Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Madrasi Vegetable Biryani

The pictures below show the vegetable biryani made at two different times with a slightly different technique. Adding the beetroot to the sauce colours all the vegetables and the rice as well, so it looks like beetroot colour all over. But if you layer the beetroot pieces on top of the rice it stands out like a jewel in the crown and makes the biryani more colourful and I prefer doing that. Also I feel a difference in flavour too though both are equally good.  I have shown both the methods below with pictures.

Vegetable Oil - 1 cup
Cloves - 10
Green cardamoms - 10
Cinnamon sticks - 2 x 3"
Basumati rice - 5 cups
Onions - 5 medium to large size
Potatoes - 4 - 5
Peas - 1 1/2 cups
Carrot - 1large
Green beans - 2cups
kohlarabi - 1
Beetroot - 1 
Cauliflower florets - 2 cups
Plum tomatoes - 4 large 
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 cup
Yoghurt - 1 cup
Saffron - a pinch
Cilantro - 2 cups chopped
Mint - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 10
fresh lemon/lime juice - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Method: 
Peel, wash and cut potatoes into big chunks. Peel carrots, kohlarabi and beetroot, wash them and cut into thin dices and keep them aside separately. Cut beans each into 2 pieces. Separate cauliflower florets, wash, towel dry and keep aside. 

Deep fry all the vegetables separately except the beetroot as it colours the oil. 

Pre soak the basumathi rice for half an hour, after rinsing in several changes of water until clear. For golden sela rice, it has to be soaked for 2- 4 hours.



1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot. Add the whole spices - 10 cloves, 10 green cardamoms, and 2x 3" cinnamon sticks. 
  
2. Peel, wash and slice 5 large onions and add them to the pot
.

3. Fry the onions on medium heat till they are golden brown.


4. Add ginger garlic paste, turmeric and red chilly powder. 


5. Add green chillies and tomatoes.


6.Turn over and cook till they soften a bit.


 7. Add yoghurt and mix well.



8. Add a few mint leaves. 


9. Add chopped fresh cilantro.

10. Meanwhile fry all the vegetables separately and the beetroot at the end, otherwise it will color them all. Do not fry the peas.


11. Add all the fried vegetables and green peas.


12. Sprinkle 1 tsp lemon juice, adjust the salt and mix all the vegetables well with the saiuce gently. 


13. Pre soak basumathi rice for 1/2 an hour. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the basumathi rice and 2 -3tbs salt. Cook for a few minutes till the grains become just a little soft on the outside but still gritty when you press them between your index finger and thumb (you should keep checking from time to time). At this stage you should drain the rice to the last drop


14. Transfer all the contents of the pot (the sauce with the vegetables) to the roaster and place it in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade. 


15. Immediately layer the drained rice on top of the sauce in the roaster simmering in the oven.


16. Add the fresh mint and coriander.
                                                                                                  

17. Add a pinch of edible orange food colouring on one side and mix it with a little rice as seen in the picture.


18. Sprinkle the coloured rice on top of the white rice. Add the saffron milk. Close the roaster lid and steam in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade for 10 mins.


19. Remove from the oven when done and let it settle for 5 mins. Then open the lid and mix the rice with a round or flat spatula gently starting from the bottom and then folding in with the rice on top.

20. Mix well till all the white rice is coated with the sauce. Now close the lid and put it back into the hot oven for 5 more mins.  The vegetable biryani is now ready to eat. Serve hot with onion yoghurt chutney and enjoy!

Tips:

1.  It is very important to use good quality long grain basumathi rice which has been aged.

2 Adding the beetroot pieces along with the other vegetables to the sauce colours the rice and all the vegetables in it as you can see in the picture. If you want it coloured it is fine. But I prefer adding the beetroot pieces as a layer on top of the rice, which makes them stand out like a jewel in the crown.

Take a look at the pictures here after step 10:

11. Add all the vegetables except the beetroot pieces. Mix well


12. Add fresh lemon juice, mix well then transfer the sauce with the vegetables to a roaster and place it in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade. 


13. Now top the vegetable sauce in the roaster with a layer of 3/4 cooked basumathi rice, then put all the beetroot pieces on top of the rice. 


14. Add another thin layer of rice over the beetroot pieces. Throw in some fresh mint leaves and lots of chopped cilantro. Colour a little of the rice in the corner of the roaster with edible natural food colouring and sprinkle the coloured rice all over the top layer which makes it look so decorative and colourful. Finally sprinkle a few drops of saffron milk (saffron dissolved in milk) here and there as the last finishing touch before closing the lid on the roaster. Let it steam in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade for 10 mins. 



15. Remove the roaster from the oven when you get an aroma of the biryani which means it is done. Do not open the lid immediately as you could burn your face - it is steaming hot! let it sit for at least 5 minutes so all the juices get absorbed. Then wear your kitchen gloves and slowly open the lid little by little, while keeping your face away from it. Take a flat or round spatula and gently turn over the rice from the bottom to mix it. Start from one side of the roaster and as you turn the rice over the sauce from the bottom, mix well lightly and gently and enjoy!

As it is vegetable biryani you can mix all the biryani in the roaster, then reheat again before serving. With all the other biryanis it is not recommended. It is better to mix only as much as you want to serve, as there is a tendency for the meat pieces to break. But the foremost thing is to mix gently and carefully with a flat spatula. Also it cools down fast as all the steam comes out if you mix everything all at once. Everyone loves to eat steaming hot biryani, so we mix when we serve and keep the lid closed.                                                                                                    

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