Something requested off and on,something which people really want from you and something which is royal and takes a lot of preparation – YES Its finally unveiled!I step into my roots,virtually into the place where I was born and bought up and select a gem for you!Its a vegetarian BIRYANI!
As all of you would know Biryani was bought to India at the time of the Mughal Dynasty.It was already a rage back in Kabul and Afghanistan which were the roots of the Mughals and they were generous enough to share it with the supremely talented Indian cooks of the Mughal Rulers here and thus the recipe was passed on one generation after the next though nearly five centuries.It was bought to India as a complete non vegetarian package – primarily using Mutton as the one and only meat to make it.The Indian cooks experimented with Chicken and the vegetarian pundits learnt the recipe only to substitute vegetables,paneer and soya thus making Biryani accessible for people who did not and could not eat meat.In the other countries this delicious main course is tried with Beef,Pork and even game meat!I am bringing forward one such long lost but simple recipe.
Let us understand the concept of having Biryani.Let us understand WHY the Mughals made the recipe?Leave the seasoning out and analyse the ingredients – Rice and Meat.In the desert areas where water is a prime concern and there are no fresh vegetables and fruits available,the dwellers relied on meat for their livelihood.Instead of cooking in two separate pans,one pot cooking was preferred and lovely aromatic substances were used to make food have a lovely aroma and taste divine!
This Biryani has 2 main ingredients – Potato and Carrot(denoting the meaning of the word “Tarkari” or vegetables).However you can add vegetables of your choice and Paneer to it to make it more palatable.It is Dum cooked(cooked in its own steam till done) making it absolutely delicious !The best part is that this is very mild and can be had both for lunch or dinner.It has been mentioned by the expert Chef and Restauranteur Jiggs Kalra in his award winning book :
PRASHAD – COOKING WITH INDIAN MASTERS
I would like to point out to first time makers and novel cooks a few facts and must do’s about Biryani.Please understand that it is not rocket science.However :
- Keeping everything prepared beforehand as in chopped vegetables,soaked saffron and assembled spices is very important.
- You may use branded Biryani rice(available in plenty) or use loose long grained Basmati which is as good.However please pick the rice for any minute stones or other dirt particles and wash it thoroughly.
- You can use a variety of vegetables like Peas,Beans or seasonal produce whatever you have in your storage.
- You may use a Biryani Handi or Pot which are easily available in the market or online as well.However if you do not have a Handi or Pot especially for Biryani then you can use any other pot with a tight fitting lid.Please ensure that the pot lid should not have a vent for steam to escape.We want to cook the rice in its own steam and this would make it impossible.
WARNING – Please do not jam the vents with any object as it might cause an explosion.
Any Aluminium pot with lid would work fine as well.
A Non Stick pot with a stainless steel lid
- If you use a non stick pot with a steel lid then put it on a tava/griddle on the stovetop.If you are using a glass casserole then use the oven Do NOT put the non stick pan into the oven.
- You can use Kewra or Rose water to flavour the Biryani.Please do not buy cosmetic related products as they are not edible.You will get edible Kewra and Rose water online or in big stores.
Nawabi Tarkari Biryani
Lets go to the recipe:
Preparation Time : 1 1/2 hours
Makes : 4 servings
2 cups Biryani Basmati Rice
2 Potatoes – peeled and cubed
1 medium/2 small/1/2 big Carrot – peeled and cubed
2 tbsp Cashewnuts
2 tbsp Almonds – blanched and peeled
2 tbsp Raisins
1 tbsp Dried/Glace Cherries
3 tbsp Ghee plus 2 tsp for frying the nuts
The Garam Masala:
6 Green Cardamoms(Choti Elaichi)
2 Black Cardamom(Badi Elaichi)
2 sticks Cinnamon(Dalchini)
2 Bay Leaves(Tejpatta)
1 pinch Mace Powder(Javitri)
Salt to taste
For the Masala:
2 Onions – sliced
2 Green Chillies(more if you want a slightly spicy Biryani)
1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
1 tsp Turmeric Powder(Haldi)
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 cup thick Yogurt
1 tsp Saffron soaked in 3 tbsp warm milk
3 tbsp Mint Leaves – chopped fine
3 tbsp Coriander Leaves – chopped fine
Rosewater/Kewra Water(for sprinkling on top)
1/2 cup Fried Onions – sliced Onions fried in 2 tbsp Oil/Ghee till crisp and brown
Chapati(Indian bread) dough to seal the Handi
Preparing the rice:
Wash very well and keep over the sink in a strainer or sieve.
Boil 2 litres of water in a deep pan and add the whole garam masala -4 Green Cardamoms,2 Black Cardamoms,4 Cloves,2 sticks Cinnamon and 2 Bay Leaves.
When the water comes to a rolling boil,add the rice and cook for 3-4 minutes till 70% cooked.
Cooking the rice..
The rice would be soft but a little chewy and undercooked at the same time.Pour back into the strainer and after the water is drained,spread on a large tray,platter or a cotton cloth to dry out excess moisture.
Straining the rice
Spreading it out on a tray to dry
Pick out the whole spices from the rice and leave to cool till assembling the Biryani.
Preparing the garnish:
Add 1/2 cup of Yogurt to the Saffron milk and mix well.
Mix the Coriander and Mint Leaves.
Keep all the garnishing including Rose/Kewra water and the fried onions in one place to be used during the assembling of the Biryani.
Making the masala:
Heat 2 tsp Oil in a pan and fry the Cashewnuts,blanched Almonds and Raisins till fragrant.Keep aside.
Heat Ghee in a Biryani Handi or a pan with a tight fitting lid and add the remaining whole spices,When they crackle add the Onions and fry till translucent.Then add the Green Chillies and Ginger-Garlic paste and salute on medium heat till the paste is fried and Onions are brown.
Making the Masala..
Mix in the Turmeric and Red Chilli powders and stir well and then add the 1/2 cup Yogurt.Add around 2/3 cup water and close the lid.Cook for 5-7 minutes till the water dries up and everything is amalgamated and cooked nicely.Take off heat for assembling the Biryani.
Assembling the Biryani:
In the Handi with the cooked Masala,add half of the coriander-mint leaves,saffron yogurt and 1/3 of fried Onions.Put 1/2 of the rice over this and spread well to cover the surface of the vegetables and garnishing.
The first layer of rice over the vegetables
Now over this rice layer,put the rest of the saffron yogurt mix,1/3 of the fried Onions and coriander-mint leaves.Now ladle the rest of the rice over this and garnish with the remaining fried Onions and Rose/Kewra Water.
Final layer of rice with fried Onions and Kewra Water..
Roll out the dough into a long cylinder and wrap it around the rim of the lid.Set it firmly on the Handi to seal it tight.
Wrapping the dough on the rim of the lid..
Heat a tava/griddle on medium heat and put the handi on it.Cook for 15 – 20 minutes on the same heat.Take off heat after the mentioned time and cool for 10-15 minutes.
Cooking the Biryani on a tava/griddle..
Open the sealed lid with a knife and there you have lovely,aromatic Biryani.Serve warm with Raita or any curry.
Lovely shots after opening the fragrant Handi…
The lovely layers after serving a portion..
And the Biryani served….