goal of basmati rice is separate, fluffy grains).
2 Start at the base
While the rice is soaking, melt the butter, milk, and saffron in a small skillet (or microwave) and set aside. Put the dal in a medium saucepan, cover it with cold water and bring to a boil. Skim off the surface, lower heat, simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender, then drain.
3 Make the spice paste
Peel the garlic and crush it until you get a rough paste with a little salt, and trim and chop the chilies and coriander.
Put them all in a bowl, mini grinder or mortar, add the ginger and ground spices, and mix or mash to a paste, adding just enough yogurt and lemon juice to lubricate the mixture.
Add the rest of the yogurt and lemon juice, season and set aside.
4 Prepare the vegetables
Separate the cauliflower into florets. Peel the carrots and cut them into 2 cm cubes. Peel and remove the seeds from the pumpkin and cut the pulp into small cubes. Chop the beans into chunks about 2cm long (you can use just about any veggie you like here, although I would avoid anything too delicate and leafy, because it won’t hold up well to long cooking).
Put all the veggies in a bowl, add the yogurt mixture, stir to coat, and set aside.
5 Cook the rice
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the drained rice, crushed cardamom pods, and bay leaf, and cook for six to eight minutes, until al dente.
Drain well (then I toss the rice back into the hot skillet to let any remaining moisture evaporate), then mix it with the dal, spices, and all.
6 Partially cook the vegetable mixture
Heat oven to 200C (180C fan) / 400F / gas mark 6. Place a large saucepan for which you have a lid (it should be large enough to hold all the vegetables and rice) over medium-low heat. Add the vegetables and their marinade (if the yogurt is too thick, add a splash of water to make it extra spicy) and cook, stirring frequently, for five to seven minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Check seasoning and adjust as needed.
7 Add the rice and seal
Gently pile the rice and dal mixture on top of the vegetables, then pour the saffron-infused milk and butter mixture over the surface.
Mix the flour with enough water to make a rough dough, then roll this into a long sausage. Line rim of casserole with sausage batter and press lid on top to seal.
8 Bake the rice and fry the onions
Put the pot in the oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onions and pat dry with kitchen paper to remove surface moisture. Heat a deep frying pan up to a third of oil until bubbles form around a dipped toothpick (or similar). Fry the onion in batches, until golden and crisp, then drain on kitchen paper.
9 Serve with a flourish
For maximum showiness, remove the lid from the casserole at the table, sprinkle the top of the biryani with the crunchy onions, flaked almonds, sultanas, and coarsely chopped cilantro or mint, and cheer on your guests. to eat. Pickles and chutneys go very well. with biryani, as well as a simple kachumber, or cucumber, tomato and onion salad.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism