Ever since I can remember, Sunday lunch consisted of pulav/biryani and raita with pappad and pickle. It was the only day in the week when we didn’t have to be told how important it was to eat vegetables. We looked forward to Sundays and the aroma of basmati rice infusing with spices and vegetables.
In high school, I showed "interest" in cooking. I told amma that I would make vegetable biryani every Sunday. But I had some conditions – I hated to chop the vegetables, so amma had to do that bit. And since she was anyway at it, why not cook them and keep aside? Then ofcourse, she had to keep the ginger-garlic paste ready. I didn’t know to cook the rice, so that was her department too! So come Sunday, I'd return from my dance classes at 11 am and enter the kitchen. Amma'd have cooked the rice and vegetables, kept the ginger-garlic paste ready, sliced the onions etc. etc…. I'd put on my apron, fry the onions, ginger-garlic paste, add the veggies and spices and layer it with the rice and garnish it with coriander. Mom always praised my efforts and I'd tell the whole world that "chef" me had made the biryani!!
Now ofcourse things have changed. I do the entire biryani making from scratch to end! And amma admits I can cook now! :)
Here's how I made biryani…..
1 glass rice
1 Bay leaf
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 green cardamom
1 star anise
1 cup mixed vegetables (green peas, carrots, French beans, corn, cauliflower, potato, broccoli etc.)
½ cup onions sliced and fried
½ cup potatoes sliced and fried
1 onion chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp dhania powder
½ cup beaten curd
Salt to taste
1 tomato sliced
1 cup milk
1 tsp butter
1 tsp cardamom powder
A few strands of saffron
A few drops of rose water
Coriander for garnishing
Soak rice in plenty of water for ½ an hour. Cook the rice in 1 ¾ glasses of water along with salt, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and star anise, and keep aside.
Microwave the mixed vegetables till tender and keep aside. Heat ghee in a thick-bottomed pan and fry the chopped onions. When translucent, add ginger- garlic paste and fry again. Add the vegetables, red chilly powder, garam masala powder, dhania powder, salt and fry well. Add the curd and cook for 2 minutes.
Grease an ovenproof dish and spread a layer of rice on it. Then spread a layer of the vegetables over it.
Again spread alternate layers of rice, followed by vegetables till it is entirely used up finishing with a layer of rice on the top. Now place the sliced tomatoes over the rice. Warm the milk, add cardamom powder, saffron, rosewater and butter to it and mix well. Pour this over the rice – tomato layer.
Spread the fried onions and fried potatoes over this and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C for 15 minutes. You can also steam it on the gas on low flame for 20 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve with mint raita, vadams and papad.