One-Hour Vegetable Biryani
This simple One Hour Vegetable Biryani delivers big on flavor and it has also been streamlined from the traditional method, to reduce effort. Rich farmer’s cheese and meaty vegetables like potato and sweet potato are cooked together with yogurt and aromatic spices, the same way a biryani’s meat or chicken would be prepared. Try it for a special dinner and serve with yogurt or a tomato-onion raita.
- 2 cups Royal® Chef’s Secret Sella Basmati Rice
- 2 teaspoons salt or more
- 2 medium white onions
- ½ pound potatoes
- ¼ pound sweet potatoes
- ¼ pound firm tofu or Indian farmer’s cheese (paneer)
- 6-8 string beans or ¼ cup green peas
- 1½ cups and 1 tablespoon clarified butter or 1½ cup vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, mixed
- 4 cups water
- 10-12 saffron strands
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons Grapeola Grape Seed Oil or olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- 1 cup yogurt
- ½ large bunch of cilantro leaves, soaked, drained and minced
- ½ bunch of mint leaves, soaked, drained and minced
- 1 heaped tablespoon Indian garam masala (available at ethnic markets) or 1 teaspoon each of powdered spices: cinnamon, black pepper, allspice
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Cashew nuts for garnish (optional)
- Place Sela Basmati rice in a medium mixing bowl. Cover with water. Rinse rice well and add fresh water to cover. Stir in a pinch of salt and soak rice for 15 minutes, then drain well into a colander. Meanwhile, slice the onions extremely fine, using a sharp knife or mandolin.
- In a deep pot, heat 1½ cups clarified butter or 1½ cups oil-butter mixture for 1-2 minutes till almost smoking. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the finely sliced onions. Caramelize the onions, stirring often, 10-12 minutes. Stir constantly during the last two minutes to prevent the onions from burning.
- Once the onions are in the pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in another large pot. Stir in most of saffron strands, bay leaf and salt. When the water comes to a boil in 5-7 minutes, reduce the heat and remove the bay leaf. Gently stir in the soaked, drained rice.
- Cover and cook rice for 15 minutes till the grains are long and separate but still firm. Turn off the heat. Turn out the rice onto a baking sheet, run a fork through it to separate grains and set aside uncovered.
- Meanwhile, prep your vegetables. Peel and cut potatoes and sweet potatoes into large, 3-inch chunks. String the beans and cut them into 2-inch lengths. Pat the tofu or paneer dry with a paper towel. Cut it into 2-inch cubes.
- When the onions are brown and crisp, turn off the heat. Drain the onions between two slotted spoons, squeezing out the extra clarified butter into the same pot. Place drained onions on a paper towel, leaving 1 spoonful in the pot. Turn the heat back on and add cumin seeds and turmeric. Stir well. Add garlic and ginger pastes. Sauté briefly.
- Add potato and sweet potato chunks to the onions. Raise the heat to high and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Stir in yogurt, cilantro, mint, 1 teaspoon salt, garam masala. Cook the potatoes covered, stirring occasionally, until a knife slides easily into them, 15 minutes. Add the green beans and cook for 5 minutes. If using peas, stir them in and turn off the heat. Toss the tofu or paneer with the vegetables, off the heat. Check the seasoning and add salt if needed.
- In a wide mouthed, medium pot with metal handles and a tight fitting lid, spread the remaining clarified butter or oil-butter mixture. Layer the bottom of the pot an inch deep with the cooked Basmati. Lightly spread half the vegetable mixture and sauce over the rice. Lightly cover the vegetables with half the caramelized onions.
- Layer half the remaining rice over the onions. Spread the remaining of the vegetables and sauce over the rice. Cover with the rest of the rice and top with the caramelized onions. Make small holes in the top rice layer. Warm milk in a small pan or microwave (10 seconds) and add the remaining saffron to it to infuse it with flavor. Stir and pour the saffron milk into the holes in the rice. The milk will keep the rice moist and the saffron will infuse it with flavor. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and put the lid on tightly.
- The Biryani can be made up to 1 day ahead. Store in the refrigerator till an hour before serving. To serve the Biryani, heat it through in the oven or on the stovetop. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and put in the Biryani, tightly sealed. Bake for 25 minutes till it is hot and the tofu or paneer has cooked.
- Bring the pot to the table and open it when all the diners are seated. They will smell the tantalizing aromas of Basmati, saffron, caramelized onions and yogurt-spiced vegetables when the lid is lifted and the aluminum removed. Dig through the layers to give each diner a serving with Basmati and vegetables. Leftover Biryani is delicious hot or cold.