What makes many people attracted to Indian cuisine is the repertoire of veg recipes that it represents! Another popular dish that makes Indian food stand out is its repertoire of biryani recipes. Though it is more common to link up any biryani with meat or chicken, it is a great revelation that Indian veg recipes, or Indian biryani veg recipes are not uncommon at all.
Let us see why and how. Vegetables add their beautiful flavour to aromatic rice and with a variety of spices and sometimes with a drizzle of fragrant ghee, a lovely dish is turned out. There are many variations and we will very quickly go through a simple one here.
Methi Makai Biryani: Cook 1½ cups basmati rice. Fry two sliced onions and set aside. Make a paste of two boiled onions, ½ cup grated coconut, 1½ inches ginger, 4 garlic cloves, 1 green chilli, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon poppy seeds. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a thick-bottomed pan; add 1 bay leaf, 4 cloves, 7-8 peppercorns and 1 black cardamom and sauté till fragrant. Add the ground paste and sauté till golden brown. Add ¾ cup sour yogurt, salt, ½ cup chopped fenugreek leaves and ½ cup boiled corn and mix well. Add one cup of water if the mixture is too thick. Spread half the cooked rice in a layer in a thick-bottomed pan. Spread half the fenugreek-corn masala and sprinkle ½ tsp garam masala powder on top. Repeat the layers once more and top with the browned onions. Cover the pan with aluminium foil and place it on a hot tawa. Cook over low heat for about ten minutes. Uncover the pan just before serving and garnish with ginger strips and fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with raita and papad.
The secret of making a good biryani is a simple formula actually. Instead of plain water to cook the rice, uses some aromatics like nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cloves, green and black cardamoms, fennel seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns tied up in a bundle. Or simply make saffron-flavoured rice. Deep fried onions are a must addition. And also mint or coriander or fenugreek. Some like to add pockets of flavour with a drizzle of saffron milk or screwpine essence in the layers. Sealing the cooking pot is best done in the traditional Indian way: using dough. Apply the dough around the rim of the vessel and close the lid. You could also use thick aluminum foil to tightly cover the vessel though. To avoid the biryani from burning when being cooked in a handi, place a tawa (griddle) underneath.