Vegetable Biryani

Ingredients:

For the curry:

  • approx 60g coconut oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2cm (1”) cinnamon stick
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1cm (½”) chunk of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp each of ground cumin and
  • ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 large potatoes cut into 2cm (1”) chunks
  • 1 sweet potato cut into 2cm (1”) chunks
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • a small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (1 green and 1 red), thinly sliced
  • a small handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • Himalayan pink salt to taste

For the rice:

  • 2 cm (1”) cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 2 tsp Himalayan pink salt

To finish:

  • 12 dried apricots soaked in warm water, drained and chopped
  • 20 whole almonds soaked in water for 45 minutes, drained and skinned
  • 3 tbsp rose water (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/ 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Start by checking the ingredients list and prepping all the vegetables, fruit and nuts.
  3. In a heavy-based pan heat the oil over a medium heat and add the bay leaves and onions. Fry for a few minutes, and, as the onion starts to turn golden, add the whole spices. Continue to fry for 2-3 minutes and add the ground spices, followed by the garlic and ginger. Continue to cook for further 4 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture starts to stick. Add in the potatoes, peas, tomato purée, lemon juice and half the coriander. Pour in approximately 60ml of water, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are almost cooked. The mixture should resemble a fairly dry curry so just add a little water as it cooks to stop the curry burning onto the bottom of the pan. After about 20 minutes, add the peppers, mint and the rest of the coriander. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes, season and leave the dish to rest while you prepare the rice.
  4. Begin to heat a large pan of water (approximately 2 litres). Add all the spices and bring to the boil. Add the rice and salt and simmer until the grain is three quarters cooked (the rice should still be slightly hard). Strain the rice through a colander and leave for a few minutes to ensure all the water has drained off.
  5. To assemble the biryani, spread about a third of the rice over the base of a large casserole dish and spoon a third of the curry over the rice. Repeat the layers, scattering some of the almonds, apricots and a sprinkle of rosewater between each layer. Cover the casserole with a lid and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the rice is soft.

Recipe is taken from ‘Food to make the soul smile’ by Eliane

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