We all know cooking rice is so important especially when you have guests over. It is so embarrassing when you have undercooked or overcooked rice at the dinner table. Yes, I have experienced that. I feel like crawling under the table and hiding my face if the rice I serve is sticky and over done :(
Who does not like Biryani? Biryani is the most popular rice dish in India and every state has a different way of spicing and cooking it. Dum is a slow cooked technique which imparts immense flavor to rice and veggies from aromatic spices used. Mostly biryani is made by slow cooking meat, rice and spices, but it tastes amazing with veggies too.
Perfectly cooked, fluffy, tender, non-sticky, are all the adjectives I would like to use to describe this dish!!
My clay pot from India is apt for slow cooking Biryani and imparting rustic and delicious flavor. If you don't posses one, that is okay. But, it would be a great idea to add this to your shopping list.
I like to make fresh Biryani Masala (spice mix) by grinding slightly roasted spices. I usually use my electric grinder, but for this rustic recipe I used my Mortar & Pestle to grind spices.
Here is how I make Biryani Masala:
Dry roast 2 tbsp. coriander seeds, 1 tbsp. cumin seeds, 1 stick cinnamon, 2 star anise, 10-12 cloves, 10-15 pepper corns, 4-5 cardamom, 1 inch mace, 3-4 bay leaves, 5-6 dried red chillies.
Grind to form fine powder.
My favorite veggies for Biryani.
Wash 1 cup rice in a large container. Add few cloves, cardamom, pepper corns and bay leaves.
Set this aside. We will cook rice just before cooking our veggies.
Make ginger and garlic paste.
Around 1 tbsp. ginger paste and 1 tbsp. garlic paste.
Used my rustic grinding stone for fresh paste. Reminded me of my childhood. Fresh pastes and chutnies were usually ground on a stone.
If was a wonderful workout for my arms too :)
Add 3 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt to rice and bring the water to boil. You just need to cook rice for 7-8 minutes.
While rice cooks, heat 3 tbsp. ghee to a pan. Fry 1 tbsp. cumin seeds, handful of cashew nuts (optional)
Saute 2 cups sliced onions till they turn slightly brown. Remove half of these into a bowl to use later.
Add ginger and garlic paste. I like to make fresh paste every time.
I do not freeze or refrigerate ginger and garlic paste.
Add chopped green chillies according to your spice level.
Add 1/4 cup cubed bell pepper, 1 small cubed potato, few cauliflower florets, 1/4 cup cubed carrots and 1/4 cup chopped beans.
Meanwhile rice is partly cooked. Strain the water and save some water to use it later. Do not mix rice or toss them. They are delicate and might break.
Add 1 tbsp ghee for fresh flavor.
To our sauteing veggies, add 2 chopped tomatoes and 1 cup yogurt.
Add salt to taste, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. red chilli powder, and finely ground fresh biryani masala.
Mix these veggies well. Do not cook them much. They will finish cooking with rice.
Here is my well soaked clay pot. It is always a good idea to soak clay pot before using. Soaking will remove clay debris and clean the pot well. Not only that, when the pot is heated, water turns into steam which will aid to cook rice and veggies evenly.
I like to layer my biryani with veggies and rice. You could use any clay pot or regular nonstick pot or stainless steel pot to complete this slow cooking process.
Layer veggies and rice keeping large veggie pieces and most gravy at the bottom of the pot. Gently spread half of the partly cooked rice evenly over veggies. Spread some fried onions and green peas. Sprinkle some turmeric powder. Grate some beetroot and spread lightly. Turmeric and beetroot will impart beautiful yellow and red color to rice. I do not like to use food color like they use at the restaurants.
Repeat till all veggies and rice have been layered.
On the topmost layer spread 1/4 cup of chopped mint and 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro.
Add half cup of rice water (water in which rice was cooked). This will help to steam and cook rice and veggies.
Cover the pot and seal it with wheat flour and water dough.
Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with sliced salad and cucumber and yogurt raita.
Beautifully layered and colored rice.
Squeeze fresh lime and enjoy with sliced onions.
Enjoy your Dum Biryani!