It’s wonderful to take a break from kitchen sometimes but, I’ve noticed, it’s always harder to return to the routine after the break. No matter how lazy you are feeling, if you have responsibity of feeding a family, you have to put aside that very interesting book right on the climax to get back to your pots and pans.
How do you cope with such uninspiring days? I have two remedies that usually always work – play my favourite songs in the kitchen while I’m working and choose to cook something colourful and spicy with speedy results.
Now Biryani is not something we associate with quick and easy cooking,right! But believe me it can be if it’s vegetable biryani and you simplify the method, cutting out some unnecessary steps, as I do.
While the rice are boiling, I get the vegetable curry ready on the other stove. Both things get done side by side in almost 12 minutes. I don’t boil or blanch the vegetables seperately as many recipes suggest. Simply add them to cook in the curry. All that is left to do now is layer the rice and curry in the pan, top with aromatics and seal the pan for 20 minutes to steam so that the rice become fluffy and absorb the flavours from curry completely.
What do you do meanwhile? Go call your mom, chat with friends on social media, watch your favourite tv show and most imoortantly build an appetite for a big helping of the delicious biryani that must be driving you crazy with its scrumptious aromas by now!
3 cups long grain basmati rice
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
2 large tomatoes
1 cup peas
1 large carrot
1 cup button mushrooms
1/4 cup lemon juice or 2 teaspoons amchoor(dry mamgo) powder
4 teaspoons salt or to taste
2 teaspoons red chilli powder or to taste
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 stick cinnamon
1 bay leaf
4-5 green cardamoms
1/2 cup ghee or coconut oil
A small bunch fresh coriander
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
2 green chilli peppers
2 tablespoons yogurt
A few strands saffron or 1/4 teaspoon yellow food colour.
This Is What You Do:
Rinse rice to get rid of the grit, polish or other impurities.
Fill a deep, wide mouthed pan 3/4 with water. Add bayleaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise and 3 teaspoons salt to water in the pan.
When the water begins to boil, add rice and cook uncovered on medium heat. Leave a ladle or stirring spoon in the pot to keep water from boiling over.
When the rice are 2/3rd done, almost not completely, take them off heat, strain using a strainer. Keep aside.
For the vegetable curry
Heat 2 tablespoons oil/ghee in a deep frying pan or wok.
Add ginger-garlic paste, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, red chilli powder,garam masala, remaing 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup water.
Cover the pan, allow to simmer on medium low heat for 5 minutes or till the tomatoes are soft and somewhat diluted in the masala.
Add the mixed vegetables, mushrooms and a splash of water, mix well and cook on medium heat for another 5 minutes or till the vegetables are almost done but still have a bite to them and the liquids in the pan are completely dried. Add lemon juice or amchoor powder. Mix.
Remove from heat.
Combine yogurt and saffron or food colour in a bowl and mix well.
Generously grease the bottom and sides of a deep pan. Add half portion of rice in the pan and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon.
Add the prepared vegetable curry on it and spread it evenly.
Add the remaining half of rice on top of curry and spread.
Add the remaining oil or ghee to a frying pan. Fry sliced onions till brown and crisp.
Pour the ghee along with onions evenly over the top rice layer.
Pour the saffron yogurt on one side of the pan.
Add a few drops of rosewater or pandan essence.
Place the biryani pan on a tawa (griddle), wrap the lid in a clean cotton cloth or seal the mouth of pan with foil sheet so that the steam stays in. Cook on lowest posdible flame for 20 minutes.
Mix the layers carefully before serving.
Garnish with fresh herbs and green chilli peppers. Serve hot with yogurt and fresh salad.