Biryani is an Indian dish most often made with fragrant basmati rice, spices and vegetables or meat. This dish is believed to have originated in Turkey and brought into India by travelers and merchants. There is a lot of difference in the preparation of this dish between north and south India and in south India almost each town has its own special biryani. It is hard to say which is superior because each method has its own unique flavor. Yumjay is a biryani connoisseur and while he prefers biryani with chicken, he couldn’t stop eating this vegan biryani which i made last weekend.
My friend LH gave me this biryani recipe and i was quite surprised that it had sambar powder and 7 Thai green chilies for every cup of rice. I was very skeptically about this recipe because i have never cooked biryani with sambar powder and the quantity of chilies seemed excessive for a medium-spicy person like me. Boy, was i wrong! It turned out to be a very flavorful biryani with minimal prep work and 7 chilies didn’t make it super spicy. Sambar powder is available in most Indian grocery stores and the main ingredients in the powder are a variety of lentils, coriander seeds and red chilies. This is a great weeknight dinner recipe, it took me about 45 minutes from start to finish.
1 cup basmati rice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 medium potato, skin peeled and cubed
8 green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 medium carrot, cubed
6 cauliflower florets
7 Thai green chilies ( do not cut)
1 teaspoon sambar powder
2 tablespoons oil
1 one-inch piece cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 green cardamom
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 one-inch piece ginger, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1. Wash and soak basmati rice in 2 cups of water.
2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker or a large pot. When oil is hot, add cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon. Cook for a minute.
3. Add onions and cook till they turn soft.
4. Add ginger, garlic and Thai green chilies, cook for a minute.
5. Add tomatoes and a pinch of salt, cook till they turn soft and mushy.
6. Add sambar powder and salt, mix well.
7. Add all the vegetables along with cilantro and mint, mix to coat well in the spices.
8. Add drained basmati rice, mix gently.
9. If cooking in pressure cooker, add 1.5 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Check for salt and cover with lid. Let the rice cook for one whistle and simmer for 10 minutes. Once the pressure is completely released, open and gently fluff the rice with a fork. If cooking on stove-top, add 2 cups of water and close with a tight fitting lid. Let it cook on medium flame for 15 minutes and simmer for 10 minutes.
10. Garnish with more cilantro and mint (optional) and serve hot.