Vegetable Biryani (Hyderabadi)

Vegetable Biryani

Vegetable Biryani (Hyderabadi) is an aromatic, scrumptious, royal dish fit for kings - literally! And it is indeed the undisputed king of rice dishes - in no other preparation across the world do rice & veggies blend into a such a perfect medley of delectable flavors and appetite-inducing aroma as they do in the Vegetable Biryani. Its heavenly taste, enticing fragrance and great looks have made it one of the most sought after rice dishes in Indian restaurants and parties and spread its fame across India & around the world. This culinary delight has its origins in the royal kitchens of the Mughal Kings of Hyderabad (a city in India), and most certainly, only a royal chef could have invented this sumptuous treat!

Preparing the authentic Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani is a labor of love - it is a multi-step process where the rice and veggies are first cooked partially and separately in their own spices, then combined as layers and fully cooked with steam, and finally mixed together in a delectable blend of flavors and served piping-hot with mouth-watering fragrances rising from the dish. The method of cooking with steam is known as Dum Pukht - a highly refined & ancient cooking technique that originated in Persia. The food is cooked in a sealed container on a low flame, such that the steam is trapped inside the container and cooks the ingredients. Not only does this method infuse the full flavors of the spices in the dish, but it also ensures that the nutrients are retained.

I have kept the recipe & preparation as authentic as possible in my recipe, but simpler and healthier by eliminating the calorie-rich dry fruits (cashews) and ghee (clarified butter). So, if you ever wondered what kings and queens feasted upon, now that secret is within your grasp. It's time to prepare this regal dish, take a mouthful, and feel like royalty :)

VEGETABLE  BIRYANI  RECIPE


Serves : 2

Ingredients:

For the Rice:
3 Cloves
1 Cinnamon
2 Green Cardamoms
1 Black Cardamom
½ tsp oil
Salt to taste
1 cup long-grained Rice (Basmati Rice)

For the Vegetables:
½ cup cubed Red Bell Pepper; cut into 1" pieces
½ cup cubed Green Bell Pepper; cut into 1" pieces
8 Cauliflower Florets
½ cup 1" pieces of French Beans
½ cup 1" pieces of Carrot; peeled
1/4 cup Green peas; fresh or frozen
1 medium-size Tomato; cut into big pieces
½ tbsp fresh Ginger Paste
½ tbsp fresh Garlic Paste
1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Cinnamon
5 Cloves
4 Green Cardamoms
1 Bay Leaf
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper (Red Chilli Powder), or to taste
4-5 Serrano Green Chillies paste, or to taste
½ cup Yogurt; smoothened
2 tsp fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 cup fresh chopped Cilantro (Coriander) Leaves
1/4 cup fresh chopped Mint Leaves
1/4 tsp Saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp of warm milk; optional (See Tip # 1)

For frying:
1 cup thinly sliced Onions
Oil for deep frying

For garnishing:
2 tbsp fresh chopped Cilantro (Coriander) Leaves

How to make Vegetable Biryani


Preparing the Rice:
  1. Rinse the rice till the water runs clear. Soak the rice in 2 cups of water for at least 30 minutes. Drain.
  2. Boil 4 cups of water in a large saucepan. Add rice and all the remaining ingredients mentioned in the "For the Rice" section.  Cook the rice till its ¾th done. Each grain of the cooked rice should be separate. Drain the rice in colander & cool. Keep aside.

Frying the onions:
Heat enough oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Fry the sliced onions until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper. Keep aside.

Preparing the vegetables:
  1. Heat oil in a deep non-stick saucepan on medium heat. Add cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamoms & bay leaf. Saute for 10 seconds. 
  2. Add ginger & garlic paste.Saute for 15-20 seconds. 
  3. Add all the vegetables (except the tomatoes) & salt. Mix. Cover & cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add turmeric powder, cayenne pepper, green chilli paste, lemon juice & tomatoes. Mix well. Lower the heat.
  5. Add yogurt, cilantro & mint leaves. Reserve 1/4 of the fried onions for garnishing,  & crush the remaining fried onions with your hand & sprinkle over the yogurt mixture. Mix.
  6. Add the cooked rice on top of this mixture/masala, DON'T MIX IT as yet. Sprinkle saffron-flavored milk on the rice. Again, don't mix! Cover the pan tightly with a lid. Remove from heat. Keep aside.
  7. Heat a griddle/tava on medium heat. Once heated, place the rice-vegetable mixture saucepan on top of the griddle/tava and let it sit for 30 minutes on very low heat. This is done to avoid the bottom contents from getting burnt.
  8. Turn off the heat & let the biryani sit for 10 minutes, covered. Mix the rice gently with the vegetables.
  9. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves & fried onions. Serve hot with pickle or Cucumber-Mint Raita.
Tips:
  1. Saffron adds color to the Biryani, and may be substitued with yellow color.
  2. You may remove the whole spices (Cinnamon, green cardamoms, black cardamom, bay leaf, cloves) from the Biryani before serving.
  3. If the lid is not too tight, cover the mouth of the pot with a clean, thick, damp cloth. Then put the lid tightly on it.
  4. If you wish to give the dish a more royal look (good for parties), add 10-12 pieces of Cashew nuts and/or 1 tsp of Raisins by shallow-frying the cashews & raisins till golden-brown and sprinkling them on the prepared dish as garnishing. I generally avoid adding these due to their high calorie count.

2 comments:

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