Biryani bonanza

KANAN PATEL gets imaginative with the basic biryani model

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Biryani, a rice and meat dish, always makes a festive meal. Wonderfully spiced and flavoured, it is traditionally served with simple accompaniments such a fresh green salad, plain yogurt or raita, papads, chutneys and relishes.

Originating from Mughal times, this hearty dish is supposed to have been invented as a quick meal to feed armies on the move – hunted game was mixed with rice and spices and cooked in the one pot. Today of course, it is a special preparation, and is cooked with all forms of meat, lamb, chicken, even mince.

Yet, why should the meat-eaters have all the fun? The biryani method can be applied equally well to vegetarian ingredients too! Mixed vegetables, paneer, spinach, cheese, and even eggs can all be converted successfully into a yummilicious biryani, as the following recipes show.


Vegetarian Passion Biryani

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 100 gms green peas, shelled
  • 100 gms carrots, cut into long pieces
  • 100 gms French beans, cut into diamond shaped pieces
  • 3 medium size potatoes, cut into four pieces each
  • 4 whole cardamoms
  • 4 cm piece whole cinnamon
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. shahjeera
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 strands saffron, soaked in water

Masala for the vegetables:

  • 250 gms onions, sliced
  • 4 tsp chillies, finely cut
  • 3 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1½ tsp garam masala powder
  • 1½ tsp coriander-cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • Extra ghee for deep frying onions
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 capsicums, sliced
  • 2 onions, fried till crisp
  • Few mint leaves
  1. Wash the vegetables and drain them well.
  2. Heat ghee and deep-fry the onions till well-browned. Remove and leave to cool. When cool, grind to a paste.
  3. Wash and cook the rice in double the quantity of water. When done, remove from heat. Keep aside to cool.
  4. Next, lightly roast the saffron, grind and sprinkle over the cooled rice.
  5. Heat ghee in a kadai and put in the whole spices. Introduce the onion paste, ginger and garlic pastes, garam masala, coriander-cumin powder and salt. When well-combined, add the vegetables and saute for five minutes.
  6. Add a little water and cook the vegetables until done and relatively dry.
  7. In a baking dish, arrange alternate layers of rice and the prepared vegetables.
  8. Top with garnish of slice tomatoes, capsicum, fried onions and mint leaves, and bake in a moderately hot oven for 20 minutes. Serve hot.


Lamb Biryani

  • 700 gms lamb, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp fresh green chillies, sliced thin
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh cut coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1 tsp whole jeera seeds
  • 1 large onion, cut into long thing slices
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 2 tbsp oil
  1. Marinate the lamb pieces with yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, green chillies, coriander, salt and garam masala for about an hour.
  2. Heat oil in a pressure pan. Add cloves, bay leaves and cumin seeds. When they begin to splutter, add onions and brown until golden brown.
  3. Then, introduce marinated lamb and cook for 10-15 minutes until nearly done. Then add rice and stir. Add three cups of water and pressure cook till done.
  4. Serve hot with raita.


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