Monday, May 02, 2005

Rice with the works

We officially celebrated baby's birthday last saturday and have lots of food left-over. I have so much dal left-over that its taking up an entire rack in the fridge and thats not a good thing. Dal, I feel can never be the star of any dinner since its so common and boring. All the people, who think dal is a comfort food, try eating it 3 days in a row! So to put the dal in the background of our food menu today, here is the star- ***drum roll***- the baked biryani a.k.a handi biryani. This is a time-consuming dish with many parts. But it is tasty and worth the effort. It makes enough to serve six generously. So now I have to think about the left-overs from today but thats another show altogether...

Rice 1 1/2 cups
Onions 4 medium sized
Ginger 1 inch piece
Garlic 7-8 cloves
Green Chillies 4-5
Tomatoes- 2 medium sized
Carrot- 1 medium sized
Cauliflower- 1/4 of a medium one
Green Beans -10-15
Peas -1/2 cup
Fresh Coriander Leaves - a few sprigs
Fresh Mint Leaves- a few sprigs
Saffron - a few strings
rose Water- a few drops (optional)

for flavoring rice:
Green Cardamoms- 2-3
Black Cardamom- 1
Cloves- 2-3
Cinnamon Stick - 1 inch stick
Bay Leaf - 1

For the spice paste:

Oil 2 + for frying tbsps
Caraway Seeds (shahi Jeera) - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder- 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder- 1 tsp
Yogurt- 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Garam Masala Powder- 1/2 tsp
Butter 3 tbsps

Prep work:
1.Wash and soak rice in sufficient water for about 20min.Drain.
2. Peel and chop one onion finely, slice the others.Peel ginger-n-garlic.Remove stems & wash green chillies. Grind ginger,garlic,green chillies to fine paste.
3.Chop tomatoes finely.Peel,wash,cut carrot into ½ inch sized pieces. Separate cauliflower into small florets,wash & drain.String,wash,cut green beans into ½ inch sized pieces.Wash,drain green peas.
4.Clean,wash,chop coriander leaves & mint leaves separately.Soak saffron in rose water or a little warm milk.

5. Boil drained rice in 4 cups of salted boiling water with green cardamoms,black cardamom,cloves,cinnamon & bay leaf,until rice is al dente (don't cook until soft like usual).Drain excess water, if there is any left, & keep aside. I like to color the rice with red and yellow food coloring and mixing slightly to give a marbled effect. But this is optional.
6.Mix all the veg & boil in 3 cups of salted water till 3/4 done. Drain & refresh under running water.Keep aside.
7.Heat an inch of oil in a pan & deep-fry the sliced onions till golden brown.Drain onto an absorbent paper & keep aside.
8.Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a thick-bottomed pan.Add caraway seeds & cumin seeds.When they begin to change colour,add chopped onions & sauté until golden brown.Add ginger,garlic,green chillies paste.Add coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric and red chilli powder, yogurt & mix well.Add chopped tomatoes & cook on a med. heat for about 5 minutes. This requires stirring constantly 'coz if your yogurt is low-fat, it might curdle if it is not stirred. Add boiled veg & salt mix well.

9.Preheat oven to 350 F.
10.Take a casserole dish,arrange alternate layers of cooked veg & rice.Sprinkle saffron dissolved in rose water or milk, coriander leaves,mint leaves,golden fried sliced onions & butter in betweeen the layers & on top.Make sure that you end with the rice layer topped with saffron & spices.
11.Cover & seal with aluminum foil. Cook in the preheated oven,for 10 350 F.Reduce temp to 300 F & cook for another 10 min.
12.Serve hot with a raita of your choice.

I am a chickenitarian (vegetarian eating chicken sometimes) but don't cook it at home. So if you insist, here is chicken biryani from Sanjeev Kapoor, my favorite chef for authentic Indian recipes. You have to browse through the menu for rice dishes and you will find the biryani there.

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