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Nadiya Hussain’s Crispy Leek Biryani

This simple crispy leek biryani from Nadiya's Simple Spices is served topped with a runny fried egg and crispy ghee-fried leeks.

From the book


I never ate biryani as a child at home, but it has become something that my kids have grown up eating and traditions must start somewhere. There are so many variations of biryani; this one is simple, using beautiful, sweet leeks.

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For the rice:
500g basmati rice
1.5l cold water
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
3 cardamom pods
1½ tsp salt
For the crispy leeks:
150g ghee
200g leeks, sliced
fine salt, for sprinkling
For the soft leeks:
50g ghee
5 cloves garlic, grated
200g leeks, thinly sliced
1½ tbsp salt
6 green chillies, pierced
4 tbsp art masala (see recipe note for details)
To serve:
6-8 fried eggs


Let’s start with the rice. Put the basmati into a large pan with plenty of room for the rice to boil, then add the water along with the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Put the pan over a high heat and bring the water and rice to the boil, then boil for 7 minutes. Take off the heat and drain into a sieve, leaving the whole spices in there. Rinse the rice under cold water till it is cold and leave to drain and cool on the side.

Now take the same pan, dry off any liquid and add the ghee. As soon as the ghee is hot, add the sliced leeks in an even layer. Leave to get crispy without stirring too much, turning occasionally so they get golden all over.

Have a plate ready with some kitchen paper and drain off the leeks as soon as they are crispy. Sprinkle generously with the salt so they keep their crispiness.

Pop the same pan back on the heat with another 50g ghee and allow to melt. Add the garlic and fry till golden. Add the leeks, salt and chillies and cook till the leeks are just soft.

Add the art masala and mix through, then cook over a mellow heat for 10 minutes before taking off the heat.

Take a medium non-stick pan and fill half the pan with the cooled rice, including any of the whole spices. Make sure it is an even layer. Add the soft leek mixture right on top in an even layer and then cover with the other half of the rice.

Cover the top of the pan tightly with clingfilm, firmly place the lid on and pop onto a low heat for 30 minutes. Take off the heat, remove the lid and clingfilm and mix the rice with the leeks.

Serve with a runny yolk fried egg and sprinkled with the crispy leeks.

+ You can use frozen sliced onions if you cannot find leeks or are in a rush. They work just as well and having some frozen onions stashed in the freezer can be so helpful when you are in a rush.


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From the book: Nadiya’s Simple Spices

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