Biryani: Hot spicy and colourful

When you fancy something a lot spicy with rice – biryani is a great choice.  There are lots of biryani recipes – some more authentic than others. Whenever we have a friends get together, we tend to go for “pot luck” type of meals and everyone brings a dish to share.  I am always asked to bring this rice dish which I call  biryani and my friends love the way I make the dish.
Preparation and Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 cups Basmati rice
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (I used frozen mixed vegetables with carrots, peas, green beans, sweet peppers and sweet corn)
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 fresh green chilies finely blended
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic – blended
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon and cloves ground powder (optional)
  • 1 cup of blended tomatoes (I used Passata)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of natural Greek style yogurt.
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

For garnishing:

  • Half a cup of almonds
  • 1 yellow sweet pepper sliced
  • 1 small onion cut into slices
  • 1 handful of baby tomatoes

Method:

1. Wash and soak the rice for a minimum of 20 minutes.

2. Wash and chop all the vegetables into very small cubes.

3. Cut the almonds in halves (lengthwise) and set aside for the garnishing.

4. First cook the rice. To get nice fluffy rice, soak the rice and cook it with plenty of water –like you would cook pasta. Add salt and a teaspoon of oil to the rice. When it’s nearly cooked, add in the saffron and strain the rice using a sieve. The rice should have a lovely pale yellow colouring. Allow the rice to cool.

5. Heat the oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start popping, add onions and cook them for a couple of minutes. Add rest of the vegetables including the blended ginger, garlic and green chilies. Add the spices – salt, chili powder, turmeric and the cinnamon and cloves powder.

6. Once the vegetables have cooked, add in the Greek style yogurt and stir. Cook this for a couple of minutes and add in the blended tomatoes or Passata and allow the mixture to cook gently for 5 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Centigrade (or 300 degrees Fahrenheit)

8. In a baking dish, make a layer of the cooked vegetables. Cover the vegetables with a layer of rice. Layer the rice with the rest of the vegetables and finish with a layer of rice.

9. Add the halved almonds and the rest of the garnishing on the rice  ( sliced peppers, onions and baby tomatoes).
10.  Spread the melted butter over the top of the biryani.

11. Cover this dish with aluminum foil and transfer it to the oven on a medium heat – 150 degrees for 30 minutes.

12. Once ready, serve the vegetable biryani hot with stuffed parathas and raita.

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