Vegetable Dum Biryani

Mixed Vegetable Dum Biryani and a bowl of simple cucumber raita was our menu on last Saturday.  I still have a long way to go to make perfect biryanis. There are a few things I have learnt from my past experiences –

  1. Use only the best quality of long grain Basmati rice.
  2. Do not over cook the rice. Keep it a little undone. The rice gets cooked further when you keep it on dum.
  3. The quantity of vegetable gravy mixture and the cooked rice should be equal.
  4. Do not cook the vegetables when making the gravy. They should get cooked when kept on dum.
  5. The vegetables should not be finely chopped. They should be in big chunks.
  6. Use Kewra essence and saffron for the extra flavor. I used Blue Bird Kewra essence which is easily available.
  7. A very important ingredient with biryani’s is patience. Biryani’s typically have a longer preparation time. Add the right amount of patience and you will make the best biryani that will indeed treat your taste buds.

So here is my recipe for Vegetable Dum Biryani. Do let me know how it turns out…

Ingredients for the rice-

2.5 cups basmati rice soaked for 20 minutes,

2.5 liters water,

8 to 10 mint leaves,

2 tsp salt,

3 green cardamoms (choti elichi),

2 black cardamoms (mothi elichi),

6 cloves,

2 small pieces of cinnamon,

3 to 4 drops of kewra essence

Ingredients for the vegetable gravy-

200 grams cubed Paneer,

1 cubed potato,

1 cup cauliflower florets,

5 to 6 soaked soya nuggets,

10 mushrooms cut into 4 pieces each,

10 French beans cut into 2 inch pieces,

1 carrot diced,

12 garlic cloves,

2 inch piece of ginger,

3 green chilies,

A handful of coriander leaves,

A handful of mint leaves,

2 cups curd,

1 ripe tomato cubed,

3 to 4 large onions sliced thinly and fried till brown,

3 to 4 bay leaves,

A few pieces of cashew nuts,

5 tbsp oil,

Salt to taste

Ingredients for spice mix-

2 tsp red chili powder,

2 tsp coriander powder,

1 tsp caraway seeds (Sahi jeera),

4 cloves,

1 tsp pepper powder,

1 piece of cinnamon,

1/8th piece of nutmeg,

1.5 tsp poppy seeds (Khas khas),

3 green cardamoms,

1 black cardamom,

1 tsp fennel seeds (Badishep)

Method for the Vegetable Gravy –

Dry roast the ingredients of spice mix (except red chili powder and coriander powder) allow it to cool.

Grind to a fine powder with red chili powder and coriander powder. Keep aside.

Make a paste of coriander leaves, mint leaves, ginger, garlic and green chilies with little water and keep aside.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry potatoes till golden brown. Drain and keep aside.

In the same oil lightly fry French beans and cauliflower florets for approx 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and keep aside.

In the remaining oil, fry bay leaves and cashew nuts for a few seconds.

Add all the vegetables, tomatoes and green masala paste, the spice powder and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.

Mix in the curds and salt. The vegetable mixture should be little salty, so add little extra salt. Also it should have lots of thick gravy.

Also mix in 1/4th of the fried onions. Stir well and switch off the gas.

Method for the Rice –

In a large vessel put all the ingredients of rice except the rice and bring it to a boil by covering the vessel.

Let the water boil on for say 10 minutes. The water will become light green in color because of the mint leaves and the spices will leave its essence in the water.

Now drain and add rice to the water and allow the rice to just cook till 3/4th done. This will take approx 5 minutes.

Strain the water completely from the rice and reserve 1 cup of this strained water.

Final stages of the Biryani –

In a heavy bottomed pan pour the vegetable mixture and ½ o the fried onions.

Place half of the rice on top of the vegetable mixture and sprinkle some fried onions.

Splash 1/4th cup of the drained water reserved from the previous step.

Add the remaining rice and on top again sprinkle the remaining fried onions and splash the remaining water.

Cover the vessel tightly with a lid (I kept a heavy rice cooker on top of the lid) and place it on a griddle (tava) on a low flame for a total of 30 minutes.

Open the lid just before serving and serve it hot with cucumber raita.

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