Vegetable Biryani (Subzi Biryani)
If you want a rice dish that is more than a rice dish, if you want one that is versatile and colourful, if you want it to be a centrepiece on your table and a dish to show your masterly skills, then this is the one to make. It is appropriate with any curry or condiment, great for picnics and barbecues, can be eaten hot or cold and is loved by children. You can use any vegetables that are in season.
- 500g Basmati rice
- 125ml sunflower oil
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 225g tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 black cardamom pods
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp cloves
- 4 star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 250g plain Greek-style yogurt
- 250g potatoes, peeled and diced
- 150g shelled fresh or frozen peas
- 150g carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
- fried brown onions to garnish
Thoroughly wash the rice in running cold water, then leave to soak, covered in water, for at least 1 hour. Drain the rice and cook in plenty of boiling salted water until it is 90 per cent cooked. Drain the rice and set aside.
Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the tomatoes, all the spices, the bay leaves, some salt and the yogurt. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the oil separates out.
Add the potatoes, fresh peas and carrots with 125ml (4fl oz) water and cook for 5–8 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. (Add frozen peas when the potatoes and carrots are almost done.) Remove from the heat.
Spread half the cooked rice over the bottom of a large saucepan. Put the cooked vegetables on this layer of rice and sprinkle with the chopped coriander. Cover with the remaining rice.
Dampen a clean, thick kitchen cloth with water and cover the saucepan. Put the lid tightly on the cloth and set the saucepan on a very low heat. (You can place the saucepan in a thick frying pan to further reduce the heat.) Cook like this for about 30 minutes.
Mix the rice gently with the vegetables, then spoon into a large,flat dish. Garnish with fried brown onions and serve.