P loves dum biryani, and he's asked me many a time to make it. But I always hesitated. Seemed too big a project for just 2 people. First time I made it was for a diwali pot-luck in Tokyo. I decided to do a trial run the weekend before, just to be sure - making for the first time and all that. Friends of ours - husband & wife - were the official tasters. Needless to say I was nervous. Had also made a salan that time.
So, our friends came home and the first thing that he said - "Wow, smells good! But this is too much food! This is enough for 7-8 people." He he he ... By the time the night was over, the biryani & salan were both wiped clean!!! And so was the mango kulfi that she had made. That was one of the most memorable meals :) Total nawabi dinner it was!!!
Alright, now for the recipe. Dum biryani is traditionally made in layers - rice, vegetable & garnish. So, it is as simple as that!! First off, it is not that difficult to make, you just need to be a little patient. Yes, the ingredients list seems endless, the recipe seems to go on forever, but hey, you'll realize it is worth the effort when you get your first taste. Maybe even before, when you get that first whiff of it cooking.
Brown basmati rice - 2 cups
Water - 5 cups
Salt to taste (only for rice)
Star Anise - 5-6
Black Cardamom - 4-5
Mace - 4-5
Nutmeg - 1 whole crushed
Cinnamon - 1.5 - 2 sticks
Cloves - 3/4 tbsp
Black Pepper - 1 tbsp
Fennel - 1 tbsp
Shahi Jeera - 1/2 tbsp
Nigella - 1/4 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsps
Milk - 1/2 cup
Green Cardamom Powder - 1/2 tsp
Saffron - 1 big pinch
Rose essence - 1/2 tsp
Kewra essence - 1/2 tsp
Potato - 1 large, diced
Carrot - 1 large, diced
Cauliflower - 1 cup
Peas - 1 cup
Onion - 1 large
Cottage Cheese - 12 -15 1/2 inch pieces fried to a golden brown (optional)
Ginger - 1-1.5 tbsp, minced
Garlic - 1-1.5 tbsp, minced
Green chili - 1 tbsp, minced
Yoghurt - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup
Chili powder - 1/2 tbsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tbsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tbsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Kasuri Methi Powder - 2 tsps
Salt to taste (only for veggies)
Ghee - 2 tbsps
Onion - 1 large, sliced to 1inch pieces
Cashew - 2 tbsps
Raisins - 2 tbsps
Almond Slivers - 2 tbsps
Coriander - 3 tbsps, finely chopped
Mint - 3 tbsps, finely chopped
Ghee - 2 tbsps
Wash and soak rice for 15-20 mins.
Chop all required veggies and keep them separately
Drain water completely from the rice and spread out to dry on some paper towels
Heat the water in a pan, add all the spices (for rice layer), cover & simmer. Let it steep for 20-25 minutes, then switch off stove, add salt & keep covered.
Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed skillet.
Add rice and saute for a few minutes, till the rice changes colour. Take care not to fry the rice too much. We need soft, yet separate grains of rice for the biryani, if over fried, the rice gets too crisp, we don't want that.
Strain 4 cups of water into the rice (keep 1 cup water aside for later), cover & simmer.
Cook covered till almost all the water is absorbed. The rice should be a little crunchy now.
Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed skillet, add the onions and saute till it becomes transparent
Keep heat medium to avoid burning the veggies / spices. This layer needs to cook slowly.
Add ginger, garlic, chilies, jeera, dhanya & turmeric powders, saute 2-3 taking care not to burn the spices
Toss in potatoes, saute till they turn brown.
Throw in carrots, keep sauteing
Add peas, cauliflower, & cottage cheese
Pour in yoghurt & water
Sprinkle on chili powder & salt
Cover and cook for 2-3 mins
Toss well and remove from heat.
Keep aside. The veggie layer should be moist, but have no gravy.
Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed skillet
Fry onions, cashews, raisins & slivered almonds separately.
Keep aside separately
Now all the layers are ready and the biryani can be put together. The first and last layers are always rice.
Take an oven-safe dish.
Put a layer of rice at the bottom
Add a ladleful of spice water in a circle
Add a ladleful of aroma milk in a circle
Spoon in a layer of veggies
Sprinkle some chopped coriander and mint leaves over the veggies
Throw some fried onions over the leaves
Top off with a layer of cashews, raisins & slivered almonds
Finish with a layer of rice
Repeat steps as needed.
Add spice water & aroma milk only for the top & bottom layers of rice.
Keep aside some nuts, onions and coriander & mint leaves to garnish top of biryani
Pre-heat oven to 410 degrees F
Seal the assembled biryani with foil, cover & place in oven
Bake for 15 -20 minutes
Reduce oven temp to 280 degrees F
Bake for 15-20 minutes
Do the baking an hour or so before serving the dish. Kept in the oven too long, the rice gets too crisp - not nice! They say the true test for biryani is, when put on a plate, each grain of rice should be separate without any lumps.
Cooking time for rice varies and so does the required water. Vary both to suit your rice, remember to make 1 cup extra spice water than required to cook the rice. Spices can also be varied, though I don't recommend it. This is the first time I made biryani with brown basmati, usually make it with white basmati. I recommend the brown, it has a lot more texture & flavor.
I am sending this veg biryani to Zaiqa who is hosting RCI:Authentic Hyderabadi Cuisine.